24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it a fact that the bounty on superphosphate will vary from £3 to £7 10s. a ton according to the content of phosphoric acid? Also, is it a fact that some companies in Australia are altering the mechanical equipment in their factories to enable them to produce superphosphates of a very much higher grade? If so, can he tell me the names of those factories, with particular emphasis on the names of those operating in Western Australia?
– As announced in the Budget, a bounty of £3 a ton will be payable on superphosphate of 20 per cent. P2O5 soluble acid. At present no factory in Australia is manufacturing superphosphate in greater strength than the normal 20 per cent, grade. 1 understand that a factory in New South Wales is to commence the manufacture of double strength, 40 per cent., and what is known as triple or 50 per cent., in three or four weeks. That is the only factory of which I am aware that will be manufacturing superphosphate of greater strength in the near future. I understand that a factory in Victoria will be ready to do so in about eighteen months.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Health a few questions of interest. In answer to a question regarding publicity, the Minister stated last Thursday that a drug evaluation committee had been set up, the chairman being a very distinguished New South Wales doctor. The Minister stated further that the establishment of this committee would be of real value in publicizing the dangers of the use of certain drugs. I ask the Minister:
– Dr. Edgar Thomson, the medical superintendent of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, is the chairman of this drug evaluation committee. I shall let the honorable senator know the names of the other members of the committee which I cannot recall at the present time. I was discussing the work of the committee with the chairman as recently as last Friday. He told me that he hopes to let me have a report in the very near future on the activities of the committee to this date. The honorable senator further asked what methods we shall adopt to put the findings of the committee into the hands of the public. I suggest that those findings will be of much more value in the hands of the medical profession, and that is where we shall have them placed. The honorable senator also asked whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization would not be a more fitting body to effect these evaluations than the committee that we have instituted for this purpose. I would rather not comment on that because no one can gainsay that the C.S.I.R.O. is a wonderful organization with a very competent staff. I think it might suffice to say that this is a field in which the Department of Health specializes and I would assume that the C.S.I.R.O. itself would agree that this matter, being in the field of health, should be under the jurisdiction of my department.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact “ that the employment position in Australia has again improved this month to the extent that an additional 8,500 persons have obtained employment. Could the Minister advise me whether it is possible to bring out additional labour from overseas countries in order to satisfy the increased demand for labour in rural areas?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is, “Yes”. It is a fact that the number of persons registered for employment has fallen dramatically over the last month to quite a low point. In regard to the bringing of labour from overseas, I point out that our immigration intake has also been increased and that that fact, in itself, will result in an increase in the work force and assist in filling registered employment vacancies. As to the bringing out of particular people for particular industries in particular places, I think the honorable senator would be better advised to take that question up directly with the Minister concerned.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry what price China paid to the Australian Wheat Board for wheat in the years 1959-60, 1960-61, 1961-62, and 1962-63. What is the price to be paid for the 1963-64 crop? What payments on the 1962-63 crop are still outstanding to the growers? What was the price paid to the producers for home consumption wheat in the years 1959 to 1963? What was the export price paid to the growers for export wheat for those years, 1959 to 1963? When was the first payment made and when were further payments made to producers in those years? What payments are still outstanding for this year’s crop?
– I am sure that the honorable senator does not expect me to carry those figures in my head because they involve detailed information.
– Of course he docs.
– He flatters me if he docs. The prices of wheat sold to China are available up to the year 1962-63. Those figures are provided in statistics made available by the Department of Primary Industry and are published. However, it is not the policy of the < Australian Wheat Board, which has the responsibility in the selling field, to make public the figures of wheat sales. I think it will be readily agreed that that is a good business principle. There are many competitors in this field, and I think that, in the interest of protecting the Australian crop, the board is very wise to make quite sure that the whole of the year’s transactions have been completed before it publishes figures. I will examine the honorable senator’s question in detail and will endeavour to supply the figures that he seeks without undue delay.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Will the Minister take up with his colleague the fact that a big percentage of conversations between subscribers at Canberra and subscribers attached to the telephone exchange at Ulverstone, Tasmania, are almost inaudible to both parties? Does this condition pertain to other services between the mainland and Tasmania? If this condition is due to obsolete equipment, to some technical fault or to some other factor, will the Minister have the matter investigated and remedied?
– I know that the Postmaster-General has been concerned for some time at some deficiencies in the service described by the honorable senator. I will bring his submissions to the notice of the Postmaster-General and will advise the honorable senator whether any plans are in hand to remedy the situation.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. As the position of Minister for Immigration after 30th November will possibly bc held by a Labour politician, who in the interests pf justice will charge allegedly undesirable migrants in Australia under section 14 of. the Migration Act, which gives the accused the right of trial, will the present temporary Minister delay his announced intention of deporting, without giving reasons, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Orr until after, the election?
- Mr. .President, if the honorable senator recounts fairy tales in asking a question, he cannot expect -an answer to it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing tho
Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the present campaign among wool-growers for the imposition of a levy for the purpose of wool promotion. I am very glad to receive advice - indirectly - of the Government’s decision to match with a subsidy the raisings from the wool industry. Information has come from Western Australia that an association of wool-growers in that State has registered an adverse vote. Will the Minister tell me by what authority the wool levy ultimately will be raised and what effect the adverse vote of the Western Australian farmers will have on the campaign?
– The short answer to the question is that the levy will bc implemented by law, but only at the request of the growers. The growers have always had direct entree to this Government and have always been consulted about legislation prior to its presentation to Parliament. The honorable senator has asked what effect their adverse decision will have upon the presentation of the case to the Government for the introduction of legislation to increase the levy. I cannot answer that question, but I believe that the wool industry generally realizes that there is a very real need for promotion. Indeed, the Government has already acknowledged that position by offering to match growers’ contributions on a £1 for £1 basis. That contribution for the purposes of promotion has already been incorporated in legislation. Because the industry realizes the value of promotion I am hopeful, and so is the Government, that it will settle this difference of opinion and place its case before the Government with a voice that is as close to being a united voice as it is possible to get.
– Has the Minister for the Navy seen reports that the handing over of nuclear submarines to the United States Navy has been delayed because of poor practices and workmanship? Are Charles F. Adams type destroyers for Australia being built in any of the shipyards concerned? What precautions are being taken by Australian naval authorities to ensure high quality workmanship, having in mind the highly skilled capabilities of Australian shipyard workers?
– Yes, I have noticed the report to which the honorable senator has referred. Of course, it deals with submarine construction. The submarine is a specific type of ship the construction of which calls for higher standards of workmanship and much greater precision, together with many more safety factors, than does ordinary ship construction. A nuclear submarine, which must remain submerged for such long periods and descend to such great depths, calls for extremely high standards indeed. The Charles F. Adams class destroyers to which the honorable senator referred are not being built in yards which specialize in submarine construction. They are being built in the Defoe shipyards, and Australian engineers are present during construction and inspect all the work that is done.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Did the secretary of the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association, on 17th June last, write to the Treasurer asking him to receive a deputation from the association and to hear a case against the decision of the board of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation that employees should commence work a quarter of an hour earlier than employees of other banks? Did the Treasurer, on 17th July last, reply that, having inquired into the matter, he did not feel that any good purpose would be served by meeting the deputation? From whom did the Treasurer make his inquiries in the matter? Is this attitude of refusal to meet a deputation part of a general attitude on the part of the Government of refusal to hear representatives of the workers on industrial matters?
– I imagine that the Treasurer did receive a letter similar to that referred to by the honorable senator. I think that all members of the Parliament have now had correspondence from members of the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association in which it was stated that the association had written to the Treasurer. I understand it to be true, although I have not yet had an opportunity to confer with the Treasurer, that in writing a reply to the original request that a deputation be received, the Treasurer informed the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association that the time of commencing work in the morning was plainly one for the board to decide in the ordinary day-to-day administration of the bank. I presume that the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association has now sent to other members of the Parliament a similar letter to that which I received to-day. That letter contains a request for assistance in again bringing this matter to the attention of the Treasurer. I suggest to Senator Cavanagh that he can best serve the interests of his constituents by getting in touch with the Treasurer and sending him the letter concerned.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that a large overseas order for flour has been received by the Australian Wheat Board? Is it a fact that one-third of the total order will be supplied by one of the smaller States in eastern Australia? Would the Minister advise me what quantity of flour will be supplied from the State that sows the largest acreage of wheat in Australia? In case the Minister does not know the name of that State, it is Western Australia.
– It is true that portion of a large order for wheat placed by an international grain house includes an order for flour. I do not know from where the flour is to be despatched - whether or not one-third of it will come from Victoria. The honorable senator did not mention Victoria in so many words, but I believe he was referring to that State. I shall place his submission before the Minister for Primary Industry and see whether I can get the information he requires about Western Australia.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister seen press reports of a statement made yesterday by the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, that Victoria was unable to meet the cost of the Ramsay committee proposals on university education, estimated at £170,000,000 over seven years?
– In Victoria alone.
– In Victoria alone. Has he also seen reports of a speech made by Sir Douglas Copland at the -week-end, to the annual convention of the Australian Association of National Advertisers, in which Sir Douglas said that evidence was growing daily of a major crisis in Australian education at all levels, especially at the secondary and tertiary stages? I ask the Minister: Do not statements such as these emphasize the urgent need for increasing financial responsibility on the part of the Commonwealth Government for education, so that education can be dealt with as a national problem on a national scale?
– I seem to have heard that sort of question before from Senator Cohen. The recommendation which he cites- that of a committee concerning the expenditure of £170,000,000 for Victoria alone - gives some indication ofthe dangers into which we can run, and the distortion which could take place in our national resources, if we followed the enthusiasm’s of those who have single-track minds and think only in terms of one subject. It will not be long before the Senate has before it the report of the Australian Universities Commission which will show the proportion of our resources that the Commonwealth will be devoting to universities, thereby substantially reducing liabilities or responsibilities of the States. This Commonwealth assistance will give the States a good deal more freedom to apply additional moneys to education if, in the judgment of their governments, that course is necessary - and to the extent that they think it is necessary. It is all very well to get enthusiastic and to recommend this course, that course and the other course. State governments have to make the final judgment in this matter and, with all respect to Senator Cohen and others, I must say that the State governments have a better idea of the extent of the demand than those who advocate causes in isolation.
– My question is directed to either the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service or the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in his last six annual reports has complained about the lack of accommodation available to the commission and its officers in Sydney? What, if anything, has been done by the Government during the last twelve months to ameliorate the conditions complained of?
– I can recall that answers have been given to similar questions asked by Senator McClelland during question-time and in estimates debates. I suggest to the honorable senator that, rather than place the question on the noticepaper, he should ask it when the proposed expenditure for the Attorney-General’s Department is being considered. By that time I should have an answer ready for him.
(Question No. 56.)
Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer: -
A special committee comprising eminent members of the medical profession, all of whom had been prisoners of war, was set up in 1947 to investigate and advise the Repatriation Department on the problems of re-establishing former prisonersof war in civilian life.
As a result of the committee’s recommendations a complete medical survey of surviving prisoners of war (Japan) was conducted by the department during the period from 1949 to 1952. This was a major medical undertaking. Some 12,000 former prisoners of war were examined; less than 2,000 did not report for examination. A detailed record of the medical and general condition of each ex-prisoner of war was then obtained and incorporated in each individual member’s file and this has been valuable in subsequent entitlement and treatment actions. In addition, a booklet “ Notes on Diagnosis and Treatment “ was compiled in 1952 and issued for the guidance of all medical officers concerned with examination and treatment of former prisoners of war of the Japanese. Special arrangements were made also to follow up and review regularly members suffering from certain types of disabilities.
Following requests for a further general survey, members of the 1947 committee were again consulted in 1959. Their view was that a further general survey was not warranted.
A medical review of former prisoners of war who were in the vicinity of Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was exploded, and who are willing to participate, is currently being conducted by the Repatriation Department.
(Question No. 96.)
asked the Minister repre senting the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Debate resumed from 9th October (vide page 1001), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill now under consideration stems from a Convention on the High Seas signed at Geneva on 29th April, 1958. It is one of four conventions that were signed on the same day dealing with matters affecting the sea and all of great importance to us as a great trading nation with a very wide area of high seas surrounding our continent. The four conventions were: The Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone; the Convention on the High Seas, which is the one now under consideration; the Convention on Fishing and the Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas; and the Convention on the Continental Shelf.
One has only to name these subjectmatters to carry an impression of their very great importance. Unfortunately, sufficient ratifications have been received for only one of the four conventions, that which is now the basis of the measure we are considering. Twenty-two ratifications were required. The final one in this case was received only recently, and the Government has moved with commendable speed to do what is possible to implement that convention according to Australian law. I should like the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to tell us, if he can, how many signatories there are to this particular convention. Is there just the bare number of 22 ratifications, or have more nations than that ratified the convention? If the Minister is in a position to do so, I should like him to indicate by how far short the number of ratifications falls in respect of each of the other three main conventions.
As I have said, we in Australia are surrounded by the high seas, with other nations quite close to us - Indonesia, the Philippines and others - all using common high seas, and it is important, if we can, to have all our neighbours in accord with us on the principles of these very important international conventions, all of which we have signed and one of which has only just been fully ratified.
The Convention on the High Seas came into operation in Australia on 13th June last and, pursuant to that convention, Australia assumes certain obligations. They are set out in Articles 27, 28 and 29 which the Senate will find recorded in the preamble to the bill, so I need not particularize them. Broadly, we accept obligations to do three things, which are set out in clauses 7, 8 and 9 of the bill. The first is to make it an offence punishable with very severe penalties to break or injure a submarine telegraphic or telephonic cable so as to interrupt or obstruct telephonic or telegraphic communications.
– Is there any excuse?
– Yes. I was giving a precis. I think that it is quite a proper provision. I have been paraphrasing it. It reads -
A person shall not wilfully, or through culpable negligence -
break or injure, or cause a ship registered in Australia or in a Territory of the Commonwealth to break or injure, a submarine telegraph or telephone cable “ in such manner as might interrupt or obstruct telegraphic or telephonic communications.
Then there is an exactly similar provision in relation to submarine pipelines and submarine high voltage power cables. There is a heavier penalty where a person acts wilfully than would be applied in any other case. There is a qualification -
a breakage of, or an injury to, a cable or pipeline is caused by persons acting with the sole object of saving their lives or their ships; and
those persons took all necessary precautions to avoid breaking or injuring the cable or pipeline . . . the penalty provisions do not apply. That, too, is a very proper provision. Broadly, that is the first matter.
The second is a matter of civil liability. Clause 8 provides-
If a person, in the course of laying or repairing a submarine cable or pipeline of which he is the owner, causes a break in or injury to another cable or pipeline, he is liable to bear the cost of repairing the break or injury.-
I take it that the claim would be made by the owner of the cable that is broken or injured. There is a third interesting provision
If, after all reasonable precautionary measures have been taken, an anchor, a net or any other fishing gear belonging to a ship is sacrificed in order to avoid injuring a submarine cable or pipeline, the owner of’ the ship is entitled to be indemnified for his loss by the owner ofthe cable or pipeline.
They are the three substantive provisions of the bill. The other provisions are, in the view that I take, purely complementary and of a machinery nature, but there are other obligations under . the convention that interest me. Article 10 is one of them, it states -
Every State shall take such measures for ships under its flag as are necessary to ensure safety at sea with regard, inter alia, to:
In taking such measures each State is required to conform to generally accepted international standards and to take any steps which may be necessary to ensure their observance.
There is no bill before the Senate to effectuate that obligation. I . assume that in the circumstances the Government is satisfied that the provisions of our existing legislation, of our Navigation Act in particular, are an adequate compliance with the obligation we assume under Article 10. Article 24 reads -
Every State shall draw up regulations to prevent pollution of the seas by the discharge of oil from ships or pipelines or resulting from the exploitation and exploration of the seabed and its sub-soil, taking account of existing treaty provisions on the subject.
I recall that in 1 960 we had before us an act relating to the prevention of pollution of the sea by oil, which we debated at some considerable length. That was a measure that stemmed from another international convention held in London in 1954. I should think that that possibly is a complete discharge of the obligation that we accepted when we ratified Article 24 of this treaty. 1 should like the Minister to tell us in due course whether that is not so.
Article 25 imposes a new obligation -
I should like the Minister to indicate whether he considers that any legislation that we have is an adequate discharge of that obligation and, if not, whether it is contemplated that we shall have legislation for the control of that very important matter.
I refer next to the following passage in the Minister’s speech: -
The legal position in respect of submarine telegraphic cables is that they appear to be already covered to some extent by the Submarine Telegraph Act 1885 of the British Parliament . . .
That certainly does not make for clarity to the person who may be interested, and there seems to be a lack of confidence in the expression of opinion, having regard to the qualifications that appear in the statement. I refer also to the following passage in the Minister’s speech: -
Provision is also made in the bill for the Submarine Telegraph Act 1885, to which 1 have referred, to continue to apply to the extent that it is still a part of our Commonwealth law, thus ensuring the continuation of whatever privileges and right Australia may have under the Submarine Telegraphs Convention of 1884, to which that act gave effect.
Again there is obscurity for the casual, or even the interested reader. The Minister does not tell us with any degree of assurance that the British act is still applicable and, if so, in what particulars. I should think that in dealing with this important subject it would be incumbent on the Government not to leave that matter in any doubt. The people of Australia are entitled to know with certainty just how far the British act extends. The Minister quite obviously is not prepared to commit himself in that particular. Can he, with any degree of precision, say what provisions of the imperial act, in the view of the Government, are still operative here?
I notice that the act passed in 1885 is expressed to extend to the whole of Her Majesty’s dominions and to all places over which Her Majesty has jurisdiction. Throughout the act the expression “ British possession “ includes any part of Her Majesty’s dominions exclusive of the United Kingdom. It is expressed to apply to the whole of Her Majesty’s dominions. At that time, of course, Australia as a Commonwealth and as a nation had not been created and it had certainly not assumed dominion status. We did not become a Commonwealth until 1st January, 1901. Looking through the act, 1 find that it repeats substantially the provisions that I have outlined to the Senate as appearing in the bill. There certainly are other things. There is, for instance, in section 3 subsection (5.) a provision that any person who in any manner procures, counsels, aids, abets or is accessory to the commission of an offence shall be guilty of a misdemeanour. It may well be that that provision is picked up by the generic provision in our Crimes Act to the same effect. But there is quite a novel point in the Crimes Act. If the Minister would refer to section 5, sub-section (2.) of that act he will find what I think is a very proper provision. It is as follows: -
If any vessel engaged in the laying or repairing of a submarine cable to which the Convention for the time being applies, interferes contrary to the said regulations or articles with any vessel engaged in fishing, or if the operations of any vessel in connexion with any such submarine cable are wilfully delayed so as to interfere with sea fishing, the master of the vessel, or the owner thereof, if it appear that he was in fault, shall be deemed guilty of a breach of the said regulations and may be punished accordingly.
The persons interested in this field are entitled to know, for instance, whether that particular obligation holds. There are other quite interesting provisions to which I think it not worth while to direct particular attention. But I feel unhappy that the Minister has referred so tentatively to the fact that this imperial act may, to some extent, still apply. Everybody in the field, I suggest, is entitled to know with complete precision whether it applies with certainty and, if it does not apply fully, what parts of it do apply. The legislation before the Senate is desirable. It comes pursuant to a highly desirable convention. It extends to the high seas which are defined as “ all waters outside territorial waters and the internal waters of a State “. It, unfortunately, leaves at, large our position in relation to the continental shelf which runs out to a depth of some 200 metres - maybe more.
The convention I have glanced through is most interesting in seeking to regulate that area, providing for the adjacent State to have the right of exploring and exploiting it - sovereign rights in these two respects - without interfering with other common rights on the high seas such as fishing by other nations, navigation and a few things of that sort. It provides for the preservation of natural life in the waters that lie upon the continental shelf. Unfortunately, that matter cannot be resolved by complete national accord until the treaty dealing with the continental shelf is ratified by at least 22 nations, and even then it would not be resolved unless all countries adjacent to the sea join in that particular convention. I have briefly outlined the treaty and the provisions of the bill. I have asked some questions regarding obligations that we have assumed which are not dealt with in this measure. It may be quite proper that they should not be dealt with in this measure. I should also like some information about the true application of the British act to our own nationals.
– in reply - Mr. President, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has exercised his characteristic perspecuity in respect of this bill. In doing so he has set me something of a task. The bill itself is an interesting one, coming as it does from the past when Australia was, in fact, not established as a Commonwealth but existed as a number of separate States. The convention of 1884 was signed by 27 countries which included Great Britain, most of the European powers and the United States of America for the protection of submarine telegraph cables, lt covered telegraph cables outside the territorial waters of the parties to the convention and it provided that it should be a punishable offence to break or injure such a cable. This convention that we are ratifying to-day has to do with cables and pipelines rather than telegraph cables with which the 1884 convention dealt. In order to carry into effect the international convention the United Kingdom passed an act known as the Submarine Telegraph Act in 1885. Great Britain, when its representative signed the convention, declared that it would not apply to the Australian colonics unless notice to that effect were given.
– Given by whom - the colonies or Great Britain?
– I would imagine that notice would be given, first, by the colonies to Great Britain. Then notice would be given by Great Britain to the depository power of the convention. Although it is not quite clear by what document this was effected, it seems that the convention was extended to all the Australian States by the British Government between 1885 and 1888. The Commonwealth, upon its establishment, succeeded the States in respect of this convention and took over all their rights and obligations in respect thereto. Section 11 of the 1885 act provides that the act shall extend to the whole of Her Majesty’s dominions and as, until the present, there is no Commonwealth act relating to the production of submarine telegraph cables, is appears that the Imperial act of 1885 still applies to the Commonwealth.
The Leader of the Opposition asked questions as to the number of signatories to the convention that we are now ratifying. As he observed, 22 were necessary to bring it into force. Australia was the 25th country to ratify of the total of 72 countries which signed the final act of the 1958 conference. I have not any particulars with me as to how many signatories there are in respect of the other three conventions but I shall let the honorable senator have that information as soon as I am able to get it.
The Leader of the Opposition referred specifically to Article 10 of the convention and inquired what the legislation covered with respect to this article. He will recall that, some time ago, we ratified a convention for the safety of life at sea. That has reference to this matter as, indeed, do some aspects of our own- Navigation Act. At least, in one regard, the Leader of the Opposition will agree with. me. In respect of the manning of ships and labour conditions, in some matters there is no doubt that we meet and, indeed, exceed some of the convention’s requirements. The honorable senator refers to Article 25. This, to the extent that it refers to the polluation of the sea by oil, is covered by our legislation in which we ratified that convention a year or two ago. There is nothing at present in our statutes to look after the matter of radio activity above the sea.
– In the sea or in the air space above it?
– Yes, in the sea or in the air space above it.
– We have nothing on that?
– There is no Australian legislation covering that at this time.
– Is such legislation contemplated?
– I regret that I am not able to answer the honorable senator without reference to the Minister. I have no knowledge of any intention to introduce such legislation.
The Leader of the Opposition has inquired whether the bill, which ratifies the convention, has application to that part which refers to interference with fishing vessels and the like. The answer is, “ No “. This bill relates to the external affairs power of the Commonwealth and for that reason applies to Articles 27, 28 and 29.
– My question, if I may repeat it, was in relation to section 5 (2.) of the Imperial act which refers to vessels interfering with fishing. I ask whether that provision of the imperial act applies to Australia.
– Insofar as the act refers to telegraphic cable, I would think it does. It would have no application insofar as it refers to the convention that we are considering to-day and that we propose to ratify.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 5 which states, in part - (1.) A reference in this Act to a submarine cable or pipeline shall be read as a reference only to a cable or pipeline beneath the high seas or to such part of a cable or pipeline as is beneath the high seas.
In the convention the term “high seas” means all parts of the sea not included in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State. I assume that its application is to seas outside the three-mile limit. I am wondering whether it is necessary or desirable for complementary legislation to be passed by either the Commonwealth or the States to cover those parts of the sea that are within the three-mile limit and within the control of the Commonwealth or the States.
– The honorable senator will recall that the question of “ territorial sea “ attracted a good deal of press notice and public attention at the time of the conference. Indeed, it was not possible for the conference to reach agreement on what was to be accepted internationally as territorial sea. For the purpose of this bill it was agreed that seas within the three-mile limit should be accepted as territorial waters in connexion with this convention.
– The point I raised is this: Has the Government considered whether it is necessary to cover the seas in the gulfs, of which we have many in Australia? The answer to that question may be that we will cross that bridge when we come to it, but again I am wondering whether it is assumed that -this bill will be sufficient or whether or not complementary legislation by the Commonwealth or States may be necessary.
A minute or two ago the Minister in reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), referred to breaking, injuring or interfering with submarine telegraph or telephone cables in such manner as might interrupt or obstruct telegraphic or telephonic communications. Senator McKenna mentioned that this might be done not by physical means but by electrical interference. I would appreciate any information that the Minister can supply on that point. A possible answer is that with the new types of cable such interference is not technically possible. However, if interference is technically possible it raises a fairly large question. From my reading I understand that in this type of communication the humble transistor is used. It is nice to think that transistors are to be used other than to make a nuisance, as they have been used in many parts of the world since they have been in common use. I understand that transistors are to be used as repeaters or boosters every 30 miles. Without knowing a lot df the technical details, I think it seems that it is possible to cause some interference by penetrating cables. With the new co-axial cables and wider bands interference could present a serious problem. I repeat that I have not the technical knowledge to know whether this is possible, but I ask the Minister whether he can enlighten me on this subject.
– The honorable senator has raised a very interesting point. I cannot supply him with an answer at the moment, but I will certainly be interested to find out whether such interference is technically possible. His other question relates to the definition of the territorial sea. The honorable senator will appreciate that that is not a question for the Department of Shipping and Transport. However, I can assure him that it is a matter that is under very active and continuing examination in the Attorney-General’s Department. I have no doubt that further international conferences called in respect of this matter will sharpen the need for tha nations of the world to reach agreement. When these conferences do occur, I am told, our own Department of External Affairs will be in a position, because of a study that the department is now undertaking, to put an Australian point of view in a very definite way.
– Arising from what Senator Willesee has said, one point remains. The honorable senator drew attention to the fact that the Commonwealth has no power in territorial waters and that that power is reserved to the States. Cables would necessarily be laid in that area. The Commonwealth’s power and this legislation extends only to extra-territorial waters.
– Power over what? What Commonwealth power is limited to the area external to territorial waters?
– Extra-territorial waters are not defined in our Constitution, but in my view they can be interpreted as being waters outside the three-mile limit. Cables will be laid within the three-mile limit. This legislation could not and does not purport to extend those cables. Is the Minister able to say whether the States have been asked, or are likely to be asked, to pass legislation comparable with this bill to protect cables and pipelines in territorial waters?
.- Before that question is answered, may I ask for a clarification of the honorable senator’s recollection? Is it not a fact that it is only in connexion with the fisheries powers that the Commonwealth’s power is limited to the area external to the threemile limit? In regard to external affairs, my recollection is that there is no such limitation and that the external affairs power would affect matters right to the coast and indeed could commence intra fauces terrae ‘ I think that the three-mile limit has no relevance to any Commonwealth power under section 51, other than power in relation to fisheries.
.- <)an the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) indicate why the power under section 51 of the Constitution, concerning postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other like services, is not available and why there would be no restriction in regard to external affairs, as mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna)? It may be that, depending on the nature of the subject-matter, as he indicated, under the external affairs power we might have to deal with something that is external to Australia and that it is a difficult question to decide whether, under that power, we could deal with something inside territorial waters. The subject-matter of this bill seems to be concerned, at least to some extent, with matters akin to telegraphic and telephonic services. It may be that, also to some extent, power in regard to trade and commerce with other countries might be concerned, even though’ indirectly.
– On the last point raised by Senator Murphy, I am informed that this .question received the close consideration of officials of the Crown’ Law Office. It was their view that it was. appropriate that’ the bill should be drawn under the external affairs power. I am sorry I cannot take the discussion be yond that point. I am sure the honorable senator will appreciate that the subject he has raised might be more appropriately raised on some other occasion with the legal officers rather than with the shipping people.
In regard to the question which Senator McKenna raised and to which Senator Wright also adverted, I am advised that the question of the control of this subjectmatter within the three-mile limit is in fact the responsibility of the various States. They have not as yet been formally asked to introduce complementary legislation, but they have been closely informed of everything that the Commonwealth is doing in respect of this convention.
.- I am at a loss to understand the last observation of the Minister. Since I last spoke I have been able to obtain a copy of the Constitution. Section 51 provides, in placitum (x.), that the Commonwealth has power to legislate with respect to fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits. That is the only power which excludes the Commonwealth power within territorial limits. Placitum (xxix.) provides that the Commonwealth shall have power to legislate with respect to external affairs, and the provision is unqualified by any criterion as to whether such affairs commence on shore or at the three-mile limit. I am completely unable to understand the advice, which the Minister says he has received, to the effect that trans-ocean communications between the shore and the three-mile limit are a matter for State jurisdiction. I put down a challenge in such definite terms because I should like enlightenment on the matter.
– (Western Australia - Minister for Civil Aviation [4.10]. - Short of obtaining advice from the Crown Law Office myself, I regret that I am unable to clarify the situation further.
– Well, the challenge is on record.
– Yes. I assure the honorable senator that his comments will be brought to the notice of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and 1 shall ask that he be provided with an explanation of the reason why the bill has been drawn in this manner.
– No- - on the view that has been taken, that within the three-mile limit the cables referred to are subject to State jurisdiction.
– Very well.
– I notice that power to make regulations is not included in the provisions of the bill, and I am wondering whether the Minister thinks it would be advisable to include such power, which is usual in measures of this kind.
– I am informed that the simple answer to the honorable senator’s query is that it is not envisaged that it will be necessary to make regulations under the act.
– I merely wish to say that power in relation to territorial waters is, under placitum (x.) of section 51 of the Constitution, confined to fisheries in that area, but I should imagine that under the external affairs power, and possibly also under the posts and telegraphs power, there would be capacity in the Commonwealth to operate communication stations and cable services so that the communications and cables commenced their journey on land in Australia and then proceeded through territorial waters into the high seas. I think that there could not be a gap of that nature under the overseas, trade power, whereby we have power to have communications extending overseas - the external affairs power would come to one’s aid in this respect - along with the power over postal, telegraphic and other like services.
I appreciate that, in approaching and implementing this bill, the Government is confined entirely to the terms of the convention which purport to deal only with the high seas. But if, as seems to me to be the case, the Commonwealth would have power to legislate in territorial waters, this would bc an appropriate time at which that should be done, so that there would be one set of rules relating both to territorial waters and to overseas. It would be infinitely better, if the Commonwealth had the power, to exercise it rather than to leave it to the laws of six States, in which case it is conceivable that there might be six varying sets of laws. I join Senator Wright in inviting the Minister to pursue the question of Commonwealth power over cables and pipelines in territorial waters, to see whether, by means of legislation supplementary to this bill, we could not cover the position adequately.
– Even to a layman, such as I am, the question which has been raised by Senator McKenna and Senator Wright is of considerable interest. As I understand the position, the Attorney-General’s Department took the view that the convention which we were ratifying, and as Senator McKenna has observed, had to do with the high seas and with the high seas only. Nevertheless, I think that the matters raised by the honorable senators are of great interest and I shall certainly see that they are further considered.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 10th October (vide page 1031), on motion by Senator Paltridge-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The first legislation dealing with air navigation charges was introduced in 1947 by a Labour government. The purpose was to recover for the Commonwealth, as far as was practicable, all moneys spent by the Commonwealth in providing and maintaining meteorological services and other facilities for air navigation. The charges then - and even now - were levied, so far as I can make out, in accordance with a very complicated formula based on aircraft types.
Prior to the advent of the present Government the validity of the charges was disputed by the then domestic airline, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, and eventually the government of the day secured a writ of summons in the High Court to recover the charges due.
Before action could be taken on that writ there., was a change of Government. - In 1952 the present Government submitted to the Parliament, which passed it, the Civil Aviation Agreement Bill. This dealt with an agreement between the Government and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. The Government agreed to accept as full payment the sum of £337,717, a little more than one-third of the amount that was then outstanding. The Government, of course, withdrew the writ of summons. The Commonwealth agreed further that it would not fix air rate charges in future at more than onehalf of the charges that were fixed by the Air Navigation Order Part 99, that was made in May, 1949, unless and except to the extent that an increase became necessary because of the provision of additional or improved facilities and services, or because of higher costs of maintaining and operating facilities and services.
In 1961 a supplementary agreement was drawn up between the Government and the two major domestic airlines, TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A., for the purpose of regulating air navigation charges and also, at the time, taxes on aviation fuel. This agreement obliged the Government to take into account the level of fares, the rate of growth of civil aviation and the need for a reasonable return on capital, and especially required the Government not to increase the rate of air navigation charges by more than 10 per cent, in any one year. The rate of air navigation charges has been increased, and each time by the 10 per cent, limit.
– Did that represent the ceiling that you referred to in the 1952 agreement?
– No, it did not. I have tried to work out the total amount that has been received by the Commonwealth in air navigation charges. I do not know whether my arithmetic is correct, but I have worked it out, including what will be obtained under this bill-
– Over what period?
– From 1947-48. I worked it out, while trying to listen to the interesting debate on the last bill, at something like £11,600,000. It is interesting that in 1947-48 the amount collected in charges was £167,000. Under this bill the Commonwealth will collect, mainly from the two major domestic airlines but also from international airlines, and including a small amount from operators of small privatelyowned aircraft, the sum’ of about £1,700,000.
One extremely pleasing aspect of the bill - and no one wants to get into a political argument at this stage in the life of this Government - is that this is one bill dealing with civil aviation which does not place a hardship on the Government’s own airline. It has been the practice of this Government over a long period to bolster the private competitor of the nation’s own airline. 1 repeat that it is pleasing to find one bill that puts both airlines on an even keel so far as treatment of them by the Government goes. I hope that if there are future such bills - and no doubt there will be - the Minister, whoever he may be, will see that they treat both airlines as fairly as this one does.
– I challenge you to mention one tax bill in which an advantage has been given to the private airline.
- Senator Wright says that he challenges me in regard to tax bills. I say that practically every bill dealing with domestic airlines in this country has had for its purpose the building up of the major private airline as against the Government’s own airline. Neither Senator Wright nor any one else can show that that statement is wrong. I do not want to recount the whole series of gains by Ansett-A.N.A. under this Government, but the “ Australian Financial Review” some few months ago listed - if my memory serves me correctly, and I hope it does not slip to that extent - about eight advantages at least that AnsettA.N.A. has received.
– Mention one of them.
– The Commonwealth has control of the mails of this nation, and it has been so fair that it has taken half of this Commonwealth business and given it to the competitor of the nation’s own airline. If Senator Wright, who shakes his head in a familiar manner when one disposes of his queries, were transporting this nation’s mails by air, would he be so benevolent as to hand half of the business to somebody else? I do not think he would be.
This bill is very pleasing, because it treats the airlines alike. I am not eager, as many people may think, to see only one major airline operating in Australia. I am pleased to have two airlines operating, but I want them both to be fairly treated. I do not want to see one buckled hand and foot in order to serve the interests of the other. I want both airlines to have the right to intra-state and interstate traffic which one airline enjoys now. I want both airlines to have a fair go in relation to charter work. Although provision for that benefit is not contained in the bill, I am delighted that in this one bill at least both airlines are put on a par. For that reason, the Opposition desires to support the legislation.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly), in his characteristic approach to an election campaign, derived a good deal of pleasure from rattling the bones in the old coffin of 1947. He reminded us of the rather abortive attempt that was made by the Australian Labour Party, when last in office, to nationalize the internal airlines of Australian and to create an airline that would enjoy monopoly rights. Fortunately, Labour’s efforts were checked by the High Court of Australia. The people of Australia were then given a preview of Labour’s efforts to nationalize the banks. It was at that point that disaster befell the Labour Party. But for Senator Kennelly’s comments I should not have referred to these events, because it is not in keeping with my nature to revive ancient feuds on the day after an election is announced!
The honorable senator seems to be aggrieved by the fact that in 1952 this Government, so far from giving preference to the private enterprise airline, was able to introduce legislation which brought equity into the airline business. Although I had the privilege of criticizing the Civil Aviation Agreement Bill 1952, and even though I still think that that legislation and the subsequent legislation of 1961 attracted criticism, the complaints that Senator
Kennelly has levelled against it cannot be justified. So far from giving preference to the private enterprise airline, that legislation simply ensured parity for the government airline and the private airline. I challenged the honorable senator about the carriage of mails. The legislation to which I have referred simply provided that the carriage of mails would be shared equally by the two airlines. I cannot imagine the Post Office having submitted to any charge that could not be justified on economic grounds. 1 daresay that a little competition is good in the servicing of Australian mails and in other respects.
When we consider other aspects of the two-airline system, as the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) is pleased to describe it, we find that undeniable advantages have been introduced. Senator Kennelly may still be labouring under the outmoded idea that these advantages are in fact unjustifiable disadvantages to the Government airline. I refer to the fact that the government airline has been required to pay interest on its capital and to pay a dividend out of its profits. I advance the proposition that only by equating the activities of government trading organizations with the imposts to which private traders must submit can an industry be placed on a sound economic basis. Credit is due to the Minister for Civil Aviation for having attempted to place the airline industry on a sound basis.
I now pass to the provisions of the bill. For many years this country has been appropriating large sums of money for the provision of facilities for the airline industry. In the middle of the last century Autralia was confronted with the obligation to build railways and, before them, roads. Only an airy-fairy financier would suggest that the day of payment could be postponed indefinitely. The air age having come upon us, and the need having arisen to construct airports and to provide facilities for accommodating and servicing aircraft, to direct them and to ensure their preservation, we face the prospect of falling deeply into debt. That is illustrated by the fact that the total appropriation for the Department of Civil Aviation, including the provision for capital works and services, in 1961-62 was £.19.100,000 and in 1962-63, £18,900,000. The provision for capital works and services in those years was approximately £6,000,000 and £5,000,000 respectively. It will be seen that the appropriations of revenue in those two years were approximately £12,800,000 and £13,800,000.
It is to the credit of the Department of Civil Aviation that it has adopted the policy of recovering in full from the airline industry all proper charges to defray, not the whole expenditure of the department, but that proportion of it which is properly attributable to the provision and servicing of aerodromes and other facilities. That policy has not been applied so harshly and arbitrarily against Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett-A.N.A. and overseas airlines that they would be obliged to carry a heavy burden of airway and navigation charges, which in 1952-53 yielded a return of only £200,000. This year, as Senator Kennelly has said, air navigation charges are estimated to yield £1,770,000, with the increases provided in the bill before the Senate. The Minister has told us in his second-reading speech that that represents a nine-fold increase since 1952-53. That shows a substantial but gradual achievement of the objective that this public expenditure to provide air navigational facilities and aerodromes is to be serviced by the airways industry. We are short of that by far, now, and I would be obliged if the Minister would give the Senate the total accumulated expenditure set apart over the years as the capital investment appropriated to Department of Civil Aviation expenditure against which the air navigation charges should be set.
Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber should be very pleased indeed that we have such a spirit of responsibility for public expenditure on his industry displayed by the Minister for Civil Aviation. He has purposefully set down a policy under which the industry that uses this public expenditure will gradually repay proper charges to recoup revenue for that expenditure. I believe that the bill is justified. It will increase the charges to those who operate the industry, and I hope that the two major airlines upon which the charges will fall will re-examine their profit and loss accounts for last year. Ansett-
A.N.A. had the very creditable commercial return of somewhere near £1,000.000 net profit for the .year. I believe this is not an unreasonably high return on capital. Trans-Australia Airlines has a profit, I believe, of £500,000.
– The profit for the year has not yet been announced, although there has been speculation about it.
– Last year it was £483,000. So there is a special duty on each of these entities to see that this charge - which represents 10 per cent, of last year’s yield of £1,480,000, or an increase of £150,000 on a rough computation - is absorbed if possible within their set-up, so that charges to the public will not be increased. I know it is all very pious for a politician to say these things. We have to have this revenue to create responsibility on a matter of public expenditure; but there is an imperative duty on all operators - government and private enterprise - to see that the retail costs to the public are not allowed to rise. I support the bill.
– I also support the bill. I have listened with great interest to Senator Kennelly and Senator Wright. This is one of the few items where the revenue rates have been increased in the current Budget. I think it is up to us in the Senate to examine the justification for such an increase. I have read with great interest the report of the Department of Civil Aviation for 1962-63. In the introduction there were set out some of the most remarkable advances that have been noted in civil aviation during the past twelve months. I want to mention some to show the Senate that the Department of Civil Aviation has increased its services to aircraft operators.
There is the £30,000,000 airport developmental programme which has recently been announced by the Government. This, of course, is not to provide only for major projects such as the airports at Melbourne, Tullamarine and Sydney, but is planned also to include major works in all the States. I welcome the answer that was given me by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) recently concerning the major work that is going on at Adelaide airport. There is no need for me to inform the Minister that the Adelaide airport’s facilities for passengers are considerably out of date, even though the airport is quite a new structure. The increase in the use < of the airport by passengers over the past few years has been most noticeable. The plan for civil aviation development includes extensive use of the new type of radio range on the directional, or V.A.R. system. So throughout Australia there are most noticeable improvements in facilities, and it is interesting to note that the aircraft on the civil register at the end of June, 1962, totalled 1,600 compared with 1,787 now.
I am not confining my remarks to the traditional civil airline operators. A review of the use of aviation facilities shows that private flying has increased by more than 10 per cent, and charter flying by 40 per cent. Aerial agriculture operators did 29 per cent, more work in the year ended 30th June, 1963, treating some 8,500,000 acres. So I think there is a general case for increased expenditure by the department in view of the increased use of aviation facilities.
One should examine the costs of the department in providing the facilities. In appendix 43 of the current report of the Department of Civil Aviation the air navigation costs for 1962-63 are set out in summarized form. The record of recurrent cash costs under the heading “ location costs” shows that the sum of £6,619,000 was spent last year. The cost of regional offices in the States totalled £2,319,000 and head office charges totalled £2,231,000. The total recurrent cash cost was, therefore, £11,169,000. Then, of course, provision must be made for depreciation, interest on capital and superannuation liabilities totalling £5,586,000, or a total cost for air navigation purposes of £16,755,000. We expect that these costs will rise this year. As Senator Wright and others have pointed out, it is expected that in 1963-64, with the increase provided for in the bill, revenue from air navigation charges will amount to £1,770,000. So we can see that the department, even at this point of time, is recovering only about 10 per cent, of last year’s air navigation costs. Possibly, with the rise expected this year, the amount recovered will be less than 1.0 per cent. That is not surprising when one realizes the enormous capital cost that has gone into the creation of aerodromes and facilities. Senator Wright showed some interest in this figure. ]. invite his attention to appendix-40. which sets out gross recorded value ‘at cost ‘of departmental assets, including works in progress. Fixed assets are valued at £65,000,000. The major items are radio communications, £4,500,000; radio navigation, £4,200,000; power generation, £2,000,000; runway strips and improvements, £37,000,000; and buildings and hangars, £14,000,000.
– Would it be proper to relate these air navigation charges to that figure?
– I was going to suggest that interest on capital, £2,800,000, could well be included in air navigation costs for last year. In addition, there was a depreciation charge of just over £2,000,000. I commend the Government and the department upon attempting to recover some of that vast capital expenditure, and upon bringing to our notice the fact that it is nearly £17,000,000. I commend the Government upon recovering what it does recover of this expenditure. I have mentioned those figures to show that this Government and preceding governments have sunk a good deal into the excellent facilities that we now enjoy. The high standard of air safety in Australia is noteworthy throughout the world. For the high capital cost of radio communication, radio navigation, meteorological equipment and the items that I mentioned earlier, we are rewarded by having a record remarkably free of air accidents.
Having examined these figures, I should say that the Government was justified in asking the industry to bear a proportion of the cost, even though it is only a small proportion. The Government has been wise in giving notice to the industry that as the industry flourishes it will be asked to bear a higher proportion of these charges. Consequently, it is appropriate that some examination be made of the figures put before the Senate to-day.
I commend the Government and the Minister upon the action being taken, even though it will mean a slight rise in the amount paid by users of civil aviation facilities.
– in reply - I am pleased that the measure before the Senate, attracts.no opposition.
The state of the political game to-day, as Senator Kennelly observes, leaves little time, occasion, or appropriateness for engaging in any politics. Ever so softly, however, I want to refer to some of the things that he said about the hardship which this Government almost invariably inflicted on the Government airline.
– Did he use the word “ almost “?
– If he did not it was, I think, essential to what he said. At least, he indicated that the measure with which we are dealing inflicted no greater hardship on the Government line than on the privately owned line. Notwithstanding his claim that there is little point in pursuing a political argument, what he did say called to mind some of the things which, as Minister, I have had occasion to notice in recent years. I have noticed this government airline, suffering under the hardships that have been inflicted on it by this Government, go from a point at which it had only a small fleet of DC3 aircraft, through all the years that we have been in government, re-equip three or five times, to be equipped as from next year with the latest aircraft available, and gain for itself a reputation of world standard among the airlines. I have noticed that this hardship that we have inflicted has worked itself out not only in respect of equipment. If any honorable senator would like to check the degree of hardship which this Government has inflicted upon the governmentowned airline, he might do well to have a look around Australia and see the capital assets which this government organization has acquired and built up over a period of years. Senator Kennelly himself will surely know that .under this Government Trans-Australia Airlines is to build for itself in Melbourne a magnificent edifice as its head office, an outward manifestation of the permanency which this Government attaches to T.A.A. If he goes to Sydney and sees the offices which have been established and improved both in the city and at the airport, he will again have evidence of how this hardship has affected T.A.A. My friend, Senator Laught, will be aware of the recent development at Adelaide. Those who go to Darwin will know that office accommodation of a modern progressive type has recently been provided there. I mention these things merely to point out that this hardship story, which Senator Kennelly tells, does not in fact work out in practice.
– It does not work out in regard to intra-state trade does it? Come on, face facts.
– I shall.
– You have purposely kept this airline out of intra-state trade.
– I shall come back to that. I do not avoid anything in respect of this. I was very interested to note recently in the house paper, if it can be so described, which the airline puts in its aircraft, an article stating that in four places in Australia thousands of miles apart, T.A.A. had on one day opened a new establishment. If Senator Kennelly takes the point that that airline is not permitted to operate intra-state or to do certain other work I answer in this way: It is permitted to operate intra-state.
– It is permitted to operate intra-state in Queensland, and it is permitted to operate in Tasmania, and will soon do so.
– What about the big States?
– As I have frequently said before, T.A.A. could be permitted to operate in those States only under subsidy because the airlines that now operate there have of necessity to operate under subsidy. If there were no subsidy there would be no airlines in the States concerned. Senator Kennelly, in effect, proposes that, instead of one airline operating under subsidy, two airlines should operate under subsidy in the States concerned and the public - the taxpayers of this country - should be given the bill in order to finance the stupid political philosophy of the Australian Labour Party. I have told him before that that will not be permitted to occur while this Government is in office. We are not going to indulge in the luxury of permitting two airlines to give a service when one airline, necessarily operating under subsidy, is doing it efficiently. . We shall, be very interested to sec how this policy -of the Labour Party in respect of airlines develops. Senator Kennelly said to-day that he does not want to sec a one-airline system.
– I want T.A.A. to have a fair go.
– We shall have a look at this proposition. Senator Kennelly and his party will be given an opportunity over the ensuing weeks of stating precisely where they stand, not only in respect of airline policy, but in respect of a number of other important matters about which they have already announced Janus-faced decisions which can be interpreted in opposite ways in order to suit any particular purpose. I think we have had one example of that. Three more were given last night and during the next few weeks the Labour Party will be given the opportunity of saying precisely where it stands in relation to airline operations. The public will not be slow to forget that a few years ago, as Senator Wright reminded the Senate this afternoon, the Labour Party took every possible action it could take to run private enterprise out of the air and was prevented from doing so merely by the action of the High Court of Australia.
Senator Wright referred to the criticism made by Senator Kennelly and reminded me that it is only months ago that, in pursuing this so-called policy of hardship, this Senate was invited to approve and did, in fact, approve a loan raising of 1 1 ,000,000 dollars on behalf of the government airline for the purchase of equipment. I wonder what form of hardship a loan of 11,000,000 dollars would be described as. It was raised on the credit, in effect, of the Australian people. Is this the sort of hardship to which Senator Kennelly objects? If it is, he should say so.
Turning to the references to the increases that have occurred over the years in airline charges, I think it proper to point out to the Senate that it is not only in respect of airlines policy that there has been a very great change over the years that this Government has been in office. In other respects, too, the Government has pursued a policy which has relieved the general body of taxpayers of much expenditure which was previously borne by them. In addition to air navigation charges, there is the taxation on airline fuel which now totals’ £1,400,000 a year. But we have taken other action. In the days before we came to office, and immediately thereafter, it was the established policy of the government of the day that the Commonwealth should own everything at airports and very little of its property was revenue producing. Now, we see that, as far as possible, facilities required by operators and other people at airports are provided by those who require them and not at the expense of the taxpayers. Where, as occurs at capital city airports, big joint-user terminal facilities are provided, those facilities are charged for at vided those facilities are charged lor at reasonable rentals. One of the big petrol and oil installations at airports. Years ago, these were all installed by and remained the property of the Commonwealth Government. They were put in at the expense of the taxpayer. To-day and for years past this sort of facility has been provided by the oil companies themselves.
One of the most striking developments in revenue producing is just beginning to make itself evident. It is the policy which is now being pursued in relation to business concessions at airports. This policy has been fully effective only for three years. Already, we arc beginning to feel the effect of this policy and to experience the relief which is provided by this sort of revenue. Indeed, we see that airport property, reasonably used, can develop into quite an effective little revenue producer.
Senator Laught referred to various indices of capital investment at airports. The tables to which he referred are indeed interesting. However, I strike this note of warning: In reading these tables it should not be assumed that all these costs can be taken as specifically attributable to civil aviation because the development of this media of transport in Australia has a significance for national development which must fairly be taken into account and which is taken into account in all the older countries of the world. Indeed, as I look around the other civil aviation administrations of the world it becomes apparent to me that what wc are doing in Australia, in a commercial sense but by no means in a harsh sense, is much more realistic than what is being done in most other countries of the world, lt is sometimes forgotten that in Australia, because of the nature and vastness of the country, we have an obligation to maintain in one way or another more than 600 airports. This, as will be appreciated, is no mean feat. I thank the Senate for the reception of the measure which is before it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I refer to clause 4, which reads -
The Second Schedule to the Principal Act is amended by inserting in paragraphs 6, 7 . and 8, after the word “ payable “ (first occurring), the words “ in respect of that period “.
I move -
Leave out “ ‘ payable ‘ (first occurring) “, insert “ is payable “.
This is, as will be seen, a drafting amendment only.
Amendment agreed to.
.- Replying to the second-reading debate, the Minister referred to some figures cited by Senator Laught. Despite that reference by the Minister, it is not to be assumed that all figures cited by the honorable senator had application to this bill. The Minister said that during the year commencing on 1st January next, the Commonwealth will recover £1,700,000. Can the Minister tell me how much has been expended by the Commonwealth under this head?
– For convenience I have referred to the total annual expenditure stated in the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation.
– At what page?
– Page 131, Appendix 43. The annual expenditure is stated to be £16,755,000, and a break-up of the expenditure is given. However, we do not accept that all this expenditure is attributable to civil aviation. Within that amount is an element for national development.
.-I wonder whether the Minister can tell the committee what portion of the £16.755.000 is applicable to the bill that we are now discussing and in relation to which the Commonwealth will obtain in revenue £1,700,000 for the current year.
– The information sought by the honorable senator has never been worked out with precision, but we in the Department of Civil Aviation believe that the amount correctly attributable to civil aviation would be somewhere between 50 per cent, and 75 per cent.
.- I rise to make a suggestion and invite comment thereon. I suggest that consideration be given to casting up these figures on a basis that would enable those that are attributable to this purpose - leaving out the section of the expenditure that goes to national development - to form some sort of capital account. It would be timely for these accounts to be drawn up in a way such as the Post Office accounts have been drawn up within the last two or three years. If the objective of these charges is to be attained, we should start with our laid-down expenditure and we and the people in that industry should know the capital base on which these charges are assessed from year to year.
– I think I understand the rather rough answer given by the Minister to my question. I take it that between 50 per cent. and 75 per cent. of the £16,755,000 shown in Appendix 43 on page 131 of the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation is attributable to civil aviation. I agree with what Senator Wright said. When a private airline or a government-owned airline is to be charged an amount of money, I believe it is entitled to know for what it is charged. It is not sufficient to say that the whole cost is £16,755,000 and that some of that sum is rightly chargeable to the domestic and international airlines. Ansett-A.N.A. and the government-owned airline pay most of the £1,700,000, and I should think that neither company would be over-happy with the knowledge that the only information available to it is that between 50 per cent. and 75 per cent. of the whole amount is attributable to civil aviation. Even if Parliament cannot be given the exact figure on which the charge to the airline companies is calculated, at least those who have to pay it should be told the exact figure.
– I do not contest the proposition put by either Senator Wright or Senator Kennelly. The plain fact is that involved in this question is, as will be appreciated, a degree of inter-departmental conference and decision. Although the matter is under progressive examination, it is not yet regarded as critical because our recoveries from air navigation charges clearly have not yet come to a point where they can be related to expenditure directly attributable to civil aviation. However, I can assure the committee that this is the sort of thing we have in mind and with which we propose to proceed.
– If the Department of Civil Aviation has this matter in mind and intends to proceed with it, mayI hope that at some future time we will be told exactly the basis upon which the airline companies are charged I thought that an honorable senator mentioned during the debate that the figure was 10 per cent.
– - No. The charges we are now authorizing represent a 10 per cent. increase on the present charges.
– I know that, but I understood Senator Laught to say that the amount to be charged against the airlines would be in the vicinity of 10 per cent. of £16.750,000. It does not seem to me that that is in any way near the mark.
– That figure neglects the past year’s expenditure.
-I am speaking of last year’s expenditure. It seems to me that, if the proportion should be 50 per cent., we have to work out the percentage that £1,750,000 is of £8,370,000, or approximately half of £16,750,000. I think that the Minister owes it to the Parliament, and certainly to those who must pay these charges, to tell every one concerned the basis on which the charges are assessed and the amount that has been spent this year in providing facilities. If 1 were Mr. Ansett, I should certainly want to know what I had to pay. I do not think the Minister would get away with it as easily as he does now.
I hope that the officers of Trans-Austraiia Airlines also will ask why it is necessary to increase the charges by 10 per cent.I do not think there can be any quarrel with an increase, having regard to the huge sum of money, which has been spent on the develop-: ment of facilities ever since the inception of civil aviation in this country. Nevertheless, I think that the organizations which have to pay the charges are entitled to know the basis on which they are assessed. I hope that that will be done next year by the person who then has the privilege to introduce the relevant legislation.
– It will be a Labour man.
– That will be decided on 30th November. He is a very unwise man who predicts on the first day of the month what will happen on the thirtieth day. I am not attempting to do that at the moment. We arc now dealing with the Air Navigation (Charges) Bill. I do not like half information. When I ask questions, which is not very often. I like precise and definite replies. At the moment, we have not had definite information in regard to this matter. I do not think that is fair to the Parliament, to the people we represent, or to those who must pay the charges.
Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
WINE OVERSEAS MARKETING BILL 1963.
Debate resumed from1 0th October (vide page 1033), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this bill is to amend the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929-1961. As the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), who represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) in this chamber, stated in his second-reading speech, the intention is to amend the legislation constituting the Australian Wine Board to take account of a change in the name of the central wine-maker organizations whose State components are responsible for providing the proprietary wine-maker representation on the board. The Federal Viticultural Council changed its name to the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated. The alteration has been approved by the Registrar of Companies in South Australia. It therefore has become legally necessary to amend section 5 of the act in order to substitute the new name- of the council for the old.
No doubt the Minister will be pleased to hear that the Opposition does not intend to oppose the bill. Nevertheless, I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to comment on the thirty-fifth annual report of the Australian Wine Board. The Minister stated, in the concluding part of his secondreading speech -
I am pleased to say that the central body and its State sections are working in close harmony with the main grape-grower organizations in the overall interests of both sections of the community.
I echo the sentiments of the Minister in this regard, because only a few years ago the relations between the grape-growers and the wine-makers in South Australia were the very opposite of harmonious. In fact, it was necessary for the grape-growers to approach the South Australian Parliament in an endeavour to obtain what they considered to be justice. Without going into the merits or demerits of the argument that took place at the time, there is no doubt that there was bitter feeling between the two sections of the industry. If, as the Minister has stated, they are now working in close harmony I am exceedingly pleased.
The annual report of the Australian Wine Board rather deflated the overall idea I had formed of the state of the industry in Australia and of the improvement that had occurred in it. In common with, I think, a majority of Australians, I had thought that not only had Australian wine and brandy improved greatly in comparison with the standards achieved in previous years, but also that there had been a dramatic improvement in sales of wine and brandy, both in Australia and overseas. From a perusal of the report, it now seems that there has not been any such dramatic improvement. In fact, in some instances the records covered by the report show that there has been no improvement at all. I do not make this comment in criticism of the board or its members. I do not suggest for one moment that lack of effort on their part has been responsible for the absence of improvement. Probably, the reason for the lack of progress is to be found in factors beyond their control. In a small section of the report I noted a statement which may provide a clue. The report states that the board has not been provided with sufficient revenue to enable it to take the steps it would like to take to enable the industry to go ahead much faster than it is at the. moment.
I had thought that the home market for wine had improved as the result of a large number of European migrants, whose taste for wine is much more pronounced than that of Australians, coming to this country. I believed that the increase in the home market would be much more than it actually is and also that, because of the generally accepted improvement, not only in the quality of Australian wines and brandy but also in the methods by which they are publicized, the increase in our export market would be much greater than it actually is.
I wish to quote briefly from the report of the Australian’ Wine Board to support the statement I have just made. On page 5 the board said -
It is disappointing .to report that clearances of fortified wines for home consumption in Australia were the lowest for seven years. Clearances for home consumption are a reasonable guide to actual sales. Total clearances in Australia for 1962-63 were 9,065,000 gallons compared with 9,397,000 gallons in 1961-62. The market for sweet fortified wines has remained fairly static over the past ten years.
The Board believes there is a big . potential in Australia for sweet wines but has not been able to do much to promote these products on a national basis. The Board’s income is somewhat limited for national wine promotion and the available funds for advertising have been concentrated to a greater extent on the promotion of table wines and brandy. However, sweet wines have been featured at wine tastings. There is no indication that the market in Australia for sweet wines is likely to increase to any extent under the present circumstances.
As the board at least hints that the decline in the sale of Australian wines is caused by lack of funds for promotion, I can only suggest that, such being the case, it is the duty of the Government, in the interests of
Australia, to remove that disability and to sec that the board is not similarly disappointed in future.
On page 6 of the report, dealing with overseas trade the board said -
The total quantity of wine exported from Australia in 1962-63 was 1,614,301 gallons compared wilh 1,677,669 gallons (he previous year - a difference of 63,368 gallons.
The difference was in a downward direction. The. report continued -
Exports to the United Kingdom fell from 1.163.174 gallons in 1961-62 to 1,1.03,529 gallons in 1962-63. The United Kingdom is still by far the best market for Australian wine and it is disappointing to see exports failing at a time when the total consumption of wine in the United Kingdom is increasing.
The board also said -
Canada is the second best market for Australian wines but exports to (his country were also lower in 1962-63. Total exports of Australian wine to Canada this year were 288,010 gallons compared with 340,594 gallons the previous year.
Further on in the report (he board continued -
Australian wines enjoy » high reputation in New Zealand and it is disappointing that imports are restricted in this market which because of its close proximity is a natural market for Australian wines.
That is another matter that should bc looked at by the Government in an effort to improve the position of iiic industry. The position in regard to brandy also indicates a general falling off. The board stated -
Ali through the report the same picture is painted, a downward trend being disclosed.
I think that the Senate should consider one important feature of the industry. Whilst there is a decrease in the imports of Australian wines into Great Britain the same cannot be said about the British imports of wine from other countries. The fact that other countries are improving their exports to Great Britain while Australia shows no corresponding’ increase should be investigated. The quantity of Australian wine imported by the United Kingdom in 1956-57 was 1,009,312 gallons. In 1962-63 the amount was 1,075,722 gallons, only a very small increase between 1956-57 and 1962-63. The 1962-63 figure represented also a decrease in the quantity imported into the United Kingdom in some of the intervening years. In the same period British wine imports from France increased from 3,298,714 gallons to 5,207,551 gallons. The wine imports of the United Kingdom from Spain increased from 3,883,113 gallons to 6,505,027 gallons, and in respect of South Africa the imports increased from 1,319,272 gallons, to 2.361,401 gallons. Australia appears to be the one wine exporting country that has not increased its exports of wine and brandy to the United Kingdom, and the explanation for this is not associated in any way with closer trading arrangements between European countries. This state of affairs should cause some concern. As J mentioned earlier, 1 was under the impression that we were improving our exports, but the whole trend of this report seems to indicate the reverse.
There is only one other matter on which 1 wish to touch before I finish. There hits been some discussion over the years about changing the names of Austraiian wines. To a large extent we have adopted the names given to wines in the European countries where the particular types originated. I notice in the report that the board thinks that changes in names would be prejudicial to The Australian product, and prejudicial to our chances of selling it in the United Kingdom, where our wine*’ are known by these European names. Contrary to the argument that was put forward in another place, I believe that it would be a step in the wrong direction to change the names of our wines. One manufacturer in South Australia did change the name of his port wine to “ Para “, bin I do not know whether the change had an effect on his sales one way or the other. One thing about which 1 am positive is that anybody buying a bottle of Seppelt’s wine would ask for port wine and not for purple para or something of that sort.
– Red Ned!
– Not in respect of Seppelt’s anyhow. Senator O’Byrne’s interjection brings to my mind that there was a time when Australians generally considered that all wine drinkers drank plonk, Red Ned or some such kind of cheap wine, but there has been a tendency to get away from that belief, f am not suggesting that a greater per head quantity of wine is drunk in Australia. I think the report indicates otherwise, but the general attitude that Australians had that anybody who drank wine was a “ metho “ drinker is a thing of the past, lt is generally recognized that the Australian product is good. This report states - and other reports have stated - that the Australian product is well up to world standards, and for that reason I find it difficult to comprehend why the sale of Australian wines on world markets, as well as on the Australian home market, is not better than it is.
– 1 rise to support the bill, because I come from a State which makes quite a substantial contribution to the production of wine in Australia. Admittedly that contribution is not nearly as great as that made by South Australia and Victoria. Nevertheless, we in Western Australia are very proud of our wines. As was stated by Senator Ridley, the purpose of the bill is to amend the Wine Overseas Marketing Act to provide for the change of name of the federal organization of the wine and brandy producers. In other words, it is proposed to change in the act the designation of that organization from the Federal Viti.cultural Council to the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated.
The bill does not provide for any change to be made to the Australian Wine Board, which was established under the provisions of the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929- J961. The board consists of representatives of the wine distilleries and the growers, and a representative of-the Commonwealth. The functions of the board are to supervise the export and distribution of Australian wine and to recommend conditions under which export licences shall be issued. Furthermore, the board engages in publicity and trade promotion within Australia and overseas. The board maintains an office in London, and also what is known as the Australian Wine Centre, which acts as a retail outlet for Australian wines and brandies and as a medium for promoting interest in these products. I believe that the Australian Wine Board has performed its work efficiently and to the satisfaction of the industry. My investigations lead me to believe that the Australian wine industry is now firmly established. I hope that it will progress and will become an even greater earner of export income.
It should be of interest to all Australians to note that vines have been cultivated in Australia since the earliest days of settlement in this country. The first vineyard in Western Australia was planted in the Swan valley about twelve miles from Perth as far back as 1840 by Captain Septimus Roe, who was the first Surveyor-General in Western Australia and who came to that State with the original settlers of the Swan River colony in 1829. For a very long period this vineyard and the other vineyards that were established within a stone’s throw along the Swan valley produced mainly for the export grape market. In recent years the main vineyards in Western Australia have turned to the production of highquality wines. The production of wine in the Swan valley stems mainly from the climatic conditions in that region. The dry, warm climate during the ripening periods leads to a high sugar content, as a result of which some very sweet, high-quality liqueur types of wines are made. Because of the climate, Western Australia produces a very fine burgundy wine. Many honorable senators know about Western Australia’s burgundy wine.
– Do you believe that the name should bc changed?
– I am not saying that. The total production of wine in Australia in 1962-63 was 31,000,000 gallons. In the previous year it was 42,000,000 gallons. The production of wine in 1960-61, which totalled 33,800,000 gallons, showed a marked increase over the production in 1938-39, which amounted to 14,300,000 gallons. Over the same period the consumption of beverage wine in Australia rose from 4,500,000 gallons, which worked out at approximately .7 gallons per head of population, to 11,700,000 gallons, which worked out at 1.12 gallons per head of population.
I hope that the people of Australia will continue to support the Australian product. I believe that too many people in this country tend to think that because a product is produced locally it is not as good as the overseas product. If we believe that we can produce wines in Australia, we should support the people who produce them. I hope the industry will continue to progress as it has in the past. I support the bill.
– One of the pleasing aspects of this debate is that more honorable senators are participating than have participated in debates on similar measures in past years. Obviously those who are taking part are trying to help the wine industry and to let the Australian Wine Board know that at least a few of us are taking an interest in an industry which, although it is not a big one, is, as Senator Ridley clearly pointed out, passing through a difficult time. It is experiencing difficulty in competing on overseas markets and in achieving the increased consumption of wines in Australia that one would have believed would have flowed from the increase in our population and the coming to this country of people who we thought had been drinking wine ever since they were children. ‘
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended I commented that my colleague, Senator Ridley, had dealt fully not only with the bill but also with the report of the Australian Wine Board. I commented that although the position of the board had been strengthened to allow it to look after external as well as internal markets there was a feeling of frustration and disappointment at the fact that home consumption of wine had not increased in the past ten years. One would have expected an increase with the growth in population and with the influx of many immigrants from wine-making and wine-drinking countries. I also noted that we had not been able to’ increase our sales in overseas markets, including the United Kingdom.
I have been interested in Australian wines for the past fourteen years and have followed closely various amendments to legislation dealing with wine. One of these concerned the export of wines of many types with many different brand names. This has made it difficult to establish an Australian name in the wine trade overseas in competition with European wines. Senator Ridley dealt with the facts and figures fully, and, effectively. .. .
I notice that the Australian Wine Board reports that films are being used more extensively to promote the sale of our wines. I commend this trend. I have often thought that ‘many Commonwealth departments could use films more extensively through our embassies to promote knowledge overseas of our industries and our products, including our wines. Whether or not we like it there is some mystique about wine. Some persons who have been interested in the wine industry for many years say that this is unnecessary and even undesirable, but the fact is that some people have a snobbish attitude towards wine. If we are going to break into overseas markets, particularly in South-East Asia, our embassies, which are continually entertaining guests, could use films to bring a knowledge of our wines to the people of the various countries. Films of wine-making in Australia showing the Barossa Valley and the Hunter River district, for example, could be made fairly cheaply and without much trouble and could be used to promote interest in our wines overseas.
The fall in the United Kingdom imports of Australian wines is difficult to understand. Anybody who has been overseas has heard complaints of the difficulty in getting Australian wines in England. The late Senator George McLeay had a daughter married in London and he said he had to insist that the caterers at the reception supply Australian wines. They resisted this order and said it would not be the thing to put Australian wines on the table. But George McLeay was always specific in saying what he wanted, and I have no doubt he finally had his way. I mention this in passing to indicate the sort of experience one of our former colleagues had.
At page 8 of the report of the Australian Wine Board there is a reference to “ assisted brand advertising “. The comment was made that retailers in London had made great use of this campaign. I am not sure what is meant by “ assisted brand advertising “. Apparently it relates to something we are trying to do to assist the marketing of wine in London. I have heard good reports of the Australian Wine Centre in London which was set up only three or four years ago. T notice from the report of the Australian Wine Board that the Wine Office in London has transferred many of its functions to the Wine Centre. It is a place where retailers are able to go and see our wines in a showroom. Evidently there are officers there to instruct them on Australian wines, and this has given an impetus to our wine trade in London.
But although we are moving forward in the handling of our wines the result is below expectations. The board also reports that the sale of fortified wines in Australia has been disappointing and that there does not seem to be much prospect of selling more in the years to come. This is frustrating since the Australian Wine Board has been set up properly to know all about the making and marketing of wines. The board makes the comment that this trade has been static for about ten years. If that is so, with the influx of Europeans into Australia it appears that we might be coming to the end of our tether for this type of wine.
I notice that the production of wine in South Australia the year before last threw the wine industry into a panic. This had repercussions because South Australia tried to sell its wine in other States more cheaply. This was all right for the consumers but it worried the people who handled wine made in other States. The board has reported that it was worried that if this experience had been repeated in South Australia the next year it would have been impossible to handle the processing of the grapes. I should like the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) to tell the Senate what the problem was. Was it a case of lack of physical capacity to handle the grapes, if there had been another year of record production in South Australia, or did the problem involve the economics of the industry? lt would be interesting to have the facts, because an article by Mr. Ian Seppelt, chairman of the Australian Wine Board, pointed out that new areas were coming into production. I do not believe in reducing production. I think we should look for more consumption of our foodstuffs rather than lower production. So I should like to know whether this question of capacity to handle grapes was based on marketing problems or economics. “ “
I notice that the report, in dealing with publicity on the English market states that special licences have been obtained at exhibitions to enable wine shippers not only to give tastings of their products but also to sell sealed bottles direct to the public. I am wondering why it was necessary to get special licences. It seems that if you are to give wine tastings, while you have people interested in a particular brand of wine you ought to be. able to follow up with a sale immediately, or much of the value of the promotional work involved in wine tastings is being lost. Why was it necessary to have special licences? I should not imagine that there would be in England laws of the type that we have which provide that one must sell a gallon of this or that wine before the sale becomes legal.
I notice that within Australia wine tastings have been conducted in the larger Slates but they have been neglected in Western Australia and Queensland. I should have thought that Queensland which, apart from Roma, does not produce a large quantity of wine, was an area where we should be trying to make our Australian product known. It seems to mc that this industry has to battle against all sorts of psychological barriers as well as try to introduce wine drinking to Australian people, particularly with meals. The board seems to bc concentrating on the other States, which arc producing jolly good wine, and neglecting Queensland where, for some reason - probably climatic conditions - only one small centre, Roma, is producing wine.
Let us throw our minds back to the problems that- faced Australian export industries a few months ago when we were tremendously worried about the prospect of the United Kingdom’s entry to the European Common Market. The spotlight then fell on every one of our export industries. For this reason, I do not underrate any of our smaller industries which may bc moving into the export field. I do not underrate the genius of the British. Nobody should do so, because of the way in which they have handled such a small island for so many hundreds of years and taken their part in world trade. We should not think that merely because France vetoed the United Kingdom’s entry into the Common
Market that is the end of the story and that we may become a little complacent about losing export markets.
What are we doing to increase our export markets, first amongst the nations that are close to our shores? It seems that in Japan the Australian Wine Board has done an exceptionally good job. Although the Japanese Government’ exercised import control over the amount of wine that was to flow into Japan from all the wine exporting countries, we have been able to say, “ What about letting in more of our wine? “ The Japanese have acceded to our request. That appears to me to be good work. It is reasonable to assume that this result has come from the trade talks that we have had with Japan in recent times.
I have heard a lot of comments recently about the fact’ that New Zealand people are unable to order Australian wines. New Zealand is not a great wine-producing country and naturally should look towards its nearest neighbour. I was interested to note that special import licences are required, which react against our exporters of wine. Has the Minister any knowledge of the reason for this? Is this merely a financial question arising from the balance of trade? Has New Zealand some exchange agreement with other countries producing wine? It seems obvious that if Australia is seeking to promote exports of any commodity, particularly of wine, it should be looking to the New Zealand market. After all, a flight to New Zealand is only about half as long as the flight to my home town, Perth. An improvement has been made in our exports of wine to Japan, but we seem to be having difficulties with exports to New Zealand.
What is the position in the rest of SouthEast Asia? Some reference is made to exports of brandy. I wonder whether in our promotion of all sorts of exports to SouthEast Asia we are missing the boat. Has the Minister any comment to make on our activities in South-East Asia? We must never underrate this market, because as emerging countries move into higher living strata they want to buy superior commodities. If we cannot compete in South-East Asia, it is no wonder that we are having difficulties in the European area.
The board’s report deals very fully with the subject., of nomenclature, but 1 do not- quite follow the purpose of the special meeting to which we have been able to send observers and which is dealing with the subject of nomenclature of wines. It seems that the board is worried that the committee’s activities will strike at our traditional names. We have built up some well-known names. I shall not go into that subject, which Senator Ridley dealt with so effectively, but I am wondering what is the particular problem. I thought that the intention might be to ban the use of certain generic names on the European market as well as on the Australian market, but it seems that that is not so. Has the Minister any comment on that? During debates on this subject in the last few years, the suggestion has been made that we ought to be establishing our own names. As Senator Ridley pointed out, this has been tried in South Australia but has not been really effective. One grows up to know such names as port, claret, chablis and riesling, which connote particular types of wine to him. From the point of view of trade and marketing it would be a backward rather than a forward step to try to develop new names which are strange to everybody.
Great progress has been made regarding freights. I should like the Minister to explain how the .wine board was able to convince somebody that freights were too high, with the result that freights on wine were reduced to a satisfactory level. This was a splendid effort. I applaud it, but I should like to know how it was done. If anything has bedevilled Australian exporters, it is the matter of freights.
A council has been established for the specific purpose of research on wines. The report is comparatively silent as to the type of research being done. Is there research on the growing side, on the manufacturing side, or on the marketing side? There seems to me to be a very close relationship between these three activities. An additional £5,000 has been devoted to research. I am interested to know whether that has been given to the research council or whether research is taking place on two levels.
I should like to refer now to publicity. A few days ago in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ I saw a very colorful section devoted to wines. It claimed that the mechanics of manufacturing wine in the Barossa valley were amongst the most efficient in the world. I am interested in the criticisms of what is termed wine snobbery by people who have been producing wine for many years. Wine snobbery has probably been a factor in restricting the consumption of wine in Australia for many years. Personally, I am always completely embarrassed if I am asked whether I like a certain wine. I am one of those who like all of them - reds and whites, old reds and young whites.
– How much of them do you like?
– That depends on all sorts of things. All I can say is that I am not a wine snob, because 1 like all wines. I think that is the way it ought to be. If one likes a port, what is wrong with that? Those people who have been referred to as “ wine snobs “ have been cut down to size. I think the best course to adopt is to choose wine according to whether you like a particular product or not. In this respect, I think that publicity for our internal market is improving.
On the London market, the wine centres can do nothing but good. Senator Ridley referred to the frustration which results from not being able to crack through and make larger sales on a market. Canada seems to be the second biggest importer of Australian wine yet even there we run into all sorts of trouble. I fully appreciate the problem of selling wines in competition with traditional European suppliers. In Canada, an additional problem is presented by what might be called the socialization of the liquor industry. There, instead of purchasing wine in the same type of establishment in which wine is purchased in Australia, in certain provinces one has to get a permit and join a queue at a shop to order whatever liquor is wanted. That system makes it difficult for people who are trying to sell Australian wine. Judging by the report to which I have referred, it seems at least something more could be done in order to promote the sale of Australian wines in Canada. Senator Ridley asked whether the Commonwealth Government should not consider the potentiality of Canada as an export market for Australian wine.
I appreciate the leniency of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) in agreeing to our expanding this debate in order to bring up a very interesting question. In dealing with the subjects of food and drink it is always interesting to see a small industry battling to secure an export market. In this case, the objective is a market which, would probably bring greater publicity to Australia than those in which our exports bring more money. If we can crack that market the name of Australia will become better known abroad. I wonder what grade of wine is being exported to the SouthEast Asian market. We must not shut our eyes to the fact that our traditional markets could be lost to us.
Recently, Mr. Hamilton, a very old man with a long experience of the wine industry, commenting on wine snobbery, said that it should be greatly in Australia’s favour that the quality of our wine did not vary greatly from year to year. Our standard of production is fairly constant. No particular year can be described as a vintage year in Australia because we have been able to maintain the quality of our wines at a good level. Mr. Hamilton also seemed to suggest that the drinking of wine was helpful in achieving peace. He said that when you have problems a glass of port is one of the great levellers. Under its influence, problems are reduced to such an extent that they appear to be even smaller than they really are. Traditionally, our Parliament follows the Mother of Parliaments, the House of Commons. Mr. Hamilton said that it was common in that parliament for members to sit down and discuss problems over a glass of wine. The Minister in charge of the bill who is a great admirer of the traditions of the House of Commons, might give some thought to the adoption of that practice in this Parliament, the son of the Mother of Parliaments.
– Mr. Deputy President, there have been several speakers on this measure and I have listened to most of them with a great deal of interest. Coming from South Australia, a State in which the wine industry is very important indeed, it is my pleasure to say a few words in connexion with the bill. We know that this is a small bill - a machinery measure - simply designed to provide for the amendment of the principal act so as to substitute the words “ Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia Incorporated “ for the words “Federal Viticultural Council of Australia “. However, as has been pointed out by other honorable senators, this debate gives the Senate the opportunity of discussing an industry which, although small by the standards of other Australian industries, is very old and very respected and one that has played a considerable part in the development of South Australia.
I am not ignoring other States. Far from it. I believe that there are wine districts in the various States of the Commonwealth which produce a very good product indeed and of which we in South Australia are not at all jealous. We believe that there are certain aspects of wine production in other States which are not present in the industry in South Australia. Nevertheless, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are the biggest wine-growing State. We look upon the developments that have taken place in some of the districts in our State as being very worth while indeed. Apart from considerations relating to the consumption of wines, it is always pleasing to us to drive visitors to South Australia through the vine-growing areas because they are, without exception, some of our best beauty spots. Also, the civic pride displayed by communities associated with the wine industry provide a good example to many other Australian citizens. I have been in the other wine-growing areas of Australia and I did not find that they measured up to the civic standards that we set in South Australia. The towns and districts associated with wine-growing in South Australia lead the way in the civicmindedness of their people.
I believe that the Australian Wine Board has served a very useful purpose. As has been pointed out, it was set up in 1929. Whilst there has been some alteration in the way in which it has been constituted, it has served the industry well over the years. We do not derive a considerable export income from wine. It has always been rather disappointing to me that, as pointed out in the Wine Board’s report, very little headway has been made in increasing the consumption of Australian wine either in Australia or overseas. I am rather disappointed that, as other senators have pointed out, not a great deal of progress has been made by the industry in toto. When one analyses the facts and figures provided in the 35th annual report of the Wine Board one cannot help feeling a little disappointed that the industry has not made greater progress in these post-war years with the advent of many hundreds of thousands of European immigrants whom we might have expected to increase the interest in wine and its consumption. The figures in this report seem to indicate that we have not made a great deal of progress; in fact, we have slipped back in certain directions. That must give us cause for concern. I do not want to refer to many of the topics touched on by previous speakers; I prefer to speak in more general terms. Although I am not an authority on the wine industry, I have had, naturally, a very close association with people engaged in the wine-making industry and people who supply the grapes to the wineries. It has been my very great pleasure to have lived within a comparatively short distance of two of the great wine districts of South Australia. I refer to the Watervale area, which is noted for its table wines, and the great Barossa valley, which also is noted for its high-class table wines.
One must concede that there has been an alteration in many aspects of wine production in South Australia. We have seen a reduction in the great wine-grape areas adjacent to Adelaide. I have in mind ohe of the oldest vineyards in Australia - Penfolds. vineyard - on the eastern foothills of Adelaide. That vineyard has been reduced by the development of the city and sub-division for housing to a comparatively small part of its original area. Penfolds winery still exists there, but the area of vines in and around the foothills of Adelaide has been reduced .very considerably. The same can be said of the areas immediately south of Adelaide. Formerly in those areas we had very large vineyards with which were associated the important producer elements of some of the famous names of winemakers in South Australia. Metropolitan development has extended to those areas and has more or less .taken over what were once vine-growing parts. Consequently, the vineyards to the immediate. south of Adelaide - around Reynella, McLaren Vale and elsewhere quite adjacent to the city - have been reduced considerably in acreage and, thereby, in production of grapes.
Some of those winemaking interests have been forced to take up areas of land along the Murray River and to grow grapes under irrigation. This is quite different from the production of grapes on non-irrigated land which are used for table vintages. Honorable senators will appreciate that this development must have had quite an impact upon grape production, as we formerly knew it, in the areas very close to Adelaide.
– Does it matter whether the vine is watered by the natural rain or by irrigation?
– It is generally understood that where the vine is not irrigated the grapes are better for the production of table wines. The grape grown, on non-irrigated land produces a better class of wine than that produced from grapes grown on irrigated land. The class of (Wine depends upon the method of watering. Irrigation does not have so much effect on grapes for the production of port and wines of that type, but it is of , importance in the production of table wines such as claret, hock and riesling. For wines of that type the grape grown on non-irrigated land apparently is superior.
There has been a certain change of aspect in the type of production that has made South Australia quite famous over the years. I am not a sufficient authority to say that the standard of wine production has declined in South Australia - generally speaking, I do not think it has - but whereas formerly grapes were taken straight to the winery within the district in which they were grown, there are now long convoys of trucks carrying grapes, sometimes hundreds of miles, to wineries. In some instances grapes are brought long distances even to Adelaide. That has altered the whole aspect of wine production in South Australia.
I feel that the wine industry has reached a stage where there has to be a little bit of soul-searching. An industry which is showing signs of slipping back should take stock. It cannot be denied that although our exports of brandy have increased to a small degree, our wine exports have fallen. The time has come when we will have to look to other markets in which to place our wines. The industry is worth fostering. If we propose to increase wine production from grapes grown on irrigated land, which unquestionably is our ultimate objective, we must look to our export outlets. I am pleased to see that in certain aspects the Department of Trade is looking to the various outlets that present themselves in places such as Canada, New Zealand and Japan. I noticed a report in the press quite recently which stated that there is a prospect of placing more of our wines in Japan. I hope that will be followed up. I think it is necessary that we follow it up if we are to get results. ‘
Wine production varies considerably from year to year. The report of the board gives figures for production of fresh grapes processed, listed in vintages, and I was rather struck by the variation in the quantity of grapes that were processed for wine. In 1963, we had 170,000 tons; in 1962, it was 230,800 tons; in 1961, the figure was 185,116 tons; and in 1954 the production was 167,000 tons. The actual increase in the tonnage of processed grapes has not been striking over the years - in fact, the figures have been almost static. Climate, of course, has a lot to do with wine production, particularly in areas which are not irrigated. In 1962-63, we had a total wine production of 31,000,000 gallons, compared with 42,000,000 gallons in the previous year, or a fall of 11,000,000 gallons in one year. That, of course, must have been associated with climatic conditions. I think that the weather would have played a material part in reducing the volume of production to that extent in a particular year. Of course, there are occasions when grapes are diverted for use other than in wine making.
The wine trade in Australia has not shown any striking increase. In fact, over the years it has been pretty well static. As I said earlier, I anticipated that there would have been a considerable increase in wine consumption with the advent of our friends from Europe and elsewhere. We depend, of course, on the local trade. When I see figures such as those presented in the most recent annual report of the Australian Wine Board, I sometimes wonder whether there is any real urge on the part of the wine industry to increase its production to an appreciable degree. We are very keen to have an export market in wine, but we know that the export market is very small in comparison with the Australian market. I think that the value of wine exports would not exceed £1,750,000 a year, whereas the value of the wine consumed in Australia would be many times that amount.
In 1962-63 there was an actual fall in clearances of wine compared with the previous year. They fell from 9,397,000’ gallons to 9,065,000 gallons. That occurred despite the fact that we have a board which has been appointed by the industry to foster the development of the industry. I think it was Senator Ridley who suggested that insufficient money was being made available for the promotion of wine. I notice that on page, 13 of the report of the Australian Wine Board, the total revenue of the board for the year ended 30th June, 1963, was £174,476, which seems to be a considerable amount for the board to have at its disposal for wine promotion. On the expenditure side of the statement are shown the avenues of expenditure, both at home and abroad. The sum of £81,931 was spent on a national advertising campaign. Travelling expenses for non-board members of the national advertising committee amounted to £377 2s. Id. Public relations cost £10,000. Wine week publicity accounted for £1,039 7s. 6d., and the wine recipe service cost £1,914 7s. Other Australian advertising cost £8 10s. and other Australian publicity £100. Those expenses are all confined to the publicity angle. There are many other ways of promoting the sale and consumption of wine.
It seems to me that a large sum of money has been spent on administration and in connexion with the various purposes for which the board was established. We should be getting better results from this board Which was set up by the industry itself and which is responsible to the growers for the promotion and sale of wine. So, I say I am a little disappointed that greater progress has not been made by the wine industry. I know that Australian wine has to compete with other forms of liquor and that our climatic conditions in some respects militate against the consumption- of wine. An honorable senator behind me suggests that rum is cheaper than wine. I have never found it very much cheaper to buy a pot of rum than a glass of wine. However, I am’ referring not so much to price as to climatic conditions.
Wine is a particularly suitable drink in certain areas of Australia, especially those with a tropical climate, such as in the north of the continent. Nevertheless, other drinks seem to be able to compete more than successfully with wine. I know that good old beer finds general favour with the Australian populace.
– It has much less effect on the head.
– Perhaps it may be a safer drink - I do not know. I am not a connoisseur of wine, although I appreciate wine. Apparently I am a little like Senator Willesee in this respect. I have no wine snobbery. If I like a particular wine I take it with fish, with soup or with any other part of the meal. If I like it, that is all there is to it. Wine snobbery perhaps does more harm to the wine industry than does any other factor.
I have spoken in this chamber on similar measures on former occasions. I have always wanted to see Australian wines promoted, both here and overseas. I remember that on the last occasion when I spoke on a bill such as this - I think it dealt with the setting up of a wine centre in London - I mentioned the difficulty one experiences in obtaining the better-known brands of Australian wine while overseas. I was delighted when the wine centre was set up in Soho, London, and I am glad to see that the Wine Board, in its report, has commented very favorably on the activities at the centre. I believe that the establishment of the centre was a step in the right direction, but it has not had the ultimate effect of increasing the consumption of Australian wine in London or in the United Kingdom generally. Despite the fact that the centre has been in existence, there has been a decline in the consumption of Australian wines in the United Kingdom, which I regret very much. I think we ought to look into the matter to see whether the position could not be rectified in some degree.
There are many other aspects of the report which are of general interest, and there are some which are of particular interest to South Australia. We should do our best to foster the wine industry because there are certain districts in Australia that are peculiarly adaptable to the production of wine. That statement applies very strongly to South Australia. By and large, the wine product of that State is one of which we can be proud.
Many of the original settlers who took up land in various districts of South Australia were of German origin. The way in which they set to work reflects great credit on them.” Their industry made the country blossom. When one drives through these areas one has a great sense of pride in the achievements of some of our early settlers who were experienced wine growers in their former homelands, and who initiated the industry in Australia. The point I wish to make is that we still have a potential in wine production, but it is no good thinking of this potential if the consumption of wine in Australia is decreasing and our exports are falling. We have to give this matter more serious consideration than we have given it in the past.
I am not satisfied with the report of the Australian Wine Board. I am not criticizing the board. I think it is doing the best it can with the funds at its disposal; but I wonder whether the wine industry itself is fully alive to the situation. Is it just keeping the industry at a level where it provides sufficient wine for our local consumption with a relatively small amount as a token export effort? It seems that the industry is being preserved in a condition where no great progress is being made. The price charged is being held at a level that has a retarding effect on the consumption of wine. Wc should look at the problem from that angle. I believe that the price of Australian wine in Australia is too high. I am not trying to place blame on any particular section of the wine industry, but if we are to have a prosperous wine industry we must consider the price element. I honestly think that the mark-up on wine, whether it is put on between the winery and the distributor or by the retailer is too- high and must have a retarding effect on the sale of wine and on the wine industry itself.
It has been salutary for me to discuss this bill and to read the report of the Australian Wine Board.- The report awakens us to the fact that the industry is not so satisfactory as it might be, and we must do something about the internal workings of the industry. The effort must come, in the first place, from the industry itself.
.- My remarks will be brief. The bill deals with a more or less minor machinery matter. It will change the corporate name of the various associations affiliated with the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia to the “ Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia Incorporated”. It is interesting to see that word “ incorporated “. One wonders whether the body is a company, a commercial organization or a Commonwealth body set up for the promotion and expansion of the wine industry. That was one point that struck me in listening to the second-reading speech of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade).
I was most impressed with the remarks of Senator Hannaford. I think he touched on one of the main things that mitigates against the extension of the wine industry, namely the price charged by distributors for wine compared with that charged for other alcoholic beverages. When a man buys a bottle of beer he pays perhaps between 3s. and 3s. 6d. a bottle and the retailer makes a profit of between 3d. and 6d. When he buys a bottle of wine of the same liquid content he pays from 10s. to 15s. a bottle. I think that the new organization, the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated, should go into this matter, as should the Australian Wine Board itself. What is happening to the end product when it gets to the public? There is no shadow of doubt that the vignerons of Australia have developed a technique in producing wine which has built up the reputation of their product to the highest level. Many of the so-called wine snobs and connoisseurs are coming to the stage where they admit that some of our Australian table wines have no superior, even when compared with wines coming from Spain or France. In the Australian Wine Board’s annual report there are one or two very important observations. The first relates to trade in Australia. The board said -
It is disappointing to report that clearances of fortified wines for home consumption in Australia were the lowest for seven years.
It goes on to say -
The Board believes there is a big potential in Australia for sweet wines but has not been able to do much to promote these products on a national basis. ] regret very much to see that admission from the Australian Wine Board. Further on in its report the board said -
There is no indication that the market in Australia for sweet wines is likely to increase to any extent under the present circumstances.
To illustrate the point I am making, I point out that further on in its report, when dealing with the trade to Canada, the board reported -
The main reason for sales receiving a set back during the year was because of higher retail prices resulting from a surcharge on import duties imposed by the Canadian Government in July 1962. The surcharge was removed in March 1963-
This is the important thing - and recent reports indicate that Australia is regaining some of its lost business.
That indicates clearly that the price factor has an important bearing on the sales of wine. To protect the interests of the industry, the Australian Wine Board and the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia should let the Parliament know of the discrimination that exists at the retail outlets in the price mark-up on wine as compared with that on whisky, gin, beer and rum. Senator Hannaford said that there is not much difference between the price of rum and the price of wine. But I point out that there is a much higher excise duty on rum, which comes from Queensland down to the southern States. But a glass of ordinary table wine costs up to 4s. A glass of beer of the same bulk would cost ls. or ls. 3d. I believe that the Australian wine industry is being held to ransom.
– Would it not cost more to produce?
– Apparently wines of quite fair quality are available on the market to-day at about 10s. a gallon. That wine is not of very high quality, but it is drinkable. That, of course, is the wholesale price.
– That is not where the retailer comes into it.
– No. ] am speaking of wine as it comes from the vigneron.
There are six bottles to a gallon of wine, so the price works out at ls. 9d. a bottle.
– It costs a little bit more than that
– Not a great deal.
– Oh, yes.
– Not when bought in bulk. Of course, we must then take into account bottling charges, labelling, corking, transport and other charges. Senator Mattner might be able to give us some idea of the average price. Another aspect of the Wine. Board’s report which I must mention is that its only reference to actual values is the rate of the levy. There is not another figure in the whole report which indicates the value of wine to Australia and the return from excise on wine. That information could be of great interest to the Parliament.
– That information is conspicuous by its absence.
– There is no mention of it at all. I wonder whether the Wine Board is trying to build, up the prestige of the industry, not only amongst the consuming public generally, by not going into the details that are included in most other reports which are submitted to the Parliament. The board should concentrate its efforts upon getting away from the negative approach which leads it to say -
There is no indication that the market in Australia for sweet wines is likely to increase . . .
The board believes there is a big potential in Australia for sweet wines but has not been able to do much to promote these products on a national basis.
The report should be much more comprehensive. I regret very much that this oldestablished industry, the products of which are held in high esteem by people who appreciate the cheer of wine with a meal, is more or less stagnant. Of course, seasonal conditions may well account for the reduction in the overall production of wine. Even then, we might have had the consolation of having some compensation in the form of increased prices because of the production of better quality light table wines. However, they are all suppositions. The board’s report does not give us a, true picture df what is happening. I’ ‘should like to see a much more positive attitude adopted in order to ascertain what is restricting this very fine industry.
The bill should be of help to the wine industry. I hope that the industry will be placed in a much better financial position and have a better outlook for the future than the report of the board indicates. I support the measure.
– in reply- The bill is a machinery measure which is designed to achieve legislative recognition of the change of name of what is now the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated. Very thoughtful and constructive speeches have been delivered by honorable senators on both sides of the House. I am sure the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) would join mc in saying that such a debate in the National Parliament is in the best interests of the wine industry. We usually have plenty of friends when we are flourishing and prosperous, but I have detected in this debate a note of concern about the future of the industry - not in regard to its stability but because it is not reaping the rewards of its labours as quickly as we would wish.
I make no claim to being an authority on wine. Having listened to the debate, I have come to the conclusion that the industry is facing two problems - one in relation to the home market and the other in relation to the export market. May I say in passing, as I think of the home market, that I feel that in many ways we arc odd people. We have grown up with the impression that we just cannot produce goods of the same quality as those which we may import. That is so far from the truth that it is time we developed a psychology which emphasizes pride of ownership. I am sure that the Australian wine industry can make a product which is equal to that produced anywhere else in the world. Let me illustrate what I am saying. Not long ago an acquaintance of mine returned from overseas. Being generous, he invited me to have dinner with him and gave me the privilege of choosing the wine. Being a modest .person, as Senator Dittmer would say,( I chose ‘ a well known brand of wine which is produced in South Australia. My friend said: “ You can do a lot better than that. Will you allow me to choose it for you? When I was in Europe I was introduced to suchandsuch a wine. It is the most wonderful wine that I have ever tasted.”
– Did it come from Victoria?
– No. It was an overseas product. I shall not name the country, because we do not do that sort of thing in the National Parliament. My friend produced his bottle of wine and throughout the dinner he relished it and sang its praises. The comparisons he made were odious until he got the bill. Then the wine went so sour in his stomach that on all succeeding occasions that I have been his guest it has never been mentioned.
I think that we Australians should show pride of achievement in our products and encourage their consumption, because what we produce and consume in Australia makes the nation great. Much has been said about the export market and the rather disappointing rate of expansion recorded by the Australian Wine Board. I think we can be too pessimistic on this score. It must be realized that the industry is trying to break into very firmly established markets. I do not know what speakers are referring to when they talk of wine snobbery in Australia, but wine snobbery might well be common in much older countries where the people for generations have traditionally drunk particular kinds of wine. For that reason, we cannot expect to make spectacular inroads into these established markets. But I can give an assurance that the Australian Wine Board and the Department of Trade are vigorously pursuing policies that will eventually make an impact on these markets.
Quite recently the Australian Wine Board and the Department of Trade had a stand at the Fine Foods Fair at Cologne, Germany. It is true that only 15,000 gallons of wine were sold there, but Cologne is in the heart of the wine-drinking area of Germany and I am sure that eventually the quality of our products, well chosen by the exporters, will make inroads into these markets.
Having made those general comments, I turn to some questions that have been directed to me. Senator Willesee emphasized that he believed our greatest prospects of development lay in the South-East Asian areas. I think that is conceded by the Australian Wine Board. It is adopting a long range policy in this regard because it is confident’ that with the rising standard of living in these areas eventually there will be a big market potential there. For that reason, the board is concentrating on SouthEast Asia. In Japan, for example, we are taking advantage of increased import quotas and are strengthening our hold on the market there. In Singapore and Malaya imports of wine are increasing but these markets are as yet relatively small. Indications are that there is a real opportunity for expansion there, and means are being devised to capture more of this market.
I was asked by what method freight reductions were obtained. The Australian Wine Board itself is solely responsible in this matter. Negotiations with the shipping companies have brought results, and this is an indication that the board uses every avenue at its disposal to assist the industry.
asked mc why we did not have greater success in the New Zealand market. I have been told that import licensing there is not specifically directed against wine. New Zealand has rather strong import licensing controls on many commodities because of balance of payments difficulties. Wine is not regarded as an essential import and therefore is subject to import controls. It may be that the time will come when New Zealand will regard wine as being more essential to the w;ll-being of man than it does to-day. The board is pursuing its interests in that field in the hope that eventually some of the controls may bc removed.
I was asked to give a definition of the term “ assisted brand advertising “. This advertising is carried out in conjunction with our general overseas trade promotion campaign. In assisted brand advertising, costs of advertising are met by the Commonwealth Government and by the particular firms concerned. I think that that, too, is an indication that the Department of Trade accepts its responsibilities and that the board representing the producers accepts its responsibilities, and that together they are making a worth-while contribution to the development of markets for the wine industry.
I thank the Senate for the reception it has given this measure and T am sure the industry will be grateful for the interest that has been shown, which will indicate to it that the Commonwealth Parliament is aware of the difficulties facing the industry and is anxious to give it some encouragement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 15th October (vide page 1 1 07), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second lime.
– The broad effect of the bill now before the Senate is to facilitate the provision of living accommodation for disabled persons who are employed in, or seeking employment in, what are now known as sheltered workshops. “ Sheltered workshop “ is a term with which not everybody is familiar. In the course of a case recently put to the Government on behalf of some twelve organizations concerned with sheltered workshops and the people who work in them throughout Australia, a sheltered workshop was defined as an industrial undertaking in which handicapped people are enabled to be members of the community’s work force and are paid in accordance with the value of their work. A primary purpose of sheltered workshops is to provide long-term or permanent gainful employment under conditions which are suitable to people with various types of disability who are willing to work and who are considered, by competent professional advisers, to be unemployable except in sheltered conditions. Such workshops have also a rehabilitative value for the people employed in them, of whom some may be expected to gain sufficient confidence to enable them to move into employment under normal industrial conditions. That is the main purpose of sheltered workshops. The inmates do not necessarily get award wages or anything like that. They are paid according to their output and their competence - their skill and productivity.
Having regard to the disabilities from which they suffer, the people in these workshops face two great difficulties. The first is one of transport and the second is one of accommodation. There is the difficulty of transporting them from their homes in suburbs, particularly in the big metropolitan cities, by private means, because public means are completely unavailable to them. Disabled people, most of whom are limbless and have great difficulty of movement, cannot join the throngs of people in crowded public transport. Accordingly, those concerned with their welfare take them by car from their homes in the various suburbs to the sheltered workshop. That, of course, is a real difficulty. It has been met, to some extent, by the Government in recent years in granting to disabled persons the right to acquire cars of their own free of sales tax. This is a very substantial help.
That type of concession is available to the management of the sheltered workshops. They gather up the various disabled persons and bring them in a circus run - a milk run, as we call it - from surrounding suburbs. Of course, that is a very costly business. Cars are available to meet the needs of limbless persons. The controls are adjusted for their needs, according to whether they lack arms or legs.- They have a most amazing skill in operating cars. I have many times seen people coming in wheel-chairs to motor cars, being lifted into their seats in the motor cars and then being lifted out of them into the same wheel-chairs at the end of their journe’y. It is a great deal of trouble and a good deal of outside attention and assistance is required. I repeat that transport is particularly costly and that the Government has already made a contribution in that field.
Then we come to the vital question of accommodation. Many of these people live far from the centres of which I speak. Above all other people, they need a special ized type of accommodation. Most of them live out their lives in wheel-chairs or have very great difficulty in moving their bodies at all. They need accommodation where there are ramps instead of steps, where handrails are plentifully supplied in halls, corridors and rooms, and where special bathing facilities are provided, surrounded by plenty of rails. These people simply cannot fit into normal living conditions. In the type of ‘accommodation that is envisaged for them by the organizations that are concerned with their welfare, they can move, or try to move, without embarrassment and - this is an important thing - in an atmosphere of complete understanding, sympathy, and mutual self-help. Not the least important aspect is that element of selfhelp, when people suffering disabilities are gathered together in such a community with every possible aid to their mobility and with a thorough understanding and sympathy for each other in the difficulties that they endure.
I am informed that there are some 50 to 60 sheltered workshops in Australia, employing about 1,500 disabled persons. These workshops are conducted under great financial strain by private organizations, mainly of people dedicated to the cause of disabled citizens. The bill authorizes payment of a subsidy of £2 for each £1 of certain moneys raised by the organizations. I emphasize the word “ certain “ because no subsidy will be attracted in several cases. A subsidy will not extend to moneys that have been made available to the organization by a government, be it Commonwealth or State, or by any local governing authority, nor will a subsidy be attracted to moneys that come to the private organization through borrowing. The only money to be subsidized is the money that the organization itself has raised in one way or another. Under the bill the accommodation is to be confined to disabled persons employed in or seeking employment in sheltered workshops.
I comment that the Government has been rather slow to move in making this very desirable benefit available to disabled people. I refer to a statement by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), as reported in “ Hansard “ of 9th May, 1963. Addressing himself to this matter, he said -
Each year before the Budget is prepared, tha social services committee–
He was referring to the social services committee of the Government parties - presents a report to the Government in which it indicates the matters which it thinks we should consider at Budget time. It sets its own order of priority in relation to those matters. I am able to tell the House that in the last two reports - back to 1961-62 - this proposal was featured, wilh reasons why the Government should give favorable consideration to it.
So, on that statement, approximately three years ago the Government had from its own supporters pressure to bring in a bill of this type but it did not yield to the pressure. On 21st February, 1962, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), a Government supporter, gave notice of his intention to move -
That this House is of the opinion that legislation should be enacted to make available to disabled persons benefits similar to those available to aged persons under the Aged Persons Homes Act.
That motion was not allowed to be debated for more than twelve months. It has never been debated. The Government plainly was embarrassed by the presence of such a motion from one of its own members on the notice-paper. On 9th May of this year the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), an Opposition member of the Australian Labour Party, moved -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to make available to disabled persons the benefits provided for aged persons under the Aged Persons Homes Act.
Leave to bring in that bill was denied to Mr. Allan Fraser, but he was accorded by the Government an opportunity to make, by leave or by its pleasure, a statement of some fifteen minutes’ duration. However, at long last the Government has accepted the idea, and this bill is the result.
I indicate to the Senate that we warmly support the principle for which the bill stands but we regret very much that its scope is so very limited. I shall mention a number of the Opposition’s objections to the measure. In the first place, in confining the benefits under the bill to disabled persons employed in or seeking employment in sheltered workshops, it will empty out of the accommodation those who have graduated out of the workshops into normal employment. Some persons spend a long time in sheltered workshops and acquire particular skills _ which entitle them to work under normal conditions. But if they move out of the sheltered workshops and go into ordinary industry and are able to earn full incomes, as a non-disabled person could, their need for accommodation of the type that I have been talking about is as acute as ever. Just because a person has left a sheltered workshop and moved out into general industry is no reason why he should be denied the benefit of the accommodation that he used in acquiring his new skills. The bill makes no provision for cases of that type. It denies the right of that kind of person to its benefits. I think that is a most serious gap in the measure before us. I doubt that the Government even thought of the plight of such a person or unquestionably it would have made some provision for him.
Again, we come to the case of disabled persons who must have the care and attention of a relative or an attendant for mobility, dressing, bathing and a hundred and one other things. The attendant might even be the spouse of such a person. Although the spouse or other attendant is not disabled, the need for that person to be present, even in the accommodation with the disabled person, has to be faced. I invite the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) to tell us whether the accommodation for which a subsidy is provided in the bill would be available to such a relative or attendant - and either of them might be the spouse of the disabled person - if there is real need for his or her service.
My second point is that the bill does not do anything to relieve the plight of tens of thousands of disabled persons who cannot be employed in sheltered workshops and who are placed in institutions of various kinds. Those who are’ knowledgeable in the field have estimated that there would be at least 50,000 disabled persons in Australia. About 25,000 of them would be capable of benefiting from rehabilitation treatment of the type provided in sheltered workshops. Probably, about 20 per cent, of them could be enabled to take their place in industry equally with a nondisabled person. As I have indicated, there are only about 1,500 people at the present time in the relatively limited number of sheltered workshops throughout Australia. That indicates that there is a vast number of disabled persons who will reap no benefit from this bill.
My third point is that the bill gives no help either to the establishment or to the maintenance of a sheltered workshop itself. It is confined merely to helping to provide, quite generously, accommodation for the persons who do work in these places. My fourth point is that the bill authorizes no subsidy in respect of moneys provided by a State government or a local governing body. Surely the objective is to care for the disabled. If a private organization looking after these people is able to attract some money from the State government or from the local municipality surely it should not be denied the subsidy of £2 for £1. In the view of the Opposition, the purpose of this bill is altogether too limited. During the course of his second-reading speech on the bill the Minister for National Development said -
The aim of Iiic bill is to encourage philanthropic endeavour by providing government assistance to voluntary effort and for the subsidizing, on a £2 for £1 basis, of funds actually raised by an eligible organization and used for the provision of approved accommodation.
One cannot do anything but applaud, as far as it goes, the sentiment of encouraging philanthropic endeavour and providing assistance to voluntary effort. That is a good thing to stimulate in the community. But surely the purpose of the bill ought to be, instead, to provide for the accommodation needs of disabled persons who are capable of some degree of rehabilitation and who may, in fact, graduate from a sheltered workshop into private industry as fully productive units. So the Opposition differs from the Government as to the purpose that should be aimed at in this measure. It is altogether too limited and too* narrow in’ scope in being confined to those person^ helping to provide a particular kind of accommodation for those who work in, of arc about to get employment in, a sheltered workshop.
According to the Minister’s statement in his second-reading speech, the cost involved in this proposal is £150,000 for this financial year of which practically nine months have yet to run. Again, this shows the very narrow scope of this measure in relation to disabled persons. I am prepared to concede to the Government that it will take time for the applications for subsidy to be developed. The subsidy is available only in respect of accommodation of the type we are talking about the construction of which was under way at 13th August or was commenced after that date. It will take time for plans to be prepared, for applications to be approved and for agreements to be worked out between the Director-General of Social Services and the various organizations which figure in the field. This indicates what a very modest although worthy approach to this great problem is made in the bill. I think the Government took far too narrow a view in concentrating merely on the encouragement of philanthropic endeavour. The real aim should have been to provide for the proper accommodation of disabled persons generally.
I have no doubt that, in due course, a future government will expand the provisions of this bill which is such a very modest beginning and has such a narrow scope. Sooner or later, it will be expanded to provide for all disabled persons for whom specialized accommodation is needed. I hope that that day is not too far off because of the humane nature of the work undertaken by these sheltered workshops. The value of these workshops is enhanced when the workers employed in them are housed in suitable accommodation nearby or from which transport is readily and cheaply available. This is a worthwhile work from an economic viewpoint because once people are rehabilitated they cease to be a liability in many ways. They no longer need invalid pensions. They no longer need to be cared for in institutions, where many of them are located to-day, at high overhead costs and at very great expense to the State. They do not need as much medical attention. The mutual help which is extended in these accommodation places greatly reduces overhead costs in the form of medical expenditure, nursing and services of that type.’ In addition to that, the moment they earn an income they pay income tax. As they buy, they pay their share of indirect taxation and generally fit into community life in a very real way. We say, looking at the amount that is likely to be made available this year, that whilst the move is a good one and we do not oppose the principle, we think the scope of the bill is too confined. If the subsidy is fully availed of it will meet the needs of only 1,500 disabled persons in the whole of Australia. On behalf of the Opposition,- and in, order to express our view, I propose .an amendment to the motion that the bill be now read a second time 1 move -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert: - “ whilst not in any way opposing the passage of this limited bill, the Senate is of opinion that legislation should be introduced immediately to make available to disabled persons generally the benefits proposed under this bill “.
I make it quite clear, so that there will be no misunderstanding about it, that whether or not that amendment is carried - I hope that it will be - the Opposition will support the motion that the bill be read a second time. Let that be clearly understood. In the committee stages I shall, on behalf of the Opposition, move four amendments, which I have arranged to be circulated with the copy of the amendment that I have proposed to the motion that the bill be read a second time.
I should like to take the opportunity of paying a tribute to the people in the private organizations who do all the work in this field. They are the people who have pioneered it. They have made the effort, not only to establish, staff and maintain sheltered workshops throughout the years, day by day and year by year, but also to engage in the task of finding work for the employees. They have encouraged industry to give them jobs of a routine character that can be attended to by workers in the sheltered workshops. They have raised funds by all sorts of means at their disposal, and in doing so have shown great ingenuity. They have solved transport problems and accommodation problems, and some few of them have already established accommodation of this type. This has proven exceedingly successful and very cheap.
I do not suppose that one would find anywhere in the world a greater example of courage and ability than one would find on visiting these places and seeing the handicapped people at work. They bravely do their best to preserve a cheerful mien. They are determined to find their way in the world and to establish their integrity and independence as human units. I have always taken a very great interest in rehabilitation since I had the privilege to be Minister for Social Services for some years at the initiation of the Commonwealth rehabilitation scheme. It is work of human salvage with vast rewards. In many respects it creates a revolving position where the expenditure is reimbursed in the ways I have indicated.
The people who run these places are frequently like the two outstanding people in the Civil Maimed and Limbless Association of New South Wales, Mr. Hugh Bedwin and his wife, Mrs. Hazel Bedwin. Both are completely immobilized, but both are full of courage. They live in wheelchairs and move in wheelchairs and arc transported in the manner 1 indicated soma time ago. They run sheltered workshops, run the association’s affairs, campaign throughout Australia for the objectives of disabled people and have the most amazing organizing resources. They are two of the finest examples of courage, determination and ability that one would encounter anywhere in Australia.
The efficiency of their activities in relation to accommodation might well- be demonstrated by the passing reference to the case prepared and put before the Government. In an annexure to the case is a comparison of costs between one voluntary organization hostel in Sydney and a range of institutions in New South Wales, lt is startling and dramatic to notice the difference. The compilers of the case say that the average cost per person on gross maintenance expenditure, after the deduction of contributions, such as the pension, from a sample in New South Wales in the voluntary organization’s hostel, which is one that looks after people in sheltered workshops, is £30 per annum. By comparison the cost for one person at the Randwick Hospital is £1,800 per annum. The annual cost per person at Garrawarra is £948 15s.; at the Lidcombe State Hospital it is £487; and at Newington State Hospital it is £568 5s. 3d. The cost at the average State hospital is £638, and at Callan Park Mental Hospital it is £438. But in the hostel, people are accommodated at a net cost of £30, after taking into account such items as the pension.
In the annexure the compilers of the case go on to explain how it happens. They say that the high costs throughout the institutions are due to the fact that the person has been given full-time nursing care and maintenance, and is receiving a full pension benefit and hospital commission costs. Any such institution must, of necessity, maintain full medical services relative to those functions. The hostel - that is the type of accommodation that is subsidized now - in essence is a boarding house where the practice of mutual self-help obviates the need for expensive medical service overhead costs. Through sheltered workshops or employment the disabled boarders become income earners to such an extent that notwithstanding the high transport cost the gross maintenance figure comes to the modest £30 per head per year. That figure is simply staggering and amazing. It is a wonderful tribute to organizing ability. If anything were required to prove the soundness economically and socially of the type of accommodation that is now to be subsidized, those figures alone would do it.
The Opposition has very much pleasure in supporting a bill that gives any encouragement to that type of activity. We regret that the Government has nol seen fi i to open its heart and its purse a little more fully in the cause of disabled persons. J ask the Government not to rest on its oars but to take the earliest opportunity, if it has the opportunity, to revise this measure and to expand greatly the useful work that is being done. At the committee stage I shall propose four amendments for consideration.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) 19.49]. - 1 support the motion that the bill be read a second time to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has circulated an amendment. 1 think it is fair to say that the honorable senator made a very reasoned contribution on behalf of the Opposition. Every honorable senator will join with him in the praise that he expressed of the people associated with the disabled persons sheltered workshops. At a later stage 1 shall comment on certain aspects of the points he made.
At the outset, it should be recorded that this bill is designed to put into effect the policy announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his Budget speech. He said -
The Government will legislate to enable the Commonwealth to make subsidies, on a £2 for £1 basis, to churches and approved voluntary welfare organizations towards the provision of accommodation for disabled persons working in 8 sheltered workshop so that they may reside r.eur their place of employment.
That statement accurately sums up the purpose of the bill. The encouragement of severely handicapped people who are unable to work i open industry, to occupy themselves to the full extent of their abilities in productive work is of tremendous value in promoting the welfare of such people. The work of disabled and partially disabled persons has been recognized throughout the world as a very desirable and necessary feature of modern living. Employment for such persons is a form of therapy. The fact that the Government has at this stage decided to make a forward move in the matter is commendable.
Under the bill, the Director-General of Social Services, on behalf of the Commonwealth, may make grants to eligible organizations on a £2 for £1 basis towards the capital cost of providing accommodation for disabled persons. lt is hardly necessary for me to dwell on the need for this legislation. The Leader of the Opposition has already referred to the disadvantages experienced by people who are disabled and who have to travel long distances to sheltered workshops. In some instances, the disabilities from which they suffer make it almost impossible for them to travel. Their health may be seriously affected as a result. The cost of transport, of course is an important factor, too. and so is the time taken in travelling to their work. Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Bedwin, to whom I shall refer again shortly, live at North Ryde and travel by motor car to Camperdown. The time taken by them to go to and from their work every clay is typical of the time factor that is involved in travel for persons who are immobilized or confined to wheel chairs. This bill will result in financial assistance being made available for the provision of accommodation at the site of the sheltered workshop.
Senator McKenna stated that there is no provision in the bill for subsidies for the workshops themselves. That may well be true, but 1 think the honorable senator will concede that this measure, though limited in its application, will definitely have an effect on the finances of the organizations in that it will enable big savings to be made in other directions In turn, those savings will enable other savings to be made in the workshops themselves.
– Have the charitable people associated with the sheltered workshops asked for assistance for the workshops?
– I shall come to that matter. Reference has been made during the debate to Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Bedwin. I am happy to be able to say that, along with other members of the Parliament, I count them among my friends. I have had them in my parliamentary office in Sydney. They came along in wheel chairs, which is characteristic of such people. I have visited the Bedwin home and have spoken to them there. I have the greatest admiration for their courage, as well as for their administrative ability. They are the co-directors of the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association. In common with other members of the Parliament, I have discussed their problems with them, and also the submissions they have made over the years in relation to this particular aspect of government aid.
As has been said during the debate, despite all their disabilities, which they overcome with tremendous courage, they have crusaded throughout Australia for assistance of the kind that is now being proposed for workers in sheltered workshops. I am very proud to have received a letter, as have honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, from Mr. and Mrs. Bedwin expressing their thanks for the small part that we have been able to play in helping them to achieve this new development in financial assistance. They are magnificent Australians. I think it is worthy of note that each has received from the Queen the honour of the Order of. the British Empire. I can think of no people in Australia who are more worthy of such an honour .than they are, because of the work they have done for disabled persons.
Sheltered workshops are conducted mainly for severely handicapped people who are unable to engage in normal outside employment. It is significant that the bill defines a person who may reside in subsidized accommodation as one who has attained sixteen years of age and is permanently incapacitated for work to the degree necessary to qualify for an invalid pension, or a person who’ is permanently blind*.’
Lest there may be some confusion in this respect, it should be made perfectly clear that that definition, which is taken from the second-reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), does not mean that in order to be eligible to reside in the accommodation a person must be a pensioner. A grant may not exceed two-thirds of the capital cost of the approved accommodation, nor may it exceed twice the amount raised by an eligible organization from donations, appeals, public subscriptions or its own resources. Capital cost is defined as the cost of erection, including the cost of the land. Of course, it also includes the cost of fixtures which are essential in buildings of this kind. Where a building is purchased, the capital cost means the sale price, plus the cost of necessary alterations. Clearly, there would have to be alterations to provide for ramps, rails and special doors and plumbing. The organization concerned, in order to attract the subsidy, must not be carried on for the purposes of profit. I do not think anybody would disagree with that.
Organizations eligible for assistance under the bill are churches, charitable organizations, benevolent homes and exservicemen’s organizations where they are of a national nature. The bill follows the pattern of the Aged Persons Homes Act. The venture represents a partnership. It is not intended to be a system that provides assistance under rigid and strict supervision. Indeed, the whole essence of the lives of these people is founded on the basis of mutual self-help. That in itself again follows the pattern of the Aged Persons -Homes Act, where money is provided and people are encouraged essentially to help themselves.
One of the things about which I am not clear, and on which I hope the Minister may be able to comment, is the question of flexibility under the bill. The Aged Persons Homes Act - and this bill is paterned on that act - it will be recalled, is framed in such a way that only one person is allowed to each bedroom. In the circumstances to which this bill relates that might not be a good thing. In fact, in certain circumstances it would be a bad thing. It may well be that these homes should be built in such a way that people can share accommodation and there can be a degree of interdependence in relation to the help one person can give to another. For instance, quite clearly <. person who is immobilized in a chair could be helped by a fellow inmate who could walk who shared a room with him.
– There is flexibility. It is not proposed to insist on single rooms.
– That is a very good thing, and the comment of the Minister clears up that point.
The Opposition agrees in principle with what is proposed to be done under this bill but has said that it proposes to move amendments because in its view the bill is too limited in its application. I understand that the bill will provide for only something like 50 to 60 workshops, and at this stage envisages providing for some 1,500 people. As the Minister said in his secondreading speech, the amount to bc allocated by the Commonwealth in the first year of the scheme is £150,000. Senator McKenna did not mention that the Minister said at that point that there was’ flexibility and that, if ii were necessary and desirable, there was ability to go beyond that amount.
In the first year of operation of the act the position will be similar to that in the first year of operation of the Aged Persons Homes Act. Until things became organized and got into operation there was a comparatively quiet period. That is a fairly elementary point which does not need any great elaboration by me. Whilst it is true that this bill al first may have limited application, 1 do not think honorable senators need be downhearted because of that. Alter all, there has to be a beginning. The fact that we are to provide accommodation on a subsidy basis of £2 for £1 of expenditure on homes adjoining sheltered workshops is, in my view, a very fine beginning. 1 remind the Leader of the Opposition that when the Aged Persons Homes Act was introduced it was a revolutionary step towards assisting aged persons, and the scheme had a very small beginning. That small beginning has been developed until now we find that under the act homes are being provided for something like 17,000 aged people. That is no small achievement. The Commonwealth has paid out under that act . about £18,000,00/). From .. small beginnings great ‘things come. j well remember, and 1 know that everybody in the Senate well remembers, that when the Aged Persons Homes Act was introduced - and this bill can be regarded as similar - the subsidy was provided on the basis of £1 for £1. Now it is provided on the basis of £2 for £1. When the act was first introduced it did not take into account the value of the land when the subsidy was being assessed on a capital basis. As the result of the development of the scheme, the experience gained and an understanding of the problems the subsidy was increased to £2 for £1 and the value of the land was taken into account in the capitalization of the subsidy. A third feature was introduced on the basis of experience, namely the provision of sick bays in all the homes, the one-third subsidy rule applying. Not only does the act enable subsidies to bc paid towards the cost of providing for homes for the aged, but it covers also the situation where if sickness intervenes - provided it is not of a surgical nature and does not require specialized hospital treatment - persons can receive sick-bay attention, and certain financial considerations apply to the erection of these sick bays. From a small beginning the act has been developed progressively, because of the recognition of the problems involved, until it has become an act which is probably the envy of every other country.
Modest as this Disabled Persons Accommodation Bill may be, nevertheless it is a very important and real step towards providing a service to a group of people in our community who are not looking for any special consideration, in a charitable sense, but who are appreciative of this measure as a proposition which will help them to help themselves. These people are very proud. They make great sacrifices to do the job they believe in. Senator Dittmer and Senator Turnbull, who are medical men, would tell us, I am sure, that the fact that they will be able to strive to help themselves will be a very real factor in their continuing rehabilitation. The Government, under this measure, intends to encourage (hem and to make it possible for them, over a period, to live close to their employment in sheltered workshops. The bill will enable them to eliminate the terrible drag of ..having to be brought to their work from day to day, and it will encourage them to go on to even greater things in the future. This is a very fine piece of legislation. It meets with the approval of those who are associated with disabled persons; they are appreciative of the Government’s efforts. Let me say to those who assert that the bill does not go far enough that it is a wonderful start. If as time goes by the scheme can be enlarged, I am confident that this Government will enlarge it, just as it enlarged the scope of the aged persons homes legislation. I support the bill.
– Within the limits suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), I support the bill. In a manner that is characteristic of him, the Leader of the Opposition analysed the economics of the scheme. He did so, not cold-bloodedly but dispassionately. There are certain features of Senator Anderson’s speech to which I should like to refer. Knowing of the honorable senator’s long association with hospitals and hospital administration, I always listen to him with interest. He referred to the need for disabled persons to display mutual help and self-help. Physical or mental handicaps impose certain limits on disabled persons. So we must realise that there is a limit to the selfhelp that they can exhibit, even though they may be of mutual, assistance to one another. Senator Anderson asked whether the Minister had in mind any degree of flexibility in the provision of accommodation. A Minister who was at the table said that a degree of flexibility was envisaged. I understood that of necessity there would be.
Senator Anderson said that there had to be a beginning to any such scheme. Of course there must be. However, I do not intend to enter into any controversy as to whether the chicken or the egg came first. In approaching a problem such as the one we are now discussing it is usual to conduct an investigation in an effort to find a reasonable solution.
This bill cannot be regarded as being extraordinary when we think of the actions of this Government. All too often this Government haphazardly approaches the problems which confront it. The bill fits into the pattern of legislation that is likely to be passed by the Parliament before the members of another place face the electors ‘
For supporters of the Government it will mean facing the wrath of the electors. No one can deny that a measure of benefit will be conferred by this bill. I mention the superphosphate bounty legislation and the wheat stabilization legislation only to prove my point that the legislation which will have been passed by the Parliament in this sessional period will confer a measure of benefit. This Government will use all the means it can to grab every vote possible between now and 30th November.
The preamble to the bill gives us comparatively wide latitude in this debate. We are considering a bill for an act to provide for assistance by the Commonwealth towards the provision of residential accommodation for certain disabled persons. In other words, I take it we have the right to traverse the whole subject of disabled persons. That is what I propose to do. It is interesting to note that the Minister who is in charge” of the bill in this chamber is the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), who is responsible for the nation’s housing administration. We on this side of the chamber realize just how possible it is for this measure to have been designed to win votes.
Expenditure under this legislation for this financial year will be approximately £150,000. It will cost from £1,000 to £1,500 per person to provide suitable accommodation. So only 150 persons can be provided with that accommodation in this financial year. There is some conflict of opinion about the number of physically handicapped persons in the community. The estimate varies from 50,000 to 100,000 and even as high as 150,000. I have before me a recent newspaper report which stated that 40,000 physically handicapped persons were waiting to enter rehabilitation centres in New South Wales. It added that there were only two hostels and 28 sheltered workshops in existence. If we apply that number of physically handicapped persons proportionately to the whole of Australia,, we find that in this country there are 100,000 physically handicapped persons, as distinct from mentally retarded people. An expert brought from overseas, not by the Commonwealth Government but by a private foundation, has stated that more staff are needed to teach the mentally ill. Of course, they arc disabled persons. But the preamble to the bill refers to “ certain disabled persons “. That shows just how limited is the approach of the Government, and how mean, how contemptible, how parsimonious it can be.
Docs the Government not’ realize that there may be physically handicapped persons who are not working in sheltered workshops? Does it not realize that there arc physically handicapped persons who arc working at home? Does it realize that the sheltered workshops are doing an excellent job? The only limitation imposed upon them is the limited number of persons who are interested in them and are working on their behalf. Their facilities for raising finance are limited. Why does not the Government realize that it has a responsibility towards all disabled persons, and why does it not approach the problem in a comprehensive way? Credit must bc given to the Government for having introduced this legislation at this late stage, but the Government is not justified in displaying any great degree of pride in its proposals. Many other countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries are far ahead of Australia in helping disabled persons. The Minister for National Development and Senator Anderson have taken a measure of pride in this bill, as did the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) in closing the debate in another place. They were so unctuously righteous that one would have thought that this was an innovation, not only for Australia but for the world.
Actually, this bill represents a miserable approach to the problem, lt docs not face the real problem of the physically handicapped. Apparently the Government does not realize that there are special aspects of this problem involving the handling of the physically handicapped and the treatment of them to get the maximum benefit, not for the nation, but for the physically handicapped themselves. That is the humanitarian approach. These people must have educational facilities so that they can get the maximum benefit from training. The bill represents a superficial approach to the problem.
Individuals and organizations in various States have established sheltered workshops and in doing so have accepted a. responsibility which really belongs to the Government. The Government has not actually rejected the approach of various individuals, but I suggest that it has not been cooperative and has not accepted its social responsibilities, nor has it recognized its humanitarian obligations to these people. I hesitate to use the word “ unfortunate “ as applied to these people, because nobody knows whether circumstances will leave them similarly handicapped.
The Government proposes to provide accommodation under certain conditions. Basically, the conditions are that the persons concerned shall be physically handicapped to the extent defined in the social services legislation; that they shall be established in a sheltered workshop or seeking employment in a sheltered workshop; and that they shall be paid for their work. How mercenary can a government be in the distribution of national funds? The bill provides that the persons to be assisted must be paid. The Government is not concerned with whether they are happily occupied. They must be paid for the work they do. The Government is like Shylock demanding his pound of flesh. When the people analyse this bill and realize the significance of the motives that have prompted the Government to introduce it at this time they will recognize the Government’s mercenary approach to the problem. The Government demands its pounds of flesh even from the physically handicapped. It is not concerned with their rehabilitation. All credit to these people if they can earn money, but if they are happy in their work in a sheltered workshop they should not need to receive pay for it for the workshops to qualify for assistance.
Incidentally, what will be the position of these people if they find employment outside a sheltered workshop? There is no provision in the bill that they shall continue to live in the accommodation proposed to be provided. No attempt is being made to provide accommodation for physically handicapped married men who find employment themselves. Under the housing agreement with the States, initiated by the Curtin Government and implemented by the Chifley Government in 1946, the people who were entitled to be accommodated bad the advantage of a rental rebate system, whereby they paid only onefifth in rent of what they received in income. If they had an invalid pension and supplemented it. to the small extent permissible they still paid only one-fifth of what they received. The agreement was in force for ten years because that was one of the terms decided upon by the Chifley Labour Government and the States, but immediately the agreement expired on 30th June, 1956, the Menzies Government could not destroy those provisions quickly enough or callously enough. That rebate was given whether persons were physically handicapped or handicapped through age, -and the Menzies Government showed no concern for them.
Yesterday the Minister for National Development said in reply to a statement by mc on housing that ‘there was still a rental rebate system. I knew that as well as he did. There is such a rebate in four States, but that is no credit to this Government. The other States are seeking a reversion to that system but it cannot be introduced before election day on 30th November. The people hope and pray that after that date there will be in power a government with a sense of social responsibility and humanitarian ideals.
The detailed limitations imposed by this bill extend even to a provision that the physically handicapped must be sixteen years and over. An amount of £150,000 is to be allocated, but how does that measure up to the fact that there are 100,000 or more physically handicapped people in Australia? The Government is paying no regard to the mentally retarded who have every right to expect consideration. It is useless for the Minister to claim, as other Ministers have done, that this is a Slate responsibility. The Commonwealth Government has entered into State activities more and more over the years and has extended its grip on the finances of the nation. Accordingly, it has become associated with many responsibilities which previously rested on the States. It is not enough to say that it is a State responsibility to care for the disabled whether they are physically handicapped or mentally retarded. The bill provides for only a limited number of these persons. - The Minister has Said that the provisions are flexible. But why not have an investigation first? Instead of having an investigation afterwards, why not have an investigation first, so that the position may be faced completely, absolutely, realistically and in a socially justifiable manner? There is no provision for any disabled persons under sixteen years of age. Surely the Government realizes that there are physically handicapped persons between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years who may be trained in sheltered workshops and usefully employed and who can make a contribution to the economic welfare of the country, and to their own rehabilitation, contentment and happiness.
Does that not concern the Government? Is it concerned only with making a gesture? This would appear to be so. The Government is parsimonious, miserable and mean. How mean can the Government get? This could have been a great humanitarian and social measure if it had been introduced after a proper, thorough investigation. All the experts, including State and Commonwealth authorities, should have been called into consultation to tell the Government the requirements of disabled people for treatment, education and training. The Government did nothing except bring in a little, miserable bill. It could not have been more miserable, as this year’s Budget amounts to over £2,000,000,000. In relation to this bill the Government talks in terms of a miserable £150,000. Of course, it is said that this provision is flexible. It has to be flexible in view of the large number of persons who are entitled to consideration.
That does not concern the Government, does it? Government supporters want to telL the electors that they are doing something for the disabled people. Between now and 30th November, they will go out and tell the story of how they recently introduced legislation to provide accommodation for disabled people. They will not even qualify the statement by using the word “ certain “. They will not state the amount involved, or the limitations imposed. They will not be frank. The Government has had a few letters expressing gratitude. It is no wonder that some people express a measure of gratitude, because they have got so used to expecting nothing. They are grateful for what are equivalent to threepenny bits that fall from the Government’s hands.” Why has the Government not been reasonable, practical, socially conscious, humanitarian, realistic and nationally responsible? Let there be an investigation.
I know that this bill will go through. My party will not oppose it because we are grateful for anything that the Government gives to the people. We have grown used to its parsimonious and miserable approach to its responsibilities to people. It is not too late to accept the amendments outlined by the Leader of the Opposition. It is not too late for an investigation, even if the Government does not accept the amendments for prestige purposes. Many Government supporters are shivering and shaking, worrying about the preservation of their political hides. I realize that that is not so in this chamber, but it is in the other place. You, Mr. Deputy President, happen unfortunately to be a member of a Government party, so you know just how Government supporters are shivering and shaking. They fear the wrath of the people, and justifiably so.
Let there be no misapprehension as to the outcome of this election. We on this side are confident but we are not certain. Let us be quite clear that there is no justification for the return of this Government. We have the consolation that Government supporters in the other place are not at all certain that they will be returned. Surely it is not too late even now, if the Government cannot complete an investigation, for the responsible Minister to initiate inquiries. He can call a meeting of responsible State ministers. He can consult those of his administrative officers who are associated with these activities. He can ascertain the number of people who are physically handicapped and the number of people who are mentally retarded. He can ascertain their accommodation needs. There can be a liberalization in relation to the provision of accommodation not only for those physically handicapped people who work in sheltered workshops but also for those who are selfemployed or working privately. There can bc an investigation of the need for treatment and education to enable them to be physically and mentally improved. They can be provided with education facilities so that they may derive the benefits of training and make a real contribution to their own welfare and the welfare of the nation.
I make that plea in all sincerity. I realize, as we all do, that the purpose of this bill was not particularly to help the physically handicapped but to make a gesture just prior to the election. We agree that it does make some small contribution to those people who are entitled to help. We do not demand from them, as some Government supporters would, extraordinary self-help. We know that these people will help themselves. All of them have a magnificent spirit. They will help not only themselves but also those who are similarly physically handicapped or mentally retarded. This nation, which boasts of a so-called high standard of living has a responsibility to those whom we classify as less fortunate than their fellow men and women.
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [10.3S1. - I rise to support the bill and to congratulate the government on the provision of another very valuable social service. We heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) one of his intelligent, restrained speeches, which showed an understanding of the needs of the people for whom the legislation was designed. I do not think that he or any other member of the Australian Labour Party would feci particularly proud of the effort that has just come from Senator Dittmer. One would have expected him as a doctor, to speak of the physically handicapped in an entirely different way. Instead, we have just listened to a political diatribe that was interrupted only by his own voice, because everybody else in the chamber felt so contemptuous they would not even bother to make an interjection. To say that the legislation was designed not to help the physically handicapped but to make a gesture prior to the election is one of the most despicable statements I have heard since I entered this Parliament. The people outside who are listening will be able to judge the statement for what it is worth and also to judge Senator Dittmer by it. I am sure there is hardly a person who would not welcome the change in attitude that has taken place in the community in respect of the handicapped person, whether adult or child. That change is largely due to members of the profession to , which Senator Dittmer belongs. It is largely due to the doctors and nurses who, through the years, have worked hard to see that people are educated to the needs of the physically handicapped. The changed attitude is also due to the thousands of people who work in charitable organizations and who, with loving hearts and understanding minds, have sought to help the physically handicapped. I do not believe that Australia lags behind the world as Senator Dittmer has said it does. I believe that, in Australia, we have gone a long way towards meeting the needs of the handicapped.
– Check up on the United States of America, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries.
– You made your speech, let me make mine.
– Then do not challenge my statements without knowing the facts.
– Allow me to know a little about the matter. The Government has given a lead in assisting the physically handicapped. Honorable senators will recall that it approved the principle of giving wider opportunities for employment in the Public Service to physically handicapped persons. Prior to an announcement by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on this subject the general rule had been that permanent appointees to the Public Service had to be in good health and likely to remain so until retiring age. On 17th May, 1962, he said that physically handicapped persons would be given wider opportunities for employment in the Public Service. He was also reported as having said -
It is now generally agreed that “ physically handicapped “ persons should be afforded an equal opportunity with persons in sound health to perform work for which they are qualified. . . .
So. in that respect, the Government gave a lead in regard to the employment of physically handicapped persons. Commonwealth rehabilitation centres are operating in each of the six States. Expenditure on those centres, excluding capital expenditure on sites, buildings, and administrative costs, has been about £700,000 a year for some years. Most honorable senators have visited the centres and have some apprecia tion of the work being done in them. Many of the major hospitals of the States conduct their own services. Various organizations are also providing services. In Victoria, very exciting results have accrued from the work in these centres.
On previous occasions I have mentioned some of the work that is being done in the geriatric units, and in the one-day hospitals in Victoria. When I heard Senator McKenna refer to the costs in some of these centres I felt that I should mention the work being done in the spinal unit at the Austin Hospital in Victoria. One is shocked, if one knows anything about the work of that unit, to learn of the number of quite young people who sustain injuries from which they become paraplegics and of the heavy nursing attention that is required to keep them alive and to help them back to a normal way of life. It may interest the Senate to know that it was recently found that bed costs in that unit amounted to £12 a day. I see Senator McKenna shaking his head out of consideration for the amount of treatment and attention that is required in a hospital to lift its bed costs to £12 a day. We are very fortunate in Victoria to have the services of a very distinguished doctor in the person of Dr. Cheshire who came to Victoria from England to take charge of the unit. If any one wants to know anything about the terrific expenditure involved in work of this nature they have only to examine the work of this special unit.
There is another very interesting innovation. Only last month the Royal South Sydney Hospital put into operation the first mobile rehabilitation unit in Australia. Therapists man a van and treat many handicapped people in their own homes who would not otherwise be able to receive treatment. These are people who cannot care properly for themselves because they are suffering from amputations or arthritis or are elderly people who have had strokes. I understand that the new unit expects to treat many hundreds of cases that cannot be treated at the present time.
Senator McKenna and Senator Anderson mentioned that handicapped people depend on rehabilitation and the capacity to work to get themselves back into the community. I was very impressed by Senator McKenna’s reference to rehabilitation as human salvage with most rewarding results. I believe that it is everything that any one can claim for it.
The sheltered workshop is not new. The blind societies and tubercular associations have been using sheltered workshops for many years. They have been in operation in other countries and they have provided a real service. I should like to compliment the Australian Junior Chamber of Commerce in taking as its major project for 1962 the assessing and publicizing of the work of sheltered workshops. Any one who is interested in the subject should read the very fine publication issued by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. There are six chapters in it. It gives a general review of the situation. It contains information on the idea and early development of sheltered workshops, choosing appropriate work, setting up a workshop, and the operation and development of a sheltered workshop. In appendices are particulars of existing workshops and work being done in existing workshops. There is also a glossary of disabilities and a list of agencies which can provide information.
– What is the title of the publication?
– It is called the “ Sheltered Workshops Manual “. I would say it is the most informative publication that we have on the sheltered workshops.
– By whom is it published?
– It has been produced for the New South Wales Association of Sheltered Workshops by the Australian Junior Chamber of Commerce and Personnel Administration Proprietary Limited, honorary consultants to the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association. I recommend this book very strongly to all people who are interested in sheltered workshops and in the provision of assistance to the physically handicapped. That includes, of course, the children and the adults who are suffering from mental retardation or deficiency. The work of the sheltered workshop has been referred to as a salute to courage, and in that salute were included Mr and Mrs. Bedwin, who have already been referred to to-night. I think it is a very appropriate term because, as has been said before, Mr. and Mrs. Bedwin have been instrumental in inspiring the creation of some of these workshops and in providing for a great number of people the right to enjoy work and through it to live full and happy lives.
I shall not traverse ground that has already been covered by other honorable senators. We know the difficulties associated with travel for people who are incapacitated. I do not want to go over all of the provisions of the bill. As has already been said, the purpose of the legislation is to provide a subsidy on a basis of £2 for £1 to churches, charitable and benevolent organizations, and to ex-servicemen’s organizations, towards the provision of accommodation for disabled persons working in sheltered workshops, so that they may reside near their place of work. I feel that the provision of this accommodation will be of tremendous assistance to those people who are working in these workshops. The subsidy is not limited, nor is the amount of £150,000, as was pointed out by Senator Anderson. The Government is using that amount as a first objective. I have no doubt that as circumstances require, the amount will be increased and the provisions extended. It is true, as Senator Anderson said, that the Aged Persons Homes Act started in a much more limited way than it is operating at the present time. The Government has always shown a disposition and an inclination towards extending and expanding each service that operates for the needy or for the sick.
I feel that there are very cogent reasons why an expansion of the service would be beneficial to many people. I am not certain that it is in the best interests of physically handicapped people always to live and work with handicapped people, if it is possible to move them to other places where they can mix with other members of the community. I feel that their lives are enriched through being able to make contacts in the normal way. However, for the purposes of this legislation I believe that the Government has done well. It is providing something that has not been available before. I believe that the Government will, in the fullness of time when it is returned to office - and it will be returned on 30th November - look at this matter again. When the circumstances require a further expansion of the service, I believe it will be made available.
I have very much pleasure in supporting the legislation. I think that the scheme is a fine one. lt is one on which we can build in the future. I urge all honorable senators to pass the bril without delay to ensure that practical assistance will be given forthwith to a very deserving section of the community. I support the bill and reject the amendment.
.- This is a bill which, as has been made evident during the debate, is not in itself or in principle opposed by the Opposition. All that we have had from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) is the submission of an amendment which, if it were accepted, would have the effect of extending the benefits far beyond those whom this bill is intended to benefit.
For some considerable time, there has been a change in the community in regard to the way in which disabled persons, whether physically disabled or mentally retarded, are regarded by Australians. No longer is it felt necessary, as it was in the past, to hide away those who have some physical disability or are in some way mentally retarded. Rather has there been a growing attempt on the part of Australia’s citizens to endeavour to use what measures they can to see that a person, whether he be physically disabled or mentallyretarded, has the chance to play such a part in the life of the community as is permitted to him considering the handicaps under which he labours.
One way by which churches, voluntary organizations and people who work so devotedly in this field have sought to bring about a position where any person has a chance to develop himself to the utmost of his capacity is by introducing sheltered workshops. In the sheltered workshops such persons can be trained by experienced teachers with special equipment and under particular conditions so to use their physical and mental efforts that they will be able to contribute all that it is possible for them to contribute. One of the difficulties under which sheltered workshops have been suffering is the difficulty that those who need to go to them in order to carry out their training have had to travel from the parental homes in which most of them live or, in some cases, from institutions. Great difficulties of transport to and from the sheltered workshops, which in many cases are far distant from the parental home, has been in many ways a limiting factor on the numbers who could take advantage of the facilities provided. At the least, it has caused great inconvenience even to those who could so travel to the sheltered workshop.
For some time those who are devoted to this field have felt that their efforts would be helped, and that the physically handicapped and mentally retarded persons would be assisted, if they could have during the time they were training - during weekdays, mostly - accommodation provided as an adjunct to the sheltered workshop. In that way all the difficulties of travel would not be experienced by physically handicapped or mentally retarded persons. The people interested in these establishments have put this view forward and have pointed out that the provision of accommodation handy to the place where the training would be given would be one of the greatest means of assistance that could be given to enable them to carry out their work. As a result of this the Government has decided to provide two-thirds of the cost of such assistance and to meet the wishes of these organizations in this respect. When and if this bill is passed, the effect will be that two-thirds of the cost of accommodation provided for the purpose I have outlined, near sheltered workshops, will be met by the Commonwealth Government, or paid for by taxpayers* funds devoted to that purpose.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– The requests of the voluntary organizations will be met. As I have said, the effect of the bill will be that two-thirds of the cost of the accommodation will be paid for by the Commonwealth Government. There is no limitation in the bill on the sums of money which the Commonwealth Government is prepared to devote to this purpose.
I have explained the reasons for the bill and have stated precisely what it is proposed to do. The objectives are accepted by the Opposition, but there is an attempt, in the amendment that has been placed before us, to get away from the idea of providing training for a particular class of person or for a particular purpose, and to enter fields which traditionally have been the responsibility of the States. The Opposition seeks to provide accommodation for all kinds of disabled persons, whether with the object of helping them with training to fit them to take their place in the world or not. Since that objective goes beyond the announced purpose of the bill and obviously involves matters of great budgetary policy, the Government does not feel able to accept the amendment at this time.
The bill before us is not, as some honorable senators have stated, a beginning. It is a complete piece of legislation. It provides for a benefit which did not previously exist. It is a benefit to which those engaged in this field have accorded the greatest degree of priority. It may be that other things will be done later in this connexion, but the bill should not be regarded merely as a beginning. It is a great contribution to the work which voluntary organizations and churches are doing to assist people who are less fortunate than we are.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
(3.) An organization conducted or controlled by, or by persons appointed by -
– This clause deals with the organizations that are eligible to benefit from the subsidy which it is proposed to provide. An organization, to be eligible, must be carried on otherwise than for purposes of profit or gain to its members. It may be a religious organization, a charitable or benevolent organization, an organization of former members of the defence forces which is established on an Australia-wide basis with a branch in every State, or it may be an organization approved by the Governor-General for the purposes of the act. That provision is wide enough to enable almost any organization at all to qualify. I am interested on behalf of trade unions which may wish to provide from their resources for their members who have been the victims of industrial or transport accidents. I should like an assurance from the Minister that the terms of clause 5 (1 . ) (b) are wide enough to inlcude trade unions. The more important matter upon which I rise is connected with sub-clause (3.) of that same clause, which provides -
An organization conducted or controlled by, or by persons appointed by -
the Government of the Commonwealth or of a State; or
a local governing body established under the law of a State, is not eligible for assistance under this Act. 1 know that the Minister in his secondreading speech indicated that the object of the bill was to encourage philanthropic effort. I contested that as a proper purpose having regard to the wider one of encouraging! assistance for disabled persons. Whilst one cannot really object to the encouragement of philanthropic effort one must complain about the direct discouragement of State activity or activity on the part of a local governing body. In sub-clause (3.) of clause 5 the bill provides most emphatically that an organization conducted or controlled by, or by persons appointed by, a State or a local governing authority, cannot attract any subsidy under this bill. That is plain discouragement of State and local government activity in this field, and I put it to the Minister that that is a type of activity that ought to be supported. Where would one find more dependable and responsible bodies than those that are conducted or controlled by persons appointed by a State or local governing authority? For the purpose of remedying the position,I move -
In sub-clause (3.), leave out “or of a State; or (b) a local governing body established under the law of a State,”.
If this amendment is carried there will be no prohibition against activity in this field by a State or local governing authority attracting the subsidy.
. -I shall first reply to the question which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) asked about trade unions. I give him the assurance he asked for. A trade union would be - provided the constitution of the trade union permitted it - an organization eligible for assistance under clause 5 (1.) (b), which was the sub-clause to which the Leader of the Opposition adverted. If a trade union chooses to set up a trust for the purposes mentioned in clause 5 (2.) it would be eligible for the subsidy.
The Government does not feel able to accept the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition to this clause. The effect of the amendment would be to permit a State or local governing authority - not an organization such as a church which will have an interest in this bill - to set up some organization for some purpose in which the State has a clear constitutional responsibility, as the States have, for instance, in the mental hygiene field. The Kew institution in Victoria is an example. The State could then dodge its full responsibility by receiving £2 from the Government for every £1 that it put in.
There is no discouragement to a State Government or local authority wanting to assist voluntary organizations in this work. This clause, as printed, does not discourage a State government or local authority from doing that. There is no reason why a State government or local authority should not give the same sort of assistance to a voluntary organization, from its own funds, as this bill provides the Australian Government will give to such an organization from its funds. Certainly the State government’s or local government’s contribution would not be subsidized, but the voluntary association, I am sure, would be delighted to receive any assistance of that kind. You could get into a situation where the Australian Government, which now gives the governments of the various sub-divisions of Australia, according to the sense of the meetings between the Commonwealth and the representatives of the States, the funds which the States feel are sufficient to enable them to meet their responsibilities, would, on top of that, provide more money by way of a £2 for £1 subsidy when local authorities in the States spent the sums provided originally by the Commonwealth Government. For these reasons the Government does not feel able to accept the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6. (1.) Where the Director-General is satisfied that a building erected or to be erected, or purchased or to be purchased, by an eligible organization is intended to be used permanently by or on behalf of the organization as, or as part of, an establishment that provides residential accommodation for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops, he may, in his discretion, approve that building or proposed building for the purposes of this Act.
.- Clause 6 authorizes the Director-General to approve buildings for accommodation for disabled persons which are able to attract a subsidy under this legislation. The clause provides that he may do that only if the building is intended to be used permanently by or on behalf of the organization as an establishment that provides residential accommodation for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. I put it to the Minister that that debars a person who has been through the workshop, who has used the accommodation of the hostel and who has acquired sufficient proficiency to go out into open industry. Is that the intention of the legislation? If it is not, does he see the need to make provision for that particular case?
Quite obviously, the need amongst such people for that type of accommodation, having the necessary physical features such as ramps instead of steps and rails and proper bathing facilities, would be as acute as ever. Secondly, in the event of a relative or attendant being required rather continuously to be with the disabled person, is there any provision for accommodating that relative or attendant in the hostel? To express the Opposition’s view that the scope of the bill should be enlarged instead of confining the use of the accommodation to disabled persons employed by sheltered workshops, I move -
In sub-clause (1.), after “persons” insert “ including those “.
If the amendment is agreed to, hostel accommodation would be made available for disabled persons in general, including those employed in sheltered workshops.
.- The effect of the amendment, if accepted, would be that the Australian Government would be accepting responsibility for paying a £2 for £1 subvention to provide accommodation for all disabled persons throughout the Commonwealth. As I said earlier, the bill is designed to provide accommodation near a sheltered workshop so that people who are in training to fit themselves to take a better place in the life of the community may have living quarters close to the place in which they arc being trained. To extend the legislation to cover all chronically ill or mentally handicapped and physically handicapped persons would mean entering the field of State responsibility and would mean going beyond the stated intentions of the Government and the organizations that it is seeking to help.
The specific question asked by the Leader of the Opposition can be answered by saying that to some extent the position would be dependent upon the attitude of the organization which was providing accommodation near to the sheltered workshop. I do not believe that such organizations would expel from accommodation near a sheltered workshop a man or woman who had received his training and had been placed in industry but who still required to live in that accommodation. Large numbers of these people still have their own parental homes in which to live, and indeed in many cases they would travel home at week-ends from the accommodation, that was provided near the sheltered workshop. As I said, I do not believe that any organization would expel a man or woman who had reached the stage where he or she was able to go into outside industry - certainly not before he or she had had a chance to make other arrangements. I believe that what would happen in most cases would be that that man or woman would travel to his work from the ordinary family home.
I repeat that the answer to the specific question asked by Senator McKenna is that the position would depend largely on the organization itself. It would be most unlikely that accommodation would be provided in these buildings for the spouses of persons who were in training. However, reasonable staff accommodation would be subsidized so that the organization could provide the necessary care for the disabled persons who were accommodated there and for whom the organization was responsible. The major objection to the amendment is that it would extend the scope of the legislation far beyond what was intended and would require the expenditure of much more of the taxpayers’ money. In addition, it would mean entering the sphere of State responsibility.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader the Minister for his answer, but I am not happy about what he said about a person who had left the sheltered workshop and who accordingly, in my view, had to leave the accommodation. 1 direct the Minister’s attention to clause 2 (2.), which reads -
A reference in this Act to persons employed in: sheltered workshops shall be read as including a reference to person’s seeking employment in a sheltered workshop.
If it were intended to include persons who had left the sheltered workshop, that intention should have been particularized there.
– I do not follow the honorable senator.
– It should have particularized that a person who had graduated from a sheltered workshop into open industry still had the right-
– I did not say he had the right. I said that I did not believe he would be expelled.
– I ask the Minister to refer to clause 8 (3.), which deals with the agreement that may be made by the Director-General with the organization. Sub-clause (3.) provides that the agreement must provide for the continued use of the approved building as, or as part of, an establishment that provides residential accommodation for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. I direct the Minister’s particular attention to these words -
If an organization acted as the Minister thought it might act, under clause 8 (3.) it would be under an obligation to repay the amount of the grant. That could happen in respect of only one individual case. I content myself with expressing my unwillingness to accept the interpretation that has been given by the Minister. I suggest to him that advantage might be taken of an early opportunity to introduce a simple amendment to cure what he acknowledged in his answer to be an obvious defect.
– The answer to the arguments of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) is that there is no statement in clause 8 (3.) that the approved building, being part of an establishment providing residential accommodation for disabled persons employed in a sheltered workshop, must wholly or exclusively provide such accommodation. Consequently, depending on the organization and the circumstances of the case, the fact that some person had graduated to a state where he could go to outside industry, or was in outside industry but had been in a sheltered workshop for a period, would not necessarily mean that the grant would have to be repaid or any action taken.
– I cannot agree with the advice that has been tendered to the Minister for the Navy. Clause 8 (3.) makes it perfectly clear that the organization concerned has to continue with the use of the approved building as part of an establishment that provides accommodation for persons employed in a sheltered workshop. The Minister now asks me to accept the interpretation that it could include persons other than that. This is plainly not what the clause states. In my view, it involves the organization concerned - if it takes action of that kind - in the risk that it can be called upon under the agreement to repay to the Commonwealth the whole of the grant.
– This seems to be a straight-out conflict of legal opinions between those competent to express them. I can only put before the Senate the legal opinion granted to me, which is that it is not required that any building shall be wholly or exclusively devoted to providing residential accommodation for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. It does provide that the building must provide residential accommodation for disabled persons employed in sheltered workshops. Only if it stopped doing that would it be necessary to repay the grant.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority .. .. 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8. (1.) A grant to an eligible organization under this Act may be made upon such terms and conditions, not inconsistent with this Act, us the Director-General thinksfit. (2.) Before making a grant under this Act to an eligible organization, the Director-General may require the organization to enter into an agreement with him with respect to the terms and conditions upon which the grant is to be made. (3.) An agreement under the last preceding subsection may, if the Director-General considers the circumstances so require, include an undertaking by the eligible organizations with respect to the continued use of the approved building as, or as part of, art establishment that provides residential accommodation for disabled persons employed in sheltered worshops, and provisions for the repayment of the grant to the Commonwealth in the event of a breach of the undertaking, and for the giving of security for the carrying out of the undertaking.
– This clause deals with the terms and conditions of a grant that the Director-General of Health may require in an agreement between the Government and an approved organization. It contains the sub-clause to which I have already referred, and I move -
In sub-clause (3.) after “ persons “ insert “ including those”.
If accepted, this amendment, like the last one we proposed, would have the effect of extending the personnel who could be accommodated in the type of hostel contemplated in the clause.
– This amendment, I think, is somewhat consequential on the previous amendment being passed. That amendment was rejected. Nevertheless, even if that is not a correct view, I say that the Government feels unable to accept this amendment also, because the Government proposes to provide assistance for specific purposes. It does not wish to pass legislation to require it to pay £2 for £1 for accommodation for all disabled persons throughout Australia whether or not they meet the requirements expressed in the bill.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9. (3.) For the purposes of this section the amount of the funds of an organization available for expenditure towards the capital cost of an approved building shall be deemed to be the sum of the moneys (if any) expended, and the moneys presently available for expenditure, by the organization towards the capital cost of the building, being moneys that the Director-General is satisfied -
– I move -
In sub-clause (3.), leave out “ or of a State, or from a local governing body or other authority established by a State Act “.
This clause determines the amounts of the grants. There are two alternatives. The maximum grant may be two-thirds of the capital cost of the building or twice the amount’ of the funds of the organization available for expenditure towards the capital cost of building, whichever is the less. From the funds of the organization available for expenditure towards the capital cost of the building are excluded, by sub-clause (3.), money received from a government, Commonwealth or State, or from a local governing body or other authority established by a State act, and moneys borrowed. It is clear that an organization can borrow money and that it can get money from a State or local governing authority, but if it receives money from any of those three sources that money cannot attract subsidy. For reasons that I advanced earlier in in this debate, we think that that is completely wrong. We think that State and local government bodies ought to be encouraged to contribute and that their contributions ought to attract subsidy. We do not object to borrowings being excluded.
– For the reasons which led me to oppose the previous amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in similar terms, I say that the Government cannot accept the proposed amendment. The Government does not want to put itself - and I believe that it should not be put - in the position where it is paying a subsidy of £2 for £1 on State government funds which are provided to State governments for their own purposes and which should be expended for those purposes. If they were to be subsidized by the Australian Government, this could lead to a State’s not fulfilling its entire responsibilities, for which it received money from various sources, but fulfilling only one-third of its responsibilities because by doing that it could attract a subsidy of £2 for £1.
– The Minister may have a case in relation to the States -I am not agreeing with it - but the Government does not lend or give any money to local governing authorities. He may argue that they get something out of road funds and this may be true. The fact is that the money raised by local governing bodies is raised directly from ratepayers. The Minister’s answer fits only half of the amendment. What about the other half?
.-I think that the other half also is covered. If the amendment were passed, it would be open to a State government - I am quite sure that this would happen - to make a grant to a local authority for a home in a particular locality for the purpose of attracting a subsidy.
– Surely Senator Gorton knows enough about local government in . Victoria to know that his answer is foolish. Surely he does not think that the Victorian Government would single out one or more municipalities from the hundreds of cities, towns, boroughs and shires and say, “ We shall give you £X so that you can grant this assistance “. The Minister should be able to put up a much worthier argument than that.
– I do not want to get into a lengthy argument any more than does Senator Kennelly. I think the clear and obvious answer to what he has said is that a State government could not single out a particular locality or a particular local government body but could make a grant which was available to any local government body for the specific purposes set out which could save it from having to spend its money.
– With regard to the answer given by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to Senator Kennelly, I know that it is correct to say, in general terms, that a State govern ment can do specific things. But I am more particularly concerned with the situation in which a local authority, whether a municipality or shire, pays for a particular activity out of its own revenue as distinct from revenues derived from the State. Let us be clear on this. Many local authorities have accepted responsibilities such as we are discussing particularly for the housing of people who have become disabled through the degenerative processes of old age. This could easily be done in relation to the physically handicapped to whom the provisions of this bill more particularly apply. Surely it is not beyond the machinations or the limited intelligence of the Government to devise a system which would protect the federal revenue. If it is opposed to subsidizing State government allocations, surely it is not opposed to assisting local authorities when they assume a responsibility for disabled people - the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded or the aged. I still cannot see how the Minister can justify his general approach to this matter.
I can understand that the Government will not accept any greater responsibility to give aid to the States. In that respect, the Commonwealth Government, as it is now constituted, accepts a minimum responsibility. Whenever the Government can farm out responsibility with a minimum financial allocation, it will do so; but when a local authority is prepared to assist handicapped persons from revenue derived from the citizens in its area, surely it is not beyond the intelligence of the Government, when subsidizing that assistance, to protect its own revenues and see that the State does not benefit as the Minister has suggested that it might. Surely the Minister will tell the Senate why the Government is prepared to deny assistance to local authorities when they seek to do something for those who are entitled to help.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. ( The Chairman- Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Thursday, 17th October 1963.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 10th October (vide page 1063).
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, £5,242,000.
– I am glad to have the opportunity to speak on the proposed expenditure for the Department of Health because I will now be able to make some remarks that I hoped to make at a later stage in support of my motion for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into and report upon all aspects of the operation of the national health scheme,including the medical benefits scheme, the hospital benefits scheme, the pensioner medical service and the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. In the changed circumstances this week, I may not have an opportunity to propose the motion. Problems are associated with the administration of the Department of Health in relation to medical benefits, hospital bene fits and pharmaceutical benefits. In my opinion the whole question of the National Health Act really needs looking into.
To which division are you referring, Senator?
– To Division No. 291- Administrative. I feel that we are wasting much money on hospital and medical benefit schemes, money which could be going back to contributors. There are many organizations, each one of which collects money and disburses it. In the old days when there was a national health scheme, there was only one collector of moneys, namely, the tax collector. I am firmly of the opinion that it is time we did away with all the medical and hospital benefit societies and went back to that one collector of taxes, the Commissioner of Taxation.
I should like the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) to tell the committee what happened to the edict issued by the Department of Health to societies in regard to the allowable expenditure for administration. I am not certain that I am right, but I believe that at one stage no fund could spend on administration more than15 per cent. of the contributions it received. I believe that no provision to that effect is contained in the act and that the direction came from the Minister. I may be wrong in that respect, but it was commonly believed that no fund could spend more than 15 per cent. of its collections on administration.
From a reply to a question I asked the other day, it became obvious that funds are spending more than the limit of 15 per cent., despite the fact that they are not entitled to do so. In asking the question I erroneously suggested that the funds were making a profit of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000; I should have said that they had a surplus of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000. In replying, the Minister made a mistake, I think, by saying that the only profit they made was about £700,000. On my calculations, 15 per cent. of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 is more than £700,000. Obviously there is an error in my addition or in the addition made by the Minister. If the Minister was mistaken, then obviously the funds are spending more than 15 per cent. of their collections on administration.
It is time we looked at this question to see why we arc building up so many organizations when the work could be handled by one organization controlled by the Commissioner of Taxation.
I refer now to hospital benefits. 1 should like the Minister to explain more fully the alterations to the special account provisions relating to persons over 65 years. I know that when a person reaches 65 he is automatically transferred to a special account, but the provision has now been changed. Does the alteration mean that a person of 65 years of age will be allowed to be a member of two funds and collect fund benefits from both? Of course, he will be able to collect only one Commonwealth benefit! I raised this question about a year ago because people who were retiring and whocontributed to two different funds were told that they would no longer be permitted to do so. They were told that they could contribute to only one organization. This position arose at a time when their income was decreasing because they had ceased work. The effect was that they were unable to get the accommodation that they wished in private hospitals as they did not have the insurance to cover the cost. I hope that this provision has been changed so that those who had the foresight to contribute to two funds could get the benefit from them.
J should like to refer now to the provision of the hospital benefit in maternity cases. 1 think it is preposterous that single girls, or even married women, may not claim this benefit because they had not been married for len months prior to the birth of the child. There does not seem to be any logical reason for that provision. After all, a confinement is a confinement and why do we have to go into the morals of it? Surely a single girl has enough problems of her own without being deprived of this benefit! Because she is a single insured person she is not entitled to claim any benefit, if she happens to have a child. Others who marry because they find themselves pregnant, and those who have a child before they have been married ten months, do not receive the benefit either. I think this provision is harmful to people and I can sec no sense in it. I hope that the Minister will take some action in relation to hospital benefits organizations to remedy this situation.
I now come to pharmaceutical benefits. I should like -to point out that there is a Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which consists of six doctors and a pharmacist. The number of general practitioners on the committee is very small, yet the general practitioners are the ones who prescribe the drugs. At the present moment, we have a furore about a drug that the Minister is about to remove from the list. I refer to item 22, which is a combination of three drugs. This item is a well-balanced combination which has been well tried and well used for asthmatics, lt has been found to be so reliable that it gives doctors a chance of controlling asthmatics. Yet we find that without any notification to doctors, this drug is about to be taken off the market. lt is a truism that a combination of drugs in tablet form is not really as good as a single ingredient prescribed as an individual tablet because the prescription of a single ingredient enables the doctor to alter the dose. But the balanced dose of this compound drug is such that it is accepted by most doctors without question of alteration. If a doctor wants to increase one of the three ingredients of the drug, there is no problem. Let the odd case pay extra. What it means now, in effect, is that instead of getting for asthmatics one drug which consists of three ingredients, you have to order the three ingredients at a cost of 15s. instead of 5s. to the patient. Why is this hardship imposed on asthmatics? Surely it is far more important from our point of view to have asthmatics getting better and working again at 5s. for one tablet than to give aspirin to hundreds of people who can afford to buy aspirin for themselves.
Again, the committee that is set up is lopsided. The Minister, or the Department of Health, asked the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to ask each of the royal colleges, including the Royal College of General Practitioners, to set up their own therapeutic sub-committee and they did so. I am a member of a College of General Practitioners, to set at the number of protests that have been lodged against the action of the Minister and his department in depriving asthmatics of item 22. Four firms manufacture this drug. One of the ingredients is expensive, but it is accepted everywhere throughout the world. Even if the Minister says, “ It is too dear; we will cut that one out; I think that will soon bring manufacturers to heel “, there is no reason to cut out the other cheaper ones just because the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee does not believe in having compound drugs. I feel that when the Minister is doing something like this he should advise the doctors first. We have not been notified officially that the direction is to go out. The drug companies came to us and told us about it. Surely the people who use these drugs should be the first to know that they are to be removed from the list. They should not have to acquire their information at second hand from a drug company. The trade is informed of the matter before the medical profession. I think that is wrong. I have suggested to the Minister privately that it might not be a bad idea to use the “ Medical Journal of Australia “ to make his propositions known. The. doctors could then see them and the Minister might save himself from arguments about some of the items that it is proposed to remove from the list.
The Department of Health publishes a document called the “ Prescriber’s Journal “ which, in a way, is useful. It copies the English journal practically word for word. It is a kind of propaganda journal. It asks doctors not to use expensive drugs, and in that respect it serves a good purpose. One of the things I have against it is that it does not follow the English methods throughout, but I think that shortcoming can be corrected. However, generally speaking, it is so biased against the drugs, it discusses that one wonders about the usefulness of prescribing drugs at all. I do not think I have read one issue of the “ Prescriber’s Journal “ in which it did not condemn the drugs on which a commentary was made. It is so biased that I feel it is no longer serving any useful purpose. It condemns every patent medicine straight out and says, “ Do not use it because something else is cheaper and better.” In that case, I suggest the Department of Health should say that we should use only non-proprietary lines, and let that be the end of the matter.
Another matter which needs looking at is the fact that in our pharmaceutical bill, while the cost of ingredients and containers was £24,500,000, to that must be added £16,400,000 for chemists costs. That is an awful lot of money, lt includes the chemist’s mark-up and professional fee, but it does not take account of the fact that the chemist gets his drugs wholesale at a discount. I do not want to enter into an argument concerning the correct mark-up fee, nor do I wish at this time to state my idea of a correct professional fee, except to say that on most of the proprietary lines the chemist gets 50 per cent. In Tasmania, on top of that he gets 3s. 9d. for putting on the label and making the entry in his book. To me, that seems a pretty generous method of going about things. I do not think that chemists receive as much as that under the national health scheme. I believe they receive only 3s. for the professional fee.
I want to mention the pensioner section of this scheme. I do not know whether honorable senators are aware of this, but when the scheme commenced, the doctors received 10s. for a consultation in the surgery and 12s. for a visit to the home. To-day, they receive 12s. and 14s. respectively. That is noi . enough. I presume that in 1951 those payments were considered to bc fair and just. If that is so, it is obvious that payments of 12s. and 14s. are not fair and just to-day. On each occasion that the Australian Medical Association has approached the Government on this matter it has been knocked back because the Treasury has said, “ We cannot spend any more “. I have never been able to follow that line of argument. If the cost of living has increased by 180 per cent, since 1951, obviously these amounts also should increase. The payment in respect of repatriation patients, by the way, is 17s.
The worst feature of the Government’s insistence on keeping the amounts down to 12s. and 14s. is that the Australian Medical Association declines to enlarge the scope of this service to certain pensioners. I think that is wrong. All pensioners are entitled to the benefit of the scheme. Even pensioners who have had some of their pension taken away because they receive superannuation are entitled to benefit under the scheme, but the field cannot be opened as widely as that if the doctors are not to be paid adequately, because obviously the result would be that more and more persons would be taken out of the field of private practice into that of the pensioner medical service. I assume that the Australian Medical Association has some justification for its stand. Until there is an increase in the payments it will not accept an increase in the number of pensioners. That is quite wrong. There should be no discrimination amongst pensioners. One pensioner should not receive treatment while another does not receive it. A person who is entitled to an age or invalid pension, or a widow’s pension, should also be entitled to medical treatment.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should like Senator Turnbull to know that the ceiling placed on the hospital and medical benefit funds is 20 per cent, for administrative costs, and this ceiling is rigidly enforced. The honorable senator asked for information concerning the proposed legislation to take persons over the age of 65 years away from the special account arrangements. I hope that the legislation will be before the Parliament in the next week or so. The burden of the questions that he asked in this respect indicated to me that he will be happy with the legislation when it is presented.
The honorable senator expressed concern that the waiting period of ten months in pregnancy cases before entitlement to benefit under the funds was based on moral grounds. Of course, that, is not so. The ten months waiting period has been provided so that people will not make a convenience of the hospital and medical benefit schemes. I think it is generally recognized that ten months is the vital period, so to speak. Rightly or wrongly, the Government and the benefit funds have fixed the waiting period so that a convenience will not bc made of the funds.
The honorable senator referred to the drug aminophylline, which we contemplate removing from the free list on the advice of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. As he has rightly said, no drug may be removed from the list without the recommendation of the committee. 1 should like him to know that aminophylline is still on the free list. Only those drugs in compounds of aminophylline are to be removed.
Individual drugs in compounds with aminophylline are still on the free list, also. When prescribed, the fee is not 5s. for the compounds. The prescription is written, and if it contains the free drugs the prescription fee, of course, is only 5s. If a doctor needs to prescribe a dosage of these drugs he may therefore do so to meet the needs of individual patients.
While we are never informed of the reasoning on which the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee bases its recommendations, I assure the honorable senator that cost is not involved in the recommendations. The committee is obliged to make its recommendations on therapeutic and clinical evaluations only. It is not concerned with cost. I have no doubt that its recommendations always are made in the best interests of the patients. I emphasize that I am really greatly indebted to the honorable senator for raising this matter. At last, I see the light. He said that he had been appalled by the number of protests that he had received because of the contemplated removal of aminophylline from the free list. I see the light because he said that the drug companies had informed him of this. He has complained that the doctors have not been informed. That is true. The doctors are never informed until one week prior to the circulation of the revised schedule which, in this particular instance, will bc 1st November. He said that the manufacturers had lodged the protests. My understanding of the position at this point of time is that the manufacturers are the only people who know of the contemplated action of the Department of Health in this matter. I pose the proposition that these protests that have been received by the honorable senator have obviously been made by the manufacturers. I suggest that it is a moot point as to whether they were made in the interests of the patients or of the manufacturers.
Having said that, and believing that the estimates for the Department of Health have enjoyed a longer period of debate than they have for many years, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– It is not fair.
– I understand that the Minister has some questions to answer.
– Order! The motion, “ That the question be now put “, has been put and carried.
– Who said it was carried?
– Order! The question now before the committee is, “That the proposed expenditure be noted “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Health - Capital Works and Services, £344,000- noted.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise with a measure of hesitancy at this hour, but I feel that,’ as is not altogether uncharacteristic of it, the Government has been unfair on this occasion. We have just had before this chamber an important set of estimates which have a bearing on the health of the nation. An amount of £40,800,000 is estimated to be expended by the Commonwealth on pharmaceutical benefits. In addition there is to be a contribution by patients of £8,100,000. Also involved is the amount that people will pay to the drug firms outside of payments that are met under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Nobody knows exactly what sum will be involved in that, but anything from £6,000,000 to £8,000,000 will be paid by patients in having doctors’ prescriptions filled outside the ambit of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.
When we think in terms of the pills, potions and powders consumed by the people of Australia there will be another £40,000,000 involved, bringing the total amount of the Australian people’s money to be expended in this respect to anything from £95,000,000 to £100,000,000. Almost £41,000,000 of that will be spent by the Government under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme between ,1st July this year and 30th June next year. Yet here to-night we witness the spectacle of the Minister for Health closing the debate on these estimates although over the years protests have been made repeatedly-
– I rise to order, Mr. President. The honorable senator is reflecting on a vote of the Senate.
– All right. May I say that-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMulIin). - Order! The Minister’s point of order is upheld. The honorable senator is reflecting on a vote of the Senate.
– All right, Mr. President. I bow to your ruling and still reflect.
– I shall delay the Senate for only a minute or so. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) said that I had been slightly confused in some remarks I made. I wish to make what is more or less a personal explanation. As I pointed out, doctors were not informed by the Department of Health but by the drug companies. It is not that the drug companies had protested to us at all. Apparently they protested to doctors throughout Australia, because our committee wrote a letter to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which begins with the words -
Following the reception of many letters and telegrams from college members-
College members, of course, are doctors and not companies. I just wanted to make that clear.
The second thing is that the Minister has not replied to the statement that it does not matter what the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee said. Unless it can give a good reason it is inflicting a hardship on these asthmatics, who now either will have to pay for the drugs outside the pharmaceutical benefits scheme - that is, they will npt get anything from the Government - or they will have to pay inside the pharmaceutical benefits scheme for the three ingredients separately. It will cost them 5s. for each ingredient, making a total of 15s. instead of the normal 5s. charge. The Minister did not mention that, but spoke as if I were a stooge of the drug companies, which I assure the Senate I am not.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 12.28 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 October 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19631016_senate_24_s24/>.