25th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 11 a.m., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.
The Clerk read the proclamation.
The Deputy appointed by His Excellency the Governor-General for the opening of the Parliament - the Right Honorable Sir Frank Walters Kitto, K.B.E., a Justice of the High Court of Australia - having been announced by the Usher of the Black Rod, entered the chamber and took his seat on the dais.
The Deputy, through the Clerk, directed the Usher to desire the attendance of the members of the House of Representatives, who being in attendance,
The DEPUTY said-
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
His Excellency the Governor-General not thinking fit to be present in person at this time, has been pleased to cause letters patent to issue under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth, constituting me his deputy to do in his name all that is necessary to be performed in declaring this Parliament open, as will more fully appear from the letters patent which will now be read. (The letters patent having been read by the Clerk)-
The DEPUTY said-
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
I have it in command from the GovernorGeneral to let you know that after members of the House of Representatives shall have been sworn, the causes of His Excellency calling this Parliament will be declared by him in person at this place; and it being necessary that a Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be first chosen, you, members of the House of Representatives, will retire to the place where you are to sit, and there proceed to the choice of some proper person to be your Speaker; and later this day you will present the person whom you shall so choose to His Excellency, at such time and place as he shall appoint. I will attend in the House of Representatives for the purpose of administering the oath or affirmation of allegiance to honorable members of that House. (The Deputy and members of the House of Representatives then retired. The President took the chair.) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Honorable Sir Alister McMullin). - I wish to inform the Senate that I have received through His Excellency the Governor-General, from the Governor of Queensland, a certificate of the choice at the election held on 30th November, 1963, of Kenneth James Morris, to fill a casual vacancy existing in the representation of the State of Queensland. The certificate will be laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
The Clerk then laid on the table the certificate of election of Kenneth James Morris.
Senator Kenneth James Morris made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Sitting suspended from 11.20 a.m. to 3 p.m.
His Excellency the Governor-General entered the chamber, and, being seated, with the President on his right hand, commanded that a message be sent to the House of Representatives intimating that His Excellency desired the attendance of honorable members in the Senate chamber forthwith, who being come with their Speaker,
His Excellency was pleased to deliver the following speech: -
Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:
The 25th Parliament of the Commonwealth is now assembled to consider and deal with many matters of importance to Australia. Many of them were the subject of policy statements during the election campaign, and will be referred to later in this speech as part of a legislative and administrative programme of action.
The Parliament meets at a time when we had been looking forward, with loyalty and affection, to a visit by Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Wc learned with deep regret that illness compelled Her Majesty to cancel h.er journey. We welcome the news of her steady recovery. Many millions of Australians have lasting and loving memories of her previous visits, and of her warm and gracious personality, so we are happy to regard her visit as a pleasure deferred, but not foregone.
Since the Parliament last met, two tragic events have occurred. The assassination of President Kennedy deprived the world of a statesman of courage, character, and imaginative ability, and Australia of a warm and understanding friend. My Government has conveyed to the people of the United States of America, through the new President, the grief and sense of loss of all the people of Australia.
The other tragic event concerns us in this country. The recent collision which resulted in the sinking of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “ and the loss of the lives of so many gallant Australian sailors, is now under full and far-reaching judicial investigation by a royal commission. Meanwhile, the hearts of ail Australians have gone out to those who have been so suddenly bereaved, and to those who were injured.
In the field of foreign relations my Government will continue, through the United Nations and its agencies and by direct and sustained diplomatic effort, to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, international stability and rising standards of self-government and prosperity.
The partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty concluded in August, 1963, holds out hopes for some relaxation of world tension. It is, of course, not comprehensive either in terms of membership or content. My advisers hope to see it extended to cover all nations and all forms of testing, so that the dangers of a renewed nuclear arms race may be diminished.
In spite of great international efforts, political tension is still high in- some regions, notably in Australia’s near north. This is largely, as in the past, due to Communist pressures. But we also have what is called “ confrontation “ over Malaysia. My Government will continue to support the political and territorial integrity of Malaysia. In addition to its pledge to provide forces if necessary to assist Malaysia and Great Britain in the defence of Malaysia against externally directed aggression or insurgency, my Government is taking active measures to assist the development of Malaysia’s own defence resources.
Australian relations with Indonesia have, of course, deeply concerned my Ministers. Government policy towards Indonesia continues to be one of friendship, pursued with patience, frankness and realism. The major interests which we have in common should, if possible, be preserved. But my advisers continue to make it clear to Indonesia that we have commitments in relation to Malaysia which we will honour.
In all matters affecting Australian security and defence, my Government will, in association with our New Zealand comrades, work to expand the scope and effectiveness of its co-operation with Britain and the United States. At the same time, we will work with our other Seato partners in South-Eastern Asian problems, particularly those of Laos and South Vietnam.
My Government will continue through a range of channels available for varying types of aid - Colombo Plan, International Bank, United Nations and bilateral schemes - to assist those countries which cannot develop adequately alone.
In the Trust Territory of Papua-New Guinea, administrative resources will be expanded to maintain the momentum of economic, social and political advancement. Immediate attention will be given to reports which arc to be received this year from the Survey Mission of. the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the economy of the Territory and from the Commission on Higher Education.
My Government will continue to pay a great deal of attention to developments in Africa, especially in the new countries of the Commonwealth of Nations which are seeking to work out independent national life and institutions.
In the present state of affairs, defence must continue to be a major responsibility of my Government. It will continue to take all necessary steps to ensure the security of this country together with its island territories and to make a proper contribution to the common defence in association with our allies.
The decisions already taken will put this country in a position to react promptly and effectively to any threatening moves with greater strength. The objective is to provide readily available and realistically trained forces, possessing the most modern conventional equipment, with effective mobility by land, sea and air, as selfcontained as possible, so as to be able to operate either with allies or by themselves.
The overall strength and versatility of the Royal Australian Navy are being progressively increased. Construction of the first two Charles F. Adams guided missile destroyers is proceeding, and they are expected to commission next year. An order has been placed for a third guided missile destroyer. The new frigate being built in Australia will commission shortly. Four submarines of the British Oberon class are being obtained. The new survey ship, H.M.A.S. “Moresby”, has already been handed over to naval control. The keel for the new escort maintenance ship will shortly be laid in Sydney.
In the Army, a third regular battle group is to be raised. The Pacific Islands Regiment will be doubled in strength as soon as possible and further developments will then be considered. The Citizen Military Forces is being built up, its training is more realistic, and it is being equipped with modern arms, vehicles and stores of all kinds.
Expenditure on modern equipment for the Army is being increased from £10,000,000 to £17,500,000 each year covering a complete range of weapons, communications and radar equipment, light aircraft, water craft, and vehicles.
The Royal Australian Air Force is being extensively re-equipped. There are on order 100 Mirage fighter aircraft, which are the best in the world for our requirements. The first of these from local production has now been handed over to the R.A.A.F. New radar units for control of fighter aircraft are now being obtained. We are obtaining two squadrons of FI IIA, the last word in strike reconnaissance aircraft. Caribou aircraft and Iroquois helicopters arc being obtained to improve the tactical mobility of the Army in the field. The Bloodhound missile system has been installed. Further modern operational airfields are to be built in the Northern Territory and in New Guinea.
Effective and modern defence production and research organization back the needs of the forces. Defence expenditure has increased from £203,000,000 in 1961-62, to over £260,000,000 this financial year, and will continue to rise substantially in future years.
My advisers have consistently sought a strong growth in development, population, and production, matched by full employment of labour, improving productivity, rising standard’s of living, steady costs and prices and a strong trading and financial position abroad.
The production and sale of goods and services have continued to rise strongly; levels of building and construction arc high; dwellings are being erected at a rate exceeding 100,000 a year.
The numbers in employment have been rising rapidly and, except for seasonal influences, the numbers registered for employment have progressively declined. The present demand for labour of most classes is now strong.
Large numbers of desirable migrants are offering and, having regard to the growing demand for labour, particularly skilled labour, the Government has recently decided to raise the immigration target for this year by accepting another 10,000 British assisted migrants.
Along with our favorable economic growth, there has gone a notable steadiness of costs and prices. Higher export prices for some of the more important commodities, together with increased production, should result in a record rise in the gross value of rural production in 1963-64. The value of exports of rural origin should also be a record, nearly 25 per cent, higher than last year.
The balance of our overseas trade has moved in our favour and a considerable amount of overseas capital has been flowing in. In consequence, our external reserves have risen to the highest point on record, and are continuing to rise.
The amount of money and liquid assets held by the Australian banks and public is currently very large, and growing. My advisers’ policy is that the supply of funds should remain adequate for continued growth. But they will exercise such powers as they have to avoid speculative activities or a rise in prices. Greater efficiency and a higher level of productivity are tasks for all sections of industry, and not for governments alone.
It is the objective of Government policy that the nation should achieve over the next live years a total increase of at least 25 per cent, in the gross national product expressed in terms of constant prices. The Government will be assisted by the findings of the Committee of Economic Enquiry, whose report is expected later in the year.
A northern division of the Department of National Development has been established to assist the Government in devising further proposals for the accelerated development of the north. A study of the problem of freight costs for the north is being put in hand.
The assessment and development of our water resources is vital to national development. My advisers are currently assisting some State Governments with the construction of major water storages and are giving full support to the Water Resources Council in its work.
The mineral industry has continued to advance in terms of production and exports and in becoming more diversified. My advisers continue to encourage the development of our mineral resources and their maximum processing in Australia. Legislation will be introduced to extend both the subsidy and the concessional taxation deductions for oil search for a period of three years.
Legislation will be introduced to authorize substantial Commonwealth financial assistance for flood mitigation works in the coastal rivers of New South Wales and the construction of an access road to the Gordon River area of south-west Tasmania.
As already announced, my advisers are working out arrangements which will require the co-operation of the States and of the petrol companies to bring about a reduction in the price of petroleum products in country areas. This is a most important practical exercise in decentralization.
The former Department of Trade has become the Department of Trade and Industry, and is in the course of establishing a secondary industry section under a very senior and responsible official. The Govern ment recognizes that one of the needs of our developing secondary industries, particularly those entering export markets, is that the home market should not be eroded by dumping or related practices. The Government will see that the protective needs of Australian industry are not circumvented in this way.
In certain instances the establishment of Australian business ventures overseas, whether under wholly Australian or joint ownership, can strengthen the local economy and at the same time encourage Australian exports.
Experience shows that the establishment by marketing boards of processing plants overseas, especially in the lesser developed countries, will benefit the export of our primary products and also contribute to social and economic development in such countries. My advisers plan to facilitate the establishment of new plants of this sort.
Consideration is being given to a widening of the scope of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation to provide increased protection for Australian exporters against non-commercial risks.
It is also the fact that Australian industries are expanding their operations overseas, using Australian components and raw materials. My advisers are studying the details of a scheme of insurance against non-commercial risks such as expropriation or war. So soon as conclusions have been reached, a further announcement will be made.
International trade negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are. scheduled to begin in May. For the first time the reduction of barriers to international trade in primary products will be given as much emphasis in these negotiations as the reduction of tariffs against industrial goods. Special commodity groups have already been established, to negotiate on the problems of improving access to world markets and obtaining remunerative prices for cereals, meat and dairy products. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is to begin next month. Australia will participate in its work.
The Government will continue its policy of supporting the stabilization of our primary industries. Legislation will be introduced to give effect to arrangements under which the Commonwealth will match £1 for £1 additional funds contributed by wool growers for wool promotion in excess of their present levy.
Legislation is also in preparation to support a meat industry plan for developing and diversifying the overseas markets for Australian meat. A stabilization proposal for the dried1 fruits industry will shortly be put to a vote by growers in the industry. Further, subject to the concurrence of the State Governments who have a large responsibility in this regard, my Government is prepared to bring down legislation to support a stabilization scheme for the Australian egg industry.
Scientific research in the rural industries is of the highest importance. Special funds are already available to the States to assist in having the benefits of research available to the man on the land. However, my advisers believe that the process can be quickened. They are prepared to work out arrangements with the States to bring this about.
The Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation, under which the Commonwealth will have paid £250,000,000 to the States for roads over the past five years, expires on 30th June next. Legislation for a new scheme, which will involve larger payments, will be presented to the Parliament in this session following discussions with the State Premiers.
Up-to-date communications facilities are needed in a rapidly growing economy. Important steps towards the -fulfilment of the national telephone plan have been made. These include the introduction of a new operational system, extended calling areas without the payment of trunk call fees, the progressive extension of subscriber trunk dialling facilities and a number of large scale coaxial cable and radio trunk installation projects, linking capital cities and rural areas.
Progress is being made with the extension of television to provincial and country areas. The Government has maintained its policy of providing for dual national and commercial services. When the current expansion is completed by the end of 1966, television will be available to more than 90 per cent, of the Australian community. Recent legislation providing for translator stations, to relay programmes from country stations, will enable even wider coverage.
Australia has participated in the construction of a marine cable known as COMPAC to link Canada with Australia and New Zealand as part of a roundtheworld cable scheme. The final stage was completed in December, 1963. A cable link known as SEACOM will also be established with South-East Asia and work is already progressing.
There are significant developments in. shipbuilding. The latest passenger vessel built in Australia, the “ Empress of Australia “, was launched recently and should be completed at the end of the year. Tenders are now open for the construction of four 47,000-ton bulk carriers in Australian shipyards, and these will be the largest ever built here.
The coastal carriage of petroleum products in Australian registered and Australian built tankers has been under discussion with interested parties. The policy of financial assistance in the construction of ships in Australia has also been under consideration following a recent review by the Tariff Board.
Later this year the two major internal airlines will introduce jet aircraft. In international aviation my Government recently approved of Qantas purchasing early delivery positions for supersonic aircraft to come into international service in the 1970’s. The Government is carrying out a five-year plan of airport construction and the installation of long-range radar equipment for air-traffic control purposes.
Following publication of the Government’s broad statement on restrictive trade practices, my advisers have received criticisms and suggestions and have had valuable discussions with various organizations. The Government will introduce a bill to the Parliament and leave it open to public scrutiny for a reasonable time before it is taken up in debate.
My Government will put into effect at the earliest possible date two housing proposals, one to make it easier for young married people to own a home of their own, and the other to increase the flow of private funds for housing in Australia.
The first scheme aims at encouraging young people to save to acquire a dwelling by offering a financial incentive for such saving. My Minister for Housing intends to introduce into the Parliament early this session legislation to authorize the operation of this scheme. The proposed conditions of eligibility of savings for the grant and the manner of operation of the scheme will then be put before the Parliament.
The second proposal is designed to improve the availability of loans on reasonable terms from private sources for the purchase or construction of a home, or the discharge of an existing mortgage. My Government intends to present to the Parliament legislation to authorize insurance of the repayment of principal and the payment of interest on private loans for any of these purposes. >.< “
The Government will introduce legislation to increase child endowment for the third and subsequent children to 15s. a week and to grant endowment of 15s. a week in respect of full-time students between the ages of 16 and 21 years.
Legislation will be introduced during this session for the purpose of giving effect to two policy changes in the health field, namely, that Commonwealth medical benefits be increased by 33i per cent, and ..that the existing limit of £10,000,000 applying to grants to the States for the building or equipping of mental health treatment centres will not apply for the next three years. All contributors to medical benefits insurance funds will be entitled to the increase in the Commonwealth medical benefits without being required to make any increase in their weekly contributions to the funds.
In the very important field of education, my Government will continue to provide substantial financial assistance for universities. In addition to the grants to States for their universities, which were provided by the act of 1963, legislation will provide additional finance for the teaching costs of medical hospitals during the 1964-66 triennium, and towards meeting the cost of higher levels of academic salaries. For the purpose of its grants to the States, the Government has accepted an interim level of academic salaries as from 1st July, 1963, and will shortly be establishing an inquiry to recommend a level of academic salaries for grant purposes during the current triennium.
The Government keenly recognizes scientific research as vital both for higher education and for national growth. It is giving further consideration to its role in this field.
In the near future the Government will receive, and, at once consider, a report from *a ‘committee which has been studying various aspects of tertiary education with a view to recommending what the future pattern of education in this field should be.
The Government has received a mandate for new measures of assistance for secondary and technical education. It will introduce a scheme of secondary school scholarships involving 10,000 awards annually, open competitively to all secondary school students for the last two years of secondary education, and providing a maintenance grant of £100 per annum without means test and up to £100 per annum for fees and books. There will be 2,500 scholarships annually on a comparable basis for students at technical schools. An amount of £5,000,000 per annum will be made available to all secondary schools, government and independent, for the provision of building and equipment facilities for science teaching. There will be an annual grant of £5,000,000 to the States towards the building and: equipment costs of technical schools.
The development of comprehensive and detailed arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States and independent school authorities has been put in hand. Effect will be given to the new measures, by legislation where necessary, as soon as practicable.
My advisers consider that it is necessary to increase the size of the Ministry to meet modern circumstances. A bill to amend the Ministers of State Act will be placed before the Parliament in the early days of this session. Its purpose will be to permit the appointment of 25 Ministers instead of 22.
My Government will submit amendments to the Representation Act and to the Electoral Act. Under the current provisions of the Representation Act, the Chief Electoral Officer, in determining the number of members each State shall have in the House of Representatives, is required to find that where, after dividing the State population by the electoral quota, there is a remainder equal to less than one-half of the quota, no member shall be chosen in respect of that remainder. In a situation where State populations are growing at different rates, this requirement can have the effect that some States may lose representation, despite a general growth. My Government considers that, in such circumstances, there should be no loss of representation, and proposes to legislate accordingly.
Regarding the Electoral Act, my Government will introduce amending legislation to make it clear that, in making any proposed distribution of a State into divisions for electoral purposes, the Distribution Commissioners shall take into account community of economic, social and regional interests, difficulties of communication, remoteness or distance, the trend of population changes, physical features, and the relative areas of proposed divisions. No fixed quota differential is proposed.
I now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties, in the faith that Divine Providence will guide your deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. (His Excellency the Governor-General and members of the House of Representatives retired.)
Sitting suspended from 3.43 to 4.9 p.m.
The PRESIDENT again took the chair, and read prayers.
– by leave - Mr. President, I should like formally to advise the Senate of the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America, on 22nd November, 1963. I think I would be correct in saying that the manner of his passing shocked the world. We felt it deeply in Australia because he had gained our respect because we saw in President Kennedy a man who was serving not only his own country but all humanity.
During his period of two years and tcn months as President of the United States pi America, he had spoken forthrightly and acted decisively so consistently that 1 think it true to say that as a result there was increasing confidence that he would find solutions to so many of the great world problems that confront us at the present time. It was, therefore, a tremendous loss to the world when one with such great capacity and of such personal integrity who was holding such a high office was lost to us all while he was still so young. We thought, therefore, that it was fitting that we in this Senate should pause in our deliberations and send our sympathetic thoughts to bis widow and his family in their time of great grief, and at the same time place in the records of this Senate an expression of our sympathy for the citizens of the United States in the loss which they have suffered. I move -
That the Senate records its sincere regret at the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States of America, places on record its appreciation of his high courage and devoted service to the cause of international peace, expresses to the people of the United States its profound regret at the loss they have suffered, and tenders its deep sympathy to Mrs. Kennedy and her family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion. I agree it is most fitting that we should note in this place the passing of President Kennedy. The assassination of the President of the United States of America produced more shock and sadness throughout the Australian nation than any other single overseas event that I can recall. Television had brought him so often into our homes that we knew how he looked, walked, talked and felt. We knew him in the background of the White House and of his family life. We knew, too, that, very largely, the peace of the world depended on his wisdom, tolerance and courage. We had come to respect, admire and trust him for his constant exhibition of those qualities. Above all, he had won his fray into the hearts of the Australian people. Watching his inauguration on television, 1 remarked that he was a natural magnet for an assassin’s bullet. I said that because I saw in him the things that excite envy and jealousy in a warped mind - youth, good looks, happy family life, wealth, power and glamour. I saw in him, in addition to the qualities I have already described, a great humanity and an enormous personal integrity, qualities which, in one of his eminence, were a constant reproach to everything mean and sordid. On 22nd November a mean, sordid, envious mind destroyed in a second this splendid edifice with an assassin’s bullet from ambush.
Everybody in Australia felt a deep, personal sense of loss. His death was a loss not only to his own great nation but to the world itself. I doubt whether ever before so many leaders of great nations assembled at short notice for the funeral of the leader of a nation so that proper tribute might be paid to that leader. I believe that the work of the late president and his spirit will live on. There are already strong indications of that in the American administration. I extend the deepest sympathy of the Opposition and of all the people that we represent to his widow who, in her devastating tragedy, exhibited so much self control and courage, and to her children so brutally and wantonly deprived of their father. Again on behalf of the Opposition I extend our deepest sympathy to the people of the United States of America who have suffered such a very grievous loss.
– I wish to associate the Australian Democratic Labour Party with the messages of condolence to the sorrowing family of the late President Kennedy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - Mr. President, I regret to advise the Senate of the death on 24th December last of the Honorable Athol Gordon Townley, then Minister for Defence. The late Mr. Townley was elected to the House of Representatives for the Division of Denison in Tasmania at the elections of 1949 and held the seat for the six subsequent elections. His parliamentary career, therefore, covered a period of fourteen years. Mr. President, it was indeed a distinguished parliamentary career.
He was Minister for Social Services and Minister in charge of War Service Homes from 11th May, 1951, to 9th July, 1954; Acting Minister for Health from 13th August to 16th September, 1953, and then again from 14th April to 15th June, 1957; Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation from 9th July, 1954, to 24th October, 1956; Minister for Immigration from 24th October, 1956, to 19th March, 1958; Acting Minister for Air from 24th February to 4th April, 1957; Acting Minister for Civil Aviation from 14th January to 18th February, 1958; Minister for Defence Production from 11th February to 23rd April, 1958; Minister for Supply from 1 1th February to 10th December, 1958; and Acting Minister for Trade from 23rd August to 6th October, 1958, and from 2nd April to 21st April, 1959. He was then appointed Minister for Defence. He went overseas representing Australia at ministerial conferences on five occasions, in 1955, 1958, 1961, 1962 and 1963. At the time of his death he was ambassador designate to the United States America. Indeed, Mr. President, it is such a long and impressive list of ministerial responsibilities that I thought it fitting on this sad occasion to place the list on record in the Senate.
It is also seemly to mention that he served in the Royal Australian Navy on active service from September, 1940, until June, 1945, reaching the rank of lieutenantcommander and that, at the end of the war, he continued on in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve with the rank of commander. These are facts which, I submit, demonstrate a distinguished record of service by a good Australian to his country. Indeed, those of us who knew him well during the last few years of that service know that it was service beyond the line of duty because of the condition of his health.
As a younger man, he was a prominent sportsman. I always like to think of him against the background of the teamwork that he brought into Parliament and into Cabinet. Tn my personal opinion, his outstanding characteristic was his friendly feeling for others and his constant desire to co-operate ‘with them . in their . work. He seemed always to have the gift of giving the right word of encouragement to those in difficulties and the appropriate comment of congratulation to those who were doing well at a particular time. As a result, we all miss him very sadly indeed. I am sure that I speak for all those on both sides of the chamber when I say that we should like to say to his widow, Hazel, and to his son, Athol, that on this first day of the new Parliament, we are all thinking of them both in their sorrow. Mr. President, I move the formal resolution -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Athol Gordon Townley, former Commonwealth Minister, who was, at the time of his death, the Member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Denison, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and the members of his family in their bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I support the motion. I had the privilege of knowing the Honorable Athol Gordon Townley from the 1930’s right up to the time of his death. Therefore, I saw him grow from a young man to one who assumed very great and varied responsibilities on behalf of this nation both at home and abroad. The record that the Leader of the Government has outlined is one of very distinguished service. Indeed, it is one of a life devoted to public duty here and abroad in peace and in war.
One can say with truth of Athol Townley that he was a true Australian. He was an Australian through and through in manner, outlook and ready friendliness. He was a true sportsman and, despite the heights that he reached in the course of his career, he never lost the common touch. I can say with certainty that he enjoyed the respect and liking of every member of the Opposition. One had only to be at the funeral in Hobart which marked his passing to witness the very great affection and respect in which he was held, not merely by members of this Parliament on the Government side - I think all members of the Ministry attended the funeral - but by the large number of members of the Opposition who travelled interstate to pay their last respects to him. The tens of thousands who witnessed his last passage through the streets of Hobart provided an inspiring sight. . ,
I wish that everybody who knew Athol Townley could have listened to the clergyman’s oration, at the funeral service, upon his virtues. It was one of the most magnificent tributes I have ever heard paid to any individual. The clergyman referred to the wide spread of his activity in public affairs of all kinds and his very extensive generosity. I agree with what the Leader of the Government has said regarding Athol Townley’s facility for friendship and all that that entails. I should say that he was an expert in friendship. It was characteristic of Athol Townley that, despite his rapidly declining health, he undertook a very onerous mission overseas on behalf of the Government in regard to a vastly important matter. That was in the very month which preceded his death.
On behalf of the Opposition I extend to his widow, his son and other close relatives our deepest sympathy in their loss. I trust that it will be a consolation to them to know that he has been held in such high regard and respect by members of the Opposition in this Parliament.
– Mr. President, I should like to associate members of the Australian Country Party with the comments that have been made. The colourful career of Athol Townley in this Parliament reflects the diligence and outstanding ability of a great Australian. A lifetime of service to his country in peace and war earned for him in 1958 appointment as Minister for Defence, which is one of the most important and responsible posts in the Commonwealth Government. As a result of his vision and remarkable administration, one of the biggest peacetime developments in Australian history was concluded by him. This was only weeks before his death, when he made yet another visit overseas to conclude the purchase of a new bomber for the Royal Australian Air Force. I believe it is fair to say, Sir, that only Athol Townley could have completed a deal that was so advantageous to Australia. We shall always be grateful to him for his contributions to the future safety of this country.
He was a man of diverse interests and he made a success of all his undertakings. His sporting triumphs prompt me to say that the highest tribute which I can pay to him is that he led his life as he played his cricket - with a straight bat. To his sorrowing wife and son we extend o insincere sympathy.
– I wish to associate the Australian Democratic Labour Party with the motion before the Senate. Australia - Tasmania in particular - has lost a great asset by the death of Athol Townley. Possibly I knew Mr. Townley as well as did any person in this place. We were school boys together. He was captain of the Hobart High School cricket team when I was captain of the Devonport High School cricket team and we made contact frequently on both cricket and football fields. Athol Townley was a great sportsman and I shall always remember him, not so much for what he did in the political sphere in Australia, but for his personal attributes and as a great sporting personality. I extend the deepest sympathy to his sorrowing family.
– I am certain that my Tasmanian colleagues will agree with me that we are a very sad people, following the death of Athol Townley. He had five outstanding attributes. It is rarely that one can say of anybody that he was outstanding in five fields of endeavour as was Mr. Townley. Before he entered the Commonwealth Parliament, it was acknowledged in Hobart that he was a person of high community spirit. In this connexion, he did wonderful work for those who were not well endowed with money or with the amenities of life. He was outstanding in Tasmanian sport. He was known as a good sport. He established a reputation in business for great integrity. Then he had a fine record of war service. After the Second World War he was elected to the Commonwealth Parliament and his name will go down in history as a great Tasmanian, a worthy Australian and a man whom we all admire.
– I should like to add my personal tribute to those that have been paid by the leaders of the political parties in this chamber and by Senator Marriott to the memory of Athol Townley. He was a man of outstanding merit and one whom we could all regard as our friend. It is chastening to ponder on the price that Mr. Townley unfortunately had to pay for his great qualities by his death at the early age of 56 years. He was a man who threw himself wholeheartedly into any activity he undertook and perhaps he would have wished to have lived and to have died as he did. He applied himself with enthusiasm to everything he thought worth while. He was a man of remarkable versatility and .pursued his various interests with great honour to himself. He was a very gifted man. He reached a quite distinguished rank in the defence services. He gave meritorious service in the Royal Australian Navy. After the war he turned his attention to flying and I personally saw him at the controls of various types of aircraft. As has been mentioned already, he also succeeded in various branches of sport.
I should like to add to the tributes that have already been addressed to the Senate, my deepest sympathy for his wife and son, and also his brother and sister, who have been left to mourn a very great Australian.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - I have to advise the Senate of the death of Sir Josiah Francis at Brisbane on 22nd February, 1964. As honorable senators know, Sir Josiah was the’ member for the Division of Moreton from 1922 to 1955, so that for a period of 33 years he was a member of this Parliament. He was elected to the Parliament shortly after the end of World War I., during which he was wounded and reached commissioned rank.
During his long parliamentary career he held many offices within the Parliament. From 1949 to 1955 he was Minister of State for the Army and twice during those six years he was also Minister of State for the Navy. He retired from the Parliament in 1955 and was appointed Australian Minister and Consul-General in New York, which office he held with high distinction for the following six years, from 1955 until 1961. He was created a Knight Bachelor on 1st January, 1957. I think, Mr. Presi dent, that it may fairly be claimed that his record of public service in this Parliament and overseas is a story of work well done for Australia.
I venture the opinion to those who knew him well that it is as a wise friend and counsellor that we shall best remember Josiah Francis. His long period of political life provided him with a large fund of experience on which he was always so ready to draw in order to help others. In truth, he became a personality in the Parliament to whom many of his friends and parliamentary colleagues went for advice and assistance on the problems which accompany public life. The calmness of spirit and generosity of outlook which tempered bis advice endeared him to all of us and made him popular with us. We send to his widow, Lady Francis, and his family our very sincere sympathy in their loss.
I place before the Senate the following formal motion -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sir Josiah Francis, former Commonwealth Minister and Member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Moreton, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow in her bereavement.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I second the motion. I met Jos. Francis, as he was then known, when I first entered the Parliament in July, 1944. Ever since then until his recent death, I have known him as an honorable, friendly, capable man. Senator Sir William Spooner has outlined the distinguished political and military careers of Sir Josiah. I do not review them, but I record that his death on 22nd February, 1964, which came with dramatic suddenness, removed from the scene one who had given distinguished service to his country in Australia and overseas in both peace and war. He has left behind, indeed, a record of work well done. His passing has created a gap in the lives of his many friends.
On behalf of the Opposition I extend to Lady Francis and her family Jeep and sincere sympathy in the loss that they have suffered by Sir Josiah’s passing, and I trust that those whom he leaves behind him will be given the strength to bear the burden of sorrow that is now theirs.
– On behalf of the Australian Country Party, I tender support for the motion before the chair. Having heard the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition, one can only conclude that Sir Josiah Francis gave a lifetime of service to his country, on the battlefield, in the Parliament, and abroad. He held an array of posts beyond the dreams of most great men. He was “ Jos.” to every one, friend and political foe alike. He was a big Australian, a good man. We of the Country Party mourn his passing, Sir, and extend to Lady Francis and his family our deepest sympathy.
– The Australian Democratic Labour Party wishes to be associated with the motion of condolence to the wife and family of the late Sir Josiah Francis.
– I should like to associate myself with the motion before the Senate. When I heard over the air a few days ago that Sir Josiah Francis had died suddenly, I was overcome; I could not really believe it. 1 look back over very many years of friendship with Jos. Francis. We served in the same battalion overseas in France in the 1914-1918 war. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate said, Jos. Francis attained officer rank. He was always respected and very well liked by his men and by every one else who was with him during those war days. After coming back to Australia, on one occasion when I met him in Brisbane - I think about 1921 - I asked, “ How are you getting on, Jos? “ He replied: “ I am getting on very well. I am thinking of having a go as member of Parliament for the electorate of Moreton “. I said, “ You have not had a great deal of experience “. He replied, “ I will have a go “. At that time he was doing a great deal of work for the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and had that organization behind him. He contested the election, won the seat and held it until just a few years ago. Over the whole of that period T would meet Sir Josiah every now and agaIn and the friendship between us was always the same. There was never anything between us which prevented us from expressing our opinions to each other.
I was very sad at hearing of his sudden death and I should like to express my great sorrow to his wife, Edna, because I realize what a tremendous shock, it would be to her when she learned that her husband had died. I do hope that she will be able to recover from the great loss she has sustained and that she will receive much comfort to help her during the years to come.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– I suggest, Mr. President, that as a mark of respect to the deceased, the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 4.47 to 8 p.m.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1963. Income Tax and Social Services Contribution
Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1963.
Income Tate and Social Services Contribution Bill 1963.
Income Tax (international Agreements) Bill 1963. Estate Duty Assessment Bill 1963. Gift Duty Assessment Bill 1963. Air Accidents (Commonwealth Liability) Bill 1963.
Stares Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) 1963. States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1963. National Health Bill 1963. Phosphate Fertilizers Bounty Bill 1963. Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1963. Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion
Defence (Visiting Forces) Bill 1963. Broadcasting and Television Bill 1963. Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1963. Wheat Export Charge Bill 1963. Overseas Telecommunications Bill 1963. Raw Cotton Bounty Bill 1963. Western Australia (Northern Development)
Agreement Bill 1963.
Vinyl Resin Bounty Bill 1963. Canned Fruits Export Marketing Bill 1963. Canned Fruits Export Charges Bill 1963. Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1963. Canned Fruit Excise Bill 1963. Copper Bounty Bill 1963. Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1963. Blowering Water Storage Works Agreement Bill 1963.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority Bill 1963.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1963. . River Murray Waters Bill 1963. Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Bill 1963. ‘ Chowilla Reservoir Agreement Bill 1963. i Norfolk Island Bill’ 1963. Superannuation Bill 1963.. Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1963.
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that it is proposed that the eighth Menzies Ministry will be constituted as follows: -
Minister for Trade and Industry - Right Honorable J. McEwen.
Minister for National Development and Vice-President of Executive Council - Senator the Honorable Sir William Spooner, K.C.M.G., M.M.
Minister for Labour and National Service - Honorable W. McMahon.
Minister for Civil Aviation - Senator the Honorable Shane Paltridge.
Minister for Health - Senator the Honorable Harrie Wade.
Minister for Customs and Excise - Senator the Honorable N. H. D. Henty.
Minister for Works - Senator the Honorable J. G. Gorton.
L’. H. E. Bury/. …… . s,
Minister for the Army - Honorable A. J. Forbes, M.C.
Minister for the Interior - Honorable
Minister for the Navy - Honorable F. C.
The Minister for Works, Senator Gorton, will assist the Prime Minister in Commonwealth activities in relation to education and research which fall within the Prime Minister’s Department. The Minister for the Army, Dr. Forbes, will assist the Treasurer in matters relating to his portfolio. The first twelve Ministers I have listed will constitute the Cabinet. I will lead the Government in the Senate.
In the Senate I will represent the Prime Minister in matters other than those relating to education and research, the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Housing. Senator Paltridge will represent the Treasurer, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, the Minister for Repatriation and the Minister for Territories. Senator Wade will represent the Minister for Primary Industry, the PostmasterGeneral, the Minister for Air and the Minister for the Interior.
Senator Henty will represent the Minister for Supply, the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for the Army and the Minister for the Navy. Senator Gorton will represent the Prime Minister in matters relating to education and research, the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Minister for External Affairs and the AttorneyGeneral.
To put into effect the proposals relating to the Ministry, it will be necessary to increase the number of Ministers to 25. This will require amendment to the Ministers of State Act, which at present provides for the appointment of only 22 Ministers. Until the Ministers of State Act has been amended, Senator Gorton will be Minister for the Interior and Works, Sir Garfield Barwick will be Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs, and Dr. Forbes will be Minister for the Army and Minister for the Navy.
Associated with the appointment of a Minister for Housing there has been established a new Department of Housing. The functions of this department include matters relating to the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement and to the war service homes agreements previously administered by the Department of National Development.
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate that the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party has appointed me as the Leader of the party in this chamber, Senator Kennelly as the Deputy Leader, Senator O’Byrne as the Whip and Senator Poke as the Deputy Whip.
– by leave - I wish to report that there has been no change in the leadership of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. The party has not very many supporters within the Senate, but it has a huge invisible force behind it outside.
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received a copy of the Opening Speech delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General to both Houses of the Parliament this day.
.- I move -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
In proposing the motion I remind myself, and indeed all honorable senators, that no nation has a prouder record of loyalty than has Australia. Not only do we proclaim our loyalty on formal occasions such as this, but we demonstrate it whenever we have an opportunity to do so and whenever we are favoured with a visit to our shores by Her Gracious Majesty or one of her representatives. , . ,, , , , . .
I, and I am sure most of us, take very great pride in the fact that only approximately 20 years ago Australia joined with other members of the British Commonwealth in fighting to protect the ideals of freedom and democracy. As a Commonwealth we fought alone for two years against the greatest strength that the world has ever known. The Commonwealth may be justly proud of that effort. I hope we shall never forget that as a result of that struggle we saved the whole of the English speaking world from the worst aggressor that we have ever known.
I believe that all Australians would like to express their very deep disappointment at the sudden illness which prevented Her Gracious Majesty the Queen Mother from visiting Australia. At least we are consoled by the knowledge that she has made a very remarkable recovery. We hope that the visit has only been postponed. I am quite sure that she too was very disappointed, but at least she has the consolation of being with her own daughters and also with her niece, at this particular time, which as we know is a time of very great importance to them.
I appreciate the opportunity that has been presented to me of proposing the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. To-day’s sitting represents the birth of the twenty-fifth Parliament, and I am happy to recall that this is the seventh consecutive Parliament in which the Government has been led by Sir Robert Menzies, one of the greatest statesmen who have ever graced the Australian Parliament. We look back over fourteen years of unparalleled prosperity. I say that advisedly, because I am informed by the statisticians that the real wages that have been received weekly by the average Australian employee have risen by approximately 2 per cent, per annum over that period. I believe I am right in saying that such an increase has never before been achieved in Australia. The economy has been stabilized to such a degree that Australia has earned wonderful praise from a noted columnist of the London “ Financial Times “. An extract from a report of what he said, which appeared in the “Daily Telegraph” of 1st February, 1964, reads -
An influential “ Financial Times “ columnist has chosen . Australia as the country with the “ best all-round economic performance “ in 1963..
The columnist, “ Lombard “, said Australia earned an Oscar for rapid economic expansion “ while maintaining the balance of payments in robust condition and preserving a close approach to economic equilibrium in the internal field “.
Although a heavy inflow of overseas capital had aided Australia greatly, this itself was explained partly by Australian efforts to make such investment welcome.
The article then eulogizes the solidity of the Australian economy. 1 would point out to those who might be interested in this suggested award that Australia’s leadership in economic advance is not limited only to the Commonwealth of Nations but extends to other parts of the world also. A reference to the London “ Financial Times “ of 31st January, 1964, will provide the relevant information in much more detail than I feel I should give now. We can be proud of our record of economic development. The prospects for the future can be judged in relation to our past record and the Governor-General’s Speech to-day showed clearly that we can look forward to great things in the next three years. Much attention will be paid to Australia’s vital needs.
His Excellency referred to proposals to ensure our stability at home. The Government has important plans to protect our shores from external aggression. His Excellency outlined proposals to improve still further the Australian economy. I believe that as the Government’s proposals tor education are implemented in the next three years, Australia will become preeminent in the world for the educational opportunities provided for the people. All these plans when combined make a promising picture for the future.
The development of northern Australia in which I have a personal and particular interest has not been overlooked by the Government. I shall have more to say on that subject later. Suffice it for the moment for me to say that I believe the proposals outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech to-day will go a long way towards changing the economy of northern Australia.
I should like to express briefly my thanks to the people of Queensland who have elected me to the Senate. If I can live up to the reputation of my colleagues who have i sat in this place before me I shall feel that I have done something for Queensland and for Australia. I look forward to the opportunity to do that. I am here by a set of fortuitous circumstances which neither 1 nor many others anticipated even a few months ago when I ceased my activities in the Queensland Government. But, Sir, the thought of becoming interested in this field of political activity was born when I saw the tremendous effect on people in the outback of visits by my colleague, Senator Sherrington. The honorable senator has been most assiduous in visiting not only large centres of population but also the far flung areas where parliamentarians are seldom seen. When I have seen the interest engendered by Senator Sherrington’s visits and the enthusiasm with which the people have looked forward to his return, I have felt that I should like to join him in the work associated with the Commonwealth Parliament. 1 have heard much about the need for tha development of northern Australia and I have read voluminous statements on the subject; but I have been disappointed that few have delineated the areas they consider comprise northern Australia. Concrete proposals for the advancement of northern Australia are even more rare. One seldom hears a plan for any catalyst which will trigger off any development in the north. It is hardly helpful merely to generalize about a problem without trying to analyse it.
I could almost say, Sir, that the approach from many quarters - not from all, but from many - has been similar to that of a doctor who has a waiting room full of patients and, irrespective of their illnesses, prescribes one universal panacea for all their ills, if we continue to look at this matter generally without looking at it in particular we shall ourselves be trying to apply a nostrum, and I recognize the Oxford dictionary definition of that word. I think that the dictionary defines it as a quack remedy, or something which is proposed for universal application for political or social improvement. T use the word advisedly because that is what wc are trying to do. I feel that it is the wrong way in which to approach the problem.
First, we must take our problems individually, as the doctor takes his patients. We must examine the ills that exist, and they vary from area to area. Having examined them, we have to look at the remedy for each particular area and apply it. That is what I shall try to do in a broad way to-night. Obviously, in the relatively short time that is normally available, and because 1 do not want to trespass too long on the time of the Senate, I cannot traverse the subject very fully, but I shall try to cover certain points in general terms. I recognize that a very large area has been designated as north Australia. I have tried to delineate this area in my mind, and to do so I have used a map which was published in 1950 by the National Mapping Section of the Department of the Interior, Canberra. It was printed for taxation purposes and it shows Zone A, Zone B and the remainder of Australia.
As honorable senators probably know, some very liberal taxation allowances are provided for people living in Zone A. For persons living in Zone B there are lesser taxation allowances. The line which delineates Zone A begins at Cape Tribulation, in the north of Queensland, and runs in a southern and south-westerly direction almost to the border of the Northern Territory and Queensland. It can then be said to run roughly west along the Tropic of Capricorn to the coast of Western Australia. This area has been designated as one in which additional help is required. I know the area fairly well and I would describe it as the zone of greatest hardship in Australia.
I want to make it clear that when I use the phrase “ greatest hardship “ I do not necessarily mean greatest national need. The terms are not necessarily synonymous, although I believe that to a great degree they are. Having recognized that that is the area of greatest hardship I have tried to analyse the problems. I do not know Western Australia at all well. I do not know much about the Northern Territory, although I know a bit more about it than I know about Western Australia. I do know a lot about that part of Zone A which is in Queensland. So, rather than presume to talk about those areas which I do not know well, I should like to confine my comments to Queensland, not to imply that all of the problems lie in Queensland, but merely because those are the ones which at this moment I know better.
I have listed what I believe are the greatest problems.- The list is not necessarily complete. The items are not necessarily in order of importance but they are all vitally important. They are, first, a very sketchy knowledge of the natural resources of the area; secondly, poor - frequently completely absent - usable communications; thirdly, extreme isolation; fourthly, crushing inward costs of every conceivable requirement; fifthly, almost - sometimes absolutely - prohibitive costs of delivery to the consumer market; sixthly, interminable delays. I might explain the last-mentioned item by saying that I know of many instances in which a small part, vital to a particular machine, which would cost only 2s. on the market, has cost people in this hardship zone up to £50 because of the delay caused by the breaking of the part. This situation applies probably every week to almost every property in the area, and it is quite impossible for the property owners to guard against all the possibilities which might arise. Item 7 is a general one: Because of the six factors that I have mentioned, the whole area is very much under-developed in certain places and in other places is not developed at all.
That, I suppose, can be said to be rather a gloomy picture, and I think it is. But there is a brighter side and I think that we should look at it. First, I would remind myself - I do not think that many members of this chamber need reminding, but I want to remember it - that the Bureau of Mineral Resources is doing a great deal of work in this zone at the present time. Already, we have found that there is very great mineral wealth in this area. We must recognize the work that is being done in that regard. It is tremendous. I believe that it will add many, many millions of pounds to the wealth of this country in the very near future.
The communications problem is extremely serious but it has been mitigated enormously by the construction of beef roads. To many people who do not know this country, these may seem to be merely a few miles of road that do not matter, out in the back blocks. But they are vital, Sir, and they have made a tremendous contribution to the development of the area. If I may be permitted, I make a plea for the inclusion in the scheme of another road. There is a dirt road, called the Mulligan Highway, which taps the peninsula itself. Twenty thousand head of cattle, as a minimum, are carried over this road every year. Comparatively speaking, it is a dreadful road. I have driven over it fairly frequently and I know just how bad it is. I make a very strong plea for the inclusion of the Mulligan Highway in an extension of beef roads because of the vast area that would be tapped. Cattle which are transported over bad roads such as I have described receive a great deal of damage. If they are fats, they are bruised and the quality of the beef is down-graded immediately. Many people lose valuable stock as a result of the damage suffered in travelling over these roads. So I make that plea for the Mulligan Highway.
I would like now to look on the brighter side. I do not suppose there are many people who, unless they know the north, can realize the tremendous benefit that has been conferred on it through the development of the light aircraft. There are places in the area of which I speak which formerly had been out of contact with anybody for weeks on end but which, because of the operations of Bush Pilots Airways Limited, which has a number of light planes, are now enjoying great advantages. Because of the operations of this organization, people of the area have the use of a goods delivery service and, if they are ill, a personal passenger service out of their almost inaccessible districts. They are enjoying this service in a way that was never dreamed of even fifteen years ago.
I doubt whether it is possible to overstate the value of such a service to those people from a human point of view. Admittedly, with light aircraft, you cannot move many head of cattle or great quantities of produce, but you can help to solve the human problem. That is being done to a considerable degree to-day. We have to recognize, of course, that the contracts let by the Postmaster-General’s Department to this transport organization make it possible for the aircraft to be operated economically. Without the contracts, it would not be possible to operate the aircraft economically, and there are many people in the area who would not be alive to-day but for the operation of this organization of which I speak. I have seen a great deal of . its work and cannot commend it too highly.
Now I must say what I believe about the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In this part of Zone A of which I speak, I have seen hundreds of acres of country which, seven or eight years ago, would not have carried one head of stock to twenty acres - and the stock would probably have starved then - but which to-day, because of the development of tropical legumes by the C.S.I.R.O., now have an unbelievable carrying capacity. Thousands of acres of country have been improved in this way. Indeed, I have seen areas so improved that they have been carrying one beast to the acre for over twelve months yet you can hardly see the effect of the grazing of the greater number of stock.
I emphasize that this great improvement is the result of the work of the C.S.I.R.O. Let us not think that this development has taken place just because the officers of the organization have gone out and found out what other people are using as fodders. That is not the position at all. The officers themselves have developed the most suitable type of plant for growing in tropical areas, and the generations that are to come will be staggered by the value of the work that has been done. Indeed, I should say that it would not be possible to overstate the value of their work to the north in particular. I am sure that what I say applies to other areas also, but I can speak only of those parts that I know.
The Government’s new proposal wilh relation to the equalization of the prices of petrol is another thing which will be a tremendous benefit to the people in remote areas. Some persons are paying at the present time up to ls. 6d. a gallon above port prices. When we realize that, we must appreciate the tremendous help that the equalization of petrol prices will be to those people who are struggling, to say the least. There are men living in that area who are prepared to work and fight as hard as they can. They have a great deal of courage and will do everything they can, but in my opinion they must have some further help. I should like now to state what I believe to be the further help they should be given.
If I may digress for a moment from the subject of the hardship zone to which I have referred - I want to come . back to it - I should like to say that the problems about which I speak do not exist only there. I speak, for instance of an area which is known to many honorable senators - the Atherton Tableland. I do not suppose there is a more fertile, a more lush or a richer area in Australia than the Atherton Tableland. Almost anything can be grown there. It is included in zone B of the map to which I have referred, and most of us probably think that this is an area that needs no help. Such a view is incorrect. The area needs a great deal of help in one particular direction. People on the Atherton Tableland can grow an almost unlimited number of primary products, but they cannot sell them. It is so costly to get the produce to the large consumer markets that the value of producing for these markets has gone. Obviously this is not, at first sight, a Government problem, but as 1 listened to His Excellency’s Speech to-day I was reminded that help has been given to many of our primary industries. There are stabilization plans for the meat industry, the dried fruits industry, the wool industry and the egg industry. I believe in those schemes. His Excellency said in the course of his speech -
The Government will continue its policy of supporting the stabilization of our primary industries.
That encourages me to believe that the plea I propose to make on behalf of the people in this area will be listened to sympathetically. To the north of this area, which is just outside Cairns, there are huge consumer markets in New Guinea. Produce is brought 1,000 or 2,000 miles from the south right up the Queensland coast to New Guinea, where it is delivered to the consumer market, yet not one ship going to that consumer market area has called at Cairns in the last twelve months. Not 1 cwt. of produce has been taken from this area to New Guinea. It is the natural producing area for New Guinea, because of its closeness, and it can produce abundantly, but not 1 cwt of produce has been taken from the area to New Guinea in the last twelve months. This is a problem which can be easily solved* and I am perfectly confident that now that I have mentioned the problem it will be solved. However, what troubles me is that this problem has existed for some time. I make the point, because it is worthy of note, that a whole area can suffer badly because of a simple problem which requires solution and could be easily solved.
I should like to return for a little while to the area that I referred to as that of the greatest hardship. I spoke of some of the major difficulties. I should like to refer now to what is required to equalize, at least to a degree, those difficulties. H Quotable senators know that there is outstanding mineral production in the area. Apart from that, however, the largest industry is the beef producing industry. Properties ir. Zone A have many problems. What do they need? They need first, sufficient areas of good or reasonably good land; secondly, they need good breeding stock; thirdly, they need adequate natural or constructed water points; fourthly, they need many miles c£ good fencing; fifthly, they need improved pastures; and sixthly, they need additional plant and equipment and, because of their isolation, spares. But in that hardship area each one of these things costs much more than it does in any other part of Australia. Any man who goes to the area hoping to purchase and develop a holding is faced immediately with huge costs. It may be argued that that is all right because hs receives a better return for his product, but that is not so. Because of the cost of communications he receives less for his product than the man whose costs are infinitely lower.
Here, I believe, is the real crux of the problem. In this area all costs are greater and all returns are less. Are we going to accept that? Are we going to say, “It is just too bad, but we cannot overcome this difficulty”? People in this area are overcoming many difficulties, and I believe that we can help them to overcome many more. I am reminded again of the extract that I read from His Excellency’s Speech, in which he said we will continue to help and stabilize primary industries. For the life of me, I cannot see how grandiose schemes costing thousands or perhaps millions of pounds will solve even one of these problems. They cannot. The problems about which I have been worried are human problems. I have talked to some of Australia’s leading bankers and to men who know this area. After discussing the problems with them they have all given one answer. The men in Zone A are fighting to develop their properties. They perhaps have one, two. three or four of the things that are required. They may have good fencing, good pastures and good water points, but by the time they have three or four of the things that are needed they have nothing left in the bank, unless they have almost unlimited money. So they are quite unable to give a rounded off operation the opportunity of success.
I think one practical answer to this problem is some form of facility subsidization. How this can be worked is somewhat difficult to know, but I believe that the obstacles can be reasonably easily overcome. I suggest that where an operator in this hardship zone has already provided, say, four of the major facilities that are needed, we should, if we want this area to be developed, subsidize him in the facilities that he is otherwise unable to provide. It should not be thought that we would be making him a gift. We would not. He could still have a greater problem and a greater fight on his hands than the man who is close to the markets, but we would be giving him a chance, which is all he asks for.
I was deeply interested to note that the Department of National Development is to include a special northern division. I believe it would be possible - I am referring now to Queensland - for a committee of perhaps five men who know this area and know its problems to get busy and advance to the Department of National Development for examination proposals in line with the general proposal that I have made. I repeat that what I have said is merely a general proposal. These problems are such that I could not possibly analyse them in detail to-night. I believe that if the proposal is examined we will be able to sec a transformation of an area which is fundamentally rich, but which is costly to develop. With this transformation there could be no more talk of our sparsely settled north; there could, instead, be talk of the wonderful facilities and the wonderful producing power of an area which to-day we refer to as the uninhabited northern part of Australia.
– Mr. President, I rise to second the motion, so ably moved by Senator Morris, for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech delivered In this chamber by His Excellency, the Governor-General. I desire to associate myself fully with his expressions of loyalty and his regret that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, for reasons of health, could not fulfil the plans made for her Australian visit. I too, hope that her visit is a pleasure deferred but not foregone.
The Speech which we are now discussing covers the whole span of government and national affairs, and it would be quite impossible and improper for me to attempt to deal with them all. Consequently there will be many subjects that I will not even mention. Many speakers from both sides of the chamber will make contributions in praise and approval or criticism and disapproval of the matters contained in His Excellency’s Speech. However, there are some things that I should like to say. His Excellency’s reference to the death of President Kennedy reminds this Parliament of the loss to the American parliament and the American people of one who had impressed the whole world with his courage and statesmanship. America’s loss is shared by us and we, too, have cause to mourn the loss of a young and vigorous man who should have had a great deal more to contribute to the well-being of his people.
We have all bowed our heads in sorrow and sympathy for the loss of so many young sailors in the tragic sinking of Her Majesty’s Australian ship “ Voyager “. It is to be hoped that the investigations that are to be carried out will do something to prevent a repetition of similar accidents so that, as far as is possible, the safety of naval personnel may be assured in peacetime. This twenty-fifth Parliament mct following a general election in which the Government had been given a clear mandate to continue to govern along the lines laid down by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and his deputy leader (Mr. McEwen) in their policy speeches. To-day, presented to us in the Speech delivered by His Excellency, there is a reassurance of the Government’s intention to carry out plans and promises made during the election campaign.
I do not know whether it was by accident or design that in both the Senate and the other place the speakers chosen to move and second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply came from
Queensland and Western Australia respectively. Perhaps it was an acknowledgment that those two States - vast in area and potential for development - have many similar problems and aspirations. These vast areas need improved access and each of them provide a challenge to Australians to got on with the job ahead. Both States share especially problems of northern development and it is good to see moves being made to get together in relation to these problems. We have much to learn from each other and there is need to co-ordinate policies.
The Kimberleys and the Cape York Peninsula, besides providing potential wealth - if we can overcome the very real problems that were outlined with great eloquence by Senator Morris - point to Australia’s near north. I feel sure that of the many subjects discussed none is of greater interest to the majority of people than that of Australian participation in the affairs of the people living in that region. I cannot agree with those who so frequently and glibly describe Australia as Asian, or claim that it lies within Asian spheres of influence simply because we arc geographically closer to Asia than to any other continent. 1 do not know who started this dangerous theory, but it is being repeated by men who should know better.
Australia is an oceanic continent rather than an Asian continent, lt would bc much more appropriate to describe Europe as Asiatic as that continent shares for thousands of miles a contiguous border on the same land mass as Asia, and Russia is equally European and Asiatic. Africa, too, could bc more aptly called Asiatic if proximity to Asia is to be the deciding factor in our judgment. Even North America, cut off from Asia by a narrow and shallow strait, could come within the definition of Asian. Australia, by every criterion of culture and race, is to-day a European country and owes everything to her European foster parents. We must, if we are to develop in the way we all hope, continue to be European with such adaptations as are necessary to enable us to grow as an Australian nation with a whole island continent as our heritage and responsibility. Australia is not, and must never become, an Asian appendage, nor should its destiny be linked with that of Asia.
We are all aware of our neighbours to the north and our recently acquired responsibility towards Malaysia and the Indonesian peoples. I noted with great satisfaction that the Government’s poh.-y towards Indonesia continues to be one of friendship pursued with patience, frankness and realism. That is a summary of a sound and constructive policy that we must pursue if we are to carry out the principles in which we believe. In a world where civilized nations, through their membership of the United Nations, have renounced I hi use of force in the attainment of national ideals, one ‘hopes with eager concern that the newly emerged nations will show signs that they realize their responsibility as members of the United Nations.
Australia, as a young nation, and a very much under-developed country, shares with the many newly independent countries problems of trade and commerce with the rest of the globe and, to a great extent, shares their aspirations for growth. Because of this we can bring a sympathetic and understanding mind to the many problems common to us all. Thus it is that those associated with our great export industries are looking forward to the development of the rc-organized Department of Trade as the Department of Trade and Industry. For a long time the department has functioned as a department of trade and industry and at many points has overlapped the Department of Primary Industry. It seems rather a pity that the title is not to be now the Department of Trade and Secondary Industry. It is certain that the responsibilities of the reorganized department will increase greatly with the increasing need for the extension of Australia’s export industries.
At the same time as we are taking care of Australian industries which supply the home market, wc need to take care that the policies adopted wilh this end in view do not have the effect of damaging the export prospects of the major industries, upon which our whole economic structure depends. The problems involved are of great complexity and it is hoped that the findings of the current Committee of Economic Enquiry will help in framing coherent policies to help in our economic plan. It is to be hoped also that policies can be devised that will ensure growth without inflationary pressures that will inevitably produce harmful results to those industries dependent upon world price levels and, as a result, subject the economy to all the undesirable stresses and strains that follow inflationary processes.
Over the past twelve months there has been a fortuitous rise in world price levels which has produced a great improvement in the overall financial position of the economy. Overseas balances have improved and more money has become available internally for development. However, it would be most unwise to devise policies that assume the permanent continuance of rising terms of trade. In the past we have seen how sharply overseas prices can take a downward turn with a complete change in outlook for our export industries. To-day primary industry is in a position which is analogous to that of a puppy which, after being hungry for a long time, has rather unexpectedly found a bone with a little meat adhering to it and is now anxiously watching the rest of the litter preparing to take the bone from him.
In the final analysis, greater efficiency and higher levels of productivity are the only means by which we can maintain high living standards. But these desirable levels of efficiency need to be attained by all sections of the community. They need to be attained not only by those who are directly engaged in the production of goods, where efficiency levels are relatively easy to measure, but by everybody who has a job to do in whatever service he is engaged. Primary producers will applaud the stated intention to continue the policy of stabilization through the various marketing schemes that are being written into our legislative framework. Only by achieving a measure of economic stability can primary industries plan ahead and avoid the disastrous consequences, both social and economic, of widely fluctuating returns.
Doubtless there will be universal approval of the Government’s intention to introduce measures that will help young people to save to enable them to own a home, and to increase the availability of private finance for homes by providing an insurance scheme to cover private loans. At the same time, it is urgently necessary for the Government to take steps to ensure that the present facilities for obtaining housing finance are more readily available to people who are engaged in agriculture. It has been generally accepted - I do not know why - that the farmer should assume full responsibility for housing his employees. No other branch of industry or commerce is expected to accept as normal procedure the financing of homes for its employees. Not only has this responsibility to be borne, but the money which has to be provided for housing employees must come from existing sources of finance for farm development - generally at higher rates of interest and for much shorter terms than are available to the rest of the community.
It is not surprising that there should be complaints about the standard of accommodation that is provided on farms. This applies to farm housing generally. Admittedly, this matter is largely one of State responsibility and the position varies from State to State. But there, is a great need for a getting together of Federal and State instrumentalities and financial institutions to enable farmers to make use of some of the £1,000,000,000 which has been made available by this Government for housing since 1949. The use of shortterm finance at high interest rates for building farm houses has had a prejudicial effect on the rate of development of new farms because funds for such a purpose generally are available only on first-mortgage terms. This limits the availability of finance for carry-on purposes and farm improvement.
This seems to me to be a very unsound procedure in the development of our Tura economy. It is equally undesirable that the farmer and his wife should accept the only other alternative - that of existing during the greater part of their working life in a primitive sub-standard home and of rearing a family in such conditions. For too long we have sought to glamorize the pioneering spirit in an effort to explain away and to apologize for this affront to our living standards. I trust that in the preparation of the proposed housing legislation measures will be adopted to ensure that the benefits to be conferred will be available equally to all sections of the community.
I referred earlier to the fact that a Western Australian senator shared with a Queensland senator the responsibility of moving and seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
Western Australia and Queensland both rejoice in the fact that promised amendments to the Representation Act will prevent in both States the loss of scats which would have occurred if the last redistribution proposals had been adopted. The Australian Parliament must not be weakened by inadequate representation of the States, which have very great scope for increasing their contribution to the national wealth. I welcome, too, the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act. They will clarify obligations cast upon the distribution commissioners to take into account varying conditions in electorates so that the original intention of the act may be more fully carried out.
The people of Western Australia, and doubtless Queenslanders too, will be particularly interested in the brief reference by His Excellency to national water resources and the work of the Water Resources Council. Western Australia, because of its low rainfall and lack of permanent water supplies could be described as the “ Thirsty Third “. That, of course, is not a reference to the drinking habits of her people. Every drop of water that is available in that vast area needs to be conserved and used to the best advantage if we arc not to suffer from a lack of it. Current plans for water utilization need the sympathetic support of this Government if our gross national product is to increase at the projected rate of 5 per cent, per annum for the next five years and thereafter.
Honorable senators on this side of the chamber approve the comprehensive survey that has been presented to us of national affairs and projected legislation, and the broad Australian outlook which has been manifested therein. I gladly second the motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr. President, I do not intend to delay the Senate for very long. I rise only because an article in a Melbourne newspaper unfortunately accuses one of my colleagues of going home in the early hours of this morning and of missing a ballot at a party meeting. I am not saying that the report was wilfully misleading. We all know that in the past there have been little differences of opinion about the party concerned. However, let us start off in this Parliament with things on an even keel. Senator Aylett was with us until two minutes to five this morning. As you know, Mr. President, I have every reason to remember the events of this morning, and I know that Senator Aylett was present on the occasion in question. I repeat that I am not implying that the report was wilfully wrong but I do not want tosee a continuance of statements about Senator Aylett that appeared in certain sections of the press last year. I hope that Mr. Tipping, the columnist concerned, will correct the report. If that is done, we will be able to commence in this Parliament aswe ought.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 February 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640225_senate_25_s25/>.