25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. On the northern coast of New South Wales there has grown up an industry for the marketing of peeled prawns. This was giving employment to some hundreds of people. Recently when the Government lifted the 12* per cent, tax on imported prawns, the industry found that it could not compete with the Indian prawns that are imported. Will the Government give urgent attention to some form of protection foi this industry to enable those who have been employed in it to continue to offer this commodity to the Australian market?
– The question in this case was one of sales tax. There was an anomaly under which sales tax was charged on imported fish but there was no sales tax on Australian fish. This matter was rectified in the last Budget and the I2i per cent, tax was removed. If the Australian industry is experiencing damage from imports, there is provision for an emergency tariff. I suggest that the honorable senator should advise those in the industry to present a case to the Department of Trade and Industry pointing out that they claim to be suffering serious injury from imports. If they do that, the Department of Trade and Industry will examine the case and if it believes the complaint has been substantiated, application can be made to the Special Advisory Authority for an emergency tariff and it will be considered. An answer must be provided within four weeks. The matter then goes to the Tariff Board, the emergency tariff being merely a holding action until the Tariff Board has had an opportunity to consider the matter. If the honorable senator would give the people interested that advice, he would be giving them the best advice they could get.
– Has the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry noticed a statement published in the Tasmanian press by the manager of a produce firm to the effect that a departmental regulation providing for the shipment of carrots in crates instead of in bags has made this potential export market unprofitable because of the extra cost involved? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the reason for this regulation? If the position is as stated, will consideration be given to the cancellation of this provision?
– I did read the article to which the honorable senator has referred. As I understand the position, the export regulations provide that vegetables must be exported in crates and that they cannot be exported in bags. I am not aware of the reason for this change but I would have thought that if the market to which we were exporting carrots was prepared to accept them in sacks or bags, surely the regulation would have been framed around what the market itself wanted.
It seems to me a pity to lose an export market for this reason if, in fact, we are exporting goods in containers which are acceptable to the purchasing countries. Therefore, I shall propose to the Minister for Primary Industry that he have a look at this regulation again to see whether there is any real necessity to depart from what I believe is a principle of export - that is, to give the customer what he wants. I shall take the matter up with the Minister for Primary Industry along those lines.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a report by the Australian Industries Development Association on the growth of synthetic fibres and the problems associated with too-heavy reliance upon Japan as a market for Australian wool? In view of the report and the importance of wool to the Australian economy, will the Government undertake to intensify its efforts to cultivate alternative markets for wool amongst all other developing countries?
– I am sure that the point the honorable senator makes is of great interest not only to the Senate but also to the people of Australia. The Department of Trade and Industry and the wool industry are engaged busily at this time in endeavouring to sell wool in every country in the world where a market is available. I read the article concerned. While I cannot agree with all of it, it expresses a point of view which should be considered with other points of view on this matter. It is most important, I am sure, for Australia to develop its sales of wool in as many markets in the world as possible.
– I desire to ask three questions of the Minister representing the Minister for Air. Did the Minister notice a recent paragraph in the press stating that the Chief of the United States Air Force was calling, as a matter of pressing urgency, for the building of a new bomber that would be a major attacking weapon and would be of service until well into the 1970’s? Does this statement throw doubt on the TFX as the most modern bomber available? Tn the light of the call by the Chief of the United States Air Force for the building of this new bomber, will the TFX be obsolescent if and when, at some time in the future, it is delivered to Australia?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator refers. Therefore, the answer to the first part of his question is “ No. “. The answer to the third part also is “ No “. To infer that the TFX bomber will be obsolete before it is in operation here I think is to draw a very long bow. This aircraft, which is coming off the production lines to-day, is regarded as one of the most powerful striking aircraft in the world.
– When will it be delivered?
– If the honorable senator wants a specific date, I cannot give it to him. I can say that it will delivered on schedule, or as nearly as possible to it.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I wish to make reference to the somewhat unique experience of the Senate last Thursday when, during a foreign affairs debate, we heard a succession of speeches from the Government side on important matters relating to the international security of Australia, while there was a sustained silence from every member of the Opposi tion. In this morning’s issue of the: “ Sydney Morning Herald “ there is a report, which, on my analysis, would seem to giveevery reason for thinking that it is factual, particularly when I note that the report of Senator McClelland’s remarks covers some five inches of a column, which shows some: aptitude in the taking of notes in shorthand. The report refers to a ban, emanating from a person outside this chamber, affecting the freedom of members of thischamber to participate in a debate. I ask the Minister whether he will consider making inquiries to find out whether there is any factual basis for the statement that some person outside this chamber placed a ban on the participation in the debate of members of the Opposition, and, if that was so, whether he will consider constituting a committee of privileges to deal with the matter as Fitzpatrick and Brownewere dealt with.
– Ali: that I can say in reply to Senator Wright, is that I informed the Leader of the Opposition on the morning of last Thursday that, there would be a foreign affairs debate that, day. I gave the Opposition due notice, It. was the Opposition’s own decision not to* take part in the debate. It is for the Opposi– tion now to examine its own conscience and ask why it was prepared to sit silent in a debate on foreign affairs in this chamber. Was the Opposition afraid of whatcertain of its members might say on foreign affairs? I am afraid that I cannot say whether or not we, as a Senate, can take? cognizance of what happens outside the chamber.
– Does the Minister for Health believe that the fluoridation of water supplies will reduce the incidence of dental decay by over 60’ per cent.? Is it the belief of the World Health Organization, the National’ Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Medical Association, theAustralian Dental Association and the Commonwealth Department of Health that’ fluoridation of water supplies is a safe and’ beneficial measure? Does the Minister” believe that a select committee of the House of Representatives could find out anything: new and contrary to the opinions expressed.1 by these organizations? Does the Cabinet. rate Dr. Gibbs’s opinion higher than those of the organizations mentioned and that of the Commonwealth Minister for Health? If so, should not Dr. Gibbs be the Minister for Health?
– My medical and scientific advisers state that there is a good deal of evidence to support the claim that fluoridation of water will considerably reduce the incidence of dental decay. The answer to the second question is, “ Yes “. The authorities cited by the honorable senator endorse the fluoridation of water. The third question prompts me to say that I am loath to express opinions at question time, because I very firmly hold the view that questions and answers should be based on fact. Having been asked for an opinion, I would say that there is no useful purpose to be served by the appointment of a select committee because a wealth of information has been gathered on this subject from the best qualified people in the world. I have yet to be convinced that at this point of time - and I stress, at this point of time - anything can be added to that information.
As to the last and very facetious part of the question, I say to the honorable senator: “ Yes, of course, my Cabinet colleagues will pay due respect to a submission by a member of our party who sits behind us and supports us. We always do.”
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. In view of the fact that he has stated in this chamber and elsewhere that the value of the oil reserves at the Moonie field is estimated to be approximately £50,000,000, 1 ask the Minister whether he heard a report over the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s services to the effect that the oil reserves at Moonie are estimated to be three times the quantity originally stated. I also ask him whether he has seen the “ American Oil and Gas Journal “, which is stated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to be the authoritative journal of the oil industry and from which the A.B.C. made the quotation, dated 30th December, 1963, in which it is stated that the oil reserves in Australia, which no doubt applies to Moonie, are estimated to be 150,000,000 barrels which, at present prices, represents a value of approximately £200,000,000. If the Minister has not seen this journal in which that estimate is given, will he further investigate the position with a view to making a statement that might be somewhat different from that which he has already made? I also ask whether the Minister can tell the Senate what is the purpose of the meeting of State Ministers for Mines which is to be held in Canberra this week.
Senator Wood’s question is not an easy one to answer. As 1 understand the position, it is extremely difficult to estimate the quantity of oil in an oil deposit. So far, seventeen holes have been drilled in various parts of the structure at Moonie. There are two aspects to this question. The first is how much oil there is in a deposit, and the second is how much of that oil can be recovered. Geological conditions vary from deposit to deposit, and it may be possible to recover more oil from one deposit than from another. I only expressed the opinion given by my own officers as to the amount of oil they estimate to be in the Moonie deposit. I think that they are knowledgeable men, and their view on the matter is entitled to respect.
As far as I am aware, the company itself has made no statement as to what quantity of oil is there. I have no comment to make on that, because it is the company’s business. I support the view held by the officers of my department. The company has announced that it contemplates being able to take over the pipeline so many thousand barrels a day for a period of twenty years. If you work that out, you get nearly the same estimate as my department has given.
I do not remember having seen the American journal to which the honorable senator has referred. There have been a number of reports as to the total amount of oil in the Moonie field. I can do no more than give my own department’s view, which is that it is of the order of 50,000,000 barrels.
The meeting of State Ministers for Mines, which will be held tomorrow, will cover two matters. The first is the search for oil off-shore Australia and the second is the proposed arrangement for research into coal. The off-shore drilling arrangements are of great importance because, as in so many other operations in the search for oil, the more information we obtain the better appear the prospects. That applies mot only to the off-shore areas, but also to the mainland. Tenements have now been taken up covering practically the whole Australian coast, and close to £2,000,000 has already been spent on the off-shore search for oil. There is a vexed legal question as to where sovereignty or legal power lies as between the Commonwealth and the States. I am hoping to see my colleagues, the State Ministers, to-morrow. Although there may be some legal complications, I hope to persuade them to agree upon a common code and a set of legislative provisions which will enable us to push on with the search for oil as quickly as possible.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Territories a question. Is there an increasing interest by tourists in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Do recent figures ; indicate that the tourist industry could become a very valuable factor in the Territory’s economy? Will the Minister, in co- - operation with the Administration of the “Territory, specially consider ways and means of exploiting this potential as a method of publicizing Australia’s efforts in the area and improving the economic value of the tourist industry?
– I will take the “first opportunity of bringing to the notice of my colleague the Minister for Territories the question asked by the honorable senator and his obvious interest in the development of tourism in Papua and New Guinea. From my own experience I know that the Department of Territories and the Ministers in charge of it - previously Mr. “Hasluck and now Mr. Barnes - have gone to great lengths to popularize tourism within Papua and New Guinea. When I bring this matter to the attention of the Minister I will ask him to say specifically what steps have been taken in the past, so that the information will be available to the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister ;for External Affairs. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to this morning’s press report that at the Council of the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization meeting France failed to support a resolution that the defeat of the Communists in South Viet Nam was essential to South-East Asian security? Is it not a fact that action under Seato requires the unanimous agreement of all parties to the pact? If this is so, in view of this morning’s report of French abstention and the French policy of neutralism in South-East Asia, is there any polite diplomatic way to request the French to withdraw from Seato so as to avoid a further veto in the event of urgent action becoming necessary?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are, first, that I saw the statement referred to, and secondly, that I do not believe it is a fact that there now needs to be unanimous agreement by all members of Seato before action can be taken in matters such as this.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: As the statement that he made to the Senate yesterday on the DC-6B incident at Melbourne showed that a controller of the Department of Civil Aviation saw a part of a propeller fall from the airliner only one minute after take-off, will any inquiry into the incident cover what inspection was made of the aircraft prior to take-off? Will the Minister inform the Senate of what recent flights the airliner had been engaged in prior to the mishap and the last occasion on which a complete overhaul of it had been made? Is it the responsibility of the owning company to make frequent checks of an aircraft? What checks of aircraft are compulsory? How often are such checks made, and by whom?
– The question contains a number of specific points. I do not intend to answer them specifically at this stage, but let me assure the honorable senator that the inquiry conducted by the Department of Civil Aviation will be complete and comprehensive. It will cover the questions that he has raised as to the condition of the aircraft before its departure, its most recent overhaul, what was disclosed by the log book and the inspections which from time to time have been carried out by the Department of Civil Aviation. I can assure the honorable senator that the inquiry will be of such a nature as to meet the most exacting demands of any one seeking information on this matter.
– On 3rd March I asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral a question relating to the provision of a coaxial cable between Melbourne and Adelaide. Has the Minister anything to report on that question?
– The question asked by Senator Laught was as follows: -
Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral ascertain when it is expected that the coaxial cable between Melbourne and Adelaide will be placed in service? Could the Minister, in due course, let me know what added capacity will result in the field of telegraph, telephone, radio and television services? Will any increased capacity be of benefit to provincial cities and towns in South Australia near the route of the coaxial cable? If so, what cities and towns will benefit?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
Senator Laught refers to the coaxial cable to be provided between Melbourne and Adelaide, but technically the new service will be provided by a combination of coaxial cable and micro-wave radio systems. The senator will perhaps already be aware that these two systems are more or less interchangeable in the sense that each is capable of providing much the same kind of telephone, telegraph and radio service but they do, of course, take quite separate physical form. There will be a complete system established towards the end of 1966. lt will be made up of a coaxial cable from Melbourne to Box Hill (Victoria), thence by micro-wave radio link from Box Hill to Mount Bonython, thence by coaxial cable from Mount Bonython to Adelaide.
Once the system is established, it will have potential capacity for a very great number of telephone, telegraph, radio and television services. Tt is merely necessary to add blocks of equipment at each end and at certain intermediate points over the years as the necessity arises. This is one of the very great advantages of these modern systems that they are not limited to anything like the same extent as the old-fashioned overhead wire routes or ordinary buried cables were. The system will provide for an initial capacity of up to 960 telephone trunk lines to cater mainly for services between Adelaide and Melbourne. This will also, of course, carry a great deal of traffic from Perth to Melbourne which flows through Adelaide. In addition, extra circuits will be provided from
Adelaide to Bordertown. Also there is an existing, coaxial cable between Mount Bonython and Mount Barker which will be extended to Murray Bridgeand this will provide relief to all centres along this route by the end of 1966. This coaxial cablefrom Mount Barker back to Mount Bonython will be connected through to Adelaide on the newcoaxial cable referred to above. Once this system is in service, then the existing overhead wires between Adelaide, Murray Bridge, Tailem Bend and Bordertown will be freed from the interstate service and the wires will be available to provideadditional circuits for any of the towns which liealong that route.
Additional telegraph channels will also be provided wherever necessary to either the larger or the smaller towns along the same route. The newsystem also will provide a television relay link from Adelaide to Mount Gambier via Bordertown to serve the new national television stationin the Mount Gambier area.
If developments in the next two years show that . it is necessary, it will also be possible to install additional equipment on this new system to carry television programmes between Melbourne and Adelaide; but it should be emphasized that at the present time no firm decision has been made on this particular aspect. If the Australian Broadcasting Commission or the commercial television interests find that they require such a television link, then it can be added at any time in the future once the main system is established.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Has the Minister seen the 1963 report of the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Authority which states that the provision of safety belts in all of the authority’s 700 vehicles and mobile plant units, and the implementation of disciplinary action when belts are not worn, proves their worth in preventing loss of life and serious injury in road accidents, including cases of head-on collisions and rolling down steep slopes, and that the time lost through injury from such accidents had been reduced to nil in the year 1962 and the first half of 1963? In view of the authority’s report and the publicity being given to the value of using safety belts in reducing deaths and accidents, is the Government proposing to take any action to ensure a wider use of these belts? Finally, I ask the Minister: How many cars are there in the Commonwealth fleet, and how many of them are fitted with safety belts?
– I cannot answer the latter portion of the question, because this question should be directed to the Minister for Supply. However, I will bring the question to his notice and ask him to inform the honorable senator directly on the specific points he has raised. As far as the provision of safety belts is concerned, let me remind the Senate that a select committee of this chamber some few years ago brought down a very forthright report on this matter in which it emphasized that evidence taken in every State indicated that the addition of safety belts played a most important part in protecting the passenger in the event of an accident. The Government accepts that in principle. Whilst I cannot say specifically what percentage of cars is equipped with belts, I do know that even now many government cars are fitted with safety belts. I want to leave with the Senate the impression that the Government realizes the worth and encourages the use of safety belts.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is the Minister in a position to advise the Senate as to the overall objectives of the current discussions between his department, together with other Commonwealth departments, and representatives of the Australian automotive industry in connexion with the importation and manufacture of parts for Australian-produced motor vehicles? Has any firm agreement been reached as to the operative date of any scheme that will increase the Australian content of motor vehicles and accelerate the Australian manufacture of parts?
– It has long been the established policy of the Government to increase the content of Australian manufacture in the motor car industry. This has been largely successful. The conferences that have taken place have been at officer level, and merely conferences of the motor car industry and the Departments of Trade and Industry and Customs and Excise in exploring the possibilities of increasing the Australian manufactured content in the motor vehicles produced in Australia. We have had some very good co-operation from the industry itself. No decisions have been made. The conferences have been merely collating the facts and getting information to place before the Ministers who will eventually bring it before the Government itself.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is it a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will in South Australia, and possibly in other States, be taking over certain technical services now operated by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. If this is correct, when will this take-over become operative? Will the interests of the technicians concerned be adequately protected and will they be given due and sufficient advice of the effect of the change and how this matter will concern them?
– There is some ambiguity in the question. The honorable senator has asked me whether it is a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission in South Australia will be taking over certain services from ‘the Postmaster-General’s Department. I do not know whether that information is sufficient to enable the PostmasterGeneral to supply an answer; but I will place the question before him, and if the information is sufficient he will provide an answer.
– I referred to certain technical services now operated by the Postmaster-General .
– That is still very vague, but if the information is sufficient to enable an answer to be given, I will see that the honorable senator gets it. If the information is not sufficient, I will refer the question back to him to see that the PostmasterGeneral gets the information he needs to provide a reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster.General with reference to the 40 per cent. Australian content prescribed for transmission by Australian television stations. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether, in the computation of this percentage, British films and programmes count as halftime Australian content? In other words, is a one-hour British film regarded as having half an hour of Australian content?
– The honorable senator has taken a very lively interest in television and the programming of the various stations, and has taken a prominent part in pre senting to the Senate a report by a select committee. This report has recently been before the Senate for debate and the debate will be continued. I shall make some inquiries into the matters he has raised in his question and on a future occasion when I have something to say on behalf of the Postmaster-General relevant to the debate that has taken place in the Senate, I shall supply the information he is seeking.
-I direct a question to the Minister for Health concerning the health advertisements sub-committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council. What powers does this subcommittee have? Has it made any recommendations regarding the prevention of pulmonary diseases including lung cancer? If so, what are these recommendations?
– The advisory subcommittee to which the honorable senator has referred is one of the many advisory subcommittees of the public health committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council. Its functions are to inquire into the advertising of drugs, medicines and certain other commodities with particular regard to faults and exaggerated claims by the makers. The honorable senator’s second question prompts me to say that no recommendations have been made by this committee on the prevention of pulmonary pneumonia because, as far as I know, the disease has not yet been discussed by the sub-committee.
(Question No. 51.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 62.)
asked the Minister assisting the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What consideration has been given by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization to the establishment of a division of irrigation?
– The answer tothe honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has closely considered, from time to time, the establishment of a division of irrigation. However, it has been considered desirable to retain at present the existing arrangements under which research into many aspects of irrigation is carried out by research groups working within a number of divisions and sections of the organization.
This research work is centred mainly at the irrigation laboratories located at Griffith, Deniliquin, Merbein, and, more recently, in the Ord River area. Particular attention is being given to the study of fundamental problems concerning the intensive production of irrigated field and horticultural crops and the establishment and development of irrigated pastures in these regions.
Several other C.S.I.R.O. units are engaged also in research work in fields closely related to irrigation; for example, studies of soil-moisture movements, rainfall run-off relationships and the minimizing of evaporation from water storages, all of which are related to the overall problem of ensuring that Australia’s water resources are put to the most effective use.
The various centres where irrigation research is being undertaken by C.S.I.R.O. are concerned with problems of particular environments and particular kinds of production. Although these centres may have much in common, they are, nevertheless, considerable differences in the fundamental research work needed in each area. While it is recognized that certain advantages would derive from grouping all irrigation research activities under one division, from a scientific point of view there are strong reasons in favour of the present arrangement of linking irrigation research with environmental studies being carried out in the different regions.
C.S.I.R.O. is fully aware of the vital importance of developing and maintaining a vigorous irrigation research programme and keeps the position under continuous review.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment):
After section nineteen of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted: - “ 19a.-(1.)….. “ (3.) The Commission, the department of State of the Commonwealth, the body corporate so established or other person acting on behalf of the Commonwealth (as the case may be), may charge such fees as the Commission determines, having regard to the work and labour necessary, in respect of the examination and certification of patterns of instruments.
House of Representatives’ amendment -
In proposed new section 19a (3.), omit, “ Commonwealth “, second occurring, insert “ Commission “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
It seems clear that a typographical error has been made. Anybody examining the clause will see that the word “ commission “ should be inserted in the proposed new section instead of the word “Commonwealth “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments to the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1964. In the main, the tariff changes are based on recommendations arising out of reports by the Tariff Board and reports by a Special Advisory Authority. However, a number of changes of a drafting and administrative nature also occur but these do not affect the rates of duty payable. For the information of honorable senators, I shall outline the tariff changes to be made by the bill.
The amendment on raw coffee completes the implementation, following international negotiations, of the tariff changes recommended by the Tariff Board as a means of assistance to the coffee industry in PapuaNew Guinea. On canned tuna, at the suggestion of the Tariff Board, the rate of duty is to be increased by 7d. per lb. following the removal of sales tax on imports of this product in the last budget. A temporary duty of 5d. per lb. is imposed on fish in solid packs - other than salmon and tuna - in accordance with a recommendation by a Special Advisory Authority. This duty is to apply until the Tariff Board has had an opportunity to examine the longterm protective needs of the fishing industry. Consequent on the implementation of the Tariff Board report on glycerine, fatty acids, soaps and other detergents, duties will be increased on refined glycerine, oleic acid, stearic acid and on organic surfaceactive agents and preparations thereof. Crude glycerine remains admissible at nonprotective rates of duty, while the duties on crude tall oil, which is not produced in Australia, are being removed entirely. The protective duties on soaps remain unchanged. On floor coverings of linoleum, cork, vinyl, rubber, asbestos and like compositions, the changes recommended by the
Tariff Board, and accepted by the Government, provide in general for moderately increased protection against competition from the main source of imports.
On refrigerating appliance parts increased protection is imposed on sealed motor units up to 2 horse-power. Otherwise the duties revert to the level applying before the temporary duties were imposed. Following the Tariff Board’s report on portable electric hand tools, provision is being made to enable all types of vibratory massagers to be admitted under customs by-laws at nonprotective rates of free British preferential tariff and 71/2 per cent. most-favoured-nation. Increased duties on die casting machines of not less than 70 tons and not more than 1,200 tons clamping capacity are proposed following the board’s recommendation that moderate protective duties would enable the manufacturer to obtain a larger share of the Australian market and a reasonable return on funds.
On sparking plugs imported separately or as original equipment for motor vehicles, the British preferential tariff duties remain unchanged but the ad valorem portion of the alternative most-favoured-nation rate has been reduced by121/2 per cent. to 371/2 per cent. The fixed-rate portion of the most -favoured-nation rate remains unchanged, so that the minimum mostfavourednation duty remains at 13d. a plug. Both British preferential tariff and most-favoured-nation duties on the insulating bodies for spark plugs have been increased by 71/2 per cent. ad valorem. On magnet winding wire the duties are to be increased to 20 per cent. British preferential tariff and 271/2 per cent. mostfavourednation to allow Australian manufacturers to compete profitably against imports. The Government has decided, however, that there should be a further review of this industry in three years’ time.
In respect of television receiver components, minimum duties of 25s. each and 10s. each, respectively, are to be imposed on channel tuners for television receivers and deflection yokes for cathode ray tubes.
On engravers’ blocks, the board has recommended, and the Government has adopted, a moderate increase in protection against imports from the main source of competition affecting the production in Australia of engravers’ zinc plates.
On bisphenol A, the duties are to be increased to11d. per lb. British preferential tariff, with the most-favoured-nation rate determined at the lowest level consistent with international commitments. Bisphenol A is a basic ingredient in the manufacture of epoxy resins.
Increased protection is also being provided for the Australian production of epoxy resins by an increase of 10 per cent. ad valorem in the most-favoured-nation rate on liquid grades and by new alternative fixed rate duties on both solid and liquid grades. The fixed rate duties of1s. 3d. per lb. on solid grades and1s. 9d. per lb. on liquid grades are designed to apply in the event of any further decline in the overseas price of epoxy resins.
On ceramic flooring and wall tiles, the temporary duties which have applied to lowcost imports of glazed 6-inch by 6-inch coloured tiles are being replaced by ordinary duties at a level71/2 per cent. ad valorem higher than before. The increases are applicable to all tiles and tile biscuit exceeding 10 square inches in area.
For vinyl acetate monomer, duties are imposed at a level based on a mostfavourednation rate of £57 per ton. This is higher than the ordinary duties previously applying, but lower than the combined ordinary and temporary duties being replaced.
On phthalic anhydride, the new duties of 5d. per lb. British preferential tariff and 61/2d. per lb. most-favoured-nation are higher than the existing ordinary duties but lower than the combined ordinary and temporary duties. It is proposed to review the duties in two years’ time.
On sunglasses, spectacle frames, &c., the only variation in duties is a small reduction affecting a negligible range of imports. The change was recommended by the Tariff Board.
The changes in respect of paper and paperboard follow international consultations and talks with representatives of both manufacturing and importing sections of the Australian paper industry. They spell out in a more practical manner the changes recommended by the Tariff Board in its report on paper and paperboard, which was tabled on 30th April last year.
The existing ordinary duties on cycle saddles have been found by the Tariff
Board to provide adequate protection against imports of leather saddles and the temporary duties are therefore being removed.
On drums, new protective duties of 20 per cent. British preferential tariff and 30 per cent, most-favoured-nation are being introduced on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, but provision is also made for admission at concessional rates of certain types of drums and drum heads outside the range of local production.
The increased ordinary duties on sheets, strip and plates of unsaturated polyester provide a protective level of 40 per cent, ad valorem applicable to imports from most-favoured-nation countries, with British preferential rates determined in accordance with international commitments. These increases follow an inquiry by the Tariff Board.
Vinyl chloride polymers and copolymers specially prepared for the manufacture of sound reproduction discs become dutiable at 6d. per lb. British preferential tariff and 7)d. per lb. most-favoured-nation, while temporary duties are removed from other goods which were under reference to the Tariff Board. In the last Parliament, as a complement to the duties now imposed, a bounty act to assist the Australian production of uncompounded vinyl chloride polymers was passed. It provided for the payment of a bounty at the rate of 4d. per lb.
Increased protection is to be provided for slide viewers and image projectors of types designed for the projection of slide or film strip transparencies and being produced in Australia. Certain other types not made in Australia are being admitted under customs by-law at concessional rates. This action follows a report by the Tariff Board on the protective needs of manufacturers of these goods.
Increased protection of 9d. per square yard is to be accorded the printing of silk piece goods in accordance with the Tariff Board’s recommendations. Temporary duties on a sliding scale, but not exceeding ls. 3d. per square yard, are to be imposed on certain woven fabrics wholly of or containing not less than 20 per cent, by weight of man-made fibres. The temporary duties, which will operate in addition to the normal duties, are not payable on fabrics having a free-on-board price of 48d. or less per square yard, or 120d. or more per square yard. This action follows a recommendation by a Special Advisory Authority. The normal protective needs of this industry have been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report, and the temporary duties will operate only until such time as the Government takes action upon receipt of the final report of the board.
Following Tariff Board recommendations, linen fabrics become dutiable at ad valorem rates of 37± per cent. British preferential tariff and 47£ per cent, mostfavourednation, in lieu of combined ad valorem and fixed rate duties. Prepared painting canvas, which is not produced in Australia, becomes dutiable at nonprotective rates of free British preferential tariff and Ti per cent, otherwise.
Following recommendations by a Special Advisory Authority, temporary duties are to be imposed on certain bleached or coloured sheetings of cotton or in chief part by weight of cotton, weighing not less than 3 oz. per square yard and not more than 7 oz. per square yard, when for use as bed sheeting or pillow casing or in the making up of bed sheets or pillow cases. The temporary duties will not, however, be payable on the dearer range of fabrics in the. 4 to 7 oz. area. The normal protective needs of this industry have also been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report, and the temporary duties will operate only until such time as the Government takes action upon receipt of the final report of the board.
Although the duty changes I have outlined above are new so far as the bill is concerned, I should remind honorable senators that the changes took effect over a period of about 2i months, actually between 15th August, 1963, and 31st October, 1963. Because the proposed changes could not be debated before the Parliament was dissolved, the collection of duties was validated to 30th June, 1964, and this bill when enacted, is to supersede the Customs Tariff Validation Act. 1 commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henry) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes amendments of the Second Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1963. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff (No. 2) Bill 1964. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator 0’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. This bill proposes amendments to the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1963, and is complementary to Customs Tariff (No. 2) Bill 1964. It involves no variation in rates of duty. 1 commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 15th April (vide page 700), on motion by Senator Wade - That the bill be now read a second time.
– I rise to support the bill, the principal purposes of which are the reconstruction of the Australian Meat Board and the enlargement of its powers and functions. The reasons for the bill are numerous and very important, not only lo producers but to all Australians. Speaking as a person who is vitally interested in the production of meat and who has come to this chamber by way of producer organizations, I think that one of the principal reasons for the measure may be traced to the visit last year of representatives of the North American Cattlemen’s Association. At Surfers Paradise they made representations to the Australian Meat Board and representatives of producer organizations. I think that all honorable senators are familiar with the reports of that meeting and realize that the American representatives made quite clear to the Australian representatives that quotas had to be imposed on the American market. The reply of the Australian representatives was, “ We just do not have the power to do it.” They made a promise to the American representatives to seek the necessary power.
Another reason for the measure is that because of increased meat production it is necessary for the Australian Meat Board to seek further powers to enable it to carry out investigations and to develop export markets, so that Australian producers may sell additional quantities of meat overseas. This is a very important matter, because over recent years a great deal of capital has been sunk in the industry through producer organizations and abattoir corporations. The Government itself has developed many beef roads in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. As a result of all these activities, the production of meat has greatly increased in recent years. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) referred to this in his second-reading speech, and other honorable senators, too, have referred to it. It is because of this increased production that we must seek new markets. Mention has been made of the importance of the American market. It is an important market for Australia, especially when it is realized that the return from meat sold to America is the equivalent of something like £70,000,000 worth of dollars.
The American market has other important features for the Australian producer. As this market is a big consumer of third-grade or manufacturing meat, it has had a tremendous influence right down the line on our exports. By that statement I mean that, prior to our entry into this market, it was always hard for the producer to quit his low-grade stock or his out-of-condition stock. Now, because of our entry into the American market, this stock brings very good prices, which in turn have forced up the prices received by the producer for his first-quality stock. I recall that when I visited the northern part of Western Australia last year, I saw poor stock, more or less only skin and bone, coming into the meatworks. Prior to our entry into the American market, the producer would have received nothing for those animals. Now, he is receiving something like £8 10s. a head. So our entry into the American market has boosted the economy of his property.
We have also seen the influence that the sales to America have had on the dairy industry. The American trade has enabled the dairyman, who probably has always been the poor man among Australian primary producers, to quit his culled stock, and his old herd sire, and get very good prices for them. By doing so, he has been able not only to build up the quality of his herd but also to purchase highergrade sires.
I think there are problems in this American market. Some speakers have referred to them already. In my opinion, one of the greatest of the problems was pointed out at the conference between American and Australian representatives at Surfers Paradise. Therefore, we should see that we do not over-exploit the American market. If we do, I believe that it will bring quick retribution from American producers. In recent times, we have had a pretty fair indication of this.
I want to pay tribute to the Australian Meat Board for the work it has done and to refer to Senator Cormack’s statement last night that the board had always opposed our entry into the American, market. I do not think his assertion is true. I know the exporters have done a very good job, but our exporters to the American market have not always been the good boys that Senator Cormack wants to make out they were. To support my statement, I refer to the annual report of the Australian Meat Board for 1962, in which, under the head ing “ Requirements of the North American Market “, we find this statement -
Obviously, it is essential for the Australian meat industry that trade wilh this market be developed on a sound basis. On appropriate occasions throughout the year, the Board has reminded exporters, sometimes individually and sometimes collectively, of the importance of studying the requirements of their customers in North America and doing everything possible to ensure that their requirements are met.
The North American Representative of the Board, who took up his appointment in June, 1961, has kept in close contact wilh the industry in North America and has kept the Board advised of developments and trends in the market in North America.
I feel that is an indication that the board is doing its best to help this trade. We know that the American market requires only the manufacturing type of meat, and the board has done its best to see that this requirement is met. The board has also done its best to see that first and second quality meats have not been sent to America in large quantities. In its annual report for the year ended 30th June, 1963, under the heading, “Survey of North American Market”, the Australian Meat Board states -
The Board has not relaxed its efforts to bring to the notice of exporters the importance of meeting the requirements of customers in North Amenca.
The North American Representative has continued to maintain a close liaison with the industry in that country end has kept the Board informed of the latest marketing developments. The Chairman and several Board members visited North America at various times during the year when they met Government officials and representatives of meat importing companies.
– And the board goes on to say it has prohibited the export of certain marketable meat.
– Yes .
– Then how can you say it has not got sufficient power to impose quotas?
– I did not say that. I said that the American growers, when they came out here, said we would have to impose quotas.
– I thought you said the main purpose of the bill was to give the board power to impose them.
– Let me go on with my speech. Senator Cormack also said last night that to his knowledge, which went back to 1953, the Australian Meat Board had always opposed our entry into the American market. I want to point out to the Senate that in 1953 all but a very small quantify of Australia’s production of first and second grade beef was sold to Britain under the fifteen-year meat agreement. This agreement required the whole of Australia’s production of first and second grade beef, with the exception of something like 7,000 tons, to be sent to Britain.
– That 7,000 tons was uncommitted.
– Yes. lt could go to any other market in the world. Therefore, at that time we were obliged to send practically all our beef to Britain under the fifteen-year meat agreement. The provision with relation to selling outside that market was not lifted until about 1960 or 1961. Therefore, I cannot agree with Senator Cormack’s statement.
As I have said, I pay a tribute to the board for the work it is doing. Only recently the chairman announced that the board proposes to go out and find other markets. He stated at the time that an Asian representative with head-quarters in Tokyo was being appointed. His job would be to look after matters relating to meat in Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Much has been said about Australia’s entry into markets of this type. Quite often people have mentioned the great potential that exists in Japan. There is no doubt about the potential there because the consumption of meat in Japan has trebled since the war, and is continuing to rise every day. I believe this is due to the rising standard of living in that country. It is clear, from all the indications, that there is an enormous potential in Japan in the years to come, especially if the Japanese Government succeeds in its efforts to double the national income by 1970.
I believe that there are other markets that can be opened up. I refer, for instance, to the markets of Western Europe where, according to statistics, the consumption of meat is very low in comparison with Australian standards. As an example, annual beef consumption in Australia is something like 90 lb. per head of population, yet if we look at the western European countries we find that beef consumption ranges from about 30 lb. per head of population in Italy to about 70 lb. per head in France, lt is because of the background to the picture I have just painted that the representatives of the meat producers of this country felt that it was essential for them to come to the Government and ask for greater powers and for a reconstitution of the board. The two federal producers’ organizations, after lengthy discussions, came to the Government with their proposals.
In the main, those proposals are the proposals contained in the bill. Certain proposals have been discussed by the two organizations and the Government and counter proposals have been put up. Nevertheless, we can say that the two organizations are in agreement with the proposals in the bill and, furthermore, that the general principles of the proposals put forward have been accepted by the Australian Agricultural Council. I think it is fair to say also that the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council is in agreement with the proposals. Every one connected with the meat industry - or at all events with the sale of meat - has had a good look at the proposals and is, I believe, in favour of them.
I now come to the point that under this legislation the membership of the new board will be smaller than that of the old board. There will be a reduction from twelve members to nine. In this reduction the producers will lose two representatives, the public utilities and the meat employees union will not be represented, and the pig producers will not bc represented. However, the pig producers will lose representation at their own request. We find, also, that the chairman of the new board is to be appointed after consultation between the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee and the Minister for Primary Industry.
Last night we heard Senator Murphy deal at some length wilh the removal of the meat industry employees’ representative from the board. He was followed, I believe, by Senator O’Byrne. Let us look at the situation. The board, in its wisdom, using the experience it had gained over the years, decided that it was necessary to reduce its numbers if it were to function as it believed it should. In that reduction it was decided to take two members from the representatives of the producers. The board then looked at the remaining membership, and decided, in its wisdom, that if further reductions were to be made they should be made by removing the employees’ representative and the representative of the public utilities. This may seem harsh, but it was a decision that had to be taken. I believe that you could not further reduce the producers’ representation, because, after all, the producers are the men who are paying the money into this organization.
The board, using its experience gained over the years, has decided to hold a conference twice yearly, and we find that a number of organizations are to be represented at these conferences. At the conferences there will be, first, the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, together with all the members of the board. Also present will be some representatives of the clerical and secretarial staff, as well as representatives of the producers’ federal organizations. We see that there are also to be representatives of transport interests, particularly the railways. I think nearly every railway system in the Commonwealth was represented at last year’s conference. We find, further, that there will be representatives of the exporters, the public utilities, the meat employees’ union, the waterside workers and the shipowners. These conferences will provide forums for discussion between the employers, the meat producers and the employees.
– Who decided to call that conference?
Australian Meat Board. It is not a statutory conference but one which, drawing on its years of experience, the board decided to call twice yearly to enable discussion to take place on anything affecting the representatives and their work over the year. I believe that this will give the representatives of the public utilities and the employees an opportunity of putting their cases. I note, from previous reports of the board, that the employees have talked about clothing and the introdction of changing facilities in abattoirs. They have brought to the attention of the board numerous other requests for action to improve the conditions under which they work.
– That could be done through direct representation on the board.
– Yes, that has been done in the past. This procedure will give these people an opportunity” to put their case on two occasions during a year. In fairness to the Australian Meat Board let me say that I believe that, if a sacrifice in the membership has to be made, the board has done the only thing possible. I pay tribute to the work done by the representative of the employees’ union on the board. He has no doubt brought a vast experience to the meetings.
– Why do you say the producers’ representation has been reduced on the new board?
– It has ben reduced from seven to five.
– No, from six to five. What about the appointment of the chairman?
– I cannot look into a crystal ball and see where the chairman of the new board is going to come from.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, pointed out that the basic element of this legislation is the establishment of a fund, by way of a levy on cattle, sheep and lambs at slaughtering to provide finance for the development of new markets. Looking through the legislation, we find that it makes provision for finance to be collected by means of a statutory levy which will be imposed on all cattle of a dressed weight of 200 lb. or more and on sheep and lambs slaughtered within Australia for home consumption. The collectors of this money will bc the meat operators and the selling agents, who will have the legal right to pass the incidence of the levy back to the producers at the time the stock are purchased for slaughter.
– Why have they that right?
– They have been given it.
– Yes, but why? Why should they transfer the incidence back to the producer?
– I will deal with that matter in a little while, because it has worried me over the years. The current charges will be repealed and new charges proclaimed on the recommendation of the Australian Meat Board, after consulting with the main industry organizations and the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee. From the Minister’s second-reading speech we understand that in a normal year the levy will be 5s. a head for cattle and 6s. a head on sheep and lambs, bringing in a total contribution of about £1,700,000.
Senator Wright has raised a question about the levy being passed back. I note from the debate in another place that there have been suggestions made from time to time for a variation in the basis of raising the levy. It has been suggested that the levy be raised in the same way as the intended levy in the wool industry is to be raised. As I said in reply to Senator Wright’s interjection, I have never been happy about this method. Honorable senators will recall that in the days of the fifteen-year ment agreement deficiency payments made to Australia were passed back to the producer through the Australian Meat Board passing the money on to the exporters.
– It was done in an indirect way.
– In other words it was an indirect payment. Over the years ‘the producers’ representatives on federal organizations have raised with the Government the question of whether the producers were really getting payments passed back to them or not. The reply from Ministers for Primary Industry over the years has always been - in taking the matter up with exporters - that they believe the money was being passed back.
– Passed back to whom?
– To the producers. I am referring to the deficiency payments. The meat producers of Aus.tralia came to the Government and said that they wanted to levy themselves a certain sum of money for promotional purposes. They asked that a scheme be implemented to work along similar lines to the way in which deficiency payments were passed back to meat producers. Legislation was introduced into the chamber some three years ago imposing a levy on meat producers along those lines. Immediately the bill became law and was operative a problem arose. Account sales when rendered to the buyer contained a number of items for 2s., which was the amount of the levy at that time, and buyers refused to pay it. There was no way in which the selling agents could deduct the amount from the producers and so they were left holding the baby, as it were. The situation got to the stage where there was a threat of a High Court case. The Minister stepped in and, after discussing the matter with the people concerned, decided to bring down amending legislation. Last year, or the year before, amending legislation passed through this chamber providing that the levy be deducted at the point where the purchaser buys the animal for slaughter. A system of that kind has grown up over the years. It is one about which I am not happy and never have been happy. However it is a proposal put forward by the producers and I am willing to go along with it at present.
I want to make a final point: It arises out of the suggestion put forward by Senator Wright last night that a select committee be appointed to look into this matter. I believe that the suggestion, if carried out, could be most damaging to the Australian meat industry. I understand that, at present, Australian representatives of the Government and the meat industry are in Washington getting ready to put their case before the American Tariff Commission. I believe their evidence is based on the fact that this legislation will be law by the time they appear before the commission. It is necessary therefore for us to get this legislation through the Parliament as soon as possible.
– Do you know when the Tariff Commission is to commence its hearing?
– I understand that it is to commence on 29th April. Many other points in this legislation could come up for discussion. However, we will have the opportunity to bring further points forward in the committee stage. In conclusion, I emphasize that these proposals have been requested by the industry in view of its experience over the years. The industry believes that the proposals will correct certain anomalies. I believe that the industry is doing everything possible to build up our overseas markets and, in that way, build up our cattle industry, particularly in northern areas. For these reasons I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– This bill has occasioned a great deal of discussion along various lines. The bill itself sets out the objects hoped to be achieved. They arc found in clause 5. They are -
In order to obtain this objective very wide powers are to be invested in a particular board. The other objects read as follows: -
The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) said in his second-reading speech when introducing this bill -
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to industry proposals for a plan of meat market development and diversification and to reconstitute the membership of the Australian Meat Board.
The phrase emphasized immediately in my mind is “ to give effect to industry proposals “. What are the industry proposals? The Minister in his reply might mention to the chamber the industry or industries that have made the proposals.
– They are the producer organizations that really formulated the thing in the first place.
– There is nothing in the bill to show that that is so. We are assuming an enormous amount. I am thankful for the interjection because it goes to the very crux of the matter. It leads me a little ahead of the point I was about to make. These objects are to be attained through the agency of the Australian Meat Board. It is to be reconstituted and will consist of nine members one of whom will be a chairman to be appointed for three years. We have no idea what that person may be. Five will represent the Australian meat producers, two the meat exporters and one the Commonwealth Government itself. That is fair enough. Then one asks him self: Who appoints these members? I should like the Minister to enlarge upon the selection committee. We have been told that a selection committee will appoint these members.
– Recommend them.
– I stand corrected. The commitee will recommend the appointment of the members. In the bill the following definition appears: - “ the Selection Committee “ means the body of persons for the lime being comprising the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, being the body of that name established by its constitution adopted on the twenty-seventh day of Feburary, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-four.
I again ask: Who appointed the selection committee and what are the qualifications of its members? In my innocence - and perhaps it is innocence - I hope that the Minister will be able to inform me, because it seems to me that there is an assumed power within this selection committee. I am not by any means querying the motive behind it, but I think that we would feel happier if we knew exactly how this selection committee was formed. As I said earlier, some appointments to the board are to be recommended by the selection committee.
I was rather intrigued last night to hear Senator Murphy speak about the union representative. He referred to Mr. Hutchinson. We all remember the occasion some years ago when Mr. Hutchinson spoke in another place. I thought Senator Murphy said that Mr. Abbott was then the Leader of the Country Party, but Senator Murphy said that he led for the Country Party. Circumstances certainly alter cases. However, at that time I believe they were quite justified in their advocacy of a union representative. I am not against a union representative, but I am a little worried about whether he will be a Calwell-ite or a Whitlam-ite if appointed.
– What would be the difference?
– Apparently I must ask Mr. Whitlam. He seems to have a difference of opinion–
– That is only newspaper talk.
– He apparently has a difference of opinion, so there may be some difficulty at present in selecting a union representative who would be pleasing to the Labour organizations. Be that as it may, I have no great objection to the appointment of a union representative because I believe that he could do much to promote the better working of the industry. As a producer, who is sometimes annoyed and disgusted with some of the tactics that are employed on the waterfront, I look for better working in the industry. If a beast has been produced and passed through the various processes and is ready for export and if for some unknown reason there is a hold-up in transport arrangements, the loss occasioned by that hold-up is suffered, not by the shipping company or the union, but by the producer. 1 understand that at present responsible members of our trade union organizations are becoming alarmed at the waves of strikes that seem to be breaking on the industrial horizon. If the appointment of a union representative to the board would prevent some of these strikes and stop-work meetings, it would be all to the good and would give us greater industrial peace. No doubt he would be in possession of the full facts, and his knowledge would be available to the board.
I have been rather interested in some of the comments of honorable senators who have spoken to this bill, particularly as, to my way of thinking, they have been endeavouring to lead the chamber to think that Queensland is the great beef producer of Australia.
– Where is half the export meat coming from to-day?
– Nothing has been said about the areas in the southern temperate clime, or of our higher rainfall area which actually produces the beef that is required. The beef that the Australian public requires is a first consideration for the meat producer, because that is a very valuable trade. When some honorable senators were discussing Queensland beef I almost interjected, but I know that Senator Dittmer agrees with me that interjections are horribly disorderly and unbecoming and ill-fit some men of great knowledge. Be that as it may, the point that I want to have clarified concerns one honorable senator’s comment that the export of beef to America meant that our Queensland herds were being culled of inferior beasts which were required to supply the market. The question arises as to whether the growers, when they have culled out the culls, continue to breed culls or improve the quality of their breeding stock. If they improve the quality of their breeding stock, they will have ito culls and there will be no meat for America. My main point is that, in my opinion, the areas of Queensland and the fattening areas to the south are complementary. Queensland producers can supply the type of animals that can be readily fattened in the southern areas.
– They can fatten cattle in Queensland; they have suitable fattening areas there.
– I never suggested anything to the contrary.
– The implication was there.
– Patience is a virtue.
– Just in case you did not mention it I thought I would mention it for you.
– You apparently have a burning desire to spread words of wisdom. I was going to say that perhaps even you would agree with me that pasture development with Townsville lucerne and spear grass, in the northern areas and in the brigalow country, will mean much not only to the production of meat but also to the quality of the beast that can be produced. My point is that Queensland and the fattening areas are complementary. It seems to me that Queensland can produce the beast that can be turned south and fattened to produce good quality meat.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Continuing my remarks on beef production and the class of stock that is needed in Australia, I mention that Queensland and the southern States will have a complementary role to play. Whilst great emphasis has been placed upon veterinary inspection at the place of slaughter, we can do a great deal more with our veterinary surgeons in helping growers in Australia, and in Queensland in particular, to overcome some of the diseases that affect the stock in our northern areas.
I am very interested in the flowing of stock, as it were. I have sat in this Senate for a number of years, and have been very interested in the development that has taken place in our northern areas, particularly Queensland. I have noted the amount of money that this Government has given by way of a loan or a gift to the northern areas to enable them to develop the beef trade. Recently money was granted for the construction of beef roads. Viewing the outcome of that, I am led to believe that the practice in Queensland, in particular, and to some extent the Northern Territory, is to move the stock from west to east, that is, from the inland to the sea-board. I believe that a great deal of this movement should be from the north to the south. If the movement from the north to the south comes about, the stock must be of the quality which the fatteners in the southern regions require to produce that first-class beef that is so essential. Whilst most of the emphasis has been placed upon the production of beef in Queensland, the people who run the fattening areas in the southern States are responsible for the great quantity of meat that is produced. As their land is so valuable for fattening purposes, it is to their benefit, as well as to the benefit of the pastoralists in Queensland, to get the right type of stock from the breeding areas in Queensland and move them to the south. That is one of the reasons why I make the plea to the Government to assist South Australia with the con-‘ struction of a road to enable the south to tap the south-west corner of Queensland, which is the main area from which the south receives supplies of beef and store cattle.
Turning to the incidence of disease that prevents the free-flow of cattle from one area to another, I find it is interesting to note the steps that are being taken in an endeavour to overcome pleuro-pneumonia in cattle. I hope that with proper quarantine regulations and proper care, the incidence of pleuro-pneumonia will be lessened in future. There is the trouble with tick, but it is not insurmountable. 1 was interested recently in the provision by the Commonwealth of money for the development or improvement of the brigalow country. That leads me to say that I believe that much of the brigalow country will prove to be worth while as a fattening proposition, that is with the introduction of Townsville lucerne, to which I previously referred, which is a remarkable fodder crop. It has done a great deal of good in the Northern Territory as well as Queensland -
– It is a legume.
– It is a legume; and brigalow itself is a legume. The brigalow country will carry enormous numbers of store cattle to be fattened. That, again, is an important point which the breeders in Queensland should bear in1 mind. I believe that we will be in serious difficulty in getting sufficient cattle of the right type which can be fattened in the’ good areas. I cannot stress that point too much. After all, it takes a few years to build up a herd.
The question of raising the standard of a breeding herd is important. Even with the efforts that we are making now, it will take many years to achieve the required standard. So the question of what is the right type of beef to breed calls for a great deal of consideration.
I was interested recently to read the work of Doctor Butterfield, who for many years has been making researches into the quality of beef that is required. Do not let us think that we have reached the required standard.’ The taste in meat and the demand for meat have changed recently to a great extent,’ not only in Australia, but also in Great Britain. The type of beef that is bringing premium prices in Britain and Europe is the Yugoslav beef bull, which is anything from 12 months to 18 months in age and which has good eye muscle beef and has very little fat. The need for the fat type of beef has gone. That is where the hybrid cattle will now play a very useful part.
It is interesting to note, when you travel through the various countries of the world,the different tastes that develop for meat. The trend is noticable in Africa, on the continent and also in America. It is a° factor that the Meat Board, which is to be the all-powerful medium controlling the buying, selling and distribution of our meat overseas, should keep in ‘ mind. Whilst it is all very well to concentrate on the eastern portion of America, we in Australia should never lose sight of the fact that it is the western seaboard of America that offers Australia the best chances for trade, not only in beef, but also in other commodities.
Even in Chicago, which is renowned, I suppose, for beef production - I arn assured of this and have seen it in my travels - there are markets if we provide the right type of beef.
I am interested also in the supply of meat to other parts of America. We had an agreement with Great Britain, and it was not until the terms of that agreement were eased and Great Britain did not require a certain class of meat that we were able to seek a market in America. I shall not try to apportion the praise amongst those who were responsible for getting us our American beef trade, but I can say that men with a keen desire for business, whom T met overseas, were quick to seize the opportunity to sell our goods.
– And they got a good price.
– The price was extraordinarily good. The board will have full control over the manner in which the meat is to be sold and over the price to be obtained. It will be all-powerful. Do not let us deceive ourselves. We are told that the industry asked for this, but we must look at what will flow from the establishment of a board with full control over our meat exports. I hope that ‘the board, which will represent producers and other interested people, will not only seize the opportunity to sell our meat overseas to the best advantage but also will take a keen interest in the Australian consumer, the person who keeps the meat industry solvent.
There are many other matters about which I wish to speak, but I shall not do so as there are other speakers to follow. I wish the bill a speedy passage. I hope that it will satisfy the objectives, aims and aspirations of the persons who are sponsoring it. However, I believe that this Parliament has a duty to safeguard the interests of the community. One factor that has worried me is that a charge is to be imposed by the board for certain things. The Parliament should have some say as to the maximum charge that can be made on the industry, and the Parliament should be consulted before that charge is exceeded. I support the bill.
– I rise to support the bill, with reservations in regard to one or two of its provisions.
It is most commendable, of course, that a board should be established or that other action should be taken to develop a potential export market. That would be true of any commodity with an export potential. It appears that the potential for the export of beef has never been more promising. It is proposed to establish a meat board with very much wider powers than the Australian Meat Board has at present. The board itself will have power to trade. As Senator Cormack pointed out, it may well be that the board will try to exploit uneconomic markets. It is proposed at the outset that the current levy for research and export promotion be nearly trebled, that is, that an amount of £1,700,000 per annum be taken from Australian meat producers.
I am not very concerned about which State exports the most meat, whether it be Queensland or Victoria. What I am concerned about is the fact that meat producers all over the Commonwealth, whether or not their product is for domestic consumption or for export, will be compelled to pay the levy to the Australian Meat Board to provide funds, I take it, to meet normal expenses and to enable the board to set itself up as a trading organization. Initially, in order to avoid the heartburnings and contention aroused some eighteen months ago in respect of the Australian Wool Board, the ambit of the panel that will appoint the Australian Meat Board should be as wide and comprehensive as possible. It is a matter of disappointment to me that only two organizations in the Commonwealth, wide as their interests may be, will have the right to appoint the selection committee which will appoint the board. I express the keenest disappointment that the Australian Primary Producers Union has been initially left out of this selection committee. This organization claims - I do not know how rightly - that its members produce 20 per cent, of Australian meat production and that it has 20,000 members engaged in the industry. Be that as it may, the inclusion of the A.P.P.U. would, beyond any doubt whatever, make this panel wider and more comprehensive. The basis on which the board was appointed would be wider and, I believe, more congenial to producers.
The Minister for Health (Senator Wade), in introducing the bill, said that it would bc appropriate for other organizations to be represented on the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee; indeed, the Government urged that they be included. He expressed a hope that this would be achieved by negotiation. He went on to say that a similar procedure was followed in the case of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, and he confidently expected that shortly the Australian Primary Producers Union might receive membership of that industry body. It is eighteen months since the Australian Wool Board was established. I well recall that at that time it was stated that negotiations were just about to take place. So far as I am aware, to date nothing has been done about that matter. Again the Minister expresses a hope - I do not know on what grounds. He is in a better position than I am to know.
I have never been impressed by the contention that the two organizations to be represented on the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee represent probably 80 per cent, of the meat producers in the Commonwealth. I think I have heard figures cited which indicate that that is the case. I am not interested in the agreggate amount. Rather am I interested in the individuals who produce the meat. Speaking now about the northern part of Tasmania, from where I come, I point out that although the aggregate amount of meat produced there is small by comparison with the aggregate produced on the mainland, the fact is that many farmers in the northern and north-eastern areas of Tasmania are engaged in meat production in a small way, raising fat lambs, culled dairy cows and beef cattle.
– Many farmers including yourself.
– Yes. For that reason, I repeat that the representation at the conference which is to appoint the board which will be empowered to raise this levy of £1,700,000 a year should be as wide as it can possibly be made. I would say without any hesitation that 80 per cent, of the people engaged in meat production along the northern coast of Tasmania owe allegiance to the Australian Primary Producers Union.
– Through the Tasmanian Farmers Federation.
– That is so. Under the proposed arrangements there will be a most indirect control because the organizations concerned will only appoint the panel which will appoint the board. They will have no direct voice in the appointment of the Meat Board. Let me say at once that, to the man who has 300 or 400 ewes, or perhaps a few more, to the man who milks a herd of 20 or 30 cows - to the man who is in a small way in the industry - -this levy might represent just as “big an impost as it does to the man who has thousands of cattle producing beef in other parts of the Commonwealth. That is why I view with a lot of misgiving the fact that these people who, in the main, are in a small way but who, nevertheless, are engaged in the production of meat as a means of livelihood will have no say in the appointment of this conference. I do sincerely hope that the negotiations about which the Minister has spoken will take place and that they will be successful but, as a comparative newcomer to this place, I cannot see why the Minister has not seen fit to ask the three organizations concerned to choose the members of this conference. Surely the animosity which might exist between them should not preclude them from setting up a conference jointly, under an act of Parliament, for the purpose of appointing this meat board.
I go on from there to say that the amount of this levy, over which this Parliament has little control except, probably, as Senator Cormack suggested, through the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, and which will represent a fairly severe impost will be provided by the producers themselves. After being a farmer all his life, a man would not be human if he did not take into account the thousands of millions of pounds that the primary producers of Australia have contributed to finance secondary industry and to give us our present high standard of living, in return for the great measure of protection which it enjoys. In this case, the primary producer is to be called upon to finance, without any maximum being fixed, the export of his own commodity, probably into uneconomic markets. I believe that position must be faced not only with regard to beef but also with regard to other commodities if we are to expand our export potential and if we are to export to those countries from which the economic proceeds are doubtful.
One cannot help but feel that an impost corresponding to that which is now proposed is not borne by other export industries.
The new board will have power to raise levies. It will have power to purchase meat and to enter into the meat exporting trade. It will also have power to grant licences to other exporters and to cancel their licences. It is in fact in a completely paramount position so far as the export of meat from the Commonwealth is concerned. I have seen that sort of thing happen before. Probably there is some difference between what is proposed here and the Transport Commission of Tasmania which engaged in the transportation of passengers throughout the State in competition with private enterprise and then itself laid down the rules under which that competition was to take place. In this case we have a position in which the umpire himself plays with one of the teams. That is the best way in which I can describe it. It seems to me to be entirely necessary that the firms of this country which are engaged in the export of meat and who will be subjected to the dictates of their own competitor, the Meat Board, should have some means of redress if they feel aggrieved. I feel very strongly about this. Surely it is reasonable to expect that there should be some right of appeal against decisions made by the Meat Board with respect to its competitors. It was stated last night that the principle proposed here is more or Jess the import licensing system in reverse. There is one difference. To the best of my knowledge, under the import licensing system that operated in this Commonwealth until it was abandoned somewhere about 1960, the people who granted the import licences were not themselves engaged in the business of importing. But in this case there is a paramount organization proposing to engage in the export of meat, with the right to grant, cancel or revoke licences and to lay down conditions in respect of licences which it has granted to its competitors. That seems to me to be something at which this Senate would be well advised to look closely. I believe, from my experience of both Commonwealth and State legislation, that a right of appeal under these circumstances is something that we have almost come to take for granted.
Another point I want to make is that this is a board over which the producers have only indirect control, in that all they can do is to appoint a selection committee. Even that applies to only some of the producers in the Commonwealth and not to all of them. That is my grievance - the failure to make the ambit or basis of this legislation wider by allowing another organization to serve on the selection committee which chooses the members of the board. As the bill stands at the moment, there is no limit to the amount of levy which can be imposed upon the primary producers. It seems to me to be desirable that if a certain maximum is reached the Minister should have to come back to this Parliament for authority to increase the levy beyond that limit. I believe that the control of the producers, the people who will have to pay this levy, is small. It is confined almost entirely - or entirely - to the appointment of the committee which appoints the board. This is a most indirect and shadowy control. In point of fact, one could almost say that the producers will have no control over the actions that will be taken by the Meat Board. It seems to me that there will be an abrogation of parliamentary authority if there is not included in this measure a provision which gives the Parliament some control over the amount of the levy which is imposed on the primary producers. It can be said with certainty that, even if this levy does not continue for all time, it will continue for many years to come. We do not know what the ramifications of this board will be or what commitments it will enter into, so there should be some final authority to which the board must turn and from which it must receive authorization for the amount of levy to be imposed. It is proposed nearly to treble the present levy.
I support -the measure. I think it is commendable that the beef producers of Australia, or most of them, are so conscious of the necessity to increase the export of beef that they have asked for the creation of this board, with the powers it will have. I repeat that I believe there should be a ceiling on the amount of levy which can be imposed. I certainly believe that if this board is to enter into competition with other exporting agencies, under the power which we propose to confer on it under this measure, those agencies, if they feel aggrieved, should have the right to appeal to some independent authority so that their grievances can be investigated and, if they are genuine, redressed.
– I appreciate the opportunity to say something on what I consider to be a most important measure and to contribute to what has been, at all events up to now, a very interesting debate. It has been noted by me, and I expect by other honorable senators, that most of those who have participated in the debate are people who are fairly conversant with this industry. Many of them have been actively engaged in meat production, and, for that reason, there has been a ring of authority to what they have said in connexion with the bill. That is undeniable. It is a long while since I had the opportunity of producing meat, but I have some knowledge of the industry and I have appreciated very much the references that have been made to the industry by the speakers who have preceded me.
I think the bill is fairly soundly based. It is brought in to meet the changed circumstances of the meat industry. I can assure you, Mr. Deputy President, that the meat industry has undergone some remarkable changes in a comparatively short time. I know that from my own knowledge, because I was a producer. I know the difficulties and circumstances which require changes of policy. This measure is based on joint proposals which have been submitted to the Government and to the Australian Meat Board by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Those are two bodies representing people engaged in the production of meat. They cover pretty well the whole of Australia and they have given this matter their long, and serious consideration, with the result that they have submitted the proposals upon which the bill is based.
I am glad to know that the Australian Agricultural Council has approved of the proposals in the bill. As honorable senators know, the members of the Australian Agricultural Council are the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry and the State Ministers for Agriculture. The council is not confined to a particular line of political thought. In addition, the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council has given its blessing to the legislation. That body, of course, is representative of people who are vitally interested in the meat industry. It can be said, therefore, that in general the legislation is based on fairly solid ground. Like Senator Lillico, I think that perhaps representation on the selection committee could have been more widely based. I am not ignorant of the fact that the Australian Primary Producers Union, the membership of which is made up of many thousands of smaller growers, is of the opinion that it should be represented on the committee. Although that organization is not very strong in South Australia, it represents undoubtedly a fair proportion of producer interests in Australia. Therefore, I cannot help but feel that, in justice, it should have some representation.
I have mentioned that this bill is necessary because of the changed circumstances in the meat industry. There is now a much greater degree of profitability in the industry than there was previously. While charges and costs have increased, markets have been available to meat producers. The expansion of export markets has had an effect on local markets and has led to greatly increased profitability. In consequence, there has been a spectacular rise in production. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) gave some interesting figures in his second-reading speech. He stated that whereas in 1957-58 exports of various classes of meat totalled 144,800 tons, in 1962-63 they totalled 321,800 tons. When those tonnages are converted to the bone-in-weight equivalent the figures are very much more striking. They show that in 1962-63 the equivalent total tonnage was 498,000 tons, compared with 164,000 tons in 1957-58. Because of greater profitability, due particularly to ‘the production and export of beef and the prices received on the new American market, there has been a spectacular rise in meat production, especially of beef. That is understandable.
My thoughts turn to the rather chequered career of the meat industry in Australia. I think of the days immediately following World War I. and of the competition that our meat exports had to face from those of other exporting countries, particularly Argentine. We were placed at a very great disadvantage because of the long distance that our meat exports had to travel by sea. We were obliged to export frozen beef. whereas the Argentine and other South American countries were at that time beginning to export chilled beef. Honorable senators who know anything about frozen beef will appreciate that a frozen beef carcass is very different from a carcass which has been chilled and consigned to a nearby market in a short space of time. The Australian frozen beef industry was beset by very great troubles at that time. Those troubles did not apply so much to export of lamb and mutton because lamb and mutton are not so adversely affected by freezing as is beef.
Senator Mattner referred to the quality of our beef. There is a great marbling effect in the carcass of a large beast. When a frozen carcass is thawed there is a considerable deterioration in the quality of ‘the beef. This deterioration is not so great with lamb and mutton carcasses, but it is a serious disadvantage in the case of beef carcasses. Beef is more adversely affected by freezing than it is by chilling. The Argentine was able to chill beef and send it to the markets of Europe and America. The journey in each case was a relatively short one. Because of the longer time needed to transport Australian meat to overseas markets, and the fact that it had to be frozen, the Argentine producers had a distinct advantage over Australian producers. Fortunately, not long afterwards the Australian producers were able to adopt improved methods for the export of meat. If I remember correctly, carbon dioxide was injected into the freezing chambers of the ships, and this enabled us to send chilled meat to the British market. So far as I know, that method is still being used.
There has been a great change in the circumstances surrounding our export meat industry, particularly in relation to beef. We have seen the development of the American market, resulting in a remarkable increase in production in Australia and in the volume of exports. In 1962-63, beef exports to America accounted for 81 per cent, of our total beef exports. More than 50 per cent, of our exports of mutton were shipped to the American market. Very little reference has been made to exports of mutton, but nevertheless, mutton is exported to America to a considerable degree. Because of the modern treatment and processing methods that are used, we are able to supply the American market with the kind of meat, including mutton, that it wants. The amount taken by America adds up to a considerable proportion of our meat exports, and has been of tremendous economic benefit to Australia. We are dependent on our exports. In the past meat has played a relatively small part in the sum total because in comparison with wool, wheat, and even dairy products, meat has been much lower down the list. Meat has assumed much greater importance in recent years. In comparatively recent times we have seen great strides made in beef production in Australia, and the Government has fostered it because it saw in it an avenue of export income which would be of incalcuable benefit to Australia. That is why the Government has concentrated on the development of beef roads and why it is fostering a greater interest in the development of the northern parts of the continent.
One could continue to speak at great length of the various methods that are being used to increase the production and export of beef, and I do not think it is necessary for me to do so. I was interested to hear Senator Mattner’s contribution to the debate. It showed that he had a good understanding of the necessity to view beef production in a sensible way. He made it quite clear that the large areas in the north of Australia are in essence breeding areas. I have some interest in this matter because I have contacts in Adelaide with whom I discuss this subject. They are people who own or are interested in some of the cattle producing areas in the Barkly Tablelands and in the Northern Territory. For that reason I recognize that there is a great deal of truth in the statement that we must develop breeding areas in the north and bring the cattle down to the southern areas for topping up. We know of the great potential of the Northern Territory and north Queensland.
I hope that eventually areas of Western Australia will be used for this purpose. Already there is a large area in Western Australia on which the Government has concentrated. Killing works have been established which will be the basis of settlement in those parts. The greatest hope for the development of the north of Australia, from the Queensland coast to the Indian Ocean, lies in the development of the cattle industry. I hope that at some time in the future Western Australia will be developed as a fattening area. At this stage of our development it is in the main, a huge breeding area from which we derive the cattle that eventually we export or use for local consumption.
As far as the American market is concerned, fortuitous factors have helped Australia. There was the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the Argentine which prevented Argentine meat from entering the American market. That paved the way for the Australian producer of certain types of meat - not our highest grade meat but a lower grade of lean meat - to invade the American market. You can call it the hamburger market if you like to put it that way. 1 do not think that is a very good term to use but it describes the type of meat that Americans demand.
– Polite people call them rissoles.
– You can call them what you like. I have seen something of the American industry. A tremendous amount of fattening is done in small concentrated paddocks. I do not think we have any idea of the magnitude of the American cattle industry. In association with it, of course, there is a home population of 180,000,000 people who are meat hungry. Americans always have been meat hungry as far as I can ascertain and beef is one of the principal meats they consume. Production methods in Australia are vastly different from those in America. America has, I think, 107,000,000 or 108,000,000 cattle, which is an astronomical figure when we compare it with our 17,000,000 or 18,000,000 cattle. America’s consumption of meat has been on the up grade for years and years. The consumption of pork and other meats has given way to a greater consumption of beef. The poultry industry has made an enormous impact on meat consumption. Nevertheless one of Americans’ favorite meats is beef, and it is the type of beef that we are able to supply which is in short supply. Consequently the opening has been seized by our exporters with outstanding success.
As far as I can see, the old Meat Board did a very good job, working in conjunction with the meat interests of Australia to foster the production and export of meat. The board carried out a general policy which protected exporters, consumers and producers. I do not agree altogether with what Senator Cormack said about the previous board which has been in operation for a number of years. It comprised a greater number of representatives than the proposed new board. It had twelve members and its composition was somewhat different from the proposed board. The chairman of the old board was a Government representative. It had two beef producer representatives, three lamb producer representatives, one mutton producer representative and one pork producer representative. Incidentally the pork producer representative will not have a place on the new board. The old board also had two representatives of meat exporters, one public utility representative and one representative of the meat industry employees. It was somewhat cumbersome, perhaps, to have a board of that size. I am not so sure that I agree with that aspect of it. Some people claim that it was cumbersome, but I believe that it was fairly well set up. A board comprising representatives of the various sections of the industry is fully justified. I will go so far as to say that I should like to see on this proposed board a meat employees’ representative - a union representative. I believe that the unions play a vital part in the industry and I do not see why they should be excluded. As the Minister is in the chamber at present, I should like some explanation from him oil this aspect. I cannot see any objection to such an appointment; in fact, I think great advantages would accrue - I do not say this to tickle the fancies of my friends opposite - to a board where one member was a representative of the meat and allied trades.
– Support your opinion by your vote.
– We will see when the time comes. I am giving the Minister the opportunity to explain this point and I will make my decision after I have heard his opinion. I do not agree with Senator Cormack’s strictures about the old board. I listened to what he said with great interest, but I thought he was a little bit hard on the old board regarding its efficacy as a board which .had the overall responsibility of looking after the meat interests of the Commonwealth. He implied - and 1 think Senator Drake-Brockman referred to this point - that it was not the Meat Board which promoted sales of meat in the United States of America; it was the meat exporters themselves. I do not think that is quite the whole story. I honestly believe that the meat exporters worked through the board. As I know some of the personnel of the board, I am inclined to think that great assistance was rendered to the meat exporters in exploiting the American market. I may be wrong, but that is my considered opinion at this stage.
I know, too, that no one in the wide world ever dreamed that we were going to develop the magnificent market ve have in America. A few years ago it was an unheard of thing. We had the fifteen-year meat agreement with the United Kingdom which acted as a backstop to our producing interests and to our meat price structure. We all thought then - as did the Government - that that agreement provided an excellent backstop to the industry. It was in recent years only that we saw a change in meat consumption in England, and a decline in exports to the English market of the type of meat that Australia produced. Consequently, the negotiations that followed allowed a certain proportion of our meat to bc exported to alternative markets. It has been since then that the American market has been developed, and at present America is certainly the principal export market for our beef. Of course, a large proportion - at least 50 per cent. - of our mutton goes to the same market.
The proposed composition of the new board is satisfactory up to a point, but I think it could have been a little wider in relation to the representation of the interests that are involved in the meat industry. I am glad to see that producers will be adequately represented. There will be five producer representatives on the new board. The producers will pay the levy, so I think they are entitled to the greater number of representatives on the new board. The board, which will have nine members, will, I think, carry out the new responsibilities that this measure envisages. The terms of office of the producers’ representatives are set out in clause 10 of the bill. They are varying terms, and the same applies to the exporters representatives. The Commonwealth representative will not be the chairman, incidentally, but a representative who will be appointed for a term of three years. The bill does not state who the chairman shall be. That is a decision the Minister will make after consulting with the industry itself.
The proposed levy is an important part of this legislation. A principle to which we have subscribed for a number of years is that where a board of this nature is set up, a levy is imposed on the industry to pay for that board’s activities. A board has important responsibilities and activities to engage upon and, therefore, it must have finance. In this particular case, as far as we can gather, the levy will be about 5s. a head on cattle of over 200 lb. in weight and 6d. a head on sheep and lambs. This levy, spread over the entire meat industry, will bring in, in a normal season, about £1,700,000, which is a very considerable increase on the revenue from the levy under which the old board operated. In view of the fact that the new board will have far greater responsibilities, it is justified in receiving a much bigger income.
Some previous speakers have referred to the proposed powers of the new board. Undoubtedly they are great powers. The new board will have the right to exploit markets that at present are non-existent so far as Australia is concerned. I think it is wise that the board should be given this power. I know that all of my colleagues on this side of the chamber do not subscribe to the idea of a board virtually being given unlimited power to go into uneconomic markets. I prefer to describe such markets as undeveloped markets. The amount that will be derived from the levy will certainly not be sufficient to enable a board of this nature to go into uneconomic markets and exploit them, because it costs a great deal of money to do that. The amount of £1,700,000 that is envisaged in the bill would not be sufficient to enable the board to go into an uneconomic market and provide a support scheme to producers which would give them a return to cover their production costs. Consequently, such a scheme would be of a comparatively limited nature.
If there is a fear that the levy could be increased by some means to provide a support scheme for uneconomic markets, then I would consider the bill in a different light. But that is not the intention of the legislation. The legislation gives the board power to go into those markets, even with token shipments, which, as I said earlier, are unknown to us at the present time, but they probably exist in certain parts of the world, such as Japan and some of the Asian countries. I think that is what is meant by the legislation.
I am not saying that the board should go on increasing this levy and enter those markets on a much larger scale because I feel, with the legislation as it is, that some consideration has to be given to where the responsibilities of this Australian Meat Board begin and end. If the legislation were interpreted to mean that the levy could be very substantially increased at the expense of the producers to enable the board to go into uneconomic markets and support them financially, then I would need to have another look at this particular aspect.
I believe that the object of the bill is to explore the possibilities of these so-called undeveloped markets because I realize that in a great and growing industry like the Australian beef industry we have to give consideration to our future, particularly to the areas to our immediate north where
We are told there will be a change-over to certain western methods and to a higher standard of living. In the future there will be developed a market for our meat. For that reason, I believe there is some justification for the new board to have the power to explore those markets.
The legislation gives the board power to buy and sell meat, and if it were to purchase meat for the purposes I have just been discussing, that could be done only after consultation with the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. This consultation would take place with the exporters. The provision provides a safeguard.
The present board has the right to buy and sell meat on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, but the new board will have greater powers and the responsibility to the Australian meat producers of the future to explore potential markets in some of the undeveloped countries. For that reason, I feel that the power that the board is given under this bill is justified, to a certain extent.
I agree with Senator Lillico on one point of great importance, and that is that the power to license for export is vested in the Australian Meat Board. I think that the Minister could touch on this aspect in his reply to the second-reading debate. The board has had that power for quite a long while. Where an application for a licence is refused, or where a licence is withdrawn from an exporter, I believe that there should be some right of appeal* As far as I can discover in the legislation, there is no right of appeal. It seems to me to be undemocratic that a body which proposes to enter the export trade is either refused a licence or has its licence withdrawn. I personally feel it would be desirable to embody in the legislation a provision which gives the licensee, or a would-be licensee, the right of appeal. I think that would only provide justice and be strictly in accordance with democratic principles.
I do not want to speak at any greater length on the legislation.
In my opinion, it is in the interests of the meat board that such legislation is brought up to date, and that is the purpose of the bill. The legislation extends the powers of the Australian Meat Board, alters the representation on the board and, perhaps, makes it more effective in ils work, but in the main, it will foster the great meat export industry. I feel sure that if the board is given a trial,, it will prove to the Australian people that it is a board that is desirable in the interests of the meat industry. At present, we have a meat board, but the work of this new board will cover a much greater field and provide in the long run something in the interests of the meat industry.
We need to look at the future of the meat industry. It is not sufficient to carry on for the present and for the immediate future. We must look at the long distant future. That is why I think that this board, as fairly constituted with the one or two exceptions that I mentioned just now, will handle the industry well, because this industry is really only on the threshhold of its greatness. I feel that the meat industry of Australia has its greatest potential in the production of meat for export. We live in a hungry world, a world that is crying out for protein foods. Australia is a great granary. We grow all the carbo-hydrates that you can think of. Australia is a great wheat-producing country, and can increase its wheat production.
Protein foods are one of the great needs of the world. Many millions of people are starved of protein and meat may provide the answer. That is why we must look to the future in meat production. If we provide those people with a product at a reasonable price, we shall help to relieve the nutrition problems of less fortunate countries and we shall make a certain contribution towards peace in the world, particularly in the sector in which wc live. For these reasons, I believe, the legislation is well based. It is symptomatic of other legislation that we have passed recently and it does indicate to the world that we are trying to play a part not only in our own economic improvement but also in raising general nutritional standards throughout the world. For that reason, I support the general principles of the bill.
– in reply - I seek the indulgence of the Senate to make a very brief reply to some most interesting speeches from both sides of the chamber. I use the term “ brief “ in the context that it is unnecessary for me - and the Senate would not expect me - to traverse the various points which will be raised at the committee stage. Therefore, I should like to be permitted to make some general observations.
My first point is one that I made in my second-reading speech, namely, that the whole concept of the bill is designed to meet changing conditions and patterns in world trade. What was effective and adequate ten or fifteen years ago is to-day outmoded. We must have a new, modern approach to meet the challenges to this great industry. I should like to make passing reference to a contribution that Senator Morris made. He referred to the fact that Australia had been free of exotic diseases, and he said that this had been of tremendous value to the cattle industry. He posed a question as to the threat that might arise because of new and changing conditions. I know his great interest in the subject and I should like him to know that my department has recently undertaken the responsibility of arranging annual visits by our chief veterinarians to overseas colleges and establishments in order to be fully informed of exotic diseases that are not prevalent here. We want to be in a position to preserve at all costs our great industry, and this is just an indication of government thinking in this field. The meat industry is fast becoming one of our major export earners and the Government and the industry have agreed upon this legislation which, while following fundamentally previous legislation, brings in new fields, which must, of course, be scrutinized carefully.
There has been some criticism by the Opposition of the non-inclusion of a union representative. The fundamental point is that neither of the interests which are being excluded - if that is the correct word - from the new board - is associated with the actual marketing of meat. I emphasize that the concept of this legislation held by the Government and the industry is focussed on a new era for the meat industry, new fields to conquer, new methods to be adopted, and a completely new approach to a situation that may develop, having in mind always the experience that we have gained in recent years. The Government has said, “The producer pays the levy. He is vitally interested in the industry. He pays the price, so he shall call the tune “. The experience of the exporter will be availed of. The board is to be confined to these two interests, because the Government believes that such a board will be the best qualified that can be assembled for this purpose.
I want to make quite clear that the non-inclusion of representatives of the union and the public utilities is not to be construed as a criticism of the services that have been rendered by these interests. It is true, as Senator Murphy said yesterday, that the union concerned has a membership of some 40,000. This is a very substantial body of men. But if we can justify the inclusion of a representative of that union under to-day’s conditions, we can justify, perhaps, the inclusion of a representative of railway and road transport organizations. When the original legislation was passed by this Parliament, there was no road transport. To-day it makes a major contribution to the industry. I am not suggesting that all of the thousands of employees engaged in road transport make a contribution to the meat industry, but let us make no mistake about the vital contribution that road transport does make.
– It is a growing contribution.
– A vast and growing one. No one knows what the potential of the contribution may be. The new board, with a reduced membership, will be charged with great responsibility. Members of the old board who are not to be included receive no criticism for their sins of omission or commission, if any. The Government believes that the present situation can be best handled by a board of the composition proposed.
Honorable senators have asked why the proposed levy should not be related to the sale price of an animal instead of being applied on a flat rate. It is argued - justifiably, of course - that a levy of this type will fall most heavily on certain classes of cattle, for instance, the chopper cow. But leaders of the dairy industry, who have had a voice in these negotiations, say that this type of levy is manageable in implementation and that they cannot conceive of any other type that could be put into operation, because of the great difficulty in arriving at a basis for assessing a sliding scale. They agree that for all practical purposes this is the only method to adopt.
– In what way did they have a voice?
– Because of their affiliations. Further, they are the first to admit that the expansion and development of overseas beef markets have brought great financial benefits to them. The bonanza in America has lifted the price that the exporter has to pay for his cattle, and this has set the price level that every other section of the cattle industry has enjoyed. The dairy farmer realizes that he has reaped a real benefit from the overseas development of the meat industry and he is prepared, in the main - there will always be a dissident voice - to acknowledge the fact that when the beef industry is prosperous and riding on profitable overseas markets he, too, must share in that prosperity.
– The wool industry has switched from bales to value, has it not?
– It has, but I do not think that is quite analogous because, as far as the wool industry is concerned, a bale of wool is something that can be identified and tabulated. In the wool industry, the brokers themselves are in a position, without any undue inconvenience, to collect the levy on a percentage basis, as they have been doing on the bales. That is not practicable in the beef industry in view of the many head of cattle sold privately in paddocks. The difficulties that arise must be acknowledged when one really goes into the problem thoroughly.
Certain honorable senators have expressed disappointment that the Australian Primary Producers Union has not been included in these arrangements. Both I and the Government share that disappointment. Tn saying that I want to make it quite clear that we have discussed this matter very fully with the A.P.P.U. and, because we have its interests at heart, we have said, in effect, “ We believe at this point of time that we, as a Government, should not take arbitrary action to place you in the position that you desire “. Senator Lillico quite properly said that some eighteen months ago, when the wool measures were going through the Parliament, he heard laudable and commendable phrases from the Minister similar to those which he has been hearing to-day but that as far as he knew nothing had happened. I hope I quote him correctly. A great deal has happened which, of course, has not been made public. There is a spirit of co-operation developing and, like my colleague the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), I am hopeful and confident that the Australian Primary Producers Union will be included in the Australian Wool Industry Council. Having said that, I suppose honorable senators will ask for my proof. Here it is: I quote from a very reputable journal called the “ Wimmera Mail-Times “ of Horsham, dated 13th April, 1964. May I remind those who would be cynical that on more than one occasion in recent years this journal has taken the top award for provincial newspapers in Victoria? Whilst I have not the time to read the whole of the article, I will read enough of it to indicate both points of view which the A.P.P.U. could hold at the present time. It reads -
It was regrettable that the Government had once again seen fit to ignore the just rights of the Australian Primary Producers Union for representation on Federal commodity matters, Mr. J. P. Heffernan said yesterday.
He is president of the Australian Primary Producers Union. He said -
Mr. Adermann has stated that he confidently expects that the A.P.P.U. will gain admission to the A.W.I.C. very shortly.
This is the part I want honorable senators to heed and inwardly digest; -
We arc therefore prepared to wait until July to see if the expectations of the Minister will be realized.
He said that when referring to the organization’s desire to be on the selection committee. He also said -
If they are not realized, despite irrefutable evidence provided by the A.P.P.U., this will show that the principle upon which the Government is working is invalid, and more action by the Government will, of course, then be required.
However, if the principle proves to be satisfactory, it will mean that significant progress will have been made towards the unification of the wool and meat industries. 1 think it is fair to say that throughout its representations for inclusion on these commodity councils, the Australian Primary Producers Union has always regarded the interests of the industry as being paramount. I think there is ample evidence to indicate that this organization has always approached its responsibilities in this field on an industrial level rather than an organizational level, if I can draw a distinction between the two words.
– Only the future will tell.
– As my friend, Senator Hannaford reminds me, only the future will tell, but I can assure him that there is a measure of confidence that the representations that have been made on behalf of the A.P.P.U. will bear fruit and that that organization will have a voice in those matters in which it is so vitally interested.
– The function of this committee is to select the members of the board. Were not they to be selected by July? What will be the use of the A.P.P.U. getting recognition in July?
– The legislation provides for the inclusion of other bodies.
– But the function is only to appoint the members of the board. What will be the use of including the A.P.P.U. after the appointments are made?
– I have given the honorable senator the answer which he sought. There is provision in the legislation for additional representation on the committee.
– But not on the board.
– No. There has never been any representation that the A.P.P.U. or any other organization should be on the board, which is a non-organization committee. I have been referring to a selection committee which will make recommendations and submit to the Minister a panel of names of persons who might be appointed to the board.
Another point to which I wish to make reference is the right of appeal that has been supported by several speakers on my own side of the chamber. Let me say to them that if a census were taken on this side of the chamber - probably this would be true if it were taken on both sides - I believe no one would quarrel with the principle. I do not propose to labour that point now except to say that I have examined the proposal enunciated by Senator Wright who suggests that the right of appeal should be granted. Unfortunately, for reasons quite apart from Government policy, the proposal is not acceptable in its present form. Having said that, in principle, we all support the right of appeal, I would be chided with insincerity immediately if I did not go further and say this: We have examined measures that we may be able to take to go as far as we can in preserving the rights of the individual which are paramount. We are always more concerned with individuals than with organizations. I want to give notice that at the appropriate time I shall move an amendment which I hope will meet with the approval of the Senate and which will go as far as I believe we can go to meet the situation and the desires of those members of the Senate who support us in this chamber.
– Will you circulate that amendment?
– I will circulate it at the appropriate time. Another matter to which I wish to refer is the proposal that a Senate select committee be appointed. I say right at the outset that, for reasons that I propose to give, that is a proposition that we cannot accept. I ask honorable senators not to run away with the idea that there is opposition in Government circles to Senate select committees. I think our history in appointing Senate select committees is a good one and the work that they have done has never been challenged. But on this, occasion there are other factors, quite unrelated to the things we have been talking about so far, that make it necessary for me to say to the honorable senator that we cannot accept his proposition at this point of time. For the sake of accuracy, Mr. President, may I quote from my notes? It is vital to the Australian meat export trade with the United States of America that this legislation be dealt with by the Australian Parliament before the United States Tariff Commission inquiry commences on 26th April, 1964. This inquiry is to be into the effect of imports on United States cattle prices and must be reported on by the commission before 30th June, 1964. In October last discussions were held between representatives of cattle producer organizations from the United States, Australia and New Zealand, concerning the American meat market.
At that time the American market for prime beef was depressed, as it is at the present time, and the United States cattle producers asked their Australian and New Zealand counterparts to initiate immediately a programme of market diversification. The Australian representatives stated that the only practical way of achieving this would be by the introduction of a levy on slaughterings in order to undertake the necessary marketing measures involved. They gave an undertaking to implement such a scheme as soon as it was practicable. The present legislation is evidence of our good faith in this matter. The United States Administration, which takes a very balanced and unbiased attitude towards beef imports vis-a-vis United States produced beef, is expecting to be able to point to this legislation, now being debated in the Senate, to illustrate the good faith of Australia’s intentions to diversify its beef export trade. The development of alternative markets outside the United States for Australian beef is regarded by the United States Administration as essential if it is to be able to continue to hold off the political pressures from its own cattle producers for highly restrictive action to be taken against imports. Further, the Australian Meat Board is sending a strong team to give evidence before the Tariff Commission. The board has also briefed counsel, and its chief executive officer is now in the United States working with counsel on the brief and the coordination of their evidence with other parties interested in keeping the United States market open to Australian meat - that is, the United States importers and other exporting countries such as New Zealand and Ireland. So I say that it is well nigh imperative that this legislation be not delayed in the manner which would follow if we agreed to the appointment of a select committee.
– This activity in the United States on behalf of the Australian Meat Board is taking place under the existing legislation, is it not?
– Yes. That prompts me to say to the honorable senator that if he thinks that the actual verbiage of this legislation will add to the strength of our representations, such is not the case. We believe that it is the indication of Australia’s earnestness in this field that will be of paramount importance when our representatives are appearing before the United States Tariff Commission. Finally I say that we, as a government, are determined to do all that we can to promote this great industry and, for my part, I hope that the Senate will give the bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Motion for Appointment of Select Committee.
.- I move -
I have proposed this motion in a form slightly different from that shown on the cyclostyled document that I circulated to honorable senators. I should be most grateful for the use of the notes from which the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) has just read. I am one of those who believe that, when the National Parliament is forming an organizational foundation for an industry as important as this one, we should sit to consider the legislation, not for one day and a half, but, when 60 senators have the right to speak in the secondreading debate and at the committee stage, for more than a full week. I believe that, with no risk of suggestions of waste of time, we could occupy a full month in considering the legislation, giving those who are interested in the industry the opportunity to make submissions to us both of fact and opinion. At the end of that time, our judgment would be more mature.
I take grave exception to the claim, whether made on behalf of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Australian Meat Board, the Cabinet or any other section of opinion, that it is proper to come to a conclusion at the present stage of the debate, not on the general principle and purposes of the measure, but on the five or six different issues involved, each of which is of major importance. We were reminded very forcibly yesterday by Senator Cormack that the Senate discharges its responsibilities only after it has subjected legislation of this sort to very critical analysis, for no purpose other than improving the measure before it in die interests of the persons who derive their livelihoods from the industry concerned and, therefore, also in the interests, of the nation. Our job is to debate measures with a view to forming a proper opinion on them, as representatives of the people. I wish to make that clear, because it is in that spirit that I propose this motion - not without respect for the submissions of the Minister, but contrary to them.
The Minister has stated that time is the factor which should persuade the Senate not to resolve upon the appointment of a select committee. He has pointed to the fact that there is in the United States of America a tariff commission which is to commence an inquiry on the 26th of this month and is to conclude its inquiry on 30th June. I am very grateful for that knowledge, but I think we ought to know something more about the nature of this inquiry. How far has it advanced? What considerations have been indicated as being applied to the minds of the members of this commission? In what way is the inquiry relevant to this bill? I am at a disadvantage. I am sure that it is only through inadvertence on the part of the Minister that I have not had more than five minutes’ notice of the considerations indicated in his statement.
The statement indic.tes that in October last discussions were held between representatives of the cattle producer organizations of the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand, concerning the American meat market, and that at that time the American market for prime beef was depressed, as it is at the present time. The United States cattle producers asked their Australian and New Zealand counterparts to initiate immediately a programme of market diversification. The Australian representatives stated that the only practical way of achieving this would be by the introduction of a levy on slaughterings in order to undertake the necessary marketing measures involved.
I did not hear clearly that last sentence when the Minister was speaking. The Australian representatives gave an undertaking to implement such a scheme as soon as it was practicable to do so. That was in October last. Australia is still, I believe,’ a parliamentary democracy. I am of the opinion that the Australian Parliament, and certainly the Senate, would never subscribe to the view that it should act as a rubber stamp for the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council or the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Although, the discussions were held in October last, the bill has come into the Senate only this week. Yet, it is said that time is a factor that would prevent consideration of the measure by a select committee. We know that in the week after next the Senate will rise. We also know that a select committee could sit on every day that the Senate was not sitting and that it could also sit on Mondays and Fridays. The whole of the week after Anzac Day would be available. In that time I, for my part, could obtain all the information that I required and so, no doubt, could the members of the select committee. Having considered the matter, the select committee would be able to say, “ The Government should be complimented on every aspect of this bill “, or, “ The Senate should consider further one or more of the five or six major issues involved in the bill “.
The proposal to raise a levy within the industry is not in question. Anybody who goes before the American tariff commission on 26th April will be able to point to the records of the debates that have occurred in the Australian House of Representatives and Senate. Nobody has suggested that the industry, through properly constituted and representative organizations, should be denied the right to impose a levy if it is necessary to do so in connexion with the diversification of the meat market. But what respect would we as a Parliament engender in America if we were to pass this bill without giving it adequate consideration? The American tariff commission would say that, since the Australian Parliament was ready to accept unsubstantiated matters, it might change its mind facilely next October or at some other time. We have seen how the American Senate transacts its business, lt would never hesitate to set up a committee to probe most earnestly every aspect of this matter, so that the American cattlemen and meat exporters, as well as the consumers and importers, could see that the United States Senate was willing to probe and to inform itself.
I should like the Minister to explain to me why the Australian Meat Board, or the Government, is wanting in power to impose any levy that is necessary for the diversification of the market. It was the present Government which, in 1953, dropped the trading powers from the meat export control legislation. The Australian Meat Board has no trading powers at the present time, but it has all the powers that are necessary to prohibit the export of meat and, therefore, to control the export of meat. The present regulations provide that the export of meat is prohibited except by persons who hold licences and except in accordance with conditions and restrictions prescribed by the regulations. It also is provided that a licensee shall not export meat except in accordance with the directions of the board with respect to quantities, which means that a direct quota system applies. Therefore, there is no basis for the claim that time is an essential factor and that, if the passage of the bill were delayed for three or four weeks in order that it might be considered by a select committee, the imposition of the levy might be affected.
I believe there is a real need for aspects of the measure, other than those concerned with the imposition of the levy, to be considered by a select committee. The first of those aspects is related to the very basis of the industry organization. I refer to the body to be known as the selection committee, to adopt the phraseology of the bill, and the constituent parts of the committee. When I am responsibly informed that there are three organizations associated with this industry, it is unacceptable to me that the Government should select and prefer two of them and exclude the other completely.
It does not matter to me whether the Australian Primary Producers Union claims that it represents 20 per cent, of the beef producers in Australia and also a large percentage of mutton producers. If it is a substantial organization which is bona fide representing a considerable section of meat producers, and if we are to constitute a selection committee on an organizational basis, I shall never agree that that body should be denied representation. I have informed the A.P.P.U., as bluntly as I am now speaking to the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and1 the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, that 1 shall not vote for organizational representation. 1 do not recognize that the A.P.P.U. should have a greater degree of preference than the Woolgrowers and Graziers Council or the Wool and Meat Producers Federation. I insist that, when we are creating a body that is representative of an industry on a national basis, all the producers should have representation. That is a practical proposition, as is proved by the fact that such a system is operating in New Zealand. Since the debate is to be adjourned until next week, I hope that the Minister and his officers will be good enough to place before us material and information pertaining to the manner in which the relevant organization in New Zealand is elected. I believe that we should consider that matter before we deny to a substantial body of producers a place, through their organization, on the selection committee.
I agree with a statement that was made by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) in another place. He proffered the observation, having considered the constitutional background of the selection committee, that it was unreasonable to expect it to be accepted. He said that he could not escape the view that on the face of it the proposal showed a design to exclude the A.P.P.U. from participation in the selection committee altogether. We had this “ argument out when the wool legislation was before the Parliament. A similar manoeuvre was made on that occasion. The two bodies interested in the wool industry got together a couple of weeks before the presentation of the bills. They formed a completely unregistered voluntary organization and provided for the admission of other bodies. Senator Lillico referred appropriately to the interval that has taken place before the A.P.P.U. gained admission to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Mr. Heffernan committed himself to a statement in the “Wimmera Mail-Times’ of 13th April - I speak without the need for any inspiration to that effect - that he confidently expected the matter to be resolved in the wool industry by July. Mr. Heffernan might be left simply to Mr. Heffernan’s lamentations. Even if his body obtains access to the wool conference by July, the selection committee in the meat industry - if this bill goes through before then - could have made its recommendations for appointments to the Australian Meat Board, and the A.P.P.U. could have completely missed the bus. The appointments will have been made by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, without Mr. Heffernan’s being consulted. 1 say that because, as Mr. Heffernan’s views as a representative of the A.P.P.U. have been quoted in this chamber, I wish it to go on record that he made a similar surrender of his organization’s position on the eve of the wool bills being passed. The result has been that his organization has been left without any representation in the Australian Wool Industry Conference from then until now. I am bound to say that a body, namely the Tasmanian Farmers Federation - which is affiliated with the A.P.P.U. - has through its State secretary as recently as 26th March made a statement to members of this Parliament in writing. Referring to the exclusion of the A.P.P.U., the secretary said -
This exception is the incredible fact that the largest farmers organization in Australia, the Australian Primary Producers Union, will be given no recognition and no say in the appointment of the producer representatives of the reconstituted
Meat Board. In other words the lamentable situation created by the controversial wool industry bills of 1962 is to be repeated.
This has not been repeated with any improvement. It has been repeated with edges on it which shows clearly a design to keep the Australian Primary Producers Union out. First, in the constitution of the Australian Wool Industry Conference the two great bodies - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation - provided on paper for the admission of a new member. They required that there should be a four-State representation. Now, significantly, in the constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee any new member must be established in not less than five of the Australian States or in the Northern Territory and not less than four of the Australian States. That is a provision which is deliberately calculated to disquality the Australian Primary Producers Union.
Secondly, whereas in the Australian Wool Industry Conference, motions can be submitted from any member organization to the Australian Wool Board, the chairman of the board or the executive committee, motions can be submitted to the proposed Australian Meat Board Selection Committee only by a member or by the chairman. That means, of course, that the sole right of access is retained by one of the existing members. Thirdly, whereas in the Australian Wool Industry Conference the admission of a new member was to be decided by the conference itself, under the camouflaged constitution of this dummy body - I am surprised that anybody accepts it as a real body at all - it is provided that when a member applies for admission the committee shall refer the application to the member organizations, and the committee shall recommend to the member organizations for decision the number of representatives that the applicant shall have. So Mr. President, there is such a unity accorded to this selection committee - this dummy committee that is put before us - that it has no validity of any sort or at least only a most superficial vestige of validity. The constitution is such that if an organization applies to become a member the application is sent back to the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Then, bless you, if those organizations agree to the application they say how many representatives the applicant can have to sit with their four representatives.
I have no brief for the Australian Primary Producers Union. I have told the organization that I would not advocate its inclusion in any group unless the Government has already agreed that that group should be constituted by various organizations. I would insist upon the selection committee and the board being constituted as the result of a direct election of the producers. Is not this a subject on which we should have much more information? Before finally rejecting the bona fides of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, do we not need their responsible officers - their very valuable officers in some cases - to lay before us evidence of the actual position? If I were to see the file upon which the constitution of this selection committee was agreed upon, I would make up my mind very quickly as to whether it was a bona fide constitution or simply a piece of paper to put up a camouflaged case to the Minister. Unless a select committee brings its mind to bear on this matter I will be anxious as to whether the Senate has done its duty.
What I have said this afternoon has been said after receiving a telegram this morning from Mr. Edgell, the President of the Tasmanian Farmers, Stockowners and Orchardists Association. It reads -
Our association urges acceptance meat industry bill as presented. Having regard to United States trade conditions and need for diversification of markets we consider delay most unwise. Because of unresolved A.P.P.U. application for membership Wool Industry Conference we consider time not appropriate for their entry on organisational bases into meat industry matters.
I have great respect for Mr. Edgell and the experience of those associated with him, and for the genuine purposes that they have in mind, but, notwithstanding that, I will never surrender the defence of a minority of producers, .especially small producers. I will be more zealous if they are small producers, because my purpose in being here is to provide them with opportunities of becoming greater.
As a representative of Tasmania, how I would shudder if New South Wales or Victoria were to produce to me a constitution for the Senate drafted similarly to this bill and say, “ Tasmania, what is that? “ The Tasmanian Farmers Federation has a right to representation on the proposed board, just as the Tasmanian elector has a right to representation in the Senate on a proper basis relative to New South Wales and Victoria. I am concerned with these matters and I hope that the Senate will resolve that they be further probed and examined by a select committee.
I come now to a consideration of the trading powers of the board. Clause 25 of the bill specifically confers upon the board the power to purchase meat, and to export, or sell for export, meat owned by the board. It is most interesting to find that it was in 1946 that the trading power was introduced into this export control legislation. It was introduced in very wide terms. At that time the Government was flushed with the impact of the bank nationalization scheme that was about to be undertaken. The Australian Socialist Party was then setting out to nationalize land, housing and banking. Of course, the meat industry came under its purview, too. That party inserted into the legislation a provision that the board, on behalf of the Commonwealth and subject to the directions of the Minister, should have power to purchase any meat, to sell any meat and to manage and control all matters connected with the handling, storage, protection and treatment of meat.’ In introducing that bill the Minister of the day said -
In this connexion, it should be emphasized that the Commonwealth meat purchase plan, under which the board will purchase all meat, both frozen, and processed, that may be accepted for export-
He went on to say that the Government was making available to the board £20,000,000 and that Australia was going to become the greatest national trader of the southern seas and the Atlantic. That party met its check in 1949, and in 1953 we expunged that provision from the legislation. Are we fit to inherit the traditions that were fought for in 1949 unless we subject to the scrutiny of a select committee the proposal to re-insert the trading powers in this legislation? We must ensure that adequate safeguards are included. I invoke again the candid submission made to us last night by Senator Murphy when he said, in effect, “ We support the bill because notwithstanding deficiencies it does retain the principles of the Chifley legislation “. The principle of the Chifley legislation was that which I have just read out.
I have seen and examined carefully the restrictions that have been placed in the bill. When the bill is considered by a select committee or by the general committee, I shall draw senators’ attention to it clause by clause and, in some instances, word by world, because I think that those matters that are printed in the bill in the hope that they will be interpreted as safeguards are camouflage. Even with the addition of the amendment made at the instance of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), I do not think they are sufficient. However, I am open to persuasion. If the trading powers of the board can be narrowed down to apply to markets where developmental enterprise is necessary, it may be that the board will be the proper authority to have such powers conferred on it. However, I would think that there is another way of organizing that competitive factor and that the Meat Board could be left solely with a regulatory or supervisory authority. I believe this could be a matter for - close consideration by a select committee.
The next consideration relates to the nature of the slaughter levy. We have heard Senator Wade say what the advantages are of imposing a levy on each beast or each lamb, as distinct from a levy on the value of the animal, but I remind honorable senators that the levy is imposed upon the person who owns the cattle at the time of slaughter. That undoubtedly is the producer. I am indebted to Senator Drake-Brockman for endeavouring to explain the reason for this, but he himself admitted that he was not satisfied with the explanation nor with his understanding of the provision. There is provision that, having imposed the levy upon the person who owns the beast at the time of slaughter, he is entitled to pass that back and debit the vendor. Pourquoi?
Then, of course, there is the important matter of the amount of this levy - the limit that we are going to authorize by regulation. Next there is the question of whether this licensing system can be improved. We all recall the strictures that were passed upon the import licensing system by no less an authority than Mr.
John McEwen in 1960. He described it as a most iniquitous system, and as a system that was quite offensive to us all. We congratulated him on having conducted the system through a period of eight years during which there was a minimum of suggestion of want of integrity on the part of his department. However, a growing volume of grievance was felt by those who wanted to get into the trade. The importers - the victims of the system - had a growing sense of grievance.
I realize that we must have some sort of export licensing system. I realize that to obtain a diversification of trade we must continue what at present prevails - that is to say, licences that quantify exports. If we propose to introduce such measures into a reconstituted industry, especially having regard to what the minister said about providing for the future, now is the time to see whether we can make improvements to it so as to safeguard people whose livelihood depends upon a fair deal in this trade, whether as producers, exporters or, incidentally and indirectly, as consumers.
I am sorry that the Minister is not here because be does, again I am sure inadvertently, place me at a great disadvantage. He has had the opportunity since yesterday to consider my suggestion regarding an appeal upon this matter but I have nothing other than the vague references he made to other reasons and other methods in his reply to the secondreading debate. I am sure that nobody would expect me to divine from those references just what the Minister has in mind as a safeguarding alternative to an appeal. It is that very fact, I submit, that adds weight to the proposal for the appointment of a select committee.
I hope that the Senate will agree to appoint a select committee in order to enable the members of it to have an opportunity further to consider matters that have been raised during the debate on the bill. I believe that seven honorable senators could be elected from this chamber who would undertake to give unremitting attention to the matter and report back to the Senate by 10th May. The consequent delay would be insignificant compared with the American procedures and certainly insignificant in relation to the permanent interests of the industry.
– Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
Senator WILLESEE (Western Australia) [4.38J. - Mr. President, I did not rise more quickly because I was waiting to see whether the Government would give some indication of its attitude to the motion submitted by Senator Wright. As I listened to the debate I observed evidence of increasing doubt and controversy among various senators, and my thoughts became more radical. I considered that Senator Cormack struck completely new ground, and threw doubt on the bill when he raised the questions of the validity of the levy, and the propriety of it. He prompted completely fresh thoughts in my mind when he referred to the American market and the fact that the Australian Meat Board would be competing with private enterprise in the export of meat overseas. I would have thought that the Liberal Party senators would be tremendously careful about the bill, which will allow the board to take over the complete production and distribution of the third greatest export from Australia. Therefore, I am disappointed that, at this stage, I speak at the disadvantage of not knowing what the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) or members of the Liberal and Country Parties are thinking on the proposal for the appointment of a select committee to give this important bill the scrutiny that it obviously deserves.
Senator Cormack raised the point that this levy could be used to enable the board lo move into uneconomic markets to sell our meat - something which he obviously thought of with abhorrence - and I heard Senator Hannaford-
– That is not true.
– I withdraw the second part of that reference. I thought that was the situation. Senator Hannaford, commenting on the bill, said he thought that Senator Cormack was wrong and that the levy was not to be used to enable the board to move into uneconomic markets, but if it were the case, he would have to recast his views on that aspect of the bill. As Senator Wright has pointed out. the Minister completely confirms the suggestion that Senator Cormack made. I assume that Senator Hannaford at this point of time is recasting his views.
After listening to Senator DrakeBrockman, I came to the conclusion that he completely misunderstood the set-up of the new board. He amazed me. Knowing that he was a member of the Country Party and an ex-farmer, I immediately reexamined the bill to see whether I was the person who had mis-read it. After a re-examination of the bill, I feel that Senator Drake-Brockman, quite honestly, has fallen into a simple error and in giving this bill his blessing is under a misapprehension.
This is the first major review of the legislation since 1946. As Senator Wright pointed out in another speech, the eight associated meat bills were passed through the House of Representatives about three o’clock in the morning. I have spoken to some of the people who were in the House at that time, and because of the lateness of the hour and because the bills were grouped, those people were not able to give the proposals the scrutiny that they deserved. I have altered an amendment that I intend to move - it was moved in another place - because after learning of the experience in the other chamber, reading the report of the debate that occurred in that place, and hearing the views of the Government on this measure, I realize that some alterations should be made to the legislation.
Some people are getting worried because of the review of meat marketing that is to take place in the United States of America in a few days’ time. I assume that is the reason why Senator Wright has altered the date by which a select committee should report to the Senate, so that nobody will be inconvenienced or worried on this score. After listening to the very interesting debate on this bill, in which many honorable senators expressed their views, and not being as conversant with the industry as those people who have worked in it, I now feel a tremendous sense of disquiet. I believe that we should not pass this bill without further scrutiny, lest in doing so we inflict injustice on some sections of industry.
I know that when you are dealing with an industry bill, obviously you need to have regard for the industry and for the sections of it. As legislators, we should do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. We should remember that in this legislation we are laying the foundation for the future. The Government has the power to alter the legislation, but the precedent that will be established by this bill will not be altered easily. We should not be worried about what the various sections of industry think. As Senator Wright said, we should not overlook the claim of an industry because it is a small one.
Quite frankly, after a complete study of this bill, I do not know at this point of time whether or not the claims of the Australian Primary Producers Union are just. It may be that after an examination I would completely agree with the Government’s view that the A.P.P.U. should not be represented on the board. On the other hand, I might agree that it should be represented on the board. At this moment, I feel that the Minister is divesting himself unnecessarily of the power of selection over the whole range. I am at a loss to understand why he does not bring the organization into the orbit so that he may examine the situation. Because of that position members of the Australian Labour Party intend to support the motion, even if it is on the simple ground that we have nothing at all to lose and probably very much to gain.
In the second-reading debate, no honorable senator referred to one part of this bill unless reference was made in one of my brief absences from this chamber and I missed it. I refer to clause 5(l.)(b) and (c) which sets out the objects of the bill. They are -
That is the clause to which we have not turned our minds. Here is a provision in the bill in which the general public could well be interested. I do not know what is envisaged by the clause. I regard the measure as an export bill. Until I examined the situation I did not realize that there is very little evidence before us in regard to that particular clause.
I turn to the question of representation of the employees, about which some doubts have been expressed. I thought that Senator Mattner in dealing with this provision was very fair. He said that at times industrial action upsets a producer, but he felt, as did Senator Hannaford, that there may be a tremendous advantage in having an industry representative on the board. That is a matter upon which we can obtain evidence, which would help to clear the minds of people like Senator Hannaford and Senator Mattner who may have some doubts and who wonder why employee representation is to cease after so long a period.
The Senate has previously addressed itself to the right of appeal in respect of a very wide range of export commodities and a wider range of import commodities. Are we prepared to say that there shall not be a right of appeal in this matter? Are nearly 300 exporters to be handled completely by the new board without reference to the Minister? In some ways I regret that the Standing Orders do not allow this debate to take place after the committee stage, when we would be able to analyse the matter so much more carefully. Much more disquiet would enter the minds of those persons who followed the debate closely. The more I look at the legislation the more I believe that the provision that the Minister shall take action only after the board has made a recommendation to him is a great backward step in legislation.
Senator Cormack raised an important question as to whether a section of this Parliament should, without further scrutiny, allow the whole of this industry to be the subject of a levy. Goodness knows how much it will be. The only opportunity we shall ever have to look at the matter will be by examination of subordinate legislation in the form of a regulation. Suggestions have been made as to the size of the levy. As Senator Cormack said - to use his own expression, “ with all the earnestness at my command “ - the Senate, as a section of the Parliament, should bold that this is wrong in principle, that it is wrong in legislative action, and that it is wrong in the light of the whole parliamentary system. Instead of our saying what the levy shall be, the Minister will bring down a regulation - without the benefit of representations from some sections of the industry - which will become operative immediately. It will join the tremendous swag of regulations which lie on the table. If somebody is observant enough, and if the pressures applied to the Parliament in the form of early morning sittings permit, we may pick it up and we may be able to debate it then, after it has been put into effect. Frankly, I have not been able to clear my mind as to the validity of Senator Cormack’s view that this is a completely wrong action. 1 think it is, but I have not been able to talk to people who are better versed in the subject than I am and better able to advise.
Like Senator Wright, I believe that we can galvanize ourselves into action in order to allow all sections of this industry and of the public to give evidence before a body which will provide the Parliament with recommendations which can do nothing but assist. I emphasize that there is no great divergence of opinion on this legislation. Leading on behalf of the Australian Labour Party, I was at pains to say that we wholeheartedly supported the broad principles of the bill, but had doubts about certain provisions. Those . doubts could be dispelled if we had the benefit of advice from the industry and the public. Quite simply, what have we to lose? Perhaps sometimes we arc to blame, but I have never liked the practice of putting a stop-watch on our debates. Perhaps the lawyers will correct me if I am wrong when I say that in other fields of justice a judge does not say, “ We cannot hear you “, or, “ We shall cut short your address because time will not allow us to give justice “. That is not the practice in any court, from the criminal court downwards. Are we not just as much charged with the dispensing of justice to the Australian people and to this industry? Why should we put a stopwatch on ourselves and say, “ Because of the shortage of time, this or that cannot be done.”? As Senator Wright said, representations and discussions on this matter took place some six months ago. Now it is said to be important that the legislation be finalized this week. I do not accept this view. If some damage were done by the effluxion of more time, it would be as nothing compared with the damage that we might do by passing a bill on which we had not the opportunity of seeking the specialized or technical advice available to us in the community. We would not be doing nearly as much damage as the damage we look like doing unless the Senate exercises its undoubted right to say that it will assist the industry and the people by informing itself and getting the best advice on the legislation before it.
– I rise not to support the motion but to seek some clarification of a point touched on by Senator Willesee. In the course of my speech I made certain reference to the powers of the board. I gave it as my understanding that the legislation was not designed to give unlimited power to the board to engage in wholesale marketing in so-called under-developed countries. I sought clarification from the Minister in that regard. I based my view that the bill had a limited intention in this respect principally on this passage in the Minister’s second-reading speech -
The board will bc permitted to use the funds collected for purposes other than research toundertake additional measures to develop overseas markets for Australian meat. In addition, the funds shall be used by the board in accordance with its present powers to undertake additional meat promotion in Australia and overseas. There is also power for the board to purchase and sell meat in its own right after consultation . . .
I emphasize this point - with the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. The intention is that this power should be exercised only where there are special marketing problems or market circumstances which preclude the effective participation of private traders.
I based my contention, that the measure was not intended to give unlimited power for the board to go into under-developed markets and spend vast amounts of producers’ money on promotion, on the assumption that there would necessarily be consultation before this was done, as stated in the second-reading speech.
Senator Willesee said that I had a measure of doubt. In fact, I have not, but I should like to have from the Minister substantiation of my view that the power will not be unlimited. In special circumstances, where private traders are precluded from going into undeveloped markets, the board will have a right of promotion and of the sale of meat in those areas. In fact, I may not have been very clear when I spoke on this aspect, but I based my remarks on the fact that the levy, for the time being, is expected to return approximately £1,700,000. With all its other responsibilities which also will require a certain amount of finance, no board could embark upon a wholesale scheme of promoting the sale of meat in underdeveloped countries at a figure below the economic prices obtained elsewhere.
– New Zealand has spent £2,000,000 in this way.
– I am interested to hear that from Senator Cormack, but I feel that certain limits are necessarily imposed on the board’s activities by the fact that it will have to consult with the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council before invading these underdeveloped markets, as it were, and for that reason I am fairly satisfied in my own mind that the power of the board does not extend to the wholesale marketing of meat in those countries. Therefore, I feel that it would be of advantage, to me, at any rate, to have some confirmation from the Minister on this particular point.
– Your interpretation is quite correct.
– I am glad to hear the Minister say that my interpretation is correct because what I have heard from Senator Wright about the power that is being given to the board has disturbed me somewhat. I respect his point of view very much indeed, and I know that if this power were vested in a socialist government it could lead to a very great intrusion into the rights of private enterprise. I rose to express my point of view and, having heard from the Minister that my understanding of the position is correct, I feel fairly satisfied that the motion is not justified.
– I rise to express my regret and disappointment that the Minister has not accepted the proposal. I send him away with that thought in his mind. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I present a report from the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Phosphorous and its derivatives.
Senate adjourned at 4.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640416_senate_25_s25/>.