25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On 17th August last it was announced that the LieutenantGovernor of the State of New South Wales had appointed Robert Carrington Cotton as a senator to hold the place in the Senate rendered vacant by the resignation of Senator the Honorable Sir William Spooner, K.C.M.G., M.M., until the expiration of fourteen days after the beginning of the next session of the Parliament of the State of New South Wales, or until the election of a successor, whichever first happened. I have now received advice from the Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales that this appointment has been confirmed by a joint sitting of the two Houses of the
The Clerk read the certificate confirming the appointment.
– The PRESIDENT. - Honorable senators will have noted with regret the recent deaths of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster, Speaker of the House of Commons and Sir Arthur Charles, Speaker of the Legislative Council at Aden. On behalf of honorable senators I forwarded messages of condolence to Lady Hylton-Foster and to Lady Charles. A message of sympathy was also forwarded to the Clerk of the House of Commons, who has replied as follows -
Following tragic death of our Speaker members of the House and Speaker’s family greatly appreciate your kind message of sympathy and gracious tribute, notice of which will be permanently recorded in the Commons Journals.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Treasurer a question which relates to the surplus of £5.6 million in the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, which has aroused considerable interest’ amongst former contributors to tha fund. Will the Minister ascertain whether I have been correctly informed that nearly 10 years ago it was suggested in writing, to the . Commonwealth Superannuation Board, amongst other things, that because of the inflationary trend and the obvious solvency of the Fund there would be a surplus of nearly £6.5 million? As this forecast has probably been vindicated, will the Minister lay this correspondence on the table of the Senate, particularly the correspondence prepared by the Commonwealth Superannuation Board, which rebuked the contributors by saying that the Board was not obliged to enter into lengthy correspondence with any official organisation or- any contributor on actuarial aspects of the Superannuation Fund? Does not the Minister agree that such a high-handed attitude is unworthy of the Board and that action should be taken to prevent a repetition of such unjust treatment?
– I recall supplying Senator Hendrickson with an answer from the Treasurer on this matter only a week or two ago. I will see the Treasurer and ascertain whether there is anything he can add to the answer he gave then. If the honorable senator places his question on the notice paper, I will get such information as I can for him.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: What was the original estimated date of completion of the construction of the passenger terminal building at Launceston (Western Junction) Airport? What was the expected date of completion of the terminal building when tenders for its construction were announced? What is the present expected date of completion of the building? Is there currently any slowing down of the construction work? If so, what is the cause and what action, if any, is being taken to overcome the current difficulties?
– I understand that originally it was hoped to have the terminal building completed by the middle of June 1965. The expected date now is June 1966. That is the date in the contract, and the contract date remains unchanged. The contractor has found some difficulty in the supply and fabrication of steel and there has been a shortage of suitable labour in Launceston. These difficulties have now been largely overcome. It is expected that the steel work will be completed in several weeks time and that the general rate of construction will be accelerated thereafter with a view to meeting the contract date.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Will the Minister inform the Senate of the steps that will be taken to ensure the safety of Australian departmental officers and the staffs of different departments based in Karachi and other cities which are in danger arising from the present conflict between India and Pakistan?
– There are British plans in existence, in which Australians are included, for evacuation from East Pakistan by air and sea, from North-west Pakistan by air and from Karachi by air and sea, should evacuation become necessary.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. By way of preface, I point out that the Minister was good enough to furnish honorable senators with details of . the arrangements which have been made for the awarding in New South Wales of the newly introduced Commonwealth advanced education scholarships, tenable in tertiary institutions other than universities. Has the Minister yet been able to settle the arrangements for such scholarships for South Australian students? How many such scholarships will be available for South Australia? What courses will be covered and in what institutions will .the scholarships be available in . South Australia?
– The advanced education scholarships are divided among the States oh a population basis, which results in 95 such scholarships being available for South Australia. They will be for the most part - indeed almost entirely- for courses held in’ the South Australian Institute of
Technology. There will- be one or possibly two for courses held outside that institution. The South Australian Institute of Technology, as the honorable senator knows, is peculiar among Australian educational institutions in that it has a university component, a tertiary level component and a secondary level component. The scholarships will be held in the tertiary level component between the university and secondary level components. They will be available for the associate and diploma courses of the South Australian Institute of Technology. They will be available for oenology courses. If the honorable senator does not know what oenology courses are - I did not until five minutes ago - I- can inform him that they are wine making courses. Scholarships will also be available for diplomas of the optical registration board. Other areas are still under discussion between the Government of South Australia and the Government of the Commonwealth. However, in brief, there will be 95 scholarships mainly for associate and diploma courses at the South Australian Institute of. Technology, at the tertiary level.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General endeavour to seek some information on the inordinate delays that sometimes are experienced in the delivery of mail? Recently I was caused some grave inconvenience when a very important letter - which originated from Spring Street, Melbourne, which was posted to me at my Melbourne office at 318 Post Office Place and which bore the post mark “ 30th August 1965, 3.30 p.m.” -did not reach my office until the morning mail of 9th September. The letter was clearly and correctly addressed in writing. I might mention that the distance from the point of posting to the point of delivery is about one mile and it took 10 days to deliver the letter.
– I express regret for any inconvenience that may have been caused to the honorable senator by an obvious mishap in relation to the letter. I am sure we all would agree that what happened in this case would be the exception rather than the rule. However, ! will draw the attention of the Postmaster-General to the circumstances and will try to ascertain the cause of the delay. I am sure that all honorable senators are with me when I say that, having regard to the quantum of mail, the performance of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the despatch and delivery of mail is excellent. I regret that in this instance there was some delay.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Recognising that the basic problem facing the Australian poultry industry is the difficulty of disposing of that part of total production which is surplus to Australian requirements and that, consequently, this surplus must be disposed of by export at considerably less than the cost of production, I ask whether any consideration has been given to direct government purchase of the surplus at the bare cost of production, with the object of including eggs in Australia’s programme of external aid - for example, under the Colombo Plan, which was the channel through which Australia last year made a gift to India of 150,000 tons of wheat. The fact that India is in urgent need of this type of foodstuff is illustrated by the earlier request from the Government of India to the Australian Department of External Affairs, which was referred to at page 15 of “ The Agricultural Bureau Oration “, delivered by the Minister for External Affairs in Adelaide on 31st August 1965.
– The procedure under which Colombo Plan aid is provided is that requests for a particular form of aid originate from the recipient country. In the case of commodities, such a request may be met, provided adequate supplies and funds are available. I point out, however, that the main aim of our aid programme is to foster economic development within the country concerned, and the use of food aid for this purpose is subject to some limitations. The gift of 150,000 tons of wheat to India in February this year was not part of normal Colombo Plan operations, but was made : under special circumstances, as a famine relief measure.
– My question ls directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Will the Government consider introducing a reasonable scheme of legal aid which will replace the present out of date and inadequate scheme and which will provide advice and aid for persons in cases in Federal courts and in State courts exercising Federal jurisdiction?
– Leaving aside the expressions of personal opinion, which have been presented in the form of a question by Senator Murphy, and not agreeing in any way with those expressions of opinion or commenting on them, 1 point out that what the Federal Government will do in relation to this or other matters in the future is a matter of policy and, therefore, is not an appropriate subject for discussion at question time.
– My question, which relates to the question asked by Senator Laught, is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. I ask: What number of tertiary scholarships is available for Western Australia? Are the - scholarships yet allotted and, if so, to which institutions will they be applicable?
– The number of scholarships to be allotted to Western Australia will be determined in a simple way by expressing the population of the State as a proportion of the population of all the States. I do not have in mind the precise number of scholarships which will be allotted to Western Australia, but the honorable senator can easily determine the number by calculating the population of Western Australia as a proportion of the population of Australia. If the honorable senator prefers, I can, immediately after question time, give to her a written statement of the number of scholarships that will be available for Western Australia.
– My question, which is directed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate,, relates to a report that the Prime Minister ‘has been asked to approve of the suggestion to convene a Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference to discuss the war between India and Pakistan. Would the calling of such a conference receive the support of the Government? Is the Government likely to canvass the views of other Commonwealth countries on such a conference?
– One thing I can assure the honorable senator is that the Government does not canvass policy matters at question time. If the honorable senator places his question on the notice paper I will see that he gets an answer to it.
– In view of the serious shortage of experienced pilots which has developed in Australia, I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the Federal Government will sponsor a training scheme to ensure that a sufficient number of highly trained pilots is available for the needs of commercial aviation, and also as a contribution to Australia’s defence. Will the Minister consider the appointment of a committee to inquire into, and make recommendations on, the recruitment and selection of professional pilots for civil aviation and the facilities and standards of training?
– Domestic airlines and the international airline, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., have stepped up the training of pilots for their needs. I understand that these airlines have purchased the latest equipment available, such as simulators, to expedite the provision of additional air pilots. I think that at the present time the airlines are successfully overcoming the shortage which has developed since 1961 because of the increase in air traffic in Australia. However, I have not looked at the matter lately, and I shall examine the situation to ascertain the present position. To the best of my knowledge, at present we are keeping pace in the training of pilots with the requirements of our domestic and international airlines.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether He will make a ‘ statement on the dispute ‘between India and Pakistan, with particular reference to Australia’s commitments, if any, as a member of the South East Asia Treaty’ Organisation. I also ask whether the Government is taking any action toward the achievement of a cease-fire in the conflict.
– At present the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, is conducting conversations with the leaders of both Pakistan and India, in an endeavour to bring to cessation a conflict which is already tragic and which has within itself the seeds of further tragedy. In those circumstances, I think that any statement or any debate on the matter in this Parliament would probably do harm rather than good.
– My question is addressed to ‘ the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Minister remember the Minister for Defence making a statement on 25th May 1964, when Australian troops were being despatched to Borneo, that in the interests of national security restrictions would be placed on the release of information about Australian military movements? How does this statement square with certain newspaper headlines on Saturday last which indicated that the Army would send the bulk of its operational planes and helicopters to Vietnam on board the troop carrier “Sydney”, which was leaving Sydney on that day with more than 350 Australian troops, and that the carrier would be calling at Brisbane, after leaving Sydney, to pick up essential war materials? Does this indicate a complete change of Government policy on the release of information about troop movements, or does it indicate a lack of concern on the part of the Government for the welfare of Australian troops who are being sent abroad?
– I can assure the honorable senator that it does not indicate a lack of concern by the Government for the welfare of Australian troops who are overseas or who are going overseas. I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator refers and which apparently was published in the New South Wales Press. I shall obtain the report, have it conveyed to the Minister for Defence, and seek his advice as early as possible.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, by pointing out that the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. has a monopoly of the manufacture of steel in Australia. That being so, it has a responsibility to supply the Australian market. In view of recent statements about the vast amounts of capital that the company is expending upon exploration and other developmental projects, will the Minister use his good offices to persuade the company to meet its responsibilities and to direct its efforts to supplying the Australian market, particularly in Tasmania, with steel requirements? Secondly, will he ensure that the priorities that have been established are rigidly stuck to rather than pressure being allowed to be applied to the company to give preference to one section of the market as against the other in the supply of the limited quantities that go to Tasmania?
– I am sure that B.H.P., the greatest industrial undertaking in Australia, would be the first to realise the duty it has to supply the requirements of the Australian market. As the honorable senator has stated, we in Tasmania have been short of some steel products. I may be wrong in saying this, but I understand that it is mainly because of the shortage of shipping space.
– Get a national shipping line.
– The Australian National Line gives a very good service to Tasmania - it pioneered the use of roll on roll off ferries - but that does not mean that it can carry all the cargo that may be available at a given time. If the amount of cargo available exceeds the available shipping space, then some cargo has to await transportation. However, the supply of steel pro ducts throughout Australia, particularly in Tasmania, is of great importance. I shall have this matter investigated to see whether I can do anything to assist in the stepping up of the supply of steel products to Tasmania.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. What information can the Minister give to the Senate on the report from Philippines sources that China plans to test a nuclear bomb beneath the sea off West Irian? Has the Government made any attempt to check this report with representatives of the Indonesian Government in Australia?
– There is no definite information available to the Government as to whether the Indonesians do in fact plan to test an atomic device or whether that atomic device if tested will be supplied to the Indonesians by China as was asserted in the newspaper report to which the honorable senator has referred. If this were to eventuate - and there is nothing in the Government’s possession which indicates with any precisioin that it will - it would be a definite breach of the nuclear test ban treaty in two ways. First, it would be an underwater test and such tests are specifically prohibited. Secondly, the fall out effects of such a test would extend far beyond the particular area where the test took place. However, at this moment there is no information in the possession of the Government which I could give the honorable senator to confirm or deny the report.
(Question No. 508.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
What were the import and export figures relating to trade between Australia and Yugoslavia over the past five years?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is contained in the following table extracted from statistics prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician -
(Question No. 513.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are . as follows-
(Question No. 519.)
Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator HENTY__ The Treasurer has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 528.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 545.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate of ministerial arrangements during the absence overseas of the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr. McEwen. Mr. McEwen left Australia last Friday, 10th September, and is expected to return on or about 16th November next. He will be visiting the United States of America, Great Britain and countries in Europe and Asia. During his absence the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Hasluck, will act as Minister for Trade and Industry.
Motion (by Senator Henty) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Cormack and Senator Drake-Brockman on account of business overseas.
Motion (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Ridley on account of business overseas.
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 28A, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senator A. Hendrickson, Senator K. A. Laught, Senator C. F. Ridley, Senator C. W. Sandford, Senator D. M. Tangney, Senator I. E. Wedgwood and Senator I. A. C. Wood to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– I have to inform the Senate that consequent upon the retirement of Mr. R. H. C. Loof, the following changes have been made in relation to Officers of the Senate and attendance in the Senate chamber: Mr. J. R. Odgers has been appointed Clerk of the Senate, Mr. R. E. Bullock has been appointed Deputy Clerk of the Senate, Mr. K. O. Bradshaw has been appointed Clerk Assistant, Mr. A. R. Cumming Thorn has been appointed Principal Parliamentary Officer, Mr. H. C. Nicholls has been appointed Usher of the Black Rod and Clerk of Committees and Mr. R. W. Jennings has been appointed Deputy Usher of the Black Rod and Senior Parliamentary Officer.
Debate resumed from 2nd September (vide page 358), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Senate take note of the following papers -
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States 1965-66;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for the year ending 30th June 1966;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the service of the year ending 30th June 1966;
Particulars of Proposed Provisions for Certain Expenditure in respect of the Year ending 30th June 1966;
Government Securities on Issue as at 30th June 1965;
Income Tax Statistics for income year 1962-63;
Upon which Senator Kennelly had moved by way of amendment -
At the end of motion add the following words: - “but the Senate condemns the Budget because -
such taxation increases as it contains add further burdens to wage and salary earners whose living standards have already been eroded by price rises and the Government’s active intervention against wage increases;
such meagre social services benefits as it proposes are inadequate, belated and partial in their application; and
the Budget fails entirely to deal with such problems as increases in imports and Australia’s dependence on foreign capital. The Senate further declares that only by proper economic planning, can Australia rapidly expand the resources required to meets its urgent needs in the fields of defence, development, education and social welfare.”.
Upon which amendment Senator Gair had moved as a further amendment - “ At end of Senator Kennelly’s amendment add the following words -
The Senate further declares that provision for defence in the Budget is still inadequate to meet the needs of Australia’s security, and the essential and justifiable commitments, which we have undertaken in South Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and South East Asia generally.
The Senate declares that effective defence requires much increased specific and separate budgetary provision.”.
Mr. President, when the debate was adjourned on 2nd September I had mentioned a number of matters which referred to Government income and expenditure. In particular, I expressed my belief that acceptance of the Budget proposals was now a matter of record, that there was no justifiable criticism of the proposals of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), and that the Budget papers were sound and promised a year of confidence and prosperity to the community. I made a comparison of the tax incidence to the wage and salary earner and pointed out that the increased burden was indeed slight. I indicated that the main increases in taxation fall on the consumer of unessential goods and that this appeared to be not an unjustifiable approach. I mentioned it appeared obvious that the necessity for defence in the community was vital and of great overall importance to Australia. I said it was my belief that pressures in the future would put a greater force on the Government for expenditure in relation to our development and defence. I believe that this will require a higher contribution from individuals in the future, and I believe that every Australian will look forward to assisting in these programmes.
I made mention also of moneys - not great amounts - that were being expended by the Commonwealth to assist voluntary organisations. In particular, I pointed to a commitment that was made to an organisation which had entered Papua and New Guinea. I referred to the Young Men’s Christian Association of Australia. Here was a service organisation which, by its own efforts and by the contribution of its individuals, had entered New Guinea to train the indigenous population in a programme that is well known in Australia. I refer to the contribution which the Y.M.C.A. makes to the youth of Australia. At page 358 of “Hansard” of 2nd September 1965, I have been reported as having said that the Y.M.C.A. has contributed £3,000 towards this extension work in New Guinea. The passage should read that the Government in the last year contributed £3,000 for this work, and that in this year £3,300 will be given to that organisation to help it in its work among- the indigenous population of Papua and New Guinea.
I gave an outline of the leadership work in the social, physical and religious training that was being introduced by the Y.M.C.A. to the natives in New Guinea. I pleaded for greater Government assistance to organisations such as the Y.M.C.A., which will, of their own volition, enter into a country, such as New Guinea, to which we are so obligated, and then after their establishment seek assistance from the Government. Having demonstrated their desire and ability to help in a special sphere, they are fully justified in asking for Government assistance. At the present time the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) has before him a proposal to give assistance, by way of air fares, to several New Guinea youths to enable them to come to Australia and receive leadership training at Y.M.C.A. hostels throughout Australia. After their return to New Guinea they will assist in the development of their kin in that country. I cannot imagine a more worthy cause. Enormous benefit will flow to
Australia as a programme, such as I have mentioned, begins to show results. This type of financial support is well justified.
Mention has been made of the effects of drought on the community. Not only will the farming and grazing industries be affected for a number of years to come, but the whole of the Australian community will be at a disadvantage due to the loss of stock and the rundown in reserve fodder. The consumers of meat in the cities today are being called upon to pay dearer prices because of the intense competition for stock in good condition. I was pleased to read in this morning’s newspapers reports which stated that several rural organisations have asked for tax relief for the farming community by way of further deductions from income tax for the cost incurred in conserving fodder for future needs. Reserve feed is a national asset and its conservation is of major importance on the Australian farming scene. Further incentives must be given to those who conserve and store fodder beyond their immediate needs. As reported on page 357 of “ Hansard “, I suggested that a double deduction for income tax purposes should be allowed in respect of costs incurred for fodder conservation on properties, for the building of dams, and for searching for underground water reserves. It is my wish that honorable senators will give this suggestion their unqualified support.
I wish to mention one other matter relating to income tax and its effects on certain sections of the community. I refer to those individuals who are involved in paying income tax on capital gains. The Opposition expresses its view that all capital gains should be taxed. This is the Opposition’s expressed policy. It will be a sad day for the future development of this country when that principle is applied. There would be a much greater development in the community if the principle of intention, as applied by the Commissioner of Taxation today, were to an extent relaxed. Many of the men who have achieved financial success in the community are being encouraged to take no risk in investment because of the heavy incidence of income tax that they would be called on to pay on their turnover of investments, should this be considered by the Commissioner of Taxation as being of a trading nature.
I believe that there is an enormous potential of wealth in the hands of individuals who have an ability to invest. The ability is usually with the reserve of wealth, and I am of the view that encouragement should be given to people to invest and turn their asset over within a reasonable time, so. that their ability and resources may be available in the community for further expansion.
– Has the honorable senator any particular asset in mind?
– Let me give an instance. A person may be capable of erecting houses, flats or industrial enterprises. Today, if he builds with the intention of selling, the profit that he makes is taxable. If he builds with the intention of holding the asset, then he is not taxed; but should he be encouraged to sell, then the intention is the guiding principle. Should he carry out a number of sales of property which he originally intended would be of a holding nature, then this would appear to indicate that his intention was to trade at a profit and he may find himself taxed by the Commissioner on the profit that he has made.
I believe that an individual should be permitted to state his intention prior to entering into a transaction, so that an investment for profit will be taxed and an investment for holding will not be taxed, no matter how regular the transactions may be. To meet this problem and create a new attitude towards development in the community by that section of the community that has generally the ability and the resources to develop but is not, under the conditions existing today, encouraged so to do, I suggest that a maximum holding period of three years should be declared so that transactions beyond that time will be recognised and regarded as transactions not for taxable profit. I am certain that benefit would flow to Australia and that ability and finance, which are refusing to step into developmental fields, would be released.
– Would that apply to’ buying land and selling it in subdivisions?
– If a person could prove that when he bought the land it was not his intention to sell it at a profit.
– No, I mean as to the three years between purchase and sale.
– My view would be that this should apply. The point I make is that there are in the community individuals who, by saving and using their business acumen over a period, have reached a stage where they have large amounts of money behind them. This money is lying idle because these individuals are not encouraged to take the risk of investing it further and to turn over their investments.
-They are taxed even if they give the money away.
– They are not faxed if they give it away. They are given a credit.
– They can be taxed on gifts.
– If they give money away in the right quarters they get a credit. I suggest that if a man purchases a property and later, because of his keen buying or because of the general inflationary trend, he is offered a much higher figure for it, he should be allowed to take the benefit of that and should not be taxed on his profit. The type of individual who has the ability to trade in this way would be able to turn his investment over oh a number of occasions,’ contributing, to the development of the community. I often see this happening in Victoria. I suggest that if a- person holds an asset for a period of three years and then turns it over, no matter how often he engages in such a’ transaction, .under no circumstances should his profit be considered as arising from a trading transaction.
– That was the principle applied in some State income tax acts in the 1930’s.
– It would be a good thing in many instances if that principle were reverted to. Today it is for the commissioner of Taxation to decide the intention behind a transaction. The individual has to prove that it was not his intention to engage in a trading transaction. There is only a very slight difference between, the two types of transaction involved. This requirement discourages a person from taking a risk.
– He has the right of appeal.
– He has to go to a lot of bother in order to appeal. He is diffident about entering into a number of profitable- transactions if- he has to argue his case in respect of each of them. That is the main point I wished to make in continuation of my remarks.
There is no strength in the amendment moved by the Opposition. Members of the Opposition both here and in another place have put forward no valid . reasons for saying that this is not a good Budget. I support the Budget -and congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on the excellent job that he has done, but I wish to give the warning that I believe a much greater effort, through taxation, will have to be made by the community in future years.
.- I did not expect to be called upon to speak so early today. However, there are a few remarks I would like to make on the Budget, and they might just as well be made now as later. Considering the Budget from the defence point of view. let me say that there is one thing upon which I have been most insistent over the last 10 or 12 years -and in regard to which I think my case has been, substantiated by the facts. I regret that this Budget makes no provision for a defence base anywhere on the coast of Australia. Over the last few months events in South East Asia have lent a great deal of strength to my original appeal. I feel that this Government must be as worried as the Government of Great Britain about the position in Singapore. We all know that during World War II Singapore was regarded as being the main bulwark of our defence. It was regarded as being absolutely impregnable. Yet, when the very first attack was made on Singapore, it fell. The result was that many thousands of the best and bravest young men of this nation , lost their lives and others were locked up behind prison walls for the remainder of the war. That did not happen because Great Britain did not want to help us; it happened because her efforts were so deployed in every other theatre of war that she was unable to come to pur assistance at that time. Surely, if there is anything to be. learnt from the past it. is that we. should be self-reliant.
To place all bur defence responsibilities on the one naval base at Singapore once again is absolutely lacking in reality. Only a fortnight ago the Prime Minister ‘of- Singapore said that, if he wished, he could have Great Britain out of Singapore within 24 hours. I do not believe that that will happen, but the possibility exists. I believe that in the present state of unrest, uneasiness and war in South East Asia it is absolutely criminal that the Government is not making some provision in this Budget for the erection of a naval base somewhere on the northern or western shores of Australia.
Darwin has been mentioned very often as a suitable site for such a naval base. There are difficulties there, particularly with the tides. There are many places on the Western Australian coast which do not suffer from that disability. I am not referring now to the north west coast of Western Australia, where there are very great tidal problems. Between Carnarvon and Albany there are plenty of places where a naval base could and should be erected not only as a safeguard in time of war, but also as a safeguard in time of peace. We need a base on the Western Australian coast for the protection and servicing of our ships on the trade routes of the Indian Ocean.
I have raised this matter in the Senate on many occasions. I think three Ministers have changed their portfolios since I first raised it. I do not intend to give up the fight until a naval base is established on the west coast of Australia. The position is not that I am talking through my hat or that I do not know anything at all about defence. After World War I Admiral Henderson of the British Navy visited Australia and stated that there was a necessity for a naval base on the Western Australian coast. The construction of a base was actually begun. More than £11 million was spent on building a naval base just south of Fremantle. Only recently, with the coming of the Kwinana oil refinery south of Fremantle, part of the breakwater and the foundations of that naval base finally were destroyed. Had we had that base there during World War II, the whole history of the war could have been very different.
So, once again I ask the Government to consider this very urgent matter. The people who are in charge of the defence arrangements of this country, those who are in charge of our foreign policy and those who are interested in the welfare of Australia - generally, know that there is a great deal to be said for the development of a naval base on the Indian Ocean shores of Australia. It is no good to say: “ We will do something about it in the future “. For some people there is never an acceptable time. I believe that the time to do something about this matter is now, when the perils that beset this country are at a very dangerous level.
The second matter to which I wish to refer in relation to the Budget is social services. I am absolutely ashamed to think that at this time the Government has not seen fit to raise the general level of pensions. We have been told that a great deal is being done for pensioners in this Budget. I do not know how people can say that and believe it and still look at themselves in a mirror with any satisfaction. This Budget does less for pensioners than any budget in the last 20 years has done. We are told that a great deal will be done to help single pensioners who may have charge of one or more children under the age of 16 years, because they will receive an allowance. That is well and good. I do not want to decry any benefits that are given by the Budget. I am always pleased to see something being done. I would like to know from the Minister how many people are likely to gain from this particular benefit. How many people will benefit? I do not think there will be very many.
We are told that the funeral benefit of one pensioner who is responsible for the funeral costs of another pensioner will be increased. Again, this is simply nibbling at the problem of social services. In the 22 years that I have been a member of this Parliament, one thing that has struck me is the complete revolution in respect of social services that has taken place.
I can remember that,, back in 1944, the Labour Government of that time introduced the payment of unemployment and sickness benefits. Senator Sir Walter Cooper was a member of a committee on which I served at that time and which recommended the inauguration of unemployment and sickness benefits. We were told by leading members of the Opposition of that time that we were encouraging malingerers and idlers and that when the then Opposition came into office those benefits would be withdrawn. But that has not happened. Among all members of the community, I believe there has arisen a great consciousness of the social obligation upon all parties in this Parliament to see that the less well-off members of the community - those . who suffer from illness or are unemployed or aged - receive consideration from the Government. To me that has been the most important and the most obvious movement in the last 20 years. It has been a complete social revolution. With it has come the concept that members of all political parties have now of the Government’s obligations towards the less fortunate members of the community. It is a concept undreamed of 25 years ago. I say that after due consideration and an awareness of what happened when social service legislation was introduced in this Parliament by a Labour government.
– But it carries the seeds of its own destruction, does it not?
– I could argue that point with the honorable senator. I am pleased to see that members of the Government parties agree with members of the Labour Party that the needs of the aged, sick and infirm are definitely the responsibility of the Government. People just cannot be left to die because they do not have the wherewithal to live. I believe that the objections raised to the introduction by. a Labour government of unemployment and sickness benefits have proved already to be false. I do not know of any people who prefer to remain in receipt of unemployment and sickness benefits rather than go to work, if they can do so. I do not think that the right to these benefits has been abused over the years. In many cases, they have been a godsend, although not always adequate.
One type of social service recipient has been absolutely ignored in the Budget. I refer to the civilian widow. People are coming, now, to realise the urgency of the needs of civilian widows, amongst whom I include deserted wives. Of the two classes, I believe that the lot of the deserted wife is worse. A widow, at least, has some happy memories to comfort her, but a deserted wife has the additional hardship of realising that her marriage has been wrecked. It has not been a success and she is faced with the problem of bringing up the children of the marriage on her own, A widow may have the satisfaction of knowing that her husband has contributed in some way.
– But is not a deserted wife treated as a widow for the purpose of a pension?
– Yes, after a time. But there is a period during which she must establish that she is deserted. She must prove that she has taken action against her husband for desertion.’ She has to find him, if she can. Thousands of men in the community at present are not living up to their responsibilities in this regard.
– Will the honorable senator join in amending the law so as to streamline its enforcement against deserting husbands?
– I think that is an answer. The money that the Government is paying for the upkeep of deserted wives could well be diverted to increasing the payments available to widows with children.
– One should simplify the extradition of the husbands. They should be brought back and made to do the job.
– Exactly. I was approached by a deserted wife whose husband had cleared out to another State where he had committed bigamy. She was told that in order to get her husband back to the State where she lived she would have to pay the first class return fares of two detectives, plus a first class fare for her husband. He should have been put in a dog box and sent back. He was not worth a first class fare. He was not worth two shillings. Because she did not have the money, he went scot free. A much better system of law should operate between the States so that a man who deserts to another State can be brought back to his home State without expense to his wife. I think it is ridiculous that she should have to pay.
– What is he brought back for?
– He is brought back if he cannot be made to pay up otherwise. I do not believe that a deserting husband should be put in gaol. That is ridiculous. It only adds bitterness to a bad situation. I would make him go to work during the week and send him to gaol for the weekend. In any case, he should be made to live up to his responsibilities. In many cases, wives have obtained court orders against deserting husbands who may pay a couple of times and then disappear and the cycle starts all over again. This is one aspect of the law which should be reviewed.
– Does the honorable senator remember the debates here in connection with the amendment of the Service and Execution of Process Act to make its provisions enforceable under Federal law and do away with the old State devices?
– I am still fighting to get the law simplified so that innocent people do not suffer as they do today. Eventually, when the Department of Social Services accepts responsibility for deserted wives, they are treated in the same way as civilian widows. I do not like the difference in the terms “ civilian widows “ and “ war widows “. After all, they are all widows and deserving of everything we can give them, particularly when they are bringing up young Australians to be decent citizens.
What happens to a deserted wife who is making repayments on a house? She is not eligible for the rent allowance. But she has to pay an amount equivalent to rent in addition to rates and taxes and the costs of repairs. At least when her husband was home, occasionally he may have replaced a washer on a tap, or have done minor repairs of that nature. As a deserted wife, she has to pay for all repairs, unless she is a handywoman. Repairs are not done for her more cheaply because she does not have a husband. She must pay the rates and taxes, the instalments on the house and the costs of its upkeep, but she is not eligible for the rent allowance for which she would qualify if she were simply renting a house. Honorable senators know as well as I do how difficult it is for a woman with children to rent a house. If she has children, she simply cannot get rented premises. I would like to see the provisions of the Aged Persons Homes Act extended to include housing for all widows, particularly for widows with children. If the Government could do something to keep a roof over their heads, it would be doing something practical to help.
We help everybody else; we send millions of pounds overseas. Certainly we want to keep in well with other .nations, hut let the Government spend a few million pounds on the people who , need - it most and from whom a return is assured. The money sent overseas might or might not bring us goodwill, but money that we spent at home to give decent living conditions to our widows and their dependent children would be wisely spent. This money would not go down the drain; a great deal of it would come back in the form of indirect taxes on the goods that widows must buy. This is true of all pensions, but it is particularly true of pensions that are paid to widows with children- These -widows cannot save anything from their pensions; every penny is spent almost as soon as it is received. The time has come when the Government should examine this problem to see whether it can do something for civilian widows and other widows.
The Government says that they may go out to work and that they may earn £3 10s. a week extra plus so much for each child. How generous it is of the Government to do that. That does not cost the Government one penny. But the widow is needed at home to care for her children. Surely that is a full time job. She has the responsibility of a father and a mother. The Government should look very seriously at the proposal I am about to advance. Every widow who is bringing up children should receive at least the equivalent of the female basic wage, because she is doing a job for Australia. We spend thousands of pounds to bring migrants into this country, and so we -should. The Government keeps in well with everybody except these people who, because they are not a pressure group, cannot very often speak for themselves. A woman who works in a chain store, who hands a packet of sweets over a counter and who hands back change to the customer gets the female basic wage. So she should. I say that a woman who is bringing up children on a social service payment is worth at least the same. I am not satisfied with the statement that civilian widows may earn this or that. To suggest that is to nullify the legislation.
I was teaching before I entered the Parliament and before the widow’s pension came into existence. Time after time I saw children who had been before the Children’s Court and who were regarded as juvenile delinquents merely because after school they roamed the streets when their mothers were out working. There was nobody at home to care for them when that care was needed most. Not all juvenile delinquents come from broken homes or homes in which there is a widowed mother, but unfortunately a great number do, and the delinquency is the result of a lack of parental guidance when it is needed: Let nobody talk to me about juvenile delinquents. I believe that those of us who are sitting in this chamber and who have been here for many years have allowed this matter to go by default. We have not ensured that justice h,as been done for a very -important section of the community which, although it is not very vocal about this problem, is doing a highly important national: job. Let nobody say that we cannot afford to help these people. We cannot afford not to give them justice. I appeal to the Government to do more than it has done up to the present time for these people who, in addition to carrying a great burden of grief, are carrying the burden of added responsibility.
The third matter I wish to mention is the payment of repatriation benefits. Some attempt has been made to improve the lot of ex-servicemen and their dependants and war widows and their dependants, but there is a lot more that could be done. I should like to see more -attention given to the section of the repatriation legislation that’ deals with the onus of proof, I know, as a result of the experience of various members pf my own family, that it is very seldom that ex-servicemen or ex-servicewomen receive the benefit of . the doubt. This provision is really the core of our repatriation legislation. These . people should be given justice. If. it. cannot be proved conclusively that a certain disability is the result of war service, the onus should be upon the . Department, to show that the person concerned should not be given the benefit of the doubt. 1 shall fight for this principle as long as I can. . In- our repatriation hospitals there are victims of the First World War who cannot obtain additional evidence to support their claims. How can these men be expected to get additional evidence 45 years after the end of that war? It is ridiculous to expect them to obtain such evidence when those who might have been able to be of some assistance to them have themselves passed away. There are so few exservicemen from the First World War still in the community who are in need of the services of the Repatriation -Department that they should not have .to go before tribunals to prove their eligibility for a repatriation pension. Surely to goodness their war record and the fact that for 45 years they have hot been a burden on the Department should be sufficient to enable them to receive some security in the eventide of their lives.
I come now to .the subject of education. Whilst I appreciate what the Government has done in the field of education, particularly at the university and tertiary levels, I believe that it has built up a top-heavy system. We are spending so much money on universities and scientific training and so little on the primary and secondary levels of education that our system is becoming top-heavy. We also seem to have got away from an appreciation of the humanities; all effort seems to be devoted to the improvement of science. I know that science is very important and I have always been very envious of those who have had a scientific training - as honorable senators are aware, I have not had that training - but I do not think it right that science should be accorded so much greater importance than the humanities. I believe that is why our outlook on life nowadays seems to be so different from what it was in the past. Internationally and otherwise, life is not as precious as it used to be. One has only to have regard to the terrible slaughter on our roads to realise how cheap life has become. It seems to be one of the cheapest commodities in our community. People are not taught nowadays to appreciate life and to appreciate living. The form of education that is being fostered by this Parliament is not such as to lead to a better appreciation “of life.
I do not want to see the Commonwealth take full control over education, but I should like to see more money spent through the States on primary and secondary education. It is of no use trying to build a magnificent edifice of university and tertiary education if we have not a strong foundation. Otherwise the whole edifice will crumble. Particularly is it necessary in these days to have adequate teacher training. That is the weakest link in the educational chain. Young men and women are coming out of training colleges like sausages out of a machine. Within the space of a couple of years, they are supposed to be fully qualified teachers able to conduct big .classes and assume . their responsibilities in the community. . In many cases, the training colleges are overcrowded. In my own State of Western Australia we have two teacher training colleges. One of them was built more than 60 years ago. The other is a collection of Nissen huts left after the Second World War. It is amazing how many good teachers are being turned out from these colleges. I use the words “ turned out “ quite definitely because that is how I feel about this process. The trainees are- not given sufficient time. The course is too cramped. They are short of staff, short of amenities and short of time. They have to cram the whole of their professional training into a couple of years because the States cannot afford the longer period which is necessary for the adequate training of teachers.
I put it to the. Senate that the job of teachers is very important to the community. I am not saying this because I happen to be a teacher myself but because of the part that teachers can play not only in training children but also in helping them to get a proper slant on life as a preparation for living. Teaching is a very important job and yet of all the professions it receives the least consideration. To be an engineer, a dentist or an architect a person must have a long period of training. A teacher has the lives and minds of children in his or her hands but a two-year training course for teachers is thought to be good enough. Trainees are expected to go in and out of college as fast as they can be put through without adequate buildings, facilities or staff. I am hopeful that the Government will have another look at the section of the Martin report dealing’ with the training of teachers in Australia. This is the section that the Government decided not to consider at all although it is a very important section of the report. Tt highlights many of the things I have said today.
Another important factor concerning the universities themselves is the very high failure rate among first year students. There is a great waste of money, effort and everything else because of this high failure rate. I have discussed this matter with a number of professional people. They say that in some cases, matriculation standards are not high enough. In other cases, the students are not properly prepared for the universities. . They have come direct from ‘ school where they have been pushed and shoved about through examinations and they cannot stand on their own feet at university. They are not mature enough.
There is another reason also and it is this: I have not been able to find where there is provision in any university for the training of university teachers. I have said before and I say again that you can be a brilliant student and have all the degrees and honours available to you but you might not be able to impart your knowledge to others. A person might not be a good teacher because he is so brilliant himself that he has no patience with those who are not brilliant. Often, a student’s career can be blighted or destroyed in such circumstances, particularly in these days of scholarships. A student might not get through his first year at university because of the lack of training of university teachers.
– They lack technique.
– They do not know enough about actual teaching. They forget that the university students they are teaching were only boys and girls at school the previous year. As Senator McManus has said, they do not have the technique to impart knowledge.
I am very sad that this year the University of Western Australia is no longer a free university. For nearly 50 years this University could proudly boast that it was the only free university in Australia. Originally it was essentially a university for the sons and daughters of working people as well as others. Now it is no longer free. Its fees are so high that unless a student has a university scholarship, he can no longer afford to go there. I can only thank God that it was free in my day because I could not have afforded to go there otherwise and I know there were many others who were similarly placed. The decision to charge fees has been brought about because of the peculiar set-up in relation to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Other States were dissatisfied because they had to help finance Western Australia when it could afford to run a free university. I say that every State could afford a’ free university. Only 9 per cent, of the ‘ expenses of running a university comes from. fees. All:the rest comes from government grants and other sources.
It is amazing how many good students already have been debarred from a university education because they cannot afford to pay .the fees.
– To what ‘extent does the system of Commonwealth scholarships upset that argument?
– It upsets it to this degree: At present, with the Commonwealth scholarships, only 9 per cent, of the finance of universities comes from students’ fees. Surely, it would not be a very much bigger step for the Government or the universities to take over that 9 per cent, Quite a number of people cannot get scholarships. They are not brilliant enough to win a Commonwealth scholarship although they are good students.
– One does not have to be brilliant to get a Commonwealth scholarship.
Senator TANGNEY__ One has to . be fairly good or in a certain group.
– Only f.a.q.
Senator TANGNEY__ I do not know whether it is f.a.q. or f.o.b. or anything else but I do say that many students who do well at university were not outstandingly bright at high school. On the other hand, some who were bright at school do not shine at university. But everybody should, be given an opportunity to try his or her hand at university.
When the University of Western Australia was free, no more people went there simply to improve their social standing and waste their time. Some have said that it universities were free, you would find more social climbers among the students. I was at the University of Western Australia for a long time when it was free and I did not see much of that sort of thing. Generally, if students missed out in the first year or two they simply did not come back and that was all there was to it. We had a great pride in our university. Those who had to work and study at the University in their spare time, as I did, had a great respect for it because of what we were able to do when we had graduated. I regret that those days have passed .in Western Australia.
I want to remind the Department of Immigration of this trend, because in an immigration booklet I received the other day, I found that one of the baits held out to prospective settlers was that there was a free university in Western Australia.- This booklet is distributed in London to wouldbe settlers before they come to Australia and apparently the Department of Immigration has not been told of the changed status of the University of Western Australia. Nobody is more sorry about this than I am. I should like to see a better deal for teacher training colleges and for tertiary education. The teacher training colleges are the centre of the educational world and they deserve a great deal more than they are getting. These are matters on which I feel keenly. I hope that my remarks have been constructive and that the Government will take notice of them.
– I rise to support the motion for the printing of the Budget papers. In doing so, I congratulate all the new senators, both Government and Opposition, who have made their maiden speeches in this debate. The speeches have been most interesting indeed. 1; for one, am amazed that new senators can deliver their maiden speeches without showing any degree of nervousness at all. I suppose this air of confidence can be attributed to the fact that the younger generation has grown up without nerves. I remember how nervous I was when I made my maiden speech. But I am always nervous when I rise to make a speech here.
A Budget is always a very interesting document. This Budget is all the more interesting because it reflects the growing amounts of money that the Commonwealth has to raise year by year to meet its expenditure and to help the States finance their programmes. The Budget provides for a total expenditure of £2,667,030,000 in this financial year as against £2,392,000,000 last year. This represents an overall increase of £275,030,000. Receipts other than loan raisings will be up significantly to £2,611,445,000, leaving a difference of some £55,585,000 between expenditure and receipts which has to be met by borrowings.
It is interesting to know that total Commonwealth expenditure in 1954-55 was £1,161 million. Expenditure doubled in ten years and in 1964-65 it stood at £2,392 million. Those figures give some indication, of the enormous amount of money - which has to be raised by the Commonwealth from year to year.
Looking at the increases in the various items, we find that the estimate of defence expenditure this year is £385,921,000, which represents an increase of £81,430,000 on actual expenditure last year. Pausing for a moment at this point, I mention the need for this additional expenditure. I think that the increase in the defence expenditure - £58 million will be spent within Australia and £23 million overseas - will meet with the approval of all honorable senators. Payments to or for the States will rise by £61,402,000 to a total of £549,640,000. Expenditure on social services will increase by £20,469,000 to £465,652,000. Expenditure on international aid is to rise to £50,860,000 which represents an increase of £3,801,000 on expenditure last year. From these figures we can obtain some idea of the amount of money which has to be found or raised by the Commonwealth Government in this financial year for various departments. We can see also that; as a nation, Australia is expanding in all phases, so much so that this year we shall have to meet record expenditures.
What we wish to achieve is. full development together with full employment. I believe that, to its credit, this Government has achieved that position to a greater degree than any previous Government in the history of Australia. I can remember distinctly that in 1948-49, prior to this Government coming into office, the figure relating to unemployment was in excess of . 5 per cent, of the Australian workforce. Before that period, there were times when the Australian Government had to contend with unemployment amounting to even 26.5 per cent, of the work force. At no time since the Liberal-Country Party Government came into office in 1949, has Australia experienced unemployment exceeding 3.5 per cent. The- figure has rarely reached 3 per cent, and, over the last 15 years, has averaged 2.2 or 2.3 -per cent. At the moment it is less than 1 per cent, overall. Some States report a figure of .5 or .6 of l per cent
That .record is most notable, and has not been achieved by any other Federal Govern- ment. I think this fact is worth putting on the record and that is why I mention it.
We believe in full employment. We believe also in developing Australia as quickly as possible. If honorable senators examine the position to the north of Australia, in relation to the defence needs of Australia they will understand the reasons why we are spending this vast amount of £385 million on defence in this . financial year. Those reasons include the drive by Communist forces into Vietnam, the problems to be found in Singapore and Malaysia and those which we have adjacent to us. So I think everybody readily concurs in the provision of £385 million for defence. Together with this matter, we must consider the question of our development. I say right here and now that Australia over the last 15 years has enjoyed national development on a scale unequalled at any previous time in our history. Wherever one goes today, one sees development programmes being undertaken by State Governments, private individuals or the Commonwealth Government for which there is no equal in the past. This development is part of the Government’s programme. I was amazed to hear some honorable senators opposite say in this debate that Australia is lacking in respect of northern development. That statement, when compared -with the work of other Governments- or the last Labour Government, is completely ridiculous. Currently on the books we have amounts totalling £1,601 million portion of which is committed for northern development.
– A lot of it.
– A lot of it is for northern development. Let’ those who now criticise the Government say what they did and how much they were prepared to spend on northern development when they were in office. We have heard a lot of criticism but I have not heard any’ honorable senator opposite suggest that he has the answer to the problem.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the wartime Labour Government?
– Tam referring to any previous Labour Government, particularly any that held office in time of peace. I think the previous Labour Government had four or five years of peace time in which to make some effort to develop Australia. I do not believe that the. Labour Party is well equipped for the task of promoting development. I have seen the Labour Party hold office in my State of Western Australia. I have mentioned previously in the Senate that prior to the Labour Party taking office in Western Australia in 1953, the McLartyWatts Government had encouraged British Petroleum Ltd. to spend £55 million on the Kwinana refinery, it had encouraged Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. tq install a cold steel rolling mill at a cost of some £2 million, and it had encouraged Cockburn Cement Pty. Ltd., a British company, to construct a factory just south of Fremantle at a cost of something over £1 million. The Government which was in office before the Labour Party came to power in Western Australia in 1953 was responsible for those three projects commencing in that State.
I challenge the Opposition speaker who will follow me in the debate to mention one occasion on which the Labour Party, during its term of office in Western Australia from 1953 to 1959, encouraged private capital from overseas to come to that State and commence any developmental programme at a cost in excess of £1 million. That challenge stands open. I allow the Opposition a spread of six years in which to find even one project that the Labour Party encouraged in Western Australia. I venture to say that honorable senators opposite will have the utmost difficulty in meeting the challenge.
When the Labour Party went out of office in 1959 the Brand Government came to power and there commenced a glamorous period. I say without fear of. contradiction that the Brand Government has encouraged capital in excess of £150 million to come to Western Australia; and that is only a start. Tremendous projects are commencing in the north as well as in the south of the State. Of course, these activities are not confined to Western Australia. They can be seen in any State which has in office a government of our political shade.
The Commonwealth Government, with the help of the States, has encouraged large amounts of overseas, capital to. come here to help us develop our country. We, as a Government, have gone out of our way to help the States, obtain this .finance. As a young country with a population of only 11 million people, we are not in the race to develop Australia at the rate at which we would like to see it develop without the assistance of large amounts of overseas capital. Being a flighty commodity, if we take the slightest action to stop this capital coming to Australia by imposing any restriction whatever on it, it will cease to flow. I believe that this is the last thing that any true Australian would want to happen.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell, was quoted, perhaps correctly, in the Western Australian Press of 29th July as saying that foreign investment must be limited.
– Mr. McEwen says that, too.
– This was stated by Mr. Calwell. How can we develop the oil fields of Australia if we do not encourage overseas capital to search for oil within Australia? I ask the Opposition to answer that question. I do not believe that the search for oil which is now going on in Australia would be going on if we had to rely on private capital within Australia. The search for oil here has been promoted largely with the help of the Government’s subsidy on a 50-50 basis in the initial stages for approved oil sites, and also by the Government encouraging overseas capital to join in the search for oil. I am astounded .that anyone should imagine that we could find sufficient finance from private individuals in Australia to spend on the search for oil.
Let me mention here that the shares of many Australian based oil companies are being quoted on the Stock Exchange at pretty low prices. Some companies which have made calls have not received the amounts that they have required. Even though they have gone to the extent of advertising the sale of these shares at very low prices they have not been able to sell them.
– Does the honorable senator mean the forfeited shares?
– Yes. There were no bids. Where would we turn if we did not encourage overseas companies to search for oil in Australia? It is very pleasing to note that we have found oil in Australia and that we have a commercial oilfield at Moonie in Queensland. It is interesting to note also that there is a pipeline from Moonie to Brisbane and that at the present time oil is being fed into it at the rate of 1.4 million barrels per year. This has been made possible by the Government’s sympathetic treatment in guaranteeing the oil companies that are producing oil in Australia an amount- equal to 3 dollars 50 cents per barrel as against the previous amount of 2 dollars 48 cents. I believe that this will be a great encouragement to the people producing oil in Australia at the present time, and also a great encouragement to promote the search for additional oilfields within Australia.
Because the Government has required the oil refineries to pay 3 dollars 50 cents per barrel for Australian produced oil, I am informed that the production at Moonie this year will increase from 1.4 million barrels to over 2 million barrels. It is expected that by the end of 1966 Moonie will be producing over 4 million barrels per year. With the adjacent Alton fields being tested at the present time, we can expect additional quantities of oil to be fed into the Moonie pipeline and refined in Brisbane. I hope that the people who have found potential oilfields will intensify the work that they are carrying out. I am sure that if an oil strike was made in another country there would be ten times as many oil drilling rigs used to prove the field as are being used on some of Australia’s potential fields at the present time.
– The amount of 3 dollars 50 cents includes a 75 cents incentive payment which is made by the Government.
– Yes. Of course, this will be a big thing, as far as oil search in Australia is concerned.
I now want to direct the minds of honorable senators to the large developmental projects that have been initiated in the north of Australia. I refer to the beef roads scheme in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, which was designed to help the development of beef producing areas. It has been of considerable advantage to people in outback areas in getting their cattle to the markets, particularly during the present dry spell in the northern parts of Australia. This scheme is a part of the overall programme of development. I would like the critics of northern development to realise that the Australian Government provided as a gift to the Western Australian Government an amount of approximately £900,000 for the construction of new berthing facilities at Wyndham. It has made available approximately £1 million for the construction and development of new berthing facilities at Derby, and the deep water port at Broome, which is currently being constructed, will cost in the vicinity of £H million. In addition, the Commonwealth Government has made available to Western Australia an amount of almost £6 million for the construction of a dam at Bandicoot Bar in the Ord River scheme. This money has been provided more or less as a gift. The dam at Bandicoot Bar has been completed. There are approximately 20 farmers taking advantage of the water from this dam to irrigate their farms, which grow mostly cotton, on the Ord scheme at Kununurra. So we can see large developmental programmes being carried on in the north of Australia at the present time, particularly in Western Australia.
Although the greater Ord scheme has been deferred by the Commonwealth Government whilst awaiting further evidence as to whether or not it is an economically sound proposition, it is interesting to note that the cotton growers in the area have increased their harvest this year from 1 ,340 lb. of seed cotton to the acre to approximately 2,000 lb. to the acre.
– They have more faith than the Government.
– I do not know about that. I think that the Government has great faith in the scheme, too. I agree that the growers have great faith in the Ord scheme. I think that all the members of Parliament who visited the Ord scheme during the parliamentary recess and who spoke to the farmers there must have come away with the feeling that the growers who are now established there have great confidence in the scheme.
– The Federal Government will not give them the money for the main dam.
-That is a stupid statement. I have said that the Federal Government has deferred the State’s application for additional finance .to complete the scheme. The Federal Government, which represents the taxpayers of Australia must be assured of success before it spends money.
– There is no doubt about its success now.
– There may be no doubt about it in the’ honorable senator’s mind, but there may be doubt in the mind of the Government.
– Why did the Government originally agree to this scheme?
– Do not be silly about this matter. The Government originally agreed to provide, as a gift to the State Government, more than £5 million so that the dam at Bandicoot Bar could be constructed and so that the State could prove that the economics of the Ord scheme were sound by showing that farming there could be a profitable proposition. There has been a great deal of trouble with the scheme. It is only of late that we know it is going to bc a success.
– After 20 years research everyone knew.
– I say that nobody knew until last year that officers of the research station or the farmers could control the insects that had ravaged previous cotton crops. It was only with the. advent this year of a spray called bidrin that the officers of the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organisation and other research officers could safely say that the farmers of the Ord were able to control infestation by insects. The honorable senator can go there and find out. I do not know whether he has been there, but I spent some time there during the recess and this is what I was told. Last year the insect prodenia attacked the cotton crop and caused terrific losses, in some cases up to 50 per cent., and the farmers did not have a spray then which was capable of combating it. Only with the advent of bidrin, a new insecticide, was the insect prodenia controlled. Would not the Government have been stupid to agree to the scheme when it and everybody else, including the growers, knew that it might not be possible to control the infestation of prodenia which had occurred in the first crop and had taken toll of all the previous cotton crops that had been grown at the research station?
– I was up there and I was told something entirely different.
– I am trying to tell the honorable senator the truth as I know it. 1 am quite confident that, because of the wonderful crops that have been grown on the Ord, the Government will at some time in the future come to light with the additional money. It amounts to £30 million, which is big money, and we want to see that the taxpayers do not lose. In considering developmental projects, the Government always looks at whether they will pay interest and sinking fund contributions on the money required. About £45 million is to be spent on the construction of a standard gauge railway between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana. When that matter was put up to the Commonwealth Government, it made an assessment as to whether or not the line would be profitable. It was shown to the Government’s satisfaction, I believe, that the line would return between 8 and 9 per cent, interest on the money that was needed for its construction, so the Government agreed to make the finance available. The Commonwealth made available to the State of Queensland about £21 million for relaying the Mount Isa railway line so that it could economically carry freight to and from Mount Isa. I understand that this project has been completed.
I have mentioned just a few of the fine developmental projects that have been undertaken by the Commonwealth. These are Government expenditures, but what of the great developments that are taking place in the north through private enterprise? There are the great iron ore projects in the north of Western Australia. There are great bauxite deposits at Weipa in northern Queensland, at Gove in the Northern Territory, and 1 understand in the north of Western Australia. Large amounts of capital are required for the development of the iron ore deposits and a proportion of this is to be brought from overseas by way of machinery, large trucks and earth moving equipment, railway engines and line laying facilities. These goods, costing many millions of pounds, will be needed for the development of these terrific projects. Consider the income that will be earned for Australia when this money has been spent. Within three, four or five years, we will be exporting 10 million or 12 million tons of iron ore a year, valued in round figures at £4 a ton. This alone will mean an export earning capacity of about £50 million or £60 million a year. These are terrific amounts of money. The contracts for the supply of iron ore provide for a total amount ‘“of about £1,500 million to be received over the next 25 years. That is a vast amount of money,- particularly when we recall that the total value of gold produced in Australia since its first discovery is only £560 million. The great bauxite deposits at Weipa, Gove and in the Darling Ranges of Western Australia will produce an additional income of £50 or £60 million a year. [ Senator Ormonde. - If would have been more if the right price had been Obtained. The bauxite was sold on the cheap.
– Here we have another expert advising us that the bauxite was sold on the cheap. I think he will find that most of these commodities have’ been- sold at world parity prices. The people who buy do not wish to pay too much, and the people who sell want as much as they can possibly get. Both sides’ know the world prices of these commodities. I do not believe that the honorable senator’s statement could be correct. It is interesting to see the vast development. It has been said that we should immediately start setting -up iron ore’ blast furnaces and sell the steel produced by them.
I think that most people agree that one. has to learn to walk before he can rim. Both the large companies that are operating the bigger iron ore deposits in Western Australia have agreed with the State that within a certain number of years blast furnaces will be erected in. the. north and that the iron ore will be converted to steel and other products before it is exported. But there .are other vast deposits of iron ore, and when we talk in terms of 8,000 million tons or .15,000 million tons, 100 million tons -or 200 million tons here or there do not really matter. I- should like to impress on the Senate that if Australians, and the Western Australian Government in particular, had not encouraged people to come here and exploit Australian iron ore deposits, they would have found iron ore readily available in many other countries. If we had not gone into this venture immediately we would have lost the sale, and we would have had large’ deposits of iron ore that were not wanted except for domestic use in Australia. We use only between 5 million and 10 million tons of iron ore a year. The export of ore will add to. Australia’s overall income. The mining industry is coming to the fore and will produce much additional income for us.
This Government is eager to promote the search for oil. If we find it in commercial quantities, sufficient to meet Australia’s needs, we will save almost £150 million a year, which is what we now pay for our imports of crude oil and on freights. I believe that within the next decade we will take great steps in the development of our nation and will be producing almost enough oil to meet our needs. We will also be exporting £50 million or £60 million worth of iron ore each year. In ten years we will be encouraging the people who . are now. exploiting our iron ore fields to construct blast furnaces here and to export steel. We must do everything possible to encourage capital to come to Australia so that we can increase our exports.
Many people have said, in this Senate and throughout Australia, that we should curtail overseas investment in this country. I want honorable senators to look at that proposition. To me, it is important that we encourage overseas companies to invest in Australia and produce goods here. If such a company makes a profit, it has to pay 8s. 6d. in the £1 in company taxation. It also has to pay its employees the basic wage, plus the margins obtaining wherever the industry may be located, and those employees have to pay both direct and indirect taxes. The overall picture is that we are gaining far more than we are losing through the inflow of capital to Australia.
The Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Calwell, is reported to have said in Melbourne at the end of July - I believe this is the expressed wish of the Opposition as a whole - that some action should be taken to curtail the flow of overseas capital to Australia. If we did that, I believe that Australia would quickly go back to the position it held in the days when it was not a nation to be reckoned with. I maintain that we should continue to promote the flow of capital to Australia and take advantage of it while we can. We must keep the climate right for overseas investment here, knowing full well that we have not the funds with which to develop this country and that it is only -with the help of outside capital that we can develop still further and become one of the greatest nations of the world.
– Unfortunately, for the first time in my life, last week I had an attack of laryngitis. This, of necessity, will curtail the time for which I will speak and the number of words that 1 will pour forth. For that, I take it, honorable senators opposite will be grateful, but I know that, because of their basic decency, they will also be sympathetic to me.
I would like, first and foremost and in a placatory way, to deal with the remarks of Senator Scott. With justification, he took pride in the accomplishments of the Brand Government in Western Australia, but, of course, he omitted to tell the whole story. He did not mention that British Petroleum Ltd. established its refinery at Kwinana only after the Federal Government - the Menzies Government - sold out its interests in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd. There was much contention at that time about the Government’s action, and some astute and competent judges said that the Government had betrayed the people of Australia. Irrespective of whether a- Labour Government or an anti-Labour Government was in control in Western Australia, an anti-Labour Commonwealth Government having sold out the Commonwealth’s interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd. There was nothing to preclude British Petroleum Ltd. from establishing a refinery. By that time British Petroleum, by devious means or otherwise, had obtained complete control of the enterprise.
The honorable senator also omitted to mention - I think he must have forgotten to take pride in this - that since the Brand Government took office an alumina refinery has been established at Kwinana. That also might be to the credit of Brand Government. The honorable senator also omitted to say that the Western Mining Corporation had embarked on an exploration campaign to test the bauxite deposits in the Darling Ranges and that it was only when it was proved that the deposits contained 400 million tons or more of commercial grade bauxite that this refinery was established. The honorable senator further omitted to mention that Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. had embarked on a search for iron ore deposits other than at Cockatoo Island and Coolam Island, and had commenced a search on the mainland.
When we think of an English company establishing a £1 million cement works in Western Australia - this, again, was during the Brand Government’s control of the treasury bench - let us recall that not many years ago a cement company was established in north Queensland, largely assisted by a guarantee from a Labour Government. The Brand Government would not think of giving such a guarantee and of acting in the real interests of the people of Western Australia; it would sooner have English capital coming into that State and, in the process of time, bleeding its people. Further, the honorable senator put up an Aunt Sally in regard to oil exploration and talked about private investment. I have never heard any member of the Opposition either in this chamber or in another place oppose the introduction of overseas capital for oil exploration in Australia. We know that we do not have enough geologists or other technically or academically qualified men in this country to enable us to embark upon oil exploration without assistance. The honorable senator put up this Aunt Sally simply in order to knock it over and try to mislead the very few people in Australia who are prepared to listen to him. He then referred to the amount of money made available to Western Australia by the Commonwealth, particularly for projects at Derby and Wyndham. ,
I agree with him that there was an original offer of £5 million, subsequently increased to nearly £6 million for the Ord River diversion dam scheme. There were difficulties there. I agree that from experimental plots you do not necessarily obtain all the information that you need for practical purposes in embarking on a major enterprise. The honorable senator omitted to say that in addition, £5 million was granted for water supplies. I am quite fair, as everyone knows. I am strengthening the honorable senator’s case because it was such a weak one. These grants show the discrimination against my home State of Queensland. I will amplify that statement, not because of any desire to adopt a separationist approach, but just to show the ineffectiveness of the present Government.
I do not want to miss any of the points that the honorable senator made. He spoke about northern development and about what the Government has done in that field. The
Government panicked so much that it established the Northern Division within the Department of National Development. Now that Division is in the process of breaking up. In fact, its director - an outstandingly competent man - has elected to be a Labour candidate at the next Federal election. One of the assistant directors is seeking another position in the Public Service. I suppose that if he had the opportunity to stand as a Labour candidate he would do so, too, and so would the other assistant directors. Never in the history of the Commonwealth has a department which was set up with so much ballyhoo and glamour been so frustrated. Not one project that has been submitted to the Federal Government - many projects must have been submitted - has been taken up with a view to being brought to fruition. Do not let us have any delusions about northern development when the. very division that was set up to implement an extraordinarily worthwhile idea is in the process of breaking up.
Senator Scott spoke about the Mount IsaTownsvilleCollinsville railway. Let me clarify the position. Two nights before the Parliament adjourned prior to the 1961 election, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), under duress and fearful because of the reports that were arriving in his office, agreed to advance £20 million for the rehabilitation of this railway. Not £1 of that amount was to be advanced by way of grant, as in the case of the KwinanaKalgoorlie railway. In respect of that project the Commonwealth made a grant of £14 million and probably will make available another £14 million by way of special grants. The original estimate of the cost was £42 million. Now the estimated cost is £45 million. I do not begrudge this grant to Western Australia. I believe that it is worthwhile. However, we need to make the picture quite clear in the minds of honorable senators and the people of Australia. The Mount Isa mine is operating in one of the really great commercial mineral deposits in the world. It has played a great part in keeping down the price of copper in Australia and has earned export income. Yet not one penny was made available by way of grant for the rehabilitation of the railway. The whole of the £20 million had to be forced out of the Menzies Government. The money has been made available by way of loan, all of which has to be redeemed.
Senator Scott takes great pride in the export of iron ore and bauxite. I will deal with that in greater detail if my voice and time permit. I will show just what the Government is when it permits the export of raw materials, although everyone knows that the countries that have enjoyed and are enjoying a high standard of living are those that fabricate from their raw materials. The honorable senator spoke about the value of iron ore compared with that of gold. We know that in one case you talk in terms of tons and in the other you talk in terms of ounces. Because of the depreciated value of the £1, today the value of a ton of iron ore is almost equal to that of an ounce of gold many years ago. Once gold was worth £4 an ounce, and the honorable senator talks about the price of iron ore being £4 a ton. It is ridiculous to compare the value of the two industries.
Senator Scott referred to capital investment. I do not think I need to dilate on that because the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), following the lead given by the Labour Party for many years, at last has wakened Up. Fighting Mac has now taken on his associates on the Government benches. He has said, in effect, that Australia, under the ineffective control of the present Government arid of the immediately preceding governments, is selling the farm bit by bit. The Government is giving the nation away piecemeal. I do not know whether I have answered Senator Scott effectively; but at least I have provided him with correct information.
Now let me deal with the document that is before us - the Budget. It is a national document. For heaven’s sake, let us approach it nationally. If, in the course of my speech, I refer to measures affecting certain States, I will do so only to show up the inefficiency of the political representatives who are in control of the Australian treasury bench. Over the years the Government has introduced the Australia unlimited Budget, the hold prosperity Budget, the halt inflation Budget and the stayput Budget. Now we have the slug the plug and the mug Budget. The plug is the person who drinks, smokes or drives a car. The mug is the person who does all three.
This document is the product of a decadent regime. How can the regime be other than decadent if its leader selects responsible men from the standpoint of placidity and subservience rather than from the justifiable standpoint of ability? I am merely recording what members of the Government parties say. They have not told me this privately. They have talked among themselves about this feature of the Government. They know that outside the Ministry are many senators of much greater ability than some Ministers. I would not say that those senators are brilli’ant, but I have heard people refer to them as possessing something approaching brilliance. They have no possible chance of ever advancing politically unless they can develop these qualities of placidity and subservience. That applies not only to members of this chamber but also to members of the other place. How can we have other than an ineffective Budget when a decadent regime is in control of this country? It is of no use to say that that is just my opi’nion; members of the Government parties hold that opinion and ventilate it.
Each year the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) goes. to Bingil Bay. People in Queensland call it Bungle Bay because year after year the Treasurer goes there as a recluse, utilises the little ability that he possesses and produces a document that portrays how the nation will function financially in that financial year. I know it will be said that the Treasurer has been courageous because he has increased i’ncome tax by 24 per cent. To a person who pays £5,000 income tax annually it will mean an increase of £250. It does not mean he will have one suit, one drink or one cigar less. A person who last year paid income tax of £10,000 will pay an extra £500 tax. It will not mean for him one trip overseas less. But to the unfortunate people who will have to pay £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 more tax, it is something substantial. It means a denial in the home. To them the increase is something tangible, but to the other class of taxpayer an increase of £250 or £500 means nothing.
– What income is necessary before the income tax payable will be increased by £10 a year?
– Just less than £2,000.
– The honorable senator is wrong. He should check his figures before he makes such statements.
– It does not matter what it is. It is a matter of comparison.
– In fact, the honorable senator is making a speech but does not know what are the correct figures. - Senator DITTMER.- That is not right. I am telling honorable senators that the people who will pay increases of up to £10 know what the money is worth to them.
– What is the income tax on £2,000 a year?
– The honorable senator should get out his income tax schedule and look it up for himself. I am not here to provide him with information. He has rudely interrupted me and I did not interrupt him at all. The Government takes great pride in the increases in social service benefits. Certain increases have been granted, but it should be remembered that prices have increased by 4i per cent, which, as a proportion of the age pension, represents over 5s. a week. Because of the Government’s lack of control, it is probable that in the next 12 months prices will increase by at least the same percentage. Had the Government been possessed of a sense of fairness it would have increased social service pensions by at least 10s. a week.
I do not propose to discuss the increase in supplementary assistance and the miserable approach adopted in determining eligibility for it. I wish, now, to deal with the granting of medical benefits to all pensioners. It is rather interesting that since 9th November 1955 single pensioners in receipt of other income of more than £2 a week and pensioner married couples receiving other income of more than £4 a week have not been eligible for the free pensioner medical service. Ever since 1955 Labour supporters have remonstrated and pointed out to the Government the inequity of its approach. Until this Budget was brought down, nothing was done. Now the Government sees fit to grant free medical services for all pensioners as from 1st January 1965.
It is well known that, as people get older, they require more medical attention but are less able to afford it. It is also well known that an income of £2 a week other than the pension was insufficient to provide the necessary medical care. I ask honorable senators to cast their minds back. Has the Government been completely callous in the past, or has it been beholden to a section of the community of which it was frightened? I refer to a worthwhile section of the community which includes distinguished people. Why is it that now, so late in the piece - ten years later - the Government sees fit to grant eligibility for the pensioner medical service on a more or less unlimited scale? Perhaps an honorable senator opposite can answer my query, particularly a Minister who is in a position to adopt an authoritative approach. Perhaps we could be told whether it is just coincidence or whether there is a time-cause relationship.
It is not long ago that the Government agreed to increase medical fees for attendance on pensioners. Has there been collaboration or co-operation, between the medical fraternity and those in control of the treasury bench, or is it that the Government has at last seen the justification for the extension of these benefits? Has the Government at last, after so many years, heeded the suggestions of the Labour Party? There is not a doubt in the world that the Government will claim credit for granting medical assistance to all pensioners, whether in receipt of full or part pensions. Already we have had from the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz) a memorandum stating that part pensioners are to be included in the medical benefits. It would be interesting to know the relationship between the granting of the benefits to all pensioners and the rise granted to medical practitioners for services to pensioners.
The Budget has many interesting provisions. The Treasurer proposes to disburse £2,667,030,000. He proposes to raise decreasing amounts of loan money in the coming years and in this financial year to raise £210 million. Interestingly enough, he proposes to spend over £218 million on capital structures which are to serve for 30, 40, 50 or 100 years and which should be paid for out of loans. Because in no small measure they are to confer benefits on posterity they should be the burdens of posterity but, for some reason, the Government does not see fit to raise loans to meet these demands.
Why has the Government not set out to raise more loan money or to adopt measures that might bring in more loan money, even by compulsion?
I shall give two good examples of how money is available. Senator Scott took great pride in the establishment of a refinery by British Petroleum Ltd. at Kwinana. That company recently raised £10 million, not by way of share capital by which means profits would have been retained within Australia, but by the issue of debentures bearing a fixed interest rate which may be redeemed when the company so decides. Following a visit by Mr. Ford, £10 million was raised and underwritten for the Ford organisation. Again, it was not raised as share capital but as debentures bearing a fixed interest rate and, again, no effective equity was gained by Australians. The Government will not face up to its responsibilities by introducing voluntary or compulsory measures to obtain adequate amounts of loan money. That just shows that the Budget is unimaginative and uninspiring. When I use those words I do so after great consideration and deliberation. It is quite apparent that the Government does not visualise that this country could be on the eve of tremendous development and that it could take its place among the great nations of the world. The Budget is uninspiring because it does not stir the hearts of the Australian people or stimulate their minds.
I have said that Australia may be on the eve of great development. Let me advance reasons in support of my statement. We have proved approximately 1,400 million tons of bauxite of commercial grade. That does not represent the end of our supplies because, as honorable senators know, deposits that appear to be of commercial grade were discovered recently in the Kimberleys. In the Weipa area 600 million tons of 50 per cent, alumina have been proved; and we have not bothered to go outside the Comalco area. The Alcan organisation has taken up a 20 per cent, equity in the development of the Gladstone project. We know that in the Darling Ranges there is a deposit of more than 400 million tons of bauxite and we know that the deposit at Gove is of commercial significance. The State of Western Australia boasts, quite justifiably, of deposits of 15 billion tons df iron ore of commercial grade. Moreover, the Savage
River area in Tasmania apparently will be exploited.
We have been reminded also by Senator Ormonde about the fuel and coking coal deposits in New South Wales. Queensland rests on a bed of coal, including fuel coal and hard and soft coking coal. At Moura some of the best hard coking coal in the world- is being won. Approximately three million tons a year are being exported at the present time to feed the steel mills of Japan, and that quantity is to be increased. At Kianga we have soft coking coal, and at Blackwater a tremendous deposit is being explored by the Utah Exploration Company. A quantity of 2,000 or 3,000 tons from that field either was shipped last week or will . be shipped this week for investigation overseas.- The experts seem to think that that coal will be eminently suitable for use in the steel industry. If it is found to be suitable, almost certainly orders will be placed for the export of one million tons or more.
Nature has really endowed’ this country with great wealth. Senator Scott takes great pride in the wealth that has been discovered in his State of Western Australia. However, we are exporting- these raw materials, not to create employment in Australia or to bring people within the boundaries of this country but to lift the standard of living in other countries. Is there any real reason why coking coal or iron ore’ should go to Japan? Is there any reason why we should permit the Kaiser corporation, the Pechiney organisation, the Alcan organisation of Canada and the Conzinc Riotinto organisation to export alumina? Admittedly £56 million will have been spent upon the establishment of a refinery at Gladstone. Of the alumina to be produced there 100,000 tons is to go to Bell Bay, but it is visualised that 500,000 tons will go overseas to be smelted, turned into aluminium and used for fabricating material, to create mass employment and to derive great profits. In the light of these facts, is it any wonder that I become incensed and that my Party becomes angry at the unimaginative approach that is adopted by this Government? I hesitate to. refer to what Senator Scott has said, because he is a great friend of mine. He has referred to the expenditure of money at Derby ., and Wyndham’. I am all for it.
Sitting’ suspended from 5.45 to’ 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended, I was discussing harbour developments and had given credit to the Commonwealth Government for what had been done in that connection at Derby and Wyndham. Senator Scott had referred’ to that work. But I want to direct attention to overall needs in relation to the length- of the Australian coast’ line and the possibility of increasing our export earnings. The neglect of development along these lines by the Commonwealth Government is exemplified by the experience in my own State of Queensland. Reference is made in the Budget to the Government’s readiness to provide £1,350,000 for the development of harbour facilities at Weipa. Potentially the Weipa bauxite deposits are the greatest in the world holding out prospects of valuable export income. Relatively speaking the vote proposed by the Commonwealth Government for the Weipa harbour facilities is paltry.
Let us examine the prospects of other places in Queensland. Millions of tons of grain and hard coking coal will be exported through Gladstone. The earnings from overseas sales will help our balance of payments materially. An alumina refinery is to be established at Gladstone at a cost of £56 million and according to current estimates the works there will treat 1,200,000 tons of bauxite a year. No-one knows by how much that estimate will be exceeded in the process of time but it is estimated that 600,000 tons of alumina , will be exported from Gladstone.
What does the Government propose to do in the light of this potential export trade? I suppose that according to its lights the Government has been extraordinarily generous in the past. It provided £200,000 for port development at Gladstone - £100,000 by way of grant and £100,000 by way of loan. Surely the Government realises that a huge amount, of money will be needed for. the development of the harbour at Gladstone including provision for loading grain and coal and for the trans? port inwards of bauxite and the shipment outwards pf alumina? Yet the Government has not mentioned any additional plans to assist this development.
At present sugar is bringing low prices. At £18 a ton the price of sugar is probably the lowest since the depression. In the past sugar has been a tremendous earner of income for Australia, overseas. Yet the Government has not seen fit to assist its own political kith and kin in Queensland with the development of Townsville and Cairns. Additional harbour facilities are needed at both ports. In the light of the Government’s failure to help this development I do not know how supporters of the Government can talk of assistance afforded for northern development. The Government has shown itself to be helpless and inefficient in that regard. Even that Tory newspaper the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ has stated in a heading over a recent article “ State Awaits Federal Reply on Northern Aid”. Many of the requests mentioned have been in the hands of the Commonwealth Government for 6 months, 9 months, 12 months and longer and Queensland is still waiting.
Senator Scott said that the Government had been helpful in Western Australia. I concede that it has been helpful there on occasions. But curiously enough, the Western Australian Minister for Development, Mr. Court, is not very happy about what the Commonwealth Government has done. Recently he came to ‘Canberra with the Country Party Premier of Queensland, Mr. Nicklin. They were dissatisfied. They submitted requests which they believe they can substantiate. Yet the Commonwealth Government has done nothing about them.
We should not forget that 70 per cent, of our annual rainfall falls north of a line drawn across Australia from the boundary of Queensland and New South Wales. Yet what has the Commonwealth Government done by way of water conservation? I know that it has built a dam on the Ord River and has given nearly £6 million for that project. The Manton dam has been built near Darwin but that is not for irrigation; it will merely provide some of the water required in the Darwin area. The flow of the Ord River is five times that of the flow along the River Murray scheme. The flow along the Fitzroy River is three times the volume. In discussing these matters, I have always endeavoured to give a true national picture and sometimes I give examples to illustrate my point. I think we should try to understand what a tremendous volume of water flows to the sea from inland Queensland. The Fitzroy River Basin covers an area of 38,713 square miles but nothing is being done there to develop water resources and nothing is proposed. I know the Government has continued the- Snowy Mountains scheme which was inaugurated by a Labour Government. Incidentally, I recall that the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) refused to attend the inaugural ceremony. That was his own choice and I neither praise nor condemn him but his Ministers, including the former Minister for National Development, Sir William Spooner who resigned from the Senate recently, have taken a great pride in that scheme. I know that the Government proposes to provide money for the Blowering dam scheme in New South Wales and that South Australia will be assisted through the Chowilla scheme. But why has all this taken place in the south of Australia? We talk with pride of the north. We should think in terms of our responsibility in the eyes of the world to settle the north of Australia.
In the Fitzroy River Basin there are four main rivers and there are four potential sites for dams on the Nogoa, the Dawson, the Comet and the Fitzroy. As regards the Nogoa River, the Gap is the site there for a dam as previously determined. This place is less than 10 miles from Emerald, a thriving township with not a great population. The last estimate of the cost of this dam was £13 million and the gross revenue from it was calculated at not less than £4 million to £5 million a year. There has been only one unfavourable report regarding this site. Every other report has been favourable, and the soil investigation suggested or, at least, possibly determined, that below the dam site there were 300 farm areas each of 400 acres, representing 120,000 acres of good arable soil with an annual rainfall, apart from irrigation waters provided by the dam, of 25 to 26 inches. Nothing has been done about this scheme. That is not the only area of arable land associated with this location because, above the dam site, there are tens of thousands of acres of good soil. The Government has done nothing to develop the area.
With regard to the Dawson River and the Nathan Dam site, the last estimate of the cost of this project some years ago was £25 million. This dam, it was estimated, could produce gross revenue, at the prices then existing, of £7 million to £9 million a year. Again, nothing has been done. There are suitable dam sites on the Comet River and the Fitzroy River also. This Government speaks of what it will do or has done for northern Australia. I would- say that the area of which I speak is the outstanding watershed in Queensland. Of course, there are many other rivers in the region which could provide adequate water supplies for irrigation. The Burdekin River has not been properly investigated. 1 will be quite frank: I am not going to say that- the Burdekin River has been thoroughly investigated. I know the Queensland experts have gone over it and that they have their own opinions. 1 know that Commonwealth officers differed in some measure from them on this matter. 1 know that there are difficulties regarding silt and soil determination. The grava soils are a problem. Holes which are put down in some of these soils are very good but there are areas there where the soil is not so good. At least, these are the areas that are entitled to an investigation if the Government wishes to be true to its assurance to the people that it is interested in the North.
Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I revealed in my own simple way what a humbug this Government is regarding northern development. The Government established the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. The Officers of that Division, because of frustration, are running helter skelter from the Department. One officer is to be a Labour candidate in the next federal election. Mr. President, you were not here at the time so I wish to inform you that a distinguished man, because of frustration and of his own leanings, will be the Labour candidate for the seat of Dawson in Queensland. I think the meanest trick I have ever known to be perpetrated by any public figure was played when the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) said that he did not know that this particular officer had Socialist leanings. I suppose that if this man stood for the seat of Kooyong when the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) retires - and Australia will be grateful for his retirement, I would think - the Minister would say that he represented capitalism at its best. The Assistant Director of this Division is now looking for a job in another department. What is to happen to the rest of the officers I would not know; but, perhaps, the sooner the Government, disbands this particular’ section and faces- up to the reality that it is not going to do for the North anything other than that which suits it politically, the better it will be for all concerned.
Around the Burnett River some of the best canelands in Australia are to be found. I mentioned earlier that the price of sugar is not high at the present time. It has been high; it has been low. I know that there are people in the south of Australia who would quarrel with the Australian price cif sugar. During the last war Australians were able to buy the cheapest sugar in the world. So people cannot have it both ways. If they are going to buy it when it is cheap, they should pay the price when it is dearer, or accept the equitable price. Around the Burnett River there are the beautiful canelands of the Bundaberg and Isis areas which have been suffering this year, and suffered last year, because of the denial of water facilities. This Government has done little or nothing for the area. I know that, just recently, some officers from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority were up there and, in a cursory way in the limited time available to them, they had a look at the Burnett River area. They have determined that there are two possible sites where water could be conserved to provide for a production to the value of £8 million to £12 million a year. In terms of primary production that is not a bad gross return.
So I say that this Government has failed in water conservation in the North. The only effort it has really made has been on the Ord River where nearly £6 million has been spent. But the moment the Ord River project looked like being a success, the Government baulked. I heard Senator Scott talk about the pests which have been encountered there. But pests are found in all crops and there is a solution available. Incidentally, it is interesting to notice that the proposed vote for the one real instrumentality of which the Government should be proud - the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which has done a tremendous job - is not substantially increased in this financial year. Why is that? Cannot the Government attract officers of sufficient scientific ability? Is the Government not prepared to make money available to attract these officers? Does the Government not desire more officers? The C.S.I.R.O. has assisted’ not only primary industry but also secondary industry in a big way. Surely the Government must face this responsibility when it produces a Budget of £2,365 million? The Government mentions that £500 million is to be disbursed to the States. But everyone knows that the States are only spenders for the Commonwealth Government and have been for many years. Each and every State squeals about the paucity of the handout to it and the miserly approach of the Federal Government in regard to State responsibilities relating to education, health or anything else. But we do assume that the Federal Government should accept a measure of real responsibility for, and provide money adequate to, the needs of the nation.
SoI say regarding my own State - and, as I said previously, I use Queensland as an example only - that the situation typifies the ineffectiveness and ineficiency of this Government now in control of the treasury bench. I have heard members of the Government talk about the beef roads. I have already dealt with Senator Scott in relation to the Mount Isa-Collinsville-Townsville road. Now I will deal with what the honorable senator had to say about beef roads. What happened was this: On the second last night before the Senate adjourned prior to the 1961 election, I said that reports coming into the Prime Minister’s office suggested that the Government might be in danger of defeat. What a tragedy it was that a proportion of Communist votes elected the man who kept the Government in office. Then the Prime Minister called him “ Killen the Magnificent “.
What happened on the night before the Senate adjourned? The Government of the day, led by Sir Robert Menzies, said: “We will provide £650,000 for the Julia Creek to Normanton beef road and the State Government will provide £350,000 “. Many honorable senators agreed with me that this sum was totally inadequate. The proposed road was to be of gravel, and I said that unless it was scaled it would not be satisfactory. I added that a far greater allocation of funds was needed for beef roads, not only in Queensland but throughout the north. I know that a certain amount was provided for works in Western Australia, and I think £1,150,000 is to be provided this year for the Willaroo to Top Springs road in the Northern Territory.
The Premier of Queensland is squealing - that is a word I hesitate to use - because he knows that the allocation was totally inadequate in the first place and that the money is now running out. I think this is the only gift, apart from the £100,000 which was provided for the improvement of harbour facilities at Gladstone, that has been made or is in’ the process of being made to Queensland. The Premier is squealing because the allocation was totally inadequate. When I appeared on the television programme “ Meet the Press “ I said that about £20 million or £30 million was needed for the construction of satisfactory beef roads. The Premier is now speaking in terms of £60 million to £80 million. In the fullness of time the Commonwealth Government will have to find that sum because the State, as a result of either its inefficiency or its limited financial resources, will not be able to provide adequate funds for beef roads.
It is of no use for any honorable senator opposite to claim that this Government or its immediate predecessors have been interested in the north. The only time the Government was interested in the north and diverted funds to the area, particularly to Queensland, was when reports of dissatisfaction filtered through to the Prime Minister’s office and when the Government nearly got the political hiding of its life at the 1961 election. But when in 1963, whether through our misdemeanors or our misjudgment, the Government was again returned to office, with a majority of 22, no funds in addition to those which had already been promised were made available for the development of the north.
What will be the position in the future? Let us remember the millions of people in the countries to our north and the unpredictability of the man at present in control in Indonesia. No-one knows how long he will live. He himself does not know what attitude he will adopt from day to day. I admit that no-one can take away from him his greatness in the eyes of the Indonesian people. He gave them a sense of nationhood and a measure of literacy, although he took no interest in the nation’s economy. However, everyone knows that he is unpredictable and that he has an obsession about independence movements. If any such movement arose in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and he decided to support it, what would be pur attitude? What are we doing to show that we are settling our northern areas? How will we justify our hold on that part of Australia? How much of the £2,000 million for which this Budget provides is to be spent in the north? We must all bear in mind that, irrespective of where the people live, money flows to the southern parts of Australia. - Many years ago I said that an evil triumvirate controlled Australia. I referred to Victoria particularly, .as well as to New South. Wales and South Australia, the latter State at that’ time being led by Sir Thomas Playford. Those States did what they liked with the rest of Australia. Let the people remember that this is the place from which power flows; this is the place which controls the country’s finances. Until we are prepared to implement ah effective taxation system under which the people who have great material assets will recognise their responsibilities monetarily, there can be no satisfactory development of this country.
Subsequent to the Second World War there was talk of putting boys and girls in uniform. I argued with certain people of great wealth in the south that we should think more in terms of ‘ education. They claimed that children are the. joy and the responsibility of their parents. I said: “ For heaven’s sake, leave it that way. If war comes do not put these boys and girls into Uniform to defend your’ material assets. If they are the joy and the. responsibility of their parents, leave them in the sole control of their parents “. That. is. how the matter stands. ,
The Government should face up to the fact that this is a country of little more than 11 million people. We have been endowed with great natural wealth but much of it is being sold. Australia cannot develop unless it becomes a manufacturing and a fabricating country, lt cannot develop unless it has a high level of taxation. It cannot- become a great country with a great future - unless we are prepared to face up ‘to the responsibility of educating our young people. It is no use talking about an allocation of £9.9 million for the provision of science laboratories and technical education facilities. That is only playing with the problem. There is also an allocation of £750,000 for research and another amount for advanced education. We should think of education as a pyramid, the foundation of which is primary education. I admit that the Prime Minister, with his academic associations and his academic brilliance, has in some small measure paid due regard to university education, Now, as a result of certain pressures, he is paying some small regard to technical tertiary education and to secondary scientific, and technical education, but by no -stretch of the imagination.can.it be said that it has ever entered his mind that the foundation upon which all these things rest is primary education. He is not prepared to interest himself in that. Perhaps he is too big; perhaps his mind is too wide. However, I suggest that those who through their placidity and . subservience have been able to enter the Ministry, should pay due regard to this need of the nation and approach the Prime Minister. Only when he recognises his responsibility in this regard will he leave his impress on the history of Australia. If he does not, he will merely leave- his footprints on the quicksands of time.
.- I -should like to mention one or two .aspects of the Budget which is now before us. The preparation of this Budget carried with it the necessity to do certain things, in particular to raise sufficient finance to provide for the continuance and the expansion of the nation’s development. - It was necessary, therefore, for the Government to seek other avenues of revenue. I believe that the Government could very well have by-passed certain avenues and concentrated more on others. One of the matters that disturbed me was the 3d. increase in the tax appertaining to civil aviation fuel. I have always felt that because Australia is a large country and the population is spread over such a great area, civil aviation is of particular importance. Every encouragement possible should be given to its development. I think it can truly be said that our civil aviation standards and our achievements in commercial aviation in Australia to - the present time are magnificent. Therefore, I think it is unfortunate that we should do anything which might put an extra load on. civil aviation and in the long run, react against the airlines and increase the cost of air travel.
– They had a record in- crease last year. .- Senator WOOD.- That is true. The great increase that has taken place has enabled us to bring here and utilise to the fullest capacity aircraft of the very latest and best design. Therefore, we should not do anything that will be detrimental to the development that has taken place in this regard. I was sorry to hear that the tax is to be applied to the fuel that is used by the civil aviation operators.
Another aspect that concerns me is the increase in charges for the use of civil aviation facilities. We have to be careful that we do not load this form of travel with too many increases. A matter that worries me is the reference in the Budget Speech to the Government’s intention of finding ways of decreasing the gap between the capital cost of the facilities and the return from the commercial airlines. I have not been through all the figures yet, but recently I read in a travel trade journal that Australia has the highest charges in the world, so far as civil aviation amenities are concerned. If this is the case, I think we should be very careful that we do not overstep the mark in this regard.
I said at the outset that there was a necessity for the Government to use every means of raising money. Generally speaking, 1 suppose that the Government has given great thought to this matter and that most of the methods it has used are the simplest and easiest ways of obtaining additional revenue. 1 am concerned also with instances in which the Budget does not do enough, or does not give sufficient recognition to the necessity for doing certain things. One matter was dealt with by Senator Dittmer, and it was also touched upon by Senator Scott. I refer to northern development. I do not think the Government realises the urgency for action in this regard. We know that during the last general election campaign the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) promised to set up the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. This was done. But we have seen the unfortunate spectacle of the head of this Northern Division because of what he considers to be frustration, deciding to resign and stand for Parliament. Recently we read that the Deputy Director of the Northern Division had asked for a transfer because of his frustration. These actions have a deep import that should give us reason for thought.
I believe that the Government could make quicker decisions regarding northern development and take a keener interest in this aspect. The northern part of this country is very close to the most troubled spot in the world today. The empty spaces in the northern area certainly are an invitation to other people. The sparseness of population in this region is something that can always be thrown up at us by people who are not friendly or well disposed towards us. They can say that we are not doing very much about it. I believe that there is an urgency to do something in this regard. I know that the greatest section of our population is in the south, and therefore no doubt the Government and the people generally have their own interests in mind. But I believe that there has been an awakening and a quickening of interest, not only by the people in the north, but also by many people in the south, to the necessity to do something for northern development. Therefore, I urge the Government to give further consideration to the seriousness of the intended resignation of the Director of the Northern Division and the request for a transfer by the Deputy Director.
Dr. Patterson has been a dedicated exponent of northern development. When a man turns down a position with the World Bank and a salary of about £10,000 a year, to investigate the prospects of World Bank development, in order to take a position at half the salary in the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, no one can tell me that he is a gogetter or that he is a man seeking opportunities. He is a man dedicated to northern development. I am not talking politics. I believe that everything possible should be done by the Government to retain Dr. Patterson because of his dedication, the high quality of his thinking and his worth and the regard in which he is held throughout the north. It is regrettable that men of that character should be lost to this nation because they have been direct in their observations and recommendations to the Government. I believe it would not be degrading to anybody to make the necessary approach in order to bring this particular aspect of Government administration info better focus and to try to keep Dr. Patterson and his Deputy Director in the positions that they occupy at the present time. I speak like this because I believe that as Australians we should do what is best for this nation. I cannot think of anything better than to make this recommendation.
A number of development schemes have been discussed during this debate. One of them is the Ord River project. I have a copy of Dr. Patterson’s report on this scheme. When one reads it one cannot help but be impressed with what he says. This is what he has said regarding cotton -
At this current average yield of around 1950 lb. seed cotton per acre and an annual average of 300 acres of cotton only (which assumes that the remainder of the productive irrigable area of 350 acres lies completely idle each year), established Ord farmers, on the cost-income data available, could be expected to operate a profitable cotton enterprise even if there were a drastic reduction in the cotton bounty and the price of cotton was around the current export price level. By increasing the acreage of cotton in excess of 300 acres annually and thus spreading fixed costs over a greater acreage, the required break-even yield is correspondingly reduced.
Later in his report under the heading “ General Conclusion Regarding Profitability of Overall Farming Sector “, he said-
The general conclusion which I have reached is that under known technology and cost-income data applying to the Ord area today, cotton production as a monoculture (utilizing only a proportion of the productive area) is a sound economic proposition even if the bounty Is completely removed and producers had to operate on the export price.
The introduction of grain sorghum, in addition to cotton, to utilise idle productive irrigable land will make the overall farming enterprise more profitable, in that it will significantly increase the net income above the level earned by growing cotton ona proportion of the farm only.
The conclusion reached is that agricultural production in the Ord area based on cotton only, or cotton production with grain sorghum grown supplementary to cotton, is a sound economic proposition at the export price level for both commodities.
He then goes on to deal with beef cattle production and talks about the saving of cattle that die because of lack of nutriment and so on. He states -
The whole question of integration of cattle production with the Ord project is of such importance that it is worthy of intensive investigation. The feeding out of protein-rich by-products to breeders is only one aspect. The utilisation of irrigable areas supplementary to cotton production to grow hay, and to fatten weaners on cotton crops and pastures is another.
This is a most interesting report. It impresses me as being very thorough and indicates that the Ord River project is of truly national importance. It is not in my own State: it is in the north-west of Western Australia. It is an area that I believe badly needs population and every encouragement to develop so as to get that population. When a sufficient population is obtained, further development will be stepped up because the people there will do things themselves and encourage the doing of other things.
That is one aspect of northern development. There is no doubt that other aspects might also be considered. Northern development is linked with another important matter, that is, the shortage of overseas credits. This is one of the things that really worries this Parliament and the country generally year by year. If we could turn this deficiency of overseas credits into a very nice surplus each year, many of the problems of the Government and the nation would be solved. Therefore, anything which can help to increase export earnings and overseas credits is doubly valuable to us. In relation to the Ord River project, I have mentioned the matter of cotton. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), who is in the chamber, can correct me if I am wrong, but my recollection is that imports of raw cotton and cotton manufactured goods run at about £50 million a year. Taking that as the correct figure, one can see that a considerable saving could be made with the production of more raw cotton and the turning of that cotton into piece goods. Here is a real opportunity for us to reduce overseas expenditure considerably. The Ord River scheme has opened up possibilities in this regard.
The beef cattle industry, of which Dr. Patterson has spoken, is extremely important. We would not have any difficulty in disposing of surplus production, in view of the present condition of world markets. Recently, I was in Argentina, which is a great beef producing country. Home consumption of beef there has been limited in order to hold as much as possible for export. From what I can see, the world demand for beef is increasing. Therefore, the beef cattle industry can be made more and more valuable to this country and is deserving of every encouragement. If schemes such as the Ord River scheme will develop the cotton industry, build overseas credits and increase cattle production, they are schemes of the type that we want. I do not think that such schemes must be looked at only from the point of view of the immediate return. They must be regarded as long term projects. Economists may have doubts about some things, but when these are looked at overall from the point of view of what they do for the nation, it is clear that there are very many other important factors to be considered. I believe that on such schemes as the Ord River scheme the Government could act more quickly than, seemingly, it is acting at present.
I have in mind other aspects of northern development that could help the nation. Certain beef roads are scheduled for construction in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, but the Budget provides only a very small amount for the construction of beef roads which were decided upon some time ago. I know that other roads schemes have been suggested to the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, of which Dr. Patterson was the head. Some of these related to roads in Queensland that would help the cattle industry in many respects. Beef cattle roads are of great value. They provide for better transportation of cattle to meat works for slaughter, and they permit the cattle to arrive in better condition than would otherwise be the case. An extremely important aspect is that in drought conditions,, when cattle might die in. the far west, they can be shifted for agistment to other areas where the feed is better. In. this way starving stock can be saved. Although the stock belong to individuals, they, are a national asset. Every beast lost is a national loss, because beef can be exported. Anything that can be exported is very important, and everything possible should be done to give relief and encouragement to people in the west. Those of us who live on the coast do not take full cognisance of the need to give every possible amenity to people in the west. Contrast the amenities that are available to those of us who live on the coast and in areas such as Canberra with the amenities available to people who live in the west. They are deserving of much more consideration because of the hardships and difficulties with which they contend, which most people on the coast would not stand.up to or put up with.
The matter of the provision of beef cattle roads is deserving of quick consideration. I know this is an aspect that has worried the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. I do not know what has caused the delay. I am trying to be constructive and I do not want to be taken as hammering at the Government. As a constructive proposal, I suggest that we lift our sights a little more to the need to do something for the north. Beef cattle roads are easily constructed. The expenditure required is not terrific in relation to their importance. They can play an important part in helping to maintain and even to develop further the beef cattle industry of my own State and no doubt of other parts of the country. The amount that the Budget provides for northern development is not very much when compared wilh what is provided for expenditure elsewhere. Take the city of Canberra. If I remember rightly, over £4 million more is being provided this year for Canberra than was provided last year. We have raised the allocation for Papua and New Guinea by £3 million. We are throwing money down the drain in appeasing people like President Sukarno of Indonesia. It makes me bilious to think that over the years we have not learned that appeasement never pays. Today we are pouring out money and playing up to such people instead of taking a strong stand. Even in a place such as .Papua and .New Guinea, where the people will eventually have their independence-
– =Why not support it now?
– What I am saying is that it is not Papua and New Guinea, Indonesia or any other such place which is most important to us. What is most important to us is Australia. Let us make Australia strong from within; then we will be much stronger in dealing with the people without. Let us spend a bit more on this country; we will be stronger for doing so. We should concentrate our funds on the development of our own areas. I shall be surprised if anyone in Australia is really satisfied with what has been done up to date; in the north,- with its vast empty spaces and the opportunity for doing so much. T am not satisfied with the- present rate of development of our northern regions. Look at the towns and cities that have sprung up along the coast of north Queensland because of the development of the sugar industry. I can remember when many people would have said that we should scrap the sugar industry, but if it went out of existence today north Queensland would become an empty place. What has happened in north Queensland could happen in the north-west of Australia and other regions if the Commonwealth gave the necessary encouragement and the means for further development.
We in Australia have our urgent problems. One of them that I have talked about over a period of years is the necessity to build up our overseas earnings so as to get rid of the continuing trouble which has bedevilled this Government and other Governments before it - the shortage of overseas credits. The opportunity is here. If we concentrate on our own development we will become stronger and better able to help other people. When we look at the position we can see various ways of reducing the heavy drain on our overseas credits. There are many aspects of the matter to which we could give more concentrated attention. Over a period of years this Government has played a very important part in the search for oil in Australia. In the early days, the Government’s encouragement of the search for oil was not the most popular policy, but over the years the Government has set a good example in this regard. This is most important because of the great amount of oil products imported into this country, the volume of which amounts to about £150 million a year.
Imagine what the position would be if we could find enough oil in this country to meet all our needs. That, in itself, would solve a large part of our problem in regard to an adverse balance of trade. But what do we find? Not long ago, after a very fine start, the Government reduced the subsidy for oil search. If somebody found some gas or oil, that area did not get any further subsidy. I think the Government should take a new look at this policy and get back to the former basis of encouraging drilling for oil. It should reinstate its former policy. I know that this Budget steps up the oil search subsidy from £5 million to about £7 million this year, but I think it would be worthwhile to step the subsidy up still further, and to go back to the original basis of subsidising all the wells drilled. If the Government did that it could be very handsomely repaid with the finding of oil, which would help to over come one of our greatest problems. In addition, the discovery of oil would result in the setting up of many other industries.
We must look for further avenues for increasing our overseas credits. One avenue about which I have talked for many years is the development of the tourist industry. It is to the Government’s credit that during its years of office it has greatly increased the allocation to the Australian National Travel Association for the development of international travel to this country. When the Government came into office I think the amount granted was about £25,000 a year, but last year it was £350,000 and this year it is £381,000. It might seem a bit tough to say this, because that is a magnificent contribution in comparison with the amount originally provided, but I feel that a much larger contribution is required. It must be ten years ago that I said that we needed to spend £500,000 in that year on overseas publicity and that we should step that figure up to £1 million in the next year.
There is a great deal about Australia that is not known overseas. It is essential for us to make our country better known for the better it is known the better is the. impression that we make. With a better impression, we shall get more tourists. I can think of no other industry in which you can invest a pound and get a quicker return than from the tourist industry. I am sure that if we stimulated our advertising overseas, in a few months we would have people filling our resorts, our hotels and motels, our trains and coaches, spending in our shops and so on. In no time at all the pounds or dollars would begin to fill the coffers of business people, who. in turn, would pay more taxation to the Government.
– The tourists bring money here and leave it here.
– Senator Scott has made a very sensible remark. The tourists bring their money here and leave it here. The tourist industry is the only industry I know of where you can sell your product and still retain it. Tourism can be of immense importance to Australia. The tragedy now is that we are not even a creditor in the matter of the tourist industry. We put more money into tourism than we get out of it. That is very detrimental to us. We should step up our spending in this direction to £500,000 this year and £1 million next year, in order to put ourselves on the map overseas.
I remember that when I spoke on this issue some years ago I quoted Great Britain as spending £1 million a year on advertising to bring tourists to that country. Britain is much better known than Australia is. Britain has a great historical appeal and various other attractions which we have not got. We are not in the race with Great Britain as far as historical attractions are concerned; she has a great start on us in that regard. What is more, Britain is much closer to the great areas of population, such as the United States, than we are. If it costs Britain over a £1 million a year to keep herself in the tourist market, surely we in Australia need to expend at least as much in order to establish ourselves in that market more firmly than we are now established. We have a wonderful opportunity today because things have changed considerably. Faster aeroplanes are telescoping time. Whereas it once took months to get here, people can now get here in a few hours. With the speed, smoothness and quietness of modern aeroplanes, and with the magnificent ships now running to Australia, there are all the requirements for people to come here in comfort. If we give the Australian National Travel Association much more money for a strong publicity drive we will get a very good return from it.
If we were to spend £1 million a year on well directed publicity overseas, I would be very surprised if we could not gain an extra £10 million a year. A return of £10 million for an expenditure of £1 million would be a very good investment and it is a real possibility. I have heard Doubting Thomases express misgivings, but there is an attraction for people to come here. Some tourists would come here direct, but most would visit Australia as a country along the line of their tour down through the Pacific from the United States of America. The same is true of visitors from Great Britain. Because of the troubles in Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Pakistan, Americans and tourists from other countries are looking for different and more peaceful areas. We have an opportunity to step in to the tourist market as a land of peace, happiness and sunshine and everything that goes with those assets to make a strong appeal to tourists. We have a splendid opportunity.
– We have the Barrier’ Reef, too.
– We have the Great Barrier Reef. There are barrier reefs in various parts of the world but the Great Barrier Reef, off the Queensland coast, is the world’s greatest barrier reef and could be one of our greatest international tourist attractions.
We have a variety of tourist attractions. When I have spoken of them at different times knockers have said to me: “ What have we to offer overseas tourists? “.
– They have never been to Mackay.
– Mackay is the sweetheart city of the nation. It is in Australia’s largest sugar producing area. Therefore it is a sweet city.
– The honorable senator is making it unnecessary to spend anything on advertising.
– It is always as well to let the world know what is the best. Australia is the best country in the world, Queensland is its best State and possibly Mackay is its best city. A survey was made in September 1963 by the Australian National Travel Association of the degree of satisfaction experienced by overseas tourists to Australia. Of those tourists interviewed, 51 per cent, said in a most unreserved and unqualified way that they had had a wonderful holiday; 40 per cent, said that they had enjoyed their holiday more than they had expected, and that Australia was a wonderful country; 8 per cent, said that they had had a wonderful holiday - better than expected - and that’ the people were also wonderful; 9 per cent, said that they had enjoyed their holiday but had met a few minor inconveniences; 7 per cent, said that they had enjoyed their holiday but had not had enough time here, which meant they would have liked to stay longer; only 1 per cent, said that their visit had not been all that they had wished for.
Senator- Mattner. - Did they go to Mackay?
– They went to all parts of Australia and .enjoyed the country generally. The results of the survey indicated in very definite term’s that we have features with great appeal for tourists and there is no reason why we could not act more strongly in this respect. By increasing our tourist income we would not only help to correct our overseas debit balance, but we could develop a very profitable industry.
I remember when Great Britain set out to build up her international tourist trade. The then Director of the Queensland Government Tourist Bureau - the late Mr. Alf. Cole - showed me a booklet issued by Great Britain. It was aiming at an income from tourists of £100 million a year. It seemed such a colossal sum that I thought it could never be achieved, but today Great Britain’s tourist industry is one of its most valuable industries. The campaign has succeeded through continued persistence and publicity and I believe that Australia could achieve the same result. We have a different kind of appeal and I am confident that if we go about it in the right way and let people overseas know more about us we can develop a profitable tourist industry.
I shall briefly run through the points I have made tonight. I believe that the Government should be more active in the field of northern development. The aspects of development in the north to which I have referred could help to correct our overseas trading debit balance. I have referred to the need for assistance for the oil industry so that suitable supplies of oil can be found more quickly. I have referred to the need to develop our tourist industry. If action were taken as I have suggested the results might be of surprising benefit for this nation. Research into the opportunities that lie before us is required. By developing the north we can take away its emptiness and perhaps remove the gaze of covetous eyes from our vacant areas. If, at the same time, we can build up overseas credit we will have done a magnificent job that will add to our laurels.
While our image overseas is good in certain respects, we are not known in sufficient detail. Recently, I had the great privilege and honour of being a member of a delegation to Mexico and several South American countries. I believe that the Government showed very good spirit in sending the delegation. We followed a crowded itinerary and met many personalities of the Parliaments of the countries we visited. In the delegation were three senators - its leader, the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), Senator Dittmer of the Opposition, and myself. Four members of the delegation came from the House of Representatives. I believe that a very good job was done for Australia and the Minister scored a great success in the Spanish countries. At one time he had spoken Spanish well, but had become a little rusty. When we started on the tour he struggled along with the Spanish language and eventually won us a lot of goodwill. Like we in Australia, the people of those countries like a fellow who tries. The Minister won a great victory and eventually he was speaking Spanish almost like a Spaniard. So successful was he that once he interrupted an interpreter of his speech made in English to say: “ I did not say that. You went a bit further than I did “. He did an excellent job in leading the delegation.
I think the Minister will agree that the reputation of Australia stands high with the people of Mexico and the South American countries. The simple thoughts that they expressed about us made me realise the necessity for more publicity to provide details about Australia. I found that the thing they liked best about us was that in their opinion, we are a strong outpost of democracy. A lot of South American countries have had to fight through turmoil and upsets to achieve democratic Government and they treat it as something precious. Senators in one country we visited are elected for six years and must stand down for the following six years. In the House of Representatives of the Congress, in the main, the members just serve for three years and must then stand down for three years. The people are afraid of dictators being set up as a result of a long term of office. I am emphasising this point to show that to those people democracy is very precious. We stand very high in their regard because they believe that Australia is a very strong outpost of democracy.
If a sophisticated writer or some traveller comes back to Australia and says: “ Don’t talk about kangaroos or koala bears when you are overseas because they don’t mean anything “, we should just write that off as a lot of sophisticated nonsense. I discovered that Australia was known for these things and that these two native animals of ours had some publicity value for this country.
– The honorable senator does not mean to tell me that he spoke about kangaroos?
– The Minister who led the delegation arranged for us to have’ gold coloured replica kangaroos to wear. He brought a supply that was to last us for the whole of the trip south. This had the interesting effect of revealing the little things that these people know about us. By the time we had completed our- visit to Mexico City we had hardly a kangaroo left to give away. The Minister will confirm that wherever we went and whomever we met, whether it was the President of the nation, the President of the Senate, the head of the House of Representatives, people in the business community or girls in the shops, they would ask us for a replica of a Kangaroo. From the highest to the lowliest they asked us if we had one to spare.
At the very first hotel in which we stayed in Mexico City, what did we find when we went into the coffee lounge for our meals? We did not see, as we see at our Australian resorts, American names everywhere. The coffee lounge was known as the Koala Lounge, and koalas were depicted around the room. I mention these things to illustrate the possibilities of the tourist industry and the little things that these people know about us. I am not advancing these things to illustrate our democracy. But I do point out that because we are democratic the people in the countries that we visited have a high regard for us. Little things such as our native fauna have an appeal to them. I believe that if our publicity campaign were extended and if we filled in a- lot more of the details of the appeal of our country, many more people would be attracted to Australia. Let us remember that of the people who come here as tourists to see Australia some stay. A survey that I saw showed that 9 per cent, of the people who came here said that it would be a good country to settle in. A percentage of tourists will stay if the place is attractive. The tourist industry could be expanded not only to bring people here so that we might earn more credit but to bring more people here to stay.
– ‘What about the prospects of trade?
– There are prospects for trade, too. I am dealing with particular means by which this Government could build up more overseas credits’. During my travels with the delegation I spoke to a number of people. I should say that at least eight or nine will probably come to this country as migrants as a result of my having told them some of the details. The Government engaged in good publicity in sending this goodwill mission overseas; I believe the delegation was a very real success. If that delegation could achieve the success that I believe it achieved, then with a wider publicity campaign we could achieve so much more. We could attract more people here. This, together with the development of the north and various industries associated therewith, could enable us to turn Australia’s overseas debit into a very handsome credit. I commend, the Budget to the Senate. I do not support the amendment,’ I support the Budget.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, as I was saying three years ago, when I was interrupted, every issue that ‘ could be debated in this Parliament fades into insignificance beside the issue of the future defence and security of our country. Before I deal with that issue, I want to offer my compliments and good wishes to the new senators who have made their maiden speeches within the last couple of weeks. Some of them said that they felt nervous. I am sure that they showed ability. That indicates that their nervousness will soon pass. I have no doubt that they will reach the stage of confidence that. was. reached by an American senator who, having served in his country’s Senate for many years, was asked to make a statement upon his retirement. He said: “ Well, when you are el’ected to the Senate you get such a shock that you spend the first six months wondering how you ever got there. After that you put in your time wondering how all the other senators ever got. there.”
In 1 949 an event occurred which changed the history of the world and of Australia in particular. That event having occurred, nothing could ever be the same for our country again. I refer to the taking over of China by Communism. Ever since then the party to which I belong has been saying that, with such a serious situation facing our country, we must improve our defences. We have received no support over the past 10 years for our continual admonitions that Australia faced grave danger and that urgent action was necessary to meet that danger. When I became a senator for the first time in 1956 our defence vote had been pegged at £200 million for a couple of years. When 1 ceased to be a senator in 1962 our defence vote was still pegged at £200 million, in spite of the fact that the danger was infinitely greater and that the value of money had greatly decreased. So in effect our defence vote was less.
At the 1961 Federal election - that was only a few years ago - the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) indicated that he was quite happy with the pegging of the defence vote at that sum. Mr. Calwell, the Leader of the Opposition in another place, said that if his Party were elected to office, it would maintain the defence vote at the same sum. About the only thing in relation to which he agreed with Sir Robert Menzies in delivering his policy speech was that we should not spend any more money on defence. The only party that insisted that the danger was so great that we must improve our defences was the Australian Democratic Labour Party. We did so in the face of Press and political criticism. Now the position is different. Everybody is on the defence band wagon. Everybody says that we must increase our defences.
I, and no doubt many other people, looked forward to this Budget as a defence Budget. But we have been grievously disappointed. There have been some increases of expenditure. We welcome them, as far as they go. But what do the figures show? Figures quoted in another House indicate that in 1953-54 we spent 3.73 per cent, of our national income on defence. In 1959 that expenditure had dropped to 2.73 per cent., and in the next financial year it will bc 3.54 per cent. Canada, a country which greatly resembles our own, has been spending 8 per cent, of her national income on defence. Canada’s position is infinitely better than ours. She is a neighbour of the United States of America and is sure of assistance from the United States. We hope to get assistance from America, but we cannot be sure. The Monroe Doctrine has declared that Canada may be sure of assistance from the United States. But we, in a corner of the Pacific that is far more dangerous, will spend in the next financial year less than half of what Canada will spend. Yet we are asked to believe that a job is being done for the future defence of this country.
I was disappointed with the reaction of the Australian Labour Party to the Government’s defence programme. An amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) contains three main clauses with which the Democratic Labour Party could probably agree; They relate to social services, for example, and the burdens on the wage earners. But when one looks for an expression pf opinion on defence - a vital issue in Australia today and therefore a vital issue in the Budget - we find that the Australian Labour Party is unable to say that the defence vote is too great, whether it is just enough or whether it is too little. No opinion is expressed by the A.L.P. on the defence vote.
I say with conviction that neither 1 nor my colleague, Senator Gair, could vote for an amendment which completely begs the question on the most vital issue facing Australia today. Therefore Senator Gair, as Leader of the Democratic Labour Party in this chamber, has moved an amendment to Senator Kennelly’s amendment by adding the following words -
The Senate further declares that provision for defence in the Budget is still inadequate to meet the needs of Australia’s security, and the essential and justifiable commitments, which we have undertaken in South Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and South East Asia generally.
The Senate declares that effective defence requires much increased specific and separate budgetary provision.
We have moved that amendment because the most essential need in Australia today is to secure the safety and security of our children. Nobody will ever convince me that the increases in the defence vote set out by the Government in this Budget will even make up the leeway we have lost over the past 10 years. We have not made up the leeway let alone made any progress towards making Australia secure. If I am asked what should be done, I can save the time of the Senate by referring to the statement on Australia’s defence needs made by Senator Gair in his speech a fortnight ago. We in the Democratic Labour Party stand by that statement and we say that without those measures Australia cannot be considered safe.
If I am asked to look at what is being done now, I shall point not only to the insufficient expenditure on defence but also to the insufficiency of the numbers who are being trained in our armed forces. Much has been made of the fact that a number of young men are being brought into national service but in terms of requirements, the numbers are miserable. Even those supporting the Government in another place have expressed that opinion. The national service intake does not represent a substantial contribution to the future security of Australia or the sort of contribution that is called for. In that respect, the Government has failed to act with the sense of urgency which the emergency requires.
As for the Navy, we are an island continent. For eight years, our Navy was neglected. It rusted away. What is being done now is insufficient to meet the requirements of a country such as ours with an immense coastline. We have done away with such things as the Fleet Air Arm. We have no mercantile marine which, as everybody knows, is essential in naval warfare.
In the air we have waved in front of us a few Mirage fighters. But what is the situation? I have been told and I have heard it said that the Mirage programme is well up to time. I am unable to accept that assurance. The Mirage programme, as everybody knows, has been held up by industrial trouble. It has been held up by the foolish action of the Government some years ago, to which Senator Toohey referred at the time and to which I referred, in allowing trained and skilled aviation workers to be dispersed by denying to the companies which employed them the work which would have kept them in active operation. The Mirage programme at present is threatened by the fact that no reliable ground equipment system is available and without it the Mirage aircraft cannot operate effectively. I say therefore that the defence situation is still unsatisfactory and the Government has indicated no sense of urgency in this verygrave emergency.
Senator Wright attempted to defend the Government’s policy by saying that after all even if it had not spent so much money, the Government had acted in the period up to 1955 to provide Australia with a ring of . defence alliances. I presume he referred to such alliances as the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty and the A.N.Z.U.S. Pact. I can only say in this connection that the value of these alliances has been questioned by many people. I would regret to think that an excuse for our failure to do what should be done for our own security should be taken from the existence of defence alliances, the implication being appa.rently that we have arranged for other people to defend us when we are not prepared to take action to defend ourselves.
Senator Wright also said that, after all, development is essential to defence and the Government is spending money on big development schemes which made it necessary not to spend so much on defence. I can only ask where the big developmental schemes are or where they were. I was in the Senate four or five years ago and I remember one honorable senator on this side of the chamber asking the Government where were the really big development schemes. Senator Wood interjected: “ The Canberra lakes “. Therefore, I say that to a large degree the Government has adopted an attitude which also existed in a section of the A.L.P. to the effect that there is no urgency about defence because we can leave it all to the Yanks. Those who hold that view think that the Americans will always be there to defend us.
At the time there was also a feeling that we could rely on substantial support from the Commonwealth of Nations and Great Britain in particular. All of us will pay tribute the Great Britain for its wonderful services to Australia in two world wars; but we have to realise that with its present economic and military difficulties, the assistance that Great Britain could give us in the future is very problematical. We like to think that in the event of war the United States of America will come to our assistance but in this nuclear era, the United States might have to decide whether she would prefer the welfare of her own 200 million people to the welfare of our 12 million. We would all like to think that she would prefer the welfare of the 12 million in Australia but we can never be sure of it.
Therefore, it seems that a true Australian defence policy should be first, to work for peace through all the agencies which can give us peace. Secondly, living in a workaday world, it should be our object to retain the forces of Great Britain and the United States of America in our area so that they may be available to help us. But we should also bear in mind that possibly they might not come to our assistance. Therefore, we should prepare our defences so far as we can to enable us to look after ourselves.
Considerable reference has been made to a statement by Senator Gair that the Democratic Labour Party believes Australia should take action to ensure that we have our own nuclear deterrent. First, I want to say that D.L.P. policy stands for world nuclear disarmament with adequate inspection. If we propose an Australian deterrent, it is only in default of the achievement of world nuclear disarmament which, at the moment, is highly doubtful because of the attitude of Communist countries which refuse to accept adequate inspection.
– Would the honorable senator support a free zone?
– I would not support a free zone for the reasons which I am about to advance. The Australian Labour Party has put forward the ideal of a nuclear free zone in the southern hemisphere over the last three or four years. I would concede the sincerity of some members of the Australian Labour Party in supporting that proposal, but I would deny the sincerity of others because that proposal emanated from the Communist Party and was put on the agenda of Australian Labour Party conferences through Communist controlled unions. With the assistance of starry eyed idealists who thought it was a good idea, it became the policy of the Australian Labour Party. Let me ask this question: Why did it become the policy of the Australian Labour Party? Leading personalities in the A.L.P. are sufficiently intelligent to realise that a nuclear free southern hemisphere is an impossibility.
Nuclear free zones are impossible in these days of the intercontinental ballistic missile.
How are we to have a nuclear free southern hemisphere when other countries have the ability to throw nuclear armed missiles at us from 2,000 miles away? The suggestion of a nuclear free southern hemisphere is therefore ludicrous. If I were asked why these people, leaving out the starry eyed idealists, have adopted this policy and why the Communist controlled unions in their work as the weapons of the foreign policy of the Soviet Union advocate this policy and have it made Labour policy, I would say it was for one reason. The logical conclusion of a nuclear free southern hemisphere is: No American bases in Australia. When they ask the A.L.P. to adopt the policy of a nuclear free southern hemisphere, as realists the Communists know it is a ludicrous proposal but it is their way of getting the A.L.P. to oppose American bases in this country.
Let us look at this proposal for a nuclear free southern hemisphere. When it was first advocated four years ago, I rose in the Senate and I said that half of Indonesia is in the northern hemisphere. I asked whether that meant that the policy of the A.L.P. was that Indonesia could have a nuclear missile and Australia could not. Immediately I made that statement, even Dr. J. F. Cairns, who is the member for Yarra in another place, said: “ Well, if Indonesia were to have nuclear weapons, we would have to say that Indonesia was in the southern hemisphere “. Then I pointed out that Red China proposed to have an intercontinental ballistic missile. It already has the nuclear weapon. Mr. Whitlam, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, said. “ Of course, if that were the case, we would have to include Red China in the southern hemisphere “. I think those statements indicate the futility, the ludicrous nature, of the proposal that we can lock ourselves up in the southern hemisphere and say, “ No nuclear weapons please “, when just outside we have an intercontinental ballistic missile which could be built over 2,000 or 3,000 miles away by countries which did not belong to the nuclear free southern hemisphere.
Therefore, in our party, we have adopted what we considered was the realistic attitude. Some people have condemned us. They said that this is going to lead to the proliferation of the nuclear weapon. But let us look at the facts. There are five countries today which have the nuclear weapon - Britain, the United States of America, the Soviet Union, China and France. There are eight other countries which have the potential to produce the nuclear weapon at the present time. One of them, remarkably enough, is South Africa. I attended the civil defence school at Mount Macedon where we were lectured for a week on what would happen in the event of a nuclear attack. In the circumstances that there is really no defence against a nuclear attack, or no possible defence except the ability to retaliate, we adopted the attitude that, in the kind of world in which we live, Australia must be prepared to have the nuclear deterrent.
If honorable senators want to see an example of how it would act, I point out that we were told at that civil defence school by Sir Kingsley Norris; who was the Director of Medical Services, that during the last war there was in existence a weapon almost as deadly as the nuclear weapon - the nerve gas. The Germans and their opponents each possessed immense supplies of that dreadful weapon. But neither side would use it because it was afraid of retaliation. We therefore say that we do. not care how Australia has the potential to use the deterrent, whether it is from Britain or from the United States or whether we have to face up to it and have the right to have it ourselves. It is a matter for the Government whether we should get the nuclear deterrent right away. But I do say that, in the interests of the future of this country, the Government has to consider whether it is not necessary that something be done about a nuclear deterrent now.
It was interesting for me, in view of the statements that Australia shudders at the thought of this kind of thing, to read an article in the usually well informed British publication the “ Observer “ about the time of the last Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference. The newspaper’s defence correspondent, Andrew Wilson, seems to be singularly well informed. This Conference took place some considerable time before Singapore separated itself from Malaysia. Yet according to the “ Observer “, Mr. Andrew Wilson stated that the question of the severance of Singapore from Malaysia had been discussed at a House of Commons meeting between the British Prime Minister, Mr. Harold Wilson, and Australia’s Prime . Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. This report states -
The newspaper’s defence correspondent Andrew Wilson said that others who took part in the talks were the Secretary of Defence, Mr. Healey and the . Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, Mr. Bottomley.
Mr. Wilson, the correspondent, as I said, seems remarkably well informed because he reported -
Mr. Wilson’s interest in the Australian base was said to arise from his anxiety about the worsening ‘ relations between the Malaysian Prime MinisterTunku Abdul Rahman ami the Singapore Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.
It had been cynically suggested that Mr. Wilson wanted an Australian alternative to bargain with if Malaysia split apart and he had to renegotiate the future of the Singapore base with an indepen-dent Singapore Government.
In this article, there is another interesting statement. Of course-, nobody can vouch for the truth of this report, but the gentleman seems, on the nature of his writings, to know something. He said that one matter which was almost certainly discussed was the nuclear question. He reported -
Though,. in the Fill, Australia would soon have a nuclear-capable aircraft, there was no sign yet that it sought to acquire nuclear weapons. On the whole, Australia seems content to rely on a British and American nuclear umbrella.
However, the British umbrella would be doubly effective if British Polaris submarines, due to be co-operational in the 1970’s were able to use Australian facilities instead of making the long journey home for replenishment and refitting.
Anglo-Australian negotiations about these Polaris facilities are almost inevitable although Sir Robert might well want to go carefully after the public outcry about the setting up of a communications station for America’s Polaris submarines on Australia’s North-West Cape.
I simply say that it is rather foolish for us in Australia to say that we shudder at the thought of the nuclear weapon. I, too, shudder at it. But I face facts. In the world that we live in, we have to contemplate what we are going to do to ensure that the nuclear weapon cannot be used to blackmail us into subjugation.
I do not wish to say a great deal about the question of Vietnam because I think it can be discussed later in the debate on foreign policy. I want to express keen disappointment at the failure of the Government adequately to place before the Australian people the reasons for its action in Vietnam, ft is true that we have read statements, but these statements have not been of the character to inform effectively the people of Australia of two urgent things. It has been said that we are at war. First, if we aire at war, we have to tell the people the reasons why we are at war. We have not had a clear and effective statement of those reasons. Secondly, we should tell the people our aims and why we are there. I believe the Government has failed again. I want to direct its attention to the booklet which has been issued by the New Zealand Government within the last two days to members of this Parliament. I suggest the Government should look at that booklet and endeavour to issue to the Australian people something along the same lines to let them know our aims in the present Vietnam situation.
Passing from that, let me now refer to the taxation proposals and to social services. It is somewhat pathetic. and rather laughable that When Australians are called upon . to make an effort to meet a situation of great urgency, the Government, looking around for a source of the necessary funds, decides that it will take them from beer, cigarettes and petrol. The Government should tell the Australian people that they face a grave emergency. It should call upon them to make a contribution, if necessary covered by a separate item on their taxation returns, to pay for the defence and the security of this country. I hope that never again will the Government indicate that the future safety of Australia depends on taking an extra Id. or 2d. a glass from the beer drinker and an extra Id. or 2d. from the man who smokes a packet of cigarettes.
I want to put in a word for the man who drinks beer, the man who smokes and the man who thinks that a car in these days is an essential item, not a luxury. They are hit time after time. Why should they pay? Under the Government’s present proposals to raise money to protect the country, the ordinary bloke who drinks a couple of glasses of beer at night after work will pay just as much as the wealthy man who has a couple of glasses of beer, but if the wealthy man prefers to drink brandy or whisky he will not pay more. There appears to be a certain discrimination in these matters. I may be wrong there, but at least the wealthy man who drinks brandy or whisky does not pay in the same proportion as does the fellow who drinks beer. In any case, I believe that the whisky drinker should pay more than does the beer drinker. As to the man who drinks brandy, I feel a certain sympathy towards the plea made by Senator Mattner the other night.
Leaving that aspect aside, however, I am opposed to the Government’s practice of always looking to indirect taxation. I have always believed that the fairest method of taxation is to tax people according to their incomes. My objection to indirect taxation is that the man .who does not have much is asked to pay the same as the man who has a lot. I should like the Government to show that it realises there is a certain urgency about our present situation by asking the Australian people to pay a separate tax if necessary - a defence tax, insurance, call it what you will. That would help to bring home to the people the urgency of the situation.
I do not think’ the average Australian would have minded paying a little more indirect taxation if the Government had given the pensioners a little more. There is a lot of talk at times about additional taxation being a terrible thing, but I think the average Australian will accept additional taxation if he can see the need for it. I believe the ordinary working man, who does not have a lot, would willingly give an extra ls., or 2s. out of his pay packet if he thought that it would relieve the lot of the pensioners. I praise the Government for what it has done about the pensioner medical service but I point out that the additional taxation which the Government has introduced will send up prices and that the pensioner will be adversely affected by the increased prices.
We have put before this House in the past, and we will put before it again, the proposition that pensions should rise as the cost of living rises. I hope that on this occasion the Australian Labour Party will support our suggestion and not vote against it as it has done on previous occasions. We will advance the proposal that pensions be determined by an independent tribunal of experts. so that pensions will be taken out of politics. I believe there is a good deal of feeling in .the Australian community in favour of that proposal.
I should like .to see the Government do something to enable pensioners who are well and would like to engage in some parttime employment - there are many of them - to engage in such employment without the strongly adverse effect which this now has on their pensions. Mr. McMahon has been talking about married women going to work. I do not suggest that we force people who are inacapacitated or too old to work to do so, but there are many age pensioners who feel quite able to do a part time job and who will tell you: “ What is the use of doing that? If I take any part time employment my pension will be cut “. The Government should consider that point of view and increase the amount that can be earned by a pensioner before his pension is affected.
The other matter with which I want to deal could be regarded in one sense as affecting myself but I think it affects to a great degree the operations of this House. I refer to the method and the system by which the Senate vote is counted in elections, and particularly the circumstances in which it was counted some months ago. I have been very surprised that to date there has been no reaction in the Senate to the events which occurred at that time. I want to make it clear that when I refer to them I do not do so in any spirit of complaining. At the declaration of the poll I said that I would make no complaint. I have always been opposed to anyone complaining when he loses, and I think it is infinitely worse to complain when you win. I do not attack in any way the integrity, personal honesty or impartiality of the electoral officers in the State of Victoria. I believe they carried out their duties with honesty, integrity and great efficiency. However, I disagree entirely with some of the decisions they made.
Before proceeding to the decisions, let me make it clear that I do not oppose the principle of proportional representation, which, after all, has enabled almost 500,000 people to get in this Parliament, and only to a degree in one other Parliament, the representation to which they are entitled. As I have said, I do not attack the principle of proportional representation but I do attack the machinery - in particular the decisions- by which the count is made. On Wednesday, 23rd December of last year, I was contacted by Mr. Lack, the Returning Officer for Victoria, who told me that the figures for the final three candidates were
McManus 204,950; Sudholz 137,622 and Hannan 137,373. Those figures indicated that if he proceeded, to the conclusion of the count I would win by about 180,000 votes. However, Mr. Lack informed me that he had decided not to complete the count.. I asked for an immediate interview with him, and when I saw him he told me that he had made his decision on the ground of the closeness of the vote between the second and third candidates. He said also that he had referred his decision to Canberra, that Canberra had approved it and that he had been told he was not to complete the count.
– For what reason?
– I asked him the reason and he said that it was because of the closeness of the voting, there being only 250 between the Labour and Liberal candidates. I said to him. “ Has anyone asked you to stop the vote and to have a recount?” He said: “ No “. I said: “ Have you found anything in the count to indicate that there is anything wrong?” He said: “ No. I have the highest confidence in the count. I do not think it will be altered but I have just decided to stop it and to have a recount “. The next day a Press report stated that he had decided to have a recount at the request of Senator Hannan. I want to make it perfectly clear that he told me he had decided to have the recount, that his decision had been confirmed by Canberra and that when I saw him he told me that no candidate had asked him for a recount. I have made investigations and I cannot find any other case in Australian history where a returning officer has halted a recount without any request from a candidate and at a time when he had complete confidence in the figures. I have not been able to find any other case in Australia’s history, and I trust that there will never be another such case.
When we interviewed the returning officer, Mr. Lack, we pointed out that in 1958 when the struggle had been between Mr. Little of the Democratic Labour Party and Senator Sandford of the Australian Labour Party and the difference had been a couple of thousand votes, Mr. Little, in company with the officials of the Democratic Labour Party, interviewed the then returning officer, Mr. Nance, and asked for a recount on the ground of the closeness of the vote. Mr. Nance told them that it was not possible to get a recount on that ground. In other words, he gave them an exactly contradictory ruling to the ruling Mr. Lack gave this year. Mr. Nance said, ‘ The closeness of the vote is no ground for a recount. You have to show something which indicates there is something wrong “. Mr. Nance said that the closeness of the vote was no reason for a recount. Yet Mr. Lack said that the closeness of the vote was the reason he had decided to have a recount.
Similarly in New South Wales in 1961 in the case of Mr. Kane of the Democratic Labour Party and Senator McClelland of the Australian Labour Party, the New South Wales returning officer told Mr. Kane that closeness of the result was not necessarily a ground for a recount. Yet in my own case we were told that a recount had been given without a candidate asking for it and without anything being wrong with the ballot. The recount had been allowed because the votes were close. Let us look at the parallel situation in Tasmania. In Tasmania there was a difference of 32 votes which enabled the Australian Labour Party to get three quotas. In Tasmania there are one-eighth of the electors that there are in Victoria. If we multiply 32 by 8, we get 256. The difference was practically the same in each case. In Victoria a recount was ordered without any request because of a difference of 250 votes, and in Tasmania the recount was denied. There was no recount although comparatively speaking the situation was precisely the same.
– The poll was declared.
– It makes no difference.’ The decision to give a recount in Victoria was made before the poll was declared. Why was it not done similarly in Tasmania? Surely we do not have one set of rules for Tasmania and a different set for Victoria or somewhere else. When we interviewed the Victorian, returning officer we said: “ We take it that in the recount you will look at the same random votes “. He said “ No, we cannot. We have to look at different ones “. We said: “ In 1958 Mr.. Nance told Mr. Little that you could not look at a different set of random votes because it would make the whole thing farcical “. He said: “ Yes, but my decision is my decision and I am going to take different random votes “.
I understand that in the course of the court case it was revealed that about seven or eight months before the election last December a ruling was obtained by the Electoral Office from the Crown Law Office to the effect that if there was to be a recount they would have to get a different set of random votes. I ask: Why was not that ruling notified to the political parties? I should say it was a matter of considerable importance. We had a ruling a few years before that the same random votes had to be looked at. Yet a ruling in this instance was obtained from the Crown Law Office that they had to look at a different set of random votes. The first we knew of it was when we went to the High Court and read in the affidavits that that particular ruling had been obtained.
– It brought about the same result.
– Certainly, but I would not like the honorable senator to go through what I had to go through during that period. I do not place all the blame for the trouble that occurred on the Electoral Office. I have said before and I say again that I believe the electoral officers are honest men. They carry out their duties with integrity. I do not think they have any desire to help one candidate at the expense of another candidate. They are not to blame entirely because the various political parties could probably have ensured that there was not as much trouble and cause for a recount if they had taken advantage of the provision which enables them to appoint scrutineers at the count. Unfortunately in Victoria, to take an example, if one wanted to appoint scrutineers, one would have to appoint 123 of them and they would have to be available for about three weeks, and in some cases, night and day. The political parties, naturally, have not bothered. If they had, there would have been very close scrutiny of informal votes and other matters and there might not have been the call for a recount that was ultimately made.
I want to point to some peculiar aspects of the counting. As honorable senators know, in a Senate count the votes are counted first in a general kind of way. Then when they have all come in there is what is described as a close check. That is the second count. After that the officers proceed to declare a quota and allocate preferences. But this is the interesting point. When the recount was held, that was the third count of the votes. We had a general count; then we had a close check . which the electoral officers assure you is so close that hardly anything could slip through. But in Victoria, after the general count and the close check, on the third count they discovered between 7,000 and 9,000 mistakes. That must have had an effect on the quota. There is a first count and a close check and then a quota is declared and preferences are distributed. If there are as many as 9,000 mistakes, a lot of them must come up when preferences are being distributed.
– Informal votes.
– A lot of extra informal votes must come up when preferences are being distributed. If the electoral officers were to say: “ We have discovered on the distribution of preferences about 3,000 mistakes”, they would have to go back and have another count with a new quota.
In previous years what has happened to the thousands of informal votes that must have been discovered after the quota had been declared and when preferences were being distributed?
– They were possibly never discovered.
– If they were never discovered it certainly casts some reflection upon the accuracy of the count. My scrutineers told me that on the third count they discovered votes that had only “ 1 “, “ 2 “ and “ 3 “ marked on them. After the votes had been counted twice and they were going through them the third time, they found that some of them had only “ 1 “, “ 2 “ and “ 3 “ marked on them. I say therefore that there appears to be a strong case for an examination of the mechanics of the system. I think one problem is that there are only a small number of trained electoral officers. A good deal of temporary staff has to be employed. Some of the persons engaged are recruited, I understand, through the Department of Labour and National Service. Anybody who has counted votes or corrected examination papers knows that a routine job like this becomes terribly irritating and boring after a while. It is quite obvious that when people are examining thousands of ballot papers, they reach the stage where they look at the papers but their minds do not register what is on them. It appears to me that the only solution is for the political parties to appoint scrutineers in the future. If there are three or four people watching the votes, there is certainly going to be a higher standard of accuracy.
Let us not boggle at the difficulties. In Victoria we had to get for the recount 123 scrutineers who were prepared to give up three weeks of their time and to work, in some cases, night and day. I pay a tribute to my party. We had 123 people plus a long waiting list of others who were prepared to act as scrutineers. The Liberal Party, I understand had about 90. The A.L.P. had about 50. The reason for that was given to me by a number of members of the A.L.P. Some of them telephoned me. They informed me that they had received a letter’ from Mr. Hartley, Secretary of the A.L.P. in Victoria, asking them to act as scrutineers and telling them that it was desired that they should do all that they could to assist to increase the Liberal vote and reduce the A.L.P. vote.
– That was understandable.
– Senator Cavanagh says that that was understandable. We have dealt the A.L.P. heavy blows and I do not blame it for wanting to retaliate. It is quite entitled to do so and I would expect it to do so, but it is a question for a political party, which says it is an Opposition fighting the Menzies Government, to make up its mind whether it prefers a personal revenge or whether it prefers to show itself an Opposition by stopping the Government from getting a majority.
– The Government considers the honorable senator to be a part of the majority.
– Our friend says that he has certain feelings about me. He is entitled to have them if he wants to have them. I do not think that the Labour Party in Victoria - and this is the opinion of many of its own members who have stated it to me - will ever be able to live down the fact that in an election it fought tooth and nail and it briefed eminent counsel to go to the High Court to support . the Liberal Party, and did everything it could, while calling itself a fighting Opposition, to ensure that the Government had- a 31-29 majority in this House. If that is fighting spirit, there is something wrong today with the definition of fighting spirit in this country. The leader of the A.L.P., Mr. Calwell, was in touch with the leading personalities of the Liberal Party, asking for the latest figures, telling them that it was vital that I get beaten, telling them that it was vital that the Government should have a 31-29 majority in the Senate.
– The . honorable senator- has heard about the lesser of two evils.
– I know all about the lesser of two evils, but I have been an official of the A.L.P. and I should like Senator Cavanagh to tell me anything that comes more within the definition of disloyal and unworthy conduct than for the Secretary Df the Party to write letters to his members, telling them to do all they could to assist the Liberal Party to get a majority in the Senate and reduce the Labour vote. What is more within the definition of disloyal and unworthy conduct?
– To rat on the party.
– Do not defend it. It would be better for you to hang your head in shame.
– Ratting on the party is worse.
– What you did was worse.
– Our friend here, who went to the High Court, sat there for two days representing the A.L.P., and then got up and said about 20 words: “ I support everything that the Liberal Party’s lawyer has said …”
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable senator ought to keep quiet here tonight as well. I want to read a passage which appears in an affidavit. It is a sworn statement by Mr. Lack, the Victorian Returning Officer. The reference that he makes to the count of the Senate votes is interesting. He said-
Of the various matters which occur in a -count and which are capable of producing a different result in a recount there are, quite independently of the possibility of a different random selection, the following matters;’ first, the possibility of a misreading of ballot papers; secondly, the misplacing of a ballot paper in the wrong parcel; thirdly, an arithmetical error of counting; and fourthly, a different decision as to the formality or informality of ballot papers. This fourth factor is of particular importance in the present case in view of the presence of 124,558 ballot papers which were treated as informal by the Divisional Returning Officers. None of these informal papers have been referred to me, which reference might be expected to occur on a recount. Experience in the Commonwealth Electoral Office indicates that candidates are likely to be more diligent on a recount to have scrutineers present on their behalf to observe papers for possible informality and to make submissions about the validity or invalidity of ballot papers. In my experience the possibility of error being shown on a recount by reason of the first three factors is not significant but since the fourth factor involves more than mere mechanical procedures it is in my opinion likely to be more important and capable of producing a greater effect.
There we have a statement by the Returning Officer that the absence of scrutineers could have a vital effect on the count in the Senate elections.
I want to conclude with a brief reference to the case of Senator Cole. I have already pointed out that if we multiply 32, which was the difference in Tasmania, by 8, we get the same figure as in Victoria, but we had an exactly different procedure in each State. The answer given was: “Why did not Senator Cole seek a recount before the declaration? “ I visited Senator Cole in Mount St. Evin’s hospital in Melbourne on the day before the declaration of the poll, and he was in no state at that time to be consulted. It was not generally known that Senator Cole had been quite ill during the course of the campaign. He went into hospital when it was over and he had been undergoing a very severe course of treatment, as a result of which he was not even able to talk to me when I went to see him. In the circumstances, it was not possible to seek a request for a recount from a man in that condition.
We then went to law. I can only say that I am no lawyer, but I reached two conclusions. The first was that if you ever want a recount you had better ask for it before the declaration of the poll.
– Do you not have to ask for it beforehand? .
– I do not know. In this particular case, my interpretation of what the Court said is that to get a recount you practically have to produce evidence of the errors which you hope to find in the recount.
– ls this in accordance with the Court’s judgment?
– This is my reading of it. I am not a lawyer and I suppose it would take a lawyer to be quite sure. My interpretation is that you must practically have a clear and definite case proving that something is wrong if you hope to get a recount. As honorable senators know - I suppose all have been interested in recounts where the votes were very close - you ask for a recount because you think you might find something. The Court does not propose to give a recount in those circumstances. You must produce the evidence which normally you would hope to find in the recount. The second point is that quite a deal of the time of the Court was occupied in trying to find out who would have to conduct the recount if it was so ordered.
– Is this in Tasmania?
– No, in Victoria, in the High Court where the case was tried. I do not want to go through the whole of the record. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following extract from the transcript.
Mr. STRAUSS: The court should also order a recount of all the votes required.
His HONOUR: Who should do that?
Mr. STRAUSS: The Court of Disputed Returns. It could do it itself as has been done or, in my submission, it could order the Commonwealth Electoral Officer.
His HONOUR: Where is the authority to do that?
Mr. STRAUSS: There is no specific authority for ordering the Commonwealth Officer to conduct the recount, but there is certain authority for ordering a recount of votes.
His HONOUR: What do you mean “ ordering a recount of votes “? Do you mean that the court has power itself to conduct a recount?
Mr. STRAUSS: It can order a recount.
His HONOUR: Order whom?
Mr. STRAUSS: If your Honour looks at Section 140 sub-section (3): “ In the event of the validity of the . . . (reads) . . . recount is justified.”
His HONOUR: We are not dealing with this section.
Mr. STRAUSS: No, we are not under this, section.
His HONOUR: Let us go the section wc are under. Where is there any authority for the court to do other than conduct a recount?
Mr. .STRAUSS: Your Honour, possibly there is no express authority.
His HONOUR: If there is any implied, refer me to sections in. which it is implied. I have been looking through the sections of the Act and I want your assistance, Mr. Strauss.
Mr. STRAUSS:. All I can say is if the court says there is to be a recount, and all the parties in the election agree that the recount should be conducted by the Electroal Officer on behalf of the Court of Disputed Returns, then that can be done.
His HONOUR: You mean, after the parlies agree?
Mr. STRAUSS: No, once the court says there should be a recount.
His HONOUR: How can the court say that? That is what 1 am asking. I can see authority for the court to recount.
Mr. STRAUSS: Which section is your Honour looking at?
His HONOUR: I looked at them all.
Mr. STRAUSS: Your Honour, in my submission it is clear that a petition merely asking for a recount can be presented - that appears from Section 60a.
His HONOUR: Yes. It is presented on the footing that the return is invalid on stated grounds, and those grounds have to be stated and then if you have an effective petition, as I follow it, Section 184 provides that the High Court is the Court of Disputed Returns and it has the jurisdiction to try the petition or refer it for trial to a Supreme Court.
Mr. STRAUSS: Yes.
His HONOUR: The power of the court then is to try the petition.
Mr. STRAUSS: That is so.
His HONOUR: The Electoral Officer is entitled to enter an appearance and Section 188 would seem to suggest that there may be other parties, and I can see you have Mr. Lacey as another party, which I would have thought is correct enough, and then you have the powers of the Court of Disputed Returns to sit in open court, and il has these powers. I have looked through those powers and I am naturally enough concerned to know, if this does go on, what is the machinery whereby a recount is obtained.
Mr. STRAUSS: In my submission, your Honour, the court could then order it.
His HONOUR: I have heard you say that. 1 am asking you to indicate where the court gets that authority.
Mr. STRAUSS: .May I answer it this way: there is no specific provision in any of the English Parliamentary Acts for a recount. It was argued in the Renfrew case there-was no power for a recount.
His HONOUR: To recount or order a recount.
Mr. STRAUSS: To recount or order a recount, and it was said in’ the Renfrew case and the Stepney case in O’Ma’lley and Hardcastle that it’ is for the court to direct how and by whom the recount is to be made. Now,- your Honour, this 1 take it to be what is sometimes called in the books the common law election, and I would submit that that applies to this position here.
His HONOUR: I am not suggesting it would happen, but suppose this court were to order the Electoral Officer to recount and he said, “ I am not going to “, where is the court’s authority to compel him? 1 am not suggesting for a moment that that would happen, but the court must find it has authority and jurisdiction to do these things.
Mr. STRAUSS: Your Honour, that may well be so. but if it were found that he said, “ I will not “ or “ I cannot “ or “ I shall not “, then the court or the judge trying the matter would have to direct the recount in a particular way. He may have to provide enumerators, or some other machinery. But it is so unlikely that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer would say, “ 1 will not “-
His HONOUR: Yes, it is quite unlikely, but the court will not make any order which it is not satisfied it has power to make, and I am just enquiring from you where is the source of the court’s power to do as you suggest. I follow you say that it does not appear from the Act itself but it does appear from the general electoral law.
Mr. STRAUSS: Yes, that it has power to order a recount. Of course, in England the situation is not as difficult as it is here, because there is not the preferential voting system. Normally you have a number of votes which can be counted in about two or three days, ft has been done by the court in several cases. But I would submit, your Honour, that the practical solution here is that the court would ask the Electoral Officer to recount with the machinery al his disposition, and I would be very surprised if the Commonwealth were to refuse it.
His HONOUR: You see, the count must be the court’s count, as ( read this. I do not say the court has to do it itself, but it is the court that has to make the decision. The court declares a person to be elected or not elected, as the case may be, and its decision is final. Whatever machinery is adopted, it appears to me that, if this goes on, it is the court that in some way or other must conduct the recount, and the question is “ in some way or other “.
According to the statement of the Judge, with which the eminent counsel seemed to agree, there is nothing to say who is to conduct a recount if one is ordered. The Judge asked counsel who would conduct’ it and they said: “ We suppose it would be the Electoral Officer.” He said: “There is nothing to say that the Electoral Officer should do it.” He asked them to show where there was a statement as to who was to conduct it. All that they could suggest was that if the Court ordered a recount the Court apparently would conduct the recount. The Judge did not appear to be very enamoured of the suggestion that he should proceed to the examination of about 1,500,000 ballot papers. We have learned three things. First, if you want a recount, you should get it before, the declaration of the poll, because in my opinion the chances of getting it after the declaration are so remote as to be almost non-existent. Secondly, there does not appear to be anything in the law to say who is to conduct a recount if it is to be held - whom the court can order to conduct it. Thirdly, the only hope of getting a recount is to produce the evidence that one would normally look for in a recount. I do not think the prospects would be very good. I give that opinion. It might save someone a few pounds, even though it might cost Senator Cohen a few.
– Are you suggesting that the Act should be amended?
– I think the circumstances of what occurred are such that the Senate should look at this matter and do something about it. I do not think that what happened did the Senate any good. There was considerable criticism of the Senate because of the fact that it took months to determine the result. We have the position that in 1958 the returning officer assured candidates that closeness of voting was no ground for a recount and that if there was a recount they had to look at the same random votes, and that in 1961 other returning officers - in my opinion all of them acting honestly - said exactly the opposite - that closeness of voting is a ground for a recount and that they must count new random votes. That is a situation which the Senate cannot tolerate and which I believe should be cleared up.
.- I would like to reply to one or two points that were raised during the course of debate, but I wish first to say that the only heat engendered during the discussion was not in connection with anything related to the Budget. Some heat was engendered over differences of opinion about certain events not related to the Budget itself. This is the sixteenth Budget that I have heard presented, but I have never seen the Opposition try harder to find something on which to put a finger in disagreement. This is a Budget that has been well accepted by the country and that has proved to be adequate to meet the country’s present needs.
I turn now to a matter of interest to the Senate which was raised by Senators Wedgwood and Wright. It concerns the titles of the papers upon which the current debate is based. I refer to the particulars of proposed expenditure for the service of the year ending 30th June 1966 and the particulars of proposed provision of certain expenditure in respect of the year ending 30th June 1966 Senator Wedgwood outlined the changes that have been made during the last two years in the form and contents of Appropriation Bills and referred to the Government’s decision that there should be a separate Bill, subject to amendment by the Senate, which would contain appropriations for the following purposes -
Those purposes were outlined to the Senate in my second reading speech on the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1965-66. Senator Wedgwood made the point that the document now before us does not use the words “ ordinary annual services of the Government”. I have taken note of the point raised by Senators Wedgwood and Wright and I undertake to examine, in conjunction with my colleagues, any drafting or other difficulties relating to the titles of these documents.
Apart from that matter, which has been the subject of debate in the Senate particularly over the last three years and which is of interest to us all, there are one or two matters raised by Senator Wood in relation to oil to which I wish to refer. I think he probably overlooked the additional incentive given to the search for oil by the recently announced incentive price which the Commonwealth Government has. fixed for Australian produced oil. The. Tariff Board fixed the price of oil and laid down an incentive of 25 cents, but the Government took the view that while it was the Tariff Board’s duty to recommend the price at which the Australian industry could operate, the matter of an incentive was one for Parliament and the Government. It raised the price, not by the 25 cents laid down by the Tariff Board, but by 75 cents. I believe this will be an incentive to the use of Australian produced oil and to the search for oil in Australia. As Senator Wood pointed out, oil is an essential commodity. Its discovery in sufficient quantities in Australia would help to overcome bur balance of payment problems because our oil import bill is one of the greatest burdens imposed on the Australian taxpayer.
Another matter the honorable senator referred to was that of cotton. I want to point out that my experience of cotton growing on the Ord River goes back to when it started. We used the cotton bounty to pay freight on seed produced at the Ord River and sent to the nearest ginnery. There was no ginnery in the area at that time. Thebounty was used to enable the growers in the area to send their cotton seed to a Queensland ginnery until such time as a ginnery was approved and established on the Ord River. It is now established, and there are two automatic cotton pickers in the area.
It is easy to become enthusiastic about developmental works in some of these areas, but the motto “ Hasten slowly “ is not a bad one when the expenditure of many millions of pounds is involved. I feel that the Government’s approach to some of these northern developmental problems, particularly on the Ord River, has been sound. The policy is not to accept the test of just one season, but to test and test again before embarking on something that would involve an enormous expenditure on behalf of the Australian taxpayer. Such an expenditure could prove to be well worthwhile, but it will be all the more worthwhile if the basic statistics are first proven to a degree which enables the Government to move with certainty. Those who are keen to get the Ord River scheme under way have a drive and an enthusiasm which are to be commended, but I feel that when we are considering committing the country to an expenditure of millions of pounds it is wise to pause and test the basic figures involved in the developmental work.
I support the Budget and what it sets out to do. I believe it is a good and sound Budget, appropriate to the times. Honorable senators on both sides of the House have pointed to some areas where they would like increased expenditure, but this is a matter of judgment. There are some areas in which every one of us would perhaps like to see additional expenditure and other areas where we believe the expenditure provided for is in excess of what is necessary. However, the Government has to form a balanced judgment. I believe that, exercising its judgment, the Government has produced the Budget which is necessary for our country at this time.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Gair’s amendment) to Senator Kennedy’s amendment be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority .. ..45
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Kennelly’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to draw the attention of the Senate to a matter that arises from the fifth annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation which was presented to the Senate today by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty). The report is most comprehensive; it gives a full review ofthe activities of the Department for the past year. The Minister and his Department are to be complimented upon it. Arising out of. that report, there appeared in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of today an article headed -
DCA: pilots caused three crashes.
The report names the three aircraft and the companies concerned. Then it states -
Senator Henty said the captain of AnsettA.N.A.’s DC3, Capt. Harry Peers, 38, noticed a malfunction in what he believed to have been the port engine while taking off from Warrnambool
Further on the report mentions Captain J. Waxman, who was the pilot of a Fokker Friendship aircraft which crashed at Launceston Airport.
Reference in the Press to the names of these pilots, in conjunction with the Minister’s name, creates a very bad precedent, and in my view it is wrong in principle. No person’s name is mentioned in the Department’s report. It will readily be appreciated that pilots who have had the misfortune to have an accident are under great stress and strain and that there are many factors associated with such accidents. Having made his report, the Minister has made the relevant information available to the Press, but the Press has published the names of the pilots concerned without the Department having notified the pilots themselves. This means that the pilots of these aircraft have had to learn from the Press the findings of the Department. This matter calls for a thorough investigation.
In justice to the pilots, and in order to ensure that this sort of thing does not occur again, I should like the Minister to investigate whether Captain Waxman has been advised of the findings of the Department in relation to the Fokker Friendship’s accident at Launceston and whether Captain Peers has been advised of the findings of the Department in relation to the DC3 accident at Warrnambool. Is the Minister aware of the findings of the company in relation to this DC3 accident? If they are not in accordance with the findings of the Department of Civil Aviation, will the Minister table the company’s findings? There is a difference of opinion about the feathering of the port engine of this aircraft. The company conducted its tests and the Department conducted its own tests, but they came to different conclusions. I believe that the Senate should be supplied with this information, which is additional to that contained in the report of the Minister. 1 should also like the Minister to say why the captains had not been advised before their names appeared in the Press. Furthermore, 1 ask the Minister whether he will table the report of the investigation into pilot fatigue that was carried out recently by the Human Engineering Division of the Aeronautical Research Laboratory. I ask him to do so so that the information will be available to the Senate, to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, other people who are interested in aviation, and the companies that are faced with keen competition and the pressures that can be applied in relation to schedules and for other purposes. It is quite possible for the human factor, and this very important matter of fatigue, to be overlooked. Recently there was an accident at Singapore. It also is mentioned in the Department’s report. In that case there was evidence of quite a high degree of overwork of the people who were concerned in the accident.
We have had a splendid record in civil aviation in Australia over the years, and the Department’s latest report adds lustre to that record. But I believe that in this case, in fairness to the pilots concerned, to their families and to their future careers, they should have been extended the courtesy of being informed of the findings before the information was made public in the Press.
.- I thank the honorable senator for bringing up this matter. As he pointed out, the names of the pilots are not mentioned in the Department’s report. At the moment I am not aware of the source of the information that appeared in the Press. I shall make investigations to see whether I can ascertain where the information came from. The only report I have at the present time reveals that the accident in which Captain J. H. Waxman was involved occurred to a Fokker Friendship aircraft, VH-FNH, at Launceston on 17th March 1965. It reveals that Captain Waxman was taken off roster immediately following the accident. The Department subsequently required that he be relieved of the duties of a company DC3 flight captain and that he be not employed by the company in either a check or training capacity without reference to the Department. Further, the Department required that before acting in command of RPT aircraft he should carry out a suitable period of training in F27 aircraft and complete a full flight proficiency check with an Examiner of Airmen carried as observer and then serve 50 hours acting in command under supervision on F27 aircraft. His clearance to line duties is expected in September. It was suggested to me that he was fully aware of the position and of the findings of the inquiry.
First Officer E. C. York is another officer whose name was mentioned. I have not seen the newspaper clipping containing a reference to further action; but this officer was taken off roster immediately following the accident. The Department of Civil Aviation agreed to his return to flying duties after the company had completed its inquiry. He was given a proficiency check before return to duty.
I refer now to the accident involving the DC3 aircraft VH-ANJ at Warrnambool on 1st April 1965. Captain H. C. Peers was taken off roster immediately following the accident. On 22nd June, the Department suspended his First Class A.T.P.L. and First Class DC3 endorsement pending completion of a satisfactory flight test. Captain Peers resigned shortly after the accident and has not presented himself for flight test. First Officer P. D. Tyers was taken off roster by the company. He resumed normal duty after the company inquiry had been completed and with the agreement of the Department.
I turn now to the accident involving a Boeing 707 VH-EBK at Singapore on 23rd December 1964. Captain Houghton’s licence was not suspended nor has any subsequent action been taken against him. He was given further training in check captain duties by the company, found satisfactory and returned to normal duty. First Officer Mortlock’s licence was not suspended nor has any subsequent action been taken against him. He was given further training and was at a satisfactory standard at his licence renewal in February 1965. Shortly after this he resigned from Qantas and his present whereabouts are not known.
– Will the Minister answer the point about the Aeronautical Research Laboratories’ report?
– This document was sought by the Department of Civil Aviation as a private research document. It has been issued to the company concerned and I understand that it has been made available to the Australian Federation of Air Pilots. I believe I am correct in saying that but I shall have a check made and will make a statement to the Senate tomorrow if that is not correct. As I have said it is a private document covering a great deal of research. I am sure it will prove valuable. However, until the authorities and the companies concerned have had an opportunity to study it thoroughly and take measures to overcome the deficiencies which are pointed out in it, I think it should remain as it is now a private research document.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 September 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650914_senate_25_s29/>.