25th Parliament · 1st Session
Hie PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 2. IS p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that the Post Office will install a coaxial cable trunk system between Perth and Carnarvon before the end of 1969? Will this cable provide for a television programme relay system? Will such a system mean a much lower installation cost for a national television station in the Geraldton area than the present estimate? In view of Government policy relating to the establishment of national television stations in country areas where national and commercial facilities are provided in each installation, will the Minister confer with the Postmaster-General and stress the urgent need for television facilities in the North Midland-Geraldton area, as investigation will reveal that the case for such facilities is fully justified?
– The PostmasterGeneral issued a statement yesterday in relation to the coaxial cable trunk system, and 1 understand that it has been made available to honorable senators. For general information, it indicates that the Post Office will install a four tube coaxial cable from Perth through Geraldton to Carnarvon, a route distance of 612 miles. The project will cost $7 million. Initially the system will be capable of providing up to 1,200 telephone channels and television programme relay facilities if required. The honorable senator asked whether I will confer with the PostmasterGeneral with a view to facilitating the installation of television in the North Midland-Geraldton area. Yes, I will confer with the Postmaster-General and will relay to him the contents of the question asked by the honorable senator. My understanding Ls that the Postmaster-General’s Department is following a programme which was laid down for the phased development of the provision of television facilities throughout Australia. I also understand that the plan that was laid down in the various stages has progressed very well indeed, with the result that throughout Australia today an over whelming number of the people, including those in country areas, have been provided with television facilities. I shall certainly direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the area mentioned by the honorable senator.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. By way of preface I refer to an Australian Broadcasting Commission television news release which stated that Mount Sugarloaf, at Camperdown, Victoria, which is a perfect volcanic cone, is in danger of disfigurement by being turned into a quarry. Since this is the National Parliament, 1 am prompted to ask a question on the subject. Will the Minister express his concern to the appropriate authorities in Victoria at the proposed destruction of this piece of Australia’s heritage, and express the hope that Mount Sugarloaf will be created a national park? Will he also suggest that an approach be made to the Geological Monuments Committee of the Geological Society of Australia to ascertain the views of geologists on whether this mountain should be preserved untouched because of its scientific Interest?
– 1 saw the television programme referred to by the honorable senator. In the film the mountain was shown and also the residents there who are seeking to preserve it by preventing the establishment of a quarry. This matter comes under the jurisdiction, naturally enough, of the State authorities. From what I .have read, I suggest that the State authorities have this matter well in hand.
– -My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. Can the Minister advise me what action has been taken by the Government in response to the many requests of ex-servicemen for an increase to $10,000 of the war service homes loan? If .no recent discussions have taken place on this matter, in view of the great increase in home building costs will the Minister discuss increasing the war service homes loan with the Government along the lines I have suggested?
– The question raised by the honorable senator concerns policy and therefore, of course, cannot be answered at question time.
– My question, which 1 direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, arises from a question asked by Senator Mulvihill in relation to Mount Sugarloaf in the Western District of Victoria. Would the Minister care to express his approval or otherwise of the statement made by the Premier of Victoria that he is quite willing to have Mount Sugarloaf declared a national park, and that the Government of Victoria will make a contribution for that purpose?
– I am not in a position to comment on the statement of the Premier of Victoria. I do not think 1 can add anything to my comment that the State authorities have the matter well in hand.
– I preface my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by referring to a report in today’s “ Canberra Times “ of a statement in yesterday’s edition of the magazine “ United States News and World Report “ that Australia expects to double its troop commitment of 4,600 men in Vietnam during the next year. Apparently, the report relied upon an unidentified Australian Cabinet Minister as its source. I ask the Minister: Is there any substance in the report? Has any commitment been entered into by the Australian Government to increase the size of our forces in Vietnam? If there is such a commitment, may we expect an announcement to that effect soon or after 26th November?
– The Prime Minister has made statements a number of times on the matter raised by the honorable senator in which he has clearly laid down the position of the Government. I certainly do not see any alteration in the position so clearly laid down by the Prime Minister such as might be based upon the idle reports of an unknown Cabinet Minister, as suggested by the honorable senator.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that the provisions of the Warsaw Convention of 1929 laid down that international and domestic airlines of the signatory nations are required to accept a certain liability for damages in respect of loss of life resulting from air accidents, ls it correct that the more recent Hague Protocol to the Warsaw Convention considerably raised the liability limit of airlines? In view of the reported dissatisfaction of United States civil aviation authorities with the higher liability limit which, if I remember correctly, is in the vicinity of $15,000, has the Minister any view as to the adequacy of the amount now payable, particularly when compared with the very large damages repeatedly awarded by the courts in cases relating to other forms of accident?
– It would be most inappropriate for me as Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation to express a view on a matter of policy of this kind. I shall certainly refer the question to my colleague and obtain an answer from him for the honorable senator.
– I will put the question on the notice paper.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether he has noted the following statement in the twenty-fifth report of the Director-General of Social - Services -
Despite the improved staff position, the number of social workers is still inadequate to handle the increase in referrals from within and outside the Department and prevents the Social Work Branches offering a casework service to additional categories of departmental beneficiaries whose circumstances clearly demonstrate the need for such a service.
Is the Minister doing anything to train or to secure an adequate staff in this most important branch of social service?
– I agree entirely with the honorable senator’s comment about the importance of the work that is being done by social workers. I shall be pleased to take up the question with my colleague, the Minister for Social Services.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. Will the Minister give urgent consideration to requests emanating from the training ship “ Shropshire “ in regardto better quarters and the early acquisition of a power boat?
– I will refer the question to the Minister for the Navy.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation in a position to inform the Senate about a reference in the annual report on the operations of Trans-Australia Airlines to the fact that the Australian National Airlines. Commission had put to the Government some representations about Ansett-A.N.A. operating to 56 airports handling more than 5,000 passengers a year while Trans-Australia Airlines is restricted to only 27 such airports? What action is proposed to ensure fair arrangements as between these airlines?
– As is known to the Senate, we will be dealing with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation at a later hour today. Perhaps that would be a more appropriate time to deal with the matter raised by the honorable senator. I may then have access to more information thanI have now.
(Question No. 928.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer - 1, 2 and 3. The application by Hryhory Berkuta for naturalisation was subjected to the usual checks. Records relating to the former German S.S. do not include his name.
(Question No. 995.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
(Question No. 1011.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
Electra aircraft. T.A.A. usually does all inspection and repair of its aircraft in its own workshops. T.A.A. Electra aircraft were sent to the United States to have special modifications to the wing planks performed. The workshops of both airlines are heavily committed in the normal inspection and other maintenance of their respective fleets. A special modification, such as that to overcome the problem of wing plank corrosion in Electras, is additional to planned commitments. The development of corrosion on Ansett-A.N.A. was less than on the T.A.A. aircraft so that Ansett-A.N.A. was able to plan to carry out the modifications of these aircraft over a longer period, and this made it easier to include this work in the total workshop programme. On the other hand, T.A.A. was faced with a situation which made it desirable from a number of points of view to have the modifications carried out as quickly as possible. However, this work could have been accommodated in the T.A.A. workshops in accordance with a programme similar to that of Ansett-A.N.A. 2.I know of nothing to prevent T.A.A. using Ansett-A.N.A. workshops if the capacity to handle this work was available. As I have already said, however, the Ansett-A.N.A. workshops were heavily committed at this time to the extent that its own modification programme was spread over a longer period. (Question No. 1012.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question -
(Question No. 1017.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following reply to the honorable senator’s questions -
The Battle Class destroyer H.M.A.S. “ Anzac “ was employed as an anti-submarine escort, within the limits of the Australian Naval Station, during a voyage by H.M.A.S. “Sydney” to South Vietnam. Her anti-submarine equipment was fully operational, and adequate for the role in this area.
H.M.A.S. “ Anzac “ has been employed in the primary role of a training ship since 1961. In this role she has no requirement for her 4.5 inch armament. One twin turret has been removed to provide space for instruction purposes, and the second has been retained on board, but not in a fully maintained state. The gun crews which manned her Bofors systems all had appropriate gunnery qualifications. “ Anzac “ has undergone regular refits during her period of commission, the last being between December 1965 and March 1966.
The Daring Class ship H.M.A.S. “ Duchess “ is maintained at fully operational standard as a destroyer escort, in the same way as the two other Fleet units of that class, H.M.A. Ships “ Vendetta “ and “ Vampire “.
(Question No. 1046.)
asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
. -I present the following paper -
Advance to the Treasurer - Statement for the year 1965-66 of Heads of Expenditure and the amounts charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-1965.
Motion (by Senator Henry) - by leave - agreed to -
That consideration of the statement in Committee of the Whole be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the payment in the current financial year of an amount of $10,750,000 to the States of New South Wales and Queensland to assist them in meeting the adverse effects of drought on their revenues. Of this amount, it is proposed that $8,000,000 be paid to New South Wales and $2,750,000 to Queensland.
Honorable senators will recall that earlier this year, legislation was enacted to authorise substantial financial assistance to New South Wales and Queensland in 1965-66 and subsequent years in respect of the direct costs of drought measures taken by them. This action was taken in accordance with our undertaking to assist those States in relation to the direct costs of drought measures for as long as is necessary. Under that legislation, a total amount of $21,700,000 was made available to New South Wales and Queensland in 1965-66 and provision has been made in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) for the appropriation of further amounts totalling $24,250,000 in the present financial year.
The amounts payable under the present Bill would be additional to those paid in accordance with the earlier legislation and would increase total estimated Commonwealth payments for drought assistance in 1966-67 to $35,000,000, of which $23,000,000 would be payable to New South Wales and $12,000,000 to Queensland. The additional assistance of $10,750,000 will be made available in the form of non-repayable grants. As these grants are designed to assist the States in meeting the adverse effects of drought on their revenues, they do not carry any conditions as to the purposes for which they may be spent.
The Government’s decision to provide these additional grants reflects our recognition of the budgetary problems confronting the States of New South Wales and Queensland this financial year due to the cumulative effects of the drought on their revenues. The assistance to be provided should represent a very useful supplement to the other special assistance which these States are already receiving from the Commonwealth in respect of drought. As I indicated on an earlier occasion, the existing drought relief scheme is more liberal than any previous scheme of this kind in which the Commonwealth has participated. On top of the very large amount of assistance the Commonwealth is already making available to the States, the total commitment of about $35,000,000 in respect of drought assistance represents a generous contribution towardsthe States’ financial difficulties. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Benn) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
Thru the Bill be now read a secondtime.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1 935- 1966. Honorable senators will see from the explanatory memorandum that is being circulated that the Bill proposes two amendments one of which, the major proposal, provides for a reduction from 12½ per cent, to 2½ per cent, in the rate of sales tax on electric fans and air conditioners of a household type. The lower rate of 2½ per cent, applies to a wide range of household appliances, including electric radiators and various other room healers, but electric fans and air conditioners have not previously been included in this category. The use of electric fans and air conditioners for household cooling, particularly in the northern and inland areas of Australia, has increased appreciably in recent years andthe Government recognises that these appliances are just as important to congenial living conditions in the hotter regions of Australia as heating appliances are in the cooler regions. It is therefore proposed that electric fans and air conditioners of a kind ordinarily used for household purposes be taxed at 2½ per cent, in common with the majority of other household appliances.
The other amendment provides for exemption from sales tax for goods purchased by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies for its own use and not for resale. The Institute was established by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964 to promote anthropological research and study in relation tothe aboriginal people of Australia. Section 29 of the Act provides that the Institute is not subject to taxation under any law ofthe Commonwealth or of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth. Under the sales tax legislation, however, the liability for payment of tax ordinarily lies on a vendor of goods who normally recovers the tax from the purchaser. Section 29 does not then have the effect of exempting the vendor from liability for sales tax on goods purchased by the Institute; nor does it relieve the Institute of the obligation of bearing any tax passed on to it by vendors. The proposed amendment will give effect to the intention in section 29 by relieving vendors of liability for tax on goods purchased by the Institute, thereby ensuring that the Insitute does not have to bear sales tax on its purchases. By clause 2 of the Bill, the amendments are effective on and from 17th August 1966. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for a separate Act relating to the rilling of casual vacancies in the Senate at a general election of members of the House of Representatives. The existing legislation relating to the filling of casual vacancies in the Senate, namely, the Senate Elections Act 1903-1948, applies only to the filling of casual vacancies when such vacancies are being filled at a normal election of senators to fill periodical vacancies. Unfortunately, due to deaths and a resignation through ill-health, four casual vacancies have occurred in this chamber since the last Senate elections. The Constitution provides that casual vacancies in the Senate shall be filled at the next general election of members of the House of Representatives or at the next election of Senators for the State, whichever first happens. Accordingly, at the forthcoming House of Representatives elections, Senate elections will be held in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria to elect one senator in each and a Senate election will be held in Western Australia to elect two senators.
The Bill before the Senate provides that, where there are two or more casual vacancies to be filled at a general election of members of the House of Representatives, the election to fill those vacancies shall be conducted as one election. The existing provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act provide for the method of scrutiny - a method usually referred to as proportional representation. The Bill also provides that where there are two or more casual vacancies in a State for periods terminating on different dates each vacancy for a period terminating on the later dale shall be filled before any vacancy for a period terminating on the earlier date. This will ensure that the longer term will be allocated to the candidate, or candidates, first elected.
While the proposed legislation includes the normal provision that an election shall not be held where the number of candidates is not greater than the number of vacancies to be filled, it also provides for an exception to that procedure. I refer to the situation where there are vacancies terminating on different dates and the number of candidates is greater than the number of vacancies terminating on the later date. In the last mentioned circumstances, an election will be held, even though the overall number of candidates may not be greater than the number of vacancies. This will be necessary in order to determine which of the candidates will fill the longer term and which will fill (he shorter term.
Under the provisions of the Bill, a senator elected at a previous Senate election will not be eligible to nominate for election to fill a casual vacancy unless he delivers a conditional resignation to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State concerned. The conditional resignation, which will not be effective unless the senator is elected to fill one of the casual vacancies, will enable a sitting senator to contest an election to fill a casual vacancy for a period terminating on a later date than the date on which his normal term of service expires. This Bill follows closely the provisions contained in the Senate Elections Act 1903-1948 which, as mentioned previously, applies only to the filling of casual vacancies at the time of a normal Senate election. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
1.2.54]. - 1 move -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The purpose of this Bill is to modernise and simplify some of the provisions of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act 1923-1959. Such a change is long overdue and there is an advantage in timing it to coincide with the introduction of decimal currency. Lt is also relevant that the present Act ceases to operate after 1972-73, so that a fairly early re-examination of its provisions is inevitable in any case. The main effect of the Bill which I am now introducing will be that a new base date of 30th June 1966 will be established for the calculation of annual Sinking Fund contributions. In addition, a more meaningful definition of Commonwealth debt liable to these contributions will be adopted. Commencing this year, annual Sinking Fund contributions of 4 per cent, will be made from Consolidated Revenue in respect of appropriate outstanding and newly created Commonwealth debt, thus enabling this debt to be paid off in full over a period of 25 years.
These arrangements will apply only to that portion of Commonwealth debt which should logically attract Sinking Fund contributions. There is clearly no need to make Sinking Fund contribtions in respect of Commonweatlh debt raised to finance advances from Loan Fund which ate repayable to the Commonwealth, such as housing advances to the States. The repayments of these advances are channelled automatically into the Sinking Fund and thus already provide sufficient funds to redeem the original debt in due course. Nor is there any need to make Sinking Fund contributions in respect of Commonwealth debt which is being repaid from sources other than the Sinking Fund, in accordance with the provisions of the original borrowing Act concerned. With certain qualifications, both of these exemptions from Sinking Fund contributions will continue as before.
What I have said so far is in essence all that we are setting out to do in the new Bill. However, as the receipts of the Commonwealth’s section of the Sinking Fund in 1966-67 will be only $43 million under the new legislation, compared with $120 million in 1965-66 under the old legislation, honorable senators are entitled to a detailed explanation of the Government’s reasons for proposing this change. Let me make it clear that, while I shall at times be mentioning very large amounts of money, the actual transactions are entirely “ internal “ to me Commonwealth’s accounts. Whether we transfer $43 million or $120 million to the Sinking Fund this year from other sections of the Public Account, we will still have the same commitments to the public in respect of redemptions and repurchases of Commonwealth debt. We will also continue to honour our undertakings to the States to assist them with the financing of any redemptions of their own debt which they are unable to meet from their Sinking Funds. The proposed reduction in Sinking Fund contributions this year played no part at all in the policy decisions which we look when framing this year’s Budget. Our estimated net cash result for the year would have been exactly the same whatever amount we decided to pay into the Sinking Fund.
These remarks may help to put the proposed changes into their correct perspective. However, while the new legislation has little bearing on the overall financial policy of the Commonwealth Government, it does represent a fairly sweeping revision of the arrangements which have previously applied. 1 think, therefore, that I should in the first place outline the provisions of the original Act so that they can be compared with the provisions envisaged in the new Bill. The original Act was introduced in 1923. lt established the National Debt Sinking Fund, which was to be applied towards the redemption of maturing Commonwealth debt - but not State debt - and to the repurchase on the market of other Commonwealth debt when appropriate. The necessary funds were to be provided mainly from regular annual contributions from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and from repayments of advances previously made from Loan Fund.
The Act also set up the National Debt Commission to supervise the operations of the National Debt Sinking Fund. The Commission now consists of the Commonwealth Treasurer, as Chairman, the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, the Secretary of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, and a representative of the States - at present the Victorian Director of Finance. Full details of the new proposals were discussed at the meeting which the Commission held in Sydney late last month. The Commissioners were also given the opportunity of examining the Bill in draft form, and had no comments to offer. It is, of course, the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to decide what provisions it should make for Sinking Fund contributions. Nevertheless, it is pleasing to note that, after years of experience, the Commissioners still appear to be satisfied with Commission procedures generally.
By virtue of the Financial Agreement, the National Debt Commission has since 1928 also been responsible for the supervision of the individual Sinking Funds established for each of the six States, which now form part of the National Debt Sinking Fund. Contributions to the Sinking Fund
In respect of Commonwealth debt are determined by sections 9, 9aa and 10 of the present Act. These contributions are summarised on page 21 of the report of the National Debt Commission for 1965-66.
The simplest exposition I can give of the main requirements of the original 1923 Act, as revised in 1930, is as follows, in the first place, repayments of advances made out of Loan Fund were to be channelled back into the Sinking Fund, where they would be available to discharge debt equivalent to the amount of the original debt raised to finance the advances.
Secondly, an annual contribution was payable from Consolidated Revenue of i per cent, of the amount of other debt outstanding in June 1923, together with a similar percentage of net debt created, as defined in the Act, in each financial year from then onwards. These payments were to be supplemented by a further annual contribution of 5 per cent, of the total contributions paid since July 1930. Because of the accumulative effect of the additional 5 per cent, contributions, and of certain other payments made in relation to the period 1923-1930, total receipts of the Sinking Fund should have been sufficient to provide for the retirement of each portion of the debt over a period of 50 years.
Thirdly, similar contributions were to be made in respect of Commonwealth debt raised overseas, except that section 10a of the Act required that the Australian currency payable was to be calculated on the basis of the mint part of exchange ruling in 1930- that is, SUS4.8665 = £A1, or $US2.4332 = $AI. The actual rate at present is SUS1.12 = $A1, so that these contributions have therefore been insufficient to retire the full amount of overseas debt.
Fourthly, various other receipts of the Sinking Fund such as reparation moneys, interest on the investment of certain Sinking Fund moneys, etc., were to be treated as an offset to the amounts otherwise payable from Consolidated Revenue.
This was the position in 1930. Apart from the insufficiency of contributions in respect of oversea debt, it would have been expected that the original 1923 arrangements would have lasted the intended period of 50 years without any undue difficulties.
Since the early 1930’s, several developments have tended to build up the balance in the Sinking Fund to unnecessarily high levels. I shall now outline some of these developments and describe briefly the action which the Government proposes to take to deal wilh them. The earliest development was the introduction of internal treasury bills in 1931, as a temporary internal investment of cash balances in the Commonwealth’s Trust Fund. The practice arose of paying annual Sinking Fund contributions on the comparatively minor amounts of these Bills outstanding from year to year - only $21 million was on issue in June 1939 - even though the Commonwealth scarcely needed to make Annual Sinking fund contributions over a period of 50 years on short term debt owing to itself. The amount of internal treasury bills outstanding at June 1966 had risen to $682 million. The Government has now decided to dispense with Sinking Fund contributions on these securities. I may add that internal treasury bills are normally redeemed out of the proceeds of issues of public treasury bills to the Reserve Bank, and that normal Sinking Fund contributions automatically become payable when The latter bills are issued.
War service homes advances were financed out of Loan Fund up to 1930-31. It was therefore logical for the National Debt Sinking Fund Act to provide that repayments of the advances should be directed to the Sinking Fund in the same manner as other repayments of advances originally made from Loan Fund. Since 1931-32, war service homes advances have been financed from Consolidated Revenue, except for 1950-51 when they were again financed from Loan Fund. Repayments of the advances have nevertheless continued to be directed into the Sinking Fund. The total amount of the advances financed out of Loan Fund was $90 million, but repayments to the Sinking Fund have already totalled $307 million. The Sinking Fund thus has received $217 million over the years for which no equivalent amount of debt was created in the first place. The Government now proposes to channel war service homes repayments into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
An amount equivalent to $197 million was appropriated to the Sinking Fund from Consolidated Revenue in 1951-52. The National Debt Sinking Fund (Special Payment) Act 1951 provided that this amount, and the interest subsequently received from its investment, would not reduce the amounts otherwise payable to the Sinking Fund. The Sinking Fund was accordingly provided with substantial funds additional to those necessary for the redemption of Commonwealth debt.
The Government has now decided that the residue of the original investment - now $77 million - should be regarded as an offset to the total amount of outstanding debt, and that the amount of debt attracting Sinking Fund contributions should be reduced accordingly. The Government has also decided that the interest received from this investment should reduce the amount otherwise payable from Consolidated Revenue, as is already the case with other investment income.
Since the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve’ was established in 1955, it has cancelled $1,379 million ‘ Commonwealth securities, including $152 million treasury bills, but Sinking Fund contributions are still being paid on this debt because of the lack of suitable provisions in the National Debt Sinking Fund Act. The Government has decided that Sinking Fund contributions in 1966-67 will be payable only on debt actually outstanding at 30th June 1966. Whenever the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve cancels debt in the future, total Sinking Fund contributions over the next 25 years will be reduced by a corresponding amount.
One result of contributions to the Sinking Fund being in excess of its requirements for debt redemption is that the Commonwealth has been able to give valuable assistance to the States in their own debt redemption problems. For some years past, amounts available in the States’ separate Sinking Funds have seldom been sufficient to meet the States’ proportionate share of redemptions of maturing Commonwealth and Sta e securities. The Commonwealth has agreed te treat vast amounts of these redemptions as redemptions of its own debt. Since 1953-54, the Commonwealth has redeemed from its own Sinking Fund more than $330 million maturing securities additional to its proportionate share.
This has resulted, of course, in an accelerated reduction of the debt of the Commonwealth and, together with the other developments I have mentioned, has led to a position where current Sinking Fund contributions are a far higher proportion of the debt logically attracting such contributions than was envisaged in the original legislation.
It is somewhat ironical to find the Commonwealth criticised at times because its debt is not increasing as fast as that of the States - a situation which, by the way, is not the case with Commonwealth non-war debt. One reason why Commonwealth debt is not increasing faster is that the Commonwealth has been prepared to use its accumulated funds to redeem debt which would have been the responsibility of the States if they had sufficient funds available in their own Sinking Funds.
I now come to a determination of the amount of debt outstanding at 30th June 1966 .which should logically a’.tract percentage Sinking Fund contributions. .The to:al amount of Commonwealth Government debt then .outstanding was $2,463 million, including oversea debt converted at current exchange rates. This . amount excludes $682 million of internal treasury bills, for the reasons I have already indicated. The following amounts need to be deducted from this figure -
The only change in principle from the present arrangements is the adjustment for investments of the Sinking Fund. This leads to a figure of $773 million - actually $773,554,000 - for the debt outstanding at 30th June 1966 on which the Government proposes to pay flat annual Sinking Fund contributions of 4 per cent, over the following 25 years, thus providing sufficient funds for this debt to be completely discharged during that period. Before adjustment, the amount of the annual contribution payable will be $30,940,000, as set out in clause 9 of the Bill. In addition to this amount, the Sinking Fund is expected to receive approximately $12 million during the year as repayments of advances originally made from Loan Fund. The amount of $30,940,000 will be reduced by interest received during the year on the investments of the Sinking Fund, and the actual contribution from Consolidated Revenue has been estimated at $20,125,000.
The next step is to determine for 1966-67 and later years the amount by which Commonwealth debt liable for percentage sinking fund contributions has been increased or decreased as the result of each year’s operations. This figure is obtained by deducting the following amounts from gross borrowings for the year, other than Treasury notes and public and internal Treasury bills -
New loans raised to finance repayable advances.
New loans for which other repayment arrangements have been made.
New cash or conversion loans raised to refinance existing loans.
Redemptions of debt during the year by the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Cancellations of debt during the year by the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve.
Any additional amounts paid into the Sinking Fund during the year under the authority of clause 11 of the Bill, which corresponds to section 9a of the original Act.
For the purposes of these calculations, borrowings arranged during the year through the issue of public treasury bills and treasury notes are treated on a net basis, but the underlying principles are the same. The net amount calculated for the overall movement in outstanding debt will be adjusted for increases or decreases during the year in the Australian currency equivalent of outstanding oversea debt due to an adjustment to overseas exchange rates. The final figure for each year will represent either a net creation of debt or a net reduction of debt. In the former case additional contributions of 4 per cent, of the amount involved will be paid into the Sinking Fund over the following 25 years, and in the latter case sinking fund contributions over the following 25 years will be reduced by 4 per cent, of the amount.
Before I proceed further, I would ask honorable senators to note the following main changes contemplated in the Bill -
The reduced amount now payable lo the Sinking Fund will be adequate to retire all outstanding debt, and all newly created debt, in only half the time which was intended under the existing legislation. There is no cash benefit to the Government as a result of this proposal. We will still have the same liabilities to the public each year for the redemption and repurchase of debt whatever we pay into the Sinking Fund and we will continue to honour these in full.
The new Bill will repeal the various National Debt Sinking Fund Acts, and also the National Debt Sinking Fund (Special Payment) Act 1951. It did not prove practicable to revise the existing National Debt Sinking Fund Act. Nearly every section of it would either need to be repealed or would now require major or minor adjustment, if only because of the passage of time. In particular, the original Act was introduced before the Financial Agreement, and the limited reference to that Agreement in sections 7 and 18a of the Act is now scarcely sufficient to provide for the responsibilities in respect of State debt which have been assumed by the Commission by virtue of the Financial Agreement.
While it will not be practicable for me in this second reading speech to refer to every change made in the new Bill compared with the present Act, it may be helpful to honorable senators if I list a f/ew of these changes which I have not already mentioned. Clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill outline the constitution, functions and procedures of the National Debt Commission with, I think, more clarity than sections 5 and 6 of the Act, without making any substantive changes to the previous arrangements. Clause 7 now makes it clear that the National Debt Sinking Fund is a combination of seven separate Sinking Funds administered on behalf of the Commonwealth and the six States. Clause 13 provides that conversions from foreign currency to Australian currency for the purposes of the Act shall be at a rate ascertained by the Treasurer in such manner as he considers appropriate. This replaces the provisions of section 10A of the Act. where conversions were to be made at the .1930 “mint par of exchange “. The Treasurer has been given discretion in this case because of the difficulty of defining in legislation exactly which exchange rale would be appropriate for the conversion into Australian currencies of all foreign currencies likely to be concerned for many years to come. The Treasurer has indicated that he will, for the present, authorise each of these conversions to be made on the basis of the par rates published by the International Monetary Fund except that, in the case of Swiss francs, the equivalents of the par rates, calculated from their gold content, will be used.
There is no clause in the Bill to replace section 13 of the Act, which requires that every loan prospectus issued by the Commonwealth shall undertake the Sinking Fund contributions in respect of the loan concerned will be paid into the National Debt Sinking Fund in accordance with the Act. One difficulty here is that the Commonwealth can scarcely give a formal legal undertaking that appropriate Sinking Fund contributions will be made by State governments in respect of their portion of the debt. Also, some loans anc issued without a prospectus. However, it is obviously in our interests that suitable references to the National Debt Sinking Fund should be made in Commonwealth loan prospectuses and similar documents, and the present practice will naturally be continued. It could be said, in fact, that one of the main reasons for having a National Debt Sinking Fund in the first place is to be able to give an added assurance to subscribers to Commonwealth loans, both in Australia and overseas, that the Commonwealth will honour its debt liabilities. Compared with sections 17 and 18 of the Act, clauses 15 and 16 of the Bill give the Commission clearer powers in the application of Sinking Fund moneys and slightly wider powers in the investment of these moneys.
Clause 17 permits the Commission to accept, at prices other than par, securities which the Treasurer has accepted in payment of estate duty. These securities are at present limited to special bonds. The provision is necessary to cover the case of special bonds being applied to the payment of estate duty at prices above par, by virtue of their redemption provisions. Section 16 of the present Act requires that any such purchases by the Commission should be made at par. Clause 19 makes some consequential changes to other Acts which contain references to the National Debt Sinking Fund which are no longer applicable. References to the National Debt Sinking Fund in other legislation, which has continuing force, will apply equally to the new Act by virtue of section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act.
This Bill opens up to Parliamentary scrutiny a most complicated Act: which dales back to 1923. and a segment of Commonwealth and State finances which may have been somewhat of a mystery to some honorable senators, lt was for this reason that the Treasurer introduced the Bill in another place several weeks before the second reading debate was due to commence. Acting on the suggestion in another place of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), the Treasurer had prepared an explanatory memorandum which describes the Bill clause by clause, and compares it with the present Act. From this memorandum it will be seen that the Bill is essentially simple in its approach, and far less complicated than the Act which it will replace. I have pleasure in commending the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mckenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill makes certain minor amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The main purpose of the Bill is to increase to seven the total number of judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, which at present consists of a chief judge and four other judges. Judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court also hold appointments as additional judges of the Supreme Courts of the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Island and Christmas Island. The volume of judicial work of the Supreme
Court of the Australian Capital Territory in particular has grown to such an extent that an additional judge is required to discharge it. A judge of this Court was appointed recently, but it would be more convenient and make for greater flexibility lo follow the practice that has become established of having judges of the Commonwealth Industrial Court discharge the judicial work of this Court.
Additional duties have also been undertaken by the Chief Judge who has, since 1961, been appointed under the Navigation Act to conduct marine enquiries. He was the Royal Commissioner who enquired into the collision between H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ and H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. He has also conducted enquiries under the Air Navigation Regulations into accidents involving aircraft. In practice the Commonwealth Industrial Court is usually convened with three judges sitting, it generally being thought desirable to do so, although the Act provides that general jurisdiction of the Court must be exercised by not less than two judges. It is necessary to have available a sufficient number of judges to enable the court to be convened at any time it might become necessary. It is in these circumstances that the need for one additional judge arises.
When the Trade Practices Tribunal, which was established under the Trade Practices Act. begins to function, a second additional appointment to the Commonwealth Industrial Court will become necessary because Mr. Justice Eggleston of the Commonwealth Industrial Court has been appointed President of the Trade Practices Tribunal. He will remain a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, but it is expected that his duties as President of the Tribunal will eventually engage the whole of his attention, lt will consequently be necessary to enable another judge to be appointed to the Commonwealth Industrial Court to replace him.
The remaining provisions of the Bill are related to the Trade Practices Act. In addition to the appointment of a Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court as President of the Trade Practices Tribunal, other members of the Court and presidential members of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission may be appointed as presidential members of the Tribunal. The Bill provides that, in such a case, service as President or Deputy President of the Trade Practices Tribunal will not constitute an interruption of the service of such President or Deputy President as a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court or as a presidential member of the Commission, as the case may be. This is necessary to ensure that the pension rights of the holders of those offices will be preserved.
Finally, a member of the Trade Practices Tribunal who is a judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court is disqualified by the Bill from sitting as a member of that Court on any matter arising under the Trade Practices Act. This provision is made to avoid the possibility of a constitutional objection arising that the Trade Practices Tribunal, which is a nonjudicial body, could become involved in the exercise of judicial power in relation to its own orders. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
On 1st July, 1965 three acts relating to the poultry industry came into operation. The three acts formed one legislative scheme to give the Australian egg industry an opportunity to stabilise itself. The three acts referred to are the Poultry Industry Levy Act which imposes a levy on hens kept for commercial purposes, the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act which provides for the collection of the levy and the Poultry Industry Assistance Act which establishes the Poultry Industry Trust Fund into which are paid amounts equal to the amounts of levy collected. This Act also covers the distribution of the money from the Fund for the assistance of the poultry industry.
The Bill which I am introducing is to amend the Poultry Industry Assistance Act, and its principal provision is to allow for money in the Poultry Industry Trust Fund to be expended on research, with a $1 for $1 contribution by the Commonwealth. The Bill also amends that provision of the Act which makes it mandatory for the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to give precise directions as to how the money granted to the States from the Fund for the assistance of the poultry industry is to be spent. The amendment makes these directions permissive.
During the debates on the poultry industry legislation in May last year, many references were made to research in the poultry industry. The Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia has given thorough consideration to this important question and has recommended that special research provisions should be grafted on to the present scheme by way of Commonwealth legislation, and that the Commonwealth be asked to meet half the expenditure on research projects recommended by the Council and approved by the Minister for Primary Industry. The Government endorses the recommendation which is implemented by this amendment.
The necessity for research in all industries is, I think, accepted universally. The general problem is to find the necessary finance. The Council’s recommendation indicates that it is fully aware of the need for research and is prepared to accept the financial responsibility for undertaking it. The request that the Commonwealth should meet half of the expenditure is in line with the well established Government policy of joint industry - Government financed research schemes such as are currently operating in the wool, wheat, dairy, meat, tobacco and barley industries. Under the Bill, Commonwealth expenditure is limited to $100,000 in any one financial year. This will allow up to $200,000 to be expended on research in a year. Research expenditure from the Fund, of course, is not restricted to this amount but any money beyond this amount is not matched by the Commonwealth.
The provision in the Bill amending the requirement for the Minister to give directions as to exactly how the money granted to the States is to be spent, has been introduced to give more flexibility to the State Governments, particularly in respect of producers in remote areas outside of State Egg Board control and therefore outside of an official voice in industry recommendations. Producers such as these, in many cases, merit special consideration. This cannot be given to them by a reduction in or an exemption from the levy, which must be uniform in all States. Queensland is the only State which has raised the problem, which is fundamentally one for the State itself.
Under the present wording of the Act there is no apparent means whereby particular areas can be given special assistance. As the basic concept of the Act is to provide assistance to the whole of the poultry industry. :here should be provision to enable all sectors of the industry to be. covered. This has been met by the slight change in the wording of the legislation as set out in the amendment. I consider that this is a principle which should not be withheld from the poultry industry through lack of Commonwealth legislative enactment, and I support its inclusion in the Bill. This and the important research provisions of the amendment, are designed for more effective operation of the original intention of the legislation and I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by ‘Senator Toohey) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Mckellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
As I pointed out in the Bill which 1 have just introduced, the three acts relating to the poultry industry which were passed by the Parliament in May last year, form one legislative scheme. After just over 12 months of operation it is evident that the scheme is achieving substantially what it set out to achieve. It is also evident that though the scheme has been remarkably effective, its operation is not completely satisfactory in that a small sector of the industry is accepting the benefits of the scheme but is not prepared to meet its share of their cost.
The Bill amends the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act .1965 and its most significant provision enables a count of hens to be made by a person who is authorised in writing by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to do so. Because knowledge of the number of hens owned is a basic prerequisite to checking the amount of levy payable, the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia has asked the Commonwealth to amend the legislation to enable the counting of hens to be carried out. Before the legislation was submitted to the Parliament it was understood that, if it were passed, the Slates under their own legislation would give their Boards any necessary powers in respect of collecting the levy. As the subject matter of the legislation constituting most of the State Egg Boards is eggs, not hens, as in the Commonwealth legislation, there seems to be doubt in some States whether authority can be given to the Boards to enter premises for the purpose of counting hens. In the interests of uniformity, and as the levy is imposed by a Commonwealth act, the inclusion of the necessary provision in the Commonwealth legislation, now seems desirable and all State Governments support this course.
Under the present Act there is some doubt whether producers may be required to keep records of their poultry. The amendment makes it clear that a regulation may bc made requiring the keeping of such records. Although almost 100 per cent, of producers do keep records, a few claim that they do not do so. Without adequate records, the checking of hen numbers may be difficult and the amendment aims at enabling this position to he rectified.
The only other provision of any significance in the amendment is that which allows the Minister to delegate authority for the remission of penalties up to SI. Under the present Act, it is mandatory for a penalty to be imposed on all producers who do not pay levy by the due dale unless each case for remission is approved by the Minister. In the case of small producers the amounts of penalty are insignificant and it becomes administratively cumbersome and a sheer waste of money to follow up small amounts owing by way of penalty which is imposed at a rate of 10 per cent, per annum.
There are other amendments in the Bill which merely translate the amounts of money mentioned in the Act to decimal currency. The terms of this Bill have been recommended by the Australian egg industry through its principal producer organisation, the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia. In addition, all of the State Governments strongly support the proposals. I suggest that the provisions of this Bill are essential to the effective operation of the poultry industry legislation and I therefore commend it to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Toohey) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Mckellar) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I have already introduced Bills to amend the Poultry Industry Assistance Act 1965 and the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act 1965. This Bill is to amend the Poultry Industry Levy Act 1965 which is the remaining legislative enactment implemented last year on behalf of the Australian poultry industry. The Poultry Industry Levy Act imposes a levy in respect of hens kept for commercial purposes, including broilerbreeder hens - i.e., hens kept to lay eggs for hatching chickens for rearing as broilers. Under the formula in the Act, owners of broiler-breeder hens pay levy in respect of only that notional proportion of their flock whose eggs are not used for hatching purposes.
The Government’s attention has recently been drawn to the fact that the formula as it now stands can act inequitably against one sector of the broiler-breeder industry, and this Bill aims to correct this situation. The present formula in effect allows exemption for a large part of the broiler-breeder flock in the proportion that the number of hatching eggs bears to the total number of eggs produced over a preceding period of three months. The period of three months was adopted for the convenience of the owners of the hens and with the concurrence of the principal broiler industry organisation, the Australian Chicken Meat Federation. The three months period operates quite equitably for the majority of the industry. However, one sector of the industry utilises a rigid system of rearing and keeping fowls until they reach 66 weeks of age and then clears them all out, rests the sheds for some weeks and starts the cycle again. For this sector of the industry, the period of three months as a measurement of performance of hens is too long and the amendment allows this period to be reduced to two weeks at the option of the owner. Any owner of broiler-breeder hens may exercise the option to use either the quarter or the fortnight as his base period, but once having exercised his option, he must maintain the base period he has chosen for at least 12 months.
The amendment, which appears complex, is only a minor one. However, its enactment will iron out an anomaly which exists in the present legislation. The Bill has the support of the Australian Chicken Meat Federation and I commend it to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Toohey) adjourned.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that it had disagreed to the amendment made by the Senate, but in place thereof had amended the Bill and desired the reconsideration by the Senate of the Bill, and the concurrence of the Senate in the new amendment.
Consideration resumed from 18th October (vide page I 195).
Proposed expenditure, $3,664,000.
Senator TOOHEY (South Australia) 1.3.42]. - Under Division No. 101 - Senate - 1 wish to refer briefly to the proposal to build a new Parliament House. This was under discussion briefly today at a meeting of the Joint House Committee. Although the Joint Select Committee which was appointed to go into the question of a new Parliament House has done its job well and I offer no criticism whatever of the Committee or any of its members, I believe some criticism must be directed at members of the Parliament themselves in respect of this matter because there seems to be a tendency to push the proposal further and further into the background. Senator Wright has had a notice of motion on the notice paper for some considerable time regarding the site of the new Parliament House but goodness knows when some action will be taken to start the project. It may be that the Government is inhibited because this involves expenditure of money and perhaps it would be a good idea to run a lottery for the construction of the new Parliament House rather than allow it to escape our notice altogether.
Having accepted the fact that it will be some considerable time before action is taken in this matter, I come to the question of the Standing Orders which is a related matter. The present Parliament House has been altered frequently over a period of years, and particularly in recent years it has become a very rambling structure. Standing Order No. 173 requires the division bells to be rung for two minutes. 1 do not know how long that Standing Order has been effective, but it might be timely to recall that the new wing of Parliament House is situated on the far side of the House of Representatives and is some considerable distance from the Senate chamber. Any honorable senator who was attending a meeting of a committee in one of the farthest rooms of the new wing would have difficulty in reaching the Senate chamber in time, particularly if he were elderly and perhaps suffering some physical disability.
- Senator Turnbull should speak for himself. I do not have any difficulty myself but there was a time when I did and there are senators who are elderly and who are suffering some physical handicap.
– Then they should not be in the Senate.
– That is a matter of conjecture. I do not know whether we are going to argue whether some have the right to be in this chamber because of age. If that is so, I have more right to be here than Senator Turnbull.
The point that I am making is that the situation of the new committee rooms raises the question whether two minutes is sufficient time to enable anybody who is in a distant part of this building to get to this chamber on time. It seems to me to be illogical that the bells are rung for five minutes at times when we know we must assemble, that is, from 2.55 until 3 o’clock in the afternoon - on days when we meet at 3 o’clock - and from 7.55 until 8 o’clock each evening, but for only two minutes at times when, despite our desire to attend a division, physical difficulties may prevent us from doing so. I am suggesting that the timing of the sandglass might be changed from two to three minutes. I make that suggestion quite seriously. The position will be aggravated if additions continue to be made to this building, as I fear will be the case. I am one of those who do not entertain any optimistic thoughts about how soon we will have the new Parliament House. I do not think many, if any, honorable senators here today will see it. Our Standing Orders might bear some examination in regard to this point.
Secondly, Mr. Chairman, 1 refer to Standing Order No. 99. You know that I have raised this matter quite frequently lately, lt seems to be becoming more and more common for honorable senators to ask questions that are designed to make people or parties feel uncomfortable. To my way of thinking, such questions do not achieve any useful purpose. Standing Order No. 99 is quite specific. It says that questions shall not contain statements of fact, names of persons, arguments, inferences, imputations, epithets, ironical expressions or hypothetical matter. It says that questions shall not ask for an expression of opinion, a statement of the Government’s policy or legal opinion. In recent days honorable senators have asked questions which, in my humble opinion - 1 may be a purist in these matters - constituted definite breaches of that Standing Order.
If 1 ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question that is designed to embarrass the Government, a member of it, a member of his Party or a member of the coalition Party, it is difficult for me to ask it without making imputations and without indulging in ironical expressions. On the other hand, if a Dorothy Dix question is directed to a Minister by a member of his Party or the other Government Party for the purpose of embarrassing a member of the Opposition or the Opposition generally, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the Minister to keep within the ambit of Standing Order No. 99 which forbids expressions of opinion. I suggest that honorable senators might give some consideration to this matter. The people outside may not lack the intelligence that we think they lack when we believe that we are scoring by asking this type of question or seeking this type of reply. I do not absolve the Ministers from my comments. They have also taken part in this sort of thing.
It may be said that I am a namby pamby type of politician, but I cannot recall ever asking a question that was designed to embarrass the Government or members of it. Of course, I have hit hard if I thought I had certain facts at my disposal. But that is different from using the forms and Standing Orders of the Senate for the purpose of scoring a point - sometimes a rather dubious point. As I said, sometimes I think we underestimate the intelligence of the people who may be listening or those who may read “ Hansard “. Mr. Chairman, I hope that you and the President, on reading my remarks in “ Hansard “, will use whatever authority you have with the object of making question time more informative and more useful, instead of it degenerating as I consider it has in recent months.
I come now to an issue which I believe should be ventilated in this Parliament and which has already engaged the attention of at least one member of the Parliament. I regret that only one member of another place - Mr. J. R. Fraser, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory - has raised it. I refer to the wages and salaries of people employed in this building. He referred, first, to the position of “ Hansard “ reporters. It was not until I read in “ Hansard “ his contribution to the debate on the estimates for the Parliament that I found out that the “ Hansard “ reporters of the Commonwealth Parliament, rather than leading the nation in regard to pay and conditions, are only third to Victorian and Queensland “ Hansard “ reporters. That is an incredible position. I believe that the Senate must take note of it. If it escaped notice in a general sense in the House of Representatives, it should not escape the notice of honorable senators that the “ Hansard “ reporters in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia are actually receiving less money than the “ Hansard “ reporters in two of the State Parliaments.
– They are the top men in Australia, too.
– They are the top men in Australia, as Senator Fitzgerald so properly reminds us. I hope that this matter will not end here and that, whether or not the plea that Mr. Fraser made in another place fell on deaf ears, we members of this chamber, who take a more considered view of these matters, will not let it rest here, but will regard it as our duty to see that the wages of these people are brought up at least to the standard that obtains in Victoria and Queensland, no matter what is the position in the rest of the Commonwealth.
The subject of salaries does not end there. I have made inquiries about some of these matters because I believe that, as a member of the House Committee, I have a duty to do so. I am informed that several people who are employed in this building in most responsible capacities are grossly underpaid. I have been informed that of three maintenance men employed in this building, one is classified as a maintenance officer, one as a senior carpenter and one as a carpenter. All of them have in the vicinity of 20 years of service. They have had no reclassification or re-evaluation of their work in that period of 20 years. The only increases in wages that they have received have been variations in the basic wage and margins. 1 suggest to honorable senators that, in view of the type of work that these men do, a classification such as “ carpenter “ is completely unreal. Not only are they engaged in the design and manufacture of high class furniture; they also deal with the maintenance of soft furnishings, upholstery and quality joinery. In addition, occasionally - not very often, I. will admit - they are called upon to display their special type of skill by making special items for presentation to other countries.
This problem has come to the notice of the House Committee. I understand that the claims of these men have received the support of both the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. They certainly have the support of the members of the House Committee. But the only avenue for attempting to rectify what I consider to be an industrial injustice in the case of these men is through the Public Service Board. I respectfully ; suggest that the officers of the Board, whose job is to determine, first, whether these men should be re-classified and, secondly, whether they should receive an increase iri wages or salaries, are not properly equipped to understand the ramifications of the work that these men do. Consequently, they cannot possibly give these men a just decision. The whole thing comes back to the Public Service Board. I am informed that when these men make an application to have their position examined on the basis of whether there should be increases in salaries and whether such increases are warranted, the Public Service Board takes what it considers to be the closest classification that it can find. Often it has very little relation to the actual work that these men are doing, but the Board plays safe. I suppose that that is the natural thing to do. It errs on the cautious side and because it does so, these men fail to receive what I consider to be elementary justice.
Some considerable time ago I was a trade union official. In that capacity it was my duty from time to time to place before industrial tribunals cases on behalf of certain classes of workers. Having found out the type of work these men do, and without in any way trying to indicate to the Senate that 1 was eminently successful in that field when I worked in it, 1 would not have the slightest hesitation in taking their case to any industrial tribunal in (his country. I think that 1 could do something for them. In fact, I am positive that 1 could. If 1 hold this belief, if the President of the Senate also holds that belief and if it is supported by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, surely it has some validity.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– In connection with Division No. 101, subdivision 2. item 03, 1 wish to canvass the appointment of a joint committee or a select committee to inquire into the whole question of the administration of the Parliament. Before I discuss that matter, may 1 say that I support Senator Toohey in his comments regarding the ringing of the division bells for three minutes, even though I was joking when 1 interjected about the age of honorable senators. 1 understand that in Rome the division bells ring for half an hour. Romans who are cynical say that that is to allow the members of the Parliament to get dressed. I do not know how honorable senators feel about the appointment of a select committee for the purpose I have suggested, but 1 feel strongly that there is very little use in having the Senate at all unless increased powers are given to it. There are so many little things and big things involved in this question that I believe the only way it can be resolved is for the Government, when it is returned to office, to set up next year a committee, either joint or select, to investigate the whole of our procedures.
The Senate is supposed to be a States House, but it is a States House only in name. Whenever a question of State rights comes up honorable senators vote on party lines. I have maintained all along, although I have been rather howled down by some members of the Senate regarding the question of whether the Senate is a States House or a party House, that in my four years’ experience it has been a party House. Even when there are people who are prepared to stand up for their State, as soon as the party Whips get cracking they become party men. That is one aspect of this question which we should investigate. I think that the Parliament has degenerated into a one House
Parliament and that the Senate has adopted such a shabby role that it is not worth while to continue with the Senate. We saw recently, when the Senate disagreed with the other House, how the Government promptly turned the Repatriation Bill into an appropriation measure. That showed that the Government could do the same thing whenever it wished. Therefore, what is the point in our being here at all? If there were a few more independents or splinter groups like the .Australian Democratic Labour Party, this House might serve a useful purpose.
– The Democratic Labour Party is not a splinter group.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. I should have said “ independent groups “. In addition, the forms of this House in relation to the Standing Orders are unsatisfactory. We know of the absolute arrogance of Ministers in refusing to answer questions.
– Order! To which item of the Estimates is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to Division No. .101, subdivision 2, item 03, “ Standing and Select Committees - Expenses “.
– The honorable senator is getting a little away from that item.
– I have suggested that a select committee could investigate this problem, and 1 have said that it could be a joint committee consisting of members from both Houses of the Parliament. Such a committee could consider the advisability of introducing a rule that Ministers must answer questions on notice within a certain time. The committee could bring in some useful recommendations which, if they were adopted, might lead to members of this House becoming far more effective than we are.
I do not know whether we should follow the system in the United States of America, but I certainly think that the system in that country has advantages. In my opinion, we are not paying sufficient attention to it. We hear of outbreaks of independence on the part of members of the other House and of the Senate, when backbenchers become dissatisfied, but nothing is ever done. That is why I make this plea to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) that he should do something about this matter. It seems to me that the Senate does not give sufficient consideration to the question of sitting times. People ask me how I manage to carry on my practice. It is quite simple for me to answer them, because we sit for only 60 days in the year. I do not know what other honorable senators do with their time, but I find that I get very bored if I am not doing some kind of work, so I do that. I think that for the Parliament to sit on only 60 days of the year gives it insufficient time to deal with the affairs of the nation. Not only do we not sit enough but also we have the usual rush in the last week of a sessional period. We have another four or five sitting days to go before the Parliament rises. Yesterday six Bills were introduced into the Senate and seven were introduced today. I understand that another 20 or so Bills are to come. We shall then churn these out. at the rate of one every three minutes, and that is supposed to be doing the work of the nation. This practice should be stopped. There should bc some effective means of insisting that the Parliament shall meet for a much longer period than 60 days in the year.
The final thing which I think a select committee should do is to examine the question of privilege. Recently, the Michaelis case was raised in the other House. I think it would be abhorrent to the great majority of Australians that a Minister was so Fascist minded as to bring in a security file of a boy whom he was trying to browbeat. That is all it was.
– That is all it was. I do not care whether this woman is a Communist or not.
– Who said she is a Communist?
– I am not saying she is.
– Who said she is?
– There is no question of it. I do not care whether she is a Communist or not. The point I am making is that simply because a boy refused military service the Minister for the Army (Mr.
Malcolm Fraser) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) came into the House with a security file. This could happen to anyone in Australia. Yet people on the other side of the chamber are supporting it.
– Who raised the question in the House in the first instance?
– 1 do not care who first raised it. A lot of things irritate us in this House and also irritate the Minister.
– Order! The honorable senator is not entitled to refer to debates that have taken place in the other House during the current session.
– I did not know that there was a debate on it, Mr. Chairman. Anyhow, I am not going to canvass the matter. I simply say that 1 think it is preposterous and humiliating to the people of Australia that we should have Ministers who are prepared to go to such extremes as to bring in security files when they want to bolster their case. I am not speaking in heal. The matters I have raised are important to most Australians because I think they like to know what we do in the Parliament. I also think that most members of the Parliament would like to be far more effective than they are in regard to matters concerning the nation. If we could set up the kind of committee I have suggested, with representatives of all the parties, including the Democratic Labour Party and the independents, on it, we might be able to reach a solution to the problem of trying to make our work far more effective than it is.
– Senator Toohey referred to the new Parliament House. I agree that we should push on with this project as fast as we can because a new Parliament House is long overdue. The present Parliament House is not large enough and requires modernising. Honorable senators know what the air conditioning plant in this building is like. It either boils us or freezes us. lt is old fashioned equipment. Other aspects of the present Parliament House are also unsatisfactory and I think we should push on with the development of the new Parliament House. That course is being followed at present. 1 think that the site chosen at the edge of Lake Burley Griffin will add to the dignity of the new Parliament House. lt is a beautiful site.
Senator Toohey raised a very significant point with respect to the length of time of the ringing of the division bells. As the area of this building is extended, it is necessary to travel greater distances to the chambers. I have noticed that it is taking longer to bolt from the Cabinet room to the Senate chamber to attend divisions. Lt is said that a cricket pitch seems to become longer than 22 yards as one’s age increases, and the position is similar in respect of dashes to the Senate chamber. Senator Toohey has raised quite a valid point which could well be examined. If the bells were rung for an additional minute, 1 do not think anybody would suffer, lt is a matter to which we could give attention.
I heard with interest Senator Toohey’s reference to Standing Order No. 99. I have never noticed the honorable senator showing any hesitation to embarrass us with questions.
– But not of the type to which I referred.
– I know the type of question to which the honorable senator referred. He is very fair, but I have never noticed any hesitation on his part to embarrass us, even if it was a fair embarrassment. 1 think 1 should comment upon the reliance which some honorable senators opposite seem to place on newspaper reports. They bring all sorts of magazines and newspapers into the chamber and ask whether a Minister has read something which appears in them. The only basis for their questions is a newspaper report, and not factual information. I think it is quite a good idea that some honorable senators should check the information in the newspaper reports before they ask questions. I agree that such questions do not add to the dignity of the Senate. Obviously some of the questions asked have no importance in relation to the work of the Senate. i listened to Senator Turnbull with a great deal of interest. The Constitutional Review Committee examined the matters to which the honorable senator referred. 1 cannot agree with him as to the value of the Senate. I have always disagreed on that matter. The Senate has great value. L can understand that as an independent, Senator Turnbull has difficulty in finding out what useful purpose he serves. He is acting on his own. lt must be a lonely task, and it is of little value as the contribution of a lone person in the Senate which is, of course, a parly House. But what is wrong with that? We stand as party members - as members of the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party, the Australian Labour Party, or the Democratic Labour Party. What have we to be ashamed of in belonging to a party? I am proud to be a member of my party. I have been a member of one of the Government parties for some time and 1 know that no matter what type of Government is in office, when considering the introduction of legislation it casts an eye on the reception it might get in the Senate. Very often a Government dovetails its legislation to fit the reception it might receive in the -Senate. Legislation under consideration -which it is believed will receive an adverse reception in the Senate does not appear. lt is appreciated that it would not be passed in the Senate.
The Senate has a great function and powers. Because the powers held by the Senate are very great, they should not be used lightly. I do not speak from a party standpoint in saying that the Senate has a function, but the function of the Government is in another place. Anything that affects the raising or expenditure of revenues is the particular function, as I see it, of the other House. We should be very careful in exercising the powers of the Senate. The people place reliance on those powers when electing senators at each election. The Senate has the power to reject money bills in toto and by so doing can send the House of Representatives to an election, while remaining itself unaffected. This is a tremendous power. When the Senate is considering money bills and legislation involving international treaties and other matters of Government policy, I think we should guard against lightly applying the enormous powers of the Senate. 1 well recall a comment made by an honorable senator opposite that we should not destroy the things we love. I think that comment has some significance in the light of recent developments in the Senate.
I remind Senator Turnbull of the Constitutional Review Committee. Some of its recommendations have yet to be dealt with. The setting up of another such committee does not have much attraction for me at this stage. I. commiserate with him because he is lonely and feels that in his loneliness his role is not as effective as it would be if he had a party organisation behind him. 1 understand that full well.
Senator Toohey referred to the function of the Public Service Board in relation to certain members of the staff of this House. He referred to “ Hansard “ reporters and the classification of maintenance carpenters. These positions were recently reviewed by the Public Service Board, which reported that at this stage no clear basis has been discovered which could justify any variation in the existing rates of pay. However, the Board will review these cases when the work value review of metal trades classifications by Commissioner Winter of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is completed. The’ result could be a guide to the classification of the positions referred to by Senator Toohey.
– I wish to relate my remarks to Division No. 104, which includes the appropriation for the Parliamentary Library. I am very pleased to note a big increase in this year’s appropriation, and also an increase in the staff of the Library, who arc so efficiently carrying out many duties in providing a great service to members. The number of positions in the Library has risen from 16 to 42. The increase cannot but be of great advantage to members who avail themselves of the opportunities offered to us by the Library staff, all of whom are very interested in their work. They are quite skilled and do not spare themselves in an effort to be of assistance to all members no matter how outrageous may be the demands that are made upon them. The same remark applies to those who are employed by the Joint House Department. We in this Parliament are very well served indeed. 1 intend to throw a spanner in the works. I do not suppose I will be very popular for doing so. There is a lot of talk about the building of a new Parliament House. The provision of many things is much more urgent than the building of a new Parliament House. Only yesterday I read a report that people in the Australian Capital Territory who register their names on the waiting list have to wait up to 53 months for a house. I understand that the waiting list for single flats is 37 months. I believe that we should review our decision to build a new Parliament House in the immediate future.
– The honorable senator is referring to cheap rental flats, is she not?
– They are to house people who live in the Australian Capital Territory. It is of no use our thinking that Canberra consists only of Parliament House and the people who work in it. 1 have visited many Houses of Parliament throughout the world, including the House of Commons, the Congress in America, the House of Parliament in Bonn, and Houses of Parliament in various other European countries and Asiatic countries. I do not know of any other place where members have as many facilities as are available to members of this Parliament. When members of Parliament from overseas visit this place, they are amazed to think that we are so well catered for. I refer to the beautiful entrance in Kings Hall, the catering facilities, the refreshment rooms, the office staff that is available to us, and particularly the two legislative chambers. We might think that the building of a new Parliament House would add lustre to the Australian Capital Territory, but I do not think it is an urgent necessity or that it should be built before people are adequately housed.
I do suggest that some repairs to this building ought to be undertaken urgently. For example, the front of the building is in need of patching up and painting. That work would be only very superficial and would not cost very much; it could be done by the maintenance men who work around the building. The undertaking of this work is . to be preferred to the expenditure of tremendous sums on a new Parliament House, be it on the shore of the lake or on the hill behind this building. The heirs of some honorable senators may see the new building; I will not.
I agree with Senator Toohey in his comments about the need for a revision of the rates of pay that are accorded to many who work in Parliament House. These people, whether they work in the Library, on the “ Hansard “ staff or the Joint House staff, give most willingly of their services and are called upon to be available at all hours of the day and night when the Parliament is sitting for the service of members of the Parliament. It is time that there was a complete revision of the terms of their employment and that they were given adequate remuneration, recreation leave and so on.
Let me make a comment or two about the value of the Senate. Those of us who represent the smaller States look upon the Senate as being a bulwark against the activities of the larger States. I admit, however, that, because we are part and parcel of the National Parliament, that concept is fast dying out. My own State of Western Australia has only eight members in the House of Representatives out of a total of 123, or 1 in 15. On the other hand, in the Senate Western Australia, and indeed Tasmania, has the same representation as all the other States. The value of the Senate to those two States is quite real. Although there is need for an overhaul of the machinery of the Senate and some of the relations between the two Houses, I do not think the time has yet come when the people of Australia would willingly accept the abolition of the Senate.
– Or the breaking of the nexus between the two Houses.
– Or the breaking of the nexus, as the honorable senator has suggested. Speaking personally, I would not mind being reduced, but I would object to being abolished.
– I relate my remarks to the proposed expenditure on postage, telegrams and telephone services under Division No. 105, sub-division 2. I wish to refer to the telephone services and the paging system within this building. I hasten to say that the young women who operate the switchboard in Parliament House must surely be the most patient people in Australia. In the eight years that I have been here I have not had a short or abrupt answer from them. They have been the personification of patience. Because of the archaic paging system that we have, they work under very great difficulties. The system does not operate in all parts of the building. There are probably more rooms in which calls cannot be heard than those in which calls can be heard. If one is working in a committee room as a member of a standing committee or a Government members committee or an Opposition committee, one could be paged without knowing anything about it. 1 suggest the adoption of a system which would not be very expensive to operate. I have in mind a system that is used in some of the more modern hospitals whereby each person in the building is issued with an instrument like a fountain pen which can be plugged in to operate on a particular frequency. Then when one is required to answer a call, one may go to the nearest telephone. This is a quite modern development. Wherever one was in the building, one could be contacted.
– Let us put i« a plug for Senator Branson.
– 1 am sure that Senator O’Byrne has had the experience of people telling him that they have been trying to get him all morning or all afternoon. A trunk line call might come from a constituent, but one just knows nothing about it. .1 do not know whether this matter would come under the jurisdiction of the President of the Senate, but .1 do hope that some investigation will be made. I am suggesting nol that it should be considered for adoption in the new Parliament House but that it should be used in the present building. 1 believe that we will be stuck with this building for the next 10 years.
Unlike Senator Tangney, I believe that we should build a new Parliament House. We cannot run away for ever from the fact that this building is quite inadequate and that it was built to house a Parliament that was only one half of the size of the present Parliament. Senator Tangney said that people were waiting 53 months for accommodation. She should have been fair and should have said that this waiting time related to cheap accommodation provided by the Government. There is no shortage of flats in Canberra. If one looks at the “ Canberra Times “ one sees that flats are advertised every day. 1 admit that these are in the higher rental group. But 1 repeat that the waiting time of 53 months relates to people who are waiting for low rental establishments provided by the Government. 1 hope that the appropriate persons will be asked to consider the installation in this building of a paging system of the kind that is used in modern establishments.
Senator TOOHEY (South Australia) [4.24.. - I wish to direct a few more remarks to Division No. 105 - Joint House Department. I was pleased to receive an assurance from the Minister in respect of some of the matters that 1 raised earlier, particularly his comment that the salaries payable to people who are employed in Parliament House may be reviewed in the not too distant future following the outcome of Commissioner Winter’s deliberations on another matter. Whilst 1 do not want to be hypercritical of the Public Service Board, I believe that it has not come to grips with the real problem of assessing the work value of the people who are employed in this building. I would be interested to know when the Public Service Board reviewed the position recently, as the Minister said it did, how it related the position of our “ Hansard “ reporters to the conditions existing in Victoria and Queensland and accepted the position without question, if it did, that these Stales both give better conditions to their “ Hansard “ reporters than the Commonwealth Parliament.
I feel that the question of wage review is one that should not stop at the two classes of employees that I have mentioned. I have referred to “ Hansard “ reporters and maintenance men. But I would draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that 1 have been informed that there are other classifications in this building in which, because of the low wages offering, a great turnover of labour takes place. I understand that there is a big shortage of tradesmen to perform the various functions relating to the Joint House Department. I have been informed - I cannot vouch for this fact but 1 believe it to be true - that some of the tradesmen painters are so dissatisfied with the wages that they have received in this House that they have sought jobs as attendants. This to me seems wrong in every way particularly if we cannot attract people with good conditions and keep them here on a wage suitable to the type of skill that they have.
J have been informed also that there are men acting in managerial and semimanagerial positions in this Parliament whose salary is equivalent only to that of a Third
Division clerk in the Public Service. How these salaries are arrived at is completely beyond me. In eliciting information from some of the people concerned, 1 have asked what wages these people are receiving. 1 have done so because I believe that it is the duty of honorable senators, particularly of those of us who are associated with the House Committee, to do these things. My inquiries have led me to the belief that there ought to be a general survey not only of wages - certainly, wages in particular - but also the conditions of those who work in this National Parliament. I would hope that when the judgment of Commissioner Winter, to which the Minister referred, is to hand we will assume our responsibility and not leave our job so much to the Public Service Board. 1 believe, with due respect to the Board, that it has failed the people who work in Parliament House. I make that statement believing it to be true. It is my hope that something will bc done regarding the matters that 1 have raised.
– I refer to Division No. J 08 - Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. In 1965-66, the appropriation for administrative expenses was $11,900. The expenditure in 1965-66 was fcl 1,854. Can the Minister tell my why this year the appropriation for administrative expenses is $11,000 only?
.- Madam Chairman, I listened with a good deal of interest to the remarks of the Minister for Supply and Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) on the question of the status of the Senate. I agree, naturally, that there is a place for the Senate. I disagree with the suggestions that it ought to be abolished. One reason why I believe that the Senate has a status and is essential is because of the undemocratic nature of the system of representation in the other House. The party that I represent polls at Federal elections nearly half a million votes. On that vote, my party ought to be entitled to about one eleventh or one twelfth of the seats in the other place. We ought to be entitled to 11 or 12 seats. We get none.
When 1 hear people complaining about the fact that in South Africa or Rhodesia certain people are denied the representation that they should have in the legislatures, all I can say is that things are just as bad in this country when 500,000 Australians under our system of representation are denied one member in the House of Representatives. Let me give honorable senators another instance. In Victoria, my party polls one sixth of the vote in State elections. In other words, one elector in six votes for the Democratic Labour Party. In a Parliament of 100, the D.L.P. has no members. Let us not talk about failure to give people representation in other countries when in our country we are doing the same thing.
One of the troubles, I think, with evaluating the status of the Senate is the failure of the Senate or those who control the Senate to run its affairs in a way that would give it. status. Question time these days is a profound disappointment.
– It is a farce.
– Question time on some occasions - not. on all occasions but on some occasions that I have heard - ‘has been such that one would agree with Senator Cant that on some days it is a farce. Question time should be the liveliest and most informative session during the parliamentary day. But we find so many questions are put on notice. This may be the fault to some degree of the ordinary members who perhaps do not ask the questions the right way. But it appears to me that it is urgently necessary for either a review of the Standing Orders or for the appointment of a select committee, as Senator Turnbull suggested, to give consideration as to how we can make question time in the Senate what it ought to be - the most informative period of the day.
I agree with what has been said on the hours of sitting. I think that we need to look at this system where Parliament meets on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and give consideration to whether we should not meet for a fortnight as some people have suggested and then have a week off. The present system of sitting, to my way of thinking, has proved itself most unsatisfactory. One of the worst features of this system is the kind of thing that happened at the beginning of this session. It has happened often before. Honorable senators arrive here for the opening of the session. The Government has had three months to prepare legislation. We open the session.
We sit for one day. Then we go home for 10 days. Can honorable senators wonder thai in the Melbourne “ Herald “ a most scathing criticism appeared of what had happened. It is all very well for us to say that this criticism is unjustified. Can we blame a newspaper for criticising us when, after being up for three months, we come here, meet for one day, and then go home for another 10 days?
– At great cost too.
– I believe that the Senate could be managed better than that if a little bit of thought were to be put into the matter. Take the broadcasting of the debates of the Senate. We get one day per week. Surely we should make the most of this opportunity. How often does it happen that, on our broadcasting night, we are dealing with some intricate and not very interesting bill? Anybody who listened in would turn the debate off in disgust. But with a little management it would be possible to arrange that on the night that the Senate proceedings were being broadcast we were discussing some matter that would be interesting and important and which would inform the people of this country. Why is it that there is nol a little management to see that, when the Senate is on the air, it is discussing things that the people want to hear?
On the suggestion that the Senate must be careful not to exceed its, shall we say, powers and that it must not get out of line with the other House, I do not agree at all. If the Senate is not to be permitted to propose and carry amendments, why have a Senate? Why this suggestion that the Senate has to be a party House, always doing what it is told? In other parliaments with a house such as the Senate honorable senators will find valuable discussion and valuable amendments put forward. I have heard many, many amendments put forward in this place. Some of them are very good amendments. But what is the almost 100 per cent, attitude of the Government? It is: No amendment accepted under any circumstances. The attitude of the Government appears to bc that it will not consider an amendment under any circumstances. We get the attitude from leading personalities in the Senate that we are doing something wrong if we carry an amendment. If we think that Government legislation errs in a particular respect, why is it that the leaders of the Senate adopt the attitude that we are entirely wrong?
I point to the fact that the Senate, through its Regulations and Ordinances Committee, has on a number of occasions shown that it has ideas to put forward for the benefit of the community. On more than one occasion recently the Senate has saved this Government from implementing regulations and ordinances which could have gravely interfered with the liberty of the subject. Therefore 1 think it is a matter of regret that some leading personalities, including Ministers in the Senate, are tending more and more to adopt the attitude that the Senate is here to rubber stamp what the House of Representatives does.
I am prepared to say categorically that over the past .10 years the attitude of mind has grown up in the Australian Parliament that the rank and file of the House of Representatives must nol interfere with any ukase issued by Cabinet and that the Senate must merely rubber stamp a ukase of Cabinet which the House of Representatives has been forced slavishly to accept. In. this Parliament we want more independence of mind, not less independence of mind. If we achieve that we will have better legislation and the community will adopt a better attitude towards Parliament. I feel that more ought to be done in the Senate to appoint select committees to discuss questions of note. In my previous term in the Senate several select committees were appointed and they did very good work. I understand that a committee was appointed about three years ago, but since then none has been appointed. This is regrettable.
– lt is still-born.
– Apparently the work of that committee gave the Government such a shock that nothing more has been heard of it, and nothing is likely to be heard of it. I think that one way iti which the Leaders of the Senate are failing today is that they are not giving the Senate more opportunity to do valuable work through select committees. The Senate loses to some degree because of the biased attitude that the Press adopts towards it. I can remember a very powerful debate on foreign affairs that took place in the Senate some weeks ago. lt occupied the whole day. But I was unable to find in any newspaper in Australia one word about the debate. I wonder why that happens? I am not prepared to criticise those who report the Senate’s proceedings. 1 think that they do so faithfully. The only conclusion that I can come to is that the Press heads of bureau in Canberra have been or are associated with the House of Representatives. They develop a kind of loyalty towards that House. When it comes to a question of whether the proceedings of the House of Representatives or the Senate are to be reported, they have the overriding power and there is a report of the proceedings of the House of Representatives rather than of the Senate.
Occasionally 1 listen to the broadcasts of the proceedings of the House of Representatives and 1 have heard most uninteresting debates take place on days when most interesting debates were taking place in the Senate. I have found a full Press report of what has happened in the House of Representatives but there has been no reference to what happened in the Senate. I am prepared to say that although there are 60 senators and more than 120 members of the House of Representatives, Press reports of the Senate’s proceedings do not occupy half the space that is given to reports of the proceedings of the House of Representatives, lt would surprise me if Senate reports occupy one twentieth of the space that is taken for House of Representatives reports. There appears to be a deliberate frame of mind that the proceedings of this House should not be reported. If they are not reported, it is understandable that the community comes to the conclusion that we are not doing anything of importance.
Finally, 1 refer to the question of “ Hansard “. Approximately five or six years ago I suggested that something should be done to alter the format of the “ Hansard “ record with which each member and senator is presented after each sessional period. As honorable senators are aware, we receive large volumes - immense volumes at times - which occupy a great deal of space in our bookshelves. 1 have noticed that some other Parliaments have adopted the practice of printing “ Hansard “ on thin paper, and in books which are much easier to handle and which certainly do not occupy so much space. 1 have a feeling that we are printing “ Hansard “ in the way that books were printed 100 years ago. Today, with so many new techniques in printing, we should try to make some advance in the presentation of “ Hansard “.
– I refer to Division No. 101 - Senate, subdivision 1, item 02, Temporary and casual employees. 1 am constrained to raise the matter of secretarial assistance to the Opposition Whip, which is of considerable importance. For a number of years the secretary to the Opposition Whip has been required to be present in the Whip’s office during the sittings of the Parliament to attend to correspondence between the Government Whip and the Opposition Whip. Recently the Government Whip has insisted that all correspondence be confirmed in writing.
– ls not most corresspondence in writing?
– I mean that communications between the Government Whip and the Opposition Whip have to be in writing - if that is more exact for Senator Marriott. The secretary is also required to assist the Whip in the preparation of his speeches because he has to be in the chamber as much as possible. A Canadian writer is quoted in Mr. Odger’s book, “Australian Senate Practice “, as having said -
What a good Adjutant is to a Regiment, a faithful Whip is to his Party.
That applies also to the Whip’s assistant in his office. The Public Service Board has refused to recognise the duties that are performed by the Opposition Whip’s secretary, although it has agreed to pay overtime to the Government Whip’s secretary.
Recently a new programme was introduced in the Senate, which provided for sittings until 1 1.30 p.m. A Whip has various office jobs to do, such as making telephone calls and replying to correspondence. His duties also include arranging the number and order of senators of his Party who speak in a debate, ensuring the attendance of members of his Party in the chamber, arranging pairs and acting as a teller in divisions. While the Whip is performing these duties, his secretary is faithfully looking after other activities in his office. The anomaly that exists is that the Government Whip’s secretary is paid for performing these duties but my secretary, for the last four years, has been performing them out of loyalty. Having had recourse to the Public Service Board and having been refused, 1 am referring the matter to the Committee to sec whether the anomaly can be rectified.
.- -I listened with a great deal of interest to what Senator McManus said about the Senate. 1 think that he is to be complimented on the tenor of the greater portion of his speech. I do not think that everything is wrong with the Senate. It has a number of good features. Despite what one might feel about it. over the years a considerable improvement has taken place in the Senate. We only have to cast our minds back a few years to the time when party representation in the Senate was often very lopsided. In the term before a number of us were elected in 1949, I think that the strength of the then Opposition Parties was three, of whom the present Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) was one. Today things are different as a result, I believe, of the introduction of the system of proportional representation to which Senator McManus referred. If we are fair in this matter and look at things from a truly parliamentary point of view I am sure we must all agree that history will pay, as we in this place should pay, great credit to Mr. Arthur Calwell who was responsible for initiating the proportional representation system in this chamber. History will show that he probably did more for the Senate than has any other member of Parliament despite the fact that he so often criticises the Parliament. However, when all personal animosities and feelings die down history will give credit to Mr. Arthur Calwell for what he did for the Senate.
Because of the proportional representation system we now have a much more evenly balanced House. Despite what people might say, by and large the standard of debate in the Senate is every bit as high as the standard in the other place. Generally speaking, the standard of debate in the Senate has risen, even in the comparatively short time that many of us have been here. An improved standard in the capability and ability of persons now entering the Senate is evident. I believe this is due to the proportional representation system. The parties which nominated candidates for election to the Senate oan set about getting the best candidates for the No. 1 and No. 2 positions on the ballot paper and be sure that they are elected. That should make for an improvement in the membership of the Senate. 1 think it. can be truly said that the standard of debate in the Senate has not deteriorated. On the contrary, I believe it has risen. In many respects the work of the Senate is important. Let us take the example of the present debate on the Estimates. I believe this debate is a much better debate than the debate in another place. I do not think there is any argument about that because in this chamber honorable senators want to know the whys and wherefores of proposed expenditure. That is what a proper debate on the Estimates should be. The Senate gives the Estimates a much better run through than does the other House. Therefore, by and large the Senate is doing a better job now than it did before and there is no reason why it should not continue to improve.
Now let me refer to the Press. We know that the senior pressmen are very seldom in this chamber but at times we have some younger pressmen who show an intelligent application to the work of the Senate. I. remind honorable senators, if they are interested in this kind of thing, that early this year a young journalist named David Solomon wrote articles for the “ Canberra Times “ on the revival of the Senate. In my opinion his articles showed a very thoughtful analysis and a knowledge and appreciation of the way in which the Senate has, in many respects, revived and improved. Other pressmen would do well to follow his example. Our main duty here is to work as parliamentarians irrespective of whether the Press takes any interest in us. Probably there are hindrances to the further development of the Senate. Senator McManus remarked upon the reluctance of the Ministry to accept any amendments to legislation. I have always been amazed by the fear of amendments displayed by Ministers in this chamber. The purpose of this House, according to the people who wrote the Constitution, is to be a States House and a house of review. Let us remember there would not have been a Commonwealth Parliament if there had not been a Senate. Therefore, the Senate is really the kernel, the keystone upon which the Constitution of the Parliament of Australia rests. We should regard the Senate’s rights as very precious and should guard them carefully.
Wc in this House should take a serious view of our opportunity to serve as senators. Without casting reflections on individual members of the other House let me point out that as senators we have a wider outlook because we do not represent a small electorate, a part of a State. We represent u State. We know there are many matters wilh which we concern ourselves on a State basis but in relation to which members of the House of Representatives representing only one electorate would have no interest. For instance, a member representing an inland constituency would have no direct contact with a shipping service. That is why I say that we, as senators, have a much wider outlook on the requirements of Australia as a whole. There should be a freer debate and a freer decision by senators on what is best for this country. Many Liberal Party and. I believe, Country Party representatives in this place have freedom of conscience to vote for whatever they think is best for Australia. That is what my Party stands for and 1 shall always retain my right to vote as 1 think best irrespective of what anyone may say.
– But the honorable senator could not come into this place without being tied to a party.
– That is nol the point.
– That is the point. The honorable senator used his Party to get into this place and now refuses to do as he is told.
– It is possible to get into this place without being tied to a party. Senator Turnbull is here.
– The point is that the Constitution lays down that this is a Stales House and a house of review, and no referendum has ever been put to the people by the Labour Party or the Government Parties lo have that altered. Therefore, there should be some freedom. The talk we hear in this place that one must be a party hack through thick and thin is just plain nonsense. It was because of the actions of a few senators in this chamber that the referendum which was to have been held a short time ago was not held. I believe those senators did a good job for Australia. I will always fight against such tactics. However if, as Senator McManus said, the Senate is not allowed to alter any legisla- tion and has no right to act in opposition to the House of Representatives, then the Senate should be abolished. Although we, as senators, irrespective of the party which backs us, adhere to party principles on individual items that come up for discussion in the Senate, we are not bound by any particular party plank because this matter of the abolition of the Senate has never been put to the people.
This chamber should be a freer chamber. If it were, we would have even better debates and better decisions than is now the case. I think that one of the greatest deterrents to the Senate being a real house of review and operating as a States House is the fact that we have Ministers in this chamber. I am not making any personal reflection on any Minister. 1 am speaking purely on a broad parliamentary basis. If the Senate could function as a real house of review without Ministers, it would function much better than it does now. The Senate has a purpose and a function. As Senator McManus said, this is a democratic institution and, under the proportional representation system, representatives are elected from each State on an equal basis. The less populous Stales have the same rights as have the more populous States. Irrespective of what individual members may think about abolishing (he Senate, I am convinced that the less populous States would never agree to the abolition of the Senate because the more populous States would then have such tremendous power that the less populous States would receive less and less. I commend Senator McManus for his statement on this item. I believe the Senate has improved and could do even a better job in the future if fewer restrictions were placed on it by the Government of the day.
[4.55]. - Senator O’ Byrne asked a question about the payment of his secretary. I have been informed that the position is not one paid for by the Senate. The secretary is on the staff of the Prime Minister’s Department so this matter does not come under the proposed vote for the Senate.
Information was sought by an honorable senator on the administrative expenses of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. A slight saving will occur in t his item because the Committee will not function during the recess which occurs following the parliamentary elections. The vote covers travelling expenses of the secretary of the Committee, the fares and travelling expenses of “ Hansard “ reporters with the Committee and the parliamentary printing costs of the minutes of evidence. The Committee will not have any references during the coming recess and a saving on these items will occur.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure. $13,482,000.
Proposed provision, $26,000.
– There is not a great deal I want to discuss under this heading but 1 propose to refer to Division No. 500 - Administration. 1 invite the attention of the Committee of the Senate to the Report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June 1966 and the comment at page 124 in relation to the accounting of the Department of Trade and Industry. This is disturbing because it has been going on for a number of years and should receive attention from the Department of Trade and Industry. The fact that there is criticism of the accounting procedures indicates a lack of efficiency by someone who is running around the country putting himself up as a paragon of virtue and democracy. I refer to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). At page 124 of the Auditor-General’s report, we find this comment on the accounts of the Department -
Although these remedial measures were taken and there is evidence of improvement in some sections of the accounts of the Department, Audit checks of transactions during the year revealed a number of features which were not satisfactory. Instances of omission by some overseas offices to adhere to prescribed accounting requirements were noted and it was evident that the examination in Australia of accounts submitted by overseas offices was not adequate. Certain accounting and financial transactions of the Department in Australia-
This is in Australia where there should not be any difficulty. including transactions on behalf of the Department of Primary Industry for which the Department of Trade and Industry provides the accounting services, were found to be incorrect and there was evidence of omission to comply with approved procedures and to exercise proper controls.
In replying to Audit observations, the Department recognised-
It has been recognising this for a number of years. that its accounting had not reached a completely satisfactory stage-
It is far from satisfactory when it is going on over a number of years without adding the word “ completely “ - and slated thai a primary cause was continuing difficulty in recruiting and retaining experienced and competent officers. Stall shortages, rapid turnover of personnel and consequent excessive hours of work presented a continual problem.
This system of accounting is not new. It has been under criticism from the AuditorGeneral and the Joint Committee of Public Accounts over a number of years. Yet the Department of Trade and Industry comes up every year with this excuse that there is lack of efficient staff, inability to recruit staff and inability to retain it. Surely there is something wrong in a department which has to use this excuse all the time and throws the onus for its inefficiency on the officers employed in it. Nobody would attempt to come into this place and criticise the efficiency of the Public Service without sufficient grounds. There are no grounds given in this case, yet the Department continually criticises the officers within the Department, lt is quite wrong for the Department to do it. I shall read what the Public Accounts Committee had to say in its seventy-eighth report presented to the Parliament on 24th March 1966 at page 23 referring to sundry debtors of the Department of Trade and Industry. It stated -
Following Audit representations in December 1964 the Department agreed that the adequacy of follow-up action in respect of outstanding debts and the adjustment of long standing balances of debtors’ accounts was unsatisfactory. The Department advised of urgent action taken to remedy the position.
Recent Audit examination showed an improvement in the state of the accounts but other aspects, including failure to comply with existing accounting procedures and lack of detailed instructions, were raised with the Department.
This is not a shift by the Public Accounts Committee on to the clerks who work in the Department but is a condemnation of the Department itself including its failure to comply with existing accounting procedures. I do not know how long the Department of Trade and Industry has existed. It used to be the Department of Trade and before that it was the Department of Trade and Commerce, lt is a pretty old Department within the parliamentary set-up; yet we are told that it is still not complying with existing accounting procedures. Some explanation is due to the Parliament. It is useless for people to run around the country talking about the efficiency of the Department when it does not attempt to comply with what are laid down as existing accounting procedures. In its conclusions at page 25 of its report the Public Accounts Committee stated -
Of the three major aspects of our inquiry into the Department of Trade and Industry, viz., general accounting standards, sundry debtors and the adjustment of temporary advances, your Committee is most disturbed at the apparent failure to adequately pursue settlement of debts and the adjustment of advances until such time as attention had been directed to the deficiencies during a public investigation. Evidence was received which indicated that, after Your Committee’s inquiry was commenced-
After the inquiry, and not before. There was no attempt to do anything until an inquiry was started - action was taken to reduce outstanding sundry debtors . . .
What sort of Department is this that it has to wait until a Committee starts an inquiry into its operations before it will begin to take some action to tighten up its affairs?
The Public Accounts Committee quoted the following words from the Report of the Auditor-General -
Reference was made in paragraph 13 of my 1962-63 Supplementary Report. . . .
So the Auditor-General has been complaining about the lack of efficiency in the Department of Trade and Industry since at least 1962-63. I believe that it is time this Department was the subject of a thorough inquiry by a body apart from the Public Accounts Committee. I do not denigrate in any way the wonderful work that the Committee does; but its terms of reference are somewhat limited. A body with greater powers and wider terms of reference should inquire into the lack of efficiency in this Department.
When we members of the Labour Party suggest that Australia should have its own overseas shipping line, we are told that the country could not afford such a line because of the high standard of wages and labour conditions for Australian seamen and that it would become a burden on the Australian taxpayers. But what is this Department except a burden on the Australian taxpayers when it will not even keep its accounts properly and perform the functions that it should be performing? 1 content myself, in respect of these estimates, by drawing attention to those two matters.
.- I refer to the grant to the Australian National Travel Association under Division No. 500. This year the proposed grant is $862,000. Last year the grant was $762,000. I have spoken about this matter on a number of occasions. I think I spoke about it last year. The Government has increased considerably the grant to this Association. It has been increased from $50,000 in 1949 to the present figure of $862,000. That seems a large amount compared with the initial grant; but there has been rather slow progress towards achieving the aim that we should have in the development of Australia’s international tourist trade. It is most regrettable that over the years Australians have spent more money on going out of this country than tourists have spent on coming into it. One of Australia’s great drawbacks is a shortage of overseas credits. Money that comes into the country in the form of overseas credits is extremely important to us. Therefore, any means by which we can increase overseas earnings is very important.
This year’s proposed grant of $862,000 represents an increase of $100,000 over last year’s grant. When we bear in mind the rise in costs over the whole structure of administration and publicity, we see that this is probably not a very great increase in the real expenditure on bringing more tourists to Australia. Some people probably think that this amount of money does a wonderful job. But when we travel overseas we find that many of our features of tourist appeal and many aspects of Australia generally are not known, ft is amazing how little people overseas know about Australia - even about the type of people we are and the language that we speak. I remember Sir Eric Harrison saying, when he returned from his term as Australian High Commissioner in London, that one of the things that amazed him was that even business people in the United Kingdom asked him: “ What language do you speak in Australia?” That indicates an ignorance of this country. When I was overseas last year on a goodwill mission, I spoke to people who knew nothing about our tourist features. In the tourist world, if a country has certain tourist features of international appeal, overseas people have to get to know about them.
In the tourist industry it is considered that possibly our greatest tourist feature of international appeal is the Great Barrier Reef. When I talked to people in South America, Mexico and places like that about the Great Barrier Reef, I found that they knew nothing about it. What do the people of Hong Kong know about Australia? Sydney is the only place in Australia that most of them know about.
– They set their sights pretty high, don’t they?
– That would suit the Minister, because he comes from Sydney. People overseas know that Sydney is a city wilh a great and wonderful harbour. When we travel around the world we realise that we need a great deal more publicity in order to make Australia known and to bring more and more people here. I cannot help feeling that, with the increasing tempo of life, there is a very rich field for us to tap by bringing more and more tourists to Australia and thus increasing our overseas earnings.
In terms of comparisons, the Government has done a very good job; but 1 impress on it the necessity for thinking in much bigger terms than in the past and for taking a balanced look at things. Last year I spoke about the Universal and International Exhibition to be held in Montreal in 1967. On our display at that Exhibition - of course, we will have to put on a good display - we will spend $2,468,599. That will probably be seen by millions of people, but it will be a oncer; whereas publicity in the tourist industry is continuous. The best publicity is like hammering in a nail. One does not drive in a nail with one blow; one makes a succession of blows. A continuity of advertising and publicity is the best thing for the tourist industry of this country. We will spend as much on this single display in Montreal in one year as we will spend on advertising through the Australian
National Travel Association in three years. Yet the Association is a permanent institution which continually propagates the tourist features of this country.
When we look at the respective appropriations for these two items, we realise that the one for the Australian National Travel Association is not large enough to really put Australia on the tourist map as it should be. I notice that there is urging for an international exhibition in Victoria. I believe that the Commonwealth Government has been or will be approached for a contribution of millions of dollars towards the cost of staging this exhibition in Melbourne. I hope that the Commonwealth Government does not fall for that sort of thing. There is ‘much more value in propounding the merits of Australia by spending large amounts of money through organisations such - as the Australian National Travel Association.
The tourist industry is one of the great industries of the world. I. remember reading some years ago that it was comparable with the great wheat industry. In Great Britain over the years the tourist industry has been developed from nothing to a point where it is one of that country’s very great overseas income earners.
– How does the tourist industry compare wilh the racing industry in Australia?
– I could not make any comparison between it and the racing industry. Horse racing is completely out of my line, lt is an internal industry, whereas the tourist industry and the Australian National Travel Association bring to Australia tourists who spend money here. As I have said here before, .1 can remember a writer talking about building the tourist industry in Great Britain up to one worth £100 million a year. That figure seemed fantastic at the time. People thought it would never be reached. But it has been reached. It was more than exceeded long ago. The British tourist industry is well on its way to producing £200 million a year in overseas earnings. The British have spent money in this field. If I remember correctly, the British Government has spent more than £1 million a year on tourism. It is all very well to say that Great Britain has a bigger population than has Australia, but of course Great Britain is much better known in the world than Australia is. It is much closer to the great centres of population. Therefore, it is more important for us to spend more on tourism than Great Britain spends. We are less well known and are further away from the centres of population.
The Commonwealth Government should take a new look at this matter before the next Budget is introduced, and instead of keeping these amounts down or increasing them by small additions each year, it should really set about encouraging the tourist industry in a big way. Many years ago .1 said that the grant to the Australian National Travel Association should be $2 million a year, and probably it should be even greater today, but if the grant were $2 million a year it would mean that an additional $1,138,000 would be provided. If that money were to be spent wisely in publicising this country, in no time at all it would bring a return of at least 10 times the amount of money spent. With the expenditure of an additional $1 million or so we could increase our overseas earnings. This would be doubly valuable because it would provide us with overseas credits.
I therefore urge the Commonwealth Government to lift its sights even higher, despite the fact that it has done a good job by comparison, and to try to build up the tourist industry to the great heights which 1 believe it can attain very quickly. If more money were provided, more people would come here, dropping their dollars or pounds into the Treasury of the Commonwealth. Expenditure by the Commonwealth in this direction leads to increased employment in the building industry and the service industries, such as the hotel industry. In fact, it has an effect on the entire economic structure. From the point of view of the Commonwealth Government it is a good revenue earner because increased earnings leading to increased expenditure in Australia mean increased returns from sales tax and income tax. In that way the revenues of the Commonwealth are increased. I therefore urge greater consideration of this item of the Estimates in future.
– Senator Wood’s advocacy of the benefits of tourism is well known in this place. On appropriate occasions he puts forward the case for a more vigorous approach to governmental aid for the tourist industry I suppose that none of us would argue with his proposition regarding the advantages to be gained by Australia through tourism. When I interjected humorously regardin the city of Sydney I did not want it to be thought that I failed to recognise, as an individual, the tremendous potential for tourism in other parts of Australia. That potential exists not only in Sydney but throughout the Commonwealth.
I have had the honour and the privilege of travelling overseas and also throughout Australia. There is not a State or Territory of the Commonwealth of which it could not be said: “ There is something of outstanding interest and attraction which lends itself to the development of the tourist industry.” For instance, I have found Alice Springs to be a fascinating place. Wherever we go, whether it be to the Great Barrier Reef, to Tasmania, to Western Australia, to South Australia or to any other part of Australia, there is potential from the point of view of tourism. Therefore, 1 say that we are as one in advocating that the development of the tourist industry is a “ natural “ in this country. In terms of economics, anything that can be done to promote the industry is to the advantage of Australia and our overseas balances, lt also helps to provide employment and it assists in other ways as well. 1 note that there has been an increase this year of $100,000 in the proposed grant to the Australian National Travel Association. While the figure in the estimates is shown as $862,000, at least $400,000 of that is conditional upon a $1 for Si subsidy. If we accept the fact that a matching subsidy will be provided by industry, as I have no doubt it will be because industry is interested in the promotion of tourism just as the Government is, we can say that to that figure must bp added another $400,000. It is also interesting to reflect that an amount of up to $400,000 contributed on a $1 for $1 basis from nonCommonwealth sources, is deductible for taxation purposes. That is another incentive for private industry to play its part in the development of tourism.
I would not like Senator Cant to think that I was discourteous in replying first to the comments made by Senator Wood. I did so because I wanted to preserve the continuity of the discussion. Senator Cant referred to the Auditor-General’s report and the comments of the Public Accounts Committee in relation to the Department of Trade and Industry. Far be it from me to reflect on the good work, of the Public Accounts Committee. As a Minister administering a department, I have had the experience of seeing some of my officers go before the Committee and give evidence. The Committee than made a report, which disclosed that there were certain things to which attention should be directed. It is a part of the functions of the Committee to do that. These comments apply equally to the Committee’s reports concerning the Department of Trade and Industry. I do not want it to be thought that there is any resentment of the activities of the Public Accounts Committee so far as I personally am concerned or, for that matter, so far as the Department of Trade and Industry is concerned. The Public Accounts Committee is doing a good job. lt serves the Parliament and the people well.
– I said “ within its terms of reference “.
– Yes. The point the honorable senator is making is that perhaps the terms of reference of the Committee are a little restrictive. It may be necessary to have a look at that matter, but that is a question of policy. As Senator Cant was sufficiently fair to point out, the Auditor-General’s criticisms arose mainly from continued staffing shortages and the continued high rate of turnover of staff within the accounts sub-section. We all know that the Department of Trade and Industry has developed tremendously. We recognise, too, that consistent with Australia’s image as a trading nation, the Department has given a lead and has supplied initiative in many ways. It is true to say that there has been quite a turnover of staff within the accounts sub-section, and that, I suggest, is one of the facts of life with which the Department has had to contend.
The Auditor-General, in his report for 1964-65, noted an improvement in the state of the accounts and again in 1965-66 referred to evidence of improvements in sections of the accounts of the Department. It is true that he also made some criticism, but at least he acknowledged that there were improvements. The earlier problems concerning sundry debtors and unadjusted advances, to which Senator Can referred, have now been overcome. As mentioned by the Auditor-General, a programme of overseas post inspections has been implemented. Personnel posted overseas are now given intensive accounting training. The number of accounting procedures have been reviewed and instructions have been issued. Also, outstanding complaints have largely been eliminated, within the limits of the staff currently available. We all recognise the difficulty of getting specialist staff, because officers of the Department of Trade and Industry who are posted overseas represent Australia in a very special field, it is not always easy to get staff of the type required.
The reorganisation of the Department’s Management Services Branch is being submitted to the Public Service Board. Among other things it is aimed at recruiting and retaining accounts staff of sufficient experience and qualifications to maintain the present rate of improvement and to cope with the anticipated increasing work volume in the future. Today, trade and commerce are very sophisticated and require tremendous study and attention to detail. It is not just a matter of saying: “ We will get X number of staff to meet the position “. They have to be obtained and trained. Once they are trained, it is sometimes found that, they have become attractive to private enterprise, and they are lost. I have no doubt that this has been a factor in the operations of the Department of Trade and Industry. It is aware of the position and is doing everything it can to meet the situation, within the limits of its appropriation.
– I wish to deal briefly with several matters relating to the tourist trade. I ask the Government: Is not Melbourne the wrong city for the headquarters of the tourist industry in Australia? I travelled overseas for about five months and I. did not meet anybody heading for Melbourne. I cannot understand why an organisation has its headquarters in Melbourne when it should be interested in bringing tourists to Sydney, Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef or anywhere else. I would rather see Senator Wood in charge of the tourist industry in his home town. I am serious about that suggestion. I think Melbourne is the wrong city in which to locate the head office of an organisation responsible for bringing tourists to Australia.
– The headquarters should be in Sydney.
– Sydney has a claim, at least. I think the Government has a wrong approach to this very important matter and 1 would like the Minister to examine my suggestion, as a matter of plain commonsense. Again speaking from my overseas experience, the next point I raise is that Australia’s tourist publicity is not tourist publicity at all. lt is publicity to attract migrants, which is a different matter. In Europe, an appeal is made for people to come to Australia who will be of use to the nation by working here as unskilled workers. That is the complete approach of the publicity. In fact tourists who do come here from Europe are full of complaints. Hardly any arrangements are made for them. They are not received as tourists at the various ports or airports. We seem to be migrant minded and not tourist minded. 1 am not saying that being migrant minded is unimportant, but it is also highly important to think about tourists. 1 visited the United States of America for six weeks, at my own expense, on my way home to Australia. I did not see in America any appeal whatsoever to the people who would be likely to react to a publicity campaign for tourists. One reason why Americans do not come in greater numbers to Australia is that they have to swim or fly here, because there are not any suitable ships plying from the United States to Australia. The Government ought to examine that lack. One ship a month leaves the United States to come to Australia, and that is a Matson Lines vessel catering for near millionaires.
– What American could afford the time to come across the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean to Australia?
– I do not think the time will come when everybody will want to fly. For one thing, the cost of flying is too expensive for many tourists. Flying does not necessarily make an appeal to the American tourist classes, who are usually superannuated people. Many like the idea of a more leisurely journey. There is a rather large section of the American public who would come to Australia if suitable ships were available; but they are not. The Matson Lines operate two ships between the United States and Australia. Each month one vessel leaves San Francisco and the other leaves Sydney. They cross in mid Pacific. Those two ships carry about 800 or 900 people to Australia. They are only 16,000 tonners, and the fares on them are very expensive. They are very good, also. The Government ought to have a look at the problem of developing a cheaper form of ocean travel between the United States and Australia. 1 do not know how far ahead the Government is looking when it considers the shipping problems of the world, but as an island nation they are very serious for us. It is often said in the Senate that Australia is an island continent. Only two passenger ships ply regularly between Australia and the United States. The P & O - Orient Lines arranges cruises, but not directly between Australia and the United States. They do not bring tourists from the United States. They operate on specific cruises, which is a different sort of trade. The future of those operations is well looked after.
We are told about developments in aircraft, and what the capacity and possible need for aircraft will bc in 12 months, or four or five years ahead. A very serious position is developing because a new passenger ship for the Australian trade has not been built for years. The world’s shipping companies are not maintaining their old ships. 1 have conducted some investigationsand I found that when a ship reaches the age of 25 years, it is ready to be sold for scrap.
– Order! I suggest to the honorable senator that he is getting a bit far away from the estimates.
– I will come back to the subject of the tourist trade now. If you have no ships, you have no total tourist trade. I will get back to the point very’ quickly. I would like to incorporate in “ Hansard “ an extract from a report on the shipping position which contains a reference to Lloyds Register. Reference is also made to the ages of the various ships coming to Australia, which will not be on the run for migrants or anybody else inside five or six years. They are to be put off the run because of their age. It is cheaper to sell these ships as scrap metal, than to continue them on the Australian run. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the extract from this report in “ Hansard “.
Lloyds Register shows which passenger companies on the Australian trade who, if. they arc not already facing problems, will do so in the future when thinking about replacing some of their liners.
Shipping experts believe that the economic usefulness of a ship lasts for 20 years and perhaps 25. After that a ship is old and questions of maintenance and comfort become important.
Australian passenger trade companies facing replacement problems are mainly those which caught the migrant-boom in the 1950s.
These include the Italian Sitmar Line which has four ships plying between Europe and Australia mainly in the migrant trade.
The oldest of its ships, the Castel Felice, is 36.
Built in Glasgow it has had three previous names Kenya, Keren and Fairstone. The 12,478 (on ship carries 1388 tourist class passengers at a speed of 174 knots.
Its other aged ships arc the Fairsea, 25, and Fairsky, 24, each carrying 1460 tourist class passengers at speeds of 174 knots.
Fairstar, nine, is Sitmar’s youngest ship, and was formerly the British troop carrier Oxfordshire.
She carries 1624 tourist passengers at a speed of 23 knots and, like the other three Sitmar ships, is fully air-conditioned. Built in Glasgow she is 21,619 tons gross.
Another Italian company, Cogedar Line, has the 27-year-old Aurelia and 19-year-old Flavia plying to Australia.
The 10,480 ton Hamburg-built Aurelia carries 814 tourist class passengers and has a speed of 16 knots.
The Greek Chandris Lines is notable for having the. oldest ship on the Australian run - the 39-ycar- old Queen Frederica
Built in Philadelphia, the 21,329 ton ship has been named Malolo, Matsonia and Atlantic.
Another elderly Chandris ship is the 34-year-old American-built Eli in is, which carries 1668 tourist passengers at a speed of 21 knots. She was originally the Lurline.
Chandris also operates the 26-year-old Australis and the 16-year-old Patris, formerly the Bloemfontein Castle, to Australia.
The Greek Line has one. ship operating to Australia, the Arkadia. which is 35-years-old. As the Monarch of Bermuda she was gutted by tire in 1947.
Before becoming the Arkadia she was called New Australia. The 20,260-ton ship carries 1387 tourist passengers at a speed of 19 knots.
Two well-remembered names, the Willem Rum and the Oranje, have come back to Australia under Flotta Lauro’s new names, the Achille Lauro, now 19, and Angelina Lauro, 27.
Now flying the Italian Flag the ships were built in Holland.
The British Dominion Line, with its 19-ycar-old Francis Drake and 18-year-old George Anson, will also have to consider replacements in the next few years.
The two 7700 ton ships carry only .130 first-class passengers at speeds of 15 knots. British-built, the Francis Drake was formerly the Nova Scotia and George Anson, the Newfoundland.
The French Messageries Maritimes has four ships, the oldest of which is the Panamanian registered Oceanien, now 28 years old. Partly airconditioned, the 9763 ton ship carries 84 first and 118 tourist passengers.
The Japanese Toyo Yusen Line operates the Oriental Queen, now 30. She will be remembered in Australia as the Kanimbla and now carries 364 passengers at a speed of 16 knots.
The British China Navigation Co Ltd operates three ships - the Kuala Lumpur, 30, formerly the Dilwara, the Changsha, 17, and Taiyuan, 17.
On the other side of the agc scale are the P A O - Orient Lines; Lloyd Triestino; Shaw Savill; Matson; Austasia; Royal Interocean and Holland-Amerika.
The Italian Lloyd Triestino Line has two of the newest ships on the Australia run - Galileo Galilei, three, and Gugliehno Marconi, three.
The 27,906-ton ships carry 1466 tourist class and 163 first class passengers in air-conditioned comfort at speeds of 24 knots.
Two of P&0-Orient’s nine big ships arc less than five-year-old - the 45,000-ton Canberra and the 42,000-ton Ohana.
Canberra carries 598 first and 1616 tourist passengers at a service speed of 27 knots and Oriana carries 630 first and 1492 tourist passengers al a service speed of 274 knots.
Iberia, 30,000 tons, Orsova, 29,000 tons and Arcadia, 30,000 tons are all 12 years old and still of a very high standard.
Of P&O-Orient’s other four ships, Oronsay. 28,000 tons, is 16; Ch usa n, 24,000 tons. 17; Himalaya, 28,000 tons 18; and Orcades, 28,00° tons, is 19.
Shaw Savill has its 11 -year-old one-class Southern Cross of 20,204 tons wilh a service speed of 20 knots and carrying 1150 passengers and its four-year-old Northern Star, of 24,733 tons, 1316 passengers and 22 knots speed.
Matson’s 13-ycar-old Mariposa and 14-year-old Monterey are luxury ships plying from America to Australia at speeds of 20 knots and carrying 365 first class passengers.
The above survey carries a serious warning for the future of immigration and tourism in Australia. If I had the task of presenting the Australian story to overseas tourists, 1 would talk about only one thing overseas, and that is the outback. I came back to Australia from San Francisco on the “ Monterey “. Six planes could have been filled with passengers wanting to travel from Sydney to see a western sheep station in operation. That is where they want to head, and that is all they want to know about - that, kangaroos and koala bears. Aircraft trips were organised for trips from Sydney to a Dubbo sheep station to see shearing operations for themselves. Thousands of Americans could be attracted to Australia by <the right form of publicity. They are looking for means to get away from the boredom of their retirement. They want to get away and come to Australia for a rest. Australia appeals to Americans as having a more peaceful way of life. 1 am sure that the tourist trade with America could bc increased tremendously if the ships were available.
.- J wish to comment briefly on Division No. 500 - Administrative. I wish to refer to the fact that Australia now has 31 overseas trade posts administered by the Department of Trade and Industry and to the importance of their operations to our way of life. It has already been said that almost all our overseas trade goes over our wharves. Shipping is therefore of great importance to this nation. One of the new developments in shipping is containerisation.
I wish to draw the attention of honorable senators to the appropriation in Division No. 500 for trade publicity. An amount of almost $3 million is to be spent on trade publicity overseas. I believe that this is money well spent, lt has been and will continue to be a very good investment for this country.
I would like to ask the Minister a question in respect of the appropriation for the South American shipping service subsidy in sub-section 3 of Division No. 500. I ask the Minister to explain why that subsidy has been reduced by approximately one half this year. The grant to the Australian National Travel Association, which has already been referred to, has been increased. Who else contributes to the work of this organisation? Do the Slates contribute to it?
– I wish to discuss the subject of tourism, which easily tops the list in international trade. A sum of $A50,000 million a year is spent on international tourism. That is quite a lot of money. It is about time that Australia got a fair share of this section of international trade. Of the sum I. have mentioned, about 5 per cent, represents consumer spending in the countries that are visited. Such spending plays a very important part in Australia’s development.
I disagree with those who have said that very little is known overseas about Australia. When overseas, I discovered, particularly amongst school children, that that was not so. I visited many schools when I was in America and addressed the children. 1 found that there had been a concerted effort in those schools to undertake projects on Australia and I was more or less floored by some of the questions which were fired at me. J observe that Senator Sim does not seem to believe me. What I have said is quite true.
– They must have known that the honorable senator was coming.
– They did. They had had a little bit of preparation. One thing about which they were very curious was the Australian National Anthem. Everywhere I went I was greeted with “ Waltzing Matilda “ and “ Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport “ - in harmony. These children were interested in Australia. J mention another fact, because it shows what advertising can do. The three features of Australia that seemed to be most well known were the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Melbourne Cup, and Perth the city of lights. The publicity which Perth received in America as a result of the turning on of the city’s lights when the astronauts passed overhead was worth millions of dollars. I found - Senator Ormonde has mentioned this matter - that the people of America could not quite understand the term “ Outback “. People came to me and asked me exactly what was meant by the term. Letters and Press cuttings that I have since received from America have referred to this queer Australian term “ Outback “.
More attention should be paid to having fares across the Pacific reduced to encourage a two way tourist trade between America and Australia.I commend the efforts that have been made to encourage an interchange of students between Australia and America. Each year numbers of young people go to America to complete their final years of schooling, and students come to Australia from America. That interchange can do nothing but good. I should like to see it extended to include school teachers.I should like to see more honorable senators provided with an opportunity such asI had to travel extensively - not merely to visit New York and Washington but to get out to the wild west. Having been there,I now thoroughly enjoy western films on television.
– We should not leave such trips until members are about to retire from the Parliament.
– Exactly. Members should go to places such as Montana, which resembles areas in my own State. When I was in those parts questions were put to me by the beef producers who, incidentally, made me a cow belle. That was a title of respect. They asked me how we produced our beef and how we could sell it in America at 5c per lb. cheaper than they could. I did not know a great deal about the subject, but I said: “ You spoon feed yours. We let ours take pot luck.” That happened to be so. They thoughtI was an authority on the cattle industry. People in America are definitely interested in Australia. If people are interested in a country, they become interested in trade and in the exchange not only of tourists but also of goods. Tourism is a very important aspect of trade; it cannot be over-emphasised.
– Senator Lawrie asked a question about the South American shipping service subsidy. The proposed appropriation is to provide financial assistance by way of a subsidy for a period of two years to a shipping company which is establishing shipping services to South America. The service to the western and northern coast of South America and the Caribbean is being operated by the Kawasaki Steamship Co. of Kobe. The agreement provides for up to ten voyages in a year for which payment is calculated on the basis of a maximum payment of $38,000 for each voyage. The honorable senator asked why the amount has been reduced in this year’s estimates. The amount provided this year is only for agreed voyages. If we can arrange further voyages we will do so, and provision will be made in the Additional Estimates. At the moment a new agreement is being prepared. It will be seen that there is a degree of flexibility in the arrangements to meet any situation that might arise.
asked whether films were made available by the Department of Trade and Industry. The Department operates through the Australian National Travel Association and the News and Information Bureau. Senator Lawrie asked also whether the States made any contribution to the Australian National Travel Association. I understand that the States’ contribution is of the order of 7 per cent. The honorable senator touched upon a very important point. As Senator Wood would would agree, the States have an obligation in regard to the promotion of travel within their own boundaries.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of the Treasury - proposed expenditure, $425,582,000 and proposed provision $27,959,000 noted.
Advance to the Treasurer - proposed expenditure, $20,000,000 and proposed provision, $20,000,000, noted.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed provision, $6,250,000.
. -I wish to ask two quick questions relating to administration. My first question relates to a matter that I raised this afternoon with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson). It concerns the 21st Annual Report of the Australian National Airlines Commission, operating as Trans- Australia Airlines, for 1965-66. At page 4 of the report we find that the Chairman, Air ChiefMarshal Sir Frederick Scherger, said -
As shown in the Department of Civil Aviation’s statistics for the year ended 31st December 1965, of the airports in the Commonwealth (excluding Papua and New Guinea) which handled more than 5,000 passengers in that year, T.A.A. operated into only 27. Its competitor operated in 56 of those ports.
The Chairman said, further, that certain submissions have been made to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) in relation to this proposition. I presume that the intention was that there should be some adjustment relating to this matter. Following my question, 1 ask the Minister now whether he can advise upon this representation and state what action is proposed by the Government following the report by the Commission. I presume that the reference to the report of the Department of Civil Aviation is the information shown in Appendix 4 on page 88.
The other matter I wish to deal with is the Adelaide airport. J. shall be brief in my remarks. I have a question on notice concerning this matter, lt has been raised on numerous occasions. I refer, of course, to the congestion in the passenger lounge of the airport terminal at Adelaide. South Australians have noted that improvements have been carried out and new structures have been built at almost every other important air terminal to provide for the greater number of passengers now travelling by air. In South Australia no such recent improvements have been made. But the Department of Civil Aviation has said, and the Minister for Civil Aviation has stated recently, that inspections have been made. In recent times, a statement by the Minister made in Adelaide following an inspection there was to the effect that he was examining the question of some temporary extension of the passenger lounge. One Adelaide newspaper, the “ News “, referred to the position and objected to any temporary accommodation. It is a fact, as no doubt the Minister himself knows, that greater congestion is occurring because of increased numbers of people travelling on our airlines. For these reasons great need exists for improvement at
Adelaide. I nsk the Minister: What is the current position of the programme for the Adelaide Airport? Is this being held up to any extent because of air schedules?
.- I refer to Division No. 144 - Development of Civil Aviation and particularly to item 04, Ground facilities in Pacific - Contribution towards cost. Can the Minister give the Committee details of these contributions? I presume that they are for facilities outside Australia required for our aircraft to land overseas. The other matter in the same Division to which I refer is item 02, International Civil Aviation Organisation - Contribution. The appropriation this financial year is SI 1 1. 000. Last financial year the appropriation was $124,000 while the actual expenditure was $116,476. What organisation is this? Has it any connection with the International Air Travel Association, or is it a distinctly different organisation? 1 do not know whether the International Civil Aviation Organisation deals with the matter of fares. But we did notice that the International Air Travel Association meeting in Hawaii just a week or so ago agreed to certain reductions being made in the fares for Pacific air travel. I wish to refer to one of the most disappointing features about this decision. Reductions in air fares will be made for people under the age of 26 years, I think. Reductions will apply also to group travel. This applies to people travelling on tour parties. Concessions will be granted at certain times of the year, also. These will generally be during periods of the year when people are less inclined to travel. Already this sort of concessional fare operates to Fiji, Noumea and places like that during what might be termed the “ off season “ for tourist travel. But the disappointing feature of this decision is that fares across the Pacific are very high, lt has been recognised by some for years that fares should be lower than they are today for air travel across the Pacific. Canadian Pacific Airlines for some time has been propounding the idea of lower air fares across the Pacific. This company is prepared to make a reduction of considerable proportions. If I remember correctly, it was approximately 40 per cent. Anyhow, it was a pretty high reduction that Canadian Pacific Airlines was prepared to make.
Canadian Pacific Airlines is keen to cut iis fares across the Pacific. But the International Air Travel Association held its meeting and the matter was deferred until unanimity could be arrived at. The surprising thing in this regard is in relation to the standard fare. I refer to those people who want to travel on their own. These people are above the age for which special youth concessions are granted. They may be travelling on. business or they may be travelling at a certain time that suits them to go for a holiday. .1 refer to people coming to this country in particular. We have been talking about building the tourist trade. Here I feel is a very good opportunity to increase the possibility of bringing people to Australia at a lower air fare than that which exists at the present time. Wherever air fares have been reduced, for example across the Atlantic, this has meant a very great difference in the number of people who travel by air. The number of passengers on routes where reductions have been made has increased considerably.
Canadian Pacific Airlines went into this matter and, I think, had a pretty good case. The thing that amazed me as an Australian was that our own Australian national airline, Qantas, was opposed to the reduction suggested by Candian Pacific Airlines in the standard fare. This is a thing that 1 cannot understand. Why should Australia’s own overseas airline be opposed to a reduction in the standard rate for air travellers across the Pacific? One would have thought that if any airline wanted more people to come to Australia it would be our own national airline. I do not know whether the Commonwealth Government or the Minister for Civil Aviation have taken any steps in this regard to speak with Qantas and tell it of the aims and desires of the Government to have more and more people come to Australia, ft will be surprising to most people, I think, to know that our own national airline was not in favour of a reduction in standard fares across the Pacific.
The other fare concessions that have been granted are special features. They probably relate to competition with shipping companies. The special fare for people under 26 years of age is one of these. But I believe that the airlines should have adopted a broader outlook to develop more and more trade across the Pacific by the introduction of lower air fares. It is useless for anybody to argue that lower air fares across the Pacific would not increase the number of people travelling to and from Australia. Wherever one goes, whether on business or shopping, particularly in stores selling grocery lines, one finds people looking for bargains. In other words, they are looking for less costly ways of living. 1 believe that the same situation applies to travel whether it is for business or holiday purposes. The Government and Qantas, I believe, should have been right, in the forefront, seeking to have reduced air fares across the Pacific so as to facilitate tourist trade to and from this country. What do we find? The airline that really carried the brunt of the attack in endeavouring to get cheaper air fares was Canadian Pacific Airlines, which I think operates only one service a fortnight to Australia. Because Canadian Pacific Airlines carried the banner on this occasion and because of its progressive outlook, 1 think that the Commonwealth Government might consider granting to it the right to operate further services across the Pacific to Australia. I think that the Government could take up this matter with Qantas and indicate that it is contrary to Australia’s interests to be socking people travelling by air across the Pacific.
– Senator Bishop raised again the matter to which he referred at question lime today. 1 shall obtain a copy of his question and reply to it when discussion of these estimates is resumed after the suspension of the sitting for dinner. Senator Bishop also referred to the congestion at the Adelaide airport terminal. I have been in and out of that terminal recently and I appreciate the point that the honorable senator has made.
Senator Wood referred to items 03 and 04 in Division No. 144. He said that at the Honolulu conference Qantas should have taken a more generous line or perhaps a different line from the one which it took regarding air fares. Consequent upon that conference, Qantas issued a Press statement in which it indicated - I am relying entirely on my memory here - that it would be making certain concessions in air fares so as to attract tourists to Australia. Qantas is engaged with American airlines in a very competitive business. It has to live in a climate of competition. I think that we have to accept Qantas’ judgment in these matters. The airline is properly equipped to assess what it should do to attract business. Quite clearly, Qantas’ business is to sell air travel. lt has to adopt an economic approach which will make it a more successful undertaking than it is.
Senator Wood referred specifically to item 03 ; North Atlantic air navigation facilities - Contribution. This appropriation is based on an assessment by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and covers Australia’s contribution to the joint finance scheme for the maintenance of air navigation facilities in the North Atlantic area, including the North Atlantic Ocean Stations scheme and the Danish and Icelandic schemes. Air navigation facilities in the North Atlantic are used by Qantas.
Senator Wood then referred to item 04 ; Ground facilities in Pacific - Contribution towards cost. There is a reduction of $59,658 in the vote for 1966-67 compared wilh expenditure for 1965-66. Perhaps the reduction is the point that interested the honorable senator. The vote is for the payment to the New Zealand Government of Australia’s share of an approved programme of work to be performed by member governments of the South Pacific Air Transport Council in the provision, maintenance and operation of ground facilities in the United Kingdom territory in the Pacific. Australia’s contribution, along with those of other member governments, has enabled the development of Nadi airport to Boeing 707 standard. Australia’s international airline, Qantas, is one of the principal users of Nadi airport, which has been developed for trans-Pacific services. Expenditure is, for the main part, incurred at Nadi airport, Fiji. The vote for 1966-67 is $459,658, and the expenditure in 1965-66 was $400,000.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8.23 p.m.
– I shall direct my remarks, in relation to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, to Division No. 135 - Administrative. I want to know from the Minister what has happened to the application of Trans-Australia Airlines to operate the Perth-Darwin route. It was reported in the
Press in August last year that T.A.A. had submitted an application to operate the Perth-Darwin route in competition with an Ansett-A.N.A. subsidiary, MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. I would dispute, any statement that this application has not been made because last March I asked the then Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Henty, whether T.A.A. had made such an application and the Minister’s reply was that it had. I. have in my possession the report of the Director-General of Civil Aviation and a list of applications made to the Rationalisation Committee but I can find no mention of an application by T.A.A. to operate this route. I have looked at the annual report of the Australian National Airlines Commission for 1965-66 and am unable to find there any reference to an application by T.A.A., yet the Minister himself admitted that such an application had been made.
An interesting aspect of this matter is revealed by the following statement which appears on page 4 of the Commission’s report -
As shown in the Department of Civil Aviation’s statistics for the year ended 31st December 1965, of the airports in the Commonwealth (excluding Papua and New Guinea) which handled more than 5,000 passengers in that year, T.A.A. operated into only 27. Ils competitor operated in 56 of those ports.
I do not want to be put ofl’, Mr. Minister, with the stereotyped answer that if T.A.A. were given permission to operate the PerthDarwin route additional subsidy payments would be involved. I do not regard that as a valid answer to the question because if one looks back through previous reports of the Director-General of Civil Aviation one will see that when applications have been made by Ansett-A.N.A. to intrude into routes operated by T.A.A. in Queensland and T.A.A. has used the argument that there is insufficient traffic to support the two airlines, the Committee’s, decision has been that competition generates its own traffic and therefore the Committee was entitled to give Ansett-A.N.A. access to the routes in respect of which it had made application.
If T.A.A. were given the opportunity to operate on the Perth-Darwin route I am sure that competition would generate traffic. It would at least give the service in Western Australia a greater degree of efficiency. The other day a friend of mine flew out to Marble Bar. He was only three hours late reaching his destination and he apologised to the people who were there to meet him when the plane was due. Their answer was: “ Do not worry about it. This is the first aircraft in six weeks that has come in on’ the day it was scheduled to come in “. During the last recess of one week I went through the Murchison goldfields on an organising tour. 1 was due to leave Meekatharra airport at 7 p.m. for the return flight to Perth. We eventually got away from the airport at .1 .1 p.m. This is a criticism of the service that is provided although I have very friendly relations with MacRobertson Miller Airlines. The company’s officers have always treated me very well. They are very kindly people who do the best they can to assist. However, all who travel in Western Australia will agree that the service has deteriorated since it was taken over by Ansett-A.N.A. Honorable senators will remember that when AnsettA.N.A. took over this service it stated that it would put Viscounts on the Perth-Darwin route.
– But the airports will not stand Viscounts, will they?
– .1 questioned at the time the wisdom of Mr. Ansett’s statement because I believed that the airports were not appropriate for a Viscount service. Nevertheless, the statement was intended to convey that a better service would be provided following the takeover of MacRobertson Miller Airlines by Ansett-A.N.A. This has not eventuated. 1 question the wisdom of the Government or the Rationalisation Committee, whichever is responsible, for keeping T.A.A. out of the Perth-Darwin route because this route is developing very quickly. Over the past year passenger traffic on it has increased by 50 per cent. If there were competition on this route, at least there would be greater efficiency and I think a generation of additional traffic.
I want to know from the Minister for Customs and Excise, who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation, why the report of the Director-General of Civil Aviation who is Chairman of the Committee has been suppressed, because in June it was reported in the Press that the application of TransAustralia Airlines to engage on this route had been refused without reason. This is not even stated in the report of the Department of Civil Aviation.
– Is it reported in the annual report of T.A.A.?
– No, it is not in either but the Press published a report that the application had been refused without reason and that report stated the Director-General of Civil Aviation, Mr. Anderson, would give his reasons later. 1 am not saying that Mr. Anderson did not give his reasons. I am saying that I have not seen them and they did not appear in the report of the Department.
On the question of subsidies, 1 commend the Government for the payment of subsidies to help developmental routes and rural services but if we study the documents presented to the Parliament we find this matter is worthy of consideration. The Auditor-General, in his report for the year ended 30th June 1966, refers at page 29 to subsidies to airline operators and states that the subsidy to Connellan Airways for 1965-66 was $273,008. On turning to the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation, 1 find it stated that the subsidy paid to Connellan Airways in 1965-66 was $386,008. There is a difference between the figures in the Auditor-General’s report and the report of the Department of Civil Aviation in relation to the subsidy for this one airline of more than $100,000. Some explanation is due to the Committee of the Senate on this item.
The Auditor-General also refers in his report to the payment of subsidies to airline operators totalling $1,200,000 in .1965-66. This is also the amount that was appropriated. But the Auditor-General has not taken into consideration the $231,699 paid as a subsidy to T.A.A. for developmental services and essential rural services. I say this because in the Auditor-General’s report, he has set out the airlines which are to be entitled to the subsidy and he arrives at a total of Si. 200,000 which is the amount that is being appropriated. There is no appropriation for the $231,699 subsidy which we anticipate will be paid to T.A.A. 1 only anticipate that payment on the basis of the subsidy that was paid for this purpose last year. I agree that the subsidy has varied over the years because in 1963-64 it was $227,400; in 1964-65 it was $290,400 and in 1965-66 it was $231,699. So there has been quite a considerable fluctuation in the subsidy paid to T.A.A. for developmental services and essential rural services. For the purposes of argument and using round figures one could say that the subsidy to T.A.A. will be in the vicinity of $250,000 but this does not appear in the AuditorGeneral’s report, lt does not appear in the appropriations either because the total subsidy that is payable, according to the Auditor-General’s report, excludes T.A.A. and it matches the amount that is being appropriated in the Estimates. Where is the subsidy to pay T.A.A. to come from? It has not been appropriated under the heading where it should be shown as appropriated. I have asked three questions.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 wish to direct several questions to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) under heading of Division No. 135 - Administrative. I take it that the responsibility for the functioning of civil aviation comes under the Department of Civil Aviation. Is (hat the control it exercises?
– I want to be clear about this, lt seems peculiar to many people in Queensland and Western Australia that Trans-Australia Airlines never seems to have an opportunity to engage in the route from Perth to Darwin. We all know how Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. got into MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. There is no need to dwell on that because it has been dealt with thoroughly by honorable senators on the Opposition side since AnsettA.N.A. took control of that airline, lt seems lo have a sympathetic association with the Government or the Department, of Civil Aviation. Ansett-A.N.A. seems to be able to function efficiently with the sympathetic and financial consideration bestowed upon it by the Government.
In Queensland T.A.A. pioneered the Brisbane-Mount Isa-Darwin route. When it became popular and remunerative, AnsettA.N.A. seemed to experience no difficulty in entering it. Again that company received sympathetic consideration from the Government. I take it that such consideration was sponsored by the Department of Civil Aviation - justifiably, I would hope. I do not doubt that it was justifiable. Over the years, T.A.A. has sought to enter the BrisbaneBundabergGladstone route. But it seems to experience ail sorts of difficulties. Every time it aspires to operate on a route on which it has not operated and on which AnsettA.N.A. or one of the other subsidiaries of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., such as Queensland Airlines Pty. Ltd. or MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd., operates. T.A.A. seems to experience real difficulty. In New South Wales East-West Airlines Ltd. pioneered the route from Sydney to Dubbo; but the Ansett subsidiary experienced no difficulty in entering that route, although there were some unfortunate circumstances associated with a previous Minister for Civil Aviation.
When I asked a question on these matters the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation was very co-operative. He said that he would supply an answer as soon as possible. But these people are constantly making representations. Only last week Queensland Airlines Pty. Ltd., a completely owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., curtailed its service from Rockhampton to Emerald and air terminals west of that town. 1 do not know why it did that. 1 do not know whether the blame lies on the Ansett subsidiary or at the door of the Government. Has the Government withdrawn the airline’s subsidy? Emerald is a comparatively large country town. Some people might say that there are only a few thousand people there. But Emerald serves a highly productive cattle raising and grain growing area. The people of that area are entitled to consideration. Yet as recently as last week their air service was curtailed. Surely some consideration should be given to restoring it. 1 know that the Government, particularly the major party in it, is not particularly interested in the rights of country people. Representatives of the major party would decimate the representatives of the Country Party if they could. I think they loathe the representatives of the Country Party much more than they loathe the representatives of the Labour Party. I do not intend to enter into a discussion of the dissension between the two parties in this coalition Government. That is not my responsibility.
– 1 said that I did not intend to enter into a discussion of that.
– Order! The honorable senator will get back to the estimates.
– 1 am going back the matter before the Chair; but I loathe the dissension between the two parties in this coalition Government. That is what distresses me.
– I hope that the Government will do something about these air services in central and western Queensland. This is a responsibility of the Department of Civil Aviation, Mr. Chairman. 1 again draw your attention to the fact that it comes under Division No. 135. I know that the Department is extending the runway at the Bilinga airport which serves Coolangatta and the rest of the Gold Coast. The airport terminal there is shocking, having regard to the traffic in that area. Townsville has one of the busiest rural airports in Australia; but the terminal there has a notice saying: “ Don’t stand on the roof “. That shows how shocking the structural condition of the terminal is. Mount Isa is another busy airport. The condition of the terminal there is shocking, too. I know that the reconstruction of it is under consideration. I appreciate that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) is interested in these matters within the limits of his ability and within the limits of the responsibilities of the party to which he belongs.
In Bribane certain employees of T.A.A. are housed in little better than dungeon conditions. Many of the male and female officers of this airline, which is under the direct control of the Government, receive comparatively small salaries. They are dedicated to this governmental activity. If the Minister for Customs and Excise wants to know about these matters he can ask the Minister for Civil Aviation, who is a Queenslander. It is easy for him to see that the conditions are shocking, particularly in summer. The premises have no air conditioning; they are dark; and they are drab. Frankly, no private enterprise of any size would expect people to work under similar conditions. These people are dedicated to their vocation. Many of them have worked for T.A.A. for many years. 1 make the plea that the Government at least have a look at the position and, if the quarters are not suitable or if there is not enough room in the building in which these people are now housed, on the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets, endeavour to move the office as soon as possible. I ask the Government to have a look at the position of these people, who are dedicated to T.A.A., and to ensure that they are remunerated adequately.
– Where are the dungeons?
– 1 mentioned that they are on the corner of Adelaide and Creek Streets. If my distinguished colleague from Queensland accepted his responsibility and took an interest in this enterprise over which the Government has direct and complete control, he would know that as well as I do. But I will excuse him because he has not been in this chamber very long. I suggest that the Government should accept the responsibility for making a proper, sensible and reasonable allocation of the air routes of this nation. I suggest that it give T.A.A. a fair go in respect of the route between Perth and Darwin; that it refrain from giving all the favours to the Ansett companies: and that it give T.A.A. a fair go in respect of the BrisbaneBundabergGladstone route.
I wish to raise another matter. I do not do so illadvisedly, because as everyone knows, I act on sensible and reasonable information received. The managing director of the Ansett companies has asked for central depots in which all passengers, of both T.A.A. and the Ansett companies, will be picked up, not only in the capital cities but also in the main towns. In the process of time, because of the machinations of certain people and their representatives, there will be a definite bias in favour of Ansett-A.N.A. At the present time in Brisbane certain members of the Transport Workers Union are under dire threat of dismissal from one of the major airlines, lt is not unreasonable to assume, knowing the underground manoeuvres of certain people associated with this major enterprise, that what could happen, and what is likely to happen, is that not only will there be central depots at which passengers will be picked up, but also there will be central offices where passengers will have to make bookings with the major airlines.
Just what is going to happen between Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. 1 do not know, but I leave it to honorable senators to imagine what will be the influence of a particular enterprise. It is in a big way and is backed, as we know, by W. R. Carpenter & Co. Ltd. which holds between two million and three million shares in it. Boral Mount Lyell Ltd. - the Mount Lyell company is divorced from that company now - holds between two million and three million shares: the Australia and New Zealand Bank Ltd. holds over 700,000 shares; the Australian Mutual Provident Society holds 500.000 shares: one of the shipping lines holds 500,000 shares; the Perpetual Trustee Co. Ltd. holds 500,000 shares; and the Ansett family holds 633,000 shares.
– First, 1 must allude to some remarks which were made by Senator Dittmer. He tired some broadsides at the relationship between the parties in the coalition Government.
– Order! The Minister should not proceed too far with that subject.
– No. 1 shall go no further than to say that the honorable senator reminded me of a boy who takes a swing at another boy and when the other boy takes a swing at him says: “Not me. 1 am a man of peace.” I say to the honorable senator that it is one thing to throw punches and another thing to take them. There has. been some general discussion in relation to the various air routes and the relative positions of the two airline operators, Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. As a backdrop to much of the general comment I think it should be stated that if there is a dispute arising from a licence being issued either to T.A.A. or Ansett-A.N.A. on a route operated by one or the other without competition, the matter may be referred to the Rationalisation Committee established under the Airlines Agreement. Both airlines and also the Minister for Civil Aviation are represented on that Committee. The Minister for Civil
Aviation reports to the Parliament regularly each year on the deliberations and decisions of the Committee. 1 think we have to keep that position in the back of our minds.
Senator Dittmer referred to the application by T.A.A. to share the traffic on the Brisbane-Rockhampton route where it was not entitled to serve Bundaberg and Gladstone. The Coordinator decided in favour of T.A.A. against the opposition of AnsettA.N.A., but Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. has appealed against the decision. Under the procedures that are laid down, the matter must go to the Arbitrator who, as we know, is Mr. Justice Spicer. Senator Dittmer linked much of his comment to Division No. 135 - Administrative. In an estimates debate it is very difficult to follow through all the arguments, but in response to his general arguments I think I should remind him and also other honorable senators of the enormous amount of the taxpayers’ money that is being spent by the Government on civil aviation. When we look at the figures we see that in terms of votes for the Department, capital works, acquisitions, and the other matters referred to in the various items in the estimates with which we are dealing amounting to $42,948,000, the total is $76 million.
We must face the fact that in a country as vast as Australia, with the kind of population we have, there is a limit to the amount of development that can take place. I offer the opinion, and I sincerely believe that it is generally accepted, that the progress that has been made by the Department of Civil Aviation in providing civil aviation facilities for the Australian continent is a story of magnificent achievement, lt has been a story of continuing achievement under conditions which are difficult because of the geography of Australia and the natural inbuilt limitation in terms of capital expenditure.
asked a number of questions. Here again, the honorable senator dealt with a series of general propositions. He is perfectly entitled to do that, and I am not challenging his right to do so. lt will be recalled that in making his comments he referred to both the Auditor-General’s report and the annual report of the Minister for Civil Aviation. It is sometimes fairly difficult to localise matters when we are dealing with a number of documents. The honorable senator referred to the subsidy paid to Connellan Airways Ltd. I point out to him that that subsidy is paid by two departments. The Department of Civil Aviation figure is $273,000 and that for the Department of Territories is $113,000, making a total of $386,000.
– It is all air subsidy.
– Senator Cant was asking a question in relation to the difference in the figures and I. am explaining that the figure is to be found in the estimates of two departments. The total amount is $386,000.
– The point of my comment is that without the Auditor-General’s summation it would be misleading.
– Be that as it may. The honorable senator has the right to make a speech in relation to this matter if he wishes. 1 was asked for information and, in good faith. 1 am trying to give it. The report of the Minister for Civil Aviation shows the total subsidy paid by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Territories. 1 think that that is where a slight element of confusion may have come in.
The Auditor-General’s report, in dealing with the Department of Civil Aviation, gave the figure of $1,200,000. Here again, the Department of Territories paid $118,000, making a total of $1,318,000. That is the answer to Senator Cant’s query in relation to the discrepancy in that respect. The application by T.A.A. in respect of the Perth to Darwin route was refused. This was done on the ground that this route is part of the network of MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd., which is subsidised by the Commonwealth. The honorable senator said that he did1 not want me to give answers along certain lines. I can only give him the answers that have been supplied to me by the Department of Civil Aviation. The Department has given its explanations and 1 think we have to accept them in good faith. The reason given is that the route is part of the network of MacRobertson Miller Airlines which is subsidised by the Commonwealth, and that to introduce competition on this route would be uneconomic and would increase the Commonwealth subsidy commitment. Last year $356,000 was paid to MacRobertson Miller Airlines by way of subsidy.
When Senator Cant was referring to this matter Senator Branson by interjection raised the question of an economic route. The routes in Queensland referred to by the honorable senator are not subsidised. An application by Ansett-A.N.A. for a licence to operate on subsidised T.A.A. routes was refused. I think that Senator Cant said that there was no explanation circulated in relation to this matter. 1. point out that the Minister does not always report on refusals of applications for licences.
Earlier today Senator Bishop asked a question about the annual report of TransAustralia Airlines. Senator Cant also referred to the annual report. It is true that the Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. group of airlines operates to more air traffic centres in Australia than Trans-Australia Airlines. It is a fact of life which comes about because the smaller airlines, which are subsidiaries of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., operate on intrastate traffic routes similar to those on which Trans-Australia Airlines operates only in Queensland and Tasmania. That is another fact of life of which all honorable senators are aware. The two major airlines - Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. - operate between the major traffic centres on the main air traffic routes where the passenger traffic is heaviest.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) has announced that the Government has the two airline policy under review, and no doubt all the pertinent information presented by the Australian National Airlines Commission will be considered by the Government in that review. I cannot go beyond that statement. It is a general statement, but it is factual. The Minister has given in a Press statement the information that a review of the two airline policy is to be conducted.
All honorable senators are aware, of course, of the information contained not only in the annual report of TransAustralia Airlines, but also through Press reports of comments made on it some little time ago by the parties involved.
.- I wish to relate my remarks to Division No. 135 - Administrative. It is not my intention to enter into a doctrinaire argument on the relative merits of Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. However, 1 believe that the record should be put straight in relation to some of the arguments advanced by Senator Cant. Senator Cant referred to a statement by Mr. Ansett that Viscount aircraft would operate on the Perth to Darwin service. I would like honorable senators to get the facts straight. It is a plain fact that the airports in the north of Western Australia are not constructed suitably to handle Viscount aircraft, other than the 700 series, and even then limitations must be imposed.
The only airport between Perth and Darwin constructed to handle the 800 series Viscount is at Learmonth. A limiting factor is tyre pressure. The runway at Port Hedland can receive safely aircraft with tyre pressure up to 75 lb. The tyres on 700 series Viscount aircraft are inflated to 76 lb. pressure, so that undoubtedly they would be able to operate from Port Hedland. However, the performance of the 700 series Viscount is little better - if any better - than that of the Friendship. Indeed, it is slower than the Friendship Mark II, so that operating the 700 series Viscount would not provide any better service than is given by the Friendship F27, particularly the Mark II, which is operating on that route. That is a plain fact of life.
The airports in that area will not handle aircraft heavier than those operating there at the moment, and it is quite impossible to operate Viscount aircraft economically on the route from Perth to Darwin without stopping at intermediate airports. Honorable senators should understand that the Perth to Darwin, route is subsidised. A policy has been laid down, as the Minister has just said, that no subsidy will be paid where competition exists on an air route. Therefore, Mac Robertson Miller Airlines Ltd. would lose its subsidy on this route if T.A.A. were to operate in competition with it. This would mean that a larger overall subsidy would have to be paid to M.M.A. because of the losses it would incur and the guarantee that a dividend of 10 per cent, will be paid. So it is clear that the taxpayers would have to make up the difference because the only really economical route upon which M.A.A. operates is from Perth to Darwin, and even that is not economical at present.
I should like now to give details of the load factor on the Perth to Darwin flights.
Over the period from 1963 to 1965, the load factor was 10; that is, in those years there was an average of 10 passengers on each flight. The number of flights increased from J 04 in 1963 to 156 in 1965. Quite recently, an additional flight has operated each week between Perth and Darwin. On flights operating from Darwin to Perth between 1963 and 1965 the average number of passengers has varied from II in 1963 to 10 in 1964 and back again to II in 1965. If TransAustralia Airlines were to operate on this route the average number of passengers on each flight would be no more than 10. That, of course, is a load factor of about 30 per cent., which is completely uneconomical. The only way that MacRobertson Miller Air lines Ltd. is able to increase its load factor is by landing at intermediate airports en route and picking up passengers wishing to travel between intermediate airports. I do not think it is relevant to these considerations that M.M.A. is a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. lt is a developmental airline which pioneered the Perth to Darwin route. Surely it is entitled to continue to operate on that route until the load factor increases to the point where a second airline can operate economically and efficiently.
Senator Cant criticised MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. He said that on a recent flight the aircraft was three hours late at Marble Bar. He said that no aircraft had arrived on schedule for about six weeks. To be quite fair I think it should be said that every airline is faced with problems of late, arrivals and departures of aircraft, due to a great number of factors. It is very easy to take one or two cases and develop from them a criticism of an airline. I think Senator Cant knows as well as I do the great difficulties under which M.M.A. operates in the northern areas of Western Australia. I do not think it is fair to be critical on the basis of one or two cases. Late arrivals may be brought about by adverse weather or mechanical trouble which can affect any airline or by quite a large number of factors.
I noticed that T.A.A. applied to operate on the only route that is operated profitably by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. It is not prepared to operate on routes such as that from Perth to Kalgoorlie, which has a load factor of a little over 30 per cent. A number of other routes on which M.M.A. operates show similar load factors. T.A.A. was prepared to pick out the eyes of M.M.A.’s operations by operating on the only profitable route. If T.A.A. were to operate on the Perth to Darwin route without the permission of the Western Australian Government to pick up passengers at intermediate airports, it would be operating entirely uneconomically with an average of 10 passengers on each flight.
I rose simply to put the record straight. I am not concerned with whether M.M.A. is a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I am not concerned with the doctrinaire arguments -6n a Government airline as against a private airline. I recall that the Australian Labour Party tried to bring about a Government monopoly of air services operating in Australia. I do not quarrel with that, because it is Labour’s policy, but I cannot agree with it. I do not think it was quite fair of ‘Senator Cant to base his criticisms on the points he made.
– I do not wish to buy into the argument on the political grounds raised by Senator Sim. I wish to refer to a number of items in the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. The total appropriation for this Department now amounts to almost $50 million. It is somewhat in excess of the appropriation for former years.
– To what item is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to Division No. 1 35 - Administrative. 1 note that in the’ schedule of salaries and allowances provision is made for about 534 extra positions. Perhaps the Minister will be able to give us information-‘ about the present position of runways at Kingsford-Smith Airport and what is taking place in other States, particularly at Melbourne.
Unfortunately, the Ansett organisation seems to control the activities of the Department of Civil Aviation. Officers of the Department are very good men, but they are circumscribed by Government policy. If one goes to any airport at all, one notes that without exception aircraft belonging to Ansett-A.N.A. depart ahead of aircraft belonging to Trans-Australia Airlines. Perhaps the Minister will give us an explanation of this. I refer also to the serving of liquor before tea or a meal is served on short runs, particularly between Canberra and Sydney. Probably T.A.A. is not so much concerned about this service, but Ansett-A.N.A., . because of the profit angle, makes a fetish of serving liquor to those who want it before other people are served with meals. Doubtless other honorable senators have noted, as I have, that hostesses go round to find out which passengers want a drink before they serve women and children, and even men who prefer a cup of tea or a meal’ during meal hours.
Like all other Australians, I am very proud of Australia’s aviation record. We all regret the tragedies that have occurred in recent months. Over the past 12 months I have referred on many occasions to ‘the shortage of pilots. Whenever this matter has been raised, the Minister for Civil Aviation of the day - a former Minister for Civil Aviation was a member of this chamber - has denied that a shortage exists. However, I note that the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) has made this statement in his report for 1965-66 -
Australia is faced with a shortage of pilots for its civil aviation industry. The shortage is .world wide. Continuing high growth rates in all branches of the civil aviation industry have produced a situation where training in Australia has been unable to meet all the demands of the industry for pilots. The position will be further aggravated from 1970 onwards when substantial numbers of pilots, who entered the industry immediately after World War II, reached retiring agc.
For 12 months I, with the Australian Federation of Air Pilots, have issued a warning about the position. You, Mr. Chairman, have heard replies that have been given to questions that have been asked about the matter. We all have heard and read about threats by pilots to strike. The latest threat was made three months ago. Such threats have been issued, not only by pilots and engineers but also by flight stewards and others associated with the industry. There is a lot of discontent. I do not know what advice the administrative staff of the Department of Civil Aviation is giving to the Minister, but unfortunately he does not seem to be taking very much notice of any advice he might be given or of the threats that have been made. As recently as 9th October the hostesses issued certain challenges. They threatened lo cause industrial turmoil not only on interstate flights but also on routes operated by
Australia’s international airline. I understand that the contract entered into by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots has been under review and that salaries have been discussed. The industrial conditions under which staff work and the flying times required of them are matters of very grave concern.
The shortage of pilots also is a matte of some concern. For quite a period I have made representations for more consider* lion to be given to instructors. The commercial airlines snap up instructors of quality. Unfortunately, the salary that these men receive is not sufficient to induce them to remain as instructors. Unless these men are in receipt of retiring pay as former members of the Air Force as a supplement to their salary, they will not continue as qualified instructors. Will the Minister for Civil Aviation consider setting up a study group comprised of interested sections of the aviation industry to consider this problem? The Federation believes that it would bc in a position to make a contribution to the work of such a committee. If a study group is set up, the Federation requests that consideration bc given to its being granted representation.
I ask these further questions: Does the Minister know that there is a shortage of full time permanent ab initio flight instructors employed by the various aero clubs in the training of pilots? Does he agree that the recent grant of additional Commonwealth flying scholarships will further aggravate the ratio of trainees to instructors? Has the Minister investigated the depletion in the ranks of flight instructors and the reason for the loss of instructors to airline companies? Is he conversant with the salaries that are paid to flight instructors? Has he considered the Government’s subsidising senior instructors’ salaries in order to keep these men in this very important work? Unless qualified instructors are available, we will continue to be short of pilots. Unless we have top quality men as instructors and unless those men are paid salaries which are commensurate with the salaries paid by commercial airlines, it will be impossible to train sufficient qualified pilots.
– I wish to make a few comments on the airline policy of the Government relating to domestic airlines.
– Order! To which item is the honorable senator referring?
– J am speaking to Division No. 135 - Administrative. This money is to be voted by the Committee to keep in operation, in effect, the airline policy of Australia that was introduced by the Government. On many occasions, the Senate has debated this matter. Now and again, the Australian Labour Party tries to create in the public mind a feeling that there is unfairness and that Trans-Australia Airlines is the airline doing all the developmental work or the non-paying work and that Ansett-A.N.A. is being favoured. The Australian Labour Party does this either because it will not establish the facts or because its vision is still blinded with doctrinaire politics, lt still believes what a well known spokesman of the Australian Labour Parly, the Deputy Leader of the Party in the Senate, Senator Kennelly, said in the Senate some time ago. His remarks appear in “ Hansard “ of 20th November 1957 in Volume II, page 1405. Senator Kennelly said -
Without equivocation, 1 say that I want a monopoly for the nation’s airline. 1 say to mv good friend the Minister for Civil Aviation, that I believe he knows, as 1 know, that within two years T.A.A. will have a monopoly.
That is the policy of the Australian Labour Party. I do not criticise the A.L.P. for trying to get its policy into operation.
– I rise to order. I ask you, Madam, how these remarks refer to Division .135? This is a policy speech on something that has happened before.
– Temporary Madam Chairman, might 1 speak to the point of order as you have only just taken the Chair? I point out that during the whole of the debate on these estimates - and I am not complaining about, this - most of the discussion has been on Division No. 135 - Administrative. Senator Marriott used this device just as other honorable senators who have preceded him have used the technique in relation to this Division.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I want to point out that in connection with our two airline policy, both airlines are doing the same kind of developmental work, lt is wrong for either of the airlines to say that both should share all the air routes in Australia today. Perhaps some of us speak from a State aspect and not the national aspect. It might surprise some honorable senators to know that there are 118 airports in Australia which handle only 2,000 passengers a year. Of these airports. Ansett-A.N.A. visits 91 and T.A.A. serves 40. This shows that private enterprise throughout the history of this nation under our civil aviation policy has carried out developmental work.
– Ansett is subsidised for it.
– I have proved my point. I have worried the Australian Labour Party as to this matter. I close this part of my talk on civil aviation by referring to the report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June 1966. I refer to page 215 on which are set out details of Commonwealth owned shares in companies. Keeping the report of the Auditor-General in mind, I refer also to the balance sheet of Trans-Australia Airlines as set out in the 21st Annual Report of the Australian National Airlines Commission. Looking at the investments portfolio we find that T.A.A. has shares in Bevan’s Travel Service Pty. Ltd. at par to the value of $11,008. That was the figure on 30th June 1965. It is quite contrary to Government policy to have shares in private companies. But my question regarding this matter is directed to the Minister because we find that in the report of the Auditor-General at page 215 the name of this company is raised. Under the heading “ Commonwealth Owned Shares in Companies “ we find the entry: “ Airlines - Australian National Airlines Commission - Bevan’s Travel Service Proprietary Limited, nominal value - $1 1,008 “. This is where the interest of the taxpayers ought to be explained because the cost of these shares was $68,086. I would like an explanation of this apparently unwise investment by the Australian National Airlines Commission.
– I have an awful feeling that we are going to get into a very vigorous general debate under Division .135 - Administrative. In fairness to Senator Fitzgerald, I think he is entitled to a comment on the question that he asked me in relation to salaries and payments in the nature of salary. The honorable senator sought information in relation to the increase that had taken place. All sorts of reasons exist for this increase. For the purposes of my reply I will abbreviate these reasons and I will not give the individual amounts. Involved in the gross increases are the following items: Recruitment of additional permanent staff, approved positions; recruitment of additional temporary staff, approved positions; additional cost for a full year of new staff recruited during 1965-66; additional costs of officers on loan from other departments; additional requirement for district allowances: annual increments; increased higher duty allowance payments; additional cost for a full year of increases arising from Public Service - Papua and New Guinea Ordinance 1963; the effect of Arbitrator’s Determination No. 104 of 1966 - variation to the salaries of adult Third Division permanent officers; the effect of Arbitrator’s Determination No. 75 of 1966, increasing the rates of payment of airport fire staffs;
– Answer the question I asked.
– Let me continue: There are increased extra duty payments resulting from the effects of Arbitrator’s Determinations 75 and 104 of 1965- 66, the installation programme at Tullamarine and the manning of the airport with operational staff in the latter half of 1966- 67; and, the last item, the basic wage increase, Public Service Board Circular 1966-28. All these increases amounted to $1,871,000.
– It sounds knowledgeable. What does it mean?
– What about the question that I. asked?
– It is for Senator Fitzgerald to take a decision as to what this adds up to. Senator Fitzgerald referred also to the subject of liquor on aircraft. I would say to the honorable senator that the airline operators are in competition. They provide services for those who travel with them. The airline operators provide liquor on aircraft because they believe that the patrons who travel with them like to have liquor on the aircraft.
– Passengers prefer their lunches.
Order! The Minister will be heard in silence.
– Thank you, Madam. 1 am grateful to you. 1 would think that this is a simple matter of the airlines meeting the needs of the public.
– Canberra to Sydney is a 40 minute run.
– Well, Senator Fitzgerald might prefer a cup of tea. Certainly Senator Kennelly would prefer a cup of tea. But there are those who like to precede their meal with a sherry or some other form of liquor refreshment. As a matter of logic, they should be able to get what they want.
asked a series of four questions. 1 must admit that I will have to extract them from “Hansard” and refer them to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz). The honorable senator, among other things, asked whether the Minister would set up a study group. Quite clearly 1 would not be competent to comment on this request; nor would 1 expect the officers of the Department to be able to do so. 1 will faithfully convey to the Minister his submissions and the other points that have been raised here tonight. Reference was made also by Senator Fitzgerald to the extension of the north south runway at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. I am able to tell him that work has proceeded and that approximately $9 million has been spent in bringing the project to its current state of development. I understand that the estimate of the total cost for the work of extending the runway is of the order of S12.2 million.
Senator Fitzgerald also raised the question of the shortage of pilots. 1 think that the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation sums up the position. It states that the shortage is due to wastage through retirement, medical grounds, and resignations for outside employment. The industry will need to recruit 1,500 pilots over the next five years. The report goes on to give particulars of flying scholarships that have been granted by the Commonwealth. In the last three years, over 150 scholarships have been granted by the Government for training licensed pilots to become instructors. I suggest that this is a form of recruitment and that it is one further step that is being taken by the Government.
– Are the airlines still short of their requirements?
– The report states quite clearly that it is expected there will be a shortage of pilots over the next five years. The Government is attempting to overcome this position by granting flying scholarships.
– Where is that to be found?
– The report sets it out. I commend it to honorable senators because I think it gives some idea of the nature of the work that is being done in this regard.
Senator Bishop referred to the congestion at the Adelaide airport terminal. I regret that I am not able to give the honorable senator any information on this point, beyond saying that the question finds its answer in the general statement that I made earlier that this project and many other projects are under review by the Department of Civil Aviation.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) [9.33J. - I desire to address my remarks to Division No. 144, item 05, Air Services - Subsidy, in which there has been an increase in appropriation from $1,200,000 in 1965-66 to $1,300,000 in 1966-67. Frankly, having listened to the arguments that have been developed from both sides of the chamber, I certainly believe that there is one way traffic so far as the profits of intrastate operators are concerned. Senator Bishop and Senator Cant emphasised the point that Trans-Australia Airlines in its annual report has complained that it operated into only 27 airports whilst its competitor operated into 56 airports. That matter concerns the interstate operators. I particularly wish to draw the Minister’s attention to the situation of intrastate operators. Although there has been a monopoly in the routes, an annual increase in recent years in air fares, increased freight charges and an increase in the subsidy, there has been a diminution of services in New South Wales. All these things indicate that there has been one way traffic, so far as the profits of intrastate operators are concerned.
Only last week 1 addressed a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) concerning air services to a number of country towns in New South Wales. The Minister will recall that I asked him whether the air services to Collarenebri, Goodooga, Coolah, Lake Cargellico and Temora had been discontinued because Fokker Friendship aircraft could not use the airports. The Minister replied that he had seen a report concerning this matter, and from his understanding of the report, the explanation given for the discontinuance by the airlines concerned was based on purely economic grounds. As I understood the Minister’s reply, there were insufficient people patronising these air services to warrant East-West Airlines Ltd. and Airlines of New South Wales Ltd. continuing them. If this is the Government’s attitude, I ask the Minister: What is the reason for the increased air services subsidy? Surely the people in the outlying areas are entitled to the services that they have enjoyed up until recent weeks.
To carry the story a little further, may I say that 1 have here a statement which the New South Wales Minister for Transport, Mr. Morris, made on this matter at Tamworth yesterday. He said that in areas where East-West Airlines had discontinued services it was still catering for air travelling by providing motor transport to the nearest airports. He also stated that air travellers at Lake Cargellico and Temora were now taken to Condobolin and West Wyalong and offered newly introduced Fokker Friendships instead of DC3 aircraft. Surely that bears out my statement that these services were discontinued because Fokker Friendship aircraft could not use the airports and that the airline company prepared to fly the Fokker Friendship aircraft to the airports of the neighbouring towns. The New South Wales Minister for Transport went on to say that the situation which applied to EastWest Airlines did not apply to Airlines of New South Wales. He said that Airlines of New South Wales had discontinued services to Collarenebri, Burren Junction and Coolah, but that it was operating a car service from Goodooga to connect with the Walgett air service.
If the intrastate airline which has a monopoly on the services I have mentioned does not want to operate into these towns, why should not its subsidy be reduced? But we find that the appropriation for the subsidy is to be increased from $1,200,000 last year to $1,300,000 this year. If the airline which has a monoply on these routes and which has received the benefit of increased air fares and increased freight charges does not want to operate into these areas, why not give the Government instrumentality, TransAustralia Airlines, an opportunity to say whether it wishes to take over the discontinued services? Senator Marriott was quite right in saying that we of the Labour movement genuinely believe - we think that we have presented sufficient evidence of this to the Government and to the Australian people - that there is unfairness and favouritism in the Government’s administration of its airline policy. The people in the outlying areas of my State, and I suppose the people in the outlying areas of the other States, are entitled to expect not only the return of the services that they enjoyed up until recent weeks, but also improved services, especially when we consider the increase in the subsidy. However, despite the fact that operating costs are being reduced year after year by the use of larger aircraft, and despite the fact that greater economies are being effected, these routes in New South Wales are being terminated. That is all I wish to say on that matter. On behalf of those who live in the outlying areas of New South Wales I protest strongly at the manner in which Airlines of New South Wales has been allowed to get away with the attitude it has adopted, lt certainly stands in a poor light and in contradistinction to the attitude adopted by the other independent operator in that State.
I wish now to direct a few remarks to that section of the Division No. 144 which relates to aviation research. I refer particularly to the noise factor which is becoming an ever increasing burden on the residents of the metropolitan area of Sydney. I live in the St. George district where planes fly over minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, day and night to land at Mascot. The planes flying overhead at times distort greatly the picture on the television screen and cause the windows and furniture in the home to rattle and shake. For those who live in the Bexley-Padstow area I suggest the position is almost intolerable. What research is being conducted into eliminating or reducing the noise associated with these new modern aircraft? What is the Department’s attitude in relation to the holding of aircraft in certain areas when the traffic load at Mascot is excessive? Until very recent times there has been a holding zone over the Padstow area, a closely settled district in the Sydney metropolitan area. Having regard to the noise factor - I emphasise this matter again - 1 cannot for the life of me understand why these aircraft have to be held over closely settled areas. I suggest, as I have suggested in previous debates on the Estimates, that the aircraft should be moved east over the sea and held over the sea pending an easing of the pressure on traffic at Mascot. I point out to the Minister that much more must be done than has been done to date in relation to noise.
The people in the St. George district of the Sydney metropolitan area are particularly concerned about the matter. The noise is so bad that it was difficult to hear oneself at the St. George Leagues Club when St. George was celebrating its great premiership victory over Balmain.
– What about the noise from the one armed bandits?
– We could not hear the noise of the one armed bandits because of the noise of the aircraft coming in. 1. refer now to Division No. 135 - Administrative and direct my remarks to the activities of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. in the field of advertising overseas, particularly on a broadcasting station in California - 1 think it is known as Station KBOL - which has been blacklisted by the American trade union movement. Despite the fact that none of the other airline operators patronises this particular broadcasting station Qantas, the Australian operated airline, is patronising it. The other station operating in competition with the station that has been blacklisted has a programme conducted by an association known as the Australian-American Association. For the life of me, I just cannot understand why an Australian owned company such as Qantas is not co-operative enough to undertake the sponsorship of a broadcasting programme conducted by the AustralianAmerican Association. I suggest that the matters I. have raised are matters of importance. I ask for specific replies from the Minister.
– I direct my remarks to that section of Division No. 144 which relates to aviation research. According to the estimates there is an allocation of $200,000 this year compared with expenditure last year of $176,000. I should be grateful if the Minister would give some idea of what is involved in this research, ls the subject of air safety being studied? I suppose in a country like Australia where our record of air safety is so good the situation may not be regarded with the degree of seriousness with which it should perhaps be regarded. Let me pay tribute, as I am sure others do, to those who guard our safety in the air. Long may they have authority to implement the necessary regulations so that the movement of aircraft, particularly those involved in the transportation of passengers, continues with the present high degree of safety. Long may they have the authority to ensure that the regulations are faithfully observed so that our record of safety will be maintained and the travelling public safeguarded. lt is proper to observe that we are on the eve of seeing within this country a greater number of aircraft with considerably increased passenger accommodation. This means that at any given time an increasing number of people will be aloft and flying in an area of movement which is fraught with some degree of danger over which wc may not have any control as we now understand it. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will be able to assure us that, in the year ahead a realistic approach will be made to this matter of air safety, particularly in the light of the new makes and styles of aircraft likely to be in use in Australia. In relation to this aspect I want to refer to an article which appeared in the “Bulletin” of 1st October in which one Andrew Wilson of London, writing in the “ Observer “ describes 1 966 as the year of the air crash. This article was written in fairly close proximity to the unfortunate event in Queensland. I do not go along with the description of 1966 as the year of the air crash. It is true that there have been in fact, a certain number of air crashes of a fairly major nature, but alongside this the increasing number of air passengers carried safely should also be observed.
I want to deal specifically with matters related to air safety as this article delineates them, with particular reference to aircraft construction and the style of sealing accommodation provided. I have in mind rearward facing seats. This was a matter of some public interest a few years ago and I imagine most honorable senators have had the opportunity at some stage to travel tn aircraft in which all or most of the seats were facing to the rear. I have had this opportunity myself and I see no objection from the point of view of comfort. Andrew Wilson stated in this article -
When an aircraft strikes the ground during landing or immediately after takeoff (operations during which two-thirds of present day accidents occur) another series of design factors come into question, affecting the ability of passengers to sun ive the two big killers - impact-shock and fire. For years it has been known, and elaborate tests by the American FAA have confirmed it. that hindreds of passengers die simply through breaking their necks. The safeguard against this is simple - aft-facing seats, which have long been adopted by iiic world’s safest airline RAF Transport Command. Yet the majority of commercial airlines still refuse to fit them. In support of their sl.ind they have invoked a catalogue of objections ranging from air-sickness to simple “ lack of passenger appeal “. But the truth is that aft-facing scats require a slight strengthening of the floor, which costs about £5 a seat and a minute flyingweight penalty. This the world’s airlines decline to accept. (Had it been otherwise the majority of the Manchester United football team might never have perished, for those in aft-facing seats in the February, 1958, Munich disaster were saved.)
I ask the Minister whether any research has been made along these lines in relation to Australian passenger aircraft? Is any research contemplated and if not will he take some action with a view to improving the very good safety factor of Australian airlines traffic?
The other matter I wanted to underline is the question of the Adelaide airport. Other honorable senators from South Australia have referred to this and all of us from time to time have made representations with emphasis on the pressure on accommodation at the airport. The Minister has already made an observation in reply to honorable senators’ statements. Further to his observation. I ask whether he will press the point, with the Minister for Civil Aviation and direct attention to the increasing difficulties at the Adelaide airport which have been accentuated by the addition of Boeing 727 flights into Adelaide on the Darwin run. This has led to greater pressure on the quite inadequate facilities at the airport.
These difficulties have occasioned some grievance in the public mind and the Minister for Civil Aviation has expressed sympathy with the claims of those who have sought improvements. He has indicated that plans are in hand and that there is a possibility of some temporary extension of the facilities. We would all be appreciative and more satisfied if an announcement were made soon of a definite plan to be implemented, not only for passenger accommodation but also for general amenities which are now to be expected in any major capital city air terminal. I would be glad if the Minister would press this point with his colleague and ask for an early announcement.
.- I refer to Division No. 135- Administrative and to salaries and allowances shown in the schedule at page 154. The final big group of employees stated in this part of the schedule shows that a number of new employees are to be appointed commencing with the chief health inspector and including communications officers. In that group, 357 additional employees are to be engaged in this financial year. In seeking officers to fill these positions, and particularly the position of communications officer, the Department of Civil Aviation has published in various newspapers throughout the Commonwealth a series of long and costly advertisements. The communications officers are to have particular qualifications. The advertisement is headed with a statement of the normal Public Service regulations which set out that generally the maximum age for appointment to the Public Service is 51 years but applications may be accepted from other persons over the age of 51 years for some specialist and technical positions. Then the advertisement sets out the qualifications for communications officer and states -
Applications are invited from male British subjects who are under 40 years of age.
Why is it necessary to state in a long advertisement that the maximum age for appointment is 51 years but applicants may be accepted from persons over 51 years for a position requiring a person under the age of 40 years? This came to my notice because an applicant with all the qualifications for communications officer, and who was 46 years of age. was interested in the preamble of the advertisement to the effect that a person could be over 51 years and could be given consideration. As he was 46 years old. he applied for the position and was told he was too old for the job.
The advertisement seems to convey false information to applicants and the cost is unnecessarily high. 1. ask the Minister why a man is too old at 46 to be employed by the Department of Civil Aviation as a communications officer? The person to whom 1 have referred had all the other necessary qualifications for the position. According to the advertisement, applicants for the position would get 10 weeks’ training by the Department of Civil Aviation, lt can be understood that the Department would not be anxious to engage a person requiring a long period of training unless it got some years service out of the individual. But this person had the necessary qualifications and would not require ten weeks training yet he has found that he is too old for the job at 46. According to the Public Service regulations a man may be employed up to 51 years normally and a person over 5 1 years can be eligible for special occupations. Why was this misleading advertisement inserted in the newspapers? Why is it stated that the Department wants communication officers under 40 years of age? Why is there any reference at all to 51 years? Why is a man too old at 46 to be a communications officer? Who decides the age at which an applicant can be accepted for employment as a communications officer? 1 turn now to Division No. 144 - Development of Civil Aviation and to the proposed vote of $401,000 for assistance for flying training. I refer to this matter because I have had a request from the Gliding Federation of Australia. 1 know that Senator Devitt has made some representations on this matter. The Federation has solicited the support of politicians in asking the Commonwealth for an increase in the assistance that it makes available to gliding schools at the present time. The Federation states -
Space-flight and missile achievements tend to overshadow the continuing national need for an adequate pool of citizens skilled in conventional aviation techniques. Yet this need is still vital; even in recent weeks my Federation has been officially approached by one of the Armed Services for help in finding urgently needed pilot candidates. lt has provided a brochure that sets out the activities of the gliding clubs and their contribution to the training of pilots. Under the item “ Assistance for flying training “, $350,000 was appropriated and expended last year. That would suggest that the allocation under this item is decided at the commencement of the year and that is the amount that is made available to the various clubs. This year the appropriation has been increased by $51,000. I would like to know whether that means that, the request made by the Gliding Federation of Australia is being granted. Evidently, some increased assistance is being made available at the present time.
I refer now to the subsidy for air services under Division No. 144. Much has been said about, this matter. It would appear from the appropriation and expenditure last year that the subsidy is decided at the commencement of the year and that is the amount that is expended. I am anxious to know what routes were subsidised to the extent of $1,200,000 last year. If, as could be inferred from Senator Cant’s contribution to this debate, that information is in a report of the Public Accounts Committee or the Annual Report of the Minister for Civil Aviation, which 1- have not yet studied closely, I would be satisfied if the Minister replied to that effect. I want to know who is receiving these subsidies. I particularly want to know who will receive the additional $100,000 that is to be made available this year.
– The figures are all listed on page 29 of the Report of the AuditorGeneral.
– I thank Senator Wright for that information. As I said, f have not studied these reports closely, the only other subject to which I wish to refer is the Aeronautical Research Laboratories. T wish to ask some questions about them, but I cannot find any reference to them in these estimates. If the Minister could inform me, before we go any further, whether the Laboratories are an activity of the Department of Civil Aviation, I would appreciate it.
– I refer to the subsidy for air services under Division No. 144, because I cannot see any other item to which I can relate the few remarks that I want to make. They relate to both of the major airlines. I do not know whether the Minister could do much about this matter; but this is my only opportunity to voice an opinion on it.I refer to food being served on modern aircraft. On Boeing 727 flights today, apart from the ones between Adelaide and Perth, conditions are quite chaotic because the hostesses have to serve food to up to 100 passengers.
– It is unnecessary.
– It is completely unnecessary. I do not know what costs are involved. I have looked over the AnsettA.N.A. kitchen in Melbourne. I have not looked over the Trans-Australia Airlines kitchen there. The Ansett-A.N.A. kitchen is much bigger than those that serve the colossal repatriation hospitals at Concord in Sydney and Heidelberg in Melbourne. I do not know what it costs to run that kitchen, to provide the food, to heat it, to cart it out to the aircraft, to load it aboard and to provide the storage space that has to be made available for it. Then, the five girls have to go like mad things on Boeing 727 flights, particularly on the high density flights between Sydney and Melbourne, Melbourne and Adelaide and Adelaide and Sydney, in order to serve up to 100 passengers.
I am sure that, if the serving of food were cut out and the saving were handed on to the travelling public in the form of a reduction in fares, we would achieve something that would be sensible. Senator Turnbull said - I agree with him - that in most cases passengers need not have meals on aircraft. On flights from Perth passengers have two major hot meals put in front of them in a matter of 2½ hours. This is quite silly. I cannot see how two airlines that are in competition with each other will stop this silly rat race. If one stops it, the other will capitalise on that. I do not know whether the Rationalisation Committee could suggest to the airlines that they try out, at least for a short time, not serving meals.I am sure that a substantial saving in cost, which could be handed on to the travelling public in the form of a reduction in fares, could result from the elimination of meals. A lot of inconvenience is caused to passengers as a result of the serving of meals. Out of consideration for the girls who have to serve the meals, the pilots keep the “fasten seat belts “ signs lit, and consequently the passengers remain strapped in. The girls just cannot serve the 100 passengers in the short period of time that is available to them on flights between the major capital cities.
I relate the other matter about which I want to speak to the same item, because I think it does come under the heading of “ subsidies “. The bigger the aircraft used in this country become, the further we have to walk between the terminal and the aircraft. This applies particularly in Adelaide and Sydney. We seem to be able to go front point A to point B more quickly once we are in the air. But when we are on the ground we have to go on a route march in Adelaide. That is all right in fine weather. Even in inclement weather, it is all right if umbrellas are available or if people do not mind walking in the rain. But many elderly people and young children travel on aircraft. I would like to know, if anyone can tell me, why we have to walk up to 400 or 500 yards in Adelaide when there is nothing between our aircraft and the terminal. Despite the fact that no other aircraft is there, our aircraft is parked 400 or 500 yards away from the terminal. The same applies in Sydney.
– That is the way of life in Adelaide.
– It may be. This docs not worry me particularly.It is quite a nice walk, if the weather is fine.
Senator Davidson referred to a matter on which I have held for a long while the same opinion as he holds. I refer to rear facing seating in aircraft.I could understand the airlines being reluctant to adopt this in the days when aircraft flew at 12,000 or 15,000 feet. In those days there was a certain at: traction in being able to look out the window and see something. But today when we fly in modern aircraft all we can see is cloud, because they fly at 33,000 or 35,000 feet. Nobody has yet put forward a logical explanation for not adopting this idea, apart from the slight increase in cost as a result of the need to strengthen the floor.
– A passenger can still look out of the window with rear facing seating.
– Yes. He sees what he has passed instead of what he is coming to. I would like to know, if the Minister or his advisers can tell me, whether there is a logical reason why this idea cannot be adopted, although it has been proved by the Air Transport Command that this is the safest way to seat passengers in an aircraft.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Customs and Excise) [10.9J. - I wish to allude to a few points. J do not promise to refer to all of the points that have been made in this debate. Senator Cavanagh referred to advertisements for positions and the experiences of certain people. He said that on the face of it their applications appeared to be within the framework of the advertisements but nevertheless they did not receive appointments. 1 think it would be natural for advertisements to cover a broad sweep. In other words, if it was possible for appointments to be made within certain age groups, 1 think that the advertisements would state the age groups for persons to be employed, lt would be improper for me to reflect upon any single instance, of a person who had sought a position in the Department and had not received an appointment. All I can say is that 1 shall direct the attention of the Department, to this matter and if I can obtain information which may be helpful to the honorable senator I certainly shall do so.
Senator Cavanagh also referred to subsidised services. By way of interjection, Senator Wright was very helpful and told him he could get the information from the Auditor-General’s report. Senator Cavanagh could also obtain the information from the annual report of the Minis’ter for Civil Aviation, at page 4. which has been tabled in this chamber.
– But why the estimates do not correspond is still a mystery.
– I thought 1 had dealt with that matter earlier. Senator McClelland built a case around the question of subsidy in relation to various air routes in New South Wales. His case primarily was based on the circumstance that there is a difference in the estimates. The burden of his argument was that there was an increase in the estimates while, on the face of it. there appeared to be certain instances in which the subsidy was not given. This matter has already been discussed by the Committee. The explanation is that an item which previously was to be found in the estimates for the Department of Territories accounted for the difference in the figures.
Points have been made in relation to the subject of research. Senator Davidson, Senator Branson and other honorable senators asked whether it had not been proved that there was a better way of arranging the seating in aircraft than the way at present adopted. Information is not available to me to enable me to comment on this matter with any degree of accuracy. This is a technical question which has been canvassed in the Department. It is a matter of public controversy, and all I can do is to refer to the Department the comments which have been made in good faith by honorable senators. Reference has been made to air safety. In regard to item 08 of Division No. 144 a considerable amount of detail has been made available to me concerning the way in which the proposed expenditure under this Division is made up. The information discloses that there is an increase of more than $23,000 in the proposed expenditure this year on aviation research. However, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to read all of the explanatory notes in this respect. Because I want to link this comment to a particular item of the estimates, I point out that in connection with the proposed expenditure of $ 1 36,000, the explanatory notes state that continuation of a general research programme being undertaken by the Aeronautical Research Laboratories on behalf of the Department, including a share of Sup- port of human engineering groups, is being provided for. The amount includes research into metal fatigue and aircaft structural problems.
I wish to make the general point that this work of research is going on constantly. Throughout the world there is an exchange of information so that if information about a certain aircraft, in one part of the world comes to light, it is readily available to all other civil aviation organisations. Information about the research that is being conducted is not restricted to our own Department of Civil Aviation or the airline operators. Aircraft of certain types are being used throughout the world. By means of research, information concerning them is gathered together and in that way the experience of the world in the field of aviation becomes of benefit to all airline operators. I say, therefore, that this figure cannot be looked at in isolation. It may be said that it does not seem very much to spend on research, but the matter is not as simple as that. During question lime in the Senate today I stated that certain aircraft had been flown back to the United States of America for modification following information which had been made available to us.
– ls the Minister personally satisfied with his explanations?
– My task is not to satisfy myself but to satisfy the Committee, particularly Senator Dittmer. There is an increase this year ‘n the propose. expenditure on aviation research. If I am pressed to do so I shall read out all the reasons that have been supplied for that increase, but I do not want to do that because 1 understand that other honorable senators wish to make comments in relation to the Department’s estimates.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia) 1 10.18]. - I wish to refer to Division No. 144 which, 1 think, is the only Division which has application to the comments I propose to make. I want to deal specifically with item ()->, “ Air services - Subsidy “. While public money is being spent in subsidising the major airlines throughout Australia, the public is entitled to the best service that is possible, but: at the present time, with the timetables of the two major airlines, particularly in the more distant States, 1 do not think that the public is receiving such service. Airliners depart within five minutes of each other on a flight of more than 2,000 miles, which is absolutely ridiculous. On some days the two major airlines operate flights from Perth to the eastern States within five minutes of each other, one leaving at a quarter past one and the other at twenty minutes past one. Then, there are no flights until the following day. That happens on Mondays and Tuesdays. On Wednesdays two flights leave within five minutes of each other, and another one leaves at len minutes to one the following morning. The same thing happens on Thursdays and Fridays. On Sundays two flights leave within five minutes of each other at midday and two leave within five minutes of each other after midnight. This is quite ridiculous.
– Did the honorable senator give evidence to that effect to the committee of inquiry?
– The information was sent to it. In the last few weeks there has been sudden cancellation of air services without any notification to the public. For instance, a few weeks ago the service on Monday night was re-introduced after we had raised the matter in this House, and without any warning whatsoever it was cancelled last Monday and last Tuesday. I went to the airline office to book on the Monday night aircraft and was told that it had been cancelled. Somebody else went along to book for Tuesday night’s aircraft and was told that that had been cancelled. I suggest that that is very poor service to the public. The people deserve better than that.
With regard to the night flights from Western Australia to the eastern States, which many people refer to as the midnight horror flights. I should like to see some of the highly placed officials in the departments having to travel at that time. The aircraft leaves Perth in the early hours of the morning, at about ten minutes to one, and arrives at Sydney at six o’clock. Eastern Standard Time. The passengers sit about there for a couple of hours by which time they could almost be home again. They spend almost as much time on the ground as in the air and nothing is gained by the extra speed at which the planes travel.
– I wish that we were able to fly by night to Tasmania.
– It is all right flying by night, whichever way you regard that expression, but it is rather awkward when you fly by night and arrive at Melbourne at six o’clock in the morning in the middle of winter, lt is then necessary to wait around there for a couple of hours. It is not a very comfortable terminal. It has very uncomfortable modern furniture. When the new terminal was built, the old comfortable furniture was sold and replaced by uncomfortable modern monstrosities. A couple of hours must be spent there waiting for a connecting plane. By the time a passenger reaches his destination, he has had it.
I was quite amazed a few weeks ago during a week’s recess that I spent in Canberra. A big jet aircraft flying between Adelaide and Sydney landed at Canberra to allow one passenger to alight. He happened to be quite an important person - Mr. Court, the Western Australian Minister for Industrial Development. I mentioned this incident in a question last week. I do nol think Mr. Court was on government business at the time. He came to address a body here on a Friday night. In order to allow him to keep his appointment, a big jet aircraft was diverted and allowed to land in Canberra. It is not a question of sour grapes on my part. All I am concerned about is that if it were safe to allow that big passenger aircraft to land at Canberra on that occasion, why is it not safe and permissible for those aircraft to land here on other occasions? The practice is for passengers to be carried from Adelaide to Sydney and then to travel to Canberra by a Viscount, or any other aircraft that is available. 1 do not think very much consideration is shown to passengers who fly the longest distances in Australia. After arrival in Sydney from Perth, Canberra bound passengers generally have to take the very worst scats on the aircraft travelling from Sydney to Canberra. They are just put in anywhere, instead of some consideration being shown to the passengers who have undertaken the longest flights. I think a little more consideration could be shown. It has happened to me not only on one occasion; it has happened many limes. Because the crew of the aircraft have not been responsible for that situation. 1 have not said very much about it at the time, although I really did stand on my dignity on one occasion when I thought I had been done an injustice with regard to seating arrangements on an aircraft. I would like to pay a tribute to the staff and crews of both airlines. They have always shown me the utmost courtesy and they are very dedicated to their work. However, I think the people who are in charge of the timetables do not have any consideration for the travelling public.
I was interested in Senator Branson’s remarks about catering arrangements. If Senator Branson believes that by cutting out meals on aircraft the airlines will reduce fares, he has another think coming. I can remember in the days long ago that we used to be given newspapers on the planes, and also barley sugar in the days before the cabins were pressurised. Those little amenities were cut out, but fares were not reduced. If Senator Branson thinks that by cutting out meals, fares may be reduced, I think he is off the track. When I first started flying to this Parliament from
Western Australia in the days of the DC3 aircraft, which is going back over 20 years, we were lucky to get here in two days, and recognised that fact. As better aircraft came into operation and the two airlines policy came into effect and it became possible to travel from Perth to Canberra in one day, that was regarded as quite a big improvement. However, nowadays on some days of the week one cannot travel from Perth to Canberra in one day. On those days the situation is as it was before 1946.
A passenger leaving Perth on the midday plane cannot get a connecting plane to Canberra on the same day. Moreover, people travelling from Perth who are not Government servants or members of Parliament who are having their fares paid by the Government, or businessmen whose fares are entered on expense accounts - the ordinary travelling public - must pay the fare on the mid-day plane from Perth to Sydney and then another fare from Sydney to Canberra, which adds considerably to the cost of the journey. I would like these matters to be taken into account, because an additional burden is imposed on the already high price of air travel. Air fares have risen out of recognition since the introduction of passenger schemes.
I repeat that 1 would like to pay a tribute to the staffs of the airlines, and a very special tribute to the Department of Civil Aviation for the safety measures it enforces, which have made our civil aviation programme one of the safest in the world. Nevertheless, there are many ways in which the comfort of passengers could be attended to more adequately, particularly for passengers who, like myself, have to travel on the long journey from Perth so often, and who have to spend more time on the ground than in the air on that journey.
Senator Branson referred to the facilities at the Adelaide air terminal for passengers passing through that city. First, there is a long walk from the aircraft to the air terminal. Secondly, the air terminal is always so overcrowded that it is difficult to make use of the facilities. On at least three or four occasions in recent weeks when I have passed through Adelaide, in addition to the passengers waiting in the terminal, there have been numbers of school children visiting the airport. It has been absolutely impossible to get anywhere near the toilet facilities and other facilities which are very limited at the Adelaide terminal. I think it would be worthwhile for the Department to inquire into these matters, if large parties of schoolchildren are to visit the Adelaide airport - and that is a policy with which 1 sincerely agree - I think their visits should be timed to avoid the periods when the terminal is overcrowded with passengers. Apart from the times of arrivals of passenger planes, the terminal is practically deserted.
I have seen the Adelaide terminal grow from a very small one to the one erected at Parafield and the present terminal at West Beach. Facilities have been improved since the days when one walked behind the counter to buy a pie. Good meals are now provided. In times past, I have gone behind the counter and helped the chap to serve pies and coffee, because not much time was allowed there. I thoroughly enjoyed it. In those days the trip to Perth was a long one. One left Canberra in the early morning and got to Perth at midnight. I think that the improvement in airport facilities should have kept pace with the improvements in aircraft.
.- In an era when we are blessed-
Hie CHAIRMAN (Senator DrakeBrockman). - To what item is the honorable senator referring?
– Civil Aviation, Mr. Chairman.
– That is a big item.
– I shall refer to it with a little more particularity than that which has been indulged in by my predecessors.
– Order! 1 asked the honorable senator to which item he is referring?
– I am referring to sub-division 1 of Division No. 135 - Administrative. I was about to say that in a day when we are blessed with an extraordinary safe air system of superlative efficiency, I do not intend to occupy the time of the Committee by grumbling about the distance I have to walk from the air terminal to an aircraft, or about the pies or coffee I get in the terminal. The men who were involved in the “ Voyager “-“ Melbourne “ collision should have been given air fares to go on leave. All members of the Services should be given air fares for that purpose. They would be more appreciative than apparently members of the Parliament are.
– That is not fair.
– Perhaps it is not fair, but it introduces a different tone into the debate. We have been sitting here for a long time, and it is time that we got. into another key. I rise on this occasion with a recollection of the debates of 1959 when we passed legislation, which vitally altered the basis of compensation for death through aircraft accidents. Since then we have had three major aircraft disasters in Australia. When we were debating that legislation I protested against the complete release of aircraft operators from liability for negligence, even though it could be proved. That legislation even absolved operators from liability for negligence of a criminal character. I remind honorable senators, not of any of the three fatal accidents to which I have referred, but in particular of an occasion when soon after an aircraft took off from Essendon it was found that one of its engines was about to fall off. The aircraft had to circle over Port Phillip Bay until the engine could be shaken off. But if the engine had fallen in Collins Street and had killed a company director who was in receipt of £10,000 a year, his widow would have received, if negligence were proven, compensation based on his economic capacity during life. But if a fellow director had been a passenger in the aircraft and had gone down into Port Phillip Bay during the operation, the compensation payable to his widow would have been limited to £7,500. That ought to be sufficient to show the injustice of, first, limiting compensation to £7,500 and, secondly, not making, that compensation supplementary to any common law right. The legislation in question did not make the compensation supplementary; it made it substitutional.
I have raised this matter because I am taking an interest in the operation of tha Act. I seek certain information from the Minister. I do not want to know the personal affairs of those who were unfortunate enough to have tragedy brought upon them by the accidents at Mackay, Sydney and
Winton, but 1 should like to know the compensation that was paid to, say, A, JB, C, D and E, This information would enable us to bring our judgment to bear on the remedies that are obtainable, lt will be remembered that in 1959 I suggested that if an estate accrued to the widow of a passenger involved in an aircraft accident probably the aircraft operator could treat that as a set off against the sum of £7,500 pro tanto I seek that information either now or within the next few days. 1 wish to acknowledge the thoughtfulness that was displayed in a question asked in the Senate today by Senator Hannaford about the same subject.
– I relate my remarks to Division No. 135 - Administrative. We are indebted to Senator Wright for raising the subject of compensation. 1 know that Senator Murphy has been equally concerned about the matter and had intended to raise it. Unfortunately, when anybody asks such a pertinent question he never gets an answer. I am not reflecting on the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), who is in charge of this section of the Estimates, but on the Government as a whole. 1 hope that at some time Senator Wright will propose a substantive motion designed to make it compulsory for adequate compensation to be paid to people who are involved in aircraft accidents.
Senator Marriott referred to the purchase by Trans-Australia Airlines of shares in Bevan’s Travel Service Pty. Ltd. He asked the Minister a direct question about the matter. I. do not know what the par value of the shares was, but from the figures given by the honorable senator it would seem that T.A.A. bought mem at five or six times the par value. Unless one knows what the par value was, one cannot say how much was paid for them. We would like to obtain that information from the Minister. So far he has failed to answer the question. I refer now to rear facing seats in aircraft. I understood the Minister to say that the Department had no fixed policy or no fixed ideas about rear facing seats. I am not quite sure what the Minister said, but he virtually brushed the matter aside. The value of rear facing seats is as indisputable as is the value of safety belts i:n cars. It is undeniable that rear facing seats
F..I2752- 66.- S.- [SI]
help to prevent deaths in aircraft accidents. It is of no use the Minister’s advisers saying that they do not know anything about the matter. They should know about it.
– Let me interrupt the honorable senator. He is putting words into my mouth and then basing an argument on them.
– Instead of interjecting now, the Minister should have interjected earlier when / asked whether I had understood him correctly.
– As a general rule, I do not interject.
– I. appreciate the Minister’s courtesy, but if he had interjected earlier he might have prevented me, if I was wrong, from attacking his officers for being undeniably stupid.
– Well, for being undeniably ignorant. If the Minister had interjected earlier and had said that 1 was wrong in my understanding, 1 would not have made that statement. It is known to everybody in the aeronautical medical service that rear facing seats are equivalent to safety belts in cars. Although at one time there was a demand for such seats, that demand seems to have died down and we are still killing people who are carried in aircraft because we are too lazy to insist on this method of preventing deaths.
I refer now to air fares to Canberra. Some two years ago I asked why tourist fares were not available to and from Canberra. The answer given was that everybody who travels on this route is on an expense account. That is not so. Canberra is a growing city. Many people who live in Canberra are not on expense accounts. The wives of civil servants who travel with their husbands when they are on duty have to pay full fare. The Fokker Friendship is a tourist class aircraft. It is quite wrong for the Government to allow operators to use tourist class aircraft and to charge first class fares on them. The seat space in a Fokker Friendship is no greater than that in the tourist section of any other aircraft.
– They are equivalent to a Melbourne tram.
– [ thought Melbourne trams were pretty good. I have only one further item that I wish to mention. It is the question of maintenance. The Department of Civil Aviation does a very good job in relation to the maintenance of aircraft, lt is rather unfortunate that one airline company should be having the accidents. As a matter of fact, this company has been having so many accidents lately that I discussed the question of whether 1 should transfer my custom to TransAustralia Airlines. My son said: “ Do not do that because the Government, with its two airline policy will insist that T.A.A. has the next accident.”
– That is rationalisation.
– Yes. This would be in accordance with the Government’s rationalisation policy. So, 1 think that I will stay with Ansett-A.N.A. But if I am going to have an accident, I would like to have it in comfort. This is the point that 1 wish to raise. Whilst the maintenance of aircraft in relation to safety procedures is apparently excellent or as good as it can be in spite of the fact that we do have accidents, it appears that nobody seems to worry about maintenance of the interior of aircraft. I have not yet travelled on an aircraft in which the centre arm rest of the seat has not fallen down just as 1 put my elbow on it to eat something, or in which my seat would not fail to come forward, or in which the seat has not fallen back so that I have had to recline in it to the annoyance of the people behind me. The air hostess has hurried to me and said: “ You must raise your seat.” I have replied: “ I have been trying to raise my seat.” Apparently nobody worries about the maintenance of the interior of aircraft. We are always concerned with safety maintenance and nobody worries about comfort maintenance. This applies to aircraft of both airlines. It has happened to me on T.A.A. as well as on Ansett-A.N.A.
So, 1 have raised the following points: The first concerned the shares held in Bevan’s Travel Service Pty. Ltd. I would be open to be corrected regarding rear facing seats. I would like to know why tourists fares are not available on services to and from Canberra. Finally I ask why no maintenance check is carried out on the interior of aircraft.
– 1 relate my remarks to Division No. 135 - Administrative. 1 wish to refer to the same matter that was raised by Senator Wright. This is the limitation on the recovery of damages by persons who have been injured as a result of an aircraft accident. This applies to a person who has been physically injured or the dependants of a person in an airline accident. The limitation on the moneys that are recoverable is §15,000.
– Does not the honorable senator mean the relatives of the people who have been involved in aircraft accidents?
– A person involved in an accident may be injured only. If he is killed, his dependants have the right of action. So far as death is concerned, it is well known to those conversant wilh these matters that in an ordinary case concerning general damages the award to a widow, especially one with children, would generally be in excess of §15,000, and often very much in excess of that amount. Indeed, one might well say that it would be an extremely rare case for a widow with children to have her claim adjudged at less than $15,000. This means that those who suffer as dependants by reason of the death of a relative in an aircraft accident such as the one we had this year will not be properly compensated. They will suffer because of this arbitrary limit.
We are in control of our own affairs in this country. We can do away with this arbitrary and unjust limitation. I would press the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) that under the administrative functions that are vested in the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) action be taken respecting the examination and analysis of costs, revenue, other financial aspects of air transport and other forms of civil aviation and that statistics be prepared relating thereto. A statistical investigation should be set up to ascertain what it would cost this industry if the limitation of $15,000 were to be removed. In other words, it might be ascertained how much extra would have to be put onto air fares in order to enable persons who suffer by reason of aircraft accidents to recover the full damages suffered by them.
In view of the great freedom from aircraft accidents that we have enjoyed in which our airlines and the Department of Civil Aviation take pride, one might conceive that the amount involved would be very small indeed. It may be a matter of only cents added to each air fare. It may not be even that much in order to remove this unjust limitation. Why should we who enjoy this extremely good safety record have this injustice fall on the few who happen to suffer when there is an aircraft crash such as we have had this year?
– I am not interpolating this question to upset the honorable senator’s train of thought, but what about the American system under which a passenger buys his own insurance when he buys his airline ticket?
– That is not the way in which we ought to proceed. One ought not to have to make insurance arrangements every time one travels on an aircraft. We treat aircraft travel in our community as a normal and regular means of transport, lt is not like going off to Mars where a person has to make special arrangements and draw up his will. There ought to bc arrangements that will cover a person, if it were not for the provision which exists under the Air Navigation Act. a passenger or his relatives would be able to sue in the case of negligence.
What is happening here is that a widow or relatives are deprived of the right to sue an airline for any negligence. This matter was discussed during the course of the debate on the Air Navigation Bill. I do not want: to deal with the matter in detail. But I fully endorse the argument that was put by Senator Wright and also by Senator Turnbull. I would ask that such an actuarial or statistical inquiry be instituted so that we may see how much or how little it would cost for us to do full justice to the persons involved in aircraft accidents.
– Senator Wright. Senator Murphy and, to a certain extent, Senator Turnbull dealt with the question of compensation. Senator Wright particularly linked his remarks to the Air Navigation Act and the discussions that took place at the time that the bill in relation to that Act was being dealt with in this place. He then asked for some infor mation. This information is not available to me here, as Senator Wright would appreciate. I am sure that Senator Murphy will appreciate this fact also. But because of the nature of the questions and the specific inquiry, I most certainly will do whatever I can to get the information available to the honorable senator. Senator Murphy then carried the argument of Senator Wright further. He suggested that some organisation should be set up to consider this matter.
– No. 1 just asked for an inquiry.
– This is clearly a proposal for the Minister to consider in relation to his own portfolio. My task is faithfully to convey it to him. 1 think Senator Turnbull related his remarks to a comment made by Senator Marriott. He referred to shares that were held by Trans.Australia Airlines in Bevan’s Travel Service Pty. Ltd. I am sorry that I failed to take up some comment in the multitude of matters raised under the heading of Administrative this evening. If honorable senators look at the report of the AuditorGeneral they will find that the cost to T.A.A. of the shares in Bevan’s Travel Service Pty.- Ltd. was $68,086. The shares are shown to have a nominal value of $1 1,008. 1 wish to make one general observation about this matter. The purchase of shares at a value above par is not an unusual business practice. I think we all recognise that fact. The value of this company to T.A.A. in providing an efficient travel service to the public was considered by that airline to justify purchase above par value. 1 cannot tell honorable senators at what price the shares are quoted, lt is my understanding that this is a private company and it would not be listed in the normal way. I can only give the information that the price paid for these shares was $68,086. The nominal value, as shown in the Report of the Auditor-General and in the Twenty-first Annual Report of the Australian National Airlines Commission operating as TransAustralia Airlines, is SI 1,008.
– Has the Minister any information as to what Bevan’s Travel Service Pty. Ltd. is?
– No, only that it is a travel service which provides facilities for T.A.A. in the conduct of its business.
As I said by way of interjection, Senator Turnbull was putting words into my mouth and then building an argument around them. The reversing of seats in aircraft is of course a safety matter and as such is within the province of the Department. I understand that despite the categorical views expressed by Senator Turnbull, this question of seating is still a debatable matter and that studies on it are continuing. Senator Davidson made out a strong case for rearward facing seats and quoted certain authorities. So far as the Department and the airline operators are concerned, the question still has to be determined. It is not as clear cut as Senator Turnbull would have us believe.
– What about the internal arrangements? Senator Turnbull referred to seats that will not adjust properly.
– These are matters of detail which we all live with from time to time. Questions have been asked tonight as to whether tea or beer should be served on aircraft, and whether passengers should have two meals within a certain number of hours. I think, Mr. Chairman, that you have been very generous in allowing this debate to continue as it has, but in view of the work load that confronts us, I would like the Committee to conclude its discussion on these estimates as soon as possible.
– Realising the programme that we have in front of us, I shall be quite brief in my remarks. I want to take the opportunity to raise several matters and I hope that I will get replies to them. We can raise these matters by asking questions and sometimes in correspondence, but we do not get very far with them. I refer to Division No. 140 and to the item which deals with the maintenance and operation of aerodromes. I note that the appropriation for this year is approximately $1 million more than the expenditure last year. I would like advice from the Minister and his advisers on a couple of questions. The first relates to the Nyngan airport. The Town Clerk of Nyngan spoke to me about this matter today. Nyngan is in the electorate of Darling, and as the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) is absent abroad, I am looking after his responsi bilities. The Town Clerk is very concerned about the fact that Nyngan, which has a population of about 5,000, has no night flying facilities. Airlines of New South Wales Ltd. operates a service to the Nyngan airport. Some weeks ago, because of bad weather and because the pilot of an aircraft had to rely on visual landing, he could not land at the airport and diverted to Dubbo, which is 100 miles away. People who were waiting at Nyngan to board the aircraft could not do so.
I am led to believe that the installation of a beacon for night flying operations would not involve a great deal of expense. As there is an increase of approximately $1 million in the appropriation for the maintenance and operation of aerodromes this year compared with that of last year, could the Minister advise me whether the provision of night flying facilities at Nyngan is included in the work covered by the additional expenditure. I feel that you would agree, Mr. Chairman, that it is a disgrace to think that, at this period of time we have a situation such as that which I have described. I hope that the Government and the Department will do something about the matter now and not wait until a tragedy occurs.
The other matter that I wish to raise relates to a. letter that I wrote to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) approximately six or eight weeks ago. The Minister in his reply said -
I refer to your letter of 15th August concerning the salaries and conditions of ground staff employed by my Department at Broken Hill.
Further on he stated -
I should also mention that following representations by the ground staff at Broken Hit! to the Regional Director in Adelaide the industrial Officer visited Broken Hill in May this year and made a thorough examination of the situation. As a result of his report, the Department recommended to the Public Service Board an upward variation in the rate of disability allowance which now stands at $280 per annum. It is understood that the decision of the Board in this matter will be issued within the next few days.
I have been advised by the Barrier Industrial Council, which originally raised this matter with the Department, that it has been receiving reports from the ground staff at Broken Hill for the past 12 months. As this matter has been pending for a long period, I ask the Minister and his advisers whether it has been finalised.
.- Mr. Chairman, bearing in mind your adumbrations in relation to senators strictly adhering to the details of the estimates under discussion, I, too, refer to Division No. 135 - Administrative. As I have been listening on and off to this debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, my mind has been turning back to those intrepid men who first ventured, not on flying machines but on trains. In those days the daring traveller could board a train at London and speed along, say, the Great Western railroad at 15 miles per hour with smoke and smut blowing into his eyes and nostrils. Back in his pub in London he could tell his friends what a great adventure he had undergone. I have lived long enough to venture from train travel to air travel. I am one who travels on the flying machines-
– The magnificent men.
– J am one of them. I cast aside my bodily succour and my hope of immortality when I ventured from train travel to air travel 30 years- ago. lt seems to me that those who provide travel facilities go through an organic process. The airlines began by pandering to the passengers and praising them for travelling. Then they took the next step of according travellers all sorts of privileges. Very good food was served on aircraft, just as very good food was served in the railway dining cars. In Victoria, for instance, 1890-style pies were served at the Ballarat railway station until 1950 when the practice was abandoned because the travellers had abandoned the pies. This is the process through which air travel is going at the present time. First the airlines praised everyone for getting on to aircraft. Then they reached the stage of giving passengers good food to succour them. Now the air traveller is treated with exactly the same contempt as the train passenger was treated in about 1920. I agree with Senator Turnbull’s statement that they are pandering to the apprehensions of air travellers by going through the process of seeing whether these turbo jet things which go round and round will continue to go round and round, but inside the aircraft they are reaching the contemptuous stage that the railways reached in relation to people inside the cell. I think it is fair to state that the standard inside Australian aircraft illustrates the contemptuous altitude which once was adopted by proprietors of the railways, whether the railways were State or privately owned.
We have now reached the stage, as Senator Turnbull said rightly, where there is no acknowledgment inside the aircraft cabin of a passenger’s requirements. When the sign goes on - “ No smoking. Fasten seat belt “ - the hostess comes along and says: “ Sir, would you put your seat in the upright position?” But you cannot get the thing into the upright position because it is worn out. The seats are getting like the seats on the Victorian and New South Wales railways. The leather is cracked and the seats generally need re-upholstering. 1 think we are getting to the stage where the air traveller in Australia is regarded as so much luggage that must be transported from A to B with the least consideration. We may be getting to the stage that has been reached in the United States where you have to fight your way on to an aircraft without first getting a ticket. All you have to do on United States airlines operating the shuttle service between Washington and New York is fight your way into a queue and get on to the aircraft.
– A traveller gets a seat with a ticket.
– He docs not.
– Then how does one board the aircraft?
– You fight your way on to the aircraft. Not being accustomed to the American method I found myself up against a bulkhead instead of in the tail where, I understand from those experienced in aircraft travel, one has a reasonable chance of getting out whole. In fact, it is a test of character whether the plane becomes airborne because in America they never seem to bother about running up the engines first. They just charge up the airstrip and take off and two women come along with a cash register on four wheels and take $18 from you. If you are wise, you go to the slot machine, put in $1 at one end and get a $4- million insurance policy out the other.
This is the stage to which the two airline policy in Australia is remorselessly driving us. No-one cares two shots of gin about the passengers. Internal arrangements are bad. Seals will not go into the upright position, which I understand gives one some chance of survival if the thing will not work. Under the heading of “ Administration “ to which you,- Mr. Chairman, have so pertinently directed the attention of the Committee from time to time, I should like the Minister to explain the reason for the deterioration which is becoming apparent in both the Government and the private enterprise airline. Do the airline operators have any interest in the passengers who patronise them, or do they regard the passengers in the same contemptuous way with which the operators of railway services once regarded train travellers?
I must confess that according to the actuarial statistics I have worked out it is much safer to travel by air than to face the dangers on the roads. When I was young one could travel by road and be reasonably sure of arriving at the other end wilh a reasonable degree of comfort and safety, but we are now reaching the stage where, because of the lack of internal maintenance of aircraft, one must question whether it is comfortable or safe to travel inside the capsule. I admit that I have done a bit of whingeing but the interest which honorable senators have displayed in the estimates for the Department, of Civil Aviation is indicative of the fact that they have within themselves the same secret apprehensions that I have in relation to air travel. I should be grateful if Senator Anderson, the Minister responsible for this section of the Estimates, would explain in words of at least two syllables what is happening so that our apprehensions may be mollified and our hopes of reasonable comfort in the future may be sustained.
– I do not think I can allow Senator Cormack’s remarks to go unchallenged although I am not unappreciative of the climate in which some of them were made. I agree with Senator Wright’s comment earlier that there seemed to be a tendency to think up all the little experiences one has had when things perhaps did not go right and magnify them. It is true that there are occasions when the standard may fall short of what one expects but we should look at the other side of the picture. With the modern aircraft now coming into service on both airlines we are enjoying a high degree of comfort and speedy travel. I would prefer to finish this debate on that note rather than on the note of woe we have heard tonight.
asked me to explain in words of two syllables the reasons for his complaints. I do not think Houdini could do that because the honorable senator ran the full list of all complaints, and I think one needs to regard them with a degree of tolerance. We must bear in mind that an aircraft is a very expensive machine which has to be used constantly to be economical. We cannot buy an aircraft and put it out of service. That is the difference between an aircraft and a train. A train can be backed into a siding and left there for half a day or a week but, because of the huge capital cost involved, aircraft must be run constantly on an economical timetable. If, in those circumstances, it occasionally happens that Senator Cormack or any other honorable senator has an arm rest which does not suit his arm, that is no justification for an attack on the service the Department of Civil Aviation provides in Australia. I finish on that note. We have a very good air service, and I do not make any distinction between the operators. We should be proud of them.
.- I refer to Division No. 135 - Administrative. I was delighted to hear the Minister for Customs and Excise speak about our wonderful airline system. That is all very well if one travels in V.I.P aircraft upon which we have spent $12 million. But let us be practical. I am one of those ordinary persons who travel on aircraft and I have experience of one matter to which the Minister’s attention should be drawn. The flight from Canberra to Melbourne takes 80 minutes and for more than 40 minutes drinks are served. That is all very well if one has an unquenchable thirst but it is not very satisfactory to those who have a seat at the rear of the plane. At 7.22 p.m. a meal is served starting at the first seat. At 7.35 passengers get the signal to fasten seat belts. There is exactly 13 minutes for the 30 or 40 passengers to get a meal. Drinks are served until 7.08 and the wheels go down at 7.40 and the aircraft lands at 7.42.
Perhaps Senator Wood is on good terms with the airline companies and gets a good seat but sometimes the seats need some attention. In view of the fares charged to the public, they have grounds for complaint. My fare is paid by the Government and I am prepared to put up with inconvenience but it is not fair to the travelling public, both with Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. when the serving of drinks takes precedence. There is a difference between having drinks served on an aircraft and having most of the time occupied in t hat way to the detriment of those who want meals. The limited time allowed for the serving of meals is not fair to the hostesses. I believe that meals should be served and we should dispense with liquor or we should cut out the meal altogether. In my opinion it would be better to cut out the liquor and serve the meal.
Senator BRANSON (Western Australia) [II. 15). - I refer to Division No. 140 - Air Routes and Facilities. It is not often that I disagree with my colleagues, Senator Cormack and Senator Ma’li:er. but I believe Senator Mattner was most unfair in quoting one example of the service given on an aircraft. The honorable senator has been a member of the Senate for a long lime and has been travelling from Adelaide to Canberra for many years. He has quoted only one example to justify his case. The internal domestic airlines of Australia, both Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines, will stand up to any domestic internal airline in the world. Honorable senators may get their complaints off their chests if they wish but I would be failing in my duty as a senator if I did nol defend T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. when Senator Cormack, rather facetiously put the airlines on a basis comparable with a pie on a railway station.
Half the problems of airline operators have arisen because public opinion, supported by members of both Houses of the Parliament, has forced on the operators re-equipment programmes that they should not have had to undertake. They have had to change from perfectly good serviceable aircraft to cope with the demands we have made upon them. We have moved too quickly into modern aircraft when we had perfectly good and serviceable aircraft that could have been operating still. I believe both my colleagues have been a little unfair in their criticism of the domestic airlines of Australia which arc doing a mighty job.
– I owe it to Senator Fitzgerald to give an answer to a question he asked about facilities at Nyngan, particularly as the honorable senator is acting or an honorable member in another place who is absent. The honorable senator asked about night flying aids at Nyngan. Nyngan is a small traffic centre and must compete with larger centres which also do not have night flying facilities. The Department must also have regard to the airline operators’ ability and willingness to operate night services at specific centres. The safety problem does not arise as alternate airports must be nominated for each flight and the alternate airport must be adequacy equipped.
– That is not much comfort.
– It might not be much comfort but these are the facts and this is the explanation available to the honorable senator. I have not the other information in relation to Broken Hill but I shall see that it is requested from the Department.’
Senator MATTNER (South Australia) 1 1 1.20]. - I mentioned this matter because it is not an isolated case. I travel frequently on this night
– Order! To what item is the honorable senator speaking?
– I am speaking to Division No. 135. This is the first time that I have ever made a complaint. I will justify doing so. I made a note of the figures. This happens continually on that flight. 1 refute the assertion made by Senator Branson. 1 believe that I am as fair as even he is. I do not think anyone would ever accuse me of being unfair. Senator Branson has travelled on that flight, I will defy him to produce any evidence that would contradict what I have said here tonight. This is not an isolated case. I challenge him or any other honorable senator to say that I have ever made a complaint previously.
– This is the first lime I have heard the honorable senator complain.
– That, is right. Senator Branson is not the Almighty. He is not among the angels. Let him come down to earth and travel among the ordinary people. I bring to the Minister’s notice the fact that this is not an isolated case. I raised it only because I believe that it is time the matter was looked into. It might be trivial to some honorable senators; but, trivial as it may be to them, it is rather important to the travelling public.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, $49,500,000.
Proposed provision, $25,671,000.
Proposed expenditure, $15,682,000.
Proposed provision, $10,000,000.
– I wish to make a number of references to these estimates. Unfortunately, they will have to be quick references because of the time factor.It is unfortunate that the major subject about which I want to speak - the establishment of an Australian overseas shipping line - should be dealt with at this hour of the night.In the debate on the previous estimates to come before the Committee, it was obvious that honorable senators lost sight of the real issue, namely, discrimination against TransAustralia Airlines, because some frivolous matters were raised.
The point that I want to raise in particular is the need for a very clear statement by the Government on its intentions in relation to an Australian overseas shipping service. It is well known and recognised by outside people and the Government that the cost of shipping freight charges - mostly occasioned by the conference lines - imposes a great burden on the Australian economy. Some of the figures that have been quoted are worth repeating. For instance, figures given by the Department of Trade and Industry show that in a period of 1 1 years up to 30th June 1 965 shipping freights cost the Australian community $2,304 million. The current estimate for these charges on Australian exporters is between $600 million and $860 million per annum.
We know that in recent years the Government has been prepared to recognise the need for consideration of this matter. I refer very briefly to the policy of the
Labour Party. We have said for many years - in fact, since the inception of the Australian National Line - that there should be an Australian National Line and that it should operate in overseas trade. I refer now to the 10th Annual Report of the Australian National Line. At page 5 the Chairman of the Line said -
The Australian National Line has kept in close touch with the course of these events-
He was referring to the present campaign for containerisation and more efficiency in cargo handling-
This is the important passage -
The practicability of Australian ship? engaging on a regular basis in the shipment of bulk cargo overseas also has been ventilated widely. The construction of larger, semi-automated bulk carriers and a tendency in other maritime nations towards rising costs, has lessened the impact of this country’s relatively high wage structure on voyage costs . . .
Both developments continue to receive the attention of the Commission, and in aneffort to remove one of the advantages foreign shipowners enjoy in the way of liberal tax benefits, representations have been made to the Commissioner of Taxation for allowance of a greater rate of depreciation for ships . . .
Other references have been made to the need for the Government to instruct the Australian National Line or to advise a combination of shipping organisations to carry overseas cargoes and thus reduce the great burden on the Australian community. It has been stated before - this is not unknown - that in other countries fairly general standards of subsidy apply. The United Stales of America pays subsidies on essential overseas trade and has reservations to United States flag ships of 50 per cent, of government sponsored cargo. Japan pays operating subsidies. Italy pays operating subsidies on government controlled lines. The same applies in West Germany and France. Representations have been made regularly. Frequently the maritime unions and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have joined in making representations. But in recent months the Victorian Employers Federation has made a point of expressing its recognition of the need to set up an Australian overseas fleet. I quote the following from a report of its comments in the “Financial Review” of 10th October 1966-
Changes in world shipping coupled with Australia’s mounting freight bill spotlighted the urgent need for Australia to organise its own overseas shipping line, the Victorian Employers Federation claimed at the weekend.
Although excellent progress was being madein other directions, Australia was losing export markets in a variety of areas purely on the grounds of freight costs, the federation said.
Yet public statements from senior Government Ministers offer little hope for optimism that Australia is going to establish its own overseas line, the Federation said.
It concurred with the statements of the Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, that a crisis in shipping was fast approaching and that unless something was done the trading opportunities on which so much of Australia’s prosperity was based would be severely restricted.
The New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures has expressed a similar idea in resolutions carried at its conferences. The Australian Dried Fruits Board has made a point of the great burden imposed by rising costs. Chrysler Australia Ltd., General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. and the Australian Apple and Pear Board have done the same thing. The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council has drawn attention to this matter. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has also complained about it.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate,I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– Chrysler Australia Ltd., which is a very important company in South Australia, stated recently, in referring to the great burden of freight charges, that the cost of shipping a Valiant motor car from Australia to Britain in a Conference lines vessel is over 30 per cent, more than the cost of shipping a Humber motor car from Britain to Australia in the same vessel. The company stated that freight is the biggest single factor in vehicle exports.
That is the general background of the position in regard to freights. In 1963 and 1964, when the Opposition in this chamber and in the other place moved resolutions on this question, we stated in our proposals that the Estimates should be reduced by £1 -
As an instruction to the Government . . . to permit the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to establish, maintain and operate shipping services between the Commonwealth and other countries and between New Guinea and other countries; to make full use of Australia’s shipyards in building ships for her overseas, island and Tasman trade and her scientific and trade missions.
The Government took an abstract view of these issues and suggested that the Labour Party ought to be able to produce relevant figures relating to costs. In recent years, because of mounting criticism, supporters of the Government have come to recognise that there is a need for an Australian owned overseas fleet. We have heard Government senators in this chamber speak in support of that proposal.
In view of the late hour I shall leave my main submissions on the basis that the Government ought to be able to say at this stage what it intends to do in this respect. There are references in “Hansard” which indicate that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) have recognised the need for such a shipping line. They said that the Government was examining the matter. It is proposed that there should be a combination of Japanese and Australian owners in a joint coastal and overseas organisation. It seems to me that there is a possibility of allowing the Australian National Line to embark on this important trade, as it has requested. As I have mentioned, it can be argued that the initial excursion into this field might produce substantial charges upon the Government by way of subsidies, but of course other nations are providing such subsidies. We should be the first in the field in view of the great burden of freight costs which is imposed on the whole community.
In relation to the Commonwealth Railways, I wish to refer quickly to a situation which I have been raising since 1963. On previous occasions I have referred to the lack of information concerning the future of the Silverton Tramway Company and the need for the Commonwealth and the States to decide the future of the railway operations between Cobar and Broken Hill. The latest reply, which I received fairly recently from the Minister for Shipping and
Transport and which was dated 11th October, stated -
Discussions are proceeding between the three Governments concerned and it is hoped to resolve the outstanding issues in the near future.
In 1963, Sir Robert Menzies, who was then Prime Minister, decided that the Commonwealth would undertake the standardisation of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill line. Since that time, although repeated questions have been asked in this chamber and in another place, many of them by me, there has been no definite information concerning the future of the Silverton Tramway Company. This ought to be made clear. The matter originated in recommendations contained in reports by the Government and Labour Party committees which dealt with the question of standardisation. 1 should like the Minister to remind the Minister for Shipping and Transport of the urgent need to settle this question once and for all. At the present time there is uncertainty, because the standardisation of the line will bc completed at the end of 1968.
I would like the Minister for Shipping and Transport to look again at the question of the calling of tenders from Australian and overseas manufacturers for the supply of 59 new passenger cars for the standardised railway. 1 have raised this matter in the Senate previously and I understand that tenders have now closed. My complaint is that these cars should be supplied by Australian manufacturers or Australian railway workshops. 1 also wish to refer to the need for a new Commonwealth Railways workshop. This is another matter which I have mentioned on previous occasions. In the report of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner there is reference to the supply of rolling stock, passenger cars and prime movers as well as diesel and other locomotives. The situation is developing quickly where there will be a completely standardised link from east to west, but we will not have a Commonwealth Railways workshop which is able to produce the kind of rolling stock, prime movers and engines of sufficient power to meet the needs of the standardised railways. The report of the Commissioner for 1964-65, which followed an interim report, referred to extensions to the main workshops building at Port Augusta which is able to deal only with maintenance. At the present time, much of the work is being done either by private companies such as Commonwealth Engineering N.S.W. Pty. Ltd. or the Islington workshops. If honorable senators have time to read the report they will be able to see for themselves the extent of the contract work which has been let out to private enterprise organisations. This indicates that there is an urgent need for a suitable workshop which is able to produce rolling stock. Perhaps some of the rolling stock could be supplied by other railway workshops, but certainly the new workshop should be equipped to meet the main requirements of the modernised railway system. The only argument which has been raised against this proposal is that there has always been a lack of skilled labour in the Port Augusta area. I suggest, however, that if the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner decided, with the consent of the Minister, that a new workshop should be built, the skilled labour requirements would be met. In view of the time, I shall leave my submissions on that basis.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) [II.38J. - I rise to refer to the division of the Estimates relating to the Commonwealth Railways. I want to make a plea to those who are in charge of the Commonwealth Railways and to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) to realise that Melbourne is a capital city, that Canberra also is a capital city, and that they are entitled every night of the week to a satisfactory overnight rail service. When I became’ a member of the Senate in 1956 it was possible for me to get a sleeping berth and to travel in it right to Canberra. Ten years later, in 1966, the rail service is worse than it was then, although Canberra is the capital of Australia. In 1956 I could get a sleeping car at Melbourne on a Monday night, the night before Parliament met. to bring me right to Canberra. In 1966 I am deposited on the platform at Goulburn at 5.30 in the morning - and 5.30 in the morning in the wintertime at Goulburn is no joke. Then I am asked to enter a dirty, decrepit and unheated carriage. In that carriage I must travel to the capital of Australia. I have travelled on Victorian branch lines and, wherever they are, at least in winter a heated carriage is provided. The Commonwealth Railways is unable lo provide on the nights when persons are most likely to want to come to this Parliament, any other service than that which would be laughed at in the worst hillbilly State of the southern United States of America. 1 understand that in a couple of weeks a new railway station is to be opened at Canberra. 1. express the hope that on that occasion the authorities will parade the carriage in which they ask people for half of the week to ride into Canberra, if they travel overnight from Melbourne. It is grimy, decrepit and unfit to be used on a branch line in an American hillbilly State. What is wrong with the Commonwealth Railways that in 1966 it is unable to provide for half of the week a service as good as was provided in 1956? It may be said that the Victorian Railways, the New South Wales Railways and the Commonwealth Railways are all in it. I wrote earlier this year to each of them and asked why it is that in these days of the Commonwealth, of which we say we are proud, a service is provided for three nights of the week which would be laughed at in any other part of the world.
It interests me that on the nights that members of this Parliament might be expected to use the service - on Monday night from Melbourne, and to go home on Thursday night from Canberra - the running of sleeper equipped carriages is carefully avoided. On the night that would suit members of Parliament travelling from Melbourne to Canberra the sleeper service is not provided, and the same is true of the night that would suit members of Parliament returning from Canberra to Melbourne. We often hear of the influence exerted on the Government by airways leaders. If the airways leaders had been asked to choose the nights on which sleepers would be provided on the rail service into and out of Canberra in order to ensure that the airlines would get the greatest number of customers they would choose the very nights on which the service is now provided.
I say with conviction that it is a disgrace that in 1966 the three Railways Departments are not able to provide a decent overnight railway service between Melbourne and Canberra. It is a disgrace that people travelling from Melbourne to Canberra overnight - and at times tourists are unfortunate enough to decide to do so - can be put off a train at Goulburn in the middle of winter at 5.30 in the morning when the temperature is freezing. They are then put into a dirty, draughty old train carriage which was probably used, I feel, to convey troops to the Crimean War. We are told that this is the sort of service that the Commonwealth Railways, the Victorian Railways and the New South Wales Railways can provide to the capital city of this country.
– If the public servants were put on it once or twice an alteration would be made.
– I agree. If some of the top brass of the Railways Departments spent one night on the service and were told that they would have to ride on it again, the service would never be repeated. 1 say once again to the Minister that surely in 1966 this Government can provide a decent overnight rail service between Melbourne and Canberra. Monday night is the normal night for a man to travel to Canberra from Melbourne if he wishes to interview a member of this Parliament, a Minister, or an officer of a government department, because he would expect to find them in Canberra when Parliament is in session. But what happens? The Railways Departments carefully avoid providing a train on the night that it is most likely to attract overnight travellers. Members of Parliament usually return home on Thursday night. If Mr.’ Ansett were given the choice, what nights would he choose for this service than the ones on which he could be sure there would be the least demand?
I regard it as a scandal and a disgrace to Australia that such a shocking rail service should operate on three nights a week. On the other nights the service is provided into Canberra, but they are the particular nights which do not suit people having business with this Parliament. I therefore close with a plea: On the day of all the ballyhoo for the opening of the new railway station at Canberra, parade the dirty, disreputable, cold and miserable carriage that overnight travellers are asked to ride into Canberra from Melbourne on three or four nights of the week. Parade it there and have photos taken, and make yourselves the laughing stock of transportation people who are there from any part of Australia.
– Senator McManus has made a spirited plea for an improvement in the rail service from Melbourne to Canberra. The argument that he applied, I think, is based on the service out of Canberra.
– In and out, for half of the week.
– As 1 understand the facts put in relation to the service, it has always been provided by arrangement with the New South Wales Railways Department, and the Commonwealth Railways is responsible only for the Canberra railway station and its environs. The service which Senator McManus has spoken about so vigorously and with such feeling is provided by the New South Wales Railways.
– By arrangement with the Commonwealth.
– 1 ask the honorable senator not to point his finger at me. lt frightens me. This rail service has always been provided by the New South Wales Railways since ils inception.
– It was better in 1956 than it is in 1966.
McManus claims that it was better in 1956 than it is now. The only other information I have is that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioners are making representations to the New South Wales Railways to explore the possibility of improvements to the service. There is at least an earnest hope that an improvement would be brought about to this service. In view of the spirited remarks of Senator McManus, I hope that the New South Wales Railways Department officials will have access to the “ Hansard “ report. I have given the only information that is available to me.
Senator Bishop made a proposition for the introduction of foreign shipping on (he Australian coastline through the Australian National Line. He also referred to the problem of the Silverton Tramway Company, the establishment of railway workshops, and contracts for the manufacture of rolling stock. The shipping question is not related to the estimates and therefore I cannot speak to it in those terms. I can only say, as I. have been saying for most of the discussion tonight, that it is my understanding that the introduction of this type of shipping on the Australian coast is under consideration by the Government. I am not in a position to give any more information than that. A question of economics is involved. If we were to debate it in a different atmosphere, perhaps I could bring to bear some arguments based on economics.
I come now to the Silverton Tramway Company. When speaking to the Appropriation Bill (No. I) 1966-67 in another place on 21st September, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) passed some comments which I think form the most effective answer to the question raised by Senator Bishop. The Minister said -
I would like, as much as he would like-
That is, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) - to be able to inform the House of the exact details of what will be done to achieve the standardisation of this section of the line but I must ask him, and the Committee, to recognise that this matter concerns three Governments, and during the time that I have been Minister for Shipping and Transport there have been changes in the Governments of the two States. Consequently, there are some differing views among those Governments about what should be done primarily in this area.
The question really concerns the Governments of New South Wales and South Australia rather more than it concerns the Commonwealth, because after all the Commonwealth is committed only to assist in this as a standardisation project and to provide 70 per cent, of (he cost of the work lt is a question either of the South Australian Government conducting a railway on New South Wales territory and making the necessary arrangements with New South Wales, with the Commonwealth assisting to arrive at an agreement, or of the New South Wales Government laying down the conditions under which it wants this railway established. One cannot very well conduct discussions between the three Governments in public and disclose all that is going on. As soon as an agreement is reached on what shall be done I wilt be delighted to announce it to the House.
I think that statement sums up the position.
The question as to Australia getting certain contracts for railway rolling stock has nol yet been determined, lt will be appreciated that the building of railway workshops of a magnitude sufficient to cope with the type of work in question involves a fairly big decision.
– The matter has been raised annually.
– I know that. I think the honorable senator said that in this instance work could be taken from other workshops and so forth. This is a major matter to decide.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provisions noted.
Proposed expenditure, $302,680,000.
Proposed provision, $205,200,000
Broadcasting and Television Services.
Proposed expenditure, $43,747,000.
Proposed provision, $6,204,000.
. -I wish to raise a matter relating to the Savage River project in Tasmania. I relate my remarks to Division No. 830 - Repairs and maintenance. I wish to bring to the notice of honorable senators the attitude adopted by the Postmaster-General’s Department whereby it says that regulations are regulations and that nothing will cause it to change its opinion. I have always believed that regulations were drawn up for guidance and that when circumstances arose which altered the guide lines then we should change the regulations.
In Tasmania a $60 million industry is being established. Eventually the Commonwealth will get 40 per cent, of the profits. So this industry will be a fairly big source of income for the Commonwealth. However, the Postmaster-General’s Department has said that it will not provide a public telephone service, at the cost of the Department, to this community of approximately 1,500 people. But it proposes to provide a new telephone service for a population of only 100 people in a town 30 miles away. What an absurd situation this is. The reason given for not installing a telephone service at Savage River is that it is a mining area. Apparently it is the policy of the Department not to install telephone services in mining areas. The Department is regarding this as a closed township. It forgets that already there are a school, a shopping centre and a petrol station there, and that a motel is about to be built. Here we have a private community which has been established on land that has been sold to Pickands Mather International. It is private land. As I said earlier, although the Department will not provide a telephone service in this area, it proposes to build a new telephone exchange at a town called Waratah, which has 100 inhabitants.
I am sorry for the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson). Every time I raise a matter like this, he happens to be the Minister who is dealing with the subject. I have nothing against him personally; I think he is an excellent Minister. But he must bear the brunt of this complaint, loo. I know that he is not aware of the problem, but nevertheless the matter must be ventilated. The company involved is quite prepared to guarantee that income will be available to the Department for from 10 to 15 years. But it is the policy of the Government not to provide such services for mining towns. The land was sold to the mining company only because this was the most expedient method of dealing with the land and getting it developed. This Government has said that it supports decentralisation.
– It does not mean it.
– I know that it does not mean it. Many of the people in this township of 1,500 are married and have their wives there with them. They want a telephone service between themselves and with the outside world. They are living in complete isolation in a wild part of Tasmania. Surely they should be given first preference in the provision of a telephone service so that they may order goods, telephone their friends and so on. They want to talk to one another but they cannot do so readily. To do so they would need to walk or to ride a bicycle or a horse to their nearest neighbour. I think everybody will agree that this is an absurd situation. There is a regulation, and the Department is hiding behind it. It is time the Department got away from the regulation. I admit that if the Department provided a service for one such community it would have to do so for others. I reiterate that the Department is prepared to deny a telephone service to this community of 1,500 people but it is prepared to install a service at another town 30 miles away. Another company has started operations within 10 miles of the Savage River community. Fifty houses will be built there. So it must be a community of 100 people or more. If the Department is prepared to install a service at Waratah, why can it not be reasonable and provide a service where a greater demand exists? I know that the Minister will take the matter up with the Postmaster-General. However. I do not think he will get very far. A lot of people have had a go on this matter, but we just cannot get the Department to realise that regulations are nol meant to hinder progress. The Commonwealth will be the greatest single benefactor from this £60 million industry because it will receive 40 per cent, of the profits. Surely that fact alone should stimulate the Commonwealth into trying to do something regarding the Savage River area deposits.
Thursday, 20th October .1966.
– I wish to raise two grievances relating to broadcasting and television services which I think fall within the ambit of Division No. 142. in the first instance, I. want to raise a matter on behalf of the residents of Coffs Harbour. Any cessation of power from the Northern Rivers County Council was always broadcast on the radio news service for residents of this area. The complaint is that the same service is not being given to the people of this area by television. The people feel that the influence of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) might be used so that the television newscast will include information as to any power cessation by the Northern Rivers County Council. These people ask that the television service be the same as the radio service in this respect.
I raise the second matter at the behest of the New South Wales Branch of the Postal Telecommunications Technicians Association. I would like to know whether there has been any improvement in relation to some, of the amenities and services for members of this Association operating the television station at Mount Kaputar. understand tha’, the members of this Association have sought a detailed change in policy which would mean that Barraba, instead of Narrabri, would be the main town in which they live. A further complaint made was that the road between Mount Kaputar and Narrabri is unsafe and there had been excessive accidents. 1 understand that the Assistant Director of Engineering, Mr. Lewis, did indicate in the March-April period that he would have a look at this situation. I am wondering what has happened. These people have been assured of better road facilities. I understand that it has been the practice of the Department in New South Wales to make some substantial grants for other country roads to see that the access roads to these television trans mitting stations provide reasonably safe travel. Those are the two matters to which I seek answers.
– I desire to refer to Division No. 838 - Australian Broadcasting Commission. I suppose that a number of honorable senators read with interest the remarks of the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission some days ago on the difficulty of trying, as he said, to meet all points of view and to ensure that all points of view were given reasonable opportunity on the services of the Commission. I am very interested in these remarks because I represent one point of view in this community, i am a member of a party which polls nearly half a million votes at election time. I am one of those who watches with interest the television talks and discussions programmes arranged by the Austalian Broadcasting Commission. I know that while the A. B.C. vehemently protests at any suggestion of censorship, the Commission operates its own censorship. Under no circumstances has any representative of the Democratic Labour Party been permitted to speak on the talks and discussions services of the A.B.C. during the 10 years or so that the Democratic Labour Party has been in existence.
In the first five years or six years of the existence of the D.L.P., I asked the question: How many representatives of the different parties have been given opportunities to speak on these discussion programmes? In that first five or six years the answer was: Nobody from the D.L.P. In the second period of five years, Senator Cole asked the question and he was told that in the 10 years or I I years that the D.L.P. had been in existence one D.L.P. representative had appeared on these programmes. A large number of representatives of the other parties have been given the opportunity to put their cases. I. may say that the D.L.P. is still trying to find out the one D.L.P. representative who made the grade during that period of 10 years.
– Who was it?
– 1 do not know. I can only say this: There is in the talks and discussions section of the A.B.C. a definite censorship under which representatives of other political parties will be invited to take part in talks and discussions while a representative of the Democratic Labour Party will not be invited under any circumstances.
– The honorable senator is referring to the A.B.C.
– Yes. I am referring to the A.B.C. 1 was interested to look at the Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The report referred to the fact that the Commission was trying to give everybody a fair deal. I turn to the programme “ Four Corners “ about which some controversy has existed. The A.B.C. said in this respect that it had been putting up a magnificent effort to give everybody a fair deal. It said further: “As a result of this, we have run special programmes on the Liberal Party, the Australian Labour Party and the Communist Party.” In other words, the Country Party and the Democratic Labour Party are left out.
– Their turn is to come.
– Their turn is not to come. Let us be quite definite about this matter. We are told that only one D.L.P. representative in 10 years has appeared on A.B.C. talks and discussions programmes. We cannot find out who this was. During those 10 years numerous representatives of the D.L.P. have been invited by commercial broadcasting companies to participate in their discussion programmes. But the A.B.C. operates its own censorship. It has a firm rule that no representative of the D.L.P. will ever be given the opportunity to put his case as others are given the opportunity to put their cases.
– The honorable senator’s party has made up for it on Channel 9.
– I want to raise this question because we are accused of putting a partisan point of view.
– The D.L.P. gets a good go from Channel 9.
– The honorable senator should stick to wallabies and red kangaroos.
– If I might be given the opportunity when the dialogue in the rear ends, I wish to say that I receive a number of letters from people complaining about the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Usually, I do not take any action because I think that people have different points of view on different matters. But I received a letter recently from a resident of Melbourne bitterly complaining about a programme on the Commission. A gentleman had been introduced as a representative of writers. The letter writer said that the gentleman who had been chosen was Mr. Frank Hardy who wrote “ Power without Glory “. Mr. Hardy is a well known member of the Communist Party. The gentleman who wrote to me said that he had protested to the Commission. He wanted me to protest also. I did not take any action. 1 thought to myself that one swallow does not make a summer. I thought that if a Communist got on to a programme occasionally it would only be inadvertently. But a couple of nights later I looked at the same programme in the same series to which the letter writer referred to see what was on. The person on it was an artist. It was Mr. Noel Counihan who is the cartoonist for the “ Guardian “ and the “ Tribune “, both Communist newspapers.
With all the willingness to concede that the A.B.C. tries to give everybody a fair go, it appears to me to be a bit tough that in three weeks on a particular programme we have on one night Mr. Frank Hardy representing the Communist writers’ group and on another night Mr. Noel Counihan representing the Communist artists’ group.
– Has the A.B.C. gone Communist?
– No. I am trying to be charitable to the A.B.C. But here is another amazing thing. I refer to the marches of trade union members to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to bang on the doors of the Commission and to tell the judges of the Commission what they have to do. Mr. Bob Hawke who represents the Australian Council of Trade Unions has said that these marches are not doing him any good. All they are doing is interfering with his case. But these people go along, conduct their processions to the Commission, bang on its doors and make themselves a nuisance. The thing I always notice is that when the A.B.C. calls upon some representative of the workers to speak, this representative always happens, by an odd coincidence, to be a Communist. He is not a good Labour union secretary who might be listened to with pleasure; he is a leading personality in the Communist Party. 1 have all the sympathy in the world for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in its endeavours to give everybody a fair deal; but the Commission is not getting very far. Somehow or another it seems to me that the representatives of the Communist Party - a Party that gets a miserable political vote in this country - are featured time and again on the A.B.C. whereas the Democratic Labour Party which gets half a million voles, is never featured. I refuse to believe that the representatives of the Communist Party, with their ability to worm their way into organisations, appear on these programmes just by chance.
– lt suits the Government.
– Senator Devitt says that it suits the Government. I would hesitate to believe that the Government would try to influence the A.B.C. in that way. But I say to the Government that it ought to have a look at this very significant matter.
Finally, 1 point out that we will have an election within the next few weeks and that in that election the usual things will happen. Every candidate is supposed to be equal before the electors, but to quote an old saying, some candidates will be more equal than others. The A.B.C. will give the Democratic Labour Party half an hour’s viewing time, but the Government representatives and the Australian Labour Party representatives will be given an hour and a half or more. If this programming is financed by the Australian people, let the candidates be equal. My solution is this: Let the A.B.C. broadcast the policy speech of every party which is represented in the Parliament and which puts up a significant number of candidates. If the parties want any more television or radio coverage, let them pay for it, just as we have to do. 1 resent the fact that the members of my Party are compelled to put their hands in their pockets and pay for the radio and television coverage which the Australian Broadcasting Commission gives free to the other parties.
The situation is becoming worse because of the policy of the commercial television companies, which over the years have steadily increased the cost of political programmes. They have now informed the political parties that they propose to make a very big increase in the costs of programmes for the forthcoming election. People say that one of the great things today is that political television programmes allow the people to know what is happening. But the commercial television companies are increasing their prices by leaps and bounds. The stage will soon be reached when it will be impossible for political parties to make any significant effort to place their cases before the people because costs are becoming so astronomically high. Senator Ormonde, who knows something about this matter, agrees with me.
Some commercial television companies have notified the political parties that they will not screen any political material between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., which is the good viewing period. When it has been pointed out to the companies that there is a law which says that political discussion has to be given its chance, they have said: “ All right, we will screen political material at the times you wish, but we will charge 15 times the normal rate.” In other words, the commercial television companies, which owe their franchise to this Government, are telling the Government what they will or will not allow the political parties to do. Honorable senators know what is happening as well as 1 do. How many television companies today are carrying out the promises they made in order to get their licences? How many of them are carrying out the law regarding advertising? These companies are saying to the Government - sub rosa, I believe - “ Look, we cannot carry out the law. We cannot carry out our promises.” But when there is an election the same companies turn around and say: “ We propose to make it almost impossible for the political parties of this country to put their cases before the people at the times when people want to listen to them.” I ask: Who runs this country? I think that we are fast reaching the situation where the television companies are telling the Australian Broadcasting Control Board what they will do and the Board is sitting back and doing nothing about it.
– Very quickly I want to refer to a number of matters. First, Senator
Turnbull raised the question of telephone facilities at Savage River. 1 have been to Savage River. 1 have a fair appreciation of the area and of the type of problem to which the honorable senator has referred. As a general rule, mining companies seem to prefer - and 1 suppose it could be for taxation purposes. I would not know - that townships that they develop remain private townships. This means that the development of telephone services is the responsibility of the mining company concerned. As the honorable senator has indicated, wide representations have been made on this matter. The points which the honorable senator has raised will be considered along with the other representations.
Senator Mulvihill referred to the Tamworth transmitter station. A new building of a modern design has been constructed, and I am a little surprised to learn that representations have been made about the working conditions at the station. The honorable senator also referred to the access road fo (he television station. Most access roads to television stations are new and when an assessment is made of their adequacy, possibly some improvements will be found to bc necessary. We do not have a report on the particular road to which the honorable senator has referred, but further information will be sought from the Minister in relation to it.
Mr. Chairman, through you I would like to ask a question of Senator McManus: Did I understand him to say that at the last Federal general election the Democratic Labour Party did not have broadcasting lime?
– No. I said that we gol about one third to one quarter of what was given to the major political parties.
-! was trying to marry thai wilh the honorable senator’s statement that in 10 years only one member of the Democratic Labour Party has appeared on programmes conducted by the talks and discussions section of the A.B.C. Quite clearly the party which Senator McManus represents has received an allocation of time and no doubt in the forthcoming election campaign will receive an allocation of time on the basis that is evolved for the campaign. As to the other question which the honorable senator has raised about the balance of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s programmes, I think the short answer is that it has always been the Commission’s desire to try to give balanced programmes. That matter and the honorable senator’s suggestion that commercial television companies will try to force political, parties out of the popular viewing periods will bc noted.
– I want to raise three points on these estimates. Two of them come under Division No. 820 - Administrative. The Australian Broadcasting Commission, in its 34th annual report, referred to its poor accommodation in some States. I know that the accommodation is bad, particularly in Adelaide. The report states that it cannot be deemed economical for so diffused and technical an operation to be conducted from the number of second rate buildings which are at present used by the Commission, and that up to date premises should be a charge on capital investment, not on licensing fees. Obviously the complaint is that they cannot afford up to date buildings so they are compelled to use second rate buildings. It would appear to be impossible to finance new buildings out of licensing fees. The Minister no doubt has noted the report. Is anything being done by the Department to rectify this matter? 1 want to raise another matter now that I raised some time ago. I asked on notice the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether the Government would consider increasing the reduction in telephone rentals at present allowed to blind people. The Minister replied to me on 20th April 1966 to this effect -
Blind persons already enjoy a reduction of one.third in their telephone rental charges, as do war widows and certain other pensioners under the Social Services and Repatriation Acts. The grant of a further reduction to one of these groups would, without doubt, give rise to claims from the others on the grounds of equal justification. The question of the extent to which the Government could grant concessions in telephone rental was examined thoroughly at the time the existing arrangements were introduced, and a reduction of one-third was deemed to be the most equitable to all concerned.
Blind people are placed on a par with other pensioners, but let me make a plea for increased facilities over and above those granted to other pensioners to make life easier for those who are blind. In old age and infirmity pensioners may need a telephone to ring a doctor in case of emergency. To them a phone is essential. A proportion of pensioners have a telephone for the sake of convenience or to meet an emergency should one arise.
A telephone is more essential for a blind person who can use it to ring for his groceries and other goods. The telephone helps him to go about his business. While blind people overcome their disability to an extent with the assistance of sticks, dogs, leads and a knowledge of the locality in which they move about, I think the Government should do everything possible to assist everyone in this unfortunate section of our community, and give them every opportunity to enjoy a better life. Apart from their inability to read and engage in other activities which help normal pensioners to pass the time, they have other handicaps. If they have a telephone they can ring relatives and friends whom they may be unable to visit unless they know the locality very well and can find their way. The opportunities of visiting must be extremely limited compared with those available to invalid and age pensioners. It is most desirable that blind people have this attractive form of communication within their homes not only in case of emergency but also to help them to a more normal mode of life. Blind persons already receive a reduction of one third in their telephone rental charges. The Commonwealth Blind Communications Committee is asking for an additional reduction of 17 per cent. If this additional reduction were granted the Committee believes that a telephone connection would be within the range of possibility for blind persons. I do not think this is too much to ask. I ask the Government to consider this request. Before rejecting it out of hand I ask the Government to get some assessment of what it would cost to meet the request. I leave it with the Minister to make some inquiries.
I want to refer now to “ Radio Prosh “ which was conducted by the students of the University of Adelaide in their annual day of procession and stunts designed to raise money for distribution to deserving charities. The target this year was £25,000 which was to be distributed among eight deserving charities. Their activities need some publicity and stunts. The University is notorious for this. Although at one time we saw forms of vandalism and damage to public, and possibly private, property by university students, there is now in Adelaide full cooperation between the University Council and the authorities, including the police, which permits certain activities so long as there is no damage to property or persons. The students received good publicity in the Press which advertised their fund raising activities. This is a deserving case. So many give so much time voluntarily to aid charities that there has been real co-operation by most organisations, most authorities and most individuals.
This year the stunt was to establish a radio on a ship outside the territorial waters of South Australia from which it was intended to broadcast. The students, believing their action to be legal since it was outside territorial waters, went to a lot of trouble and expense and exercised a lot of care to ensure that their transmitting service would be capable of carrying a message to South Australia and that nothing offensive would be broadcast. They rigged up the transmitter and kidnapped a popular television announcer in Adelaide. The students announced in their paper that when they went to his home at 5 o’clock in the morning to kidnap the announcer he was dressed suitably for a sea voyage, so it can be seen that there was an arrangement to get this proposal into operation. Although the transmitting station worked, no message was received in Adelaide because the Postmaster-General’s Department used costly equipment in the vicinity of West Beach airport to jam the transmission. I asked the Minister upon notice whether the Postmaster-General’s Department did this. He replied on 22nd September that the Department did so. The Department’s officers did not know the purpose of the station or the intention of the students but they admitted jamming the transmission. I ask the Minister what was the cost to the Department of its action in stopping the students from advertising and thus gaining increased support for the appeal on behalf of deserving charities? Subsequently, the University Council stated that the opposition came from two commercial stations.
– Has the honorable senator been given details of the cost?
– I did not ask for the cost in my previous question but I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral now to supply that information. The complaint of the students is that the protest came from two commercial radio stations in Adelaide. They had discussed the proposal with one of the commercial stations and it was well received. Those commercial stations were represented at a meeting of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on Wednesday, 27th July 1966 when a discussion was held to determine policy towards “ Radio Prosh ‘”. 1 have the following information on this matter from the organisers of “ Radio Prosh -
If iiic Postmaster-General’s Department did not know of our aims by then-
And he indicated in a reply to my question that he did not - we can only suggest that the liaison between his department and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is as poor as is typical of that between many governmental departments. This notorious red tape is iiic main reason for our not approaching the I’.M.G. directly in the first place. . . . We would point out that all the programmes were recorded and planned strictly according to broadcasting ethics and were in the opinion of all those who heard them, at least equal in quality and heller in variety than many local radio programmes.
The organisers informed me that they were involved in heavy expenditure and there was a loss, and rather than let the charities suffer, they paid for all the losses -out of their own pockets. They made every effort to help the charities and succeeded in raising §24,000 which was distributed to the charities concerned. The Department, at considerable cost, took action that deprived these worthwhile charities of the additional money that would have been obtained if the station had not been jammed. The Minister in hi.s reply suggested that there might have been some technical breach. Even a great naval figure once turned a blind eye to an order. Could not a similar attitude have been adopted to this young group which set out to help a deserving cause? J ask (he Minister what was the cost to the Deparment of jamming this station?
– Senator Cavanagh asked about the provision of accommodation in Adelaide for the Aus tralian Broadcasting Commission. I am informed that this is on the programme of work to be attended to. The request by the Commonwealth Blind Communication Committee was declined on three grounds. First, the claim by a blind person to further rental concession could not be treated in isolation. Secondly, the amount of the rental concession was given careful consideration prior to the introduction of the present arrangements and because of the costs involved was fixed at a reduction of one third. Thirdly, the grant of a further reduction to blind persons would undoubtedly give rise to strong pressure from other groups, already in receipt of a concession, on the grounds of equal justification and such pressure would be difficult to resist if any special treatment were accorded to blind persons. The officers have informed me that they are unable at present to supply information about the cost of jamming the university students’ radio station. I have asked them to take note of this and the other matters that the honorable senator has raised.
– Dealing with tha estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department, 1 wish to refer to Division No. 820 - Administrative, and to raise a particular matter with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) while tha officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department are present. This matter relates to an advertisement inserted by the Department in Sydney newspapers on 7th August last culling for applications for certain apprenticeships. In the light of the fact that I am about to recite, the situation is completely inexplicable to me. I say frankly that it seems that the Department is adopting a policy of refusing to accept for employment young men who are approaching the age at which they become liable to national service training. The advertisement called for applications from young men aged between 15 years and 20 years and 10 months at 3.1st December of this year. It stated that applicants must be eligible to undertake an appropriate course at a recognised technical college and that applicants successful at the Intermediate or School Certificate examinations would be preferred. The apprenticeships listed were in 12 trades. A young man who has just turned 20 and who. at the rime when he applied, was 19, applied for apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner, he being then between the ages of 15 years and 20 years and 10 months and having an Intermediate Certificate. On 19th September, he received from the Department a reply to his application. lt stated -
Willi reference to your application for an apprenticeship as a carpenter and joiner in this Department, it is noted that you are now 20 years of age.
Not 20 years and 10 months at 31st December next -
As you are outside the age limit for normal apprenticeship, i.e. between 15 and 18 years of age as at 31st December 1966, and as shortened apprenticeships arc pot available in this trade, it is regretted that further consideration cannot be given lo your application.
The young man thereupon wrote back to the Department stating that his application for apprenticeship as a carpenter arid joiner had been rejected because he was outside the age limits of 15 to 18, notwithstanding that the advertisement had called for applicants between the ages of 15 years and 20 years and 10 months. In simple terms, he asked -
Would you please advise what trades 1 would be eligible for in my age group, and if an application was made for one of these, would same be now considered?
He received from the Department a letter which was dated 12th October and which stated -
With reference to your letter of 4th October 1966, as you do not possess the required qualifications you would not be eligible for a shortened apprenticeship in any of the trades in which they are available.
Frankly, it is incomprehensible to me. The Department called for applicants for these apprenticeships between the ages of 15 years and 20 years and 10 months. This man has just turned 20 years of age. The Department said that men with the Intermediate Certificate or the School Certificate would be considered. This man has his Intermediate Certificate. Incidentally, he passed in mathematics, descriptive geometry, metalwork and woodwork. Obviously, he would be suited to an apprenticeship in one of the callings covered by the advertisement.
Because the departmental officers are now here advising the Minister, J believe that a statement should be made on the whys and wherefores of the circumstances surrounding this matter. ‘ This young man believes - I think he has every justification for believing this - that the Department rejected his application because he is now reaching military age. I believe that a statement should be made on the attitude of the Department. If the apprenticeships are restricted to men between 15 and 18 years of age, why is not the advertisement inserted in that form and why does it say that men between 15 years and 20 years and 10 months as al 31st December 1966 will bc considered. Why does it say that applicants with the Intermediate Certificate or the School Certificate will be considered? This man falls in both categories. Yet the Department says, in the first instance, that he is beyond the age limit and, in the second instance, that he has not the necessary qualifications. I believe that the Department should give a satisfactory explanation.
– 1 asked a question, but the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) did not answer it. He said that at this stage he could not tell me the cost of jamming the transmission of a radio station in Adelaide. May I take it from that statement that he will find out the cost in the immediate future and let me know?
– I was in the chamber when Senator McKellar replied to Senator Cavanagh. His request for information will be directed to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). That is all I can say to him now. Senator McClelland put the proposition that, because I have officers of the Department here with me, I should be able to give him the details of a particular case. Of course, that is blatantly absurd. The officers are here to give advice on the items in the estimates. When honorable senators use the device of referring to the beading “ Administrative” for debating purposes, I can only do the best I can and perhaps provide information from the special knowledge of the officers. But it is completely unreal to expect, in relation to a huge department such as the Postmaster-General’s Department, that I would be able to produce an answer in respect of an advertisement that was published in August last year.
– In August this year.
– Well, in August this year.
– I am not prepared to accept that answer. If we debate estimates for any purpose, it is for the purpose of finding out how money has been spent by a department and whether the appropriation for the ensuing year is justified. If a Minister is asked how a department spent a certain amount of money or what it spent on a particular operation last year, I can understand that his officers may not have the necessary information. But the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service had all the necessary information when we asked our questions. Perhaps there is some inefficiency in this Department, if the officers have not the answers to our questions. If, for reasons beyond my knowledge, they have not the answers, at least we are entitled to find out-
– The honorable senator asked for information and I said that I would try to obtain it.
– What the Minister said was that he would refer my request to the Postmaster-General.
– That is exactly the same thing.
– It is not. What the Minister said means that he will refer my request to the Postmaster-General, who will then decide whether he is prepared to reply to me.I want to know whether I will receive a reply in respect of the expenditure on the operation to which I referred.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provisions noted.
Co-operative Building Society.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I had intended to speak at some length on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, but in view of the late hour my remarks will be very brief. Last Thursday Senator O’Byrne asked a question of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). He asked the Minister to investigate what he described as the “ Democratic Labour Party Housing Cooperative Societies “. He mentioned the names of two office bearers, one of whom is a former senator. Senator O’Byrne implied that there has been some misappropriation of the funds of the organisation.
I have made inquiries in regard to this matter andI have found that there are no housing societies in Tasmania which bear the name “ Democratic Labour Party Housing Co-operative Societies “. There are no societies in existence which bear that title. I. am advised that there are a couple of societies which have the name “ Democratic Co-operative Housing Society “ and of those the former Senator Cole was Chairman. Mr. Cole has authorised me to say categorically that any suggestion that he had the handling of funds or that he misappropriated funds is entirely untrue. He has secondly asked me to call upon Senator O’Byrne to do the manly thing. Senator O’Byrne has just entered the chamber. It would be only fair to repeat what I have said.
– [ heard what Senator McManus said.
– I said that there are no societies having the name “ Democratic Labour Party Housing Co-operative Societies “. I think Senator O’Byrne now knows this. Mr. Cole has authorised me to say that any suggestion that he misused or misappropriated funds is entirely untrue. He has requested me to ask Senator O’Byrne to do the manly thing and to make his allegations outside the Parliament so that Mr. Cole may then take action to vindicate his good name.
– Senator McManus has raised a matter thatI brought to the attention of the Senate recently in the form of a question. I said that I referred to the Democratic Labour Party Co-operative Building Society of Tasmania, of which a former senator, George R. Cole, and a prominent member of the Democratic Labour Party, Mr. T. J. Doody, who was Mr. Cole’s secretary when he was here as Leader of the Democratic Labour Party-
– And is now Secretary of the North-West Permanent Building Society.
– Yes. I referred to them as director and secretary respectively of a group of terminating building societies in Tasmania.
– But they are not Democratic Labour Party societies, are they? Why did you use the name?
– Because they were under the name “ Democratic “ at Georgetown where they robbed a widow of money and then they changed the name to the North West Building Society.
– And you put in the words “ Labour Party “ deliberately, knowing it was false, for political purposes.
– No. This question could quite easily be the subject of criminal action in Tasmania.
– I hope it is.
– The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) very carefully passed this question off to the States, but her predecessor was present at a meeting of State Premiers on this very subject of recognising these building societies, and her predecessor allowed these building societies to obtain funds. They were given authority to establish themselves. The situation has reached the stage of a scandal. The North West Building Society of which ex-Senator Cole was the chairman - he resigned on 6th October and the secretary will resign on 31st of this month, in a few days time - has diverted the funds of this society-
– What is the name of this society?
– It is the North West Building Society.
– Well, why did you ask a question using the words “Democratic Labour Party “? You told a deliberate lie.
– The honorable senator raised this subject. I will spill the bucket now. The society was authorised to obtain a loan of £50,000 or $100,000. The only transaction that this society was involved in was a loan to allow ex-Senator Cole’s house to be sold to the secretary for a loan, I understand, of about $6,000. The secretary was also involved in a newspaper called the “ Devon News “ which was the propaganda machine of the Democratic Labour Party on the north west coast of Tasmania.
– Another lie.
– It is now bankrupt and funds from the building society are involved in the “ Devon News “ bankruptcy. The Auditor-General in Tasmania has devoted a page or more of his report to exposing this scandalous situation that exists in Tasmania. The Minister himself has been loath to take proceedings in the courts.
– For the reason that he feels that this is not the appropriate time to take proceedings as a Minister against an individual.
– Which Minister?
– - The Minister for Housing in Tasmania, who is the responsible Minister. He has been trying to protect these individual people and at a pre-election -
– Who is the Minister in Tasmania? What is his name?
– The Hon. S. V. Ward.
– You are accusing him of not carrying out his duties.
– No, I am not accusing him of that, but you have raised this subject and I am challenging the Minister now to instruct the Auditor-General to initiate-
– Which Minister?
– - The Minister for Housing in Tasmania, the Honorable S. V. Ward. I am challenging him now to take the proceedings that he was recommended to take by the Auditor-General against two members of the Democratic Labour Party - ex-Senator Cole and Mr. Doody
– In regard to what company ?
– In regard to the North West Co-operative Building Society.
– But you said “ the Democratic Labour Party Co-operative Building Society “. In other words, you told a lie.
– It is the Democratic Labour Party racket.
– You told a deliberate lie for political purposes and you have been caught out.
– It was the honorable senator who was caught out. He raised this matter. I was prepared to go quietly on it. Now I find that Senator McManus is making an issue of it. I am offering a challenge to the Minister for Housing in Tasmania to go ahead with this, even though it is on the eve of an election. He was doing his best as a Minister of the Crown to avoid this type of thing, but now, as a senator from Tasmania, I am asking him to follow the matter through to its conclusion, to follow the advice of the Auditor-General and to take proceedings against the two people involved. One of the directors in the organisation, who was nominated by ex-Senator Cole, is a man named Grundy. He went along to make inquiries about a housing loan from the North West Co-operative Building Society. He had no association whatever with the organisation, but his name was submitted as a director of the organisation. This was for the purpose of conforming with the law. He had not consented to become a director. This is a most scandalous organisation.
– Will you say this in public? You do not have the courage to do so. You will say it behind privilege and I challenge you to say it on the front steps in front of the Press.
– You raised the subject. You tipped the bucket.
– You named a society that does not exist, because you wanted to smear the D.L.P. You have been caught out in your lies.
– The report of the Auditor-General verifies everything I have said tonight. I think it is my duty to protect the Commonwealth. The money of the taxpayers is indirectly involved in this because the organisation is recognised under the homes savings grant scheme. This directly concerns the Commonwealth. Such an organisation should be thoroughly investigated. I felt it was my duty to raise the matter.
This is the eve of an election, and 1 was not prepared to pursue it any further at this time. But Senator McManus has seen fit to raise the matter again. Tomorrow at the first opportunity, during the adjournment debate, I will take advantage of the forms of the Senate to quote as much as I can from the report of the Tasmanian AuditorGeneral and give the full details of this scandal to the Senate.
– Let us hear them now. You are making the allegation. Support it.
– I did not know Senator McManus was raising it. I have a copy of the Auditor-General’s report. I went out to get it.
– You raised tha matter and we are entitled to hear it now.
– I cannot leave tha chamber now to get it. I will conclude my remarks and reserve the right to quote from the report to the Senate. I will then ask the Senate to judge my actions.
– Mr. President, I taka a point of order. I object to this. The honorable senator is making the most gross allegations without any supporting evidence.
– Behind the screen of privilege.
– Whether it is behind screen of privilege, I do not know, but an honorable senator is making the most gross allegations without any supporting evidence. He claims there is supporting evidence somewhere. No-one knows where it is. I demand that the honorable senator support his allegations with evidence now.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I did not know that Senator McManus would be stupid enough to raise this matter. I have full documentary support for everything I have said. Rather than rely on what I have said to the Senate, I would like to claim the privilege of being able to quote verbatim from the report of the Auditor-General. For that matter, I will make it my business to contact the Tasmanian Minister for Housing and attempt to persuade him to overcome his reticence about making an issue of this matter just before an election. I will also contact one of the socalled directors, who did not know that he was a director of this company, but his name was placed on the list of directors in order to give the company the appearance of being a genuine company.
– What company?
– The North West Co-operative Building Society.
– ‘But you were referring to the Democratic Labour Party-
– 1 rise to a point, of order, lt is quite impossible, Mr. President, to hear what Senator O’Byrne is saying over the constant interjections of Senator McManus.
– lt is late at night and I suggest that we all moderate our remarks;
– It is obvious that Senator McManus is ashamed of the conduct of his colleagues.
– Say it outside.
– He is trying by abuse, and by this stupidity of saying that I should go outside and make the statement again, to divert me from the subject matter that I have raised. He knows very well that what I am saying is quite true. The position I have described is a reflection on the integrity of the building society system and the housing scheme that has been very carefully built up with great integrity by the Commonwealth and the States. The building societies are of great value to the community. They try to help people to obtain houses, and it is scandalous that the type of thing I have described should occur. The only way that a surgeon deals with a cancer when it appears in the body is to eradicate it. That is what I have done by raising this matter. I intend now to pursue it to its conclusion. Honorable senators will find that whatever I have said in this chamber can be substantiated by evidence.
– I want to spend only a few minutes on this question. Rarely have we seen such a disgraceful spectacle as we have seen this evening. Rarely is such licence permitted as was given this evening to an honorable senator who, by his shouting of interjections, has sought to drown out the statements of another honorable senator.
– Did I tell a lie?
– It is still continuing. There is nothing to get excited about. The other day Senator O’Byrne asked a question which either contained a reference to the Democratic Labour Party, or referred to circumstances surrounding the Democratic Labour Party, which he implied had some say in a building society.
– No, he said-
– I am speaking now.
– Order! If Senator Cavanagh would follow the practice of addressing the Chair he would get on better. Had Senator O’Byrne followed that practice he equally would have been more successful. If you address me, Senator Cavanagh, you will get protection.
– Assured of your protection, Mr. President, 1 would do nothing else but address you. Senator O’Byrne told a story as he knew it, and according to the information he had. Now we come to the question that in the Northern Democratic Building Society-
– The North West.
– The North West Co-operative Building Society. The only difference that has arisen since the question was asked is in the name of the organisation. Senator O’Byrne has repeated tonight that two officials of the Democratic Labour Party are chairman and secretary of the organisation to which he referred, and he claims that there is therefore a link between that organisation and the D.L.P. Senator O’Byrne has also said that the organisation is bankrupt and that a contributing factor to its bankruptcy was its investment in a publication the purpose of which was to advertise a particular political party. Senator O’Byrne has gone further and has said that there is supporting evidence for his contentions. He is prepared to bring that supporting evidence to the Senate tonight.
– I ask Senator Cavanagh to read out the document that I now hand him.
-I have limitations on my time. I would be acting in defiance of the protection you offered me. Mr. President, if I were to read out the document handed to me by Senator O’Byrne. We know that there are in the chamber some senators who have a feeling of guilt for their colleagues and who think they can destroy a mass of evidence by shouting loudly: “Come out on the front steps and repeat what you say in the chamber “.
We have been told that if we intend to raise a matter on the adjournment and we advise the Minister beforehand he will arrange to have information to enable him to reply. Senator O’Byrne was entitled to the same courtesy, particularly as he has been called upon to substantiate a statement he made. We have been told that the question of libel may arise. The difference between truth and falsehood when libel is involved is often a question of intent. Although a statement may be true we would not expect a representative of the people in publicising a matter to risk libel if he could do what he sought to do without that risk. It is no good a person shouting out loudly in the hope of bluffing another person who is justifying his attitude and his actions in protecting people in Tasmania who invested money in a rotten deal. It has been suggested that there may have been some inaccuracies in the question asked by Senator O’Byrne, and when he was attacked tonight Senator O’Byrne went to great lengths to explain his position and to justify his action in raising this matter. He is to be commended for raising it. I think guilty consciences have been revealed by the attitude of some delegates. I hope that infrequently are we faced with such behaviour as we have seen this evening.
.- I do not often speak on the motion to adjourn the Senate, but I believe that there is a case to answer tonight. I commend Senator O’Byrne for what he has said. For the benefit of the Senate I should like to read extracts from two different newspapers so that honorable senators will understand why Senator O’Byrne raised this matter in the Senate. In the “ Mercury “ of Wednesday, 12th October, under the heading “Building Societies’ Administration Worries Minister” the following appears -
Administration of a group of terminating building societies operating on the North-West Coast was causing him concern, the Minister for Housing (Mr. Ward) admitted in the House of Assembly last night.
Mr. Ward said that the officers and directors of the group of societies were: Chairman of directors, George Ronald Cole, until October 6. 1966; directors, David Garfield Bird, Rex Alfred Grundy, Bouke Koops, Terence Harold Midson, Simon Peter McQuillan, John Wyndham Nicholson, and Kevin William Poison. The secretary was Terence John Doody.
Honorable senators will recall that Senator O’Byrne mentioned that Mr. Doody was ex-Senator Cole’s secretary when that gentleman was a member of this place. The report continues -
Mr. Ward was answering a question by Mr. Fraser (Lab., Bass).
He said loans to these societies were guaran- teed in full by the State Government.
The societies were unable to produce any records showing the dates of meetings of directors priortotheir incorporation under the Cooperative Housing Societies Act in January, 1965.
For this period the rules provided that the boards should regulate their meetings as they thought fit.
Since incorporation under the Act. meetings as required by the rules had been held, although an examination of the societies’ records would be needed to determine the position in relation to the past few months.
Mr. Ward saidthat neither he nor the Registrar had undertaken an inquiry into the affairs of this group of societies.
But the Auditor-General was asked to make an investigation of the financial affairs of the societies and this had been completed.
More information was being sought, but it was too early to determine whether or not any further inquiry or alternative action would be warranted.
I come now to a report which appeared in the “ Examiner “ of Friday, 30th September 1966. and which is headed, “ Report Hits at Control of Societies “. It reads -
The chairman and directors of nine cooperative housing societies in Launceston and on the North-West Coast had failed to carry out their responsibilities as trustees for the members.
The Auditor-General (Mr. N. E. Casey) said this in his report to Parliament yesterday.
He said eight of the nine co-operatives were financed by loans from the Treasurer out of the Home Builders Fund, established under the provisions of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement, totalling $1,071,000.
The ninth had a private loan of$100,000 guaranteed, as to repayment, by the Treasurer.
Mr. Casey said thai at June 30 last year there were 52 societies registered under the act. The accounts of each were subject to audit by private auditors appointed by the societies.
On February 2, 1966, Mr. Casey was informed by the Minister for Housing (Mr. Ward) that he was not satisfied with the financial affairs of nine societies.
Suck lies audi! ordered
As their auditors had not reported to the directors on several matters that had come to the notice of the registrar, Mr. Ward had authorised him (Mr. Casey) to audit the accounts of the nine societies, Mr. Casey said.
On February 22 the societies’ auditor submitted reports to the directors of the societies in which he drew their attention to a number of matters of concern.
They included improper drawings from societies’ funds, incorrect handling and withholding of insurance commissions, members arrears, failure to receive interest on investments and a number of other matters reflecting on the financial administration of the affairs of societies.
Report on findings submitted
Mr. Casey said that despite these belated reports about four months after the annual me:tings of the several societies, he decided to carry on wilh a special audit.
Delays’ occurred because of unavailability of society officers, but Mr. Casey said he submitteda report to Mr. Ward on May 23. 1966, drawing attention to:
The improper drawings from the funds of the societies by an officer of the societies and the failure of this officer to repay these moneys to the societies. At June 30. 1965, the amount concerned was SI. 426.98 but bv April 4. .1966. it had -increased to $2,719.82.
Withholding by an officer of insurance premiums properly payable into the revenues of the societies. The amount concerned in the two years, 1963-64 and 1964-65, was $209.81.
No interest received
The failure of the societies to receive interest on investments made in a building society registered under the Building Societies Act 1876. At June 30. 1965, the sums invested totalled $7,000 and interest accrued and owing over a period of four years was $1,085.70. By March 31, 1966, the sums invested, including accrued interest, had increased to approximately $8,932.
The need for the directors of the co-operative societies to look critically at their investments in the building society in that the society had failed to submit annual statements of accounts to the Supreme Court as required by the Building Societies Act. The only statement filed by the building society was in respect of its early months of operation in 1961.
Certificates dated 1966 fit was noted later that four years’ statements of account for the building society were even- tually filed In June, 1966, but the auditors’ qualified certificate for each year was dated May 26, 1966. The auditors’ qualifications related particularly to the fact that the society was not paying interest on its deposits and shares and was itself not receiving interest on a loan of $6,000 advanced in 1962.] “ I reported with concern that officers of the building society were officers of the co-operative societies and the loan of $6,000 referred to critically by the auditor of the building society should be reviewed by the directors,” Mr. Casey said.
The fact that loans had been made between the various co-operative societies without the approval of the registrar.
Act provisions not observed
Many shortcomings in financial administration ami loo many instance’: of failure to observe the provisions of the Co-operative Housing Societies Act 1963. “ The matters referred to above were brought to the attention of the chairman of the societies by my auditor in the course of audit and by the registrar both before and after receipt by the Minister of my report of May 23,”’ Mr. Casey said.
The Minister was obviously concerned at the matter* raised in my report and the failure of the societies to take positive action to correct the unsatisfactory position.
On July 22, 1966, he requested the registrar to write to the chairman of the societies expressing his concern and enclosing full details of my report,” Mr. Casey said.
Mr. Casey said thai on August ti) one of his auditors again examined the books of the societies and reported that there had been little improvement except that the building society had met interest payments to June 30, 1965, and had repaid $5,000 of the deposits, a total of $6,082.73.
This latter amount would appear to be not unrelated to a discharge of the motrgage of $6,000. to which reference had already been made.
The building society still owed the co-operatives $2,600 on account of deposits and about $300 accrued interest.
Mr. Casey said the number of directors of the building society appeared to have been reduced to one. The Building Societies Act. 1876. required a minimum of three.
Prompt action requested
Mr. Casey said that on receipt of this information, he wrote to the chairman of the co-operative societies drawing attention to the punitive measures of the Audit Act and requested the immediate attention of his directors to the problems reported.
On September 2 a further letter was sent emphasising the need for immediate corrective action and a copy of this letter was sent to the director personally.
At the time the report was written, no action was apparent despite a lapse of at least six months since the chairman became officially aware of the slate of the financial affairs of the co-operative societies, Mr. Casey said.
I submit that in view of these Press reports Senator O’Byrne has done a service to the Senate by bringing this matter to our notice. He has done a service also to these permanent building societies which are endeavouring to play the game by their directors and by the people to whom they make loans. If the kind of thing that has been brought up in the Senate this evening is permitted to continue, what will happen? What trust will people have in building societies if this kind of trash - I cannot regard it as anything other than trash - is permitted to operate in our midst? Whether they affect people who are associated wilh the Democratic Labour Party, whether they affect ex-members of this Parliament or anyone else, the facts should be brought to light. I give Senator O’Byrne the credit that he deserves for bringing the matter forward.
– Mr. President, I wish to put the record straight. We have listened to Senator McManus and to Senator O’Byrne. I wish to quote from “ Hansard “ of Thursday, 13th October 1966. On page 1026, Senator O’Byrne is reported as saying -
In addressing my question to the Minister for Mousing I refer to the Democratic Labour Party Co-Operative Building Society of Tasmania. . . .
This is what Senator McManus took exception to. He said that no such building society exists. Further in his question, Senator O’Byrne referred to the Democratic Labour Party Co-Operative Budding Society of Tasmania as an accepted society by the State Government of Tasmania. The story of what has been done in Tasmania by certain building societies is not, apparently, from what Senator O’Byrne has just told us, a very acceptable story. This matter will doubtless be dealt with by the Minister for Housing in Tasmania, although there has been a long delay. If 1 heard Senator Poke correctly, he said that the Auditor-General in Tasmania pointed this matter out in 1965 and again a year later. But no action at all was taken by the Minister for Housing in Tasmania. I hope that I am not misquoting what I heard Senator Poke read. If this is a fact, it is shocking that a Minister of the Crown in Tasmania should, after the Auditor-General had’ drawn his attention to this matter, let it continue for 12 months. I can only say this further: The charge that Senator O’Byrne used the expression “ the Democratic Labour Party Co-Operative Building Society of Tasmania “ stands. It will stand until such time as Senator O’Byrne rises in the Senate and withdraws his comment to that effect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 1.25 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 October 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19661019_senate_25_s32/>.