26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Government support the warning published in recent weeks in the Australian Wheat Board’s gazette by the Chairman of the Board, Dr A. R. Callaghan, against excessive expansion in the wheat industry? Does the Government agree with his warning that wheat expansion must not be allowed to overtake demand and the provision of facilities to handle the crop? Is not Dr Callaghans warning worthy of serious governmental consideration, particularly in view of Britain’s possible entry to the European Common Market, problems regarding wheat encountered by Mr McEwen on his present overseas trip, Canada’s proposed expansion of wheat growing to record levels and New Zealand’s announcement that it hopes to grow its own wheat instead of relying to a large extent on Australia?
– From time to time over the years we have heard repeated warnings about the possible effects of the over-production of wheat in Australia. With the exception of one year when there was a curtailment of wheat acreage, these warnings have all proved to be unfounded. I realise that, as the honourable senator has said, the storage of wheat presents some difficulties. They are not insuperable. Only this morning I was reading an extract from an American paper in which the statement was made that this year the United States expected a harvest of something like 400 million bushels whereas her domestic requirements were estimated at some 600 million bushels, giving rise to the possibility that America will have to import wheat to fill the gap. We realise the difficulties that could confront Australia if the United Kingdom joins the European Common Market.
– Not if, when.
– If and when. After all, we thought she was about to join the Common Market in 1960 but she did not. She still might not join if the terms laid down are too hard for her. It is obvious that Australia has been finding new markets and expanding present markets.
– Mainland China.
– That is all right. China has been buying wheat from us and paying for it too. As to the suggestion that New Zealand will grow wheat, I think it must be realised that she will face difficulties because of her climate. However, oats are grown extensively in New Zealand. All these problems are borne in mind not only by the Government but also by the wheat growers themselves.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise elaborate on the statement in today’s ‘Canberra Times’ to the effect that complete agreement between the Commonwealth and the States on uniform book censorship has been achieved, and that most of the outstanding details were settled at a conference at official level about two weeks ago? Does the Minister think it possible that the uniform censorship board could be operating before the end of this year? Has complementary legislation been introduced in the States? ls any State showing strong reluctance to introduce such legislation?
– No State is showing any reluctance to introduce such legislation; I want to make that point quite clear. I intend to make a statement in the Senate before its rising, which we expect will be in two weeks time, and I do not want to anticipate, in an answer to a question, the contents of the statement that I shall make beyond saying that the agreement sought with the six States will come into being.
As will be appreciated, (here is always a gap between agreement in principle or broad outline and complete documentation of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. It is true to say that a meeting of officials was held approximately a fortnight ago to round off some of the incidental matters relating to the agreement. When I make a considered statement before the Senate rises in a fortnight honourable senators will have access to all the facts relating to the proposed joint agreement.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to the practice of certain private banks of forcing Australian tourists to do their travel business with the banks under threat of being denied overdraft or other facilities. Will the Government take steps to stamp out this abuse by the private banks of their special monopoly privileges under the Banking Act to gain advantage over other agencies?
– The Leader of the Opposition has placed before me a newspaper article which refers to the matter. I have not yet had a great deal of time to study it. He mentioned the practice of private banks of providing overdraft facilities if travel facilities are arranged through them. He referred to this as something that private banks indulge in. 1 am not condoning the position in any way at this stage, because I do not know enough about it, but this type of thing has been practised, not only in private banking fields but also in the Commonwealth Bank field.
If reports that I have are correct, persons who go to the Commonwealth Bank for housing loans and who have had a savings bank account with the Commonwealth Bank have been told that they could be accommodated, but those who have not had accounts with the Commonwealth Savings Bank have been told that they could not be accommodated because they did not have such accounts. I have no evidence of this other than the fact that these matters have been reported to me. I do not think that this practice, which is a commercial practice, is confined to private trading banks.
The question the Leader of the Opposition asks is, I think, worthy of being put on the notice paper. If it is 1 shall get the Treasurer to examine the practice, because 1 have not had a chance yet to read the newspaper article thoroughly, and ask him to give the honourable senator a written reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for
Trade and Industry, seeking information on the matter of cotton goods from China. An article reviewing the cotton textile industry in South Australia states that while the industry is experiencing buoyant conditions made-up piece goods from China are causing concern. Can the Minister give any details of the nature of these goods and can he indicate whether their continued importation is expected to create difficulties for the local industry? Can he advise what steps are planned further to control the intake?
– The Australian industry has expressed concern about the level of made-up bed sheets, pillow cases, bolster cases and sets of these articles being imported from mainland China. The latest figures for import clearances suggest that imports from mainland China of sets of these goods are increasing, while imports other than in sets are declining. The Department of Trade and Industry is watching the position to which the honourable senator has called attention. Following investigation by the Department of Customs and Excise, the matter was referred to the Tariff Board on 6th February for inquiry and report. The Board’s inquiries will toe directed towards determining whether dumping is taking place and, if it is, whether the importation of those goods is causing or threatening injury to Australian industry. Pending receipt of the Board’s report, importers are required to lodge with collectors of customs cash, securities representing the amount by which the export price of the goods is less than their normal value. Should the position arise that more urgent action is required to protect the local industry, I am confident that the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry would be prepared to consider any representations that the industry wished to make for further protection.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Tasmanian Government has asked the Commonwealth to approve cash grants for fire and drought affected farm properties in southern Tasmania? Does the request include a proposal that the State meet Commonwealth grants on a $1 for $1 basis? In view of reports that Tasmanian farmers are in such desperate circumstances that it has become necessary for them to slaughter new born lambs, I ask whether an assurance can be given that the request will receive sympathetic and urgent consideration.
– The very generous assistance that the Commonwealth gave to Tasmania, quite deservedly, because of the results of the bush fires was a matter of agreement between the Tasmanian Government and the Commonwealth Government. The Tasmanian Government came to us, established a case, put down under various headings the sums of money that it required and decided how the money should be disbursed. As is well known to the honourable senator, a Bill to give parliamentary approval of the Sl4.5m being made available to Tasmania will come before the Senate shortly. I think he is saying that, in addition to the damage and disaster caused by the bush fires, for months now Tasmania has been without any sign of rain and the position in southern Tasmania is becoming desperate.
– He is asking about drought relief.
– The drought position is becoming desperate. Tasmanian members of the Parliament are fully aware of that. I am not aware whether any approach has been made by the Tasmanian Government to the Commonwealth Government. I can only say to Senator Devitt that, in view of the sympathetic view that the Commonwealth Government took at the time of the bush fire disaster, I am sure that any suggestions made by the Tasmanian Government will be examined fully if and when they come to us.
– Consequent upon the question put by Senator Murphy to the Minister representing the Treasurer, I ask the Minister whether, in investigating the blackmailing tactics of the private banks, he will draw a distinction between activities in connection with the travel booking industry and banks competing with other banks in the field of advances for home building. In drawing such a distinction, will he take into consideration that in the field of travel bookings it is a matter of banks competing with people outside the banking industry? In his investigation, will he take into consideration the blackmailing tactics - that is what they are - of the banks in respect of private travel agents? In particular, will he take note of a statement in the Travel Trade Magazine’ of April 1967, in which there is a facsimile of a letter from the National Bank of Australasia Ltd showing that this particular method has been used? That bank and the Bank of New South Wales Ltd are the leading blackmailers in the travel booking business.
– I asked the Leader of the Opposition to place his question on the notice paper and told him that if he did that I would see what advice I could obtain from the Treasurer on this very important matter. Senator Wood seeks to differentiate between business done by savings banks in the field of housing loans as being banking business and business in the field of travel services as not being banking business. Some of us could agree with that; others could not agree with it. I would look upon the provision of travel services as being just as much banking business as is any other type of business that the banks do. The honourable senator may have a particular reason why he considers that this should not be done in banking business; I do not know. Any reason that he has could be understandable. However, I am not aware what the reason may be. I just point out to htm that these practices have grown up. I have given to the Leader of the Opposition, who proposes to put his own question on the notice paper, an undertaking that the matter will be investigated. I can say nothing further to Senator Wood.
– I wish to ask the Leader of the Government a question that arises from his answer to the question asked by Senator Murphy about certain procedures adopted by private banks in dealing with people who are going abroad and who want to arrange the financing of travel facilities. Am I right in summing up the Minister’s answer to that question as indicating that his main purpose was to knock the nation’s own bank - the Commonwealth Bank of Australia? Am I right in saying also that the Minister concluded by saying that he was not sure of his facts? May I say, with great respect, that I do not think it is the province of the Leader of the Government to knock the nation’s own bank.
– 1 assure the honourable senator that I at no time attempted to knock the nation’s own bank. I am a long time customer of the Commonwealth Bank - may I hasten to add, not on overdraft. So I am well able to express my own opinion of it. I merely directed attention to the fact that to the best of my knowledge the bank had adopted the practice of telling people who applied for housing loans and who had had funds deposited in a Commonwealth Savings Bank account that it was prepared to consider their application for assistance and of informing others who were not customers of the bank as depositors in savings accounts that their applications for assistance could not be considered. To the best of my belief, this is a true statement of what happens. So many people have told me over the years that this happens that I believe my statement to be perfectly true. As the Leader of the Opposition emphasised that the practice that he mentioned was one adopted by the private banks I thought I would put the matter in the right perspective by pointing out that not only the private banks do that sort of thing. Both the private banks and the Commonwealth Bank do it. After all, business is business and these are matters for the judgment of the banks themselves.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. In view of the undisputed fact that both Government and Opposition parties and individual senators and members endeavour to arrange certain debates and proceedings of the Parliament in the respective Houses to coincide with the times when the proceedings of the particular House are being broadcast, will the Minister suggest to the Prime Minister that during the forthcoming parliamentary recess a public opinion poll be taken to ascertain whether a worthwhile number of listeners actually tunes in and listens to the broadcasts of parliamentary debates and to the rebroadcasts of proceedings at question time?
– Speaking for myself, I point out that I find that there is a big listening public that tunes in to the rebroadcasts of proceedings at question time. Many people throughout Australia have told me that they listen to and enjoy the rebroadcasts of questions and the answers to them. I have no comment to make on-
– The listeners hear the questions but seldom hear an answer.
– That may be right, and that is probably what they enjoy most. It would be a rather interesting exercise for all honourable senators to conduct in their own States if they were to ascertain during the forthcoming recess the degree to which those who tune in listen to the debates conducted in the Parliament. If any inquiry is made by the Government, honourable senators could give to that inquiry any information that they had obtained. I shall present the matter to the Prime Minister for Senator Marriott if he will put his question on the notice paper.
– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General aware that the Federal Executive of the Australian Journalists Association has expressed great concern over the length of time that the metropolitan daily newspaper case is taking to be heard by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Is the Minister aware also that whilst the present hearing commenced on 25th October last there have been only eighteen sitting days during the past seven months and that on several occasions arrangements fbr sitting days have been cancelled because members of the Bench have been called upon to deal with other matters? Will the Minister see whether anything can be done to expedite the hearing of the application filed by the union concerned and, if necessary, give immediate consideration to the appointment of additional judges and commissioners not only to enable this hearing to proceed without interruption but also to prevent protracted delays in future arbitration matters?
– I am not aware of what is alleged by the Federal Executive of the Australian Journalists Association, as expressed by the honourable senator, who said that the basis of the complaint is that the hearing of the union’s case before the Commission is taking a great deal of time. There might be a number of reasons for that, and I am sure that they would spring readily to the mind of the honourable senator. Often adjournments are asked for by the parties in a case because they are not ready to proceed; often there are other reasons such as the need for more evidence to be assembled. I do not know what the reasons are in this case. However I shall bring the question to the notice of the Attorney-General. I can do no more than that.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. It will be recalled that the Minister instituted an inquiry into the possibility of separating the times of departure of the two major airlines and providing for flights at different times. Can the Minister inform the Senate when the results of that inquiry and the Minister’s determination will be made available?
- it is my understanding that there has been a degree of rationalisation in relation to time tables, but I shall most certainly get a full answer from the Minister for Civil Aviation and make it available to the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science seen in today’s ‘Australian’ a report of a statement by Professor Michael White, the Professor of Zoology at the University of Melbourne, that the Federal Government’s science policy amounted to no more than subsidising the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and making relatively trivial sums of money available to universities? Is the Minister aware that Professor White’s view is shared by many leaders in the scientific world? Does the Government accept the view that Australia needs a comprehensive national science policy and that there should be closer co-operation between the Government and scientists in the planning and execution of such a policy? If the Minister agrees with this view, will he act upon it and indicate his support for notice of motion No. 6 on the Senate notice paper which is in my name, and which calls for the appointment of a standing committee of the Senate on science?
– With regard to the last question, the answer is no. With regard to the initial questions, I did notice in the
Australian’ the statement made by the Professor of Zoology at the University of Melbourne. It is up to each individual having any knowledge of what is being done in the field of science to judge for himself whether it is correct to say that all that the Government has done has been to subsidise the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation - I emphasise the word ‘subsidise’ - and to make relatively trivial amounts available to universities. I must point out that the Australian Government does not subsidise the CSIRO. It provides money, which is not trivial, for the CSIRO to work. No one who has studied the sums of money made available for universities could regard them as being trivial. Whether one thinks they should be larger is another matter, but $5 12m over three years certainly is not a trivial amount.
There are a large number of other activities, of course, which have been left completely out of account by the professor. It is well known, for example, that the Australian Government supports entirely the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which I think the honourable senator will agree is concerned with science, lt is also well known that the Department of Supply and the defence departments have large science sections in which scientists and technologists are employed and which are financed entirely by the Australian Government. It will also not have escaped the notice of the Senate that other suggestions such as those which come from the Australian Academy of Science are accepted from time to time by the Australian Government which in fact provides most of the money for the running of the Australian Academy of Science.
Perhaps the professor has forgotten the Government’s large programme for the provision of science laboratories in secondary schools throughout Australia which will provide all secondary schools with science teaching facilities, the cost being met by the Commonwealth Government. He may also have forgotten the provision of technical assistance which has revolutionised secondary technical schools throughout Australia. Without wearying the Senate by mentioning a large number of other examples, I leave it to those who have any knowledge of the facts to assess the accuracy of the statement by the professor mentioned.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether his attention has been directed to a report in yesterday’s Adelaide Advertiser’ to the effect that the Premier of South Australia claims that in January he asked the Commonwealth for $6.3m to enable the Eyre Highway to be fully sealed. Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Shipping and Transport with regard to this request? Has the request yet been examined by the appropriate Commonwealth authority? Has any decision yet been made with regard to meeting the request either in full or in part?
– [ have been informed of the request and the Press statement. I am able to say on behalf of the Minister for Shipping and Transport with regard to the South Australian Government’s request for Commonwealth assistance “to enable the sealing of the Eyre Highway that the provision of funds appears to be essentially a matter for the State concerned. In 1967 the highway ceased to be classified as a strategic road and is not now regarded as having any special defence significance which would justify the Commonwealth’s extending financial assistance on this ground.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, in view of the very great menace of cancer, which has struck heavily against the community and in the past few years against the Senate. Has the Minister seen that one of Australia’s star television entertainers, Mr Bobby Limb, who has been affected by this complaint and who, fortunately, has been given a clean bill of health, has promised his complete support in doing everything possible to eradicate this dread disease? Will the Minister discuss with the Minister for Health and the Department of Health the possibility of using this great Australian personality to bring home to the public the need for early medical care and attention in order to avoid or, perhaps, cut down the great menace of cancer?
– I did see that this very well known enter tainer had had an operation, and I was pleased to note that he now has a clean bill of health. I shall be pleased to bring the honourable senator’s suggestion to the notice of the Minister for Health and discuss it with him.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that the Premier of Queensland recently made a Press statement in which he implied that the Loder report was now of little value owing to the lapse of time since it was compiled? Will the Minister now inform the Parliament whether it is indeed a fact that the Loder report has not been released because his Government has been under strong and continuous pressure by the Queensland Government to have the report suppressed for political reasons and not for the reason previously staled by the Prime Minister?
– The honourable senator raised this question previously. I obtained for him a reply, in the form of a letter setting out the position of the Government. There is no alteration of that position al the present moment.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Now that the Australian Government has announced its recognition of the Fascist military set-up in Greece, when does the Government intend to recognise the Government of mainland China to which Australia has sold $870m worth of wool and wheat in the last six years? Furthermore, will the Government give proper consideration to the fact that mainland China, a nation of 700 million people, cannot forever be ignored or refused admission to the United Nations without further endangering the peace of the world?
– As I pointed out in the Senate on Tuesday last in reply to a question from Senator Poyser concerning events in Greece, the Australian Ambassador in Greece is accredited to the
Head of State in Greece, who is the King of Greece. Underneath this Head of State to whom the Ambassador is accredited, the Ambassador will have contact with and will work with the Government that fulfils the requirements of a government that has control of a country, that is maintaining peace, order and good government in the country and that is accepted.
– lt does not matter whether or not it is a democratic government?
– I think that is correct. For example, our own Ambassador deals with the Russian Government which I do not think the honourable senator would regard as particularly democratic. We do not say that our ambassadors will deal only with people who have some form of government which one Australian or another might like. In relation to the second part of the question asked by the honourable senator, I point out to him that the Australian Government recognises and is in contact with that Government of China which is recognised by the United Nations as the Government of China and which is admitted to the United Nations as the Government of China.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Education and Science. I refer to a rather lengthy report in today’s Melbourne ‘Age’ that the Minister has suggested to State Ministers for Education that they might agree to measures aimed at bringing more uniformity or compatibility to some school subjects in the several States. I ask the Minister: Is the report correct? If it is, will he inform the Senate of the nature of the proposals and of any progress that is being made?
– It is quite correct that, in talks with the various State Ministers for Education and State Directors of Education, we have discussed whether it would be possible and desirable for those Ministers and Directors of Education to get together and to see whether, by agreement among themselves, there was some field or some subject - for example, mathematics, or something of that kind - where some compatibility could be brought into the curriculum and where there might be developed a common core text book or common core teachers notes as the basis for teaching a particular grade in a particular State. We suggested that they might discuss this to see whether this compatibility could overcome the problem that some children have when they transfer from State to State. This is a matter that cannot be imposed by a Commonwealth government on the State governments but it is a matter concerning which a Commonwealth government could assist if the States or a majority of them decided that they would like to do something along these lines.
As an example of what is in the minds of the honourable senator and myself, I could point to a biological textbook and teachers’ notes which were written specially by people seconded by the Australian Academy of Science over a period of years. The biological textbook will be used in the top two forms of secondary schools. It is financed by the Academy of Science which in turn is financed by the very Commonwealth Government that the Professor of Zoology has attacked by saying that it is not doing anything in this field. I understand that the textbook is to be adopted for use in the top two forms of secondary schools in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. This action is an example of the kind of thing which might be done and might be extended, but it is not something which can be imposed. It is seeking not uniformity but a basic compatibility which may help some people who are at a disadvantage at present.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs: In view of the growing speculation that the United State of America may be contemplating the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam and in view of the great international anxiety about the prospects of nuclear war, would the Government consider making a statement in the near future as to the attitude of Australia as an ally of the United States if it were suggested that nuclear weapons be used in Vietnam?
– The honourable senator’s question appears to be based on something called speculation on the .part of people unknown. I would not want to give an answer which might be interpreted as indicating that there was anything at all in that speculation. If the honourable senator has something which he believes supports the proposition that atomic weapons may be used - and I have not seen anything anywhere to support such a belief - he should bring it forward and we will see whether it has any proper basis.
(Question No. 17)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Postmaster-General take immediate action to ensure that Commonwealth post offices use Commonwealth banking facilities?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: 1, 2. and 3. I have seen the Press report referred to by the honourable senator. Where practicable, post office accounts are kept with the Reserve Bank of Australia or the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia. There are some cases where it is inconvenient, or where security risks or additional costs could be entailed. In such cases, accounts are maintained with other banks more conveniently located in relation to a post office.
(Question No. 42)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Will the Government agree to refund all telephone rental charges which have been paid in advance by subscribers whose homes were destroyed by recent fires in Tasmania?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer:
In the case of telephone subscribers in Tasmania whose homes were destroyed in the recent bush fires, a refund of rental will be made in respect of the unexpired period covered by the advance rental payment. Should restoration of the service be desired in premises to be re-erected on the same site or in the same locality, a connection fee will not be charged for the restoration of the facility.
(Question No. 97)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer: l.(a) Resident on Christmas Island are about 2,000 Chinese, 1,000 Malays and several hundred Europeans. These three main racial groups have varying occupational, cultural and personal interests. Few of the Chinese and Malays speak English. Social contacts between persons would not be less than in similar communities elsewhere. There are no official policies or practices discriminating between races on the Island. (b) The Chinese and Malays are recruited in the main from Singapore and wage rates offered on Christmas Island are in excess of the going wage for comparable skills in Singapore. The wages at present range from the Singapore equivalent of approximately$A10 per week for unskilled workers and up to $A35 per week for overseers. In addition, allowances are paid for a wife and for each child and to offset rent. There is a severance bonus and a contributors’ Provident Fund. Further, education, medical, hospital and dental services, electricity, water, public transport and the cinema are all free. There are no rates or taxes and, apart from modest duties on liquor, all other imports are duty free. (c) There is some shortage of housing but Christmas Island is not unique in this respect. Although Chinese and Malayan families arc usually large and live in somewhat cramped conditions by our standards, most of them regard the size of housing accommodation on Christmas Island as generous. Standards of housing are of constant concern and, in recent times, there has been considerable improvement despite the difficulties posed by the special conditions attendant on a quickly expanding industry. The housing settlements are generally neat with surrounding areas paved and gardens established. All houses are sewered and connected to electricity and a regular garbage service is provided. (d) There is no shortage of food, bread and meat on the Island. Frequent shipping services with refrigerated cargo space operate between the Island, Singapore and Australia. All meat is imported, but poultry and fish, which Asians eat more of than meat, arc readily available on the Island, (e) Any segregation that might takeplace at cinemas and beaches is quite voluntary and would relate to different social interests rather than to any other reason. There is only one hospital and patients normally prefer to be with others of their own language and interests. The Chinese have several clubs and the Malays have a club. The Christmas Island Club has a predominantly European membership although it does have some Asian members. There are separate Asian and European schools because European children, who are almost wholly Australian, are following the West Australian school curriculum, and the Asian children are following the Singapore curriculum.
(Question No. 114)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Will the Government consider raising the highest ranks in the women’s armed Services to the equivalent of rear-admiral, major-general and air vicemarshal, as has been done in the United States of America?
– The Minister for Defence has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The ranks of the senior officers in each of the women’s Services arc determined in accordance with the normal principles applied to all corps or branch establishments. As with male members, ranks are related to the degree of responsibility exercised. In the Australian women’s Services at present, there is no reason to establish these posts above colonel or equivalent rank.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for the Interior, Mr Anthony, will leave Australia today to lead the Australian delegation to the Pacific Conference on Urban Growth to be held in Honolulu. This Conference is being attended by representatives from fifteen countries in the area as well as by delegations from the United States of America and Australia, and will study the complex problems associated with urban growth in the countries of the Asian and Pacific area. The Australian delegation will include the Victorian Minister for Local Government, Mr Hamer. During Mr Anthony’s absence the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly) will act as Minister for the Interior. Mr Anthony expects to return on 15th May.
– by leave - The statement I propose to make was made a short while ago in another place by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). Honourable senators will understand that when I use the first person pronoun it refers to the Prime Minister. The statement is as follows:
I promised in the House yesterday that I would comment on the announcement made by the Prime Minister of Britain, Mr Wilson, in the House of Commonson Tuesday to the effect that Britain proposes to make an application to join the European Economic Community. We know the British Government has given much thought to the course it should follow and honourable members will recall the attempt to join the European Economic Community which failed in 1963. That was during the Prime Ministership of Mr Harold Macmillan. Mr Wilson has now said:
All of us realise that this isan historic decision which could well determine me future of Britain, Europe and indeed of the world for decades to come.
Each nation is entitled to make decisions in what it conceives to be in its own national interest. But equally, it is to be expected that when major decisions are taken which will affect countries of such historic relationship as Britain and Australia, then the interests of the countries affected will be considered, and the decisions influenced. Now that the British Government has decided that an application to join the Common Market should go forward, wewill be looking to the Government and people of Britain to ensure that the terms of entry take full consideration of the interests of Commonwealth countries which include Australia. In the longer term, it is in all our interests that Britain should remain strong. Only a strong Britain can remain a power of significance in the world, and we all wish this to be so.
During recent months we have been aware that Britain has been contemplating further approaches to the European Economic Community. Throughout this period the British Government has kept us advised about the essential nature of the discussions at ministerial level with the individual member governments of the European Economic Community, More recently the British Government has kept us informed of the development of its own thinking and as recently as last week my colleague, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) discussed the matter with British Ministers in London. Wc have no doubt that as matters proceed, the British Government will continue to keep us informed of essential developments. We would hope however that we would also have the opportunity for meaningful consultations.
Both publicly and privately the British Government- has continually emphasised that entry into the European Economic Community would be subject to adequate safeguards to protect ‘the essential interests of the Commonwealth’. I note that in making his announcement, Mr Wilson referred specifically to the special problems of New Zealand. We certainly have a full appreciation of those problems. Mr Wilson referred also to Commonwealth sugar producers, and we welcome this reference. But our important interests, of course, go very much wider and we would expect that in seeking measures to safeguard the essential interests of the Commonwealth, Britain would take full account of her contractual obligations to Australia and of the heavy dependence of a number of our export industries on the British market.
Because there appears to he some conflict between the essential interests of the Commonwealth and the present European Economic Community regime, and because at this stage we do not know what safeguards Britain will be able to negotiate, it is not practicable for us to make any firm judgment on the extent to which Australia’s exports are likely to be affected by Britain’s eventual entry into the European Economic Community. The impact of British membership of the European Economic Community upon Australian trading interests would depend upon the extent to which our preferential entry to the British market is affected. We sell to Britain under preferential conditions products to the value of approximately $400m. This $400m of trade is concentrated in a relatively few products, and in some cases represents a substantial share of the total export market for the industries concerned. There are also whole communities whose basic industries have geared themselves to the British market. We must recognise that their future could be affected, perhaps seriously, if the British market is lost or substantially reduced. The Government will, of course, be watching this aspect of the problem with particular care.
In recent years there appears to have developed, both in Britain and in Europe, a belief that there may be no great need to take special measures to protect Australia’s export position because we have been diversifying our export trade and have been building up markets in other areas. Over the past five years the share of our total exports going to Britain has declined from about 24% to about I7i% but the total value of exports - preferential and other - to Britain has increased slightly and last year amounted to about $475m in total. In certain agricultural products recent increases in production and availability have enabled us to expand our exports to the world and to develop some new markets. As a consequence, the proportion of total exports going to Britain has declined somewhat. Nevertheless, the absolute volume of shipments to Britain has increased. I refer particularly to beef, butter, fresh fruit, canned fruit and sugar. In the case of these key products our dependence on the British market has, in fact, increased. There are some other products such as wheat, flour, dried fruits and canned meat, where the British market is of prime importance.
During earlier British negotiations to join the European Economic Community it was suggested, both in Britain and in Europe, that the problems of countries such as Australia could be met through the establishment of effective world commodity agreements which would lead to improved access and remunerative prices for agricultural products. From the early stages of Che Kennedy Round it was agreed by the more important participants that effective commodity agreements were essential to the success of these negotiations. The concluding stages of the Kennedy Round are now being reached in Geneva. The final result will not be known until the negotiations have formally been completed, but the prospects of a successful outcome are far from bright.
It appears possible that there may be a ministerial meeting in Geneva next week. The success of this meeting, if held, in opening up new prospects for world trade in agricultural products will affect to a significant degree the extent to which our export trade could still find opportunities, following a successful British application to join the European Economic Community.
Turning now to the financial and economic implications of British membership of the European Economic Community: Australia has had a long history of close financial co-operation with Britain, and no doubt there will be changes in some of these relationships if Britain joins the Common Market. There is little point in speculation at (his time as to all the possible financial ramifications but we cannot ignore the possibility that there may be difficulties for us. Much will depend on terms and conditions of British membership. However, I feel I should mention one issue which will be of considerable interest to us, namely, the future level of capital flows from Britain to Australia.
At the present time Britain is imposing some restraints on the outflow of investment to developed countries of the sterling area such as Australia. Nevertheless our position is still better than that of developed countries outside the sterling area. If Britain were to join the European Economic Community in the near future, it seems likely that it would have to alter its current policies on the control of outward private capital flows. In that event, whatever preferences we may have now in respect of British investments abroad could be quickly abridged. I do not need to emphasise here the extent to which the growth of the Australian economy has been assisted in recent years by the strong inflow of capital from abroad.
Most of this is private capital, and almost half has come from Britain. In 1965-66 private overseas investment in Australian companies from Britain amounted to some $250m. We are thus talking about one of the more important elements in our balance of payments and one of the more important factors contributing to a higher rate of growth in the Australian economy.
Rather similar considerations apply in the case of official capital transactions abroad. Australia, as a member of the sterling area, has had greater access to the London capital market than non-sterling area countries. If Britain joins the European Economic Community, we may be faced with a reduction of borrowing opportunities in London. As we have about $250m of official debt maturing in London over the next five years and some $500m maturing over the next ten years, the question of access to the London capital market is of considerable importance to us. It is, of course, difficult to make an informed judgment on these matters now. Indeed, pending clarification of the terms and conditions of membership, it is virtually impossible to make a precise assessment of the financial and economic implications for Australia. We shall certainly be doing our best to ensure that Australia’s interests are taken into account.
In conclusion, it seems fitting to observe that the British approach to the European Economic Community is still at a very early stage. Indeed the application, although foreshadowed, has not yet been made. Substantial discussions are ahead, and it will only be out of these that we can gauge the likely consequences, and thus what action can be taken to safeguard the interests which are important to us. As I have said, we look to a process of continuing consultation and discussion. We shall, as we can, keep honourable members informed of developments.
– by leave- I move:
I ask for leave to make my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to regulate the manufacture of, and to make other provision with respect to, narcotic drugs in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to give the Commonwealth power to control the manufacture of narcotic drugs from locally produced raw materials and to direct certain other operations involving drugs in accordance with obligations which Australia will assume on becoming a party to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961. The text of the Convention is reproduced as a Schedule to the Bill. The Single Convention is a codification of nine earlier international treaties on drug control.
The United Nations, at the First Session of the General Assembly, initiated the work of bringing these agreements together. After nine years work by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in consultation with the World Health Organisation and other interested bodies, a draft agreement was produced and, in 1961, representatives of seventy-four countries, including Australia, met in New York to finalise it. On being ratified by forty countries the Convention came into force on 13th December 1964. Fifty-seven countries and thirty-three territories have now ratified the Convention and international control is being administered by the United Nations Permanent Central Narcotics Board in Geneva. The Convention covers all aspects of narcotic control both national and international, and forms the basis of a world wide campaign against drug addiction and illicit trafficking.
In order that Australia may accede to the Convention, it is necessary for Commonwealth, State and Territory laws on narcotics control to be brought into line with the Convention’s requirements. All the State governments indicated their acceptance of the provisions of the Convention and all necessary amendments to State legislation have been made. The Commonwealth at present controls manufacture under the provisions of the Customs Act, because the raw materials being used are imported. However, plans are well advanced for manufacture of morphine and its derivatives from raw material of local origin - for example, from poppy capsule material grown in Tasmania. Such manufacture cannot be controlled under the Customs Act.
The main object of the Bill is to control all aspects of the manufacture of narcotic drugs under a system of licensed manufacturers as provided for in the Single Con vention. Control of manufacture in Australia is based at present on administration by the Commonwealth of the estimates system, provided for in the earlier drug conventions and continued in the Single Convention which replaces them. Under this system, estimates of consumption of narcotic drugs for medical and scientific needs are required to be submitted annually to the United Nations. The total quantity of each drug entering the domestic market, either by importation or by local manufacture, is then kept within these estimates by the allocation of quotas. To ensure that Australia’s obligations under the Single Convention will be fulfilled the Commonwealth must continue to administer the estimates system which is an integral part of national and international control. It is considered essential, therefore, that the Commonwealth extend its legislation to cover all aspects of the manufacture of narcotic drugs.
The Bill also provides that, where a vessel or aircraft arrives in Australia with narcotics on board consigned in transit to another country, the captain of the vessel or aircraft must produce, on request, an export authorisation issued by the government of the country of export. This is a requirement of the Single Convention and is designed to ensure that trafficking in narcotics is not carried on under the guise of legitimate commerce.
A further object of the Bill is to require manufacturers of, and wholesale dealers in, narcotic drugs or preparations to keep such records and furnish such returns as are necessary in order to enable the Commonwealth to carry out its obligations under the Single Convention. In practice the records which wholesale dealers are required to keep under State legislation will be accepted for the purposes of this legislation. Clause 7 provides that the legislation will not apply to the exclusion of any law of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth unless such a law is inconsistent with an express provision of this legislation. It is necessary for the Commonwealth to obtain special statistical returns from importers, manufacturers and wholesalers in order to compile returns for submission to the international controlling authorities. The statistics required are essential to the Commonwealth’s operation of the estimates system referred to earlier.
The penal provisions of Article 36 of the Single Convention were considered last year by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. The Committee recommended that provision should be made for serious offences involving narcotic drugs to be indictable and that persons guilty of such offences be liable:
Illicit manufacture of narcotic drugs and illicit diversion of legally manufactured narcotics are very serious offences calling for severe maximum penalties. The penal provisions of this Bill have been drafted with the object of providing a positive and effective deterrent to such activities. The Government is determined to take all possible steps to prevent narcotics becoming available to the Australian public other than for bona fide medical purposes.
This Bill is the first of a number of steps the Government proposes to take to counter illicit production of and illicit trafficking in narcotics in Australia. A further step will he to increase certain penalties under the Customs Act with a view to preventing the illegal importation of narcotic drugs. Apart from these measures the Government is examining narcotics control generally with a view to identifying what further steps might be taken to safeguard the Australian public. 1 commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill Cor an Act to amend the Customs Act 1901-1966 in relation to offences.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Sir, the purpose of this Bill is to increase substantially a wide range of penalties for offences under the Customs Act. I have already introduced the Narcotic Drugs Bill 1967, in which provision is made for the control of the manufacture of narcotic drugs in Australia and for appropriate penalties for abuses of such control. It is now necessary to provide for complementary penalties, of ample deterrent effect, in relation to offences under the Customs Act involving narcotic drugs. Substantialpenalties are required for narcotics offences in accordance with obligations which Australia will shortly assume on ratification of the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961. The penal provisions of the single Convention require that serious offences involving narcotic drugs shall be liable to adequate punishment. As I mentioned when introducing the Narcotics Drugs Bill, the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General has considered the question of what constitutes adequate punishment and has recommended that persons guilty of serious offences involving narcotics be liable to certain penalties. This Bill makes prevision for penalties in accordance with the Committee’s recommendation.
The sections of the Customs Act concerned with narcotics offences are sections 50, 231, 233, 233a and 233b and provision is made in this Bill for offences against any of these sections which involve narcotic drugs to be indictable and for persons committing such offences to be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding £4,000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or to both. Under clause 9 of the Bill there is introduced a new section 235, which provides for the higher penalties for narcotics offences in relation to the sections that I have mentioned. Perusal of those sections will show that all known means of illicit importation and exportation of narcotic drugs have been made offences under the Customs Act.
Section 233a provides, amongst other things, that a master of a ship must not knowingly suffer that ship to be used for the purposes of smuggling. The Bill provides that the penalties under section 233a involving narcotic drugs become indictable and subject to the heavier penalties that I have already mentioned. Section 50 authorises the Governor-General to prohibit the importation of goods absolutely or to prohibit importation subject to the granting of permission or licence. Such permission or licence may require that specified conditions or requirements are complied with by the importer. This section is of particular importance in relation to the legitimate importation of narcotic drugs. Section 233 provides that no person shall smuggle goods, import or expert prohibited goods or unlawfully convey or possess such goods. Prohibited goods include, of course, narcotic drugs. I shall have something more to say regarding sections 231 and 233b a little later.
The financial returns which unscrupulous operators of this pernicious trade stand to gain by illicit trafficking are very high, and that fact, as well as the shocking consequences that stem from the illicit trade, makes it essential that penalties be provided which are sufficiently severe to act as a positive deterrent and which will assist the Department of Customs and Excise to play its part in the prevention of the traffic to the maximum possible degree.
In addition to increased penalties for narcotics offences the Bill also increases penalties for other offences against Customs law.
The Customs Act, as honourable senators are aware, is relied upon to protect the revenue and to protect the community in various ways as for example, against dangerous and other undesirable imports. If the Department of Customs and Excise is to discharge its responsibilities efficiently it is essential that it should have the backing of adequate penal deterrents. Many of the existing penalties have remained unchanged since 1901. There is evidence in the increasing annual number of prosecutions for breaches of customs law that penalties at present incorporated in many sections of the Customs Act are inadequate. Prosecutions for offences against the Customs Act numbered 1363 in the year 1962-63 and 2,807 in the year 1965-66 - a substantial increase over this four-year period. Significant increases, therefore, are proposed in the pecuniary penalties attaching to sections of the Act which have been the basis of frequent prosecutions in recent years. These sections include, for example, section 234 which deals with evasion of duty, false declarations, untrue statements, etc. There were over 750 prosecutions under this section in 1966.
The Bill also increases to a lesser degree penalties attaching to a number of other sections of the Customs Act. Prosecutions under these sections have not been numerous but they are, nevertheless, sections of considerable importance in relation to customs controls. These sections include, for example, section 210 which deals with resisting, obstructing or preventing the arrest of any person by an officer of customs or police, and section 40 relating to failure to deal with goods in accordance with the customs entry. Penalties for offences against these sections are increased to levels which are more closely related to current money values and which will have an increased deterrent effect. For ease of reference I would draw the attention of honourable senators to the schedule to the Bill. This schedule sets out the increases in penalties for offences not involving narcotic drugs.
I have outlined the main clauses of this Bill which deal with increases in penalties. However, I must draw the attention of honourable senators to clauses 5 and 8, which amend certain other provisions of sections 231 and 233b respectively. Section 233b provides that it shall be an offence for a person to possess or import prohibited imports or to aid, abet, etc. the importation of prohibited imports. The section also provides that it is an offence for a person to fail to disclose, on demand by an officer, his knowledge concerning the importation or intended importation of prohibited imports. Because of a construction which has been placed by the High Court on the wording of paragraph (c) of sub-section 1 of section 233b, serious difficulties have been experienced in the past in bringing successful prosecutions under this provision for the unlawful possession of narcotic drugs. These difficulties have been such that it was found necessary to institute proceedings for some narcotics offences under sections which contained provisions’ for only monetary penalties. In these circumstances the opportunity has been taken to incorporate in the Bill amendments to section 233 b to permit successful prosecution under this section.
The difficulties to which I have referred involve the legal interpretation of the paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) which reads: without reasonable excuse (proof whereof shall lie upon him), has in his possession any prohibited
Imparts to which this section applies which have been imported into Australia in contravention of this Act.
While this is obviously a severe provision I believe that the intention of it is quite clear. The amendment incorporated in the Bill merely clarifies that intention. The Bill provides that, for narcotics offences under this section, proceedings on indictment may be instituted in the higher courts with the maximum penalties of a fine of $4,000 or imprisonment for ten years or both. In the absence of the admendments incorporated in the Bill the penalty under section 233b for offences involving prohibited imports is three months but not more than two years imprisonment. This penalty applies only to prohibited imports which are proclaimed by the Governor-General under the section. Because of the severe provisions of the section and having regard to the substantial penalties for offences under the section the Bill incorporates an amendment which withdraws the Governor-General’s power to proclaim the prohibited imports to which the section shall apply. In short, the section will apply exclusively to offences involving narcotics.
Offences involving prohibited imports other than narcotic drugs will be dealt with under other sections of the Act - for example, section 233, where the maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000. Section 231 provides that persons assembled for the purpose of smuggling, importing prohibited imports, etc, shall be guilty of an offence. Under the previous wording of the section offences relating to prohibited imports are limited to those prohibited imports which are proclaimed by the Governor-General. Clause 5 of the Bill amends section 231, insofar as that section applies to prohibited imports, by limiting its application to narcotic drugs and by increasing the penalties in relation to offences involving narcotic drugs. As with section 233b, the Bill withdraws the Governor-General’s power to proclaim prohibited imports. If experience in the future shows that heavier penalties are necessary in respect of prohibited imports other than narcotic drugs, action will be taken to provide for these heavier penalties.
I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Mulvihill) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 3 May (vide page 1134), on motion by Senator McKellar:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Last night when the House rose I had been speaking briefly to this measure and the Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill. I had indicated that we on this side of the House are supporting both these measures. I said also that much care should be taken when rehabilitating persons who are operating in an uneconomic area. The industry must do it progressively and carefully because of the dangers of destroying the decentralisation that this industry has established over many years. In fact, this industry was the initiator of decentralisation in this country. I went on to say that the cost of production and subsidies were very important aspects of the industry. At that stage I indicated that quite a number of farms are being sold and bought at far higher sums than are good for the industry generally. I stated that quite a number of absentee owners - professional men and wealthy businessmen - were buying properties and operating them on a half hobby basis and were leaving the running of the farms virtually to share farmers whom they had under contract. I shall develop further this aspect of share farming.
The share farmer is under contract to the owner and in my view he is being exploited tremendously, particularly when one sees what he receives in return for the labours he puts into the industry. Most share farmers would receive far more if they were the managers of their farms and were working under the terms and conditions of the industrial awards applicable to the dairy industry.
– But the share farmer is normally working on a contract basis?
– That is so. They work on an agreement with the owner of the farm. But in some cases I know of the share farmers have never had a holiday for many years; indeed, they have not taken even a public holiday because they are working outside the industrial award that covers the industry. They are working on a seven-day basis.
– But the honourable senator must know of many owner-farmers who are in the same position?
– I most certainly do. I know many of them, but they are able to dry off their herds at times and have a holiday. On the other hand, the share farmers may have come into the industry in the hope, in many cases forlorn, that they will be able to save sufficient money while working in the industry to entitle them to eligibility under the closer settlement scheme.
– Does the honourable senator not know of any share farmers who have been given that opportunity?
– Yes, but if the honourable senator does not mind I shall develop my argument in my own way. The position is that many share farmers have worked for very many years in the forlorn hope that some day they will be dairy farmers themselves. Some people have asked why they want to go into the dairy industry if things are so bad there. I believe it is because many of them have a love for the land and a genuine desire to become farmers in their own right. Many come from farming families and want to carry on farming but their families or parents have insufficient funds to finance them in the purchase of a farm at the present prices being asked for good dairy farming land. Many of them, after obtaining experience and a little finance, finally decide to apply for blocks when land becomes available under one or other of the closer settlement schemes.
One scheme I have in mind is that excellent one at Heytesbury about which Senator Webster will know something. In that area, a large number of dairy farms has been developed already and a good number more will be opened up in the near future. I think the original plan was to clear 100,000 acres, but the farms already established have proved to be so successful that it has been decided now to make available 300,000 acres of farmland to be used mainly for dairying. I recall that just a few weeks ago there were something like 500 applicants for fifteen farms that became available. I venture to say that many of those 500 applicants were people who either were or had been share farmers and who, by dint of hard saving, had managed to raise sufficient money to qualify as applicants for blocks in this excellent scheme. Of these 500, only fifteen received a pat on the back and the general opinion is that they are as lucky as winners of Tattersalls lottery, or something even better. The ordinary person, however, who is ineligible to apply, or who has been an unsuccessful applicant, finds it absolutely impossible to buy into the industry in Victoria because of the high prices being asked for good dairying areas in that State. In my view, these high prices for dairy properties have increased to something beyond what the industry can afford. I suggest, therefore, that the State Government, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Government, should look at this point a little more closely with a view to increasing financial assistance so that settlements such as Heytesbury and other areas throughout Australia which are suitable for dairying may be enabled to continue economically for a long time to come.
In Victoria, we have one example of what in my view is not in the best interests of the industry. Some 6,000 acres of good land in the irrigation area has been handed over to one big combine - the CohnMcCarthy combine. This combine is to receive a very high allocation of acre feet of water for an area which would have settled many young people desiring to go on the land. This area which has never been a mass production area is being diverted to monopoly control, and some of the best irrigation land in the State is involved. The water for irrigation purposes, of course, will come from the Snowy Mountains scheme which was initiated by the Labor Government and which is now nearing completion. This scheme is something that can assist the industry if it is extended into areas where dairying can be operated economically, and if it can be carried out economically, then the subsidies that we are giving the industry now can remain at their present level.
I want to say something about subsidies because some speakers in another place seem to think that the dairy industry either should not receive any subsidy or should receive it for only a short time. I remind the Senate that many industries are subsidised by way of straight out concessions granted by either Commonwealth or State Governments. One which 1 have in mind is Alcoa of Australia Pty Ltd in Victoria which enjoys a subsidy by way of a concessional rate for electricity. It has enjoyed this concession ever since it began operations in Geelong. It has been claimed that the benefit enjoyed by way of concessional rates for electricity is worth approximately $6m a year. It is to receive this benefit for a period of seven years, which, according lo my arithmetic, represents S42m or approximately the amount that it will cost this company to complete its own power station at Anglesea. So we have a situation where one company, the profits of which will be taken out of this country, will receive a vast amount of assistance by way of concessional charges whereas another industry, one of the greatest of our primary producers, and one which will bring finance to Australia as well as assist with our overseas balance of payments, is to receive a subsidy of only $27m. Under those circumstances, I cannot see how any valid argument can be advanced for terminating the subsidy. Let me emphasise that I am a protectionist with relation to secondary industries in this country and a very firm protectionist so far as our primary industries are concerned.
Reference has been made to the heavy fall in the per capita consumption of butter in this country. Some have argued that the sole reason for this decline is the high price of butter. I suggest there are many other factors responsible for the fall in consumption. Firstly, I believe that, as a nation, we have altered our eating habits from what they were when I was a lad or even a youth. In those days, the staple diet in the homes of the working people was bread and butter, bread and jam or bread and dripping. Because bread was cheap, and because we could not afford to buy better food that would be more nutritious, we filled our stomachs with it.
Again, in almost every major school that I know of in and around Melbourne, a canteen has either been established or is being established to supply the types of meals that the mothers would like their children to have in preference to carrying a little satchel under their arms with a couple of rounds of sandwiches on which a certain amount of butter would be used.
Most big industrial organisations are providing their employees with a two or three course meal in a canteen for 30c or a little more. The result, again, is that the worker does not take two or three rounds of buttered sandwiches to work in a satchel under his arm any longer. These things in their own way might appear to be minor matters but, taken collectively, over the whole of the nation, they become significant and support my argument that we are not consuming as much butter as we did because we have in fact altered our eating habits.
Again, the. housewife of today buys a tremendous number of pre-mixed foods which she has only to tip out of the packet and cook. In the main, these foods are fortified wilh a synthetic such as margarine instead of the butter that mum usually uses in her cooking. Overall, there are a number of factors responsible for the drop in the per capita consumption of butter in this country, and they should all be examined.
I think that in order to help the industry we should look to such alternatives as increased production of cheese for export and the increased production of casein and the other excellent foods that are finding regular markets in Asia. I submit that we could expand this industry tremendously if we looked to the markets that I am convinced are to be found in Asia. I have seen somewhere figures that indicate that 6,000m people will inhabit the earth al the end of this century. This means that the expansion of food production must, go on in countries such as Australia. We have the areas available. Only the will of the Government and others is needed to have them developed on an economic basis. This, to me, seems to be the planning that we should carry out.
Sitting suspended from .1.2.30 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended, I was speaking of the development of the dairy industry in relation to engaging in the manufacture of new products. I feel that my speech is becoming a series of episodes like ‘Peyton Place’ or ‘The Fugitive’ which we see on television. I do not know whether the next episode will be better or worse than the previous one.
I believe that the dairy industry can develop quite a number of products more extensively than they have been developed up to the present time and that markets, particularly in Asia, will be available to them. The Australian Dairy Produce Board already has carried out a great deal of valuable work in respect of reconstituted milk plants in Asian countries to develop these markets. I feel that this is one of the answers to the drop in consumption of butter on the home market and also perhaps the answer to what appears to be the likelihood of the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community. I feel quite definitely that the industry must remain in a situation where it will receive some kind of subsidy to enable it to overcome some of the difficulties that are fairly obvious and which will be felt in the next few months, if the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community affects the dairy industry as a whole here. 1 have heard the suggestion that we extend the field by bringing in butter from New Zealand. It has been suggested that we can do this under the terms of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. In that event, we will be in a worse plight if the United Kingdom joins the European Economic Community. We will have a great surplus of butter and nowhere to sell it. This is a very strong possibility. I feel that the positive suggestion is that we should develop the markets in South East Asia even to the extent of assisting and encouraging the Australian Dairy Produce Board to move further into the fields that it has undertaken.
The Board is working solidly and unobtrusively in the interests of the dairy industry. The Board is one of the major factors in seeing that the industry is not in a far worse position than is the case at this point of time, We have the situation, as I have admitted earlier in my speech and as other honourable senators have admitted in their speeches, that dairy farms in certain areas of this country cannot operate at an economic level. Other areas could be developed very definitely in an economic manner provided costs of production could be kept down. This is the job that this Government as well as the State governments has to carry out. It must ensure that such areas are developed in a manner that will maintain dairying as an economic industry which is able to earn overseas funds for Australia. This is one of the important factors in this regard.
Mr Deputy President, I feel that I have spoken long enough on this Bill. Let me say finally that the subsidy of $27m per year to be paid over five years is not a very large sum of money in relation to the gross national product. Indeed, when compared with the gross national product it is a very small sum. If present trends continue, I can see Australia spending almost this amount annually on looking after the flight of VIP aircraft. We have never been able to ascertain what these aircraft cost the country. But the dairy industry is so important that the amount of $27m pet year for five years in comparison with the gross national product of Australia and, indeed, the annual national Budget, is very little to pay in order to keep this industry in a sound and prosperous position.
– Mr Deputy President, the Dairying Industry Bill now before the Senate seeks to continue for another five years the subsidy payment of $27m per annum which has been embodied in the existing legislation as part of the current five-year dairying industry stabilisation plan. Various sections of the community, chief among which has been the city Press, have contended that the proposals are inadequate and that, because the dairy industry is inefficient, the bounty should be discontinued and some other means found to raise the efficiency of the industry. 1 wish to diverge a little from the trend of the arguments that have been advanced already to illustrate what I mean regarding all the attention that has been paid, .principally by. city, interests, to the payment of this bounty of $27m per year. In our mail in only the last day or so we have received from the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) a document with the heading ‘Exports Earn Tax Rebates’. This heading has appeared in the Press also. In this statement the Treasurer tells us bow much has been paid in tax rebates over the last five years to encourage the export of Australian manufactured goods. We find that over the period of five years some 549,500,000 has been paid in export tax rebates.
– On secondary industries.
– Yes, on secondary industries. We find (hat the net result has been an average increase of only $22m so that we have been paying $9.9m in laxrebates to achieve an overall increase in manufactured goods of approximately $22m. Surely this is an expensive sort of pump priming. But we have heard nothing about, and no attention has been directed to, this particular aspect of expenditure.
– Senator, it is paid to encourage industry to export.
– Yes. certainly; but let us have a look at what we are getting for our money. Some critics have harped a great deal on the alleged inefficiency of the dairy industry. I think that we need to have a look at this matter. Producers are becoming more than a little tired of this harping upon the need for greater and greater efficiency in our primary industries. 1 think that we ought to have a look at the efficiency of some of the other sectors of our community.
At a wool committee meeting the other day we were told by a representative of a firm thai manufactures knitted goods that it had been informed recently that it need not open its sample bags in certain Sydney stores unless it was prepared to accept a mark-up of 57i%. In the past, a mark-up of approximately 50% has been demanded. This figure has been up to 55% and now the demand is for a mark-up of 57i% so that this firm can retail Australianmanufactured knitted goods. We go through all the agonies of production and there is a vast amount of capital involved in developing and producing wool; the wool goes through all the stages of manufacture and the article, placed on the counter at a figure of 100, is marked up to 157 before the consumer can obtain it. Surely if we are to look after the interests of the consumer in this country we need to look at the efficiency of the whole of our industries and not keep harping upon one section that, after all, is in many cases the lowest factor in the ultimate cost of our goods. Surely if we talk about efficiency in primary industry, particularly the dairy industry, we need to know what we arc talking about. We should qualify our terms. What is efficient’ or ‘inefficient’?
Sena ‘or Benn - We need to know what factors would have to be considered.
– Exactly. Nobody has yet been able to determine these factors. Surely these matters have to do with the circumstances in which the industry finds itself. About 60,000 individuals are engaged in the dairying industry which must cope wilh all the variations and equations which go to make up what can be called an efficient industry. Of course, the efficiency of the industry cannot be measured by any single factor; lor example, by the cost of production measured as the cost per cow, production per cow, cost per acre or cost in relation to the amount of butter produced. The McCarthy report has been used by opponents of the present subsidy scheme as source material for their arguments. At paragraph 739 the Committee stated that efficiency in farming depends on many diverse factors. This is an obvious statement, but I think it needs to be made. The main findings of the Committee are often overlooked and are seldom quoted. They arc never quoted by the city Press. Its number one finding was that ‘the national interest requires that the dairying industry should be preserved and, despite strong representations to the contrary, should be expanded’. At paragraph 1203 the Committee stated:
A violent social upheaval would follow any important reduction in the size and status of the dairy industry.
At paragraph 1206 it stated:
The bulk of the milk produced in Australia today comes from farms of adequate size, located in suitable areas and operated with commendable efficiency. The Committee is not prepared to subscribe to the view that the industry as a whole is inefficient. There is, however, a measure of remedial inefficiency.
I think that is an accurate summary of the condition of the industry at that time. There is a measure of remedial inefficiency. In any industry carried out by a great number of individuals how could there be any other sort of condition, no matter what is done by the Parliament, the Government or the industry itself? With so many people in it the industry must include people who are less efficient than others. I think the Committee went astray in accepting too readily the report of two academics - Professor Downing and Professor Karmel. They seem to have examined the industry from a preconceived and biased viewpoint. They admitted to having reached their conclusions after isolating the industry’s purely economic position from its social, political and cultural aspects. That can be done as an academic exercise, but it should not be done in the context of Government action to help the industry. Those aspects cannot properly be divorced from the economic position.
The professors reached their conclusions after having set up a completely invalid basis for their calculations; that is, the standard of export parity, upon which all their findings were based. I believe that to be a completely unjustified basis. For instance, they figured that the protection afforded the dairying industry ranged from 24.6% in 1952-53 to 91% in 1957-58, or an average of £25. 6m a year. That amazing result was achieved by claiming that the basis should be export parity. The professors calculated that protection to the industry was embodied in the Australian price margin above that figure plus the subsidy. To my mind that method takes us back to the thinking of the early 1930’s, to the attitude that Australian producers should not expect to enjoy the living standards of their fellow Australians but should be ground down to producing and selling in Australia at a figure equal to or very close to export parity.
So the professors produced a set of figures on economic production and some consequential deductions from those figures. They also affected the thinking of the Committee in maintaining that the bounty was a producer subsidy which helped only the stronger producers to get stronger and suggested the idea that the money should not be paid in price - about 7c per lb - but that the total should be applied in diminishing scale to various ways of making the lower level producers more effective. That point has been taken up in various criticisms by members of the other House who have no knowledge of the industry but who think that this is a workable scheme. I suggest - and I think that honourable senators opposite will appreciate the point - that to say that an industry can be set up wherein the most efficient producers obtain a lower price for their product than the people at the bottom receive is comparable to suggesting the setting up of a scale of payment for shearers by which the fellow who shears one hundred sheep a day gets $20 a hundred, the fellow who shears 150 sheep a day gets $18 a hundred and the fellow who shears 200 sheep a day gets $16 a hundred. I can imagine the indignation in the shearers’ camps at that suggestion. But that is the suggestion made seriously for the dairying industry - that as its members become more efficient they should accept a lower price for their products. I have never heard more unmitigated and impractical nonsense in my life.
With regard to the weaker units in the industry, the Minister has already foreshadowed in his second reading speech the action to be taken. He has predicted Commonwealth action, integrated with State action, to assist the States to carry out special measures to help people with inadequate finance to develop an economic unit. Honourable senators are familiar with such cases. The action to be taken is along the lines of that being taken very well under the Dairy Improvement Act in Western Australia. The Commonwealth has promised to assist schemes for the benefit of people who are trying to establish themselves on an economic footing in the dairying industry; but that is another problem.
The lower level producers - the people who now just make ends meet - would be forced out of the industry if the dairying subsidy were abandoned. All that would be achieved by that step would be, by the forcing out of the industry of the lower level producers, the drawing of another line at which would be developed a new series of marginal producers. What about the people who are now strongly situated in the industry and are making a profitable business of dairying? They would find a cut of between 30% and 50% in their profits. There would be an exodus from the industry, not only of people at the bottom but of people right throughout the whole range. The more intelligent producer would say: This industry is no good. I can exercise my abilities much better in another industry.’ A very large section of the more efficient members of the industry would leave wilh the inefficient producers. We cannot afford to have that happen.
In the McCarthy report a warning was issued’ by two academics - Dr Edwards and Mr N. T. Drane of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Sydney. They said that they thought the DowningKarmel proposals were so severe that they would eliminate 40% to 50% of producers and serve to throw up a new group of marginal producers. I have no doubt that that would happen. What about the people in the higher range of production - the more efficient people? Professors Downing and Karmel were aware of the possible effect of land values. They say this at pages 121 and 122 of the report: a particular problem arises over land values . . any farmer who bought his land some time ago would in the first place have enjoyed the benefits of protection for that time and in the second have benefited from the general inflation of all values including land that has occurred in recent years.
Now with due respect to those learned professors, this is unmitigated rot. If this is the best sort of thinking that these people can contribute to the welfare of Australian industry, then I think they had better go back to school.
What is the effect upon a fellow in the industry of increased land values? First of all, he has to make increased provision for probate. He has to pay higher rates and taxes. He has not, as the learned Professors say, benefited from the general inflation of all values. This means inflated costs and there is no return for him from inflated land values so long as he remains in the industry. The only possible advantage might be that if he went to borrow money and if he could convince his bank manager that inflated values have any substance, he might be able to increase his indebtedness. But inflated land values add to his costs. This is the benefit enjoyed, according to our professorial friends.
Let me now return to my basic objection to the thinking embodied in the report prepared by the two professors. I do not apologise for returning to this report which admittedly was made in 1960. I think it is essential that we should examine this report again because so much of the criticism of and opposition to the dairy industry - the repetition of this parrot cry of ‘inefficiency’ - stems largely from what Professors Downing and Karmel said in 1960. I have accused these people of bias. In support of that statement I refer to paragraph 11 al page 120, of their report where they say:
But dairying does differ from those secondary industries to which protection is most often granted, lt is unlikely to become viable, in the long run, without protection. Its efficiency is not held back by the limited extent of the internal market. It is not an increasing return industry.
I want for a moment to look at that amazing statement. The professors are trying to argue that because the dairy industry cannot, they say, reduce its unit cost by expansion, therefore it cannot be compared with a manufacturing industry where a growing market enables reduced costs. Surely if there is a larger market there is a prospect of larger units - certainly in the manufacturing end of the business. We have seen it happen, as my friend Senator Heatley told me recently, in Queensland where an amalgamation of dairying units of factories have achieved this very factor of reduced unit costs. There is scope within the industry for reducing costs along these lines, although our friends tell us that it is not possible. They go on to say:
We conclude that any protection afforded dairying should be below the average level of protection enjoyed by protected industries.
All this is bad enough, but when they apply the test of export parity to the dairy industry in measuring what they deem to be the appropriate level of protection, then their conclusions become almost farcical. Whenever, in any consideration of tariff making, was export parity considered in relation to secondary industries, most of which have little or no hope of ever reaching export potential? In my judgment there is no protection at all given to an Australian industry if it sells its products in Australia at a price below or equivalent to the price for which a similar article can be purchased abroad.
Let us apply this judgment to the price of butter. If the Australian dairy industry was non-existent or reduced in output so that we were net importers of butter, what would the Australian consumer pay for butter? It would presumably be bought either on the UK market or in New Zealand. Where is immaterial, since if we buy from New Zealand we are only subtracting from what New Zealand is sending to the UK and our costs of importing from New Zealand would be almost identical with those of importing from the UK. This particular point received some attention from Professors Downing and Karmel, and they admit that in these words:
We might have to negotiate with New Zealand for bulk supplies at prices rather above the UK. price.
So we can forget about New Zealand for the moment.
We can take 325s Sterling per cwt as a working basis. Of course, the UK price varies. It is rather a sensitive market. Prices vary between 450s down to about 290s. Recently they have ranged around 325s. At the moment they are running at 300s. But I am taking as a fair working basis 325s per cwt. What will it cost us to get that butter to Australia? First of all, we have to add freight which is 47s per cwt. That brings the price to 372s. We have to add exchange to bring the price to Australian values, which adds another 93s to the price. That makes it 465s. But the butter has to be imported by somebody who takes the risk of importing, and the current commercial margin would not be less than 124%, which would add another 58s to the price. The butter has to be sold in Australia, and the current retailers margin is approximately 56s per cwt. That makes a total price of 579s per cwt, or 52c per lb.
But, of course, we have not allowed for the tariff. There is a tariff on butter imports. That would add another 56s per cwt to I he price, which would make the retail price of butter 57c per lb. If this were the end result we would then be selling above the present price, but this is not the end of the story. Would the price in the UK remain at 325s per cwt? If, instead of an export of 80,000 tons of butter into a market, which at present is something of the order of 420,000 tons, we suddenly moved from that market, or did it gradually for that matter, we would inevitably produce a sharp rise in that market. But that is not the end. Presumably we would be importers, so we would be. taking an additional quantity from that market. Should we import something like 50,000 tons, the UK market would be very much higher than it is today. Of course, the economists would tell us that compensatory factors would arise; that this would encourage production and so on. It would, but in the meantime we would be paying a very high price for butter in Australia. This point of view has never been admitted or considered by those who claim that the dairy industry is being pampered by the existence of a subsidy which, after all. is a consumer subsidy. It was introduced originally for that purpose and it has effectively kept down the prices of butter.
Although we complain that $27m comes from the public purse to pay the subsidy, the alternative is to take it from the people’s pockets by increasing the price of butter. Of course, this would be beautiful business for the margarine manufacturers. Hence we see all over Australia pictures of that flag flapping female, Mrs Jones, agitating for a reduction in the subsidy because that would cause a rise in the price of butter in Australia and give the margarine companies wider scope for manufacturing their product. We have been told that the margarine manufacturers are efficient producers and that they can manufacture cheaply. If they can do that, why do they not go into the export field? It is wide open. If they are so efficient in their production methods the world is their market.
I have detailed to the Senate the situation which would arise if Australia ceased to be a substantial exporter of butter. The Australian consumer who has been misled by an unceasing barrage of propaganda from various sources to the effect that the price of butter is too high, needs to thank God every day for having a dairy industry which is providing a first-class product at a price within his reach. According to official figures, since 1953 the basic wage index has risen by 39% and the index of average weekly earnings has risen by 83.7% whereas the retail price of butter per lb has advanced only from 41c to 52c, representing an increase of about 25%. During this time overall returns to the butter producer have remained stationary or have shown a small decline. Figures showing the latest average return for butter are not available to me but I can inform the Senate that in 1953 the return to the dairyman was 47.10d per lb and that it had dropped to 45.86d per lb in 1964. In other words there was a reduction of 1.24d per lb. There we see a situation of increasing wages and costs since 1953 with declining or stationary returns to the dairyman.
Since I960, the year in which the McCarthy report was produced, the basic wage index has increased from 117± to 139 and the average weekly earnings index has increased from 136.4 to 183.7 but the retail price of butter has increased from 49c to only 52c, that is, by about 4%. Those who moan about the price of butter should hang their heads in shame when they are confronted with the true facts of the situation. Under these conditions this allegedly inefficient industry has continued to produce some 200,000 tons of butter a year as well as cheese, milk, milk products plus sideline pigs and 16% of our total beef production.
– Would the honourable senator be prepared to state the difference between ‘inefficient’ and ‘unprofitable’?
– No, I would not. The dairy industry has produced in five years some $ 1,600m worth of dairy products and has provided Australia with about $100m foreign exchange a year while at the same time continuing to supply the Australian consumer with butter which compares in price more than favourably with the price in any other country, with two possible exceptions.
Current figures relating to the retail price of butter are not available to me but according to information supplied through the courtesy of the Library statistical service it appears that in October 1965 the retail price of butter was 50.3c per lb in Sydney and 49.9c per lb in Melbourne. The equivalent price in New Zealand was 24.9c. At that time the New Zealand price was subsidised but when the subsidy was removed recently the price immediately jumped to 35ic per lb. I remind the Senate that the prices I am citing are in Australian currency. If anyone thinks that New Zealanders are getting their butter cheaper than are Australians, he should look at the relevant wage rates.
Page 932 of the New Zealand ‘Year Book’ for 1965 carries a table which shows that a general farm worker received £8 8s 3d a week which is equivalent to £10 10s 4d or $21 in our currency. Shearers received £4 4s per 100 sheep which is equivalent to £5 5s or $10.50 while dairyfarm workers received £10 5s 6d which is equivalent to £12 16s lOd or $25.70. The price of butter in New Zealand assumes a different complexion when cognisance is taken of the level of wages paid in that country.
Let us look at the situation in Europe. Again converting the money into the Australian equivalent, we find that in Belgium butter costs 91.3c per lb, in France 84c per lb, in Germany 79.6c, in Italy 96.7c, in Luxembourg 77.3c, in the Netherlands 59.8c and in the United Kingdom 46c.
Again I advise honourable senators to have regard to wage rates in Britain and work out how much time is spent in earning the price of 1 lb of butter, which is the relevant factor. In the United States butter costs 68.1c per lb and in Canada 51.6c which is somewhat similar to the price in Australia. Despite the prophets of gloom and with the assistance of the subsidy this so-called inefficient Australian industry has since 1960 increased milk production per cow and has increased total production with a reduced number of cows and with fewer people in the industry. 1 maintain that the industry is in sound hands. Its organisation is working well and, with the continuance of the present subsidy, some assistance to the weaker units in the industry and less unfavourable and untruthful propaganda, it will continue to play its part in contributing to the welfare of the Australian people. I support the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to establish an Australian Tourist Commission for the purpose of the encouragement of visits to Australia, and travel in Australia, by people from other countries. The Government’s intention to introduce this measure was foreshadowed by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) in their policy speeches in November last year.
The Government’s role in the development of overseas tourism to Australia comes within the responsibilities of my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry. The Bill brings to fruition the considerable time and effort which the Minister has devoted to the development of this proposal for an Australian Tourist
Commission. The Government proposes the establishment of this Commission as the first major step towards a greater level of efforts to promote tourism to Australia. Earnings from spendings in Australia by visitors from other countries are already a major source of overseas exchange for the Australian balance of payments. In 1965-66 they totalled at least $65m and were Australia’s ninth most important source of foreign exchange in that year.
It will be apparent to honourable senators also that the earnings Australia gains from the spendings of overseas visitors are valuable additional income in the hands of a very widely spread range of commercial interests in the Australian community. Not only the airline or bus or taxi and the hotel, motel or restaurateur derive an income from serving the overseas tourist, but the retailer, the manufacturer and many Other sectors of Australian commerce and industry directly or indirectly derive income from the demands which the tourist generates in the course of his visit to Australia. In addition to the benefits derived by these various industries from overseas tourism to Australia, the demands created result in employment opportunities for a wide cross section of workers throughout the Australian community. I believe, moreover, that tourism is not only a useful earner of vital overseas exchange for Australia and a generator of additional income to the community; it is also an instrument for international goodwill and understanding.
The Government’s recognition of the importance of overseas tourism is by no means new. The Australian National Travel Association, which is a voluntary private association has, since 1929, undertaken in a splendid fashion the task of promoting overseas tourism to Australia. In this, it has had the full support of Australian Governments. Since 1952-53, this Government has made grants in successive years to the Australian National Travel Association totalling almost S5m up to and including the grant for 1966-67 of $862,000. The Government’s grants have in fact represented around 70% of the Australian National Travel Association’s finance in any one year since 1956-57.
The Government’s decision to establish an Australian Tourist Commission has, in fact, resulted from a proposal put forward by the Australian National Travel Association itself. In 1964 (he Association, with considerable foresight, commissioned studies by two United States firms of consultants of the tourist situation in Australia and Australia’s tourist potential. The consultants’ comprehensive report projected targets for Australia’s travel markets and their potentials. They projected that by 1970 Australia should take as a target the attraction of 320,000 overseas visitors and that by 1975 this target should have grown to 607,000 visitors.
The consultants went on to estimate visitor expenditures based on their projections of market targets. They estimated visitor expenditures by 1970 totalling $120m. They estimated that by 1975 achievement of the market target of 607,000 visitors by that time would result in visitor expenditures totalling $208m. The consultants put forward these projections and estimates subject to certain major conditions. These conditions were as follows:
The Australian National Travel Association gave this report considerable study during late 1965 and 1966. The board of the Association finally reached the conclusion that an official Commonwealth instrumentality was needed to give more positive leadership to the tourist industry in the promotion of Australia overseas. The board also concluded that the Commonwealth must accept greater and more direct responsibility for the finance required. In short, the Australian National Travel Association has asked the Commonwealth Government to accept, as a direct responsibility, the task of encouraging people in other countries to visit Australia. The Government has accepted this job because it recognises that Australia’s potential as a place to which tourists can be attracted, and the benefits for Australia from those tourists, are so enormous as to warrant the Commonwealth taking the work on. lt is not an easy task. Proud as we all are in this country of its many attractions, it is nevertheless a long distance from the European and North American continents, whence the great bulk of tourists originate. Australia is not well known to the average person in Europe or North America. Australian efforts to overcome this obstacle and attract tourists face considerable competition from the promotional efforts which many other countries, mindful of the gains to them from attracting overseas tourists, are engaged in. Time, distance, competition and unfamiliarity are all major obstacles with which the Australian National Travel Association has contended so ably in the past, and with which the Tourist Commission will have to contend in the future. The Government strongly hopes that the members of the Association will recognise its considerable value as a unique organisation bringing together all the interests in Australia relating to overseas visitors. Although the Association will no longer be carrying on the task of promoting Australia’s attractions overseas the Government hopes it will remain in existence as an industry voice and a place where many industries can together stimulate and co-ordinate their efforts to attract and serve overseas visitors. I shall refer again to this matter in discussing the provisions of the Bill itself.
I refer now to the main provisions of the Bill. The purpose and powers of the Commission are set out in Part III of the Bill in clauses 15 and 16. Clause 15 reads:
The Commission is established for the purpose of the encouragement of visits to Australia, and travel in Australia, by people from other countries.
The Government intends that the Commission’s activities shall be primarily concerned with overseas promotion of Australia’s tourist attractions, with the object of attracting increased numbers of overseas visitors to Australia. The Commission will, of course, be based in Australia, and some of its activities will take place in Australia. But by far the greater part of its work will be carried out overseas in the countries from which tourists are to be attracted. I elaborate on this point because the Government wants to make it clear that it is in no way intended that the Commission should either compete with the State instrumentalities or commercial enterprises in their activities within Australia or concern itself with the movement of Australian tourists from one State to another. The activities of the various State instrumentalities within Australia and of Australian commercial enterprises are to be augmented and assisted by the Commission with respect to overseas visitors.
The powers of the Commission are set out in clause 16. The Commission is given a general power to do anything which may prove to be conducive to, or necessary or convenient to be done for, carrying out its purpose of encouraging overseas tourism to Australia. The range of activities which will make up the Commission’s main undertakings can be seen from the paragraphs of sub-clause (2.) of clause 16 of the Bill. These paragraphs give the Commission power to carry out publicity campaigns and other publicity to publicise Australia’s tourist attractions and the facilities in Australia to cater for the tourist. The Commission will no doubt undertake promotional activities of many kinds in overseas countries. It will run publicity campaigns by advertising Australia’s attractions in magazines, by special presentations such as lecture tours, by films, and so on.
The Commission will be empowered to work with the industries servicing tourists, such as travel agents, transport operators and others who, both in Australia and overseas, play a vital commercial role in stimulating an overseas visitor’s interest in coming to Australia and facilitating his visit by planning his tour, making the necessary travel and accommodation bookings for him and providing the whole range of services needed to ensure that the tourist is properly looked after. The Commission will probably devote a great deal of its energies to working with travel agents and tour operators in other countries, and aim to generate an interest on their part in selling travel to Australia to their customers.
The Commission may produce magazines, pamphlets, brochures and other publications to stimulate this interest further. It may also produce sales aids for the travel agents and other industries concerned with attracting and servicing the tourists, so that these enterprises will not only be stimulated into selling Australia but will be assisted by informative literature spelling out the attractions Australia possesses, and how the tourist goes about arranging his tour, what it will cost, where he might stay, how long he needs to travel between places of interest and so on. It may also produce promotional literature of these kinds for direct circulation to the actual tourist himself, to stimulate his interest in coming to Australia. The Australian National Travel Association has already done a great deal in this direction. I believe that the Commission will be able to take this work considerably further and build up in the overseas countries from which the bulk of our tourists is to come greatly increased interest in Australia which, by adroit salesmanship and servicing, ran be turned into actual tourists.
The Commission may also act in a research way to collect information on the variety of matters which affect Australia’s tourist potential. It may. for example, study the promotional techniques of other countries. It may study the behaviour of the overseas tourists themselves, how much they have to spend, their age and other social facts about them. Much of this information would be available not only for the Commission’s own purposes but also to assist the many Australian industries which may use it to influence their own commercial decisions about their services for the overseas visitor.
It may be that, in the process, the Commission will also study the Australian facilities and amenities which exist, lt will need to do this to inform its own mind on what it is setting out to promote. It may also be that the industries concerned will welcome comparative studies of this kind for the information they will gain about their standards of services as compared with the standards of others in different parts of Australia and in overseas countries.
The Commission has also been given a power to undertake the provision of assistance to travel agents, transport operators and other appropriate bodies or persons in arranging travel, accommodation or other services or facilities for people visiting Australia. This power is specially circumscribed and 1 want to make a few remarks about it for this reason. The Commission is empowered to undertake the task of assisting with these arrangements only in a country outside Australia and with the further limitation that the Commission is to be satisfied that no Australian enterprise is also undertaking that kind of service in hat country.
The purpose of this power, briefly slated, is to enable the Commission to act with the travel industries as a commercial arranger of travel in circumstances where Australia might otherwise lose the interest of potential tourists from a particular country where there are no commercial facilities geared to arrange travel to Australia. It is a power which may not be used to any great extent. Its existence will, however, enable the Commission to bridge any gaps which might exist for the time being in the Australian tourist industries’ ability to service potential tourists from countries which do not at present provide a large share of the visitors coming to Australia. I have no doubt that in using this power the Commission will be working towards the day when the Australian industries themselves move into providing these services in such countries. The Commission’s role in this respect is one of a pathfinder and a stimulus rather than a continuing commercial operator.
Sub-clause (3) of clause 16 empowers the Commission, in paragraph (a), to act jointly or in co-operation with any other person or organisation in its activities. The Australian National Travel Association has in the past developed joint promotional campaigns with international carriers and other industries concerned with the overseas tourist. These campaigns have been financed on a matching $1 for $1 basis by a grant from the Commonwealth and contributions from industries concerned. The Government attaches great importance to the principle of partnership embodied in this arrangement and hopes that the Commission will receive the support and co-operation of the industries involved, in the same way as the Australian National Travel Association has received it in the past. The Commission is therefore specifically empowered to carry out joint activities of this kind.
Honourable senators will note that subclause 4 of clause 16 precludes the Commission from carrying on any business except in certain prescribed areas. So far as the great bulk of its activities is concerned, the Commission will not be trading in any sense of that term. It is fundamentally an organisation to promote Australia’s attractions by publicity and similar means. But it has been given the power to sell some of its publications if expert opinion judges this to be appropriate. It has been given the power to charge for the supply of information collected under the research activities which I outlined earlier if, again, it seems desirable to make such charges for some kinds of work undertaken. It has also the power to charge for the service of assisting to make arrangements for travel in countries outside Australia which I mentioned immediately before passing to this point. Honourable senators will appreciate that these activities, if they do in fact prove to be both necessary and desirable adjuncts to the Commission’s main task, arc minor features of its functions.
Honourable senators will also note that by clause 17 sub-clause (1) the Minister is empowered, as is customary in relation to statutory authorities of this kind, to direct the Commission with respect to matters of policy including directions wilh respect to the general nature and extent of its operations. The Australian National Travel Association, in proposing that the Government establish the Commission, has stressed the virtue of giving the Commission considerable freedom to determine its own activities and make its own decisions about the most effective way of carrying out its purpose. The Government respects this view and intends that the Commission shall, in the ordinary course of its affairs, have a free hand to make its own expert decisions on how best its purpose is to be achieved within the powers it has been given.
I turn now to the constitution of the Commission as stated in clause 6 of Part II of the Bill. The Commission is to consist of five voting members and two non-voting members, each member being appointed by the Governor-General. The Australian National Travel Association has rightly stressed the advantages of the partnership which it has embodied between the Australian industries concerned with servicing overseas visitors and the State and Commonwealth governments. The Association has proposed to the Government that the membership of the Commission should be constituted in a way that retains the essential spirit of this partnership. The Government accepts this view and has therefore proposed a membership for the Commission which it believes will effectively embody this principle of partnership.
At the same time the Australian National Travel Association has rightly stressed that to be an effective decision making unit the Commission must be comparatively small in numbers. The constitution of the Commission’s membership has been the subject of considerable thought and study in consultation with the Board of the Australian National Travel Association. There have also been discussions with the State Ministers for tourism and their departmental advisers on this question. The membership proposed for the Commission has resulted from these consultative processes.
Sub-clause (3) of clause 6 of the Bill provides that two of the voting members shall be persons appointed from among persons nominated by a body or association that is approved by the Minister as being representative of the industries in Australia connected with tourism. It is the Government’s intention that, if the Australian National Travel Association remains in existence and continues to be the effective meeting place that it has been in the past, then the Government, with great pleasure, will recognise it as the body or association to be approved by the Minister in the terms of sub-clause (3) of clause 6 of the Bill. This recognition will give the Australian National Travel Association the right to nominate a panel of persons from whom two of the voting members of the Commission shall be appointed. These men will be appointed for their knowledge and understanding of Australia’s task in stimulating a greatly increased number of overseas visitors to Australia. They will be selected for their personal abilities and the energies which they will be able to bring to this task as members of the Commission.
It is also provided that at least one of the remaining three voting members of the Commission shall be an officer of the Public Service of the Commonwealth. Officers of the Prime Minister’s Department, the Australian News and Information Bureau of the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Trade and Industry have been members of the honorary board of the Australian National Travel Association in the past. It is proposed that an officer of the Department of Trade and Industry be appointed to the Commission. The Minister for Trade and Industry will carry the ministerial responsibility for the work of the
Australian Tourist Commission and it is appropriate that one of his advisers should serve on the Commission.
The State Ministers have for some years formed themselves into a Tourist Ministers Council which meets to discuss the many problems relating to tourists which are of concern to the States. The Tourist Ministers Council has proposed to the Minister for Trade and Industry that he be represented al the Council’s meetings in the future. I am advised that he has indicated that either he or the Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry in Tourist Activities will serve in this way.
Il will be clear from my remarks earlier that the Commission’s role is a separate one from that of the State authorities, who are properly concerned with the facilities and amenities to be developed and maintained within their sovereign boundaries. The Commission’s task of attracting tourists here, and the task which the States share with Australian industries of looking after them while in Australia, must nevertheless be the product of joint thinking and planning if the total results are to be achieved.
As a further link, the State governments are to be given the right, by sub-clause (5) of clause 6, to nominate the two non-voting members of the Australian Tourist Commission. This arrangement is designed to enable the State governments to remain in continuous liaison with the thinking and planning of the Commission. These members will attend all meetings of the Commission and participate freely in the Commission’s deliberations, bringing their own special experience and background to bear on the Commission’s tasks. The Government has deliberately left the question of these nominations entirely in the hands of the States. They are free to propose for appointment by the Governor-General any two persons whom they judge to be the most effective persons to serve as their link with the Commission and to convey the consensus of the views of all the States on matters related to the Commission’s activities.
Honourable senators will note subclause (2) of clause 7 of the Bill. The purpose of this sub-clause is to provide for either a part time or full time Chairman of the Commission. This provision has been made to give flexibility in its executive arrange ments. The remaining members of the Commission, both voting and non-voting, will be appointed on a part time basis, any officers of the Commonwealth Public Service being appointed ex officio. The Bill also provides, in clause 18. for the appointment by the Commission of a General Manager who shall, under the Commission, manage ils affairs.
Clause 21 of the Bill provides for the Parliament to appropriate moneys for the purposes of the Commission. I want to say a few words about the Government’s intentions in this respect. Throughout the deliberations which have led up to the proposal embodied in this Bill the Government has recognised the vast potential for greater numbers of overseas visitors and vastly increased earnings which Australia might achieve with proper policies to this end. The establishment of the Australian Tourist Commission is a first step towards this objective. The Government’s grants have stimulated the valuable flow of overseas visitors which we enjoy today. But large as these grants have been, the Government considers that they fall short of financing the level of activities needed to ensure that full advantage is taken of Australia’s tourist potential. The Government accepts as an integral part of the proposal to establish the Australian Tourist Commission the need to equip it with greater finances than the Australian National Travel Association has had in the past. The Government intends that the establishment of the Commission will lift Australia’s tourist efforts into a new era.
It is not possible, of course, at this early stage to indicate the finance which the Government may make available for the Commission’s first year of operations, which for practical purposes will begin in July of this year. Honourable senators will understand that this amount will need to be determined in the context of the total Commonwealth budgetary situation. The Government is agreed, however, that to achieve Australia’s full tourist potential the Commission will need to be provided with increased finance. The Government hopes that the industries and the State governments which have supported the Australian National Travel Association financially in the past will also recognise the full extent of the potential before us and join with the Commission, financially and in other ways, to ensure fully effective promotional activities to achieve this potential.
These efforts directed at stimulating a greater How of tourists from overseas represent by no means the whole of the task to be undertaken. I said earlier that attracting the tourist to Australia is only half the task. Just as important is the development of the many amenities, services and facilities inside Australia needed to ensure that the tourist is effectively catered for during his visit. Massive capital investments will be needed from the industries concerned. 1 do not underestimate the difficulties and problems which may be faced in mounting the efforts necessary to meet the expected demands. Slate governments also will be aware of this problem.
The Government hopes that its decisions in the overseas promotional field will stimulate equivalent decisions within Australia so that the total network of Commonwealth. State and private enterprise interests involved will work together to achieve the rich potential which Australia possesses in this field. The opportunities are there. It is now up to Australia to make its hid. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1157).
Senator ORMONDE (New South Wales) 3.18] - Mr Acting Deputy President, like most other honourable senators I am interested in this Bill and in the problems of the dairymen, and I have been through the Hansard reports of the debate on this measure in the other House and have listened carefully to the discussion in this chamber. Senator Prowse, who was the last speaker on the Government side, talked about great advances in production and income and about the great benefit that the dairy industry gave to the Australian nation. That is generally true. Nobody denies that. But it is not the issue involved in this debate.
– That may be. A government formed by the Party to which
I belong introduced stabilisation of the milk industry. We on this side of the Parliament arc in favour of a stabilised milk industry. Before stabilisation was introduced by the Curtin-Chifley Government the dairy industry was a peasant industry.
– The honourable senator should use the right word. He is speaking of subsidisation, not stabilisation.
– So the honourable senator may say, but it all adds up to the same thing for the taxpayers. I suggest that he is splitting hairs. The dairy industry was a peasant industry. In New South Wales, a State Labor Government lifted it out of the doldrums by establishing the New South Wales Milk Board. In New South Wales we now have a dairy industry a great part of which need not have any subsidy. A great part of it operates under good conditions. The children of the farmers in that section of the industry go to high schools and get the best possible education, for the farmers are now economically capable of employing adult labour.
– That Board has a dynamic Chairman.
– That is so. I do not suggest that what has been done in New South Wales represents the complete solution to the problems of the farmers. However, this was part of the New South Wales Labor Government’s solution to their problems in some parts of the State. On the north coast of New South Wales we have marginal dairying areas. The very fact that honourable senators opposite admit that there are marginal areas implies that they agree that there is a crisis in the industry. The subsidising of a marginal industry is a very doubtful proposition. I have listened to members of the Australian Country Party who sit opposite, on other occasions when they had no hesitation in rationalising the coal industry and declaring that inefficient mines must close. On those occasions they did not care what happened to the employees of the mines and they are not concerned now because the number of workers was reduced from 25,000 to about 11,000 in order to get rid of the mines that honourable senators opposite said were inefficient. They believed that only the big mines, which they regarded as efficient, should be allowed to continue in production. There may have been some logic in that. Why do they not adopt the same view now in relation to the dairy industry? They choose to deal with the problems of that industry as if the marginal areas did not exist. Those are areas in which farmers should not really be engaged in dairying. However, they have a right to be on their land and Country Party senators argue that they have a right to share in the subsidy on dairy products.
– What makes the areas marginal? Is it the size of farms that is at fault?
– Whenever we really get down to the argument, honourable senators opposite get mixed up and begin talking about farm areas and numbers of people on the land. That is where they get into trouble. They miss the essential elements of the problem. The fact is that there is a marginal section of the dairy industry. My understanding is that a farm that cannot produce at least 8,000 lb of butter fat in twelve months is regarded as marginal. In Labor language the area of such a farm represents less than a living area. I believe that those in the Labor Government who were reponsible for the introduction of stabilisation would be the first to say that something should be done about the marginal section of the industry. Let us for the moment forget about the rest of the industry. It can carry on almost without: the subsidy, though I do not suggest that it will. We do not argue that that should happen. I am concerned about the marginal section of the industry.
The Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry, under the chairmanship of the gentleman who later became Sir Mortimer McCarthy, presented its report in 1960. It recommended that farms on the north coast of New South Wales be amalgamated. What has this Government done to implement that recommendation? It has done nothing, because dairy farmers represent votes for it. Yet, when one visits the north coast one can see properties where houses have been removed and only the chimneys have been left standing. Honourable senators can picture the scene that I am describing. The farmers on those properties have just faded into nothingness. This Government has not bothered to try to keep them on the land and save their properties for them. It has been content to allow farmers to be forced to sell to the owners of neighbouring properties. As a result, many farmers have flown from their properties.
– They have had an experience just like that of the coal miners.
– Their experience has been like that of the coal miners. This sort of thing is wrong. I do not consider that it represents the proper way to rationalise an industry in a civilised community. This sort of thing should not be allowed to happen. I visited the north coast of New South Wales a few months ago and I found that children are now back working in the cow bails. They begin milking at 6 a.m. and by the time they get to school they are extremely tired. As a consequence, many schools have beds rigged up so thai children who have been milking early in the morning can have a couple of hours sleep before they commence learning anything at school. Thus is what is going on today. So we have the peasantry back in the dairy industry. Honourable senators opposite ought to visit the north coast of New South Wales to see for themselves what happens there. I do not say that this sort of thing occurs In Victoria. Farmers there have the benefit of a more suitable climate with the right kind of rainfall. I suppose that if we lived in a sane society there would be no dairy farmers at all in Queensland. Dairy farms cannot be conducted properly anywhere in the tropics. Dairy farmers would be established in cool climates only. This would be the situation if we were a properly organised society. But we are not.
– There is a very successful dairy farm at Darwin.
– I know. Does the honourable senator suggest that it ought to be subsidised?
– It does not need a subsidy.
– It may not need a subsidy, but we are talking about what lt costs the Government in subsidy to keep a marginal section of the industry in production, though it would probably be in the interests of all, and particularly of the farmers themselves, if something were done to help them out of their troubles and allow them to be gainfully employed. After all, what is wrong with their going into full employment in other areas and earning better than a living wage there? It must be borne in mind that about 40% of the farmers in this country are not getting a living wage now. The McCarthy report said that 40% of the farms were marginal, and the fact that we accept the word ‘marginal’ must mean that we have a problem. I did not want to get wound up on this aspect. I rose to be constructive. 1 do not wish to speak for long because I am not exactly an authority on these matters.
– That is evident.
– That is alt very well, but I have had a good deal of experience in public relations, and I know that if there is one industry in Australia that lias taken no advice from anyone it is the dairy industry.
– It is a good job you said you did not know much about it.
– I admit that, and 1 wish that many other honourable senators who speak on this subject would make the same admission. It is a vast problem. However, I am somewhat of an expert on watching the newspapers and trends, and I believe that I understand those things. Twenty years ago the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation studied the economics of the dairy industry and the possible effects of margarine. Its report is in the Parliamentary Library, if any honourable senators wish to examine it. Who took any notice of that report, which advised the dairy industry, especially the marginal farmers, to commence growing the materials that, were used in the manufacture of margarine? No one in the dairy industry had the brains to do anything about it. The dairy farmers let this octopus grow, even though they had every opportunity to go into the business of growing the seeds used in the production of margarine. The CSIRO tried to sell them the idea, but nothing happened. These people are hard to organise; members of the Australian Country Party should know that. No farmer should be other than frightened when he hears Mr Whippy come down the street. Mr Whippy is tolling the bells for the dairy farmers, because he is not necessarily selling ice cream.
The biggest threat to the dairy farmer is the local threat, and unless this Government, does something about it we shall have a much bigger competitor than Mrs Jones has been in the past twelve months. I refer to the threat to the dairy industry through the substitution of ice-creams made on vegetable oils for ice-cream made on a cream bap.
– Mr Jones or Mrs Jones?
– Mrs Jones. Do not let us introduce politics into this. I have some material here that I should like to quote. I wonder how many members of the Country Party have examined the problem under the heading that I have. One headline says: Tobacco strengthens its ice-cream links’. Of course, that is not necessarily icecream made from milk. Another article is headed: ‘A Thaw Coming up in the Icecream Cold War?’ It states that a cease fire in the ice-cream price war is now in sight following peace talks between the British Tobacco, Unilever and Consolidated Milk and Dairy Industries organisations.
Do honourable senators think that the consolidated manufacturers of soap in Australia are interested in the milk industry? I suggest that they have no interest in it at all. One article, referring to the Unilever group - and I do not think I have to explain what that is - states:
The Unilever group, through its Streets subsidiary has also suffered from the battle. The ice-cream industry takes something like 36 million gallons of milk.
The way they operate is very cunning for they diversify and use other names. They are not operating for the dairy farmer. The article continues:
Petersville is suffering also, but again diversity of interests is helping to soften the blow.
Sunnybrook, which is controlled by an American, Roe Sinner, has been able to offset fulling margins on ice-cream sales by concentrating heavily on a new frozen product. This uses a vegetable oil base-
This is Mrs Jones, under cover of Mr Whippy - instead of the butter fat used in ice-cream, and although it lacks some of the appeal of ice-cream, many Victorian mothers have found that ‘it’s fine for the kids’ and cheaper to buy. All the major manufacturers have followed this pattern and are producing large quantities of so-called ‘flavoured ice”.
When you go to the average shop today for a soft drink, you are not getting a cream-based drink but flavoured ice prepared by these manufacturers. This article is trying to put the blame for this on the State governments. It goes on to say:
To escape the Government’s regulations demanding that such products cannot be called ice-cream, Sunnybrook has called it ‘Scoop’, Sunkist ‘Swirl’, Devondale ‘Devon Dip’, Petersville Countdown’, and Toppa ‘Country Club’.
They are all materials that are taking the place of ice cream in the shops, restaurants and ice cream carts. This is an attack on the milk industry by three of the biggest monopolies in the country per medium of a product cheaper than ice cream made from milk. Of course, the new product is not good for the health of the children, particularly for their teeth.
It is significant that no member of the Parliament has said anything about this matter. 1 realise that members might be in trouble if they offended a big monopoly. I am not trying to be uncharitable about this matter, but why should I have to rise on an issue that affects a great change that is taking place in an industry which concerns honourable senators opposite? Surely it would be more constructive to do something about this and to see that these people are forced to take action, if not to protect the dairy industry then to protect the people against these products which I believe are
Unhealthy types of food.
– The honourable senator has made a good point, but would he care to disclose to the Senate the percentage that 36 million gallons represents of the total production of milk in Australia? It is only about 24-%.
– I do not care-
– It is important.
– What is important is that thirty years ago margarine came in but people said: ‘Do not worry; it is only 1%, and it will not hurt us.’ Honourable senators opposite are making the same mis take again. I should have thought that they would have learned. I have been rather impressed by the honourable senator over the couple of years that he has been here, and I should have thought that he would have appreciated this point.
I wrote to the Minister about this matter and took up the case of the dairy farmer. I am only a poor industrialist, but I had to do this when honourable senators opposite did not do so. The reply from the Minister stated: 1 refer to the question asked of you by Senator Ormonde . . . concerning the ingredients used in the manufacture of ice cream and asking the Government to prohibit the advertising as a food of any imitation product not made from cream.
As you staled in your reply to Senator Ormonde the control of the manufacture of ice cream is a State matter.
That is exactly what was said thirty years ago about margarine. The reply continued:
The State laws generally provide that ice cream is a preparation of milk end cream must contain a minimum butter fat content of 10%. Any product that does not comply with these provisions is not ice cream and cannot be sold as such.
I have pointed out to honourable senators that the big monopolies have got over that by giving their products other names. This is something that the Trade Practices Act could deal with. They have circumvented the State regulations which require that their products cannot be called ice cream; they have given them about a dozen names, including ‘Scoop’. They are attacking the farmers where it hurts most. I should like to see members of the Country Party getting busy, because as well as having Mrs Jones on their hands they will also have Mr Whippy troubling them.
He is a pretty big business today. He ls in every township in England. I think Mr Whippy has about 1,000 cars in England. There must be 500 in this country, although they are not necessarily selling ice cream. Not only must we subsidise the dairy industry in order to keep our market in Great Britain but we ought to be doing something about holding the local market because, whatever the Government might say of what has happened in the past - it has had quite a few inquiries into the milk industry - I would say that is all old hat now in view of the new development in the European economic market. Something will have to be done to protect the dairy industry.
Just as something will have to be done to protect the coal industry from competition from oil, so something will have to be done to protect the dairy industry from alternative products. I do not propose to argue about what ‘efficiency’ means, but only efficient industries can live in this modern world. Forty per cent of the dairy industry is not efficient because of the fact that either the farmer has not enough land, the land he has is not good enough, or he has nol the right type of cows to enable him to produce most profitably, and thereby make a living out of his venture. We should not subsidise an industry that cannot return a living to those engaged in it and I think we do owe a living to all people engaged on the land.
– Emu wine and Kangaroo butter!
– Emu wine and Kangaroo butter! If Australian butter can by sold by calling it Kangaroo butter, then 1 am a Dutchman. I think that is the worst brand name that could be used. I know that the bureaucracy over there is defending itself and saying that the term is quite all right, but it is not quite all right. I remember attending a convention with you, Mr President, about three years ago when you hit upon an excellent idea. You will remember, Mr President, that you made a presentation of an ice cream fountain for India. 1 think there was a Minister here from India having discussions with the Government about aiding the Indian food position, particularly with relation to supplies of milk. The ice cream fountain was sent to India for the purpose of educating the Indians, particularly the members of Parliament, in the use of milk whether taken as a soft drink, with cereal or in some other way. 1 thought it was a wonderful idea and I still do. If I remember rightly the fountain was presented by the Australian Parliament to the Indian Parliament.
Honourable senators may be interested to know that there are people in this country trying to organise supplies of dried milk for India. There are many tons of this product on the wharfs, but it cannot get away. The reason is that the Government will not pay for it to be taken to India. Sooner or later the people conducting the food for India campaign are going to give up their efforts. There is one person in charge of a campaign in Melbourne and there is a committee operating in Sydney.
They have made arrangements with the schools system in New South Wales to have a milk week for India during which the children will bring along, I think, a half pound tin of milk each to be sent to India. What is the good of collecting it if it is only going to sit on the wharf?
The Prime Minister has said that the milk can go only if the people who do the collecting also collect enough money to pay for its transport to India. Recently the R. W. Miller shipping company said that it had room in one of its ships and it took some of this milk. But help such as that is hard to organise. I am certain that much more could be done if the Government would co-operate with these people. If we insist that they not only collect the milk but that they also pay for its shipment to India, then we are likely to break their hearts and they will lose interest. I think the Government should do something even if it is only in the interest of selling the idea of using milk to the Indian people.
The Prime Minister probably has good reason for his action. It may be that he thinks it will start off all sorts of movements connected with getting food to India and that in preference to this he would like to see one large organisation. These people are starting off with a milk week. They are concentrating on milk because it is milk that is wanted in India. If the Government were to say that once the milk is delivered to the wharf at Melbourne the Government would see that it was shipped, some encouragement would be given to these good workers. Milk committees have been battling for twelve months now and they cannot get the milk beyond the wharf. It would be an awful thing if the Government finally got the blame for doing nothing about sending this dried milk that is being collected by the school children of New South Wales. The Government must do something about getting this milk to India.
Generally speaking, I think the public relations side of the dairy industry is very bad. Dairy products do not get the Press publicity they should and I think this is principally the fault of the industry. As I said earlier, I. want to discuss further this threat from synthetic ice cream which is taking root in this country. It is a grave threat to the dairy industry, and the Government ought to be doing something about it. If it does do something, it will be pleasing everybody concerned. I am certain that the mothers in the metropolitan areas of Sydney do not want their children to be eating this stuff if they can get ice cream produced from milk.
– What can be done about it?
– I think it is necessary to kick up a row about it. Let me mention one other point. The other day I asked an Italian how many different forms of ice cream he could produce and sell without using milk. He replied: ‘Fifty’, lt is being done everywhere. This is another great threat to the dairy industry. The people concerned would not be engaging in this form of business if there was no money in it for them. They are not small fry. They are in a big way. The farmers have to form a fighting group to draw the attention of the Government to these very serious matters.
– What are they using - white oil?
– They are using everything. 1 did not go into the names of the things they are using. The Minister has said that it is a State matter.
– He would probably be right. It is a State matter. It would come under the pure foods legislation of the Slate.
– I know. But this sort of thing ought not to be allowed to go on. I point out that this Government makes grants to the States to get over this, that and the other difficulty. Some power needs to be handed over to the Commonwealth to solve such problems particularly where the dairy industry is concerned. It is an interstate industry because it is being financed in an interstate way by means of a subsidy. We ought to be able to handle the problem on that basis.
I wish now to criticise this statement by the Minister in connection with table margarine:
With regard to table margarine itself, it has been claimed that as a result of the enforcement of production quotas there is a shortage of one brand of the poly-unsaturated variety of table margarine. I would not wish to enter into arguments over particular brands but it would appear that other brands of poly-unsaturated margarine made from vegetable oils which have comparable properties are freely available.
This has to do with matters of public relations. The point is that it is almost impossible to buy this margarine in Sydney. Doctors advise their patients that they should eat it. It is almost common practice for medical men to tell patients that they must have ‘Miracle’ margarine.
– That is a new one. I do not think it is rubbish at all. I can show the honourable senator lines of more than fifty people who are trying to obtain this margarine because doctors have put them on it. Senator Prowse may know more than the doctors do about this subject, but the medical people say that it is required. If their advice is wrong, they are engaged in a confidence trick. If there is rio truth in the statement that butter affects a person’s cholesterol content and is detrimental to certain states of health, members of the medical profession ought to be stopped from making these statements. Harm is being caused to the dairy industry by these statements. If they are not true, the Government ought to do something about the matter. I believe that they are true.
– The honourable senator would believe anything.
– I believe that there is authoritative opinion on this subject from the medical profession. The Government should do something about having the quota extended not only in the interests of its own good public relations with the Australian people but particularly in the interests of its public relations with city dwellers who want this food. Do not let us forget that these people are not the only ones who want this margarine. Recently I was on the north coast of New South Wales. I was addressing a meeting there. Like all other people, I was talking about the threat to the dairy industry. All politicians are starting to speak on this matter now. I was speaking in front of a grocery store. The grocer said to me: ‘Senator, you do not know what you are talking about’. Well, that was not a surprise. He took me into his shop and showed me his list of orders for the next day. I must mention that the farmers in this area are marginal farmers; they could not afford to buy butter.
But of the thirty orders in his book, twentyeight customers had ordered between 6 lb and 10 lb of margarine.
– Were they primary producers?
– Yes. They had farms. They were marginal dairy farmers who could not afford anything else. This grocer said to me: ‘Do not attack margarine in this town because these people eat it’. This was the town of Mullumbimby. Many of these people were too poor to drink their own milk or use their butter. These are the facts. This might not be the case in Victoria where good pastures and adequate rainfall ensure a profitable industry that could probably survive without a subsidy. But it is true of these marginal areas.
What I am saying about margarine is fact. Honourable senators will find that they get as much opposition from some of these marginal areas where the farmers use margarine on their dinner tables as they would in city areas if they were to discuss this matter. But from the medical point of view some attempt ought to be made to absorb more of the medicinal margarine into the quota system and extend the availability of this margarine. Something should be done along these lines to improve the very bad public image that the Government has in the city areas because of this quota system. I am not all in favour of the Marrickville Margarine Co. at all, I can see great inconsistencies in the attitude of this company. But from the public point of view it would appear that the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, Mr Chaffey, is wholly concerned in attacking the margarine companies and not considering the interests of the consumers. These people who buy the milk, cream and butter have not available to them margarine in the quantities that they desire.
The Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry was set up to help the Government and the industry. But the Government took no notice of the report of that Committee. The Government has avoided the situation in which the farmers find themselves today. The Government should have taken notice of that report which said that the industry should have grown its own materials to establish its own margarine factories, in other words, the recommendation of the Committee was in effect: ‘If you cannot beat them, join them.’ I am not critical of the farmers, because I agree with Senator Wright that any man who goes on the land has a hard life and has a seven days a week job.
– The honourable senator says that he is not critical of dairy farmers. Has he no credit to give to them?
– I think that the industry in the main is a great Australian industry. I think that figures given show that the total annual income from this industry is $600m. [ am putting up a case just as I hope Senator Wright will put up a case for the marginal dairy farmers. I suppose Tasmania does not have marginal dairy farmers. Plenty of rain falls down there, I am talking about the marginal dairy farmers. I do not think that the dairy farmers in the milk zone of Sydney need any of our assistance. They are well off today.
– Tasmania has had 2.34 inches of rain in the last four months.
– I am not an expert on rainfall. I am just putting that point of view.
– lt would not give the honourable senator enough to drink.
– There is a great section of the industry that could not do without the subsidy. I believe in this point. I believe that the industry should be kept buoyant, fluid and financial. I believe that the marginal areas should be reduced altogether.
When I commenced my speech I said that I was talking about marginal farmers only. It is accepted that there are marginal farmers. The McCarthy report spoke about 40% of the farms being on the marginal level. No industry in this affluent society in which we live should have to exist on a marginal basis. I know of course why many men go on the land. They may get a few pounds and Governments have made it easy for a number of them but many who go on the land are not necessarily trained to go on the land. This has happened with returned soldiers. But I think this is true - mark my words - that on the north coast of New South Wales we do have a peasant dairy industry. The honourable senator would not understand that but the Minister for the Interior (Mr Anthony) would. Kiddies are getting up at 5 o’clock and 6 o’clock in the morning and doing the milking on these farms. These kiddies should not have to do this work. When they get to school, they have to be put to bed to rest before they can start their studies.
– The New South Wales Government controls the price of milk in Sydney. Put the price up by 3d and the children can be driven to the cow shed in a motor car.
– I am talking about the dairy farmers who have nothing. There are numbers of dairy farmers in this country who are very well off. I say: ‘Good luck to them’. I am always proud of the fact that a Labor government in New South Wales at least drew a ring around the metropolitan area of Sydney to establish the Sydney milk zone. This zone includes the Scone district, from where the President comes, and continues right up around the Hunter Valley area and down to Nowra. The Labor government of the day established a price in that area for milk. Adult labour is used; there is no child labour there.
– I am somewhat surprised that Senator Ormonde has contended that Sydney doctors order people to eat margarine for the benefit of their health and because they are suffering from some disease or other.
– I said ‘Miracle’ margarine.
– I have seen discussions on television and I have read medical reports in various journals indicating that butter is completely non-injurious particularly to people who are suffering from some disability of the heart. The idea that butter is detrimental to people with various heart diseases is a complete fallacy.
– It has never been proved, anyhow.
– That may be. I rise to support this Bill which proposes to renew the subsidy paid to the dairy industry for a further period of five years. The time is appropriate for this proposal. A spate of criticism has been levelled at the dairy industry in various newspapers, certain organisations and even by some politicians. I have read descriptions of the dairy industry in which the industry has been called a pressure group, a spoon-fed industry and has been alleged to comprise pampered people. I never thought that I would live to see the day when what could be regarded as the Cinderella of primary production - I do not think there is any doubt about that fact - needed to be defended against these sorts of charges levelled in the main by people who know nothing at all about the industry. Leaving aside the marginal feature about which Senator Ormonde has spoken, this criticism has been fairly general. In introducing this measure the Minister said that current production in the dairying industry is worth about $415m annually, and that directly and indirectly the industry supports 600,000 people, providing direct employment for over 100,000 people and so on. The industry is spread throughout the Commonwealth. It is a good example of a decentralised industry, if ever there was one. Its benefits are shared by people in business in most country towns throughout Australia. If by some chance a wholesale change by consumers from butter to margarine were to occur, we would be left with just another industry centred in one of the big cities. I think it is entirely necessary for the dairying industry to be fostered and expanded so that it may play its part in the future as it has done in the past.
A lot of the criticism of the industry has originated from evidence given to the McCarthy Committee. I have read the report of Professor Downing and Professor Karmel. At the outset of their statement to the Committee they were careful to say:
We have examined the question from a purely economic point of view, with no attention being given to social, political and cultural aspects. The Committee has had ample advice and will have views of its own on these wide matters.
I suggest that if a purely economic yardstick were used to measure the efficiency of every industry in the Commonwealth, having in mind that the persons concerned should be free to buy their requirements at the lowest possible price, many industries would beyond doubt be affected adversely.
Last Saturday I heard a Professor of Farm Management advocating, not only in regard to the dairying industry but in regard to al! primary industries, that as many people as possible should be encouraged from the land.
– From the land?
– Yes, from the land. In that way, he said, fewer people would share the cake. That makes three professors holding such views. It has shaken my confidence in academic people. If ever the Commonwealth reaches the pass that it is necessary to encourage people to leave primary production, surely we will be near the end of the road.
The McCarthy Committee presented a good report. I have heard it described as a textbook on the dairying industry. It contains a wealth of information about the industry. I cannot help but think that a lot of the criticism levelled at the dairying industry in the report was made because people draw comparisons between the dairying industries in Australia and New Zealand. With equal justification comparisons could be made between the wool industries in Australia and New Zealand. It would be just as reasonable to say that because New Zealand does not produce wool equal to Australia’s there must be a mighty lot of inefficient wool producers in New Zealand. I believe it is a fact that if merino sheep are taken to New Zealand their wool begins to deteriorate at once because of climatic conditions there. No-one could properly attribute that deterioration to the inefficiency of New Zealand wool producers. Right through the report comparisons are made between the Australian and New Zealand dairying industries. The report stated:
As New Zealand is a close neighbour of Australia it is possible to make some broad comparisons. In each country the government assistance to the industry is based on the domestic consumption of butter. The Twelfth Annual Report of the New Zealand Dairy Products Marketing Committee shows on page 18, with reference to the 1958-59 season, that an amount of £Stg2.7m was paid as - ‘Differentials paid to dairy companies, representing the difference between the regulated local price and the guaranteed FOB price’.
– It is a consumer subsidy.
– That is right. The consumer subsidy in New Zealand has operated for many years. I believe that a contributory scheme exists, but 1 am not sure how contributions are made. The contributory scheme, which has operated for many years, has had the effect of levelling out the price that the dairymen receive for butter. In addition a domestic price has been set through the payment of subsidies. There has been a lot of contention because of the fact that until recently the New Zealand consumer was able to purchase butter at 2s sterling per lb. In Australia the price was 5s. The situation has changed. The New Zealand Government has taken steps because of the balance of payments position and other factors. Some of the subsidies in respect of the domestic price paid by New Zealand butter consumers have been stopped. I have a recent publication which states:
As one measure the food subsidies which have been in operation since before World War II end which were thought to be sacrosanct have been abolished, leading to a steep jump in butter and bread prices. This is certain to lead to pressure for increased wages.
I believe that in New Zealand the domestic price paid for butter has increased to 2s lOd sterling per lb. When the factors about which Senator Prowse spoke are considered it is clear that the price paid today by New Zealand consumers is approaching the price paid by Australian consumers.
The Committee then states mat New Zealand exports 80% of its production of butter and that Australia exports only 47%. It draws that comparison. I cannot help but feel that from that comparison the Committee deduced the fact that because New Zealand is able to do that, because the home consumption price of butter in New Zealand is so much lower than it is in Australia and because we can export only 40%, therefore there is something wrong with the dairy industry in this country. I know New Zealand well. I have been there many times. I very much question whether there is any country in the world which could equal New Zealand so far as dairy potential is concerned. Taking into consideration Denmark, the Low Countries or any other country, I say without hesitation that the north island of New Zealand is a dairyman’s paradise.
I know of a butter factory in the north island- of New Zealand - and it is not unique - where the collecting van can leave the factory and. travelling for twenty miles in two directions and ten to twelve miles in two other directions, it can pick up the product of from 50 to 200 cows on every farm. It is all flat country. There are no hills to climb. It is cow to the acre country. I have said to New Zealand dairymen in many parts of the north island: ‘How much hay do you bale in a year?’ Many of them have said: ‘We do not bother with hay because we can never get it dry enough; it is too chaney’. The summer rainfall is such that they do not bother to make hay. They make ensilage instead.
There is positively no basis of comparison between dairy production in New Zealand and in this country. There is all the difference in the world between dairy production in New Zealand and in Australia. The difference in the cost factor regarding production, collection and every aspect of dairying between this country and New Zealand must be enormous. People who set out to compare the position which exists in this country with that which exists in New Zealand and who deduce from that that because there is such a difference there must be something wrong with the dairy industry in this country, are basing their contentions on a completely fallacious foundation, in my opinion.
– How would Victoria compare with New Zealand?
– The report goes on to state that Victoria and Tasmania would be on a comparable basis with New Zealand. I do not think they would, for the reason that they do not receive the summer rains which New Zealand receives and production in both Victoria and Tasmania is very diversified. One can go into areas in the north island of New Zealand and find that every farm, one after the other, is devoted entirely to dairy production. That makes a mighty difference. In spite of what I have said about New Zealand, it has its marginal areas, too.
– And marginal producers.
– Yes. There are areas in New Zealand that are extremely marginal, so far as dairy production is concerned. There are marginal producers in all classes of primary production.
– And in secondary industry.
– There are marginal producers in secondary industry. It is not many years ago - I believe it was during the time of the credit squeeze - that a farm machinery manufacturing firm had a backup of farm machinery. So to try to steady down production it put off a considerable proportion of its staff. Its production increased. That indicated beyond doubt that the farmers by their purchases had been subsidising an inefficient industry. It had been sheltering behind the protection of a tariff wall. This is not confined only to primary producers - far from it. There are a good many industries in this country that are tarred with that same brush. But I sympathise entirely with the Government’s attitude that these marginal producers should bc helped in some way. I wish them well in their efforts, but I say again that this situation is not peculiar to the dairy industry. The same sort of thing can be found in all walks of life.
– What do they call marginal producers? Are they people who have mixed farms and are only partly dependent on dairying?
– I saw a session on television about a fortnight ago which involved a doctor of agriculture. He concentrated his remarks on the northern areas of New South Wales and on parts of Queensland. He said that, on the average, production in Victoria and Tasmania was almost double that in these other areas. He did not say whether he meant per acre, per cow, or something else. He described these people as marginal producers, in that the land on which they were engaged ,vas not really suitable for dairying pursuits and consequently they were not earning a very good living.
– The areas were not high enough in productivity.
– Yes. Probably this is peculiar to a lot of land in Queensland. I say in conclusion that the McCarthy Committee had something to say about the cost of farm machinery, which has been a source of complaint for as long as I can remember. The report slates:
The Committee did however follow up some of these complaints and in the process made direct contact with the original importers or manufacturers. As the Committee was concerned with facts it asked for and obtained full details in confidence; consequently they cannot be mentioned here. All that the Committee can say is that it is still very far from being satisfied that the prices charged were reasonable. 1 can assure the members of the Committee that if they were engaged in primary production they would be completely satisfied that the prices charged in many cases are absolutely unreasonable. The report goes on -
The demand for prices which he considers unreasonable has a psychological as well as a financial effect on the dairy farmer. It feeds his resentment against ‘protected industries that do not have to compete on the world’s markets’ and makes him more clamant for higher prices or other assistance; and his importunities come to be regarded as an occupational eccentricity when he is, in fact, the victim of an eccentric commercialism.
It is important to the dairy industry, as well as to other industries, that it be relieved of the excess price for spare parts–
And’ I would say for other farm machinery as well - and the Committee considers that the subject is well worth tackling by a special investigating authority such as the Tariff Board with power to summon witnesses and obtain sworn evidence. The availability and also the quality of spare parts could well come within the scope of such an inquiry.
That leads me to say that not only the dairy farmer but also all people engaged in primary production have been compelled, since the inception of the protectionist policy in this Commonwealth, to buy their requirements from highly protected industries. Over the years they have subsidised secondary industry in Australia to the tune of millions of pounds.
– Hundreds of millions.
– That is right, hundreds of millions.
– We all have.
– Yes, we all have, but when one considers that the major proportion of the product of the primary producer has to be sent out of the country, that the primary producer has to accept world parity, that he has no control over the price he receives and that when the Government says, ‘We will make up some of that leeway by granting a subsidy’, it ill behoves people, particularly those who do not understand primary production, to point the finger and say, ‘This is a pampered industry.
This is something that should stand on its own legs.’ If that is so, if one industry is to stand on its own legs, let us ‘clear the decks and remove some of the other protective barriers, because if it is fair for one it is fair for all. lt has been said previously that the principal market for our exports of butter is the United Kingdom. A lot of fear has been expressed, especially in New Zealand, at the effect on dairy production in that Dominion of Britain’s entry into the. European Common Market. When Senator Ormonde and 1 were in England last year the United Kingdom Minister for Dominions - I think that is his title - told me, or at least indicated, that the British Government had entered into some kind of agreement to safeguard the interests of exporters of butter fat and other dairy products in the Dominion of New Zealand. 1 do not know how he could work that in respect of one Dominion, but that is what he said. The world market for this commodity is almost limited to the United Kingdom. Today’s Press carries a report of a statement following a meeting of the British Cabinet. The statement seems to have a good deal of significance. It is to the effect that the Cabinet decided that the essential interests of Britain and the Commonwealth would be stressed. Apparently they are not to be the subject of specific conditions of entry, as they were previously. In other words, the British Government will not meet the Six with specific conditions that the interests of Commonwealth countries must be safeguarded; they will only be stressed. The report went on to say that Mr Brown, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in Britain, was so upset about it that he threatened to resign. Should Britain enter the Common Market I think we can be full of foreboding so far as our exports to that country are concerned.
– To judge Mr Brown’s intentions it would be material to know whether his statement was made in the morning or in the evening.
– That could be, but when the British Government says by way of prepared statement that it had been decided only to stress that the essential interests of the Commonwealth should be safeguarded, and not to lay down specific conditions along those lines, it seems to have stepped down from the attitude that it adopted previously, namely, that (he interests of the Commonwealth in the matter of exports of primary products had to be safeguarded. Be that as it may, it seems to me to be perfectly certain that if Britain goes to that meeting with the Six she will not be in a position to lay down conditions if she wants to enter the Common Market. The Six will be the ones who will lay down conditions. If that does eventuate it could be a death blow to the industry, not only in this country but in New Zealand as well, because the market for Australian dairy products outside Australia is limited almost entirely to the United Kingdom.
I conclude by supporting the Bill. Once again 1 must say that I decry completely the criticisms which have been levelled at it. I think they are most untoward. I believe that this Cinderella of our primary industry is getting only just a little of what secondary industry in this country has received since projection was introduced.
– I join with other Opposition senators in supporting the broad principles of the Bill because, as Senator Poyser said yesterday, we have always been in the vanguard in introducing stabilisation schemes for rural industries. It goes without saying that the higher post-war standard of living in Australia has been due, amongst other things, to the nutriment value of our dairy products. I think we all agree that we are indebted to the people in the industry for the contribution they make towards building up the physical standards of the Australian people.
The debate has shown some interesting developments. There have been some differences of opinion in relation to the future of the industry but by and large there has been a broad approach to the subject. Senator Lillico referred to some of the effects of Britain’s proposed entry to the European Common Market, and I will deal with them later. Senator Prowse referred to incentives and I want to relate his remarks to statements made by Senator McKellar, as reported on page 1033 of Hansard, in relation to the problems confronting marginal dairy farmers. I know that this situation does exist in sections of the New South Wales north coast. I noticed that the Minister was very cautious in rela tion to the future. Senator Wood by interjection, pointed out that with the greater productivity of other industries there has been a natural exodus of people from th dairy industry. Whether this movement has been voluntary or compulsory because of various factors, it. does pose problems. I say, without minimising for a moment the problem as such, in the age in which we live just as solutions have to be found lor redundant coal miners, or waterside workers in the port of Mackay, so solutions have to be found for this problem of the dairy industry. I want to inject into the debate the very strong suggestion that we must relate the future of the marginal producers to reafforestation. When we examine the history of the New South Wales north coast we see photographs taken about 1908 showing the timber getter in the cedar forests that have now gone. We also know that by the year 1990 we shall be in a crucial period in relation to timber. In regard to the use of this marginal land for other purposes, I stress that consideration must be given !o reafforestation.
To take this situation a little further. I believe it is true to say that the dairy farmer in the New South Wales Board zone is reasonably secure. Specialised planning and effective leadership are personified in the Chairman, of the New South Wales Milk Board, Mr Jack Ferguson, who deserves a high tribute, which I know he gets, from that part of the industry within the zone. Naturally, the problem of the people outside the zone remains. The situation is ironical. Senator Prowse referred to the question of incentive and to the matter of having a common profit rather than a profit which varies according to the quality and amount, produced. If everyone is limited to a common profit, the more progressive farmer is discouraged. I think he used the analogy of the output of shearers. I suppose this argument is true to a point. There is a problem when one group of farmers becomes more efficient. It is not limited to Australia. Some governments in South America which attempted to modernise rural thinking found that if they over-subdivided - I use that expression for want of a better term - the output declined, so there was justification for keeping some of the large haciendas to a certain size.
If we follow Senator Prowse’s argument to its logical conclusion, we are still stuck with the problem of the smaller farmer. I am not suggesting that we indulge in any direct cavilling out. It is obvious that the children in some of the north coast dairy farmers gravitate to the capital or to rural cities and that, as the older people die or seek a quieter life after years of hard work properties remain in a semi-passive state. There seems to be some concern at the fact that north coast dairy farmers pay $13.10 per cwt of butter to the equalisation fund and receive back only $6.90. These figures are based on the operations of a particular butter factory with an annual turnover of 24 million lb of butter. Over and above that, there is a 45c per cwt charge on butter sent to the Australian Dairy Produce Board.
We get back to the point whether a more equitable formula can be devised so that some small producers will get a better return. I make no pretence to being an economist. I know that there is a conflict. If we believe in local inititative at what stage do we assist the small producer against the large, more efficient producer? This is a problem that we do not expect this Bill to solve completely. I believe that during the operation of the legislation over the next five years an examination should be made of the mechanics of the stabilisation fund to see whether some of the smaller producers are getting a reasonable return. On the one hand the Government might, as I suggest, look at a formula to give them a better return. On the other hand, consideration might be given to whether the land would be used to better advantage for forestry activities, in which case a suitable form of compensation has to be found. It is inevitable that on the north coast of New South Wales something of this sort will happen. In a democracy there is no question of using a big stick. This development may come by evolutionary processes.
– Does the honourable senator know exactly what is wrong with this marginal land? What is its fault? I do not know.
– Many theories are advanced. It may be, as Senator Prowse suggests, that some of these people have not the capital to enable them to modernise. In many instances we have tried to destroy nature. At the turn of the century on the north coast of New South Wales there were large timber resources but they were squandered. I suggest that we could do what was done in the State of Michigan in the United States, which had a somewhat similar problem. Land was turned back to forests and farmers of various categories were diverted to other pursuits. I cite the United States as a country that follows the private enterprise theory. I do not think that action along the lines that were followed there would meet with a lot of opposition on the north coast of New South Wales, provided there was a series of actions, phase by phase. Be that as it may, we must consider future markets, to which Senator Lillico referred. When we think about future markets we cannot get away from the problem that a continent like Australia faces in relation to shipping freights.
The last figures that I have show that we exported 3,198 tons of cheese to Japan. Our nearest rival was Norway, which exported 2,866 tons. In relation to population, Norway has a larger merchant marine than we have. The dairy industry faces the same difficulties as do so many other rural industries. We must be extremely vigilant to ensure that the dairy farmer does not suffer, as everybody else does, from the machinations of the shipping monopolies. A new scientific development is announced, and as a result of a meeting of a group of shipping directors the benefit of the development to an industry is wiped out by an increase in shipping freights. I understand that at long last we are developing much closer trade ties with Chile and other South American countries. It is probable that in relation to the shipping of skim milk powder and things like that we shall again be beholden to the shipping companies. I sincerely hope that the Commonwealth Government will keep a close watch on shipping freights. This is vital to the future of the dairy industry.
I should like to refer to the European Common Market. To digress for a moment, I wish to say that I did not quite catch the import of an interjection by Senator Wright in relation to the British Foreign Secretary, Mr George Brown. Whatever was behind the remark, let me say that George Brown has been renowned for calling a spade a spade. People in a democracy who do that are like yeast in bread; they provide something. Whatever else may be said about
George Brown, he has very strong convictions and he has never been afraid, within his party or outside it, to express a view. Reference was made to the time of day. No political party here or in Great Britain has a monopoly of virtues or vices. I need not say any more on that point. When I entered the Senate I referred to one of our Ministers overseas. I need not say anything more about that matter either. He lived down my reference to him. I believe that all other parties can live down references to them, too. ft is obvious, as Senator Henty pointed out when he read the statement about the European Common Market today, that the possible entry of Great Britain into the Common Market is a challenge to us. On numerous occasions when Senator Gorton has been dealing with external affairs, we have agreed that our first job is to improve the living standards of the people of Asia. As a contribution to that we make grants of aid. We hope that as the living standards of the people of Asia improve our dairy farmers and other rural producers will have a bigger market for their poducts. I have referred to shipping companies and freights. With a little change of heart by the shipping companies and with shorter distances to our markets, in the long run we will receive better returns. That prospect must be of great satisfaction to the dairy farmers. When we see photographs of Australian aid teams in Asia and of Asian children, who are more or less on a starvation diet, gulping down Australian milk, we realise that our continent is making a positive contribution in Asia. I agree with Senator Lillico when he says that one particular industry should not have to make the sacrifice in the granting of aid to another country, but that the sacrifice should be spread evenly over the economy.
One of the purposes of this Bill is to give our dairy farmers time to regroup. 1 believe that their problems can be surmounted. When we start to solve these problems our ideas about economics often take a bit of a beating. We have to bend them a little. The old idea was that everyone in the rural industries should fend for himself and that the Government should remain above the problems of those industries. I am very pleased when I see members of the Government parties indicating that governments have responsibilities.
There has been a crystallisation of ideas. They now realise that Federal and State governments cannot just say to the primary producers: ‘We are sorry for you’. Down through history, when there has been a great famine, whether here or overseas, people have said that it was a terrible thing but that governments could not interfere because they might upset the private sector. But now we are in a more enlightened age. There are certain differences of detail between the Government and Opposition parties; but that Pontius Pilate attitude has gone.
We members of the Opposition agree that with a little reasonable planning the dairying industry has gone a long way. In conclusion 1 say that it is not sufficient to do only what is proposed in this Bill. Action should bc taken in regard to the attendant problems concerned with shipping freights and Asian markets. The Government has a tremendous responsibility to ensure that the living standards of more and more of the people of Asia are improved. That is where the solution lies to many of the problems not only of our rural industries but also of our secondary industries. It will not be merely a matter of adopting a Christian attitude and helping the underdog. We will also be helping ourselves from an economic point of view. The Opposition agrees that, the next five years will be a critical period. I am sure that the philosophy of the Opposition will be a valuable aid to the Government in the solution of the various problems, such as this one. that will engage the attention of the Senate.
– lt has been quite an informative experience to listen to the various contributions to this debate, which relates to an industry of great importance. The figures that were given by Senator Lawrie in his speech last night were quite stimulating to me. Some of them were given in the second reading speech made by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar); others were not. The statement that 600,000 people derive their livelihood from the dairy industry is sufficient to denote ils importance to the Australian national life. I rise not so much with any belief that I can make a contribution to the debate by way of additional thought, but to make quite clear my steadfast view that this subsidy is completely justified. I emphasise that in view of the fact that voices from the innermost cloisters of the privileged cities have been suggesting that it should be curtailed and revised in relation to what are called - this is a blessed term - marginal areas’.
Senator Mulvihill said that the benefit of a subsidy of this sort to a primary industry such as the dairy industry can be reduced by increases in shipping freights. Undoubtedly that is true. All the energies of this Parliament should be focussed on that matter from time to time because overseas freights can filch the very productivity of any of our export industries. While our thoughts are on Senator Mulvihill^ contribution to this debate, it is interesting to recall that the subsidy which this Bill seeks to maintain has stood at the figure of $27m at least since 1961-62. Over that period we have been subsidising the stevedoring industry each year to the extent of $4m in .1961-62 and $6m in the last financial year. The shipping freights are charges that are imposed upon an industry after it and the export trade have had the benefit of the stevedoring industry subsidy. I keep a pretty close watch on the stevedoring industry, not because I have any prejudice against it, I hope, but because I am alive to the fact that influences in that industry militate against really productive work. The shipbuilding subsidy has increased from $3m to $7.4m in the period that I have mentioned.
The total of the subsidies paid in 1961-62 was $83m; in the last financial year it was $!27m. We do well to remind ourselves that the dairy industry receives a subsidy of $27m per annum and that that subsidy has remained static throughout a period during which the total of the subsidies paid by the Commonwealth has risen from S83m to $127m. Against that background and the growth in the Commonwealth Budget and the gross national product, today the Parliament is being asked simply to continue the dairy industry subsidy. I affirm that the continuance of the subsidy is necessary. I refrain from using an alliteration by saying that it is niggardly; that adjective does not properly express my point of view. But I say that it is insufficient. We ought not to be satisfied with merely continuing the subsidy to this industry at $27m a year.
– For five years.
– For five years maintaining the subsidy only at that level will deny to people in the industry the relative benefit that they should derive from this subsidy, because costs in this industry and subsidies in other industries will increase. I recall to the minds of honourable senators the submissions made by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) in another place and I make the definite assertion that instead of our abbreviating the period for which this Bill will operate or curtailing the subsidy for which it provides, we should take the view that it really does too little because it does not provide for an increase of the subsidy to allow for the higher level of costs that will be encountered over the decade to come, of which only the next five years will be covered by this measure.
– How much an acre would one pay for dairying land in Tasmania?
– I heard Senator O’Byrne, I think, state yesterday that he thought that £250 an acre or more could be paid. That was after he had quoted from the report of the McCarthy Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry a figure of £300 an acre in relation to some Victorian dairying land; Al the time, I interjected to say that if he offered £250 an acre for any dairying land in Tasmania the owner would not let him out the front gate but would put the money in his pocket and rejoice at the opportunity to get away and enter the stevedoring industry where he could earn a cash income and make a living that did not depend much on the seasons. I suggest that dairying land in Tasmania would have to be extremely lush and inviting for the owner of any sizeable farm to obtain even £100 an acre. Such a price would be paid only in the most select dairying areas. However, though 1 pulled a few teats in years long gone I have never bought or sold dairy farms.
I was very interested in the references to the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry earlier in the debate. I trust that Senator O’Byrne, who recalled the report to us, will forgive me when I say that I believe that yesterday he was highly conscious of the fact that the proceedings were being broadcast. I think he gave the impression that he had >a particular knowledge of the especially select dairying area to the north west of Deloraine and on the north west coast. This is the main dairying country of Tasmania. However, when he went on to talk about dis-economy in the dairy industry and about the marginal areas he resorted, I suggest, to purely theoretical phrasing. As a consequence I sought from Senator Lillico this afternoon some understanding of what is meant by this blessed term ‘economy’. 1 read the McCarthy report years ago, but I have not taken the trouble to refresh my mind on it now. I refer to statements made by several honourable senators to the effect that 40% of our dairying land is assessed as being marginal. What does this mean?
On the north west coast of Tasmania a common size for dairy farms would be 300 acres. A farm of that size could be used for dairying to some purpose. A farmer would probably put 100 acres down to pasture and, using a buldozer, which is one of the greatest aids available these days, would nibble away at the bush, clearing perhaps 20 acres a year. On each 20 acres so cleared he would run perhaps twenty cows and these would give him month by month a cash income that would be his standby. He would send his cream to a co-operative butter factory from which he would derive that cash income and, in addition, at the end of the year’s trading, a bonus. His returns from the co-operative butter factory would provide bread and butter for him and his family. What better agency for pioneering could we have than the dairy industry conducted in this manner? 1 still feel excited when I go through the orchard country in the south of Tasmania, the dairying country in the north west or the sheep country on the east coast and see, year by year, an additional 50 acres of land on property after property cleared by bulldozing, with the timber piled up ready to be burnt or the land already ploughed. The bush is gradually being brought into production in marginal areas where, in the days before machinery was available, one would never have dreamt of attacking the task of clearing, because, with the prices prevailing in those days, no crop planted on the cleared land would have yielded a livelihood.
In all the marginal areas in Tasmania, as in the other States, one sees this con tinual contest against the bush, resulting in the cultivation of more land to produce valuable commodities. For what? They are produced to meet the needs of the expanding population of Australia firstly and then to earn us export income. I fail to understand the poverty of thinking exhibited by those who even for a moment see any lack of wisdom in maintaining or even increasing a subsidy to an industry such as dairying, which is so useful in expanding cultivated areas and boosting the production of valuable export commodities, ll is said that if we in Australia are oversupplied with dairy products it is false economy to continue a process of sub.sidisng that can only have the effect of increasing production further. This blessed word ‘economy’ is especially relied on by those who adopt this argument. Senator Lillico, I think, pointed out that the McCarthy Committee focused its attention entirely on economics - entirely on the mercenary aspects of the industry - and left out of consideration all the factors which, I contend, make for national strength, growth and development. It stated that to pay for production from marginal land when it was not economic was shortsighted.
For a moment, Mr Acting Deputy President, I want to consider with the Senate the proposition that if sales on the export market are markedly less profitable than the home consumption prices that we are able to prop up, sales on the home market represent the cream of the industry and sales in the United Kingdom and other overseas markets represent the skim milk of the industry, so to speak. Who can demonstrate to me or to the Senate that a situation in which a proportion of our production reaches the skim milk market in the United Kingdom and elsewhere is, on any basis of economics, a disadvantage to Australia?
We have been warned about the growth of production in this and other industries. We have seen people who pretend to plan the acreages that should be sown. I dare not reflect upon the years when I was vigorous in the Liberal cause, for I do not wish to excite myself with the vigour of spirit of those days. However, I seem to remember that in 1949 I worked against people who would nationalise the banks and direct the whole of the banking industry, which now embraces the palaces we have allowed Dr Coombes to build in Sydney. I think it was Jefferson or Lincoln who said: ‘If you attempt to direct from Washington when people are to sow or to reap, God help the country’. People used to ridicule the statement of a former Labor Prime Minister who said that we had to get out of the habit of thinking in ‘this country if we wanted to work it and develop it, that every worker can each night listen to the chimes of the Sydney clock or hold his wife’s hand. He was such a Benedict that he thought only of his wife’s hand.
Who are the McCarthy committee planners who would say that 40% of the industry is marginal and uneconomic and therefore would cause it to wither and production to be withdrawn? 1 refer to some statistics from the last report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, which discloses that in 1957 the total number of dairy cows, in milk and dry, was 3.4 million. 1 am stating it to the nearest hundred thousand. In 1965, which is the last year for which these statistics were available, the number of cows was reduced to 3.2 million. The milk production per cow in the first year that I referred to was 396 gallons, compared with 463 gallons in 1964-65.
– That does not sound like inefficiency.
– I shall be pleased to say a word about that, in support of Senator Prowse, who mentioned people preaching from their leather chairs in this chamber the need for greater efficiency in the dairy industry.
– It is the cow that produces the extra milk.
– Yes. I shall come to that. In 1956-57 the milk production in Australia, expressed in thousands of gallons, was 1.3 million, and in 1965-66, with the reduced number of cows, the figure was 1.5 million. The report discloses that butter production has remained fairly constant, increasing from 198,000 tons to 206,000 tons, with a few ups and downs, during that period.
– And that applies to exports, too.
– Yes, especially in the exports.
– Is this the report for 1965?
– No, this is the 1966 report, but the statistics were available up to only 1965. So far as I am concerned, Strawberry is content and, even disregarding the refinements of the last eighteen months, her record is good enough up to the last year shown in this report. The number of cows was reduced during the five years but the production per cow and the total Australian production increased. We all know that the number of people working in the primary industries has decreased from year to year although the industries have been producing more per man. Of course, this is attributable to the introduction of mechanisation. Does that suggest that we should withdraw the subsidy from the industry, thus giving it a body blow so that it will cease to be effective in the secondary forms that I have mentioned? I suggest that this certainly should not take place.
Turning now to another aspect of this debate, it has been most interesting to me to hear the warm espousal by some Labor senators of the need to improve the income yield of dairy farmers. Senator Poyser emphasised the case of the share farmer, and also included in his submission the benefits that should accrue to quite a section of owner-farmers in this industry. That is all very well, and I do not deny the interest of the Australian Labor Party in the primary producer. But if honourable senators opposite could only solve the vexing problem whereby their policy for increases in wages and conditions inflates internal costs, which are a load on the dairy farmer, then we would be happy indeed. Although these policies enable the Labor Party to continue in political life of the country, they have led to inflated costs in the big cities. One of the main factors is the exaggerated protection policy. This yearly nonsense of increasing artificial wages bedevils the dairy industry.
– What about the Government parties?
– Senator Devitt should never suggest to me that there are not faults in every section of political life.
All 1 am trying to do is to put into focus and appreciation what has been said. What 1 am trying to say is that the more you increase the internal costs of Australia the less profitable do you make overseas sales for the dairy farmer. That is completely obvious, not only because of freights to which Senator Mulvihill referred but because of the excessive tax to which I and others drew attention when we discussed the Tariff Board’s report on the chemical industry a fortnight ago. On that occasion, 1 instanced one spray that is greatly in demand by farmers. I referred to the new fangled idea of support duty. Under this concept, if the ordinary duty is not sufficient to bring the pre-landed cost of an imported item up to the support value which is a pre-determined artificial value, then 90% of the difference between the pre-landed cost and the artificial value is added to the ordinary duty as support duty. The artificial value fixed for the special spray to which I have referred was £2,750 a ton. No doubt it was a very special spray indeed, but that case is sufficient to illustrate the degree to which irresponsible protection can bedevil primary industry. All 1 am saying is that it is no use having people living in Melbourne on £30 a week with no butter while the dairy farmers at Smithton are scarcely able to make £15 a week from the combined results of their capital investment, their family labour and their own labour. Therefore, in view of the advantages of this disintegrated industry, this pioneering industry for driving development back into the country and strengthening the productive capacity of the country, the city parties have to recognise that inflated wages in the cities are artificial unless the primary industries are kept on the same relative economic basis. That leads me to urge, in connection with this Bill that to subsidise this industry merely to enable it to continue is insufficient. The Bill ought to be the spring board to advance into primary industries the general policy of underpinning them with basic subsidies to match these unreal costs that are developing because of mechanisms that are not producing wealth but are simply serving to recalculate the distribution of wealth as is done by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and the Tariff Board.
Due to his independent attitude the Australian yeoman farmer has set his face against subsidies ever since the Second World War. Because of the propaganda in connection with a few indecent deals that were made with wheat, the farmer became completely distrustful of the idea that he should accept a subsidy from the Government which would require control of his marketing. But there is now gradually spreading throughout the primary producing industries the view that this attitude is of little avail. The wave of subsidy exists. When we look at other countries such as the United Kingdom and, as one honourable senator said here during a recent debate, the United States, we see the degree to which the subsidy is the general machinery for benefiting primary production. So Australian primary production has now to come into the general policy, I believe, that subsidies should match the artificial ingredient in costs that comes from the Tariff Board and the awards of the Arbitration Commission in the main.
There is another reason why 1 would face without dismay an increase in butter production, in cheese production and in milk production in this country even though the whole of it were not consumed within the country. Every time a challenge is made to get rid of surplus products, in today’s circumstances with the speed of transport being such that markets are readily in communication with one another, and with governments assisting the marketing of national products, I think that we ought to have a little courage because there are markets which we could command in increasing measure.
Let me give one instance. Senator O’Byrne referred to it only shortly yesterday. In Tasmania, owing to great enterprise on the part of one of the leading figures in the dairy industry there, there has been established a new process for the ultra-heat treatment of milk. The first plant from Switzerland was established in Tasmania about eighteen months ago. The process is one which preserves milk or cream completely in its natural state. After having been heated, it is insulated in. containers and I am told that it can be stored in a grocer’s shop without regard to heat or cold for six months. After that period it is still perfectly sweet and attractive. At this very moment, this firm, after eighteen months of operation, is engaged in doubling its plant. The market that is growing for the product is exciting. When we add to this the utilisation of our water resources for irrigation purposes, and the breeding of the right types of cows, what a prospect we have for expanding this industry and utilising the soil of this country which, to use a common phrase, is scarcely scratched.
I am pleased to note that reference has been made to the European Common Market in the course of this debate. I find quite a lengthy reference to it in the report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, lt reads:
The butter and cheese market was partly supported by persistent production shortages in the United States and Canada. At the same time butter and cheese production continued to expand within the European Economic Community and butter stocks mounted in West Germany. Dutch butter production and stocks had also risen higher in 1965-66 than in the previous year. Although still a net importer of cheese, the European Economic Community is expanding its production to the extent that Denmark is reducing its output.
The Board then points out that the European Economic Community is still importing cheese, lt also talks about du agricultural policy of the European Common Market and the effect of Britain’s entering the market. Britain, I think, is Australia’s main export market for butter, if not the only one. The figures show that for the year 1965-66 exports to the United Kingdom totalled 62,241 tons and the average for the previous five years was approximately 68,000 tons. The exports to other countries was only 702 tons. So for all substantial purposes at the present time Great Britain is the only external market for Australian butter.
– Eighty-five per cent.
– Yes. Senator Prowse is kind enough to assist me with the figure. What is to be the attitude of Australia regarding its butter exports in view of the negotiations by Great Britain to enter the European Economic Community? If Britain enters the Economic Community, will she become self-sufficient in butter production and will she be given a source of supply that will deny to her the privilege of granting preference to us? I myself think that, industrially, the improvement of the economy of the whole European Economic Community ought to generate in Great Britain a capacity still to take a substantial part of our butter. I do not know. I know that Denmark will be competing and that Holland also will be in the field. But I should think that in the course of the next decade there will be many working men in Europe with bigger pay cheques who will be demanding a better product. Let that be. That is only a very immature judgment.
This afternoon my colleague from Tasmania, Senator Lillico, said that the latest announcement from the British Cabinet is that the British Government will put up propositions but will not make them conditions of its entry into the European Common Market. I should like to suggest that, although the United Kingdom as an adjunct to Europe, will generate an industrial potential of terrific value, by comparison with Europe the potential of the United Kingdom is not indispensable. I should like to think of Great Britain in the context of an offshore island seeking membership of an economic union after the union has been created. We were faltering with other things in 1955-56. We were launching excursions into Suez at the time the six countries which now form the European Economic Community were writing the Treaty of Rome and agreeing to it in every respect. They took only six months to do so. I put it to the Senate that when a federation or an economic community is created, a country stands a better chance of becoming a member if it is present at the creation and lays down conditions, such as the condition prescribing the nexus between the two Houses of this Federal Parliament. What would have happened if Tasmania had come to the north shore island and said that it wished to lay down conditions concerning its entry into the federation? I only raise that matter in comparison with the argument as to whether Mr George Brown spoke before 10 o’clock in the morning or after 10 o’clock at night concerning the entry of Britain into the European Common Market. I speak with great appreciation of the values of Mr George Brown. Indeed I do. When I was in London, I heard Mr Brown close the debate in the House of Commons on the Christine Keeler affair.
– The honourable senator was in on that?
– Yes, I was in on it. I saw the Parliament at work. As I said, this was on a non-technical subject and I implied that I shared the experience. But I did see Parliament at work. What I am proud to tell the Senate is that twenty-nine Conservatives abstained from following the government through the division. As far as I know, the Conservative Party retains its strength by retaining those members since that. time. I was there when Mr George Brown closed the debate. He invigorated my spirit. The man from industry who generated the capacity to address the House of Commons as George Brown did on that occasion earned my admiration. I speak with no want of appreciation of the ability of Mr George Brown. But regardless of whether Great Britain makes suggestions or conditions, she is approaching a terrifically strong Europe. Whatever the effect upon the quantity of butter that we are able to sell in Europe may be, the advantages that will come to this country through Great Britain being strengthened as part of a united Europe will overwhelmingly overshadow any disadvantage to us of not being able to sell a few pounds of butter. As for this business of shedding tears about Mildura currants and claiming that some little industry will be poverty stricken, all I want to say on a broad commercial basis is: let England grow to assume the leadership of a united Europe while we receive the advantage of her strength as a European leader.
Having said that in relation to the dairyman whose subsidy I want to ensure, I wish to express another thought: When we are speaking about the European Economic Community, it is a matter of real dismay to me that only the commercial side of it is being considered. I have heard no discussion for years about the constitutional dilemma that will be posed to this country unless it is thoughtfully taken in hand before Great Britain becomes a member of the European Economic Community. No provision exists for an alteration of the constitution. There is no provision for the dissolution. No provision exists for an effective elected parliament. But there is provision for an authoritarian commission to operate within the whole ambit of the economy, including the products of the dairy and agricultural industries, by means of edict and decree of an authoritarian character. A court has been created that is superior to the highest tribunal in Great Britain.
These matters are not directly relevant to the Bill and the dairy industry and I make only passing reference to them. But I think that this debate in the Senate, bringing into focus this reorientation of the dairy industry by reason of the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community, is an advantage to the country, lt will be of advantage to the many thoughtful people in this industry who, I think, are very well organised. This organisation stems, not from a policy formulated in 1942, but from its genesis, the Paterson scheme, which was introduced when I was a boy at school in 1921 or 1922. So I hope that the Parliament will give to the dairy industry an assurance that it will renew this subsidy. I would be much more thankful to the Parliament if it had the sagacity to make provision for the subsidy to increase according to the level of costs in this industry so that it could be maintained at a level that corresponds with the rising level of costs, in other industries, in the economy of Australia in which dairymen have to live.
– The purpose of the Bill is to obtain parliamentary approval to continue the payment of a bounty of $27m a year for five years on butter, cheese and related products containing butter fat produced in Australia. One is entitled to ask in this year of our development why it is necessary to pay the bounty. In answering that question it is necessary to take devious roads to ascertain the real reason why it is necessary to continue the payment of a bounty to an industry so that it may survive.
An examination of the history of the dairying industry in Australia is interesting. Senator Laurie said last night that the dairying industry was a pioneer industry. That is quite true. I know that the dairying industry was established in localities where no other rural industries existed. Today in those localities - perhaps on the original dairy farms - millet, sorghum, corn, peanuts, wheat and other crops are grown. The dairying industry was not designed or planned as is a secondary industry. When a secondary industry is planned to be established architects and civil engineers are required to examine the soil in which the foundations of buildings will be laid. Architects will be engaged to examine the quality of the concrete, steel and other materials used in the buildings which will house the machinery so that the buildings will perhaps last for a century. First class machinery is installed to operate efficiently. But if we are proud of our secondary industries, we are only being proud of something that is possessed by somebody else.
The dairying industry was established in a very haphazard way. Its history can be traced to the beginning of farming in Australia. The early history of Australia that 1 have read indicates fairly clearly that when the gold mines operating in Australia - say at Charters Towers and Gympie - were worked out, the miners and tradesmen who had been employed there went on to the land. In those days the land laws were not so strict as they are today. In that period there was no private ownership of land. In Queensland many miners and tradesmen who had been employed in mines established dairy farms or took up land in sugar growing country. When the gold mines ceased operating in Victoria at Ballarat, Bendigo, Ararat and Stawell there was no opportunity such as exists today for the men employed there to go to Melbourne to work in a secondary industry. They had to get a living for themselves and their families from the land. At that time it was not necessary, as it is today, to have a lot of capital to set up a dairy farm.
Frequently 1 travel round the country campaigning to have the Labor Party returned to office as a government here. I meet men doing labouring work for local government bodies and other bodies such as mining companies. I have a private chat with them, as one does. They have told me that they are saving money to buy a dairy farm or to go sharefarming. Capital is needed to buy land and cows to get started, in the dairying industry there is a kind of fraternalism. If a man proves that he is a good worker and a worthwhile citizen, established farmers will make stock available to him for a year or two. That is illustrated in the history of the dairying industry. On seeing dairy farms in fertile localities I often think that some of them may have been established there years ago because fat kangaroos, which made good eating, were hopping around there.
A dairy farm is not denned in any statute that I have read. I could find no definition in books to which I turned for statistical information, where reference is made to a minimum number of dairy farms used to collate information. As I was unable to find a definition of a dairy farm I thought I was entitled to make my own definition: A dairy farm is a place where a milking cow is milked. I have visited parts of Queensland where families milk three or four cows and sell the excess milk to their neighbours. If a butter factory is not very far away it is common practice for people milking up to ten cows to send the cream there - or to send the milk if it is a cheese factory. In that way they gain a monthly income. I am not dealing specifically with those cases at present.
The dairying industry has been established in localities which vary greatly between States and within States as to potential. It could not be otherwise because of the variations in the quality of the land. Some land is used for grazing dairy cows on natural pastures. Irrigable land is used for dairying and fodder is grown there for the stock. There are climatic variations between areas in which the dairying industry is established. South Australia enjoys a very even climate. In parts of Queensland the dairying industry operates in tropical conditions. I have always maintained that an essential factor for the success of a dairy farm is thai: there should be conditions generally which are conductive to sustain breeding endeavours. I see this spectacle frequently. I have seen a dairy farmer commence wilh a well bred herd. He has the very best of intentions. He has made very selective choices in respect of bulls and breeding cows. After a drought his herd is depleted. Perhaps two-thirds of its has perished and so he has to start again. This happens in one part of Australia whereas in other parts conditions are altogether different because the farmers can sustain breeding endeavour over the years and succeed in having a first class herd over a number of years.
I think that we can answer this question if we look at how the dairy industry is operating in the six States at the present time. I did not have the advantage of reading the McCarthy report, but I have collected some information for myself. If honourable senators follow what 1 am about to tell them they will see for themselves why it is possible to go to the dairying industry today and to categorise dairy farms into classes such as No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4. I shall take the average area of dairy farms in the States. They are as follows:
They are not sheep stations; they are dairy farms. 1 know that there are experienced farmers listening to me at this very moment, and 1 know that already they have been able to form an opinion as to why there is a variation in the areas in the States. They know that in Victoria and South Australia the dairying industry is carried on in very fertile areas; therefore their areas are less than they are in the other States. They know, too, that along the northern coast of New South Wales what is called dairying country is really cattle raising country. Probably the whole of Queensland should be described accurately as cattle raising country and not dairy farming country. There is a difference.
The areas to which I have just referred were the ordinary natural pastures which are devoted to dairy farming. I turn now to the areas of sown pastures which are as follows:
In Western Australia evidently they use plains as pastures. In Tasmania they have land on which crops can be grown. The farm average of dairy herds in the six States is as follows:
Now we come to the test of what I have been telling honourable senators. If they have been able to follow what I have said they will have a good idea why this bounty is necessary in 1967. That is why dairy farms in Australia have been categorised. That is why the economists who have applied themselves to this question of examining the dairy industry have referred to farm No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. The average number of gallons per cow per annum in the various States is as follows:
The average of 468 gallons per head is not bad for Western Australia where the number of acres per dairy farm is 470. When we come to Tasmania we see that Strawberry is certainly doing her duly constantly because the average number of gallons per cow is 583. From what 1 have said honourable senators can understand that the dairying industry in South Australia is in a prosperous condition compared with the industry in the other States. In Tasmania and Victoria it is also in a comparatively prosperous condition. So when we come to use that yardstick of efficiency, how in the name of goodness can we use it in respect of the whole dairying industry in Australia? After listening to what I have just said, what factors are we to consider?
The real essence of success in the dairying industry is the amount of nutritious feed that can be provided by the dairy farmers for their herds. In South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania farmers can provide the necessary feed. Over the years competent bodies have conducted investigations of the dairy industry. One inquiry found that farms lacking a potential to produce from all sources an income equivalent to the income from 8,000 lb of butterfat per annum are uneconomic. Since then the quantity has been increased from 8,000 lb to 10,000 Jb because of increasing prices in the community generally. 1 shall leave that for a moment.
The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) in his second reading speech hinted that a plan to rehabilitate the dairying industry was under consideration. I know that that is so. I have received from a gentleman the proposed plan for the rehabilitation of the dairying industry, I will not read all of it but 1 will quote some of the interesting passages. One paragraph states:
The plan is designed to increase farm productivity and at the same lime extend the market for dairy produce by diversification of manufactured products, with a view to increasing sales at home and abroad. Moreover, the existence of a healthy dairy industry makes a valuable contribution to the prosperity of a large number of country towns and encourages decentralisation. For example, in ‘the eastern coastal area south of the Queensland border there are many smaller centres of population which are largely dependent on the dairy industry and there does not appear to be any other kind of rural activity which could take its place.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 13th April (vide page 832), on the following paper presented by Senator Gorton:
Tenth Annual Report of the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the year ended 13th August 1966- and on the motion by Senator Cavanagh:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
– I move:
That this Senate takes note of the following extract from Quick and Gari art’s Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth, pages 452-3, viz.:
This “two to one ratio” is a rigid element and basic requirement of much importance and significance; it is embedded in the Constitution; it is beyond the reach of modification by the Federal Parliament, and can only be altered by an amendment of the Constitution. It was adopted after due consideration and for weighty reasons. It was considered that, as it was desirable, m a Constitution of this kind, to define and fix the relative powers of the two Houses, it was also but fair and reasonable to define their relative proportions, in numerical strength, to each other, so as to give that protection and vital force by which the proper exercise of those powers could be legally secured. It was considered extremely necessary to prevent an automatic or arbitrary increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives, by which there would be a continually growing disparity between (he num ber of members of that House and the Senate; and to give some security for maintaining the numerical strength, as well as the Constitutional power, of the Senate. It was argued that if the number of the members of the Senate remained stationary, whilst the number of the members of the House of Representatives were allowed to go on increasing with the progressive increase of population, the House would become inordinately large and inordinately expensive, whilst the Senate would become weak and impotent. It was said that to allow the proportion of the Senate towards the House of Representatives to become the merest fraction, would in course of time lead practically to the abolition of the Senate, or at any rate, to the loss of that influence, prestige, and dignity to which it is entitled under the Constitution. In reply to the argument founded on the danger of disparity, arising between the number of members of the Senate and the number of members of the House of Representatives, attention was drawn to the Constitution of the United States of America under which Congress had unlimited power to increase the number of members of the Mouse, without increasing the number of senators; which power had not been recklessly or improvidently exercised. The power and status of the Senate had not been prejudiced by the gradual increase in the number of representatives. In answer to this it was contended that the Senate of the United States of America had maintained its position in the Constitution largely owing to its possession of certain important judicial, legislative and executive powers, which had not been granted to the Senate of the Commonwealth, such as the sole power of trying cases of impeachment; the power to ratify or to refuse to ratify treaties made by the President with foreign nations; and the power to refuse to confirm executive appointments made by the President. These powers were the main sources of the strength of the American Senate, which prevented any wide disparity in numbers between it and the House of Representatives from causing it to drift into the insignificance of a small committee or board. The Senate of the Commonwealth, being deprived of such powers, should be protected against the danger Of disparity in numbers.’.
It pleases me greatly to submit this motion asking the Senate to take note of this very important and significant part of the Australian Constitution. When one reads and studies that extract from Quick and Garran’s work on the Australian Constitution one cannot fail to recognise wilh appreciation and gratitude the vision, thought and careful attention which was given to this most important axis on which the whole Australian parliamentary system really functions, and the consideration given by the fathers of federation to this very significant aspect of our political and social life. A study of the reports and proceedings of the conventions which preceded federation confirms undoubtedly that the representatives of the States were men of outstanding ability and capacity, and men who were conscious of the necessity to maintain a balanced representation of the people of the six States when the question of federating those States was being considered.
The time could not be more propitious for me or for any other honourable senator, or indeed for any parliamentarian, to awaken his colleagues in this place and members of the House of Representatives, as well as the people of Australia, to the history of federation - how federation came about, why it came about and why it was possible of achievement. Naturally, a large section of our community takes it for granted that federation, which has served Australia and its people with distinct success, was introduced overnight without any deep thought or assiduous application by those who were privileged to represent their respective States at the many conventions which took place before federation became an accomplished fact. I say that it is time to remind the people that the federation which they unquestionably support today as against unification - this federation which, 1 repeat, has served the people and Australia with distinct success - could have been achieved only by the introduction or the provision of this link or nexus between the House of Representatives and the Senate - or between the Senate and the House of Representatives, to put them in the order of superiority - as far as numerical strength was concerned. These men of great vision saw that if that ratio of 2:1 which is referred to in the motion that. 1 have read this evening was not adopted by the States, and if a quota system was introduced as an alternative, the government of the day could continue to increase the numbers in the House of Representatives without any check whatsoever. Inevitably if that ratio or link is broken in 1967 or 1968 or at any other time, the government of the day will have an open cheque to increase on a quota basis the numbers in the House of Representatives to the detriment of the Senate, to the destruction of its influence, its prestige, and its power as a States assembly to represent the interests of the people of all States, particularly the smaller States of the Commonwealth of Australia. Men like R. E. O’Connor, a distinguished jurist,
Barton and others, gave their deep and considerable thought to this question. As the extract from Quick and Garran states: lt was considered that, as it was desirable, In a Constitution of this kind, to define and fix the relative powers of the two Houses, it was also but fair and reasonable to define their relative proportions, in numerical strength, to each other, so as to give that protection and vital force by which the proper exercise of those powers could be legally secured.
Those words are as true today as they were when they were written. If it is the aim, as it would appear to be, of the present Government to destroy this Senate or reduce it to the status of an impotent committee, powerless and ineffectual in its work, I would counsel the Government to be honourable enough and big enough to submit a proposal to the people for the abolition of the Senate rather than, as it is attempting to do now, just to weaken the Senate so that greater powers can be accumulated by the Cabinet of the day.
The Government has no reason to fear any interruption of, any interference with, or any challenge to its dictatorial control of the affairs of Australia by the House of Representatives. Many people have expressed themselves very clearly on the relative value of the Senate compared with the House of Representatives. It is quite clear, I say, from the Government’s action in proceeding with this referendum which is to take place on the 27th of this month, that the people are to be asked to break this nexus and to entrust to the Government the power and the right to increase the numbers in the House of Representatives for every 85,000 persons that are added to our population, nearly 50% of whom are under 21 years of age. We are told that 85,000 is to be the minimum. It is certainly to be the maximum as well as the minimum, because no-one will convince me that immediately 85,000 persons are added to our population there will not be pressure for a further increase in representation.
It is clear, Mr President, that the major objective of the referendum proposal is to make it easy to increase the number of members of the House of Representatives. I submit that before making a move in this direction the Government would have been wise to examine whether additions to the House of Representatives would enable that House to function in a more useful manner. With the present membership of 124 there are loud complaints that the House of Representatives is not functioning properly. Indeed, the quantity of newspaper articles and learned articles on the subject would fill a fair sized brief case. We have, for example, the interesting comment of the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, who said:
Nine out of ten speeches in Parliament today are probably not written by the speaker himself.
That comment appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 8th September 1966.
– That is in the House of Representatives.
– Not here.
– I am speaking of the House of Representatives.
– Does the honourable senator think that is right?
– 1 am quoting Sir Robert Menzies. What my opinion is matters a great deal more, J know, but at this point J. am quoting Sir Robert Menzies. Such a comment prompts one to think of a gigantic and rather expensive puppet show. The most recent repetition of the claim that the House of Representatives is simply a rubber stamp has come from Senator Lionel Murphy, the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber. Before 1 quote this claim, it is relevant to note that Senator Murphy has since assumed the leadership of the Opposition in the Senate. I think that he made this statement before he was elevated, but I would not be sure of thai. However, whether it was before or after matters little. What matters most is what he said, lt was on 5th April 1967. Senator Murphy said:
Indeed, it is a tragedy of our modern times that of the two chambers the Senate is the only one capable of being a true legislative chamber. It follows from our responsible system of government, which extends throughout the British Commonwealth, thai in the chamber which includes most of the members of the Government, the Government is dominant, except where the numbers are fairly evenly divided. As a consequence, that chamber is really incapable of making any amendments to legislation or of passing legislation contrary to the will of the Government. So that in fact if not in theory the House of Representatives has ceased to bc a legislative chamber. It is a rubber stamp for the legislation introduced by the Government.
That statement is reported on page 539 of the Senate Hansard of 5th April. Until there is appropriate reform of the House of Representatives, it is useless to expand the existing problems by increasing the number of members of that House. I am more concerned about the Government’s persistence and apparent determination to proceed with something which is unwarranted, which the people do not want and which I am sure they will say they do not want in no uncertain terms on 27th May.
We hear a lot of poppycock regarding the increased duties of parliamentarians. Some of the statements that are made are really amusing. Mr Anthony, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party, has talked about the Snowy Mountains scheme as an additional responsibility of members of the Federal Parliament. How many . members of the Federal Parliament have been affected by the Snowy Mountains scheme.
– We had to inspect it and that took four days.
– Yes, and what a great jaunt thai would have been. I am sorry I was not. on it. This matter becomes just a joke when responsible members of the Government parties go around talking about all the additional work that parliamentarians have to do today. Parliamentarians have greater facilities and greater conveniences now than they had formerly. I cannot believe for one minute that the job is so arduous that members of Parliament today cannot perform their duties to greater advantage than could members of Parliament in former years. Those members did not have the transport facilities that members have today. They did not have the clerical or secretarial assistance that members have today.
– They did not have the same complexity of legislation as members have today either.
– I thought I dealt pretty effectively with that point when the referendum legislation was before this chamber. If the legislation is more complex and there is a greater quantum of legislation today, will someone tell me why the number of sitting days of the Parliament has been reduced from about ninety in some years to sixty-three in one year and fifty-five last year? IE someone could tell me why that has happened, I might be inclined to go along with Senator Cant’s argument about the complexity of legislation. Mr Anthony has also said:
The weight of work and the volume of legislation that has come before the House and is on the statute book has grown tremendously.
If that is so - and Senator Laught, the Prime Minister and others have also said it is - how is it that members of Parliament can go on overseas trips for months and months and leave their electorates to the mercy of a typist or secretary, or whatever designation one likes to give her? I am not condemning the overseas trips.
– That is essential in order to broaden their knowledge.
– There is plenty of evidence of the need to broaden knowledge. That is why I go along with the idea of sending members of Parliament, particularly the younger ones, overseas to broaden their knowledge. I am not: deploring that system. But a parliamentarian cannot have it both ways. He cannot say that he is burdened down like Atlas; that he never has a day off; and that he never has a minute to spare because he has to represent about 80,000 people, half of whom are juveniles. I ask this question: What percentage of the people in a member’s electorate ever have occasion to approach hint?
My experience and knowledge as a parliamentarian cannot be questioned. I have had thirty-five years of contact with people. I represented a metropolitan seat in the Queensland Parliament for twenty-eight years before I came here. I have a very close association with and knowledge of people. Even when I was not in any parliament I continued to have people calling on me for advice and aid in the sense of doing little things for them. No parliamentarian can tell me - surely none would have the temerity to attempt to tell me or to convince me - that a big percentage of his electors are on his doormat every day. Let us be realistic and truthful. I do not mind Mr Anthony and the Prime Minister pulling their own legs. But they certainly will not pull mine, and I object very strongly to their attempting to pull the legs of the people. Let us compare the present position with that of the bad days of the depression when we interviewed a hundred people a day, all of whom were looking for one thing that society denied them; namely, the right to work and to maintain themselves and those dependent upon them. The position today is altogether different.
I do not believe that there is a warrant for the breaking of the nexus. Let me emphasise that the basis of my objection to the breaking of the nexus is my respect for the Constitution which has functioned so successfully for Australia and in the interests of its people. Those of us in this chamber who are opposed to this referendum and the breaking of the nexus are opposed to any increase in the numerical strength of the Senate as well as that of the House of Representatives, because we believe that the people are more than adequately represented in this Parliament. We cannot see any warrant for an increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives in the foreseeable future, and there will not be any warrant or justification for such an increase until our population catches up with our representation. The case presented by the Yes-men, as 1 described them, is a collection of smooth words, half truths and misrepresentations of fact. In effect, those who prepared it say that a vote for Yes will mean fewer additional members than a vote for No will mean. That is misleading. Those who prepared the Yes case go on to say that a vote for Yes will mean a mere thirteen or fifteen additional members. Why did they not tell the people the whole truth and point out that a vote for Yes will give the government of the day an open cheque to increase the number of members in the House of Representatives, on the basis of a quota of 85,000 persons to each electorate, according to the increase in the population? No one can deny that that will bc the situation. In support of an increase in numbers, we have a statement by Mr Calwell, the former Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, who in 1962 said:
We ask the Government to hold a referendum on a proposal that the Constitution be amended, so that the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives can be broken and so that whenever there are 80,000 people anywhere in Australia, or the equivalent of 46,000 electors, a seat shall be created and a new member elected to this House to represent them.
Mr Calwell was quite blunt about the matter. As he was a party to the proposal that a referendum be held it is logical to assume and fair to judge that the present Government is committed to the same thing. If that is so why do not those who have prepared the Yes case come out in the open and tell the people that in 1971 - four years from now - there will be an additional thirty-two members in the House of Representatives and that for every increase of 85,000 in the population there will bc an additional member in that House? On the projected increase in the population as worked out at the Australian National University, by the end of this century, which is only thirty-three years away, we shall have a House of Representatives about 300 strong.
Let me repeat that there is no warrant for the proposed increase in numbers. The United States of America, which is comparable with Australia in area, has in its national parliament - I disregard the State legislatures - one representative for every 355,000 people. That includes members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. We in Australia have in our national parliament one representative for every 62,000 people. Yet those who put forward the Yes case say that we have not sufficient members in the House of Representatives. New Zealand has -not increased the size of its Parliament since the turn of the century. Doubtless the population of that country has increased as the population of Australia has done. When those responsible for the preparation of the Yes case tell the people in smooth words that a vote for Yes will result in an increase of the number of members of the House of Representatives by a mere thirteen, they are not telling the whole truth. They are deliberately misleading the people. I emphasise that, lt ill becomes responsible leaders of political parties, and particularly leading figures in a government, to try to hoodwink the people in a matter such as this.
Where are the additional members to be? Naturally and logically they will be in the big centres of population. What can Tasmania hope to gain from the referendum? Nothing. What can Western Australia hope to gain from it? At best it will perhaps gain one member. South Australia may gain two and Queensland may gain two. I say decidedly that Melbourne will gain five and Sydney four. J mention those capital cities because they are the places where the additional seats will be created. Country centres will not gain any additional representation if the Yes vote prevails and the referendum is carried. This will merely react against the smaller States and against country areas. Success of the referendum will bring about the very thing that the nexus was intended to guard against when it was embodied in the Constitution. It was put there as a guard against the two big States, ft was intended to prevent the two influential and powerful States from overriding the smaller States and forcing them into submission. Let me say, Mr Deputy President, that as a senator who represents the people of Queensland I deeply resent being disregarded, along with all other honourable senators, by those who prepared the Yes case. When they worked out the representation figures they did not take into account the sixty senators. They just based their figures on the 123 members of the House of Representatives who have full voting rights. Those who prepared the Yes case regard us senators as not representing people. According to Mr Holt, Mr Whitlam and Mr McEwen we do not represent people and we are not worth considering when the population is divided to ascertain the number of people represented by the individual member.
I return now to the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Murphy. He has told us what he thinks of the Senate and its work in comparison with the House of Representatives. I claim that I represent the people of Queensland as well as they are represented by any member of the House of Representatives. Though I am a member of a minority party I am interviewed by as many people as is any Queensland member of the other place. I invite anyone who wants confirmation of that fact to go to the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Adelaide Street, Brisbane. Any person who does so will also see for himself just how few people seek to see Federal members. I am there every day except when I am in other parts of Queensland, but each day that I am in Brisbane I spend hours representing the people. I should say that the content of my correspondence compares favourably with that of the correspondence of any member of the House of Representatives.
Despite this we are cast aside by the authors of the Yes vote in their calculation of representation of the people.
The time is propitious for an awakening, in the first place by members of Parliament - especially senators - as to the danger contained in this proposal, this attempt by the Government, to break the nexus established by the Australian Constitution. This proposal is full of danger. Just as the fathers of federation, with their gifts of vision and wisdom, provided safeguards in respect of the quota system, let us give the people the lead; let us be wise, and let us have the vision in the interests of the preservation of our parliamentary system of government. Indeed, let us tell the people that they cannot afford to break this nexus. The proposal is unwarranted, for we are already over-governed, and not for a long time will there be a need for an increase in the number of members of this Parliament.
I now come to the crux of the whole matter. Let us g£t to the genesis of this referendum - the point which has not been explained in the Yes case. Those who support the Yes case avoid telling the people the truth on a very important, indeed the most essential, point in the case. What gave rise to this referendum proposal? Was it the growth in our population? Was it the burden that members of the House of Representatives were carrying? Was there a dearth in nominations for seats? I have not seen any evidence of it myself. Other honourable members know this as well as 1 do. The facts cannot be disputed. I challenge the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) in this chamber to prove me wrong. I am supported by Hansard when I say that the Government of the day failed to carry out a statutory requirement in 1961 following the census by arranging for a redistribution of electoral boundaries. The Government has now the temerity and cheek to use the imbalance in numbers and in seats in populated areas such as Melbourne and other major cities as an argument in favour of the Yes case. The Government displays its contempt for the laws of this country, which provide that following a census a redistribution must take place. Is it not true that work was carried out by the redistribution commission and reports were made? Is it not true, also, that Mr Freeth, who was then the Minister for the Interior, submitted the reports and moved their adoption? Is it not true that the Australian Country Party and the Australian Labor Party were not in accord with the proposals, and would not support them?
As a result of this, the legislation was put to bed. I have already read from Hansard the famous words of Sir Robert Menzies, although they are not so famous in my mind because I think he just held the Parliament in contempt and treated the people of this country with contempt when he said he was putting the legislation to bed. About eight months elapsed before any reference was made to the referendum, which is the solution to the impasse that came about as a result of the redistribution and the inability of the Government to get the Australian Labor Party and the Country Party to agree. That is the genesis of the referendum proposal. I say that the reason for the proposal is rotten, undesirable and unworthy of the Government. If that is the reason - I say it is, and I am supported by Hansard in this - let the people be told. I and my colleagues will certainly tell them. I am very sorry that we have not had an opportunity on the air to tell the people the real reason, which is not that members of Parliament are overworked but merely dissatisfaction with the redistribution.
I feel that I am monopolising the time and T do not desire to do that. I shall conclude by saying that the words contained in Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution should be read, considered and studied very carefully not only by every responsible citizen of the Commonwealth but particularly by members of Parliament charged with the responsibility of representing people. Let us resolve this question, not because we are senators but because we are true Australians with a regard for our democratic, parliamentary system of government. Let us have a regard for the Constitution under which we have functioned so successfully for so long. If the Government is greatly concerned about altering the Constitution, there are many important ways in which it can do so. Indeed, it has umpteen dozen recommendations from review committees, but it has elected to step around them and to do nothing. At the same time it says: ‘We will proceed with this one dealing with the nexus’. Then perhaps just to confuse the people, it says: ‘We shall include another question with it - something that the people in Australia would favour’. Of course, the other proposal relates to the Aboriginal people of Australia.
I submit this case with enthusiasm and confidence - confidence in my fellow Australians who, I am sure, will have a full appreciation of what is involved and in the ballot box will tell the Government that Australians have more than enough parliamentarians. It is more parliamentarians and politicians that we want; but let us have better ones if we can get them.
– I am aware that the Leader of the Government in the Senator (Senator Henty) proposes to take part in this debate and to put. a view which the Opposition fully supports. He will submit that the people should confidently vote Yes at the coming referendum, because the proposals have the endorsement of the major parties in this Parliament and should commend themselves, as a matter of commonsense, to the electors.
The words that appear in the extract from Quick and Garran’s ‘Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth’, which is the subject of this motion, represent the opinion of some highly respected constitutionalists. But they were not (he only opinions held about this matter at the lime of the institution of the Commonwealth. In the great constitutional debates of the 1890’s, the opposite view, which is now embodied in the referendum which is being put to the people, was urged by some notable constitutionalists including the late Sir Isaac Isaacs, who was later Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia and the first Australian GovernorGeneral. He described the proposed section 24 which we are concerned in the coming referendum to amend as a peculiar provision and a very unwise step. He was referring to the tying of the numbers in the House of Representatives to a figure which was double the numbers in the Senate. He said:
I fail to see what connection there could be between the number of members of the Senate and the number of members of the House of Representatives which could limit the number of the House of Representatives in accordance with the number of Senators.
He said that by placing this restriction in the Constitution the Convention was imposing a restriction which would be absolutely novel in any constitution. I mention this because it is a view which was firmly held by the minority in the Convention. They were over-ruled, I think by 26 to 15 in the relevant debate. But this view which was put by Sir Isaac Isaacs was certainly one which represented the strong minority viewpoint in the debate. He said:
You can make the Senate as large as you like without reference to population at all- that is in the proposed provision - but although the needs of the population may require a larger quota in the House of Representatives and although there may be no need whatever to extend the number of representatives in the Senate, the House of Representatives cannot be altered without altering the Senate, and, what is worse-
As he put it - without the consent of the Senate.
Those were the views of an eminent jurist and constitutionalist and I submit they are entitled to very great respect even from those who are now holding the opposite point of view.
We have listened to a speech tonight from the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party who is associated with the presentation of the No case in the coming referendum. I want to say that I do not think that at any stage we heard the real reason for the strong opposition which his Party is urging towards this referendum. His real reason is something entirely different from any of the propositions that he has put forward in the Senate tonight and that his Party is advancing in the course of this referendum campaign.
The Australian Democratic Labor Party wants a No vote. The real reason is that it realises that the Government is determined to go ahead with increasing the numbers even if the referendum fails. My leader, Senator Murphy, who spoke in the debate, made it clear that we, the Opposition, were not committed to any such proposition, but, Senator Gair realises that the Government will want to press ahead. His Party wants to force an increase in the number of senators from each State so that the quota necessary for the election of a senator shall be smaller and so that more Senate seats might be won in due course by the Party to which he belongs.
– By supporting the Opposition we can frustrate the Government.
– I do not know whether Senator Gair is now admitting that what I am saying is correct, but he is coming dangerously close to admitting the exact proposition that I am enunciating. What his Party wants is a smaller quota so that it will have a prospect of having more senators in this chamber. That is the real position, and the Party that he represents holds to it. Senator Gair’s Party has, with tongue in cheek, put it on the basis of a firmly held principle. The members of his Party proclaim themselves as guardians of traditional values but in fact they are engaged in manoeuvres which they hope will win them seats in the Senate without responsibility. They desire to exploit the outmoded provision in the constitution for motives of Party self-seeking. That is the real position but they cannot put it as crudely and as boldly as that. Therefore they have wrapped it up in some very nice language and put it on a basis of high principle. I think they have appealed to some of the worst prejudices in the community. This business of belittling politicians, this business of-
– He is the Andrew Jones type.
– He may be that sort of chap.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! The proper term for parliamentarians is ‘parliamentarians’ not ‘politicians’.
– I am using the word in inverted commas. I do not talk about politicians; I talk about parliamentarians. But the suggestion is that politicians, as they are called, are always wanting more for themselves and this proposal is an appeal to a prejudice in the community which has been very deliberately fostered by people who want to belittle this institution of Parliament. I do not think it does any credit whatever, especially to those parliamentarians who have associated themselves with this case. 1 do not say this of all those parliamentarians who support it; I am not saying this is the motive of every one of them, but I do say it is an appeal to a prejudice, it is an appeal to sentiments that are held in some sections of the community which are deliberately inflamed in order to make this bi-cameral institution appear as something for which people should not hold the deepest respect. I believe that Senator Gair and his supporters are doing a great disservice in opposing this referendum proposition by using this kind of argument - the argument that there are too many politicians already. With all due deference to you, Mr Deputy President, I use those words, but you will appreciate that I have inverted commas around the phrase. It is not my phrase, it is the phrase of those who are wanting to vote No.
I want to deal with some of the serious arguments that are used. The suggestion is that if this referendum is carried then in some way it will weaken the power of the Senate. The implication is that that will represent one step in the downward path leading ultimately to a very impotent and weak Senate. I do not believe that the prestige or strength of the Senate relatively to the House of Representatives is in any way in issue in this referendum. I do not know that sixty senators can do any less with a House of 200 than they can with a House of 120. I believe that the work that the Senate does will be in no way hampered or interfered with by the passage of this referendum.
We have made it plain that we intend to give full support to the referendum proposal and to urge members of our Party and those who support it politically to vote Yes in this campaign, because we believe that this will effect a reasonable increase in the size of the House of Representatives without a concomitant increase by half of the numbers of the Senate. 1 think we have to be quite realistic as to what is involved in the various alternatives. If this referendum is not carried, and the Government decides against increasing the numbers in the House of Representatives then the first thing that will be needed is a redistribution on the basis of the present number of seats. That is what was attempted in 1962 with the formula then. Senator Gair, I think, may have to answer for this to the electors of Queensland -because as well as being the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in this chamber he is a senator for Queensland. If he gets his way, Queensland will lose one seat in the House of Representatives.
– New South Wales will lose one seat also.
– That is right. New South Wales will lose one seat in the House of Representatives. But Senator Gair will have to explain to the electors of Queensland, if this happens, why he has acted in such a way as to reduce the number of members in the House of Representatives for a State that is a very large State geographically. That is the first possibility. The second possibility is that the Government, if the referendum is defeated, will go ahead with proposals to increase the numbers of the House of Representatives.
– The honourable senator is justifying any redistribution, is he?
– I am not justifying any redistribution. I am talking about what will happen if the honourable senator gets his way in the forthcoming referendum. The Government has said that if the referendum is carried, it will increase the number of seats in the House of Representatives by twelve or thirteen. The numbers in the Senate will not change. If the referendum is not carried and the Government still wants to increase the numbers in the House of Representatives, that necessarily will involve an increase in the number of Senators. If twelve new seats are created in the House of Representatives, six new senators will be required. But everybody who has considered this problem has realised that that would lead to a very anomalous situation. It would mean that instead of ten senators for each State there would be eleven. This would mean, in turn, that at the end of one term of three years six senators would retire and at the end of the next term of three years five senators would retire. Problems would arise because of the way in which the system of proportional representation in the Senate works. There could be an equally divided Senate. All sorts of situations would arise concerning casual vacancies in which there would not be any normal pattern. The citizens would not know whether at a particular Senate election they were expected to vote for six senators or five senators with casual vacancies adding one, two or more senators as the case may be.
Realistically, if the number of senators is to be increased, that increase will have to be twenty-four. That is to give each
State fourteen senators instead of ten senators. Instead of five senators retiring at the end of each three year term, seven senators would retire at the end of each three year term. People who have addressed their minds to this question broadly believe, I think, that if there were any increase in the numbers of the Senate the increase would be twenty-four. That would mean an increase of forty-eight in the numbers of the House of Representatives. In other words, if the referendum is not carried, the probability - I do not say the certainty, because we are moving now into an area of speculation - is that an increase of twentyfour in the numbers of the Senate would be required and an increase of forty-eight in the House of Representatives. That is an increase in the size of the Parliament of seventy-two. If the increase were more modest than twenty-four senators, twice as many members would be required in the House of Representatives. Indeed, if the numbers of the House of Representatives were increased by only twelve, an increase of six senators would take place. This would be more than what is proposed now. I mention this fact because Senator Gair argues strongly against any increase in the size of the other House. I say that that was an argument that Senator Gair put with his tongue in his cheek.
– The honourable senator would say anything.
– I am saying it because 1 think the facts of the situation suggest it and the politics of the situation suggest it. If there is no increase in the House of Representatives and no increase in the Senate, we get back to the position of a new redistribution. Some very critical comments have been made on the attitude of the Australian Democratic Labor Party by Professor Crisp who is a professor of Political Science at the Australian National University.
– Has Professor Crisp any party affiliation of which the honourable senator knows?
– He certainly is sympathetic to the Labor point of view. I do not know whether he has a party affiliation. I think he has. But he is a scholar. He is a man of great integrity. He is known and famed for his very fine biography of the late Mr Chifley. Certainly I think that one could feel a good deal of pride in his achievement as a scholar.
– He wrote a book on the parliamentary government of Australia.
– Yes. We are indebted to Professor Crisp for his forthright expression of the view that I have been putting. He supports the proposition that what is at stake so far as the Democratic Labor Party is concerned is the possibility of election of more of its members to the Senate because of the lower quota. He strongly suggests that it was the lack of the proposed amendment that forced the electoral commissioners in 1962 to recommend a reduction in the number of New South Wales House of Representatives seats by one despite a population increase of half a million and a reduction in the number of Queensland House of Representatives seats by one despite a population increase approaching a quarter of a million.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I believe it is not true to say that if the referendum is carried this will result in an unlimited number of parliamentarians at the Federal level. lt is simply not true to make that allegation because, for the first time, a limitation will be placed on the number of members of the House of Representatives and the status quo will be maintained in the Senate. Under the existing Constitution, the Parliament can increase the size of both the House of Representatives and the Senate as often as and whenever it likes without reference to the people of Australia. The only proviso is-
– What is the limitation to which the honourable senator refers? Is it the limitation of 85,000 people?
– Yes, that is right.
– The number is not limited. It can increase progressively with the increase in population.
– lt may be so.
– We would finish up with 300 members.
– At the moment under the Constitution the number of senators could be multiplied to 600 and the corresponding number of members of the House of Representatives would be 1,200. There is no constitutional inhibition to such an increase. If the referendum were carried, we would have a limit imposed on the number of members of the House by the quota; that is, the number of people who were to be represented by each member of the House of Representatives. The only proviso at the moment is that the Senate must be increased in multiples of six - that is, one for each State - to maintain the principle of the equal representation of all States. For every increase of six in the Senate a corresponding increase of twelve would take place in the House of Representatives. This would mean a total increase in the Parliament of eighteen. The minimum increase in the numbers of both Houses on each occasion under the present provisions would be six senators and twelve members of the House of Representatives. The limitation which would be placed on the size of the House of Representatives under the proposed amendment would enable the House of Representatives to be increased by up to thirteen at the present time. The next thing to be considered is that the defeat of the referendum will not necessarily mean that there will be an increase in the number of the House of Representatives.
Mr President, one could discuss this issue at great length but, for my part. I believe that the issues are simple. I believe it is important to recognise that the proposal contained in the referendum has the support of the Government coalition and of the Opposition. We believe that it represents a reasonable proposal. I believe that it is not fair to regard the referendum as something which has been suddenly thrown up in the politics of 1966-67. The proposal represents the recommendation of the joint all-party Constitutional Review Committee. I think I am correct in saying that the only dissentient from that recommendation was Senator Wright. I recognise of course that he continues to express his dissent in his own way and is expressing it in relation to the present referendum campaign. The Government and the Opposition were equally represented on the Committee. It was composed of very senior representatives of the major parties.
– Would the honourable senator read what the all-ALP committee said about it? It was opposed to the proposal. Would the honourable senator read what Mr Beazley said?
– The honourable senator is talking about a time five or six years before the Constitutional Review Committee reported. Mr Beazley supports the policy of the Australian Labor Party; that is, to support all of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, to vote for all or any of them which are put forward by the Government, and when Labor comes into office to submit all the proposals to the people for assent at a time to be determined by the Labor Government.
– All the proposals are not embodied in the present legislation.
– I know they are not. We would like to see many other of the Committee’s proposals adopted by the Government and made the subject of referenda. There is no doubt about that. We have never been equivocal about it in any way. We have said that we would do it as a Government. We would support the whole or any part of the recommendations put forward by the present Government whilst it remains in office.
– The honourable senator is only wasting time. There is no chance of getting the referendum carried.
– Whether there is any chance or not I am stating what we believe to be the correct attitude to take in relation to the matter. I believe that the broad spectrum of the community would want to see a sensible arrangement in respect of constitutional reform or review. The Constitutional Review Commitee was presided over by Sir Neil O’sullivan, a noted Queenslander who was then Commonwealth Attorney-General. Government members of the Committee included Mr Downer - now Sir Alec Downer, Australian High Commissioner in London - Mr Hamilton, Mr Drummond, and Mr Joske - now Mr Justice Joske of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Labor members included Mr Calwell, Senator McKenna - I think every honourable senator would concede that his contributions to discussions on this subject have been notable and consistent - Senator Kennelly, Mr Whitlam, the late Mr Ward and Mr Pollard, all men of seniority in Parliamentary experience. With the exception of Senator Wright they were prepared to make this recommendation amongst a number of other recommendations. So I think it is quite wrong to treat this proposal which is coming up for judgment by the people at the end of May as though it sprang suddenly out of a contemporary political situation which has to be resolved. No doubt there are politics in it.
– Now we are getting somewhere.
– If the honourable senator would concede what I said about the politics in his point of view perhaps we could then discuss this matter in a different way. I have said all I wish to say on the matter. The Opposition gives full support to the proposal. My Leader, Senator Murphy, made that perfectly clear in the course of the debate on the Constitution Alteration (Parliament) Bill recently. I welcome a discussion on this subject because I believe that the question raised by the passage from Quick and Garran are of real importance. They should be discussed sensibly. Ultimately I believe the correct judgment to make on the issue is the one that my Party makes; that is, that full support should be given to the proposed referendum, and that necessarily means having grave doubts and reservations about the proposition that is involved in the passage from Quick and Garran.
– The Senate tonight is devoting its attention to a noted constitutional authority that has expressed a viewpoint with regard to the structure of the Commonwealth Parliament. We are not concerned with a tub thumping proposition of a transitory nature that might disappear from importance as the mists and the sun overshadow and sometimes enlighten Melbourne. We are dealing with a Constitution, a fundamental document that controls this Parliament, State parliaments and the people. Therefore it should be dealt with from the point of view of a focus that sees the foreseeable future with some clarity. I think it is one of the great regrets of the Yes’ case that it consists of what one would expect to be considerations -put forward at a political party meeting in a campaign for election for a term of three years.
Senator Gair’s motion asks the Senate to take note of the contribution of perhaps the greatest constitutional writers that this country has produced since federation. We ought to observe what they said, with their contemporary understanding of the provisions of the Constitution: lt was considered extremely necessary to prevent an automatic or arbitrary increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives, by which there would be a continually growing disparity between the number of members of that House and the Senate;
That consideration prevailed in the convention debates when, as Senator Cohen has told us, this subject was thoughtfully debated. This constitutional authority also said: lt was said that to allow the proportion of the Senate towards the House of Representatives to become the merest fraction, would in the course of time lead practically to the abolition of the Senate, or at any rate, to the loss of that influence, prestige, and dignity to which it is entitled under the Constitution.
A further study of Quick and Garran shows that they put forward the view that the Senate, as it was designed in the terms of the Constitution, is one of the most conspicuous and unquestionably the most important of all the federal features of the Constitution, using the word ‘federal’ in the sense of linking together and uniting a number of co-equal political communities under a common system of government. The authority went on to point out that the equality of State representation was first established in this chamber, and secondly a proportional relationship was established between the number of members of this chamber and the number of members of another place.
I have said that because I wish to preface what I have to say by stating the view that we are dealing with constitutional matters, not with party matters or transitory politics. We are dealing with fundamental constitution making. It will be said by many - and the significance of it ought to be understood - that those views that were held by the founders of the Constitution have been displaced by the fact that the parties have captured control of the Senate. Senator Cohen is naive enough to ask us to harken to the view that we have a trinity of parties here asking us to follow them. I do not know who is the master among them, but I shrewdly think that there will be contentions as to who is the disciple and who is the master, which has developed in many causes. But it is nice to see tonight that support for the referendum proposals is interchangeable as far as parliamentary focus is concerned. Those who are supporting the Yes case can be found to include the leadership of the Liberal Party and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen), while the Liberal Party will not be denied, when Mr Anthony is speaking with support from the Australian Country Party. So I think that constitutionalists and the Senate in discussing the Constitution should consider the viewpoint that the Senate is being transmogrified from a House of the States into what? Into units of a party system? What is it?
We have seen developed in the party system under a Labor system of government a rigid caucus system where, in the secret communion of their party members in the side walls of the chamber of Parliament a majority decision is produced which binds every member of that party. As I understand the position, which I will defend and maintain, the Liberal Party makes it the duty of every member of the Party, notwithstanding the majority view in the Party room, to express his point of view according to his constitutional oath and judgment as a representative of the people. But if we were to develop the Labor caucus system on this side of the chamber, just imagine the parliamentary structure that would be devised here in the national Parliament at Canberra. I think there is no fear that it will be adopted on the Liberal Party side of politics, but let us watch the trends and consider what might happen if that development were achieved.
For a long time members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives who belong to the Labor Party have been meeting together and by a majority of their combined meeting have been determining the vote that all their members give in the Senate or the House of Representatives. In the Liberal Party, in the minority party, the Australian Democratic Labor Party, and among the independents whose presence is welcome in this chamber, we still have that fluidity in political thought in this chamber which enables it finally to register a judgment that is not the direction of the majority in a secret party room. I have no doubt in the world that the temporary political situation to which Senator Gair has referred is due to the conundrum of the redistribution over which the Liberal Party and the Labor Party stumbled a few years ago. It has resulted in a transitory alliance between the Liberal
Party and the Labor Party to defend the Yes vote. But what does party government mean in that situation unless we preserve, in the only chamber in which it is now possible to do so, the Tight to review Cabinet decisions?
I speak very briefly tonight because it is my purpose to enable the Leader of the Government in the Senate to speak for the same length of time - and longer if he wishes - as I have spoken. I speak, though, not for the purpose of being heard only in this chamber. I know from the visits that I made to universities last week of the thoughtful consideration that is being given to this matter by the people who think on constitutional matters in the universities, in political circles and in the various thoughtful parts of the country. I am placing on record one or two of the matters that should guide, in my view, proper constitution making. Sir Edmund Barton went on record as the leader of the conventions of the federation. He was Premier of New South Wales. He was therefore conscious of the rights of the more populous States. He never deserted the clearly seen duty that if he was to weld Australian States into the unity of federation we had to have one chamber of government essentially federal. He said thai if we dispense with this nexus: . . either there will be an inordinately large House of Representatives in the course of time, and an inordinately expensive one, or, on the other hand, the Senate will become so impotent that it can offer no effectual obstacle or bar to any injustice which is contemplated by the House of Representatives. That is not my view of Federation. I believe it is a total abnegation of the principle of Federation.
I abjure the idea that we should create in this chamber a situation in which each side would be guaranteed only party representation, and where each side would be the dummy for the party room majority. In most party rooms the Cabinet has overwhelming control. I believe in the preservation of the position in which the Senate, as Sir Edmund Barton most wonderfully expressed it, can offer effectual obstacle or bar to any injustice contemplated by the House of Representatives. It is that point of view which motivates every amendment in this place.
I stand by the principle that we preserve the Senate not only as having equal repre sentation from the States but as having the present numerical relationship with the House of Representatives. If at the end of this century the Senate were a dwarf chamber consisting of sixty members while the House of Representatives had 290 or 300 members, the country could be excused for looking on the Senate as a mere committee or appendage of the more numerous House of the Parliament. 1 ask that the ratio be preserved. The unaminous opinion of the Labor Party committee which considered a constitutional problem in 1951 is in these terms:
The Committee, therefore, does not recommend any change in the two to one ratio while provision is made in the Constitution for joint sittings to settle disagreements on a joint vote of the House.
In the way that the Cabinet is recruited we can see the toboggan on which this Senate has been put. Although since 1949 Cabinet has grown from nineteen to twenty-six members, Senate representation in Cabinet is a mere five, but no squeak has come from this chamber that its representation should be increased.
Because there was a two to one ratio between the Houses, the Constitutional Review Committee comprised eight members of the House of Representatives and four members of the Senate. Sir Neil O’sullivan, the Government’s representative from the Senate, supported the Government and left me alone, but although I was alone the number of people who supported my viewpoint was most gratifying. There has been some weakening within the last two years in this attitude, and the Senate has been led to support the Government in its attempt to eliminate the nexus. So too in the party rooms and in parliamentary committees. All of these things would contribute to a denigration of the proper status and authority of the Senate by the end of this century. That is the perspective to which we should raise our sights when dealing with matters relating to the Constitution. If we were then merely 60 as against 300 in tha other place we could well be regarded as a minority committee and our authority would be greatly undermined. That is what Quick and Garran had in mind when they put on record that most pregnant passage in their book to which Senator Gair has, with great advantage, directed our attention this evening.
– We are indebted to the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair), who moved this motion, because the debate has given us an opportunity to discuss this important subject. Certain honourable senators have discussed the subject with some heat, others with some logic, but this is not a matter for heat; it is a matter for logic. This is a matter of tremendous importance to the people of Australia because they will be required to vote on it at the referendum to be held on 27 th May.
I state at once that I firmly believe in the Yes case. I firmly believe that if the Yes case wins there will be no detriment to the representation of the States in the Senate so long as the States are equally represented in this place. The strength of the Senate as a States House lies in the fact that it has an equal number from each State, be it ten or fourteen. Ten senators now represent each State just as well as fourteen could. The nub of the matter is that the numbers be equal. That was the basis upon which the States federated. The smaller States joined the federation only because each State would be equally represented. That is the position today. One thing this referendum will do is firmly to place the number as ten. Originally there were six representatives from each State but in 1949 the number was increased to ten. This referendum seeks to maintain the present representation at ten while allowing the number of members in the House of Representatives to be increased thus breaking the relativity, or the nexus as it is called, between the two Houses.
I listened with a great deal of interest, as I always do, to Senator Wright. I listened to him the other night when he appeared on a television programme. I could not help feeling tonight that he must have forgotten what he said on television. During the interview he built up a case to show that the relationship between the Senate and the House of Representatives was so important because members from both Houses sit on joint committees and, although it has happened only twice in 59 years, the whole membership of both chambers may sit together as one House. So he said that it was absolutely imperative that we have this relationship. The interviewer asked him: What is there, Senator, so sacred about the two to one ratio?’ Senator Wright replied There is nothing sacred about the two to one. I would not object to a ratio of three to one or four to one.’ That destroyed his whole argument.
I can see him shaking his head in that attitude I know so well, but I repeat that when he said he would not object to a ratio of three to one or four to one he toppled the case he had built up that the ratio should be maintained because of joint committees and so on. If the ratio were four to one we would have a House of Representatives of 240 members and a Senate of 60. Although he objects to the fact that numbers are not mentioned in the referendum, he would not object if the ratio were three to one or four to one. He completely destroyed his own case. I was waiting for him to say the same thing tonight but tonight, only a few days after his appearance on television, he said the ratio should be two to one. I like a little logic in arguments. Either he meant what he said on Saturday night last when he was speaking to the nation or he meant what he said tonight.
Like Senator Gair, he referred to the number of members in the United States House of Representatives, in the American Congress there are 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 senators. Like other countries which have a bicameral system, with the exception of Norway, America has managed to exist and even to develop and flourish without any nexus between the two Houses. As I understand it, Norway has a nexus between the two Houses of its Parliament. This aspect was given very close consideration in the 1890s. Now those who are sponsoring the No case seem to have adopted the view: ‘We must live in the 1890s for evermore’. The founding fathers at that stage were considering quite a different Senate from what we have today and what we shall have in the years ahead. I agree that we do not conduct a referendum to alter the Constitution for today or tomorrow. We consider what the effect will be in the years ahead. I believe that this is very relevant, because Senator Gair forgot one thing when he referred to the increase in representation based upon the quota of 85,000. He said that in the year 2000 we could have, with the increase in population-
– On the projected population.
– Yes, on a projected basis. He said that we could then have 240 members in the House of Representatives.
– 1 said 290-odd.
– Two hundred and forty is as good a guess as 290 and it permits easier arithmetic, as I shall explain to the honourable senator. What he did not say was that if we do not break the nexus we shall have another 60 senators as well.
– Not necessarily.
– Yes, we shall, on a 2 : 1 basis.
– Not necessarily.
– Wait a minute. The honourable senator cannot avoid the fact that if we do not break the nexus and we retain the 2:1 ratio, if we face a House of Representatives of 240 members - gradually increasing to that number in the year 2000 - we shall face also an increase of 60 senators, fi is not true to say: ‘If you vote No you will not get more politicians’, because if we vote No we will be faced in the year 2000 with an additional 6D senators if the honourable senator’s projection is correct. That is the point and he cannot argue this point, ft is not honest to say that if we vote No we will not have more politicians - as it is so crudely put. It is appealing, 1 believe, to the worst element in people when it is put in that way. Nevertheless, that is the way it Ls put. lt is not true lo say that. It is not honest to say that, because that is not the fact. The fact is that if we face a House of 240 members, projected on a quota of 85,000, unless the nexus is broken we face a Senate of 120. An additional 60 senators will be on the payroll. The extract from Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution of the Australian Commonwealth’, which appears in the motion, reads:
This ‘two to one ratio” is a rigid clement-
That is a pretty apt expression, I think. Il is very rigid. The quotation continues: and basic requirement of much importance and significance; it is embedded in the Constitution; it is beyond the reach of modification by the Federal Parliament, and can only be altered by an amendment of the Constitution.
Of course, this is the very measure that we are seeking to adopt, an amendment of the Constitution. This must be decided by the people. This is the proper way, tha inherited way, in which it was always understood the Constitution would be altered. If must be altered by the people, so we are providing the proper constitutional method of having the Constitution amended. The quotation also states:
It was argued that it the number of the members of the Senate remained stationary, whilst the number of the House of Representatives were allowed to go on increasing with the progressive increase of population-
It was realised then, as it is realised now, that with the progressive increase in the population there is a proper need for an increase in the number of members of the Federal Parliament. This, of course, will come. If it is not done this year, some future government will do it, as it was done in 1949. This is what I find so many people fail to understand. An increase in the number of members of both Houses can ba made at any time. In 1949 the Chifley Government increased the size of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The number of senators was increased by 24 and the number of members of the House of Representatives was increased from 72 to 122. This was necessary because the nexus was still in existence.
– lt proved a good brake on you.
– lt is not a brake. I am sorry that the honourable senator interjected to that effect, because it is not a brake. The very fact that in 1949 the .Timber of members in the House of Representatives was increased from 72 to 122 and the number of senators was increased by 24 shows thai the nexus is not a brake. The size of the Senate must be increased when the size of the House of Representatives is increased. That is the very point that we are making. This is provided for in the Constitution. We are using the constitutional methods to have the provision altered. We are going to the people, as is proper. We believe that this course is right and proper, that this is a sound case that we put to the people, and that the No case is not honest in ils approach when it says: Vote No and you will not get more pollticians’. That is quite wrong. If there is a
No vote, every time there is an increase in the size of the House of Representatives there will be an increase in the size of the Senate as well. That cannot be avoided. The No case states:
The only purpose is to get an easy way to increase the members of the House of Representatives. For 66 years the nexus has acted as an effective brake on unwarranted increases in the size of the National Parliament.
It did not act as a brake in 1949, when the facts were as 1 have already stated. Both Houses were increased in size. The Federal Parliament can do this at any time without any referendum at all. I am not saying that it will be done tomorrow. 1 am taking the words of Senator Wright: You do not alter the Constitution for today or tomorrow. You look years ahead’. I am looking at the years ahead. If it is not done immediately, some government will come along later and increase the size of the House of Representatives and, because the nexus is not broken, it will increase the size of the Senate at the same time, so the taxpayers then will be faced with the position that there are more, not fewer, politicians.
– What penalty did the government of the day have for the unwarranted increase in 1949?
– One of the penalties was that it got the honourable senator and me into the Senate, if this can be considered a penalty. There it. is. I have noted the matter raised by Senator Cohen. I have noted the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review in paragraph 110 which states:
Accordingly, the Committee has recommended that the Constitution be amended to provide as follows:
The number of members of the House of Representatives should be no longer tied to being as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators.
The Parliament should have power to determine the number of senators, provided equal representation of the original States is maintained, but there should be not less than six nor more than ten senators for each original State.
Those are matters that are recommended, with only one objection, that of Senator Wright. I have studied his objection with a great deal of interest. Referring to the size of the Senate, he said:
I envisage the ideal size of the Senate as between 40 and 80.
Anyone who can get nearer than 60 as the average of 40 and 80 is a better mathematician than I am, because it is exactly in the middle of the two numbers. That is the size of the Senate now. That is what he recommended then. On the air he said he would not object to the 2:1 ration being no longer there as long as there was a 3:1 or a 4:1 ratio. He said that the ideal Senate would have been between forty and eighty members. That is what we have in a Senate of sixty members.
I have been quite unimpressed by the argument that parties have intruded into this chamber. Of course they have. As Senator Wright so rightly pointed out, that is the great difference between the Senate of today and the Senate envisaged when the Constitution was being debated in the 1890s. It is interesting to note that those who say that parties should not intrude into this chamber never hesitate to seek endorsement from a party in order to be elected to this chamber. I would have thought that if the intrusion of parties into this chamber were such an inherent sin those people - one of whom welcomed the intrusion of independents into the chamber - would have given some thought to that aspect.
– I suppose thought is given to accepting the application for endorsement.
– I do not want to be personal.
– How did the Minister get his endorsement?
– By applying to the Liberal Party in which I believe and have believed earnestly and deeply ever since I could walk. That Party has endorsed me over and over again. If I wanted to be re-elected to the Senate, the first thing 1 would do is apply again to the Liberal Party for endorsement. Make no mistake about that.
– The Minister might have trouble now that Sir Robert has gone.
– That will never be proved now, and Senator Gair knows why. I believe that this system of taking a census in each State, arriving at the number of people in each State and then dividing it by a quota of 85,000 is better than the one that has been used in the past. For the first time a brake will be put on the size of the House of Representatives. Previously the Parliament, if the government of the day had the numbers, could increase the House of Representatives to any size. There was no limit. All the Parliament had to do was cart the Senate along with the House of Representatives on the basis of a ration of 2:1. Now, with the quota of 85,000, there will be a limitation on the number of electorates that can be formed in each State. The limitation will be based on the population census figures. 1 have heard a great number of statements to the effect that members of Parliament today are not being called upon to do more work than were members in days gone by. I do not concede that for one moment. I believe that the work of both Houses of the Federal Parliament and of Federal parliamentarians themselves has increased immensely as more and more functions of government have passed from the State governments to the Federal Government. Honourable senators talk about the United States Congress, where no nexus exists. They say that the United Slates has 100 senators. They do not mention the staff that those senators have. Each of them has a staff of between forty and fifty people to do much of the work that most Australian senators and members of the House of Representatives do themselves. I know of a good example of that. It occurred when two Americans landed in Western Australia quite recently. Some difficulty arose. One of them said to me: Do you know that within two hours I was able to interview an Australian senator in his office? It would take me weeks to do that in the United States. But within two hours I was able to interview a senator in Western Australia and have my case considered and dealt with.’
This is why I believe so deeply in our Australian democracy. It also shows why the work of members of the House of Representatives and senators has increased; namely, because of the people’s ready access to them. I believe that the people are justly entitled to the opportunity to go directly to their members of Parliament, to state their cases directly and to have their members deal with their cases directly. This is an aspect of democracy which we enjoy in
Australia, which we should treasure and which I would never like to see us lose. The work of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Federal Government must inevitably develop. With uniform taxation - which will continue because the States, particularly the small States, would never give it up now - more and more functions of government will accrue to the Federal Government. Members of the Federal Parliament will be called upon to deal with additional and more complex matters in their own electorates.
Because I come from a small State, many people have said to me: ‘You are acting against the interests of your own State’. I do not believe that. I do not believe that the breaking of the nexus will be to the detriment of any State, as long as the States have an equal number of representatives in this chamber. I do not see any damage that can be done to the States if the size of tha House of Representatives is increased. I do not see any damage that can be done to the States if the House of Representatives has 200 members and the Senate has 60 members. 1 see more power accruing to a Senate of 60 members than to a Senate of 100 members with a House of Representatives of 200 members. If we look at the matter practically and with full reality, we will realise that today we have 60 senators in a Parliament of 183 members and that 100 senators In a Parliament of 300 members would not have the numbers to affect a decision made at a joint sitting.
So. 1 support the Yes case. I believe in it. I believe that the No case is dishonest in its approach. It appeals to the instinct in people not to want more politicians. The fact of the matter is that, if the people vote No and do not break the nexus, whenever a government is of a mind to increase the size of the House of Representatives it will do so, as it has full power to do, and it will have to increase the size of the Senate, too. So there will be more parliamentarians, not fewer.
- Dr Samuel Johnson once defined a second marriage as the triumph of hope over experience. Eighteen months ago a coalition of the three major parties in Australia proposed to marry themselves to this referendum. When they found out, through the public opinion polls, what the public thought, there was a speedy divorce and the alimony cost the country three-quarters of a million dollars. That amount of money was wasted on the cases which had been printed and which had to be destroyed. Apparently hope again triumphed over experience and the three major parties decided again to marry themselves to the same referendum. The interesting thing is that when the second marriage was proposed one lot of in-laws - the Federal Council of the Australian Country Party - recommended that the whole proposition be dropped. But another lot of in-laws - the Federal machine of the Liberal Party of Australia - turned up with a shotgun and insisted that the marriage go on. The reasons that have been given for this marriage are well known to us all. The Liberal Party believes that if the referendum is carried and it can increase the size of the lower House by fifteen it will be able to manipulate a redistribution which, allied with a gerrymander of seats designed to give more power to the country vote than to the city vote, will put it in office almost in perpetuity. It believes that so many seats will go to it and so few to the Country Party that it will certainly be able to drop the Country Party from the coalition. That is the reason for the referendum.
We are told very nobly that the referendum proposal stems from the Constitutional Review Committee. But we all know that the Government’s plan does not contain the safeguards that the recommendations of the Committee emphasised were essential. This scheme lacks the suit of armour that was supposed to make this kind of proposal reasonably safe. The proposal put before the people now lacks any of the safeguards that the Committee suggested were necessary. So this is not the proposal that came from the Committee.
– I do not mind being called a politician. 1 have played politics for years and so has the honourable senator. Let me point out that the people of Australia are well aware that today they are among the most overgoverned people on the face of the earth. We have more than 600 politicians to govern 11 million people. The other day in Victoria eight new State politicians were added to the number without any referendum being submitted to the people. I do not think that it is a baser feeling on the part of the people not to want any more politicians. Rather, 1 think it is an indication of their common sense.
The case advanced in support of the referendum proposal boils down to two factors. Those who prepared it know that the people do not want more politicians. All of us know that. Everybody considers that that is the issue on which the referendum will be decided. The Government and its supporters say that there is a choice only between carrying the referendum and increasing the size only of the House of Representatives and an increase in the size of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. But the Government and the Liberal and Country Parties, as well as the Australian Labor Party, know that there is a third choice - an increase in the size of neither House. That is the policy of those who are opposed to the referendum. That is the policy of the Democratic Labor Party. However, it is the policy not only of that Party, for that policy is supported by four Liberals, two members of the Country Party and two independents in this House. I point out that among all the appeals for truth that are going out in relation to this referendum there is being made the statement that if it is defeated the Government will definitely increase the size of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Those who are pressing support for the referendum are saying that this will definitely happen. In effect, they are warning the people: ‘That is what will happen if you vote No’. But the Government knows that in this House it has not the numbers to carry a proposal to increase the size of both Houses. It knows that it commands twenty-eight members in a Senate of sixty. How can it proclaim that it will put through the necessary legislation if it can command only twenty-eight votes in the Senate? The Democratic Labor Party will vote against any legislation designed to increase the size of either House. I cannot speak for the independents, but I do not believe that they would be happy about such a propsoal. The Australian Labor Party has not given to the Government any blank cheque on which it could rely if it put up this argument about what is intended.
– Surely the honourable senator is not suggesting that I stated that that was intended.
– It has been said by the Minister’s colleagues.
– I have never said it.
– I am glad to hear that Senator Henty admits that that argument is wrong.
– I do not admit anything.
– By implication, the Minister has admitted that the argument is wrong, because he has cleansed’ himself of any responsibility for having put it. Let me now deal with something that was said in this chamber on an earlier occasion by Senator Murphy. 1 believe that he was speaking the truth. If the referendum were defeated the size of both the Senate and the House of Representatives could be increased only if there were a secret understanding between the Australian Labor Party and the Government that the Labor Party would support the Government in doing that. 1 believe that there is no such secret understanding and I believe that Senator Murphy was telling the truth when he said: if the referendum is defeated, we of the Australian Labor Party are not committed to support an increase of the Senate by twenty-four and the House of Representatives by fortyeight. We arc not committed to any multiple or fraction of (hose increases, or to any increase at all. The proposals emanated from the Government.
Therefore, the situation is that there are among the sixty Senators in this place thirty-two who are not committed to this proposition that the numbers in both the Houses will be increased if the referendum is defeated. The argument being put about in the Press and in propaganda throughout the country that the people had better vote Yes or this proposition will be foisted on them is completely spurious and false.
– The number of senators not committed is thirty-six, not thirty-two.
– I have seen numerous figures mentioned. The fact remains that thirty-two senators are not committed to that proposition. I believe that in the background to this proposal there is to be found anxiety on the part of those who are trying to increase the power of the Executive and of the bureaucrats behind it by reducing the power of the Senate. The Senate has been a bulwark of democracy standing in the path of the extension of the power of the Executive. We all have had experience of the manner in which the Regulations and Ordinances Committee has opposed arbitrary extensions of the power of the Executive and the bureaucrats. We all have seen the opposition of those who want to increase Executive and bureaucratic power to proposals such as that for the appointment of an ombudsman, for example. The people of this country, particularly those in the business community and the trade unions, should think very carefully indeed before they support a proposal such as that which I have described, for its only result would be an increase in the power of the other House, which Senator Murphy has described as a rubber stamp. The result would be to raise to a situation of dominance the House that never opposes the ukases of the Cabinet and the extremes of the bureaucrats. That is really the object of this referendum. 1 regret that the Australian Labor Party is backing the Government in its proposals. What can the ALP gain from this referendum? Perhaps four or five seats in the Parliament, but nothing else. That Party, merely in order to gain four or five seats, is prepared to back a proposal that will weaken the Senate and place the Government in a situation of dominance. Under that proposal, the House that will have overwhelming control will be the one in which the Labor Party has little or no influence at present. I think that the Labor party was conned into this in the same way as it was conned into helping the Country Party to defeat a reasonable redistribution a year or two ago, and then found itself facing a redistribution that was infinitely worse. After all, it has been said that the Australian Labor Party supports this proposal because some of its members who were members of the Constitutional Review Committee supported it. I should have expected that the policy book of the Australian Labor
Party would be superior to any recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. The policy book of the Australian Labor Party states that the Senate should be abolished. Why is the Australian Labor Party not demanding that a referendum be held for the abolition of the Senate? That is one question that requires an answer.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) said that he could see nothing wrong with keeping the Senate as it was, so long as there were ten from each State. He thought that was a reasonable state of affairs and there was no need for any alteration. But he, as an experienced parliamentary hand, knows the manner in which things are determined in the caucuses. Years ago I did not have very much knowledge of what happened inside the Liberal caucus, but that appears to be remedied in these days. In the Liberal caucus the numbers determine the issue. What will be the influence of the Senate in the caucuses of the future if there is an overwhelming number of members from the House of Representatives, and the senators are in the minority that is decreasing all the time? We can see. the impatience of the House of Representatives, and the Executive that runs it, in regard to what happened today when the Senate carried an amendment of trifling importance. The House of Representatives, at the behest of the Executive, has rejected the amendment and intends to seek to impose its will upon this House. That process is held up at the present time only by the existing strength of the Senate. But what will be the position when the Senate is practically denuded of real strength and real influence?
Senator Cohen devoted some attention to the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I could not help thinking, during the early stages of his remarks, of the statement by Macauley that nothing is more ridiculous than the British people at times in one of their periodic fits of morality. I would not suggest for a moment that Senator Cohen is ever ridiculous, because he is not. But the spectacle of him on a pedestal, clothed in a spotless white garment, lecturing the Democratic Labor Party on electoral morality certainly appealed to my sense of humour. I might be wrong, but it appeared to me that, logically, Senator Cohen’s attitude was this: If the Australian Labor
Party reached an under-cover agreement with the Government, the basis of which would be an arrangement by which the ALP would get five, six or seven extra seats in the House of Representatives, that would be a highly moral proceeding; but if the Democratic Labor Party opposed the referendum - he suggested this and we certainly do not admit it - because we would possibly get something out of it that would be a very immoral proceeding.
To some extent the Democratic Labor Party should feel complimented because obviously Senator Cohen believes we should show higher standards of morality in politics than any other party in this House. However, he should take the trouble to examine what would happen if there were an increase in the Senate to the degree suggested with six being elected instead of five on each occasion. I have been unable to find anyone who can assure me that the Democratic Labor Party would be better off under this arrangement. I have examined the situation very closely and I have even had the benefit of assistance from persons associated with our universities - people who are experts in these matters - .but, as I. said, 1 have been unable to find any one of them who would assure me that the Democratic Labor Party would be better off with six instead of the present five. I have examined the situation and I know that 1958 was the only occasion we ever tried it out in Victoria, with six to be elected because there was a casual vacancy. If Senator Cohen examines the figures he will find that the contrary applied in 1958 and that the DLP was not advantaged by six; if there had only been five our candidate would have won the fifth seat by 200,000 votes. We lost the fifth seat because there were six to be elected. My examination of the situation convinces me that when I stand for reelection in four years time I want five people to be elected and not six. I hope that that disposes of the suspicion that Senator Cohen has placed on our bona fides in this matter. He need not really have worried about it, because the opportunity lies in his hands and in the hands of the members of his party to defeat the evil machinations of the DLP. All they have to do is join us. If the Government makes such proposal and it is defeated, as the DLP is pledged to vote against any proposal to increase the number of members in the Senate and the House of Representatives, I appeal to the Australian Labor Party, even at the immense cost it says it will be to our party, to join us and help us in our unselfish attitude. 1 believe that Senator Murphy meant every word that he said and I only hope that what he said will be translated Into action if the Government ever brings a measure of this kind before this House. With regard to the question of immorality, I have been in politics a long time and I have yet to find any political party which, when confronted with a proposal to alter the electoral system, asks: ‘What is the correct moral and democratic attitude to take?’ I have found that all political parties have only one attitude to electoral proposals, and that is: ‘Who is going to win?’ Senator Cohen knows as well as I do that that is the attitude his party adopts, that it is the attitude of the Government, and that it is the attitude we will adopt on occasions.
– But you are high minded about it.
– I did not say I was high minded. You said we were, and we were thanking you for your attitude to our party.
– I said that your leader talked as though he was high minded.
– He always talks as though he is high minded, and as though we are high minded.
– And we are high minded.
– And with typical modesty my leader personally agrees that we are high minded. Suggestions are being made by some people that this is just a DLP ramp and that we are opposing this only because wc are going to get something out of it. Obviously that is not the case, because there are members of all parties and independents who have come out on a basis of principle and say that we will not accept this particular proposition.
I am particularly interested in the attitude of the Country Party in this matter. I believe that the members of that party are quite aware of the nigger in the woodpile so far as this referendum is concerned. I should like to be looking over the shoulders of members of the Country
Party in this House when they are marking their ballot papers, just to see which way they vote. Years ago when Lenin was questioned as to why on a certain occasion he advocated that the Communists should support the British Labour Party, he said, We support the Labour Party as the rope supports the man about to be hanged’. In this campaign we will hear that the Country Party and the Government are supporting the referendum proposal, but I am prepared to say with the utmost firmness that the Country Party will be supporting the referendum as the rope supports the man about to be hanged. I believe that there are many people in the Australian Labor Party, particularly in the smaller States, who are not happy about this proposal. They feel that, fundamentally, it is going to increase the dominance of Melbourne and Sydney in the political life of this country. And who is there in this chamber who does not know that that will be the ultimate effect of it?
I think there are many members of the Australian Labor Party who feel that they ought not to be associated with the Government in this proposal, who feel that in associating themselves with the Government in this proposal they deprive themselves, in a sense, of the right at some later stage to protest against the kind of redistribution to which this will lead. 1 believe there ar& members of the Australian Labor Party who have a great deal of faith in the Senate. I believe there are a number of them who feel that the Senate plays a most vital and important part in this Parliament. I believe that one of them at least feels that it plays a superior part in this Parliament, and I propose to quote his words. I refer to Senator Murphy, who said this on 5th April:
Indeed, it is a tragedy of our modern times that of the two chambers the Senate is the only one capable of being a true legislative chamber. lt follows from our responsible system of government, which extends throughout the British Commonwealth, that in the chamber which includes most of the members of the Government, the Government is dominant, except where the numbers are fairly evenly divided. As a consequence, that chamber is really incapable of making any amendments to legislation or of passing legislation contrary to the will of the Government. So that in fact if not in theory the House of Representatives has ceased to be a legislative chamber. It is a rubber stamp for the legisation introduced by the Government.
– Who said that?
– Senator Murphy, the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate. What more powerful argument against the referendum proposal could we have? Senator Murphy went on to say:
The only legislative chamber in the Commonwealth Parliament is the Senate.
Is not that an argument to increase the numbers of the Senate and leave the House of Representatives as it is? Senator Murphy continued:
Legislative policy is our business. WC are not here to make administrative policy but we are here to supervise the Government in its administration and also to hold the Government accountable for its administration. These are functions of the Senate and nobody in this chamber or elsewhere should be misled into the view that in some way the Senate is not here to make policy on all matters of legislation and will not concern itself with the policy that is being administered by the Government.
When I read those very cogent and potent words to meetings in connection with this referendum and show to the people the opinion of the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate that the Senate is really the legislative chamber, I have no doubt at all that the people will decide to vote against this referendum proposal because they will refuse to weaken a chamber to which the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate has paid such a glowing tribute.
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia) [10.23J - As you know, Mr President, I am a man of few words. I supported the vote to hold a referendum on this issue because I think it is of great advantage on occasions like this to clear the air and let the people of Australia decide what should bc done in these cases. As I said. 1 am a man of few words but I do admire the flood of oratory that we hear at times from other members of the Senate. I think this is a wonderful gift, but I also think sometimes, especially when we are dealing with a case like this that has to be submitted to the people, that a certain directness, a certain simplicity, and a certain clarification of the real point are the most important things to be considered. I admire greatly the words that were published in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of today’s date under the heading: ‘More MHR’s Not Needed.* The central thought put forward is this:
But the point is that no good reason has been produced for any increase at all in the size of Parliament. 1 think we can go to the people on that point - no good reason has been put forward to support an increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Henty, told us that to retain the original provisions of the Constitution is to continue to think in terms of 1890. Of course, if that is a valid criticism of opposition to this proposal to altering the Constitution, then surely it is a valid criticism of any proposal to alter any provision of the Constitution. Surely it can be applied to the whole of the Constitution. Surely, on the basis that to want to retain any section of the Constitution is to think in terms of 1890, we could throw the whole of our Constitution in the rubbish bin and say it is out of date.
Of the sections that were written into the Constitution this particular one which set up the nexus was the one in which the founders of the Constitution did demonstrate that they looked into the future and envisaged the very situation that has arisen today. To say that to support the retention of the present provisions is to look back in terms of the horse and buggy days is to do less than justice to those people who laboured mightily in producing a constitution which, despite any shortcomings it might have, was, by all reckoning, a wonderfully fine piece of work in constitution making. We should pay tribute to the soundness of thinking and the sound judgment of those who introduced into the Constitution the provision that there should be a nexus, a relationship between the numbers of the Senate and the numbers of the House of Representatives. I know that we would never have been a federation unless it had been included. The people from (he smaller States would not have agreed, just as 1 believe they will not agree today, to any legislative setup that did not safeguard the rights of the smaller States.
Senator Henty talked about being honest in our presentation of the case. 1 think that if he were to be honest about the preparation of the Yes case he would set out his priorities in an order different from that In which they are set out in the pamphlet which has been distributed. If he were honest, he would have stated that the real order of priority of objectives in the referendum was firstly to increase the number in the House of Representatives immediately by some thirteen members. That is the immediate objective. The second objective is to increase the number of the House of Representatives subsequently as the population increases, without any limit at all, so long as the quota of 85,000 persons per electorate is observed.
I listened admiringly to the sophistry presented by Senator Cohen in trying to justify .the claim that there was a limit. There is a limit only at this point of time. Unless we can hold the population at its present level, then the limit is the limit of population growth in Australia divided by 85,000. That is the honest way of presenting the case. To say that there is a limit in any way at all in the present proposal is sheer dishonesty.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr President, I crave the indulgence of the Senate for a very short period. My remarks stem from an answer that the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) gave in reply to a question addressed to him as the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) by Senator Cavanagh earlier today. The question concerned the attitude of the Australian Government to the recent political upheaval that has occurred in Greece. Whatever inhibitions some honourable senators may feel about passing judgment on a happening in a European country, I think that we need to have a look - and a much closer look - at this matter than the superficial observations that have been made in some quarters.
The reply by the Minister for Education and Science to Senator Cavanagh was that the diplomatic relations which the Australian Government had with Greece depended on the link with the Greek monarchy and that, in effect, the fact that King Constantine still reigns in Greece means that the status quo prevails and that it is business as usual.
I would be the last person to raise this matter tonight if a constitutional election had been held in Greece and a change of political alignments had taken place. I would say: ‘Well, the majority rules’. Bui that is an oversimplification of the position. In the free elections in 1964, the National Radical Union - the ERE - which is a rightwing party obtained 35% of the total vote while the United Democratic Left - the EDA - which is a far left-wing party obtained 12% of the vote. The Centre Union Party polled 53% of the total vote. This was a rarity in Greek politics. It was the first time for a long while that the party obtained a positive majority.
Time has moved on. An election was to have been held this month. But, out of the blue, a small group of army officers moved in and martial law now prevails in Greece. I know that some people have argued that the deposed government could be called a latter-day Kerensky government, the reference being to the government that held office at the end of the First World War. Anyone who has taken the trouble to read a magazine that could hardly be accused of peddling a left-wing line - I refer to Time’ magazine - will have found some references to the political situation in Greece. ‘Time’ magazine has referred to the overzealous military’ group and has used other words of that nature. Australia with its ambassador in Greece and its representatives at the United Nations has the right, I think, to express a view on what has happened in Greece.
My basic motive in rising is to refer to the reaction of a sizeable section of the Greek community in the capital cities of Australia. I think that these people have legitimate grievances. I know that in broad terms they refer to such objectives as the restoration of the democratic rights of the people of Greece, the immediate release of all imprisoned Greek democrats and all Greek political leaders, the holding of free elections under a government supported by all parties, and the abolition of the military court.
It might be argued that precedent has established that the Australian Government should make no comment on the situation in Greece. I would say - justifiably, I believe - that not so long ago, when the well remembered upheaval took place in
Hungary, Dr Evatt. Arthur Calwell and many other people joined in a condemnation of what they termed were the excesses of the far left. Equally, if we are democrats, there have been times when justifiably we have condemned the excesses of the Spanish Government as well. I think that this is a natural reaction. It is for :hat reason tonight that I express the hope that when we return to the Senate next week and questions are asked by Senator Cavanagh, perhaps, and by other honourable senators here - and no doubt, by members in the other place - the Minister for Education and Science in this place will be able to say that the Australian Ambassador in Greece has agitated successfully to see that quite a number of people who have what we call dual citizenship - these are people whom we have exhorted in this country to obtain Australian citizenship - and who are in Greece now are accorded correct civil liberties. Those people are in all sorts of difficulties in Greece now. Some Greeks in Australia have wives in Greece. They are not certain as to what indignities their relations are suffering in Greece. So I feel that our Ambassador in Greece should be very forthright in insisting that civil liberties prevail in relation to these people.
There is another aspect to be considered. Australia has a fair amount of migrant traffic with Greece. While in past times of greatness we have regarded with respect the role of Greece in the governmental structure of the world, unfortunately we have found that the legacies and the hatreds of the Second World War have died or are dying hard. Not so long ago when Queen Frederika visited London there were considerable demonstrations against her. But some of us felt with some pleasure that a little better spirit was manifest because, after those demonstrations, a number of people who had been given lengthy terms of imprisonment for their activities in the civil war in Greece were suddenly released. However we found out a few days ago from reading the Press that the wife of one of these persons who is British born has been taken into custody.
I can imagine people who have views on the current political situation in Greece turning the clock back to the Second World War. But this is a complete negation of democracy. Let me come nearer home. I wish to refer (o a case history that J raised with the former Minister for Immigration, the honourable member for Corio (Mr Opperman). This is to his credit. The case relates to a Greek member of one of the groups involved in one of the upheavals in the early post-war years. When the revolt petered out, this man sought sanctuary in Macedonia. He took Slav citizenship. He married a Macedonian girl. Other members of this Macedonian family came to Australia. When this man, who was in his early forties, sought to come to Australia, there was a hitch. I was told by the then Minister for Immigration or his officers that the Greek Government was somewhat apprehensive because of the rebel past of this man. There are quite a number of people - probably the kith and kin of members of this Parliament - who in years gone by came to Australia following some difficulties with the authorities in the British Isles. Those difficulties did not stop them from becoming good citizens. The point that I am making is that the long arm of Greek imperialism entered this particular case. However, I repeat that to the credit of the then Minister for Immigration, the matter was looked at a second time and this man and his wife came to Australia. The point is that these undercurrents still flow beneath the surface.
I make an appeal to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) concerning this matter. I feel that it is not a question of saying that it is not the place of Australia to buy into a simple Greek election or any other happening in Greece or, for that matter, in any other part of Europe. Probably it would not be the place of Australia to do so if what has happened in Greece was the result of a simple election. But a military takeover is involved, and this is a different issue.
Let me emphasise again the points of my speech. I refer to the imprisonment of political leaders and in particular to the imprisonment of a seventy-nine year old leader of one of the major political parties in Greece. Speculation has arisen as to his health. Without even taking sides on this issue, we recall that it has been the custom in a number of South American and West Indian countries for those who have deposed a government to say to the leaders of that government and others who may have been involved: ‘We will put you on the next plane out of the country and you will go into exile’. This has not happened in Greece on this occasion. The leaders of the political parties were rounded up and put into military compounds. Nobody knows what is going to happen there.
I conclude on this point: we have diplomatic relations with Greece. Our migrants from Greece have dual citizenship. I have already drawn attention to those points. 1 have made my remarks on a sound and reasonable basis and I am not under writing the extremes of any government. But the results of the 1964 election show that the government that has been deposed in Greece was a middle-of-the-road government. If the tenets of democracy are adhered to I feel that Australia, through its Ambassador, is entitled in this matter or in any subsequent appeal in the United Nations to stand up and speak on the side of democracy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 May 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670504_senate_26_s34/>.