26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Did the Minister representing the Postmaster-General refer to his colleague the request that 1 made on Wednesday last that the Government reconsider the recently imposed fines on postal workers with a view to waiving them as a gesture of conciliation and to encourage a better atmosphere for sensible discussion of the outstanding issues between the Postmaster-General and the postal workers? If he did, what was the result?
– In my ministerial office I have a system under which every request which is put to me and which relates to another department is faithfully directed to that department. In regard to the question of substance that the Leader of the Opposition has asked me, the fact is that statements have been made by the Postmaster-General, in collaboration with the Minister for Labour and National Service, on the dispute that exists between the postal unions and the Government. It was said quite clearly that no discussions could be held with the unions as long as the work to regulations strike in the Redfern mail handling centre continued. That work to regulations strike has now ceased. As we all are aware, the large build-up, particularly in the parcels section, is being overcome. At this moment I am not in a position to comment on what the Postmaster-General’s views will be from this point forward. In all the circumstances I believe that it would be wise for me to wait until the Postmaster-General has expressed a view on what will happen in the future in relation to this matter.
– Can the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer inform the Senate whether an early decision is likely on the request by the Queensland Government for financial assistance to construct the Nogoa Dam and associated irrigation works at Emerald in centra] Queensland?
– I can only tell the honourable senator that this matter is under active consideration. Recently some further statistics have come from the two pilot farms that are being worked. Those statistics are being studied by the department at this stage. That is as far as I can go. I have no knowledge of when the matter will be completed.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. By way of preface 1 refer to an answer which he gave me to a question on film censorship and in which he pointed out that the prime reason for certain prohibitions was undue emphasis on violence and sex. In view of that answer, I now ask the Minister whether he has noted that in Great Britain a film called ‘The Soldiers’, based on a play by a German playwright and dealing with the death of General Sikorski, a wartime Polish leader, has been banned. Has any application been made for this play to be shown in Australia? If it has, what are the prospects of its being passed through customs?
– 1 am not in a position to give an answer without notice in relation to a particular film. The Commonwealth Film Censorship Board, under the regulations that are provided, has the responsibility to look at films from the viewpoint of undue emphasis on sex, horror, violence or crime. This provision deals with imported film only and has nothing to do with film that may be produced in Australia for the Australian Broadcasting Commission or for commercial television, which is under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. All that the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board does is to give registration for a film to be shown in Australia, either without interference or subject to the deletion of certain segments that may be regarded as objectionable as prescribed in the regulations. If the distributor agrees to the conditions, the film is shown in the normal course of events. If the distributor is not prepared to accept the conditions he may, as provided in the regulations, appeal to the Appeal Censor, so there are plenty of avenues open to have films examined in relation to the prescribed conditions. I shall get the information requested as to the particular film and I should be able to tell the honourable senator about it later in the day.
– I direct to the Minister for Education and Science a question with reference to a report from the United Kingdom that as British universities are commencing their new academic year hundreds of places in science faculties are still unfilled, whilst arts and other faculties are overflowing. Can- the Minister say whether there is any similar trend in Australia? Has the Minister noticed whether there has been any decline in science and technology in favour of arts and similar subjects? In view of the Government’s extensive involvement in science education, will the Minister ensure that this situation is carefully watched in Australia so that our education programme is properly balanced?
– The answer to the first part of the question is: I think not. I know of no instances where places in science or medical faculties in Australian universities are unfilled or where applicants are not available for places in those faculties. It is harder, as a general rule, to get into a science or medical faculty. The standard of pass at matriculation required by universities is higher for admission to those faculties than for admission to arts faculties. It may well be that arts faculties are expanding quicker than are the faculties of science and medicine, or that applications by people to enter arts faculties are greater in number than applications for entry to the faculties of science and medicine. 1 have nol seen the report from England. I think there is no indication that more places than arc required for applicants for entry to faculties of science and medicine are being provided in our universities. I do not believe that there is likely to be any decline in applications for places in those faculties or that there is any indication at all of a slackening requirement for education in scientific and technological faculties. I am not quite sure what the honourable senator means by asking that the situation be carefully watched. I think he can be fairly confident that the Australian Universities Commission in its discussions with the universities and the States and in recommending triennia would pay careful attention to the forecast requirements in each faculty of each university.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Government taking note of the growing opposition, especially in the United Stales of America, to the continuation of the bombing of North Vietnam? Has the Government noted the statement made yesterday by Mr Holyoake, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, in which he voiced qualified support for a pause in the bombing of North Vietnam as being helpful to peace negotiations? Is Australia to be the last country to depart from the stiffnecked and uncompromising stand in support of the bombing?
– The Australian Government has never maintained a stiffnecked attitude towards the bombing of North Vietnam. Although the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the attitudes of several countries, I noted that he omitted to refer to the continuous offers made by President Johnson to discontinue the bombing of North Vietnam in certain circumstances as an aid to getting the parties together around a conference table. I am surprised that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition neglected to mention that when referring to the attitudes of other countries, because I think it is a most important factor. I repeat that the Government has never adopted a stiff-necked attitude to the bombing of North Vietnam. We are conferring with our allies on this matter and are watching developments.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development: Is it a fact that farmers at the Ord River irrigation area have shown a steady increase in cotton production over the years? Have they also proved the profitability of sorghum production? Can the Minister state whether the Western Australian Government has made a further application to the Commonwealth Government for finance to complete this great Australian irrigation project?
– I am not aware that the Western Australian Government has made to the Commonwealth Government further application for financial assistance. I know that the great Ord River scheme is continuously under review and is attracting a great deal of attention from the West Australian and Commonwealth governments. I have not examined the statistics which it is suggested have reflected a steady increase in cotton and sorghum production. However, the honourable senator who has asked the question is very interested in the Ord River project and has continuously kept me informed of developments there. He assures me that there has been a considerable increase in cotton and sorghum production. As he has shown such a keen interest in the project I am prepared to accept at this stage that his assurance is correct.
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question which refers to the announcement by the Minister for Civil Aviation that restricted charter nights will be allowed to operate to and from Australia as from 1st November. Having regard to the high accident and fatality rates of charter flights operating in Europe, is the Minister satisfied that Australia’s air safety and international standards can be maintained in the circumstances of approval and operation of such charter flights? What types of tests of airworthiness and air route operations would be applied to charter flights? Could not special travel and fare concessions be arranged by the Government with the existing national airline carriers?
– Yesterday in another place the Minister for Civil Aviation made a statement on this subject. I understand that it was circulated to all honourable members and senators. It appears that that has not been done. I think I should repeat the statement at the conclusion of question time in the Senate today to remove any existing doubts. It would be unwise for me to anticipate my reading of the statement beyond saying that the very first ingredient for consideration by the Minister and his department - it is the basic and almost the prime ingredient - is the safety of passengers. In any ministerial or departmental announcement it can be taken as fundamental that the first thing which has been looked at has been the safety of passengers.
– My question to the Minister for Education and Science refers to a statement I heard today attributed to the Secretary of the Department of Education and Science to the effect that there is need for an inquiry into the failure rate at Australian universities. Will the Minister express his own view or the view of the Government on this statement?
– No, I will not express either my own view or the view of the Government on the statement which I have only seen as reported. I am not sure what was in the statement made by the Secretary of my Department. This is my fault, not his, because the statement was sent to me to read before it was made but pressure of business prevented me reading it. Therefore, I do not actually have in my mind a clear idea of what he said. Several inquiries have been conducted - by the Murray Committee and other committees - into failure rates at universities. I think that the matter is one for each university to examine to see what is happening and, perhaps, to decide what action should be taken.
(Senator Keeffe proceeding to address a question to the Leader of the Government)
– Order! The Leader of the Government cannot be asked to reply to questions in relation to Queensland laws.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, ls he aware of the damage being done ti. the Australian timber industry as a result of rapidly increasing imports of timber from Malaysia and North America? What protection is available to the Australian industry to meet this threat? Is he aware also of the inordinately high cost loading between Tasmanian sawmills and Sydney markets which places Tasmanian scantling timber at a disadvantage to the imported product and greatly adds to the cost of home building in Sydney and adjacent areas? I point out that the price f.o.b. Tasmania is $10 per 100 super feel and the price, sale at merchant’s yard, in Sydney is in the vicinity of §23.
– J have noted the increase in the importation of timber into Australia. The honourable senator has asked me what the remedy is - if a remedy is needed. L remind him that the Tariff Board is available for this purpose. In addition, if a local industry believes that it is being damaged, it can appeal to the Minister for Trade and Industry who, if he feels that the case is sufficiently strong and urgent, may refer the matter to the Special Advisory Authority who will hear the case within 30 days. That is the protection that is afforded to Australian industry.
Freights between Tasmania and New South Wales have always been high but I would have thought that the freight position would be improved following the introduction of the modern roll-on roll-off ships which are now running between Hobart and Tasmanian northern ports and Sydney. All Tasmanians must be pleased at the great strides which the Tasmanian furniture industry has made in exporting to the mainland. This has been achieved because of the modern and specialist designs which have been used. Tasmania is capturing an increased amount of the mainland market and those concerned are to be congratulated.
– J direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, ls the Minister aware that a direct scheduled flight from Melbourne to Launceston and return was cancelled because Trans-Australia Airlines required the plane for another service, with the result that thirty passengers at Launceston, who were desirous of travelling to Melbourne, had to travel to Melbourne via Hobart and several passengers missed their onward connection from Melbourne? Is the Minister aware that the cancelling of scheduled flights by airline companies is becoming far too common? Will he make a general statement as to the rights of airline companies arbitrarily to cancel flights without considering the convenience of passengers?
– A little earlier this afternoon I was informed of this cancellation of the flight. I sought information on it. I intended to give the honourable senator the benefit of a very quick reply, but I have not received full information as yet. If the honourable senator places the question on the notice paper I will obtain an answer, possibly by tomorrow.
– In my earlier question on film censorship I find that inadvertently I misled the Minister for Customs and Excise in that I referred to the film ‘The Soldiers’ when in actual fact it is a play. In these circumstances is the matter solely a State matter? Do the principles enunciated by the Minister apply at Commonwealth level to the importation of plays?
– I would need further information as to the basis of importation of the play. If some roving players came to Australia to put on a play, that would have no relevance for my Department or the regulations which I administer. It would be strictly, and very properly, a matter for the States concerned.
– Yesterday the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate asked me a question without notice in relation to my consulting with the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) on the issuing of an invitation to the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr Harold Wilson. During the course of art answer in another place the Prime Minister, in confirming that the Prime Minister of India is to pay a visit to Australia, also stated that he had noted this question which I had referred to him and that he would like the Senate to know that there has been a long standing invitation for Mr Wilson to visit Australia, but that there has not yet been an opportunity for Mr Wilson to arrange a date for his visit.
– On 16th August 1967 Senator Laught asked whether the question of reducing the number of standard times from three to two, so that there will be only an Eastern Standard Time and a Western Standard Time, might be listed for consideration at the next Premiers Conference. In reply I said that this is a matter largely for the State governments concerned, but I would bring the matter to the notice of tha
Prime Minister. I have now done so and am able to confirm that as this is primarily a matter within the constitutional competence of the States concerned, the initiative in having this subject considered at a Premiers Conference rests with the States.
– I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for External Affairs leaves Australia today on an official visit to North America, where he will lead the Australian Delegation at the United Nations General Assembly. He expects to return to Australia about 20th October. During the Minister’s absence the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) will act as Minister for External Affairs.
– by leave - In answer to an honourable senator last night I inadvertently said that no interest was payable for the first 12 months on loans made available to returned servicemen from Vietnam. The true position is that no interest is payable on the first $100 of the loan.
– by leave - Earlier today Senator Bishop asked me a question about international charter (lights and I said that my understanding was that a 5-page document had been circulated. I have now been informed that in fact the document has been circulated to honourable senators. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the following statement which was made yesterday in another place by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). 1 should make it clear, at the outset, that a review of international charter policy has been under way for some time. The effects of the application of existing policy have been investigated and the situation of migrant groups has been taken into account in this study. I personally, have made a point of discussing this aspect with my colleague the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) and I am sure that what I now have to say on the subject has his endorsement.
In April 1959 the Minister for Civil Aviation made a statement in the Senate setting out the principal features of the policy which was to govern international charter flights to and from this country. He stated explicitly that it was then the Government’s firm policy, as it is now, to promote the development of scheduled international air services between Australia and overseas countries. It is only through the continued development of such services between Australia and other countries that we can meet the needs of the travelling public and the requirements of our expanding commerce and industry. Ability to rely on regular and rapid services is an imperative requirement for a country separated by vast distances from other areas of importance to it. I need hardly add that it is considered by the Government of equal importance that Australia’s international airline Qantas Airways Ltd, should be so supported that it is given the utmost opportunity to maintain its reputation as an efficient and safe airline with a deservedly high standing amongst the airlines of the world. It is imperative, moreover, that the financial strength of Qantas be -maintained. It should not be imagined, of course, that any international airline relying mainly on operating the kind of routes which Qantas has developed so successfully over vast distances, could expect to be highly profitable. It would, nevertheless, be a most unfortunate situation if our international airline should be obliged to rely on direct government financial support. To permit non-scheduled charter airlines to operate flights into and out of Australia at fares of their own choosing means an almost certain reduction in the number of passengers who would fly on scheduled services, even though it may permit some travellers to travel by air who would not otherwise do so. Qantas is sure to suffer from any loss to non-scheduled operators of passengers travelling to and from Australia as it carries, as most national carriers do, a solid proportion of passengers into and out of its own country. Moreover in the national interest Qantas’ role as a substantial earner of foreign exchange cannot be overlooked.
It is equally desirable that, whilst traffic on the routes between Australia and other countries increases it does so at such a rate that the scheduled international operators will consider that the operation of services into and out of Australia is a worthwhile proposition. Otherwise the scheduled airlines of the other countries will turn their attention to more attractive areas of traffic development. In turn the Government’s capacity to achieve for Qantas the privilege to carry traffic in and out of those other countries, on routes to and from Australia, will be impaired with consequent adverse effects on Qantas’ revenue. Another very important objective for us must be to ensure that this country is served by the most efficient and modern aircraft. This will only be guaranteed if the scheduled operators believe that traffic growth and its potential, on routes into and out of Australia are sufficiently encouraging to lead them to plan to operate on these routes the most up to date jet aircraft available. I am thinking, in particular, of the position which will develop within 2 to 3 years when the large jumbo jet aircraft become available with their outstanding improvements in comfort for the passenger. By the midseventies too, the supersonic airliner is likely to be available for operation, and this aircraft will be most appropriate for the very long haul routes linking Australia with other countries. These aircraft will be extremely costly and with the immensely increased capacity of the jumbo jets, in particular, will hardly be an attractive proposition to employ on services into and out of this country unless the scheduled operators can attract enough passengers to allow them to operate at satisfactory loadings. Their cargo capacity will be extremely important for the continuing development of Australian industry and could be most significant in the promotion of Australian export markets overseas. The ability of Qantas to operate such aircraft will clearly be related to the capacity of our national airline to maintain a steady rate of growth in the number- of passengers and volume of cargo it carries on its routes into and out of Australia.
It is sometimes suggested that the financial problems of the airlines would be solved if they decided to recommend to governments that international air fares be considerably reduced. It is worthwhile noting at this point that international air fares are an example of a sector in which there has been very little increase in price over a considerable period of years. Indeed in some regions, where great traffic density has permitted it, there have been reductions. The idea that fares could be substantially reduced ignores the basic fact that airline costs have increased heavily and there is virtually no room left for such economies in the administration of major scheduled international airlines as would produce any real effect on the cost situation.
I should also like to remind honourable members of a point which the Minister’s 1959 statement rightly emphasised. Charter operations have an unfair advantage over regular services in that the charter operator has no obligation to perform a flight unless it is commercially attractive. The regular operator must adhere to his advertised schedules whether individual flights are profitable or not. Another factor often ignored is that the scheduled operators, and I am speaking specifically about routes into and out of Australia, have developed concessional fares. The Australian Government strongly supported the successful efforts of Qantas to win International Air Transport Association agreement to concessional group fares. These fares involve a reduction of 30% on the economy fare and they have clearly had a wide impact. Other more specialised concessional fares have also been developed for tourists and special categories of travellers. It has been particularly pleasing to note from reports of scheduled operators that migrant groups have been increasingly availing themselves of these concessional group fares to make trips to their former homelands.
I believe there is no doubt that the policy enunciated by the then Minister for Civil Aviation in 1959 served the interests of this country by promoting the steady development of international air services linking us with almost every major continent. This policy also helped considerably to assist international scheduled operators, after the introduction of jet aircraft in the early sixties and the resultant substantial increase in capacity for passengers, to provide Australia with first class jet services in spite of a period of intense economic difficulty for the scheduled airlines when the initial effects of the jets were being absorbed. These economic problems were experienced even in the North Atlantic area where traffic has continued to expand at a very rapid rate for many years.
T should mention, incidentally, that comparisons between the fares available on the North Atlantic and the number of charter flights in that area with the situation on routes into and out of Australia completely ignores the vast difference in the traffic density between the two areas. This is brought about basically by the vastly greater number of potential international air travellers in North America and Europe. Even in this area, however, the intrusions of nonscheduled charter airlines are very carefully watched and limitations are applied by governments to the operations of such airlines.
Fundamental considerations of the type I have been describing have naturally had to be taken into account very fully in the review of the Government’s policy on international charter operations into and out of Australia. Representations made over a period by interested parties such as scheduled and non-scheduled airlines, and by migrant groups, and authorities and persons interested in the welfare of such groups, have all been given careful consideration. The following conclusions have been reached.
To permit extensive intrusion by nonscheduled charter operators into that carriage of passengers to and from this country now handled by more than a dozen international scheduled airlines would not be in the public interest. These scheduled airlines must continue to enjoy the support of the Government in their progressive development of air services to and from this country. They operate in vigorous and healthy competition with one another and this in itself ensures that standards are maintained at a high level. No international airline can afford merely to rely upon the fact that the Australian Government will not allow scheduled airlines to suffer from unfair or uneconomic competition from non-scheduled operators.
Nevertheless there is some room for the development of charter operations between Australia and other countries. Whilst looking primarily to the scheduled operators to provide this facility the Government will not continue to insist that only scheduled airlines should be allowed to operate charter flights to and from Australia. The rules for the guidance of airlines which my Department is currently preparing on this subject will make it clear that, in the first instance, the opportunity to operate charter flights to and from Australia must be offered to the national carrier, that is the international scheduled operator of Australia - namely Qantas Airways Ltd-or to the national scheduled carrier of the country to which or from which the charter flight originates or is destined. The national carrier will decide, when an application for a charter flight is received by it, whether it can provide the charter arrangement requested either through a flight with its own aircraft or through other arrangements such as a sub-charter to another airline. Where no national carrier wishes to apply for approval to operate a charter flight and notification to that effect has been received applications may be made by any other operator whom the ‘ group seeking the charter decides to approach.
A second modification of existing charter policy will be made in connection with the fare which charter passengers will require to be charged. It will be appreciated that under the contributory group charter arrangements individual members of the charter party contribute towards the cost of the charter, directly or indirectly, in effect, each individual passenger paying a fare. In December 19S9 the then Minister for Civil Aviation announced that the Government would permit the airlines operating charter flights to charge fares as low as 30% below what were then known as tourist class fares and in 1960 became known as economy fares. Since that date concessional fares have been introduced on the recommendation of the International Air Transport Association which represents the interest of international scheduled operators, enabling, as I mentioned earlier, groups of passengers - under certain defined rules concerning the nature of such groups - to travel on regular services at a fare of 70% of the approved economy class fare. In the interests of providing an opportunity for passengers to travel on international air services to and from Australia at lower rates it has now been decided to approve a contributory group charter fare, applying, of course, only to charter flights, at as low a rate as 60% of the approved economy class fare on a regular service. This is expected to give increased incentive to the promotion of charter flights into and out of Australia by creating a fare differential between the minimum rate for the charter flight passenger and the group fare on regular services. This should, amongst other things, assist towards the achievement of the objective of migrant groups wishing to make visits to their former homelands. The return fare between Sydney and London via the Kangaroo route, for example, under such arrangements would be, at the present time, in the vicinity of $A700, the full economy fare on regular services being$A1,178.
I must, however, emphasise that it is essential that the International Air Transport Association’s rules regarding groups and their eligibility for concessional arrangements must be observed. This requirement remains an essential element in our revised charter policy. I should mention one other basic requirement; namely, that a chartering group must charter the entire capacity of the aircraft. The scheduled international airlines provide potential charter groups with full information on these requirements. I shall also ensure that the basic rules are set out in a statement which my Department can make available to inquirers.
There is one further matter about which I want to make special mention. It is clear that, on humanitarian grounds, everything possible should be done to make it feasible for migrants now residing in Australia to be given an opportunity to be reunited here with their parents. Accordingly, because of the importance of this objective, it has been decided that an exceptional concession should be made available for the parents or guardians to travel on charter flight to this country. Under this special concession parents may travel at 50% of the approved round trip economy class fare. The normal rules affecting charter flights generally will, of course, apply and the parents groups will need, therefore, to observe, in particular, IATA requirements. I believe that this exceptional concession should make some contribution towards achieving the aim of reuniting in Australia migrants and their parents. It is expected that these changes should go into effect as from 1 November after airlines and interested organisations have had an opportunity to be informed of them. I must add, in conclusion, that the rules to which I have referred, in connection with applications by airlines for charter flights, are essentially rules of guidance. The Australian Government - as does any other Government - must retain the right - and has a duty for that matter - to decide upon each application, in the light of background and policy considerations. Likewise the Government must, of course, be prepared to review the application of the guiding rules in the event that the scheme envisaged does not serve satisfactorily the national interest.
Consideration resumed from 3 October (vide page 1116).
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That consideration of intervening Divisions be postponed until after consideration of the proposed expenditure for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Proposed expenditure, $31,700,000.
Proposed provision, $1,420,000.
– In our approach to the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation the Opposition unquestionably pays tribute to the personnel who make up the Organisation in its various sections. When we travel throughout the Commonwealth and see them operating in so many fields we are fully aware of the work that they perform for the advancement of Australia. Our main criticism is of the way in which the results of so much of the research and so many of the conclusions reached are transmitted to various Federal and State departments. At times it must be very disheartening to personnel of the CSIRO to find that so much of their research is not translated into immediate action. In making these remarks I am prompted to refer to page 55 of the annual report of the CSIRO under the heading Bushfire Prevention Control’. The best way to illustrate what I am saying is toremind honourable senators of the Softwood Forestry Agreements Bill which we discussed some time ago and in which fleeting reference was made to bush fire prevention control. The Opposition felt then that although we welcomed the fact that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) had assumed the chairmanship of the Australian Forestry Council and that the Commonwealth was to act ascoordinator, bush fire prevention control was not being given as much attention as it should receive. In more positive terms, we feel that some of the specialist groups in the CSIRO could be much more closely allied with other departments. Obviously the Department of National Development, through its ministerial head, would be the co-ordinating authority to handle problems relating to bush tires throughout the Commonwealth. Recently, with my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, ( attended in Canberra a seminar of all the leading forestry experts. This seminar was attended also by the representatives of helicopter and light aircraft companies. The seminar was unanimous in the opinion that now that the Commonwealth has moved in to assume this co-ordinating role in bush fire prevention the time is overdue for the establishment of a small highly skilled bush fire control force, of perhaps 100 or 200 men. It was thought that use could be made of helicopters of the dimensions of those being used in Vietnam and other places of conflict to convey 25 or 30 members of the proposed picked force into areas that are inaccessible by the normal methods of transport. They could bc sent to areas suggested by the various State bush fire control authorities and the State forestry authorities.
As is disclosed in the report of the CSIRO, there are differences of opinion as to the efficacy of certain chemicals as a means of combating bush fires. Senator Cotton, who is knowledgeable on this subject, is of the opinion that chemical control of fires is not necessarily the be all and end all of the matter. Considerations such as terrain enter into the problem, lt is my view that if the bush fire control section of the CSIRO were part of the Department of National Development and part of a national fire fighting force, differences of opinion between the various State authorities would be eliminated.
To support my suggestion I refer to the system adopted by the Canadian Department of National Resources under which there seems to be a greater integration than we have of Federal and State resources in dealing with the problem. I know that the question of cost has to be considered, but I point out that in the last 12 months the Commonwealth Government has contributed $14m to Tasmania to assist that State in overcoming the effects of the terrible bush fires that occurred there. 1 have asked for figures relating to the total of
Commonwealth grants made to the States in the last 10 years as the result of bush fire disasters. That information is not to hand as yet.
I realise that some will ask what a fire fighting squad of the type I suggest would be doing for 6 months of the year when there was virtually no risk of bush fires. My answer to that is that the cost of such a force would be only a very small percentage of the total amount paid out by the Commonwealth in bush fire relief over the last 10 years. We of the Opposition suggest that the Minister for National Development should adopt the unanimous proposal of the seminar which Senator O’Byrne and T attended and move for the establishment of a national fire fighting force.
That brings me back to the dedicated officers of the CSIRO who are carrying out research into bush fires and their control. We suggest that, in order to derive the greatest advantage from the results of their research, these men should be attached to the Department of National Development.
– What was the total amount of damage caused by the Tasmanian bush fires?
– 1 do not know what the total damage was, but I do know that the Commonwealth Government paid that State $14m by way of bush fire relief last year. I know, too, that serious damage has been done by bush fires in the mainland States in previous years. The benefit to be derived from the establishment of a force such as I suggest would far outweigh the cost involved. Unlike North America, we are not overburdened with forest lands. So there is a much greater need for us to preserve what we have.
My other remarks refer to page 37 of the CSIRO report which deals with various marsupials. I know the Minister’s personal sympathy in this particular matter. I thought it was most significant that recently Graham Pizzey, a well-known Victorian naturalist, went to great lengths to point out that when the CSIRO made estimates concerning various forms of wild life in Australia, after a short time there was a tendency for the matter to die down. I cannot help thinking that the criticism I voiced in which I suggested that research undertaken by the
CSIRO in regard to bush fires should be the subject of liaison with the Department of National Development is equally applicable to the Wildlife Research Division. Perhaps the work of Dr Frith and his very dedicated field force would receive greater recognition if the Division was able to have close liaison with the Department of Primary Industry, because it is interested in excessive slaughtering. That comment could probably be applied, to a lesser degree, to the Department of the Interior in relation to its activities in both the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. We receive excellent papers produced by the Wildlife Research Division. But somewhere down the line we get this broken system of command.
We have to be realistic about this question. We operate under a federal system. If Canberra and the various departments adopt a big brother attitude, at times there is a tendency for people in the States to get their feathers ruffled and then we do not get any co-operation at all. The term creative federalism’ has been used extensively. I think that the CSIRO’s research has to be advanced much more forcibly. 1 have always believed that in anything we advance we have to look at the costing side. That is the reason why there has been one interesting development over the last 2 years, and I am sure the Minister is aware of it. In order to achieve some of the things that I have espoused it would be necessary for the Commonwealth Government to apply a levy on some of the pelts or carcasses of some of the wild life that has been earning export income. The State governments in Queensland and New South Wales are applying what I regard as a minimum levy. I think that they apply the levy to the carcass. I believe that these governments are doing all right out of the imposition of this levy, but I think it should be applied directly to the exported meat as distinct from the carcass. On the figures available when I last made this point, it was estimated that the Commonwealth would receive $200,000 a year from the imposition of such a levy.
It is fitting that Senator Gorton is present in the chamber; he is the Minister who approves grants for education. I am certain he would be the last person to accept anything that the States put up without vetting it. That is why he has people around him in the educational secretariat, for the want of a better term. I cannot see why the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) could not apply a levy on animals slaughtered. I believe’ that nobody would be more fitted than Dr Frith and his officers to advise Senator Gorton on how much he should allocate to the various State wild life organisations. This matter goes beyond the government to government attitude.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I would like to comment on Division No. 150, sub-division 3, item 02 which deals with agricultural research. I refer to the investigation of semi-arid plants, particularly at Deniliquin in New South Wales, and to what has been achieved in the drier areas where an attempt has been made to put these research investigations into practice. It is important that these investigations be continued with a view to trying to increase production in these areas. This is particularly important in view of the fact that the wool industry is facing a difficult period, mainly for two reasons - the price-cost squeeze and falling wool prices. The position has been aggravated by the droughts that have occurred consistently in our pastoral areas, particularly in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
I have before me a document from the New South Wales Conservation Department. It refers to what that Department has found in that State. Many of the forms of plant life that have been developed in the research stations have been as successful as they were in the research stations when they have been applied in the western division of the State. I have looked through the annual report of the CSIRO and I cannot find any reference to this matter. I have also looked through the Estimates and I cannot find any reference to specific expenditure on investigations at research stations in regard to plant life for semi-arid areas. Could the Minister give me any information on that and on whether the investigation or research is taking place at a similar level to that of the last few years?
– I ask the Minister why a much greater amount is not being spent on buildings for the CSIRO. The proposed expenditure for the current year is about $3m, plus some grants. As we all know, scientists, brilliant as they are, need adequate equipment, reasonable housing for that equipment and a reasonable environment in which to work. Many of the scientists in this Organisation are housed in little better than shocking conditions. I know that the scientists who were working on primary industry at the University of New South Wales were he used in shocking conditions, but they now have a new air-conditioned laboratory at Floreat Park. The suggestion that the laboratory bc air-conditioned did not come from the Government originally. It was an afterthought. Under pressure the Government decided to air-condition the laboratory. Had it not made that decision, eminent scientists would have been working under hazardous and uncomfortable conditions, particularly in the hot summer months.
There is a suggestion that the Chemical Engineering Division will be rehoused. There is also a suggestion that in 1969-70 a start will be made on rehousing the National Standards Laboratory. This is just not good enough when we realise how much is being done, what great contributions are being made to primary and secondary industry and the economic benefit that accrues to Australia as a result of the activities of these men who dedicate their lives to scientific research. Often they are inadequately housed. They are not over-handsomely recompensed in terms of money or conditions. I ask the Minister when it will be possible to have a stepping up of the provision of housing and equipment for these scientific people commensurate with the extraordinarily good work that they do. He must realise that their conditions are totally inadequate. The conditions do not make for the holding of these people. If they are offered more attractive conditions under which to work we must lose them. Can the Minister tell mc the number of scientists who have left and the number who have entered the service of the Organisation, say, in the last 12 months? Can he give rr.e a comparison of the grades and qualifications of those who have left and those who have entered the service? I ask him why these people have been left to work under such conditions for so long when a crash programme could have been embarked upon.
– I should like to reply to one or two specific questions. Senator Dittmer asked about the capital works programme for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which is not in fact shown in Division No. 150. Part of the capital works and services programme is shown in Division No. 904, which comes under Appropriation Bill (No. 2). This relates to the amount being spent by the CSIRO on buildings, works, plant, scientific computing equipment repairs and things of that kind. The actual capital expenditure proposed for new laboratories and things of that kind is shown in the Department of Works vote in Division No. 967. The proposed appropriation is $3.25 8m as against an expenditure of $2.248m last year. There will still be many works left to bring up to the standard that we would all like to see them reach eventually. A steady improvement will be made in the position of the CSIRO in this respect. This has been going on for some time and is still continuing. I think the honourable senator himself, as a member of the Public Works Committee, will agree that the buildings that are being provided for the CSIRO, such as for the Land Research Division in Canberra, the Indooroopilly laboratory, and the new laboratories at Clayton in Victoria, are of a very high standard indeed. Improvement is going on year by year but it will still take some years before all are up to that high standard. There was a question which I did not completely understand as to the provision of housing for the people employed in the Organisation.
– No. I meant accommodation in the form of laboratories.
– I misunderstood the honourable senator. In fact we do supply houses, as he probably knows, for people working on stations and other places in the outback. I thought he may have been referring to that. Senator Bull asked a specific question as to the amount being expended on arid zone research. Item 02 of sub-division 3 of Division No. 150, to which he referred, relates to agricultural research into plants and pastures in southern
Australia, which I would not say was arid zone research.
– Semi-arid, I think.
– The explanation that I have in relation to the item to which the honourable senator refers is that it provides for the cost of research into the selection, nutrition and management of improved pasture plants in southern Australia. The proposed appropriation is $2,273 as against an expenditure of $2. 120m last year. I would need more time before I could provide a proper answer to the real question asked by the honourable senator, which concerned the amount spent on arid and semi-arid zone research, part of which might come under a number of different divisions.
– It is the level about which I am concerned rather than the actual figures - whether we are stepping up or moving out of this.
-I shall give a full answer later when I have consulted my advisers. The level of the research work being carried out in arid areas stemming from Alice Springs would not be increasing but the level of arid zone research in Queensland would be increasing considerably; there is no doubt about that.
– I should like to refer very briefly to the matter raised by Senator Mulvihill with reference to page 35 of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation report. In doing so I acknowledge his sincerity in raising this problem. I do not think we should too readily assume that a national fire authority would be of very great benefit, although I do not debunk the idea that the honourable senator has put forward to the Minister. Like the Minister, I have had a great deal of experience in fire fighting. I was delighted to read in the report that great emphasis has been placed on protective burning. When these suggestions are put forward it should be remembered that fires of the nature of those which recently occurred in Tasmania descend on cities and towns very suddenly. A national fire fighting authority would not have a chance to move in before the damage was done. In Western Australia we remember the disaster at Dwellingup. Within minutes, the whole town was destroyed.
Another point of concern to me is the need for local knowledge in fire fighting. To drop men from helicopters into fire areas is indeed a hazardous operation, as honourable senators appreciate. I have raised these points because I question the advisability of advocating a national fire fighting authority without a great deal more research. Enthusiasm is all very well, but I hope that Senator Mulvihill is not suggesting that had such a national authority existed the damage caused by the Tasmanian bush fires would have been mitigated. I do not believe that would have been so, because the damage would have been done before such a body could even have moved into action. T am pleased that in Western Australia protective burning in our forest areas is an established policy and that it is carried out throughout the year. Prevention is the only sure way of fire control. In the fires in Tasmania and at Dwellingup the main problem was that protective burning had not been done. 1 readily recognise that on certain days of the year and in most adverse conditions protective burning has little effect unless it has been done on a tremendous scale.
We should not too readily assume that a national body such as that referred to by Senator Mulvihill would be of tremendous value. For example, in Western Australia it would never get to the fires before they had done their damage and were out. Movement between New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania would occupy such an amount of time that the damage would be done before the proposed body could arrive at the scene of the fires. I urge that further work be done wherever necessary to find even better means of fire prevention through chemical spraying and the use of aircraft, rather than attention being directed to putting out fires once they have occurred.
– I would like to develop this theme a little further. Nobody has suggested - least of all the seminar to which I referred earlier - that there is one overall solution to bush fires. Forestry experts agree that in dealing with conventional fire fighting methods a line of demarcation sometimes develops between forest lands adjacent to national parks and private land. These problems arise. Even when fires are detected in the early stages a lack of manpower can prevent effective action being taken. It is essential that adequate manpower be on the spot. I agree entirely with Senator Sim that it would be foolish to advocate the establishment in a capital city of a national fire fighting force. Such a body would need to be broken up into regional sectors. One section could be located, say, in northern New South Wales and another section could be located at a reasonably appropriate town in Western Australia where adequate aerodrome facilities are available. That is the principle that is advocated.
Speakers at the seminar were concerned about some research in the United States of America on the effects of lightning and such factors. In all, the seminar was trying to cross fertilise today’s best fire fighting techniques with various other innovations in the field. Reference was made to the use of light aircraft for fire spotting. Even conceding the difficulties that are caused sometimes by tremendous winds in fire areas, helicopters could be used with limitations. There was a note of urgency in the discussion. Last year an article in the aviation section of an issue of the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ implied that the Commonwealth Government was on the verge of importing certain types of Canadian planes known as fire bombers. However when questions were asked we learned that there had been only an exchange of brochures. I know that some 2 months ago leading forestry officers went to the United States and their activities probably went a stage further than the exchange of brochures.
I emphasise that no-one at the seminar questioned for one moment the ability, knowledge and, in many instances, the heroism of those engaged in this field. We are trying modern methods in so many fields today that on that basis alone if was felt we should give as much assistance as we could. I realise that we must have a good hard look at some of the light aircraft being made by rival companies because it was only after persistent questioning at the seminar that we obtained a basic appreciation of what was offering.
It is true that to have fire fighters standing by to meet emergencies would be costly but when the balance was struck at the end of a financial year the saving in money and resources would be considerable. I do not think the Treasurer would again be faced with the expenditure in this field that he has had to meet in most of the past 10 years.
– I gather that Senator Mulvihill is suggesting that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation should engage in activities for which it is not designed and in which it has never engaged. It is a research organisation. It carries out experiments designed to find, for example, how to make a cloud shed rain and how best to overcome bush fires once they have started or how to prevent them starting. Having carried out that research and gained that scientific knowledge, it is not then the function of CSIRO to apply the knowledge so gained. That is a matter for other executive departments in conjunction with the States. It is not the function of CSIRO to apply the knowledge gained in any field.
– The appropriation of $31m for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation for the current year compares with an expenditure last year of some $28m. There is some consistency about the amounts. An examination of the various appropriations reveals similar consistency, with savings being made in appropriate spheres. I make that point to highlight the fact that the CSIRO has come a long way since its establishment. Indeed, the whole Australian scientific programme has come a long way in just over 50 years since 1916-17 when most countries of the world were thrown back on their own resources to engage in some fairly strenuous research. Today we are part of the international scientific movement. This is reflected in the grant of $33,000 for the ninth congress of the International Society of Soils Science to be held in Adelaide next August. Last year the grant amounted to $13,000. I heartily approve the substantial increase in the allocation although it breaks the pattern of similarity throughout the estimates for the Organisation.
With those comments as my background I shall now seek information from the Minister on only two items. In previous comments and statements I have referred at length to desalination of water. I certainly do not want to retrace my steps. I refer to a booklet issued by the CSIRO entitled ‘Rural Research in CSIRO’. I« was issued in March this year and devotes a considerable portion of its content to desalination of water in rural areas. The booklet indicates that the CSIRO has now had 3 years experience with a number of plants for desalination of water, and those plants are listed. In the document emphasis is placed on the importance of desalination of water. There is no need to stress its high importance at this point of time. Australia is faced with a shortage of water. The country is suffering from the effects of dry seasons and droughts. Our cities are engaged in water restriction programmes. Throughout Australia there is an urgent need, in my view, for a rapid stepping up of research into the desalination of water. From my reading of the booklet, 1 have no doubt that a good deal of research is going on and a considerable amount of work is being done. The major burden seems to be that of economics. In view of the reference to the figures that I have just given, could the Minister indicate under what heading this matter may be investigated? I presume the reference would be under estimated salaries and running expenses for investigations in relation to chemical research of industrial interest. I note that the expenditure has been raised from $2,125,856 to $2,397,400, an increase of $271,544. Can the Minister indicate whether research in this matter is at the midway stage or whether it is necessary to step up the research, involving any great degree of financial increase? I underline the importance of intensive research in this matter, from the point of view not only of quality and quantity but also of economics.
The second matter to which I refer relates to wool, a subject which I referred to yesterday. I want to refer not so much to wool fleece as to wool fabric. The wool industry, as the Minister said yesterday, is facing a crisis. Research has been going on into the use of wool fabric. Honourable senators are well aware of the qualities of wool and of the growing diversity of synthetic fabrics and their impact on our general habits and the demand for wool fabrics. The CSIRO report, which has been referred to by other speakers in relation to these estimates, devotes portion of its content to wool research. It refers to new ways and methods of dying wool, which are now being investigated, so that woollen fabrics may keep their shape. Reference is made also to shrink proofing and related matters. It is opportune to point out that we live in an age of easy care garments which are said to be shrink-proof, which drip dry and which do not need ironing. All these factors are not only desirable but also essential in any development of textiles or fabrics. Here again I do not detect any intensive increase of research in relation to the improvement of fabric and, most importantly so far as the economics are concerned, to bring the fabrics and ultimately the garments into a price range that invites increased use. I would be pleased if the Minister in due course could supply me with some information on these two matters, especially as they are related to what I call a fairly consistent figure of appropriation when one takes into account the quite considerable but necessary increase so far as estimated expenditure on the Congress next year is concerned.
– I direct the Minister’s attention to the estimated salaries and running expenses on investigations in relation to fisheries and oceanography. The proposed increase in expenditure is $32,534, making the proposed expenditure $693,000, the second lowest of all the items of expenditure. When one considers that the Australian coastline is more than 12,000 miles in length, that Australia is an island continent and that other nations are fishing in our coastal waters and appear to be making a success of their ventures, it does appear to be an unreasonable proportion of the total amount that is being disbursed. Should a greater proportion of the money made available to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation be used for investigations in relation to fisheries and oceanography or should the Government increase the amount available to the CSIRO? Most scientists and most people in this chamber, I think, believe that the amount should be increased. Perhaps the Minister will say that it is difficult to obtain more money; that there is only a certain amount that can be raised by the Government from taxation and other sources and that the Government has to disburse the money as it sees fit. The amount allotted to the CSIRO is apportioned to the various sections.
A portion of the money expended on investigations in relation to fisheries and oceanography would no doubt be spent in determining sea temperatures because there is a suggestion of some relationship or association between those temperatures and rainfall on land. Therefore a certain sum would be spent in that way, but I do not know how much. The amount spent on investigations in relation to fisheries and oceanography is the second lowest provided for. I know that the CSIRO has investigated the occurrence of fish in various parts of Australia’s coastal waters. Has any research been done to ascertain why we are not able to process successfully some of the fish when ships from other nations such as Japan and, to a lesser extent, Russia, can come all the way from those countries, gather the fish, process them and sell them economically not only on their home markets but on the world market? Have investigations been made as to why the operations of these nations are successful so far from home when Australian operations are not? Is it a question of wages? Is it because those countries go about it in a big way? Are their ships better than the ships we can build or are their processing methods better than those we can devise? There must be some answer to the question and I think we are entitled to know it. The pure fishing industry in Australia, as we know it, is not prosperous. I know that harvesting from the sea can be successful and that millions of dollars can be earned overseas. I refer particularly to the coastal waters of Western Australia and the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is suggested that millions of dollars of overseas credit will be earned from the sale of prawns. Why is it that other countries can make a success of the harvesting of fish from the sea? Why is it that those countries afford to bring mother ships and associated ships here, gather the fish, process them and still make a profit? Has investigation been made into the various aspects of this matter? Why is it that when reports on this particular work of the CSIRO are issued they are almost invariably unfavourable from the point of view of likelihood of success of the pure fishing industry of Australia? Why does the Government devote the second lowest amount of expenditure to this particular section of the CSIRO?
– Senator Davidson asked me some questions in relation to the desalination of water and whether great increases had been made in the allocation of finance for research into this matter. The brief answer to the honourable senator is that there has not been a great increase in the level of research undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Some research is going on at the same level, particularly research into the installation of solar stills and things of that kind. It is largely a matter of economics and of judgment by the executive of the CSIRO. A great deal of extraordinarily expensive research is going on in the world in relation to the desalination of sea water in large enough qualities at a low enough price to enable cities to be supplied or to enable a sufficient volume of water to be provided for agricultural use. This investigation involves research into the installation of atomic plants and the use of the energy from the atomic plants to distil water. The different processes which can be gone through are extremely expensive and, generally speaking, only within the finances of very large powers such as the United States of America or France. But results of this research are available to the CSIRO. Its scientists are keeping constantly in touch with what is going on, although the research itself is not being duplicated in this country.
Earlier I was asked a question by Senator Davidson in relation to the manner of improving woollen fabrics. At page 42 of the explanatory booklet the honourable senator will see how the contributory sums given partly by industry and matched by the Commonwealth are spent on wool. If he looks down the list he will find a reference to the processing of agricultural products, which describes what he was speaking about. The sum set aside for that purpose this year is $2,109,000.
asked me a question about the provision of finance for fisheries investigation and fisheries research. I should perhaps say that it is not the Government which allocates among the various fields in which the CSIRO is engaged the funds which are made available to the Organisation. It is the CSIRO executive which fixes priorities and allocates what is available to the various fields in which it is spent. Other than that I can only say that the expenditure by CSIRO is not to be taken as the only expenditure on fisheries research in Australia. All the States are carrying out research and there are conferences between the CSIRO and the State fisheries Ministers dealing with this field of research. 1 suppose one could not pick any field of research and say that it is being given sufficient funds and that no more are needed because in whatever field one chose one could raise the same argument.
– I refer to Division 904 on page 6 of document B and in particular to item 02 which relates to scientific computing equipment. I notice that our expenditure last year for this item was $24,500 and that this year it is estimated to be in the vicinity of $234,500. I am particularly interested in this unci refer from that item back to the annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation where at page 24 this appears:
How well a plant grows depends on quite a number of soil factors. The roles of these various factors are becoming better understood.
The report then refers to an experiment which is being conducted in New South Wales and continues:
This sort of knowledge is now being exploited hy the Division of Soils. A scientist can take a soil sample from a wheat field and readily measure various things - the nitrogen content, acidity and so on. He can then look up tables to get more relevant information about growing wheat in that field, such as the average pattern of rainfall distribution throughout the year.
The report then goes on to explain how by means of a computer it is possible to determine the amount of superphosphate it is necessary to add for maximum yield or perhaps maximum profit. This section of the report, ends with this statement:
Some of the fertiliser companies plan to use the programme in conjunction with their advisory services. One company, which has its own computer, has estimated the cost of computation at lie a recommendation. This is insignificant in relation to the cost of collecting a sample and making an analysis.
Over the past 10 years the CSIRO has done magnificent work in the field of tropical pastures with legumes and that sort of thing in the northern part of Queensland from where I come, and indeed throughout the whole of Queensland and right across to Western Australia. Because of the work the CSIRO has done and the hundreds of thousands of acres that have been treated, many people are able to raise the productivity of the soil enormously. One problem, however, is that it is not always possible to determine what application of fertiliser is desirable in various areas. I have been told, and I understand that it is so, that there is an instrument called a quantometer which, although a very expensive and sophisticated instrument, is very accurate in its determination of the fertiliser needs of various soils. Although I am not sure, I believe that it will give at least a guide to the trace elements which may be missing in the soil and which it would be advisable to apply.
Very often a problem for the producer lies in the fact that he is unable to get a satisfactory test of his soil, at least so far as the trace elements are concerned. Further, it is quite costly and it is a time consuming business to discover deficiencies of the soil in which he wants to plant improved pastures. From what I can understand a quantometer can very readily, quickly and cheaply determine all these factors. Having in mind the great work which has already been done in this field, particularly north of the Tropic of Capricorn but also south of it, in providing pastures which will flourish in these areas, I believe that if the CSIRO could have at its disposal the use of a machine such as the one I have described it would be able to do even greater work to assist those who are on the verge of extending their pastures very greatly in the north. I have already stated that it is a very costly machine. When I looked at this item of the Estimates and saw a very great increase in the proposed expenditure I rather hopefully assumed that possibly the unit of which I have spoken might be included in this figure. If it is not included then I believe that serious consideration should be given to acquiring the machine. I believe that they are not available in Australia, so that even if a decision were made to acquire one it would take quite a considerable time for it to be imported and put into operation. It would be of tremendous value. I should like to know from the Minister whether the installation of such a unit is being contemplated and, if so, whether any details can be given.
– A sum of money for the type of instrument to which the honourable senator has referred is not included in the vote for computers. The honourable senator may recall that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation spent $3m on computers some time ago. The vote in this year’s Estimates is for peripheral equipment for the computer which has been installed. On the other hand, a decision has already been taken to acquire a machine of the kind referred to by the honourable senator. If the honourable senator cares to look at page 35 of the explanatory notes he will see in the list of proposed expenditures an amount of $40,000 being part cost of a photoelectric emission spectrometer for the Division of Tropical Pastures. This is the machine to which he refers. It has been decided to acquire one, which, as he says, will take some time to get here. The machine will be delivered next year and the final payment will then be made.
– I commend the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on its good work. I commend it especially for what it has done in the northern parts of Australia. I appreciate the increased output that will result from that work. But there are one or two points that I should like the Minister to clarify. First T point out that on page 89 of the Organisation’s annual report there is mention of a sum of $9,367,000 which is made up of contributory funds. This money comes mainly from various primary producing organisations. Is this $9m-odd included in the amount we are voting today, or is it something additional to that?
– It is in addition.
– On the last page of the report, there is mention of $701,000 by way of miscellaneous receipts. I am interested in particular in the amount of $233,000-odd for computing charges. Does the Organisation do work on its computer for other people and charge for it?
– Yes. It does work for other departments.
– I take it that the Government, being cognisant of the tremendous amount of correspondence from students and local fauna protection groups seeking material from the Division of Wild Life Research, the Government has made provision this year to meet the cost of printing enough material to meet the higher demand that will be made on the CSIRO for this type of information. Again, knowing from the number of inquiries that I and others receive for extra copies of the Organisation’s annual report, I hope that next year the Government will anticipate the extra demand and make adequate pro*vision in the Estimates to meet it.
At page 35 of the annual report reference is made to the effect of insecticides on birdlife. I have had letters from Queensland which seem to indicate that some pesticides have been responsible for a decline in the number of butcher birds. In fact, the butcher bird is virtually extinct in many parts of Queensland. I should like to know whether we can be supplied with some information about the effect of pesticides on the butcher bird.
– 1 note that it is proposed to spend $2,436,000 this year on research into animal health and reproduction. In Western Australia, tremendous interest is being taken in this aspect of the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I wish to refer particuluarly to the chapter in the Organisation’s annual report headed ‘Saving New Bom Lambs’. This is just one of the items covered by the proposed expenditure of nearly $2.5m. The Organisation points out in the report that 10 million new born lambs, or 1 in 5 of those born, die every year. If we could save one-tenth of the casualties we would be saving 1 million lambs a year, which would mean a saving of something like $6m a year to the economy in this one item alone. This points to the tremendous dividends we can gain nationally from the expenditure of not $2.5m but the fraction of that amount which has been allocated to investigation into this problem.
On the same page under the heading Electrocardiograms for lambs’ there is reference to trace element deficiencies in animals. Special mention is made of the suspected relationship between a selenium deficiency and to muscular dystrophy and fertility. These problems are not confined solely to Western Australia, but they are of enormous importance to’ the economy of the pastoral industry in that State and I suggest to the Minister that a good case can be made for giving serious consideration to methods of accelerating attention to them. I know that all research work is important but, having regard to the restocking problems in the eastern States and the need for providing sheep for the expanding development that is taking place in Western Australia, there is an urgent need for the CSIRO to devote even more of its valuable research time to this work. I ask the Minister to look at the possibility of having this done.
– I draw attention to paragraph 4 on page 28 of the brief explanatory notes. It relates to ‘Other Services’. I have never been able to understand why wealthy organisations are regularly included in the ‘Other Services’. The paragraph to which I refer reads:
Underthe terms of its charter, the Organisation makes grants to various associations concerned with scientific research. These associations are not in any sense part of CSIRO; they are all independent bodies. The Organisation is merely the channel through which the Government (on the advice of CSIRO) makes its financial contribution towards the cost of their activities.
There are some general activities which I think ought to be assisted by the Government, and I congratulate the Government on the great work being done by the CSIRO. For example, I note that $4,000 is to be made available for the Eleventh International Grasslands Congress. That Congress should be helped because it is not a large wealthy organisation. It is merely an organisation representative of people engaged in our primary industries. I note, too, that $33,500 is to be made available for the Ninth Congress of the International Society of Soil Science. That also could be worth while because it is something that smaller farmers or groups of farmers might not do of their own volition. The National Association of Testing Authorities is to receive a grant of $83,000. That is another organisation of individuals or groups of individuals but not necessarily of big financial institutions. The Standards Association of Australia is to receive a grant of $392,000. That organisation would have something to do with standards relating to patents.
– No, it deals with weights and measures.
– All right I will leave that one. The Sugar Research Institute is to receive a grant of $100,000. When the representatives of this Institute come for aid they cannot come on the basis that the Institute is unfinancial or is unable to supply the funds itself, because it is really one of the big wealthy organisations in Australia. The Australian Welding Research Association is to receive a grant of $40,000. I should imagine that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd is involved in that organisation. The Bread Research Institute, in the present setup, is one of the biggest monopolies. The Wine Research Institute, which is to receive a grant of $10,000, is also in the class of big business.
I particularly refer to the grant of $40,000 for the Coal Association (Research) Ltd. The coal industry has been completely monopolised. All the non-paying mines were closed down years ago. The coal owners constitute one of the biggest financial institutions and one of the most powerful organisations in the country. The Government came to the aid of the industry when it commenced its research organisation. I could not understand why the Government did that. But it has continued to make grants ever since. Why cannot the coal owners finance their own research? If the Government did not subsidise these wealthy organisations would they discontinue their research activities? I do not think they would. What happened was that in the early post-war years when there was a rush to get places, to keep up with science overseas and to maintain efficiency, governments came to the aid of business people and organisations. Certainly they came to the aid of the coal people who were looking for new uses for coal. But they have made many millions of dollars since then. I could never understand why they still have to be subsidised. The coal owners are making great advances in techniques. Can the Minister inform me whether these people are using the money to provide research scholarships? The Government would be justified in making the grant if they were providing research scholarships; but if they are merely using the money for capital purposes, that is to help them develop or to purchase machinery or to develop new inventions, that is another matter.
I note that an amount of more than $300,000 is to be provided for research studentships in 1967-68. Are the amounts referred to on page 28 of the brief explanatory notes on the estimates of expenditure for the CSIRO to be used for the purpose of providing research studentships or for subsidising students or scholarships? I would be interested to know the answer to that question. I am particularly interested to know what will happen to the sum of $40,000 that is to be granted to the Coal Association (Research) Ltd, which is an arm of the Coal Proprietors Federation of New South Wales.
– I shall reply to the last question first while it is fresh in my mind. The sums of money provided for research in the various industries as set out in the explanatory notes are not really significantly different from sums of money which are provided for research in industries such as the wool industry. The wool industry provides funds from its own growers. The Government, through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Department of Primary Industry, matches the funds that are provided by the wool industry for research into improved methods of growing wool or pastures. This question could be asked: Why should any money be provided to help an industry carry out that sort of research? I think everyone would agree that it is reasonable for that to happen. Australia receives the dividends from this research.
I think that much the same can be said about Senator Ormonde’s proposition regarding the organisations referred to on page 28 of the brief explanatory notes. Senator Ormonde referred to the Sugar Research Institute. I understand that the sugar industry - this would include sugar cane growers - provides $150,000 and the Commonwealth provides $100,000. Research is carried on into ways of making better grades of sugar which would sell more readily overseas, of making sugar more cheaply, and things of that kind. The Commonwealth is to make a grant of $40,000 to the Coal Association (Research)
Ltd. The National Coal Research Advisory Council, which I think comprises representatives of the State governments, industry and the Commonwealth, also provides a sum of money. I note on page 45 of the brief explanatory notes in the category entitled ‘Chemical Research of Industrial Interest’, that the National Coal Research Advisory Committee is to contribute $30,000, and that in the category entitled ‘Processing and Use of Mineral Products’ it is to contribute $60,000. That makes a total of $90,000 to be provided by a governmental organisation set up in the coal industry. My recollection of research into coal - at any rate at Ryde - was that it was more research into achieving better methods of utilising coal, and better ways of burning it so that there were more British thermal units and fewer ashes, and the boiler did not have to be cleaned so often. Such research would provide a big dividend to Australia generally. I think that Senator Ormonde understood that the Standards Association of Australia dealt with weights and measures.
asked me questions about investigations into trying to reduce still further losses which occur in new-born lambs. All I can do is to draw attention to the CSIRO’s report, to the fact that this work is continuing, and to the fact that money is being provided in the estimates now before us to enable it to continue.
Senator Mulvihill referred to a problem concerning wild life and bird life, which is caused by the residue of chemical sprays and chemical methods of attempting to eradicate parasites. Undoubtedly this is a real problem. Honourable senators will remember the book entitled ‘The Silent Spring’ which dealt with this matter. The CSIRO is directing its attention to this problem in two ways - firstly, by carrying out investigation to see how much damage is being caused and, secondly and perhaps more importantly, by carrying out a quite considerable programme of experiment into discovering ways of biological control of parasites rather than chemical control of them, or biological control which can be used in conjunction with much smaller quantities of chemical control. The matter is under the direct notice of the CSIRO. That is all I can say in reply to Senator Mulvihill.
– I refer to Division No. 150, subdivision 3, item 04, which relates to agricultural research on soils. This year’s appropriation of $1,274,600 represents an increase of about $80,000 over the expenditure last year. Could the Minister give me any information on anything that is being done in the field of soil zoology; that is, the fauna components of the soil? This is a rather interesting exercise. We know that the weight of the fauna under the surface of the ground is equivalent to that of the fauna above the surface. In Australia we have termites which could be studied. A great study has been made of earthworms. But so far no studyhas been made of how much nourishment termites and other fauna under the surface take out of the soil. I do not think any great investigation has been made of how much organic matter is locked up by termites.
I understand that we have nol done very much research into how the application of superphosphate is related to this matter. We have heard a great deal about superphosphate being applied to the soil. I have no wish not to express appreciation of what the CSIRO has done. I ask the Minister whether any consideration has been given to these very interesting studies which could add a great deal to our knowledge of agricultural practices, particularly in relation to the rates of application of superphosphate and other artificial fertilisers. Termites are rather numerous in Australia and they could - I am given to understand that they do - have a very great effect in locking up much of the nutriment that is in the soil.
Senator TOOHEY (South Australia) 4.42 - 1 should like the Minister to give the Committee a little more information on the matter raised by Senator Mulvihill: namely, the effect of pesticides on bird life and wild life generally. The Minister said that the CSIRO was undertaking research into this problem. That is very encouraging. Could he indicate to the Committee how long that research has been in progress and how long it will be before an interim report might be made to the Parliament? This is a matter of very great importance in this country. An interim report on it would be of great interest, particularly to honourable senators.
– I do not think I can give Senator Toohey a detailed answer to that question. The work on the use of biological control of various pests instead of chemical control has been going on for quite a number of years to my knowledge. I would be delighted to make arrangements for any honourable senator who is interested in that work to see it. It is being carried out at the Division of Entomology not far from this building. A visit to that Division and discussion of the matter with the scientists on the job might be of rather more benefit than something that fell from my lips. The work has been going on for some considerable time. The vote granted to it has been rising. 1 do not believe that anybody could tell Senator Toohey when a report indicating a definite breakthrough is likely to be made. All that I can say is that the work has been going on for some years; it is open to inspection: and the vote for it has been increasing.
In regard to Senator Mattner’s query, the Division of Soils to which he referred would not actually be the division that would be concerned with termites. Work in connection with termites would come under Division No. 150, sub-division 3. item 03 - Agricultural and research - entomology and wild life. The entomology part would cover insects.
– Pardon my ignorance.
– My ignorance matched the honourable senator’s until I consulted my advisers. As the honourable senator will have noted, the appropriation for that item has been increased by nearly $250,000.
– I wish to ask the Minister about the correlation of the activities of the CSIRO and the universities. As we know, the CSIRO has been in existence for just over 50 years. Some of its work has been done in close association with the universities in that it has been done in university buildings, some of which have been little more than shambles structures. The Minister has said that an attempt is now being made to move the staff from those buildings. For many years there was a place for co-operation and correlation of activities as between university staffs and CSIRO staffs. But no concrete steps were taken until 1965 when a meeting of representatives of the universities and the Organisation was held. That meeting appointed a committee which, I understand, presented a report in May of this year.
The members of the Committee suggested various ways in which they thought there could be co-operation between the universities and the Organisation. They suggested exchanges of staff. They suggested that university staff could be seconded to the CSIRO for research purposes and that CSIRO staff could be seconded to the universities for research and lecturing purposes. They suggested that vacation seminars be conducted by CSIRO staff at the universities. They also suggested the mutual use of equipment. These things could bc done. The opinion of senior representatives of the universities and the CSIRO is that this co-operation could be invaluable. Yet it was a long time before any concrete step was taken, and when it was taken another 2 years elapsed before a report was presented on the form that the co-operation should take. Four months have elapsed since the report was presented. I know that that is not a long time.
I should like the Minister to tell us whether any progress is being made; or will we have to wait for another 2 years and then be told that as a result of the presentation of this report certain things should be done? Will we then see a start on the formulation of a programme of seconding staff from one organisation to the other? Will we see a number of years elapse before anything concrete, is done? A loss of mutual benefit will ensue if that happens. There is compelling evidence that this co-operation would be invaluable not only to the CSIRO but also to the universities. I ask the Minister to tell us what progress is being made in relation to the report that was presented by the committee in May of this year following the meeting in 1965.
– Senator Dittmer has raised a matter of quite considerable importance. There is no doubt whatever that, where it is feasible, the establishment of a CSIRO laboratory and the scientific staff serving it in close proximity to a university with a faculty that is complementary to the laboratory must lead to the creation of a scientific community and a cross-fertilisation as a result of scientists working and moving from one establishment to the other. - The establishment of laboratories in proximity to universities has been going ahead reasonably well. In the honourable senator’s home State, the Organisation has an establishment right in the university complex at St Lucia. In Townsville a tropical pastures laboratory was built not right in the university complex but close enough to it for the developing Townsville University College and the new laboratory to be complementary. At the Monash University, the Division of Chemical Engineering has been established right on the periphery of the University’s land. The next laboratory in Melbourne will also bc built there. In Canberra the Division of Soils, the phytoron and the computer centre have been established in conjunction with the Australian National University. The new CSIRO building at Floreat Park in Western Australia is in close co-operation with the University of Western Australia. So the physical facilities have been, planned and built, keeping in mind the end that the honourable senator has raised. That having been done, I do not think it is for the Government to move in and tell the CSIRO people or the university people how they should utilise these facilities.
– 1 am asking what progress has been made. I am not saying that the Government, should tell them.
– I am just making the point. The physical facilities having bean supplied in juxtaposition to universities where they are wanted, it remains largely lor the academic authorities to make use of the facilities. I have just received information that the report has been circulated to university and CSIRO staff. The first steps are expected to come mainly from universities. This underlines what I was saying. We leave it to them. There is one other factor in this important subject that the honourable senator has raised. This is the question of free transfer ability of scientists between university faculties and the CSIRO and back again. That has been inhibited because of the impossibility previously of carrying superannuation rights when one moves from one position to the other. As honourable senators will remember, the Government set up a committee which has functioned, I think, for about a year, under Sir Leslie Melville, to bring in a plan for compatibility of superannuation, so this barrier to the freedom of movement will be removed.
– I refer to item 17 in sub-division 3 of Division No. 150, which relates to research services, and also to the annual report of the CSIRO at page 47. Here the report mentions a matter which is of very great importance to most of Queensland and to quite a lot of Western Australia. Under the heading Comfort cooling’ the report states:
One of the world’s most pressing problems is how to raise productivity in the tropics. Twothirds, of the world’s population lives in the hot regions of the earth, within 30 degrees of latitude from the Equator. The running costs of refrigerated air conditioning put it beyond the means of most people in the developing countries.
It goes on to say that prototype coolers are now in operation at Townsville, Brisbane, Griffith, Northam in Western Australia, and Melbourne. These are what are called rock bed regenerative plants. The power which they use, which is needed only for fans, is only about 600 watts, which is less than that used by a small radiator. This is a very important matter for people who live in areas which in certain parts of the year are extremely hot. If a comparatively cheaply operated type of air cooling or comfort cooling could be developed, this would be a wonderful contribution to the comfort of those people. I have followed this matter up elsewhere. I raise it here now for one reason in particular, that is, to ask the Minister whether he can tell us how the rock bed regenerative cooling system appeals to those who are working with it, whether it is near the stage at which they can regard it as a very desirable installation and, if it has not yet reached that stage, whether it would be possible to help this section of the CSIRO by giving it a little extra finance to advance its research, because if time can be saved in this respect it will be of very great value to many people.
Finally, I thank the Minister for the information he gave me earlier this afternoon. I was very glad to get it because, as I have said before in the Senate, I have a most profound admiration for the work that has been done in tropical pasture research by the CSIRO and in particular by those officers at the Cunningham laboratory. I do not think many people in Australia realise the financial contribution that is flowing to Australia from research work that has been done in this regard over the past few years and that is still being done. I should like to think that more people in Australia understood and then appreciated the tremendous work that is being done.
– I refer first to item 14 of sub-division 3 of Division No. 150, which relates to general physical research. The proposed appropriation is $2,179,700. I direct the Minister’s attention to the experience over the past few years of sections of Australia that have been subjected to a very severe drought. When any question in relation to drought and its consequences is raised in the Parliament there seems to be a tendency on the part of the Government to pass the responsibility back to the States. The CSIRO report for 1965-66 states, at page 18:
During 1965 CSIRO had several urgent requests from various State authorities for cloudseeding aircraft to attempt to make rain over regions affected by bush fires and drought. Extensive seeding operations by the Division of Radiophysics in areas of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland were followed by good falls of rain when cloud conditions were right. Although the absence of controls makes it impossible to say in these instances whether the rain was due to the seeding, it does appear that there is good justification for carrying out cloudseeding in emergencies such as droughts or bush fires whenever cloud conditions are suitable.
Recently in the Senate I raised the matter of cloud-seeding in Victoria and Tasmania. As most Tasmanians and Victorians know, these States are experiencing very unusual rainfall conditions. I do not think we have any record of lower rainfall on the highlands and the catchment areas from which the Hydro-Electric Commission conserves water for power generation. Recently I observed that the noted safe country of the western district of Victoria was having one of its worst known droughts. Droughts do not respect State boundaries. What may be a tragedy in one State seems to be soon forgotten when rain comes, but drought conditions may then be experienced by another State.
The head of the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics is on record as saying that cloud-seeding could lift average rainfall over Australia’s productive areas by from 15% to 25%. He said that cloud seeding could produce good results along a belt of eastern Australia up to 250 miles wide and that his staff was willing and able to provide advice and also to plan rain making operations but that the CSIRO could not provide a national rain making service. I suppose that every department finds, when it is budgeting for its activities, that it has to allot priorities and direct its funds into important avenues. Many of the in between projects have either to be put off to another day or perhaps shelved altogether. This is a national problem that affects the basis of our economy. Only last week we discussed in the Senate water conservation in northern Queensland. The problem is just as great and just as serious there as it is at present in Tasmania and Victoria.
– And in South Australia.
– That is so. I remember now that South Australia is having an abnormally dry season. Although the CSIRO should be complimented on the scope and excellence of its service towards man’s conquest of his environment, I believe that in the present critical situation the Commonwealth should encourage that body, by additional grants, to greater use of its technicians and knowhow. It has grouped together a select band of people who have the wherewithal and the facilities to gain experience in these matters. Somehow or other a division of the CSIRO should be made available to direct national campaigns such as a cloud seeding campaign which is at present very much needed in the southern areas of Australia.
The CSIRO said in its report for 1965-66 that the Division of Radiophysics does not have adequate resources for emergency action in cloud seeding operations. The Division organised a school for rainmakers which was held from 2nd August to 10th August 1965. Eight men from various State government departments in eastern Australia were given lectures and laboratory demonstrations of cloud seeding techniques.
– Did they invite there the rainmakers from the tribes in central Australia?
– Perhaps they could have made a contribution. The programme at the school included instruction in basic meteorological physics, weather systems and cloud development, cloud physics and rain processes, nucleation, seeding techniques, aircraft problems, applications of cloud seeding to drought and bush fire relief, and general administrative problems. The people who participated in the school were later given 1 month’s practical experience in the field on one of the Division’s cloud seeding experiments. That is a splendid basis foi the building up of a technique which should be nationwide. It is difficult for any State government to budget outside its particular needs. The States are living from hand to mouth on shoestring budgets. They must live more or less for today. But the Commonwealth Parliament has an overall national responsibility to come in when the States find themselves unable to finance these rather expensive but important projects. I make a plea to the Minister to inform the Senate whether the CSIRO has anything in mind for the extension of its rain making activities and whether it has reported to the Cabinet or to the Government on an overall plan for the use of the techniques it has obviously developed in rain making to assist the dry areas of the Commonwealth.
In 1964-65 Queensland experienced its worst drought period. The drought persisted until early 1966. Today there is a serious situation in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. I consider that no great difficulty would be met in co-ordinating the facilities of the Department of Civil Aviation and, as I have suggested previously, the Royal Australian Air Force. The silver iodide smoke generator and cloud seeding apparatus are not very complicated pieces of equipment. Training and operational hours are used by both the Department of Civil Aviation and the Air Force. Perhaps they could be utilised in times of crisis to make a blitz attack when the appropriate cloud conditions exist over the dry areas of the States. It would necessitate an arrangement between the various departments to ensure coordination of effort. It has been proved that rain can be made to precipitate in cloud conditions of a certain type. A quick decision has to be made because, as all honourable senators will appreciate, weather conditions can change quickly. Yesterday morning big snowflakes were falling in Canberra because of atmospheric conditions. Evidently conditions were right for precipitation on a large scale and such conditions at times exist over the areas that very badly need rain. Someone has to make a decision to act when those conditions are present.
A new approach has to be adopted by the Commonwealth Government to this matter. It is too big for an individual State to contemplate maintaining its own aircraft on standby, or even to think of hiring aircraft to be kept on standby. When the responsibilities and the use of aircraft can be divided amongst a number of States or applied at Commonwealth level, the problem can be tackled effectively. I believe the statement of the head of the Division of Radiophysics that cloud seeding could lift the average annual rainfall over Australia’s productive areas by about 15% or 25%. We have to use only a little imagination to appreciate the possible increase in productivity of the fertile areas of Australia. Increased rainfall would also greatly assist from the point of view of water conservation and storage. In the case of Tasmania great assistance could be given to the generation of hydro-electric power. The water storages, dams, tanks and the like that have been badly depleted by a long period of dry conditions in Victoria could be replenished. Assistance could also be given to irrigation areas to refill the dams there.
I hope that the Minister will be able to give the Committee some information on whether the CSIRO has contemplated a nationwide approach to cloud seeding. If the Government has not done so already, I ask that it give to the CSIRO the responsibility of developing a national plan to tackle drought problems which are one of the greatest scourges in Australia. It is the driest of all the continents on the earth’s surface. There is no doubt that drought is a national and not a parochial problem. It just cannot be left to the States or to piecemeal efforts.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– On page 44 of the brief explanatory notes prepared by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation reference is made to the Commonwealth Sirex Fund. I direct the Minister’s attention to a recent occurrence in South Australia. A member of the Waterside Workers Federa tion discovered a Sirex wasp in the hold of a ship and alerted the authorities. By his action he possibly prevented a lot of damage to the Australian timber industry.
Although grants are made from time to time for research into the activities of this and other pests, not enough attention is given to preventing their importation. I believe that some incentive in the form of a reward should be given to people who are interested enough to look for these things when ships arrive at Australian ports. If this were done the person who discovered the pest would be suitably recompensed and an incentive would bc given to others to be vigilant in this regard. 1 am amazed that some suitable recognition is not given to people who perform such a useful service in preventing the spread of a most damaging pest.
I have an idea that this matter was raised previously in the Senate by way of a question but I am not sure. Therefore I raise it now and ask the Minister whether, in the interests of the Australian timber industry as a whole, some provision can be made through his Department, or if that is not the appropriate department, through another department to recompense people who perform such a useful public service.
– I direct a question to the Minister relating to the poultry industry. A group of poultry farmers expressed the view to me recently that the industry was likely to suffer great damage from a flare-up of what is called Newcastle disease.
– Order! 1 suggest that honourable senators link their remarks to items of proposed expenditure.
– I cannot find any reference to poultry in the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation although it is mentioned in the Organisation’s annual report. I submit that sub-division 3 of Division No. 150 - Administrative - covers my remarks. The Minister may remember that 6 or 7 years ago the United Kingdom Government spent a great deal of money trying to eradicate Newcastle disease but failed to do so. Recently in Queensland there was a scare amongst poultry farmers because a disease developed which they thought was the fatal Newcastle disease. Inquiries were made by the relevant State departments but they were not certain whether the disease was the same as that which devastates poultry in England. Can the Minister give me any information about the state of the industry so far as Newcastle disease is concerned? If he cannot do so now he may be able to make some information available later.
– What does the honourable senator mean by ‘the state of the industry”?
– Has anything been done to eradicate the disease if it is here? I should like to be able to tell my constituents in the Newcastle area what the Government is doing about it.
– Senator Morris asked me a question concerning the rock bed regenerative system of cooling tropical houses. Some $40,000 has been allocated this year - this is an increase on last year’s allocation - and more staff positions have been created to enable work in this field generally to go on. I think the best I can say to the honourable senator is that it appears that much more work will be needed before an economical method of cooling houses by this means is devised. I would not forecast the end result of the research which is continuing.
Senator O’Byrne raised, as he has on previous occasions, a question of policy. He asked whether the CSIRO or some Commonwealth department - I remind him that we are now dealing with the estimates of the CSIRO - should provide a nation-wide service for the application of the knowledge which has been gained on the seeding of clouds for rain making. I do not think I can add anything to what I have said to him before. It is the function of CSIRO to discover scientific knowledge. It has been doing this in the field of producing manmade rain. I am glad to say that in this field CSIRO has also engaged in extension work, that is, in making the knowledge which has been gained available to other people.
The Organisation has trained a considerable number of State officers; it has provided advice and assistance on how to affix the chute down which the iodide crystals fall; it has stated the quantity necessary to be dropped and so on. Indeed, since submission of its last annual report it has been collaborating quite closely with the States in cloud seeding operations. Several States now have their own cloud seeding officers, and Victoria is currently operating a plane for seeding clouds over its catchment areas. I do not believe that it is beyond the capacity of States, using the knowledge and technical assistance that CSIRO is prepared to supply, to charter a plane and attach to it the necessary fittings when clouds suitable for seeding are in the appropriate area. It is not the function of CSIRO to apply the scientific knowledge it gains in this or any other field.
Senator Toohey referred to the Commonwealth Sirex Fund and on that he based a question relating to the early detection of possible dangerous insects, fungus and so on at Australian ports. This is a quarantine matter which comes within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Department of Health. I suggest that he raise it again when the estimates for that Department are before the Committee. i will endeavour to obtain what information I can for Senator Ormonde on the incidence of Newcastle disease. No doubt he will have read the comments appearing on page 34 of the Organisation’s annual report.
– I refer in particular to Division No. 150. subdivision 3, item 01. This item was raised by Senator Prowse. The honourable senator mentioned the losses of lambs in Australia and suggested that more money could be spent on research in this particular category, and I wish to question the Minister concerning the estimated expenditure on investigations in relation to agricultural research, animal health and reproduction. Relating that item to the nineteenth annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, I note with great interest that the CSIRO refers under the heading ‘Livestock’ to the Animal Research Laboratories. The Minister may be able to advise me of the States in which this work is carried out. Under the heading Ticking the best dairy bulls’ the following comments appear:
A cow inherits her milking propensities from both her parents. Twenty years ago scientists began to estimate the breeding value of bulls by measuring the milk yields of their daughters.
Soon afterwards consideration was given to the use of the sons of proven sires. It was presumed that the sons of proven bulls were more likely than the sons of bad bulls to sire high milk yielding daughters.
But a good bull has many sons. Which ones should be selected for breeding purposes? And can a selection be made early in the bull’s life?
The report goes on to discuss the matter of animal genetics. I would be pleased to know from the Minister exactly what has been done in the field of artificial insemination. I believe that those who are involved in this aspect of our livestock breeding in Australia must look in the future to selective breeding. In Victoria there is the Victorian Artificial Breeders Association. The development of the research station was due largely to one man who was entering into the field of animal breeding. In commencing a breed line he selected the best bull available and found that the production of daughters sired by that bull increased both in volume of milk and in butterfat content compared with that of their mothers. When using an even better sire on those female progeny he found that after a couple of years had elapsed the increase in production had improved still further both in volume and in butterfat content. He paid a larger sum for a bull which, on record, should have been from a better line but he found that the production of the daughters of that sire dropped in both respects back to where the production originally stood. This farmer was instrumental in starting the Victorian Artificial Breeders Association. Indeed the CSIRO comments on the fact that it is already possible to make good predictions on the basis of the size of hair follicles and sweat glands microscopically observed in samples of skin from 2-year old bulls. The point is that there is research into the matter and that at an early date it is necessary to establish whether a bull is likely to be a good sire or not.
I query whether sufficient information is sent out to primary producers generally in relation to the absolute necessity of increasing production both in volume and in butterfat content. Not only with dairy cattle but certainly in other areas of stock breeding, if this problem of rising costs in a community is to be dealt with, as it has been done previously, farmers will have to generate a greater increase in production to offset cost increases. I believe that research in this field for the benefit of Australia in the future is most essential. I ask whether the Minister can give some information as to what is being done in this field and whether he believes sufficient information is being sent out generally to primary producing industries.
The next matter that I wish to raise is the estimated expenditure on investigations in relation to agricultural research - animal health and reproduction. I note that in the estimates there is no mention of the income gained by a particular organisation or department. Perhaps that has never been done in this particular section. I noted in the Auditor-General’s report that the miscellaneous revenue of the CSIRO for the year totalled $701,709, compared with $612,582 for the previous year. The income was derived principally from the sale of computer time to other organisations and departments, which accounted for $233,737; royalties from patents accounted for $146,179, and sales of produce and animals for $109,144. It is in relation to the last category that I seek information from the Minister. Could he advise me of the types of animals that are made available for sale from the Organisation and the basis on which they are sold? I take it that in the scientific reproduction of animals the calves of artificially inseminated cows are bred and put onto the market; that they may be sold by auction or made available by tender, as the stock from some departments is made available. I ask the Minister generally the terms of sale through the CSIRO.
– I realise, Mr Chairman, how meticulous you are in your insistence on strict observance of procedure. That places me in somewhat of a quandary. I wish to refer to the subject of tick infestation of cattle. I do not know under which particular subdivision or item of Division No. 150 my query properly refers. Perhaps the Minister might accept a general reference to the matter.
– Yes, I will do that.
– Thank you. Tick infestation has been a big problem in large areas of Australia. In Queensland alone over the years the loss through depreciated health and defective calving has been between $20m and $40m a year. In recent years the Government has seen fit to devote a smaller amount each year to the eradication of ticks. I am referring now more particularly to the research into the problem. Cattle owners are trying to eliminate this pest and are finding that over the years insecticides and dips are not as effective in curtailing the infestation. I ask the Minister: Just how much is being spent from the research point of view in relation to this disability in the cattle industry? Can the Minister supply me with a figure this afternoon? Perhaps he could let me know the figure for the previous year. This is an increasing problem and there seems to be no real solution to it. The dips which are used for cattle are becoming less effective as the years go by and it seems that in the process of time we will have to find a solution to the infestation of cattle.
My other question follows a somewhat similar line to the question asked by Senator Webster. On what basis are royalties determined in relation to processes developed by the CSIRO, either as a result of its own investigation or by the organisation in cooperation with private firms? Does the Government determine the basis on which the royalty is to be paid or is it determined by the executive officers of the CSIRO? Similarly, in relation to licences granted for the manufacture of machinery which has been invented by the CSIRO or by that body in co-operation with firms, who makes the determination?
– To answer first the questions asked by Senator Dittmer, expenditure on research by CSIRO on ticks is now about $400,000 each year. Some of that is voted in item 3.01 and some of it is voted in item 3.03, but the total is $400,000. The second part of his question related to royalty agreements entered into between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and various firms. If possible an agreement is made with an Australian firm, but if that is not possible it is with an overseas firm. The arrangements suggested for royalty payments are worked out by the CSIRO executive with the firms concerned, but are then put to the Minister as a recommendation that the agreements should be entered into. The royalties may vary depending upon the amount of developmental work which has been carried out by an industry to develop something or the amount of research on a product which is required to make it a commercial proposition. The agreements vary. In some cases the question is who will pay for the patent applications in the various countries of the world, and the agreements vary in a whole number of other ways. But they are worked out in conjunction with the CSIRO and the firm concerned and then put to the Minister - at present to me - for endorsement as a reasonable arrangement.
asked me where a number of animal laboratories were located. They are established at Parkville in Victoria, Prospect in New South Wales, Indooroopilly in Queensland, and in the grounds of the Adelaide University in South Australia. I do not think I could tell him, nor do I think it would be appropriate in this debate to tell him, even if I could, all the details of work being carried out in research on artificial insemination. That would take an enormous amount of time and the information should be provided from a scientist who is actively engaged in that field. All I can tell him about the revenue to which he referred is that the total revenue received by the CSIRO from all sources goes to the Treasury, just as revenue received by any department from outside reverts to the Treasury. As to the particular area in which he was interested I can only say that the revenue comes from the sale of surplus experimental animals which are sold by auction. They are put off at various CSIRO properties and sold by auction in the normal way.
– If I could raise one point, the Minister said that the revenue is credited to Treasury as income. I refer to item 03 relating to entomology and wildlife. I take it from the report of the AuditorGeneral that in fact that amount is credited together with the $700,000 income which the Department has derived.
– The revenue received by the CSIRO under these headings is similar to revenue received by any Government department. It reverts to the Treasury and is not retained h< the department.
– But it is credited to that heading?
– I do not understand what the honourable senator means by credited to that heading’.
– Order! I call Senator Poyser.
– I wish to direct only one brief question to the Minister. I refer to Division 150 and to item 3.08 which relates to processing of agricultural products. 1 wonder whether any research has yet been conducted for the purpose of producing a fodder pellet for feeding animals in times of drought. We use a pellet for feeding quite a number of animals and birds at the moment. It has occurred to me that in years of plenty when we have good seasons we would have the resources with which to manufacture a pellet which would keep for a number of years. Although many farmers conserve fodder in good seasons, they find that it is very difficult to store it for many years and they find also that it loses its effectiveness and nutrition after some time.
– Fodder pellets are now being manufactured in Queensland.
– But are they a pellet that can be kept for 7 or 8 years rather than for the short time for which fodder is now conserved? Our history shows that we have perhaps 8, 10 or 12 good seasons but then have a cycle of bad seasons such as we have experienced in the last 2 or 3 years in various parts of Australia. If we could produce pellets of the type that I have suggested which would keep for a long time they would be of tremendous advantage in periods of drought such as were experienced in Victoria this year and in New South Wales and Queensland both last year and the year before.
– It I may state more concisely the question which I posed to the Minister a while ago, in the report of the Auditor-General at page 46 this comment is made:
That is from the sale of various things which were mentioned previously: appears as a separate Head of Receipt in Table No. 3 in the Treasurer’s Statement. In previous years, amounts received by way of revenue were credited to Division No. ISO - 3, thus reducing the net amount charged to the investigation! subhead of the Appropriation.
I ask the Minister: What is the position in relation to the total now appearing under item 03 of Division 150?
– lt seems to me that this is a question of Treasury accounting. All that we have before us is the estimates suggesting that certain sums of money should be voted by the Senate for Division 150, sub-divisions 1, 2 and 3, and all the various items. If these estimates are passed the Senate will have voted these sums of money which will come from the Treasury. No part of that will be revenue which has been received from the CSIRO or any other source.
– I refer to Division 150, item 3.08 which relates to processing of agricultural products. I propose to ask the Minister some questions relating to the dairying industry and to work that is being done by the Division of Dairying Research. In the annual report of the CSIRO at page 46 reference is made to a study that is being made of the whipping quality of cream which has been subject to ultra-high temperature sterilisation processes. A firm in my home town of Launceston, Tasmania, has installed this new process known as UHT, which is the ultra-high temperature sterilisation. I know it has been in use in the United Kingdom for some time but it is not very widely known in Australia. Under this process, milk is heated to 272 degrees farenheit for one or two seconds and then flash cooled in a vacuum chamber. The amazing thing about the process is that the taste of the product is almost indistinguishable from that of fresh milk and it will keep on the shelf in a store or elsewhere for 6 months.
When we look at the economics of this process it does seem as though it could open up a new era in the handling of both milk and cream for human consumption, lt might be possible by the use of this process to reduce considerably the amount of refrigerated storage space and transport facilities that are required. This would be of particular value in parts of Australia where high temperatures prevail. One of the great problems experienced during the time that I spent in the dry high-temperature areas of Queensland was the rapidity with which milk turned sour or began to thicken. Great care had to be taken to keep the milk palatable and sweet.
The UHT process seems to have made a break through that could be of tremendous importance right throughout Australia. I notice that the firm of Bakers Milk Pty Ltd is exporting this processed milk to Singapore. I have seen the product in shops in Tasmania, lt is true that instead of having to store this milk in a refrigerator and ensuring that the refrigeration plant is operating at the right temperature, the storekeeper can keep it on the shelf just as jam, tinned fruit or any other product is kept. Thi process seems to be one that could lead to great developments in the distribution of milk, especially throughout areas of high temperature.
The annual report of the Department states that the Division of Dairy Research is making a study of just how cream should be processed to ensure that it will whip well. In the past, the great problem has been to keep the cream sweet. If the UHT process can be applied to cream as well as it has to milk, it could open up great possibilities there also. 1 should like to know from the Minister whether plants similar to the one now in operation in Tasmania are to be installed in other parts of Australia. Our dairying industry is under challenge to hold its place in the economy, especially now that we have an agreement with New Zealand, lt will be remembered, too, that as a result of a recent survey of the. dairying industry a number of farms have been classified as uneconomic. Perhaps the UHT process could be developed in those parts of Victoria and Tasmania which are capable Of producing a high volume of milk economically. The treated milk could then be distributed to other parts of Australia. These are all matters for the future, but it does seems to me that the Division of Dairy Research has made a very big. breakthrough in meeting the problems connected with the handling and distribution of milk. I am interested to know how the study is going in the Division.
– Senator Poyser asked about fodder pellets. There is no research work being done by the CSIRO into the production of fodder pellets although fodder pellets are available from commercial sources.
I cannot answer Senator O’ Byrne’s query as to whether firms in the other States propose installing ultra-high temperature sterilising plant but I shall be happy to let him have such information as we have resulting from our investigations into the whipping qualities of cream which has been subjected to the UHT process.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– I direct my remarks to fisheries and oceanography. I note that the appropriation for this year is $693,000 and that expenditure last year was $660,466. There was a difference of only about $1,000 between the amount appropriated and the amount expended in 1966-67. The appropriation this year represents an estimated increase in expenditure of $32,534. Can the Minister tell me whether the allocation for this year will meet the requirements of the fishing industry? Having regard to the great expansion that has taken place to date and the potential that exists for further expansion, does the Minister feel that the proposed allocation of funds will enable research to keep pace with the rate of expansion? I have not been able to obtain figures relating to previous years but I do not think there has been very much movement in the allocation of funds for this purpose.
Let me refer to some of the problems confronting the fishing industry, particularly as it effects tuna fishing in South Australian waters. Can the Minister tell me what proportion of the allocation for research is distributed to each State? I know that some work has been done in Western Australia and I think Senator Dittmer referred to prawn fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria, but I should like information as to the method of distribution of funds to the States. Who decides the allocation in each year?
The fishing industry is expanding rapidly. I notice from the April 1967 issue of the Australian Fisheries Newsletter’ that the value of prawn exports for the first 6 months of 1966-67 was $ 1.75m and that the total value of marine products exported in the 6 months to 31st December 1966 was $9,166,000. Most experts in this field have said that there is a great potential for increased exports but there is also a great need to carry on research. The point that worries me is whether sufficient money is being expended on research in the industry. Page 16 of the ‘Australian Fisheries Newsletter’ to which I have already referred carries a report of the Fisheries Development Conference held in Canberra this year. The report states, in part:
Conference recognised the need to expand research programmes to investigate behaviour and distribution of southern bluefin, striped and other species of tuna. Such programmes would require suitable vessels and aircraft and should be aimed at improving supplies of tuna.
Fishermen would expect the research programme to provide an improved prediction and location service to reduce non-productive searching time.
Later the report goes on to say.
Conference considered thai close collaboration should be established with research teams in other countries (particularly Japan).
The report indicates that some research has been conducted by Mr J. S. Hynd, Senior Research Scientist in the CSIRO Division of Fisheries and Oceanography, and it refers to the factors which affect the industry and, of course, the States. However, effective research will create a great potential if we can exploit its results.
Is the Minister satisfied with the appropriations being made under item 1 1 to which I have been referring? Is he satisfied that the appropriations are sufficient to meet the demands of the industry? I repeat my earlier question. Can he indicate how the appropriation is allocated to the various States and the amount which is being spent in South Australian waters? I know that a lot of work is being done by the State fisheries departments but in view of the value of our exports in this field, which seems to be increasing rapidly, I believe that this is a very important question.
– I do not think that I or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation could split up the amount of money that is devoted to research and say that so much is being spent in New South Wales, so much in South Australia and so much in Victoria. I do not think the appropriation lends itself to that kind of analysis. An example of the kind of programme in which CSIRO is engaged is the research being conducted into prawn fishing in Queensland waters. This is being done in conjunction with the Queensland Government.
– There is not enough.
– Quite, but it is happening. It is happening in the Gulf of Carpentaria in relation to prawns and it is happening in Tasmanian waters where endeavours are being made to discover where the tuna are likely to be running at a particular time of the year. As the honourable senator probably knows, this is one of the factors which has been troubling the fishing industry. For example, we do not really know the best place to go in, say, February to strike a tuna run. That is the kind of research that is going on, and the method of allocating funds does not lend itself to a division in respect of each State.
I was asked the major question whether I was satisfied that the amount allocated was sufficient to cope with all the requirements of the industry. I think Senator Dittmer also raised something of the kind earlier. I do not think that any man could say in relation to any field of scientific endeavour: ‘I am satisfied that the vote for this is all that is required by the people engaged in this field of scientific endeavour’. The scope is almost endless. The position is that the CSIRO Executive, in pursuit of what I would think is its perogative to establish its own priorities for the funds available, decides and recommends how much money should be devoted to particular fields.
The honourable senator probably knows that representatives of the Commonwealth, the CSIRO and the States have an annual conference at which various programmes are worked out. That is only one aspect of expenditure on research. The aim is to learn more about our fisheries; more, for instance, about means of reducing unproductive searching time which is one of the major matters to which the honourable senator referred. I think that is all I can say to him on this subject.
– My remarks relate to weather forecasting especially as it affects the farmers. I ask the Minister whether, and to what extent, there is cooperation between those in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation concerned with agriculture and farming in general, and the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. In particular I ask whether there is co-operation such as will enable the best meteorological information to be derived and given to the farmer. This is especially important now that the new type satellites are orbiting the earth and others are stationary over the Pacific. As I understand the position, an amazing sequence of weather forecasts can be obtained. If those forecasts could be translated to the farmers they would be extremely valuable. If the farmers had a reliable forecast for 1 or 2 days their organisation of work would be helped enormously and at harvest time a great deal of loss could be saved. If, as I understand it, there is not a great deal of co-operation will the Minister consider for the future the possibility of cooperation between the CSIRO and the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology so that a co-operative research programme might be undertaken by them to determine how best that meteorological information could be derived and given to the farmers?
– I believe that Senator Murphy has raised an interesting matter. 1 am not in a position to tell him in any detail what sort of co-operation takes place. There is provision, under the heading of meteorological physics, for investigations by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation into factors influencing weather in the Southern Hemisphere. I am told that close cooperation exists between the CSIRO and the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology. The computer section of the CSIRO does work for the Bureau of Meteorology but charges for that work, as it does for work performed for other sections. 1 should have thought that the greater the amount of cooperation that could be attained between the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology in this field - the Bureau having the major carriage of the work - the better.
I will bring this matter to the notice of the Executive of the CSIRO to see whether a shortfall of co-operation does occur. I know that the CSIRO, the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology and the State bodies are now co-operating particularly on the question of droughts and other matters of critical importance to farmers in the States.
This matter is under active and continuous examination by the Australian Agricultural Council. That appears to me to be making fairly long range approaches. I do not know whether it is true or not, but it is possible that more active co-operation in the short range approaches might be required. All I can do is to bring the matter to the notice of the Executive.
– 1 relate my question to the Division of Applied Physics. I believe that the proposed expenditure by the Division comes under the item relating to general physical research. I wish to refer to the annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and to a passage under the heading ‘Length Standards’. The report reads:
For many years the world’s official standard of length was a metre long bar of platinumiridium alloy, kept in a vault in Paris. In 1960 the metre was redefined in terms of the wave length of light from a lamp filled with krypton gas. This was much better than a metal bar - it could be used to calibrate rules or Mine standards’ anywhere in the world, with a degree of accuracy of one part in 100 million.
At the present time a Senate Select Committee is investigating the advantages and disadvantages of the metric system. I ask the Minister whether the CSIRO is directing its undoubted ability and capacity to preparing for the eventuality - almost the certainty - that the Committee will recommend the adoption of the metric system. The report continues:
Immediately there arose a need for effective ways of transferring a measurement from the primary (wave length) standard to a working tool, such as a steel rule. A group of scientists in the Division of Applied Physics has spent the last few years developing an instrument to do this. Their aim has been achieved, and it is now possible to measure line standards in Australia to an accuracy of one part in 10 million. Up to four measurements can be done in a day. From now on our line standards won’t have to be sent back to Paris for comparing with other standards.
Bearing in mind the Committee investigation which is proceeding at the present time, I ask the Minister whether this research has been done with a view to the ultimate conclusion, which the Committee almost inevitably will reach, that the metric system should be adopted in Australia and whether all the background research on line standards has been carried out to allow and facilitate the easy transfer to the metric system of length standards.
– It would not be correct to say that this work was done because the Senate Select Committee was appointed and in order to fit in with whatever findings the Committee may make. The work had been proceeding for a considerable period of time before the Committee was appointed. As the honourable senator probably knows, the metric system is legal in Australia; there would be no need to introduce a special Act to bring in the metric system. It is legal now. indeed it is already in use in the pharmaceutical industry. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has basic standards which it maintains for both metric measurements and the ordinary linear measurements which are used - the yard, the foot, the inch and so on. These are the checking, basic and primary measures which are retained by the CSIRO. Periodically measures are checked against the basic and primary measures and then sent back to the States to be usedin their approaches.
I am straying a little wide of the initial question asked by Senator O’Byrne. This work has been done. I believe that i: reflects great credit on the Organisation that it has been done. It will be of great advantage and great use should we ever adopt the metric system in Australia. It was not done specifically to meet the requirements or recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures. We are concerned with primary standards and in a change to the metric system we will be more concerned with the use of sub-standards for calibrating commercial measures. This work would also be going on and would be of interest to the Senate Select Committee.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That consideration of intervening Divisions be postponed until after consideration of proposed expenditure for the Department of Primary I ndustry.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $37,492,000.
Proposed provision, $3,867,000.
– In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry I refer to statements which have been made recently that in Australia we shouldrestrict our primary production because of the lack of adequate markets. This has caused me some concern. These statements have been made by people who claim to be authorities and who are concerned about the costs involved. I regret thatI cannot give honourable senators a reference to the statements, but they have appeared in newspaper reports within the last fortnight.
-Does the name Donath come to mind?
– No, that is not the name. When I was in America recently I was concerned to find the same expression of opinion in many centres. AlthoughI did not travel largely throughout the United Stales, I spoke to many people concerned with primary industry and this was the opinion expressed. It seems to me that when there is a shortage of food supplies throughout the world this is a wrong policy for any country to adopt.I feel that we should consider the need for the Department of Primary Industry to concern itself with better planning and better investigation.
– What is the Division?
-(Senator DrakeBrockman) - Order! The Minister has asked to which division the honourable senator is referring. I ask the honourable senator to link his remarks with a particular item in the proposed expenditure for the Department of Primary Industry.
– I am referring to Division No. 380 - Administrative. I believe that that should cover the remarks that I propose to make because it is with administration that I am concerned. My criticism is that we should be more concerned about the situation that we find at present instead of apparently going along and learning from mistakes. By giving careful consideration to some of those matters we may be able to anticipate a situation and avoid mistakes. Australia is opening up a tremendous amount of land each year. In Western Australia alone we are opening up one million acres. Much of this land will be used for primary production. Much will be used for pasture and much will grow cereal crops. The point that concerns me fs that although we are opening up so much land there are suggestions that we should reduce production.
– I rise to order. I do not want to interrupt the debate, but the honourable senator’s remarks are not related to the Estimates. With due deference to him he is making a second reading speech. If we have speeches of this type on the Estimates we will never get through them.
– Order! I ask the honourable senator to link his remarks to the Estimates.
– I am trying to point out that in my view insufficient research work is going on. I believe that this is related to the administration of the Department and under that heading I should be able to make a comment on the lack of administration in research work and that the Minister should reply to my remarks. I believe that what I am saying is within the realm of proper discussion, but I bow to your decision on it, Madam Temporary Chairman.
Order! Perhaps the honourable senator could relate his remarks to sub-division 3, item 04, which deals with minor research and other projects.
– I would relate my remarks to minor research, but only $52,000 is proposed under this heading for this year. I am referring to a major research programme with which I think we should be dealing. 1 am concerned about the problems that we are finding because of the tremendous development that is taking place resulting from research that has already been carried out by State departments of agriculture. Because of this work a certain situation has arisen and has now got out of hand. This is what worries me. I do not see anybody taking any really concerted action to remedy the situation with more research. I believe that this is very important. I suggest that $52,000 is totally inadequate for research when we consider the problems that we are up against. I believe that I am being reasonable in expecting the Minister to reply to the points I am raising. I propose to speak about pasture and refer particularly to Western Australia. Honourable senators opposite will appreciate what I am about to say because of what they have seen happening. In areas of Western Australia we have a bountiful production of clover. These areas are now developing rapidly.
– I rise to a point of order. Could the honourable senator tell us to which item he is referring when talking about pasture?
– 1 am referring to Division No. 380, Administrative, and particularly to sub-division 3, item 04. I am suggesting that $52,000 is completely inadequate to deal with this problem.
Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Farmers with properties on which they have lush clover pastures such as we have never had before are finding that they are up against the problem of a high esterogen content in the feed. This is bringing about a considerable loss of sheep which is disturbing to farmers. I can see no way of overcoming this problem without some research which will enable us to provide a more balanced pasture. We must strive for this, yet I have not heard of anybody in Western Australia advocating that in reasonable terms. There must be research into this problem. Possibly one way of achieving this is by making further grants to State departments of agriculture. The amount of $52,000 is not enough to conduct this research. So far I have related this problem only to sheep. Some of the growers are going over to wool, and here we have another big problem. When I mentioned this matter in a speech which I made some weeks ago, I spoke of the need for a better system of marketing and was given to understand that a report on that question would be submitted in October. It is now October and I should like to know how much research has been done in that direction. Money is being devoted to wool research by the Department of Primary Industry. Is the amount adequate, and is enough work being done? It will be remembered that some wool growers have moved into the wheat industry and it could happen that before long we shall be overproducing wheat. Again I ask what further research is being done. Does the Minister feel we should increase the amount of $52,000 which is proposed for this year?
– 1 refer to the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’. This year we propose to spend $29,500 on this item as against an expenditure of $23,899 last year. I should like to know, whether the increased amount is required because there has been an increase in the number of copies of the newsletter distributed. If this is so, how many more copies will be distributed this year than were distributed last year.
The fishing industry with the aid of the various departments of fisheries is playing an increasingly important part as an export income earner for Australia. Numerous articles have been published in the Fisheries Newsletter’ relating to the fishing industry off the coast of Australia. From them we learn that whereas a few years ago we were amazed to find that we had prawns just off the coast from Carnarvon in Western Australia, it has now been ascertained through the activities of our fisheries services that there are large numbers of prawns in Exmouth Gulf, in Shark Bay, off the coast from Roebourne and Broome, in areas extending round to the Gulf of Carpentaria and down the east coast to the waters out from Brisbane and the New South Wales coast. We are told that in the Gulf of Carpentaria the prawns are so prolific that at least 8 or 9 fishing companies could operate there and that the export income from this area could exceed that derived from prawning throughout the rest of Australia. We are interested in this because the fishing industry can play an ever-increasing part in providing food for the hungry peoples of the world. It can also play a very important part in earning export income for Australia. That is why I refer now to the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’.
– Does the honourable senator say that these extended discoveries are in any way attributable to the newsletter?
– I am saying that I have learnt what I know from reading the reports published in the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’. I have no doubt that there must be an increasing number of people reading this journal and they can take advantage of the advice contained therein to establish a prawning industry in the north of Australia and help the starving millions in the world.
This year we are spending $27,800 on fisheries services compared with an expenditure of $26,999 last year. I ask the Minister what is involved in this expenditure.
– Senator Wilkinson asked about research in connection with pastures. I am endeavouring to get some information on that matter for him. In the meantime, I direct attention to some of the other avenues in which money is being expended on research. The sum of $850,000 is provided this year for wheat research. For tobacco research, we are providing $300,000, and, on agricultural extension, which all honourable members must agree is important, it is proposed to spend $200,000. Then there are certain minor research, and other projects. These include banana research, pest management in pome fruit orchards, nematology and clonal selection, plague locust control, fruit fly commodity treatment in citrus fruits, fruit fly commodity treatment in bananas, grape crop forecasting and honey research. An amount of $41,800 is set aside for those items. Then there are other avenues in which money is being spent on minor research and other projects. The total there is $28,600 and it includes such items as cotton extension officer and ginger research. One place which grows ginger is Buderim in Queensland. The banana research project is a continuing one from 1966-67 under which the industry contributes so much and the Commonwealth matches that contribution. Subject to the contribution being received from the industry, advances will be made for research into banana storage, transport and related problems. The payments will be $6,000 to New South Wales and $5,800 to Queensland. I shall endeavour to get something for the honourable senator on the questions he asked about pasture research.
Senator Scott spoke about fisheries. The expenditure proposed for the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’ has been increased to $29,500 from a figure of $23,899 last year. This increase is brought about by higher printing costs. The printing contract for the newsletter is relet every 2 years and the new contract at the increased rate came into operation on 1st January 1967. The sum of $27,800 is being provided under ‘Fisheries Services’ for payments to the States for licencing work carried out by them on behalf of the Commonwealth. It may be of interest to Senator Scott to know that provision is made for the issue of 1,500 licences by New South Wales, 500 by Victoria, 800 by South Australia, 1,100 by Queensland, 2,500 by Western Australia, 550 by Tasmania and 7 by the Northern Territory, making a total of 6,957.
– I, too, wish to refer to the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’ and fisheries services. In the debate on the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation I raised with the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who is the Minister in charge of the CSIRO, the subject of research into the fishing industry. I am not blaming the Minister for his reply because I know that on occasions like this it is very difficult to provide answers about such matters. I would like to know whether the Minister for Repatriation, who represents the Minister for Primary Industry, can tell me and the Committee what sort of co-ordination exists between the CSIRO, the Department of Primary Industry and the State fisheries departments. As Senator Scott has pointed out, the fishing industry is a very important one. It is becoming more important because more and more people are realising the great profits that are to be gained from fish exports. For example, I repeat that the Fisheries Newsletter’ discloses that in the first half of this year the value of prawns exported totalled $ 1.75m and that of marine products totalled nearly $10m.
Most of the fishing interests - I refer particularly to the tuna industry in my own State of South Australia - would like to know what sort of co-ordination exists between the State fisheries departments, the Department of Primary Industry and the CSIRO in order to obtain the maximum benefit from the industry. I would like the Minister to explain how these departments co-ordinate their activities and whether he is satisfied that maximum research is being carried out to ensure rich rewards not only in getting food products for Australians but also for export markets. I know that the recent fisheries conference considered this matter; I think it decided to recommend to the Government that more money be spent on research. If two Commonwealth departments and a number of State departments are dabbling with this question, it seems to me that we will not get any coordination unless somebody else thinks that something ought to be done. I understand that the various departments are aware of this fact, but I would like to know to what extent they are co-ordinating research in marketing and processing in order to get the maximum benefit out of the fishing industry.
– I refer to the item under Division 383 relating to meat inspection services. We all realise that because of the attitude of American cattle interests, our exports to that country are under great pressure. As a consequence, in recent years we have bad to improve our meat inspection services and the facilities for meat exporters. These services and facilities have been improved tremendously. When we look at the schedule of salaries and allowances we note that the number of meat inspectors has fallen by four this year when compared with last year, although the amount to be appropriated this year is approximately $400,000 more than the amount appropriated last year. I ask the Minister to explain why this is so. in view of the fact that our exports have fallen over the last 12 months and, as is shown in the schedule of salaries and allowances, we have fewer inspectors this year.
I also refer to the fees paid to private veterinarians for inspection services. I would like the Minister to explain whether the amount mentioned is required for inspection services in relation to meat for export and whether the fees are paid to veterinarians from the Departments of Agriculture in the various States?
– I have some further information for Senator Wilkinson. The following amounts have been matched $1 for SI by the Commonwealth: Meat research, $2,064,000; wheat research, $850,000; dairy produce research. $8 10,000; and sheep and wool research, $8,415,000. There is some component for pasture research but this is on an individual project basis in programmes recommended by research committees.
– Where does thai information appear?
– 1 do not think that it appears anywhere. I have not been able to find it. This information has been given to me by officers from the Department of Primary Industry. If I can get any further information I shall give it to the honourable senator. Senator Bishop asked whether there was co-ordination between the Department of Primary Industry, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and State fisheries departments. There is co-ordination through the Commonwealth and State fisheries conferences and regular meetings of responsible Ministers. The last meeting of Ministers took place on 8th September. I am informed that so far the proposition put forward has yet to be approved by Cabinet.
asked a question about fees paid to private veterinarians for inspection services. The proposed appropriation this year is $125,000 as against an appropriation of $144,000 and an expenditure of $129,753 last year. This amount is provided to meet the requirement of overseas markets that all meat exported must be subject to veterinary inspection. It will be necessary to utilise the services of private veterinary practitioners at some export establishments. A fee of $5 an hour will be paid for their services, with a maximum of 4 hours a day. Thirty-two private veterinarians are presently employed. 1 realise that I have not answered Senator Bull’s question as to why there is a reduction in the number of meat inspectors this year compared with last year. I shall see whether I can get that information for the honourable senator and also a reply to the other question which he raised concerning veterinarians.
– I preface my remarks by referring to the item dealing with fisheries services under Division No. 380. Unfortunately I am not quite sure what the Minister said in answer to Senator Bishop. I, too, intend to say a word or two about the fishing industry. I am very glad to note that both Senator Scott and Senator Bishop referred to the importance of this industry. Senator Bishop spoke of a sum of more than Sim i.t relation to the export of prawns.
– lt was $ 1.75m in 6 months.
– Yes. In fact, 1 dealt with this matter very comprehensively in my speech during the Budget debate. On that occasion I said that in the Gulf of Carpentaria alone there is a potential export of prawns to the value of $50m a year. I think that is very much understating the position. The Minister’s reply to Senator Bishop pulled me up rather sharply. He referred to the fisheries conference that was held on 8th September. I intended to refer to that conference. Then he said that the proposition that arose from the conference has yet to be approved by Cabinet. If that is what he said, it interests me greatly. I might have misunderstood him, but 1 think that is what he said. I want to follow up what I said before but in a much more restricted sense, because of the nature of this debate. Frankly, I am not at all happy about projected action to protect Australia’s fishing interests. I am perfectly certain that we have in Australia the necessary facilities and the operators to work this industry thoroughly. The industry could employ large numbers of individuals and be a valuable asset to the Australian people.
Yet in the Gulf of Carpentaria we see Japanese prawning vessels taking prawns which I believe should legitimately be ours. I. recognise that we can do nothing about fishing and prawning in international waters. But we can do something to stop Japanese mother ships coming into Australian ports and exporting fish and prawns from those ports without any advantage whatsoever to the Australian people. This is what 1 dislike more than anything else. I know that it has happened within the last month. A Japanese mother ship manned entirely by Japanese workmen took the catches from fishermen in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The prawns were processed on board the Japanese ship by Japanese workmen. Then, in order to overcome the Australian requirements, the ship, went to a port in New Guinea where the Japanese have a licence to operate. Having gone to the port in New Guinea, a ship can quite legitimately come back to Australia. This ship did that. It transferred its processed prawns to an Australian coastal ship and they were then landed in Brisbane.
I say that this is just begging the question. I believe that we have the capacity to restrict all Australian ports to Australian processors, Australian trawlers and Aus.fishermen who are licensed in Australia. Unless we do something fairly quickly, we will lose millions of dollars annually as a result of the inroads made by Japanese fishing operators. I repeat that we cannot stop them fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria. But we can stop them using our ports for the maintenance of their ships. They are doing that at the present time. We can also stop them stransferring their catches to Australian coastal vessels by means of going to New Guinea and then coming back to Queensland. We can do that by invoking section 4b of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. I spoke about this point in some detail in my speech on the Budget. If that legislation is not strong enough, let us alter it. But let us keep this industry for Australians instead of opening our ports to overseas people who are getting the advantage that our own Australians should be getting. I am very unhappy about this situation. I do not think we are doing enough to prevent this sort of thing happening. 1 plead wilh the Commonwealth Government and also the State governments to take strong action, and to take it quickly, to reserve this industry for Australians.
– I relate my remarks to the administrative expenses subdivision of Division No. 380. They will be based largely on the interim annual report of the Australian Meat Board. I commence by asking the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who represents the Minister for Primary Industry, why only an interim annual report has been presented. Usually at this time of the year we have a very colourful report from the Board. I do not for one moment underrate what is contained in this report. My second comment is on a matter on which the Minister and 1 have been in conflict from time to time; namely, the composition of the Board. He knows that there is considerable resentment in the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, which is a vital factor in the meat industry, because it was excluded from representation when the Board was reconstituted. When we argued this issue last year the Minister claimed that the Union would be consulted on any issue that specifically concerned the men’s well being. I propose to submit to him one or two pieces of evidence to prove but had the Union been represented on the Board many misunderstandings would not have occurred as they have.
I emphasise that my concept of the Board’s function is that it was never meant to be a wage fixing tribunal or a tribunal for determining industrial conditions. When new industrial techniques or new health standards are introduced, the Union is entitled to know the position at the outset As the Minister knows, a type of weaving movement has been going on about the definition of protective clothing. Senator McClelland, Senator Cavanagh and I raised this matter in this chamber recently. The fact of the matter is that, whilst a rose can be called by any name, the situation is far from being a happy one. Today 1 had discussions with Mr W. Taylor, the New South Wales Secretary of the Meat Industry Employees Union. In fairness to the Minister I point out that when Senator McClelland raised this matter the Minister said to him: ‘The complaint that you are making is not general.’ Nobody says that it is completely general. But wherever an employer is not playing fair somebody has to settle the dispute.
In order to illustrate the position in respect of protective clothing, I point out that in places such as Cootamundra, Blayney and Riverstone in New South Wales there is no trouble at all. But at the Playfair meatworks, which operate under a federal award, there is niggling about protective clothing. As a matter of fact, two days ago a slaughterman appeared on the chain with a football jersey on and somebody claimed that he was contravening regulations. I am not defending any breaking down of hygiene standards at all. But I repeat that instead of these matters going down the line piecemeal the Union should be represented at the top of the table with the other people who represent the industry. I do not decry anybody associated with the industry; but if the Union was represented on the Board the men would not feel that they were just the hewers of wood and the carriers of water. I believe that the presence of Union representatives on the Board would produce better industrial relations.
When I look at pages 6 and 7 of the interim annual report of the Board and see reference to the North American market and all that goes with it, it reminds me that the trade union movement can take its share of the credit for the targets being met. If the Minister looks at the top of page 7 of the report he will see that the United States Congress has been moved to place certain restrictions on imports from Australia. We realise that in international trade what a country loses on the swings it sometimes picks up on the roundabouts. But the point that I emphasise is the uncertainty. A slaughterman may have to move to a country town to obtain employment. People like to know that their employment position is reasonably stable.
I take the matter a little further. As one who accepts the facts of life of international trade, I know that no industry can have a completely closed shop mentality. I direct the Minister’s attention to this tin of corned mutton. It carries the brand name ‘Flying Wheel’. It is produced by the China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Import and Export Corporation in the People’s Republic of China. I also direct his attention to a tin of pork luncheon meat carrying the brand name ‘Ma Ling’. It is also a Chinese product. The Party to which I belong has advocated trade with China and other countries. That is fair enough. The point that I make is that somebody has to know what amount of these products is coming into Australia and, if there is a contraction of the North American market, what effect that will have on the work force of the meat industry.
I conclude by saying that all of these problems, these fears and these uncertainties would be removed if a representative of the Meat Industry Employees Union were added to the Australian Meat Board. We know that at times various organisations and institutions say: ‘We have to purge our organisation. Somebody has to be excluded’. The Minister knows very well, as do other honourable senators and I, that over the years the representatives of the Union on the Board have certainly contributed something to it. Whether the representative on the Board was Mr Hall, Mr Taylor or one of the other State secretaries of the Union, he would act responsibly as a member of the Board. I say very firmly to the Minister that because of the evidence I have submitted I would like to know the amount of tinned meat that is being imported from China. I am not critical of it. But I believe that there should be some rationalisation so that we know how much is being imported and that, equally with other people in the industry, the Meat Industry Employees Union should be in the picture as to whether there is likely to be any further contraction of the North American trade.
– My reply to Senator Bull is that the veterinarians are private practitioners employed on a part time basis at registered export meatworks at which the Department does not have a full time veterinary officer. The reduction on last year’s expenditure is due to fewer private practitioners being employed this year. There has been an increase in the number of full time departmental veterinary officers employed and this is reflected in Division No. 383 in the provision for salary payments for permanent and temporary employees. I have some additional information for Senator Wilkinson, although this relates to wheat research. He is mainly concerned with pastures.
– We have had wheat research three times. Pasture research is the subject.
– I have not that information, so I cannot give it to him. Senator Morris referred to offshore fishing. He is quite right in thinking that what I said was correct, that is, that the provision of funds agreed upon at the meeting of 8th September, or whenever it was, had to be approved by Cabinet. Estimates show that the production of prawns in the whole of the north of Australia could reach a value of $50m a year.
– He was concerned with the Gulf of Carpentaria.
– I do not know anything about that. The question of entry of foreign vessels into Australian ports is being carefully examined and action to restrict entry except in emergency is possible at an early date.
– I should like to refer to fisheries services, for which provision is made in Division No. 380. I refer particularly to tuna fishing in Australian waters. Not long ago I was with a delegation that visited American Samoa, where there are two tuna canneries with a can factory in between. While we were there over forty Japanese tuna fishing vessels were in the harbour and .1 was told that many more were at sea. We inquired as to the range of these tuna vessels and were assured that they fished in waters adjacent to Australia. The location was not exactly specified but we were told that it was very close to Australia. They fish also over much of the South Pacific, lt seems that through lack of a tuna cannery we could be losing a lot of our fish. I am sure that not only prawns are in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Tuna are there, too. Whether they are of the right sort is more than I know. I hope that a survey of fishing resources will establish that as soon as possible so that some action may be taken.
Provision is made in item 03 of subdivision 3 of Division No. 380 for agricultural extension services. The proposed appropriation is $200,000. The expenditure last year was $103,391. I should like the Minister to explain what that provision covers and what we are to get for the substantially increased appropriation. I turn now to the provision for agricultural extension services in item 02 of Division No. 941, which covers payments to or for the States. The Proposed appropriation is $2,900,000, whereas the actual expenditure last year was only $2,175,573. I should like the Minister to explain what is covered by that provision and what we are to get for the substantially increased expenditure. I am all in favour of agricultural extension services but I believe that more effort should be made to get the results of the work of the scientists over to the farmers, graziers and other primary producers, so that they may be encouraged and helped to make full use of the findings in expansion of production.
– I have not yet obtained the information requested by Senator Mulvihill but I shall get it in a moment. First I would like to reply to Senator Lawrie in relation to the provision for agricultural extension services in item 03 of sub-division 3 of Division No. 380. The provision for extension services in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) is for expenditure by the Commonwealth. The provision in
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) is for funds for payment of grants to the States. Following agreement by the Commonwealth during 1965- 66 to widen the support for agricultural extension services, the separate appropriations which had previously existed for extension services, with the exception of the vote relating to minor research, were incorporated into the one item ‘Agricultural Extension Services* in the Estimates for the 1966- 67 Budget. The former grants were identified as available to promote improved farm practices in the dairy industry and to stimulate the expansion of agricultural advisory services. The funds for special minor research were provided under item 04 of sub-division 3 of Division No. 380 and item 04 of Division No. 941.
For the 5-year period 1966-67 to 1970-71 the Commonwealth undertaking is to expand support for agricultural extension by making available additional funds to the extent of at least $4m per annum above the funds which were made available in 1965-66. The additional money made available for 1966-67, together with the money which was required to meet the extension programme existing at 30th June 1965, totalled $2.9m. Excluding the special minor research portion, provision was made of $218,000 under Division No. 380 and $2,430,000 under Division No. 941. The balance was not included in the provisions which were made, being omitted on agreement with Treasury officers that funds within this balance would be made available for projects as approved during the course of the year. The new programme amount set down for extension services in 1967- 68 is $3.65m. This amount is in accordance with the increase of $750,000 indicated by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) to State Ministers for their guidance at the sixty-sixth meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council.
I turn now to Division No. 941. The appropriation for agricultural extension services last year was $40,000 and the expenditure was $40,000. The proposed appropriation for this year is $58,400. At present the Commonwealth contributes up to $30,000 to match industry contribution to the barley improvement plan. The industry contribution is made by the Australian Barley Board on behalf of growers in South Australia and Victoria and by brewers and maltsters in all States. The Commonwealth contributes up to $10,000 per annum to match contributions by the barley industry in Western Australia for barley research in that State. In recent years the Commonwealth contribution has been up to the maximum. The cost of barley research programmes has increased, primarily due to rises in salaries, services and the cost of materials. Industry contributors to the barley improvement plan agreed to increase their collective contributions to $48,400. The additional provision in the estimates will increase the Commonwealth contribution by $18,400 to match the industry funds.
Senator Lawrie referred to tuna. Tuna canneries are operating at Eden, Sydney, Melbourne and Port Lincoln and are canning tuna caught by Australian fishermen. Proposals to land Japanese-caught tuna at Australian ports to be canned, mainly for export, were considered by the Government. Because of the concern expressed by Australian fishermen the proposals were not accepted. I have some information for Senator Mulvihill. The Australian Meat Board is concerned essentially with exports and is very little concerned with industrial matters. That is the only information I can give at the moment on that matter but shortly I will have further details for the honourable senator.
– I wish to draw to the attention of the Minister a matter which relates to the point raised by Senator Mulvihill about exports of meat. There is a problem in the meat industry today in respect of exports, particularly of meat to the American Army in Vietnam. The Australian industry has been very seriously embarrassed,- and I ask the Minister to give some information, or to confirm or to deny what I have to say, about the process of inspection carried out by American inspectors who attend the meatworks to select meat for export to the American Army. I have been told that they are very particular as to the type of meat they accept - I am referring to boned meat - for the American Army in Vietnam. In testing for cleanliness they do not use what I consider to be normal means. Senator Mulvihill has referred to a dispute between a union and an employer about daily changes of clothes so that only clean clothes will be worn when food is handled. We agree with that principle. But I am informed that the American inspectors are using X-ray apparatus in their inspections.
Nothing is too good for the American soldiers. Their inspectors X-ray the Australian boned meat. The meatworkers have told me that it is almost impossible to prevent a couple of specks of dust from getting on the meat. The result is that a lot of meat is being rejected by the American Army. I suppose that it finishes up on Australian tables, but it is not good enough for the American Army.
I ask the Minister whether what I have said is true. I am informed that it is. I have been shown tons of meat which appeared to be good but which had been rejected. Can the Minister tell me whether any embarrassment is being caused to the Australian meat trade? Once the beasts are killed, the meat has to go somewhere. If it is rejected by the American Army, what happens then? I would be interested to learn.
I turn now to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, which obviously does a lot of good work for primary industries. I am worried about whether full use is made of the documents it produces and the articles that are written by its officers for journals. Various problems of different sections of primary industry are discussed. In the publications of the Bureau there is a suggestion that primary producers should do a little planning in relation to their own activities. It is suggested that they should give more thought to the types of crops to be grown or to whether they should switch from wheat to wool producing, or vice versa. Do the farmers personally receive the information published by the Bureau? Members of this Parliament see it go through the channels here. Some members read it; others are not interested. The publications are available from libraries, but like a lot of material we receive here, it can be surplus reading. Is there any direct communication to the farmers by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics? It is a most important organisation. Does it issue direct to the farm level a publication which discusses in advance the problems farmers may encounter and which examines the issues facing them? I do not think there is such a publication. If there is, I would like to know the name of it and whether it is published monthly or fortnightly, or whether it simply goes out spasmodically. I would like the Minister especially to give me his view on the problem about meat exports to the American Army. I think the method mentioned is an extreme method of deciding whether Australian meat is fit to eat. I think it is overdoing it to put it under a microscope, as it were.
– I wish to direct the Minister’s attention to the appropriation in Division No. 380 in respect of payments to the States for the administration of re-establishment loans. He will observe that last year the expenditure was $50,107 and this year the appropriation is to be $36,000. 1 would like the Minister to give the Committee particulars of the basis upon which the arrangement with the States is fixed and also particulars of the amounts of the loans for the administration of which we are expected to approve an appropriation of $36,000.
– I have for Senator Wright some information which T hope will be sufficient for him. If it is not, I will see whether I can get additional information. Administrative costs reimbursed to the States in connection with the re-establishment of ex-servicemen in agricultural occupations are estimated to be as follows: For New South Wales, $18,800; Victoria, $2,000; Queensland, $100; South Australia, $5,000; Western Australia, $8,500; and Tasmania, $1,600, making a total of $36,000. Is that the information required by Senator Wright?
– Yes, but I also wanted to know the amount of work done and the loans in respect of which the expenditure is incurred.
– I will see whether I can get that information. Senator Ormonde asked about meat for export. I am informed that all meat for export is inspected by officers of the Department of Primary Industry. 1 was quite surprised when the honourable senator said that meat was being inspected by American examiners.
– That is right.
– I am informed that it is not. I am also told that no X-ray equipment is used. I have never seen X-ray equipment used in abattoirs where meat is prepared for- export. It is true that the
Americans lay down very stringent cleanliness provisions. As I mentioned in this chamber recently, it cost some meatworks many thousands of dollars to put their establishments in the condition required to obtain a licence to export meat to America. It cost them a lot of money.
– I referred to meat going to Vietnam.
– I was not talking about Vietnam. Someone said that we have Capricornia on the brain. I think some people have Vietnam on the brain. This was before Vietnam. Questions were asked regarding the publication put out by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. It is a very valuable publication containing a lot of most useful information for people on the land. It is published quarterly and is available to anyone who is prepared to write for it. Senator Ormonde’s concern was whether the information contained in publications such as this actually reached the man on the land. It is true that while extension services serve a very useful purpose, sometimes they do not go far enough. However, as I have said, this publication by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics is available to anyone who wishes to write and ask for it.
The honourable senator commented on the need for planning by primary producers. This matter is referred to in the publication. There is no doubt that there is a need for planning because in primary production, as in every other walk of life, there are many who are efficient and some who are not so efficient. Even those who are at present the most efficient probably could become even more efficient if they adopted some of the suggestions contained in publications such as those I have mentioned.
Senator Wright referred to loans granted to ex-servicemen of the 1939-45 War As the loans are being repaid the cost of administration by the State authorities is reducing. Payments to the States for administration of the re-establishment loans amount to some $36,000.
– I should like some information on three matters. The first relates to fisheries with which we have been dealing at some length this evening. I note that $27,800 is being appropriated this year for fisheries services. Am I correct in assuming that there is no hope of any great development flowing from the meeting of Commonwealth and State fisheries authorities which took place in February this year? One would assume, 1 think correctly, that were some substantial development contemplated the appropriation would be much higher than it is.
– They held a conference on 8th September.
– 1 am directing attention now to the meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers in February which was called to determine the future of the Australian fishing industry. I remind the Committee of the quite dramatic results which flowed from a survey in South Africa into the preponderance of fish in the waters controlled by that country. That survey revealed that South African waters contained only about 50% of the estimated quantity of fish in waters adjacent to the Australian coast, yet the South African fishing industry now earns, I believe, something like £19m a year. There would be a tremendous future for the Australian fishing industry if we could only get it going; if we could only make use of the technology and know-how that is available in other parts of the world. I suggest to the Minister that the Department get on with the job because fishing is a vital primary industry. In this day and age it is of tremendous significance in that it can supply protein to the peoples of the under-developed countries of the world. This is an industry which has quite a future on the Australian scene.
I turn now to the bounties paid in respect of butter and cheese. I seem to remember that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in the course of his Budget speech, stated that the bounty would be continued at the rate applicable last year, the year before that, the year before that and so on. There seems to be no objective in the payment of this bounty other than to continue paying a similar amount each year. It takes no account of increased costs and the depreciating value of money. The- bounty is simply continued at the rate of some $27m a year which is not very much different from the bounty paid back in about 1951.
I am happy to see a bounty provided for a vital industry like the dairying industry but I am not at all happy to see this annual grant of a similar amount without any definite purposeful objective lying behind it. I and others have referred on previous occasions to the fact that this bounty is being provided in areas of the industry which should not be dairying areas. I fancy that in his Budget speech the Treasurer invited ideas from the community at large as to the means to be employed to rehabilitate sections of the dairying industry. Have any constructive suggestions, proposals or ideas been advanced which would indicate that we are making some positive approach to the rehabilitation of the dairying industry? Frankly, I think we are just begging the question by providing a similar amount year after year hoping that the industry will be satisfied with it. The industry may be satisfied but I am not. I hope that the Government will get down to the job of devising some means of rehabilitating this very important part of our primary industries.
I now turn to soldier settlement. I note from paragraph 130 on page 121 of the Auditor-General’s report that the appropriation for financial assistance to the States in connection with war service land settlement has been reduced by $165,390. 1 can understand that this would be reasonable having regard to the tapering off of soldier settlement but I weigh that against figures available to us in the document entitled Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the year ending 30th June 1968’. On page 10 is the item War Service Land Settlement Loans - Interest’. Estimated receipts for 1967-68 total $910,000 which is somewhat below receipts last year. The next item relates to war service land settlement - rents $1,115,000. I take it they would be rents on leased properties in the hands of soldier settlers. The receipts total, in round figures, $2m per annum. The expenditure is estimated at $962,413. In actual fact this year the account will be injected with a credit over expenditure of a little more than $lm and in following years it will be substantially more than that. I notice that repayments by war service land settlers are estimated at $6,265,000 and other revenue is estimated at $4,360,000. Dealing briefly with that, could the Minister give me the figure of receipts from sales of soldier settlement properties which have been abandoned by soldier settlers or from which soldier settlers have been removed for one reason or another? The sum of $4,360,000 is quite substantial. I think it would be considerably more than the proceeds from sales of properties of soldier settlers. Could the Minister let me have particularly the figure of receipts from sales of soldier settlement properties on King Island and, if any, on Flinders Island in the Tasmanian region?
– I would like to pursue the question raised by Senator Ormonde in relation to the administrative expenses for printing of publications of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. I heard what the Minister had to say in his reply about this matter. I am aware that the BAE, which in my opinion does a wonderful job, publishes information of vital importance to primary industries. What I question is whether it gives undue publicity to one aspect of primary industry. 1 think this is particularly important at the present time because of the need for diversification in some of our primary industries. It would be particularly helpful if the Bureau could ascertain the economics of wool and meat and show where a diversification could be helpful to the industry concerned. I suggest that the Bureau could give greater publicity to the uneconomic position of wool production today and relate it to meat production, which is better economically. I ask the Minister to give consideration to the aspect of publicity for the economics of one industry more than another, and whether industries can be diversified in particular areas.
– I will reply to Senator Mulvihill first. The Australian Meat Board is concerned essentially with exports. It is concerned very little with industrial matters. If I remember rightly, an industrial man is on the Board.
– Not now.
– There used to be one on the Board. When it was reconstituted in 1964 the Board was made smaller because it was felt that for effective operation it should be in this form. I recall the position now. The Board can and does consult with other groups, where they are involved. The Board consists of 5 producer representatives, 2 exporter representatives, 1 government representative and an independent chairman. The Board is financed entirely by a livestock slaughter levy borne by producers. Under existing United States legislation import quotas on meat may be imposed when meat imports from all sources are estimated to reach a trigger level. The trigger level represents actual imports in a base period, 1959-63, adjusted by a growth factor. The United States Secretary for Agriculture recently estimated imports at 860 million lb, considerably below the trigger point for the period 1959-63 which established the permitted growth for imports. Moves have been made by the United States livestock producer interests, as a result of weaker prices for fat cattle, to alter the present legislation and to reduce the permitted level of imports. This has resulted in a large number of Bills being put forward in both Houses of Congress. So far these have not been considered by the appropriate committees. All that can be done is being done by the meat importers. The Australian Government representatives in Washington and the representatives of importing companies have made representations to ensure that these Bills are not enacted. The administration does not favour any change, and we are hopeful that nothing will come of it. The target is 995 million lb, so that there will be no quotas imposed this year. That really has nothing to do with the honourable senator’s question.
– I asked a question on that when the Minister was out of the chamber. I will repeat it later.
- Senator Devitt made some general remarks on the dairying industry, of which I took notes. The honourable senator also referred to the fact that the amount being . paid to the dairying industry has not been varied for some time. Most honourable senators recognise that people engaged in the dairying industry, particularly in the northern part of New South Wales, and in Queensland and Western Australia, have had a very difficult time over quite a number of years. One of the reasons has been the difficulty in obtaining the increased production that has to be achieved by these people to earn reasonable market prices. The dairying industry is. not a small industry. Approximately 60,000 people are involved in it. Last financial year it was worth in the vicinity of $104m.
Considerable achievements have been made in rehabilitating dairymen in areas that are worse off than other areas. Dairymen inside the milk zone in my own State of New South Wales are better off financially than those outside it. This has brought about a conflict of interest between those inside and those outside the zone. I do not propose to enter into an argument on that subject at the present time. The amount made available to dairymen is something to which they are certainly entitled, despite the contention of some people that certain dairymen should not be engaged in this occupation.
The amount of bounty provided for, namely $27 m, is the amount asked for by the industry itself. I hope that the honourable senator will notice that for 1967-68 an adjustment has been made between the amounts allocated for butter and cheese, compared with 1966-67. At the request of the industry the bounty for cheese will be $400,000 more than last year, with a corresponding decrease in the bounty for butter. This is the first step towards equalising the butter and cheese bounties on a butterfat basis in 1 968-69. This is a forward step towards rationalising the bounty rates for butter and cheese so that factories can decide production questions in the light of commercial considerations and not according to a different rate of bounty, on a butterfat basis, for butter and cheese. T add that why anybody would want to buy imported cheese when they could buy Australian cheese, I do not know. Senator Bull raised a question regarding the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 1 have quite a wealth of information provided here, but I do not think it answers the question that the honourable senator raised. He paid a tribute to the work being done by the BAE and the value of its production. I agree with the honourable senator that it is a great pity that it has not a better distribution of information, although I should say that it has by no means a small distribution. It is a pity also that more notice is not taken of information made available by the Bureau by those who have the opportunity to take advantage of it.
The fisheries conference held in Canberra in February was the first opportunity that all sections of the fishing industry and government officers have had to meet together. A number of proposals put forward at the meeting are now being followed up. The industry proposes that State organisations shall send representatives to a Commonwealthwide body which in turn will represent the whole of the Australian fishing industry. This move is welcomed by the Government because it will provide a mouthpiece for the fishing industry and will enable the views of the industry to be presented to the Commonwealth and State governments. Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for fisheries have examined proposals for the establishment of special funds for research and development. Considerable progress has been made. As a result of recent meetings there is reason to be optimistic that considerable development will take place in the fishing industry in the future.
– I propose to refer to two matters which I raised in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry at about this time last year, I intend to refer to two subjects which have already been mentioned by my colleagues. The first matter relates to the meat industry and the other deals with the fishing industry. I refer first to Division 380 - Administration - and under this Division I deal with the meat industry. The matter to which I refer was raised originally by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) as long ago as May 1966. This arose from a judgment delivered by Mr Justice Cook of the New South Wales Industrial Commission relating to the wearing of clean clothing by people employed in meat export establishments. In May 1966 I drew to the Minister’s attention an ambiguity which had arisen as a result of the drafting of the Export (Meat) Regulations which were in force at that time.
After taking up this matter with the Minister on 30th May 1966 I received a reply from him on 17th July 1966. He referred to Regulation 61 (2) (a) oi the Export (Meat) Regulations relating to employees engaged in slaughtering and dressing animals and said:
I appreciate that the manner in which the Regulation is expressed may give rise to doubts about its application to employees engaged in the slaughtering and dressing of animals and 1 have therefore requested my Department to have an appropriate amendment to the Regulations prepared which will clarify the requirement. The amendment will be introduced as soon as possible.
I repeat that that answer came from the Minister on 17th July 1966. I raised the matter in the Estimates debate last year, but it was not until 18th August 1967 that an amending regulation covering this matter was presented to the Parliament. Whether the amendment was good or bad does not matter at this stage, although I suggest that it was not a very good one. I suggest that there has been an inordinate delay by the Department in drafting this regulation which concerns the export of meat from Australia to overseas markets. Mr Justice Cook delivered his judgment in April 1966 and the matter was brought to the Minister’s attention in May 1966. He replied n July 1966 that the Department would be introducing the amendment to the regulation ‘as soon as possible’. Yet it was not until 18th August 1967 that the regulation was presented to the Parliament. I repeat there has been an inordinate delay. I ask the Minister why it has taken so long for the Department to present this matter to the Parliament.
I refer now to Division 380, sub-division 2, item OS, concerning fisheries. In the first instance 1 set out figures supplied to me recently in an answer to a question which I had placed on the notice paper. I had asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry:
What has been the value qf imports to Australia of all items of foodstuffs for the last 5 years?
In the Minister’s answer I was told that in 1962-63 the estimated imports of unprocessed and processed foodstuffs amounted to $80,204,000; in 1963-64 they reached $90,398,000; in 1964-65 they were $97,411,000; in 1965-66 they were $1.08,230,000; and in 1966-67 they had reached the astronomical figure of $115,712,000. I have always been led to believe that Australia is a primary producing country. It staggers me to hear that this nation, in view of its geographical and economic situation, is importing foodstuffs to the extent of $115m annually.
I noticed that a large proportion of the foodstuffs which are being imported consist of processed and packaged fish. According to the ‘Australian Fisheries Newsletter’ of July of this year:
Returns for nine months to March 31, 1967, put the value of edible marine imports at $22.7m.
That value of imports was for only threequarters of the financial year, so it would be fair to assume that the total imports of edible marine products in the last financial year amounted to about $30m. The Minister has said that earlier this year a conference of members of the fishing industry was held, but I understand that the decisions arrived at eventually have to be put to a meeting of officers of fisheries departments of the Commonwealth and the States and subsequently put to another meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for fisheries. 1 believe that a much more concerted approach must be made by the departments if the deleterious situation in this industry is not to continue. When we examine the figures for the consumption of fish in Australia and compare the value of local fish with the value of imported fish consumed we realise how drastic the situation is. In August 1967 - 2 months ago - the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’, which is published by the Department, showed that whilst the consumption of fish, crustaceans and molluscs in Australia rose by 1.2 lb to 13 lb per head of population in 1965-66 only 5.8 lb or 44.6% was of Australian origin, while 7.2 lb or 55.4% was imported. It was estimated that consumption of fresh and frozen fish for the year was 7.1 lb per head, and of this amount only 3.1 lb, or less than 50%, was caught by Australian fishermen.
– Is there a reason for that?
– I am trying to ascertain the reason, but I have one or two points to make. Australians consumed .9 lb of smoked and cured fish per head of population, the whole lot being imported. Of the canned fish eaten in Australia, only roughly 33£% was of local origin. I am sure the Minister will appreciate that throughout New South Wales many country towns completely depend on the fishing industry. If the fishing industry in any of those towns fails then naturally the whole town and the whole economy of the people in the town must be vitally affected. Because of the serious nature of this situation, I proposed to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) some time ago on behalf of the New South Wales fishermen’s cooperatives that the Commonwealth Government grant financial assistance to the cooperatives for the purchase of machinery to process locally caught fish. I am wondering what has happened to that submission. As recently as 14th August last, the Secretary of the New South Wales Fishermen’s Co-operative Union Ltd wrote to me stating that both his union and the New South Wales Fish Authority were working closely together in the matter of installing machinery - details were supplied to me and in turn to the Minister - because .it was considered that this was of the utmost importance not only to the development of the fishing industry of New South Wales but indeed to its preservation. In his letter, the Secretary of the New South Wales Fishermen’s Co-operative Union Ltd went on to say:
The mullet fishermen from the Clarence River district have been on catching quotas for a considerable time and there appears to be no doubt that production could be substantially increased and disposed of at satisfactory prices in competition with imported fish, if the suggested equipment was installed. The fishermen of Eden, although not on quotas, find it uneconomical to produce at certain times when supplies are heavy through recognised channels, lt is considered that modern equipment would assist the fishermen of this port, which has both the production and outlets for distribution of processed fish.
He also said that it was understood that these machines, if installed, would be the first of their kind to be imported into Australia and that their installation would be a great development in the establishment of a firm foundation for the Australian fishing industry. I know that a conference of fishing interests has been held. I note from the report of the development conference that the matters decided upon would be considered by Commonwealth and State fisheries officers later in the year. Incidentally, the original conference was held in Canberra in February last. Then, after the departmental officers had considered the report, it would be taken up by the State and Federal Ministers. I believe that this matter is of paramount importance and it should receive very earnest consideration.
There is just one other matter relating to the fishing industry that I should raise at this stage. Whether the Minister is in a position to answer my query, I do not know, but some time ago Senator Murphy asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister (Senator Gorton) this question:
In order to protect the industry of Australia as well as the areas in our immediate vicinity and our fishing and other onshore industries, will the Government give consideration to declaring a territorial limit more in keeping with the needs of this continent than any supposed 3 mile limit?
In his reply, Senator Gorton, representing the Prime Minister said:
With regard to fishing, the Government is considering the question of extending from 3 to 12 miles the zone within which Australia may exercise exclusive jurisdiction over fisheries. In recent years, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, among other countries, have extended their fishing limits.
As I have said, the Minister said that consideration was being given to this matter. The Minister might now be able to tell the Committee whether any decision has yet been made.
– I should like to follow up on the comments I made earlier and refer to the reply given by the Minister. I understood from the Minister that we have every reason to expect that action will be taken in the near future to ensure that no foreign owned or manned fishing vessels will come in to any Australian port for maintenance except in cases of emergency. I think that is the explanation he gave me. That is very good. But who is going to decide whether there is an emergency? I hope that the conditions of emergency will be laid down very rigidly and that they will be very strictly enforced.
The Minister did not say whether he expected that action would be taken in Australia to prevent a foreign fishing vessel using the snide method of going to New Guinea, coming back and then transferring processed prawns to Australian coastal ships. There is no doubt that legislation can be introduced to prevent this being done. I referred to one Act that has been suggested to me as a possible means of overcoming this problem. I can only say that I am stressing this because the processing of prawns in the north of Australia can provide employment for hundreds of Australians. It goes very much against the grain with me to realise that there is a method whereby prawns caught outside Australian territorial waters and processed by foreigners on a mother ship to the detriment of Australian producers can be brought into Australia free of duty. I know that we cannot do anything to prevent foreigners from catching prawns outside Australian territorial waters, but I cannot stomach the tactics I have just described and I hope that very strict attention will be paid to this problem to ensure that the Australian industry is protected.
Senator McKELLAR (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) - I point out to Senator Morris that legislation to extend the Australian exclusive fishing zone to 12 miles is at present being drafted.
– I know that.
– Why the question? It is hoped that the legislation will come before the Parliament during the current sessional period. That is all the information I can give the honourable senator. I cannot say at the moment who will police this zoning. Some questions were asked about imports of fish. The value of fish imports fell from $29.3m in 1965-66 to $28.6m in 1966-67. At the same time exports rose slightly. Australian fishermen have been turning to the more profitable fish products such as crayfish, prawns, scallops and abalone. As a result the catch of scale fish for sale as frozen fish has declined.
asked two questions. One related to regulations concerning the wearing of clean clothing in meat export establishments, which he raised in this chamber a little while ago. I cannot give him any further information other than to say that the delay in the tabling of the regulations, about which he complained, was due to delay in drafting. Anybody who has had experience in drafting measures that have to stand up to attacks in the courts realises that in some cases a delay in drafting is inevitable. Then Senator McClelland asked a question about fish. I have answered that question to the best of my ability. J think they were the two questions that he asked.
– There was also the question as to machinery for processing in Australia.
– I shall see whether I can get some further information on that point.
– I shall seek to change the menu, if I may, from fish to either poultry or eggs. We are dealing with the proposed appropriation for the Department of Primary Industry. I commence my remarks by referring to the provision for salaries and payments in the nature of salary under Division 380. Can the Minister advise me whether this Parliament will be appropriating money tor the benefit of research into the poultry industry, firstly in relation to egg production, and secondly in relation to that area which is covered by the Poultry Industry Levy Act and the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act. I note from the report of the Australian Egg Board that egg production for this year has reached a record total of 145.6 million dozen, which is an increase of 12.9 million dozen or 10% over the previous year. I note that the quantity marketed locally has accounted for very nearly the total increase in production. I believe that we should congratulate the Australian Egg Board upon that achievement.
I am concerned about the fact that we as a Federal Parliament recently passed the Poultry Industry Levy Act and the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act. If we compare the number of birds in Australia with the volume of production, we discover a situation which calls for research into the possibility of increasing egg production per bird. I may be wrong in my calculation, but the report of the Minister on the operation of the two Acts that I have mentioned reveals that each bird produces approximately fourteen dozen eggs per annum. A production of 168 eggs per bird per annum is quite unsatisfactory, particularly in view of the manner in which we are now taxing primary producers under the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act. As we now place a tax on the bird, it is essential that the levy should have a lower incidence. I ask the Minister to tell me whether we are appropriating money for the benefit of the poultry industry.
Again dealing with the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Act, I ask the Minister to give me some information about a matter which I should imagine must finally fall into the lap of the Minister for Primary Industry. Certainly in one instance it does. If we look at the report of the Minister in relation to the operation of this Act, we find that one aspect of the legislation is unacceptable to quite a number of poultry producers in Australia. We find that within the States, including the Australian Capital Territory but excluding the Northern Territory, the number of leviable hens is approximately 9,508,159. During the last year unpaid hen levies amounted to $92,863. The number of producers who are indebted under the Act at the present time is 1,800. If one compares that figure with the number of producers within Australia one finds that approximately 12% of primary producers are so indebted. 1 ask the Minister to tell me who has the responsibility to collect the levy. Docs the responsibility reside entirely with the States? If that be the case, reference to the Auditor-General’s report shows that the collection of moneys in the Australian Capital Territory is entirely a matter for the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister indicate what action is being taken to ensure that the incidence of this levy is shared more equally over all the producers? [ draw the Minister’s attention to the provision for salaries under Division 385, Bureau of Agricultural Economics. There we find a change in the accounting practice in this current year. I doubt whether the change is a particularly wise one. In 1966-67 an amount of $750,000 was appropriated by this Parliament for salaries and payments in the nature of salary for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. From that appropriation was deducted the amounts which were received from the Wool Research Trust Fund Trust Account and the Meat Research Trust Acount. These two amounts were subscribed by the industries concerned. In- 1966-67 an amount of $194,500 was appropriated by this Parliament for administrative expenses. Deducted from that appropriation were the two amounts which were subscribed by the industries to the Wool Research Trust Fund Trust Account and the Meat Research Trust Account. That produced net figures which were then appropriated and spent by the Bureau. This year there has been a complete change in the figures. The amounts that are to be received from industry have been omitted. I take it that they are to be paid into general revenue. So, can the Minister inform me whether the $823,000 in the first instance and the $217,000 in the second instance will have added to them the contributions from rural organisations; or are such contributions not to be taken into account in future when making an accounting calculation of the amounts to be appropriated by the Parliament?
– I refer to my earlier submission which is exemplified in Exhibits A and B - the two tins of Chinese tinned meat that are now on the table in front of the ‘Minister. I said in my original remarks that I did not object to the trading trends at all. I was justifying representation of the Australasian Meat industry Employees Union on the Australian Meat Board. I asked what effect the importation of this tinned meat would have on the Australian market for Australian produces and on the employment situation in the industry. I am mindful of a certain problem - that the poultry industry encountered. 1 think Senator Webster would be aware of that problem. At one stage there was an excessive importation of American tinned chicken.
We have to be sophisticated. We have to have a little flexibility. We should be able to find out from the Minister’s advisers, either in the Department of Primary Industry or the Department of Trade and Industry, the extent of the importation of this commodity. I raise the matter solely with the object of safeguarding the current work force in the meat industry. I also suggest to the Minister that when that information is being obtained the advisers might see whether the labels meet the requirements of the State Pure Food Acts in relation to the composition of the product being stated on the label.
The only other point that I make is that there seems to be some mental block in the minds of the officials of the Department of Primary Industry and, for that matter, some members of the Australian Meat Board. When I advocate representation of the Meat Industry Employees Union on the Board, as existed previously, I have no fixation in respect of wages or even industrial conditions. When there is a crusade for hygiene, that is fair enough. But when the crusade develops to a stage at which something looks like happening and working conditions are changed, it is of no use to go to a judge and talk to him about it. The people to talk to are the practical people in the industry or the United States health experts who pushed up these ideas.
Let me put the matter this way: What would it mean to a meatworker if he was working on a clean but slippery floor and he suffered a hernia or ricked his back? Only one man might be involved. But if any manual worker injures his back or suffers some strain and loses his earning capacity, he is very limited if he has to go off the meat chain and do some other lower grade work. We talk about partnership in industry. Obviously, the policies and decisions of the Australian Meat Board affect every facet of the meat industry. Nobody has a greater equity in the industry than the thousands of men who work on the actual production side of it. I do not want to emphasise my point unnecessarily. J repeat that there is a clamour for equity in every industry. The exclusion of the Meat Industry Employees Union from representation on the Australian Meat Board has created a fair amount of ill feeling. I conclude by drawing attention again to exhibits A and B. T hope that the Minister, if not through the Department of Primary Industry then through the Department of Trade and Industry, will ascertain the quantity of this commodity that is coming into Australia at the present time.
– I wish to ask the Minister one question. I. recognise that he is only representing the Minister for Primary Industry, but with all due respect I ask him whether he can give me an answer to the question that I have raised twice now in relation to bringing into Australian ports prawns that are processed by foreign workers on foreign mother ships. I ask whether that can be prevented and, if it cannot be prevented, whether some loading can be imposed on this type of trading as some protection for our Australian operators.
– I did not understand the significance of the Minister’s reference to the change in the amounts of bounty paid to the butter industry and the cheese industry. I wonder whether the Minister was suggesting that the change is indicative of a change for the better towards the rehabilitation of the dairy industry. He mentioned the change in a general context. Quite frankly, I did not understand the significance of his remark. To my mind, if an area is a low production area for one commodity it is certainly a low production area for the other commodity. I am at a loss to understand whether the Minister intended to convey that the switch from one commodity to the other was indicative of some type of rehabilitation of the dairy industry. It occurs to me that if a cow is in a bad area she will not produce any more milk for cheese than she will produce for butter. I have never seen a cow that would do that. I do not think it would happen. Secondly, I referred to the matter of receipts in relation to war service land settlement. The Minister has not answered my question.
– I hope that the answers that I give now will enable us to wind up this section of the Estimates debate. Officers of the Department of the Interior, whose estimates will be considered next, are waiting, and I believe that we have had a pretty fair go on the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry.
– What has that to do with the position?
– I am not trying to stifle debate, but honourable senators certainly have had a very good go on these estimates. If honourable senators opposite will be quiet for a moment I will answer the question that Senator Devitt just asked. The reduced provision of war service land settlement relates to the tapering off of the expenditure necessary to fulfil the undertakings given to ex-servicemen of the Second World War. It is perhaps worthy of mention that in more recent years there has been a trend towards the sale of the properties that ex-servicemen have obtained under this scheme. Naturally the sales have been made at a profit to the ex-servicemen. Sales of properties vacated by exservicemen and no longer required at this late stage for further allotment have realised approximately $100,000. No war service land settlement properties on Flinders Island have been sold under similar circumstances.
asked me a question about fowls. First of all I point out that research expenditure is to be recommended by the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia. So far it has not recommended any specific expenditure. The Commonwealth will meet expenditure on research on a $1 for $1 basis. Funds are made available to the States through the Commonwealth extension services grant, under Division No. 941, item 02, to assist State departments of agriculture and primary industries to undertake adaptive research and extension to the poultry industry. This assistance applies both to carcass production and egg production. Recoveries from the Meat Research Trust Account and the Wool Research Trust Fund Trust Account are now shown in revenue under identifiable heads of revenue.
As Senator Webster would be well aware, the State egg marketing boards are responsible for the collection of the hen levy in the States and the Department of Primary Industry is responsible for its collection in the Australian Capital Territory. With regard to the 1,800 producers who were indebted to the Commonwealth at 30th June 1967, I point out that the great majority of them have now paid the levy. There are always producers who are late in making payment of the levy. When they are late they are contacted and asked to comply with the law, before legal action is taken.
asked about machinery for processing fish. I understand that this has been installed at Maclean on the Clarence River and at Eden. An application for financial assistance from the Fisheries Development Trust Account was considered but it was decided that this project did not meet the criteria on which grants are made from the Trust Account. Senator Morris returned to a question which is not easy to answer. On one occasion a ship came to Australia and went back, I understand, to New Guinea. Later on, I understand, some of the fish from this ship found its way back to the mainland. The position is being looked at to see what action can be taken to prevent this sort of thing.
I have some information for Senator Wilkinson. Amounts have been. allocated for pasture research under these headings: Pasture species and strains, $331,692; pasture plant nutrition, $37,070; pasture management, $38,262; pasture plant physiology, $47,865; fodder conservation, hay and silage, $19,066. The total amount allocated is $473,955. Pasture research represents approximately 22% of the budget of the Research Committee. I am told that the meat to which Senator Mulvihill referred is coming in only in small quantities. 1 am not in a position to provide a break-up of the quantities. If he would like more information on this I shall see if I can get it and forward it to him.
– I am rather provoked to say a few words by Senator Mulvihills advocacy of the appointment of a representative of the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union to the Australian Meat Board. If my memory serves me correctly, last year he and I had a very slight disagreement on this question.
– To what item is the honourable senator addressing his remarks?
– To Division No. 380, which relates to administration. My mind is flexible on this matter but I believe that if one advocates the appointment of such a representative one has to produce some evidence to show that he can be of value to the meat industry. Probably Senator Mulvihill is under some misapprehension as to the duties of the Australian Meat Board. I think it has been suggested tonight by one or two speakers from the Opposition that the Board is in some way responsible for industrial relations. This is just not true. The Board’s functions are fairly clearly defined in its reports as being concerned mainly with the negotiation of agreements, market trends, promotion, research, and indications to the industry of trends in overseas markets. If we advocate the appointment of a trade union representative it has to be shown conclusively that he can play a part in the affairs of the Board.
We must not become confused and believe that the Board is in some way concerned with industrial relations. It is concerned in a way with meat standards but only as they affect overseas markets and particularly the United States markets. I make these points merely because I want honourable senators to be quite clear on this matter. If Senator Mulvihill can show that a trade union representative can assist the Board in its primary functions, I am prepared to listen to him but until such time as this case is made out I must repeat what I said last year, that is, that I cannot accept this proposition.
– I, too, refer to Division No. 380, which is concerned with administration and I relate my remarks to the question Senator Sim mentioned. I support strongly what Senator
Mulvihill has put to the Committee. The appointment of a trade union representative, which is a pretty important question, has been coming up in the Parliament since the Government decided in 1964 to remove from the Board the union representative and also the representative of the publicly owned abattoirs. There was great controversy in the Parliament about these proposals and an attempt was made to have a union representative reappointed to the Board, on the argument that the trade union movement represents not only the employees but also industry. There is no better expert on the export of meat and the treatment of meat for export than the worker who has to process the meat.
Honourable senators opposite can talk about this for as long as they like. Their Minister has just attempted to put through a regulation to make workers in the industry responsible for wearing certain classes of clothing and having various types of equipment, and to be subject to very severe penalties if they have not this equipment. This proposal is most unjust and it will come before the Senate at some other time. From all of the evidence that we have from members of the Board we have found that the presence of a union representative is desirable, because it adds something to the knowledge of the industry and the trade. These people know the industry in the same way as a farmer knows his industry. The Government abolished trade union representation for its own purposes and not in order to make the Board any more expert. We claim that trade union representation is necessary.
We say also, as we said before, that it is common practice for trade union representatives to be on top boards. This is the position in most States. It is accepted that an industry board needs expert advice. Often governments decide to appoint a trade union representative to a board in order to add something to it. This policy may be seen in appointments to electricity commissions and transport boards. The Department of Labour and National Service in recent years attempted to attract trade union representation to special advisory boards. It is therefore obvious that there is a clear case for putting employee representatives on all sorts of boards and particularly for putting a union representative on the Australian Meat Board.
I strongly support what Senator Mulvihill has said and I ask the Minister to take this persuasion back to the Cabinet and say that strong representations have been made for the reconstitution of the Board as it was constitued before. In the debate on this matter in the Senate and in the other place no good reasons were given for the alteration. Trade union representation added something to the Board. The argument is still as good as it was before and such representation is a common practice. Most employers now argue that the addition of a member of a union to advisory boards is a good thing I can see no substance in Senator Sim’s argument. I think the honourable senator has expressed an old fashioned point of view, but of course he is an old fashioned senator. Modern trends are to encourage representatives of trade unions to act on boards. I hope the Minister will take note of the points that have been raised tonight and that at some future date the Government will reconsider its decision of 1964 to reconstitute the Australian Meat Board. We hope to see in the future that representatives of the union will be reappointed to the Board.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) agreed to:
That consideration of intervening Divisions be postponed until after consideration of proposed expenditure for the Department of the Interior.
Department of the Interior
Proposed expenditure, $46,464,000.
Proposed provision, $62,044,000.
– I have two brief queries, the first of which relates to Division No. 323 - Australian Capital Territory Services. I wish to know whether any. of the minor disputes about the boundaries of the Tidbinbilla fauna sanctuary have been settled. Is there general understanding on the limits of the reservation? My second query relates to Division No. 321 - News and Information Bureau. I would liketo know what is now the circulation of ‘Australian Facts and Figures’. I believe that the editorial staff of the Bureau deserve the commendation of honourable senators on the very good job that they do.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia)
No. 321 - News and Information Bureau. 1 join Senator Mulvihill in expressing appreciation of the publications of the Bureau, because the material produced is extremely good. I refer particularly to the publications distributed outside Australia. I am sure all honourable senators appreciate that it is difficult to retain a contemporary character in such publications. I seek information from the Minister about film production and film distribution. The Minister will note that the proposed appropriation for 1967-68 for film production is about $50,000 less than last year’s expenditure, and that the proposed appropriation for film distribution is about $20,000 less than last year’s expenditure. Films represent one of the most successful media in any exercise of a news and information bureau. Modern production techniques make films acceptable, persuasive and convincing and one of the best media to convey information or a point of view. The combination of colour and sound in production presents a splendid opportunity for communication. This is overshadowed by an even greater opportunity in the production and distribution of films for television presentation. I now ask: ls there less demand for films from the News and Information Bureau? Is production to be curtailed? Can the Minister assist me by giving reasons for the quite substantial decline in the amounts allocated for these items?
I refer now to the proposed appropriation for motor vehicles to be used for departmental purposes. I would be pleased to have from the Minister some information about that item. I also refer to the proposed appropriation of $33,800 for the rent and maintenance of overseas residences. It appears to me to be a new item: I would also appreciate some information about the purpose of that appropriation.
– I relate my remarks to Division No. 318 - Electoral Branch. I refer particularly to the method of issuing postal and absentee votes for federal elections. At the time of the last Senate election 1 was ill in hospital. I was quite surprised when a lady come to me and told me she was from the Electoral Branch. She brought with her some papers to enable me to vote. I listened to her for a while to learn the extent of her involvement with the elections or the
Electoral Branch. She was actually a representative of one of the political parties but to me and a lol of other people in the hospital she represented herself as an officer of the Electoral Branch. The experience made me realise how easy it is for something to occur that should not occur with regard to postal and absentee votes cast by sick people. The lady who brought me the papers to enable me to vote was quite surprised when I told her I knew she was not from the Electoral Branch. She asked me how I knew that. Eventually she found out my identity and realised then that I might have had a point. I let her fill in my voting papers because 1 thought she might as well do it as anybody else. I received my ballot paper eventually. In her case this lady had the voting papers of about fifty or sixty patients in the hospital. It is time that the papers which are prepared to enable sick people to vote were posted directly to them and not presented to them through an intermediary.
I received my ballot paper and I suppose that the other patients received their ballot papers. The lady who visited me was very kind. She offered to fill in the original papers and my ballot paper. If people are too sick to vote at a polling booth, 1 do not think they should be pestered. At that time four or five people visited me in the course of a few days and pestered me about my vote. Had it not been for my political convictions I would have told them to go and jump in the lake. I have raised this point because I know from my own experience how people are hounded about absentee votes when they are sick. I think it should be the responsibility of officials of the Electoral Branch to contact people who are too sick to vote at a polling booth. I do not think that interested parties should visit the hospitals and other institutions. I know of some cases where as soon as nominations of candidates closed people were waiting at the gates of hospitals and institutions to rush in and get for their candidates all the votes they possibly could. I think it is positively indecent. As well it opens the way to abuse. After all. we are all human and abuses can quite easily creep in. All matters in connection with the issuing of postal votes and votes for people who are too sick to vote at a polling booth should bc in the hands of officers of the Electoral Branch and should not be left to the representatives of political parties.
– Or to the matrons, either.
– That is quite right. One woman with voting papers who went around the hospital where 1 was a patient was the wife of a doctor. For the patients of that doctor all kinds of very interesting possibilities were opened up. lt is almost as bad as having a visit from an undertaker. A few undertakers have been very interested in Bie. All joking aside, I think the Electoral Branch should ensure that irregularities are not allowed to creep in.
If one looks back over the results of previous elections one will find that in 99 cases out of 100 a party that is in the lead on votes actually cast receives only a minute number of the postal votes. This is out of all proportion. The question of whether members of only one or two political parties can afford to be away on holidays, or whether the members of one political party are more prone to illness than members of another political party, may come into it. The present position leaves itself wide open to irregularities. I could say more on this matter but 1 do not want to commit myself because the parlies involved would not know what was going on. Some of their supporters just do not realise that they are cheating; they think they are doing their best for their party. It is about time something was done to regularise this matter.
There are some very large hospitals in all States. Surely a mobile polling booth could visit the hospitals to give people an opportunity to vote without requiring them to apply within a certain time for what is known as a sick vote. People may be taken ill suddenly and find that they cannot record a vote because they have not made prior application for a sick vote. Many of the present irregularities in postal yoting could be eliminated if a mobile polling booth visited the larger hospitals. This would remove the necessity for sick people to go through all the paraphernalia of filling in forms, handling them in, getting them back and then presenting them at the electoral office. The process is most confusing particularly for people who are unable to get to a polling booth on polling day because they are sick in hospital. I advocate a change in the present system.
I now mention blind people. It is very tad when blind people cannot cast a sick or absentee vote because they cannot see to sign it. Some better method of dealing with handicapped people at election time should be found. I bring these matters to the Minister’s notice in all sincerity because they are worrying members of all parlies. No party has the sole prerogative of honesty in these matters, and no party acts dishonestly as a matter of course. The irregularities I have mentioned are occurring and it is time we cleaned up the procedure.
– J refer to Division No. 315 - Rent. The total appropriation for this purpose is $8.697m. Last year the appropriation was $7,188m and expenditure $7,136m. I notice that the increase this year is in excess of 20%. Perhaps this is brought about by the fact that it is estimated that the Department of Works will be paying $1.033m rent whereas last year’s appropriation was only $271,000 and expenditure $269,000. What is the reason for the increase of over 20% in the total appropriation for this division? Why has the appropriation for the Department of Works been increased by some 400% on last year’s appropriation?
– I direct attention to Division No. 313 - Real Estate Management. I endeavoured to raise this matter when we were discussing the estimates for the Department of Supply a few days ago and 1 was advised to mention it when the estimates for the Department of the Interior were before the Committee. The following statement appears on page 232 of the AuditorGeneral’s report tor the year ended 30th June 1967:
A site for a new Commonwealth Clothing Factory at Coburg, Victoria, was acquired during 1966-67 al a cost of $334,800.
The Auditor-General then goes on to say that funds were provided for the purchase of the land. Why was this land so costly? From whom was it purchased? Was there any middle man, such as a real estate agent, who arranged the deal? If so, what commission was paid to him? When I raised this matter the other day I was told that the site covered some 50 acres and that it was near a railway station. My Victorian colleagues with whom I have discussed this matter have told m« that even with inflated land prices in many areas this seems an abnormally high price for land in this particular locality. The Minister may be able to supply the information I seek. It will certainly enlighten me and other honourable senators who have noticed this reference in the Auditor-General’s report and perhaps have been concerned about it. There is perhaps a perfectly legitimate explanation. If there is, we will be quite happy. If there is not, we will want to know more about it.
– I notice that the appropriation for this year in Division No. 318 - Electoral Branch - is some $700,000 less than it was last year. This appropriation is the means by which elections are financed. There is to be a Senate election this year and it is expected that before the next election in 1969 for another place a commission will be set up to decide new electoral boundaries. In the circumstances I should have thought that provision would have been made to meet the costs involved. We will be leaving things a bit late if we do not set up the electoral commission next year because, as I have said, an election is to be held in 1969.
While on the subject of the cost of elections let me refer to the hours of polling. At present polling booths are open for 12 hours. In that period there are slack times when very few people vote. Having regard to the modern methods of transport which are now available it should be possible to reduce the hours for which a polling booth is open. I believe some States have done this for State elections. The question that I have raised before is this: Why keep polling booths open in areas where there are few voters, necessitating the payment of two poll clerks? I believe the Department’s policy now is to close booths if there are fewer than twenty persons voting at such booths. If more than twenty people record a vote during a period of 12 hours the booth stays open. With modern transport it would be the exceptional individual who did not journey to the more populous township to cast his vote. For the person who cannot do so, the facility of postal voting is available. 1 want to raise a question regarding the care of Aboriginals at the Jervis Bay settlement. Last year the appropriation was $2,000. Only $1,604 was spent. This year the appropriation is $4,000. Does this anticipated increase indicate the new power of the Commonwealth Government as a result of the referendum? With such a small amount provided, I would like to know how many Aboriginals are cared for at the Jervis Bay settlement and the nature of the care given. Does the care include housing, accommodation, food, schooling and so on? The sum of $110,157 was expended last year for electrical repairs and maintenance of rental houses in the Australian Capital Territory. This year the appropriation is $110,000. Without knowing the number of rental houses for which electrical repairs and maintenance are provided, I cannot comment on whether that amount is excessive. I would like to know the number of rental houses in the Australian Capital Territory under the control of the Department of the Interior and the approximate duration of their construction. I could then ascertain whether this repair bill is high. It may be that a large number of such houses is repaired by the Department.
– The estimated expenditure for administration of the Commonwealth Electoral Act this year is $371,000. Last year $667,181 was spent. Approximately $300,000 less will be spent this year than last year. The expected expenditure on Commonwealth elections and referendums this year is $1,430,000, as against the $2,429,089 actually spent last year. Can honourable senators assume that the referendum on 27th May last cost somewhere in the vicinity of Sim? I asked two questions in this chamber before the referendum was held on 27th May. The two questions referred to the proposed increase in the number of members in the House of Representatives. The first question was: What will be the approximate cost of the proposed increase of members? The second question was: Will the 1965 amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act prevail and, if so, what will be the approximate number of people in each electorate? I received an answer to the second question. I do not believe it was a correct answer. As the referendum to increase the numbers was defeated I asked that the question regarding the approximate cost, which appeared on the notice paper for some considerable time before the referendum, should be deleted.
I was, and I still am, puzzled why no estimate of this cost was given before the referendum.
I am more puzzled with the apparent publicised ignorance of the sponsors of the quota system for the House of Representatives. Had the quota of a minimum of 85,000 persons for each electorate been written into the Constitution perhaps the result would have been different. Nowhere in the new Electoral Act or in the constitutional amendment is there any proof that the members in the House of Representatives’ should represent an equal number of electors. The suggested alteration to the Constitution would have prevented any Federal Opposition from winning a future election. It undermined the individual electoral rights. In terms of hard political realities, the people were asked to remove the last political barrier to gerrymandering the electoral boundaries of the House of Representatives. The Constitution requires a proportionate increase in the Senate for any increase in the House of Representatives, and that is the political barrier to any Federal gerrymander. Had the referendum been carried, the greatest political gerrymander in Australia would have occurred. The leaders of all parties acquiesced in it simply to destroy the power of the Senate. Members of the Labor Party are the purists regarding gerrymandering. I was surprised and very intrigued to think that this Labor Opposition, a party of electoral purists, fell for this. The people would not allow this to happen. The Labor supporters were found out.I repeat that the people of Australia were asked to wipe away the barrier. The people said: No. Had the nexus been broken and the Electoral Act amended any clever political operator would have been able to retain his seat for life.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly.)
Industrial Dispute at Collinsville
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, 1 formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I want to raise a matter of urgency and importance regarding the recently settled dispute in the Collinsville area of Queensland. I do not like having to raise this incident, but in the circumstances I feel that it is necessary because of a Press statement attributed to a member of a Government Party in another place and a statement which was made in the House of Representatives. I propose to correct those statements. Unfortunately this matter is being kept alive by the person concerned within the Collinsville area, which is within the territory in which I operate. A colleague of mine in another place, the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), also raised this mattera few days ago. I believe that we should put some of the facts straight. If we can do this perhaps the unionists concerned will not continue to be maligned as at present they are being maligned.
The Australian Democratic Labour Party used a statement which arose as a result of a Press report allegedly attributed to a Federal official of the Australian Workers Union. The use of this report in the Capricornia by-election created further confusion. If any dispute exists between the Australian Labor Party and a union affiliated with it, surely that is the responsibility of the two bodies concerned and is not the responsibility of the DLP, the Government Parties or anybody else. The dispute should be settled on that basis. A letter written by Senator McManus and published in the ‘Australian’ today states that he feels aggrieved because of the treatment of his party in the Capricornia by-election. All of these points have further confused the issue. If the situation is as Senator McManus has said and he is worried about the DLP vote he should realise that if we analyse the situation and take into consideration the donkey vote, the publication of advertising of this type did not do his party a great deal of good because the true DLP vote was only 3% of the total vote. 1 propose now to point out the facts of the dispute.
The Collinsville power house construction workers were engaged in a legitimate industrial dispute. That point must be clear. Secondly, the unions involved included the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Boilermakers Society of Australia, the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia, the Electrical Trades Union of Australia, the Building Workers Industrial Union, the Operative Painters and Decorators Union of Australia, the Operative Plasters Federation of Australia and the Plumbers and Gas Fitters Employees Union of Australia. Also involved were dismissed or locked out members of the Australian Workers Union. Sixty-eight members of the AWU were involved. The dispute had been endorsed by the Trades and Labour Council Disputes Committee and the Trades and Labour Council itself in strict conformity with the rules. Trades and Labour Council Unions conducted strike ballots in accordance with section 98 of the State Arbitration Act. The principal contractor, John Holland and Co., dismissed employees for taking action in accordance with section 98 and instructed other contractors to close down the job. The whole of the organisation of the dispute was carried out in accordance with the established practices and existing industrial law. It should be stated that the employers have resisted demands and requests for negotiations for decent wages. I cite the following facts.
The State Electricity Commission and employers for a long period have consistently refused to engage in a bona fide conference to discuss power house construction allowances. As a result of a dispute at Calcap, which is another centre in Queensland, the Commission granted a $4 power house construction allowance on 26th February 1964. As a result of a dispute at Swanbank the Commission granted $2 on 29th April 1965. As a result of a dispute at Collinsville the $4 was increased to $5 on 23rd February 1966. The Commission refused to recognise higher rates being paid in New South Wales and Victoria and rejected union claims on 28th November 1966. As a result of a further dispute at Collinsville the $5 fiat amount was increased to $15 for all purposes. That was on 31st July 1967. The case was rapidly set down for hearing and it occupied less than 1 day. There was no new evidence at the hearing of payments in the southern States, but the decision of 28th November 1966 was reversed and an extra $10 was granted. That was additional to the $5 which had previously been granted. I should like to add also that no-one in Queensland doubts that the Collinsville strike by the genuine unionists was responsible for winning the substantial increase in allowances, and the court judgment virtually says this.
I want to put these facts on record because I believe that it is essential that they are recorded in case developments of this type take place in the industrial sphere in future. In an attempt to defeat the campaign, the John Holland organisation reopened the job and advertised for labour at the old rates. John Holland, who is the principal of the firm, ought to know better. He is an Englishman who should be well aware of the standards set by trade unions and aware of industrial practices. He should be aware also of requirements of people on the job. As a result of him re-opening the job the Queensland Trades and Labour Council placed an advertisement in two major newspapers. People have blamed the trade unions for causing this dispute, but they did not cause it; it was the only course open to them to ensure industrial justice for the workers. These are the terms of the advertisement inserted in the Press:
All Workers of Unions concerned are advised that there is an Industrial Dispute on this project between Unions and John Holland and Co. due to the fact that John Holland and other contractors sacked all their employees and have consistently refused to negotiate with the unions for the same rates of pay as are paid on power house construction in New South Wales, Victoria and elsewhere.
Therefore all workers are requested to contact their union office or union officials to find out the actual position on the job before going to Collinsville.
Inserted by the Queensland Trades and Labor Council on behalf of the Unions concerned. Authorised by John Egerton, President.
As a result of an advertisement being placed in the Press by John Holland and Co. a number of individuals crossed the picket lines and accepted employment. These were new employees - not employees in the dispute who were reconsidering their position. All who have been involved with industrial disputes would know that the greatest mortal sin is to cross a picket line. It is significant that some sections of the Press played up the fact that legitimate trade unionists were aggrieved because people who are normally described as scabs were still employed under return to work settlement terms. The project was to be opened at 8 a.m. on 4th September but further problems were created by John Holland and Co., who was the main contractor. Essentially John Holland has been a dishonest employer in his dealings with members of all unions. His representatives have a tendency to say one thing but to mean something else. On a number of occasions during the currency of this dispute the company repudiated agreements it had previously made. The company was backed up in its action by a number of scab employees who stuck closely to his organisation. At 1 1 a.m. on 4th September further trouble arose when the caterer refused to employ four former employees but was prepared to employ scabs. As a result the canteen was declared black. These are important things to remember, as I shall show in a moment or two. On Wednesday 6th September, Mr L. Horwood, who was the project manager, complained of the activities of some of the trade unionists on the job. He said the posteriors of some of the scab employees were being badly affected by objects from catapults. In other words, he somplained that somebody was using a shanghai to let the scab employees know they were not wanted on the job.
On 7th September, Mr Horwood, acting on behalf of John Holland and Co., refused to recognise the Site Committee. He said he would recognise only official union delegates. This was a repudiation of a previous understanding by which the authority of the Site Committee bad been acknowledged and accepted. Many statements have been made by the member in the other place to whom I have referred and by sections of the Press about the terrible treatment that the scab labourers received. I ask honourable senators to take their minds back to the early days of the dispute when a number of people who were legitimately on strike - I have already quoted the relevant authorities - were victimised by those who crossed the picket line. It was alleged that legitimate unionists were subjected to all sorts of brutalities; that the weapons used included such things as panels from a door, lumps of wood, bricks and what have you. But nobody worries about those things. They are expected. Consequently there was no great uproar, protest or outcry until the renegade workers got some of their own medicine. This was when everybody jumped to their defence, including members of the Government parties.
The mechanical engineer for John Holland and Co., Peter Petrisch, was one of those who caused most of the trouble on the job when a settlement was about to be reached. A union meeting was being held and the scab labourers had gathered together at a certain spot on the site. Our friend the mechanical engineer stopped and talked with them. In fact, he either invited them or directed them to go to the union meeting. He would have known that normally they were not entitled to be at the meeting. That is what caused the final blowup. As a result of the trouble that followed, five of these people were allegedly taken away for attention by the ambulance. Of course, nothing was said about the injuries caused to the legitimate workers on the job at an earlier point of time.
– The legitimate strikers were the people who were out on strike because of the dispute and who did not go back across the picket line. They were the fair dinkum people on the job. If the honourable senator wants a definition of a legitimate striker as distinct from the bloke who is normally described as a scab, I can quote an instance of what happened to one of these people afterwards and he had only John Holland and Co. and every other person who gave him bad advice to thank for it. After the last dispute, the Site Committee on the job was then recognised by John Holland and Co. but the company no longer wanted to recognise the people who had been incited to cause trouble. At this stage the dispute should have been satisfactorily settled in accordance with the terms reached at a meeting of the unionists on the job. One of those conditions was the lifting of the black ban on the canteen, and another was endorsement of the proposal that there was to be no provocation and no violence. The same guarantee was expected from Mr
Horwood on behalf of the scabs. That was a commonsense approach to the problem. For the benefit of Senator Webster who made one of his usual facetious interjections and who probably would not know what good unionism is, I admit that during the Capricornia campaign-
– What is a legitimate strike?
– This was a legitimate strike in accordance with the rules of the Trades and Labour Council, the rules of the respective unions involved and the terms of the appropriate Act.
I saw one of these people at Rockhampton later and he told me that he wanted a job. I asked him what the facts were. He told me that he had been advised to go to Collinsville because there was good money to be made there. He went to Collinsville and crossed the picket line. Apparently he was one of those involved in the stoush on the last day when they were incited by one of John Holland’s representatives to go in and cause trouble. Upon his return to Rockhampton he found that he could not get a job in the area and now has to leave the district.
This renegade industrial firm has caused trouble wherever it has gone in Queensland, and probably all over Australia. It no longer accepts any responsiblity for those who were caused to walk off the job because they had crossed the picket line. They probably will be marked men on other jobs too. Will John Holland and Co. worry about them? Of course not. While the company could stir up industrial strife and accuse the unions of causing the problems it was O.K. But after it is all over the company is no longer interested in the men. That is always the way it is with bad employers and other people who wrongly advise unionists in disputes of this nature.
I hope that the sort of incitement that is being engaged in by a government member in the other place who represents the electorate concerned will cease and that the unionists on the job will be allowed to go about their work and their ordinary way of life peacefully. I hope, too, that we shall see no more of this type of trouble up there either in the immediate or even the distant future.
– The matter to which Senator Keeffe refers is not one for any Commonwealth department or any Commonwealth Minister. Nor is it a matter which comes under the Federal Parliament. As I understand the position, the dispute at Collinsville, of which I have not intimate knowledge, has been under the control of the Queensland industrial arbitration authorities. As to any violence that was offered to certain workers, and which Senator Keeffe seeks to excuse tonight, I can only say that law and order has been kept by the Queensland Police Department. That is all that I think I need to make clear to the Senate. It is a matter for the State Parliament in all respects. We have heard Senator Keeffe’s version of what he alleges to be the facts. Other versions have appeared in debates in the Queensland Parliament. They have appeared also in union papers and the people can read them and make up their own minds about the matter.
– I only want to say that I deplore that the Senate should be made a forum for a partisan statement reflecting upon private individuals in relation to a matter that is essentially not Federal in its nature.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.19 pm.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 October 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19671004_senate_26_s36/>.