26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The 1* RESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., anil read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. Jit order to enable the democratic process to proceed smoothly and with fairness to everyone, as it should, is it not about time the Government stopped its cat and mouse game and told the Parliament and the people of Australia whether it intends to hold an election this year?
– I trust that the Leader of the Opposition is not feeling over anxious, Mr President, but in the circumstances I ask that the question be put on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. The question relates lo the present situation in Peru, lt has an added interest because an Australian delegation of members of this Parliament was there recently at the conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I ask: Has the Government reached any decision concerning recognition of the new regime? Has the Minister any information to give to the Senate al this stage? If no decision has been reached concerning recognition, can the Minister say when such a decision will be made?
– I sought some information from the Department of External Affairs in relation to this matter. It is a fact that the Government of President Belaunde was overthrown by a military coup d’etat in the early hours of 3rd October. Although there was some violence, the staff of the Australian Embassy was unharmed. 1 was also informed that the revolutionary junta, comprising the commanders-in-chief of the three armed Services in Peru, had signed statutes establishing a revolutionary government on 3rd October, that the junta had appointed General Val:sco, former Army Commander and Chairman of the Joint Forces Command, as President of the 2?284/6’8- S- (43Ji-‘
Republic, and that a new Cabinet of Service officers had been sworn in. The previous President was flown out of the country to Buenos Aires, where he now is, but it is not yet clear whether he has formally requested political asylum.
In relation to the more direct question that the honourable senator asked, so far as the Government is aware no foreign government has yet recognised the ‘new regime. The . governments most closely interested are those which, with Peru, are members of the Organisation of American States. Members of the Organisation agreed in 1965 that, in the event of a change of government by force in Latin America, they would consult to determine their attitude to the change. Venezuela and Uruguay have announced the suspension of diplomatic relations with Peru. The Australian Government is watching the position and will take any necessary action when the situation is clearer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has the Australian Government taken delivery of 101 Mirage aircraft from France? Did the Minister for Defence write in the 1968 defence report:
The Mirage as a replacement for me Satire has been introduced to the RAAF as scheduled and with few problems.
I emphasise the last three words ‘with few problems’. Has the French Government refused to supply the Australian Government with future orders of arms for the Mirage? What prevents the Australian Government from manufacturing ammunition for the Mirage at an Australian small arms factory? Does the Government intend to allow this aircraft lo be rendered ineffective by depriving it of ammunition? What action does the Government propose to take in the matter?
– The question is a fairly long and comprehensive one. I will give an answer in part and I will give further background details subsequently so that the honourable senator and the Senate will have the full picture. The Government. Aircraft Factories are building and have built Mirage aircraft. For obvious reasons, certain earlier aircraft were built in France. Currently we arc coining to the end of our immediate requirement for Mirage aircraft, but they have been built in Australia by the Government Aircraft Factories and related organisations. The supply of ammunition for the aircraft comes within my portfolio as Minister for Supply. During the Estimates debate Senator McClelland alluded to the fact that we have been negotiating for quite a considerable time with the French organisations to obtain a licence to manufacture the special ammunition which is required for the Mirage aircraft. The negotiations arc continuing. I hope they have almost reached the point of success. Certain technical information has been supplied to us already to enable preliminary work to be initiated so that the Government ammunition factories will be able to manufacture the special ammunition. As the honourable senator is aware, we cannot tool up overnight to manufacture special ammunition. We have to obtain a licence from the original manufacturer. The task has been a long and difficult one. I will give the information in detail tomorrow but the short reply to the honourable senator is that we are building our own Mirage aircraft and very shortly will be in a position to manufacture our own 30 mm ammunition for the aircraft.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister noted the contention of a leading meat exporter to the effect that countries exporting beef to the United States of America should agree among themselves on the amount of beef each shall export to that market to avoid a repetition of the recent excesses in respect of the United States beef quota? Will the Government give consideration to this proposition?
– This proposition has been made in more recent weeks. I understand that a similar situation existed in 1964 when a number of countries, including Australia, negotiated agreements with the United Stales Government under which the exporting countries agreed to observe limits on their meat exports to the United States. However the United States Congress subsequently passed the current legislation which provides for a lower ceiling on imports than that negotiated with the United States Government under the voluntary agreements. The suggestion referred to by the honourable senator will be examined, but whether action of mis kind should be pursued will depend on a number of factors, including the supply and demand situation and the level of permissible imports under the United States legislation which is related to the growth in American domestic production.
– Does the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities agree that tourism is developing into one of the most significant and rapidly growing industries in Australia? As tourism is a rapidly growing industry and a large earner of external credits, does the Minister agree that a road link between the highly developed south eastern section of the continent and Western Australia is a significant link in the overall Australian road system? Does he agree that the sealing of that road link would enhance the prospects of more Australian and overseas tourists taking advantage of it to visit the many tourist attractions that are readily accessible along the highway? As there seems to be a degree of confusion about who is to finance that road development, will the Minister do all in his power at all levels of government to bring about the sealing of the highway?
– It is gratifying to note the obvious recognition of the increasing importance of international tourism. I quite agree with the honourable senator’s suggestion that the sealing of the road link between south eastern Australia and Western Australia would greatly enhance the prospects of attracting tourists to use it. I hope that we will be able to accord priority to that road link when sealing is within sight. However, the immediate responsibility for transport within Australia vests in my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I would refer the question to him for a decision as to programme and finance.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of Mr McIlree’s statement that the total paid up capital of Avis Rent-A-Car System Pty Ltd is only $10, what guarantees were obtained from Mr McIlree in regard to his payment to the Government for his monopoly? Was a personal guarantee obtained? If not, why not?
– I do not know of any guarantees required of Avis Rent-A-Car System Pty Ltd by the Government. All honourable senators are aware that that company has operated throughout Australia over a long period of years. In that time it has provided a highly satisfactory service for the travelling public in Australia. Avis Rent-A-Car System Pty Ltd was by far the highest tenderer for space recently allocated for car rental services in buildings administered by the Department of Civil Aviation throughout Australia. That space will be used by the company to provide the necessary quick transport for its customers.
– Will the Minister obtain the information I have requested?
– I will try to do so.
– In addressing my question to the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities 1 remind him that some weeks ago I pointed out that I am fully conscious of the rigours of overseas air travel and the discomfort of occupying the centre seat of three economy class seats. I recently asked the Minister whether he would consider raising the matter with Qantas Airways Ltd to see whether that company would limit to two the number of seats on cither side of the aisle, in both the first class and economy class sections, and thus make Australian airlines as attractive to overseas air travellers as is the Thai overseas airline. I ask the Minister whether he has had an opportunity to raise the matter?
– I well .remember that my honourable colleague seemed to be embarrassed by occupying the centre seat and being embraced from both sides in the economy class section of an aircraft. Qantas Airways Ltd has informed me that 405,735 economy class passengers were carried by its aircraft in the year ended 31st March 1968. With regard to the suggestion that the triple seats in the economy class be eliminated, Qantas points out that to eliminate one of the three seats would reduce its passenger revenue accordingly.
– My question to the Leader of the Government relates to a down turn in the Australian aircraft industry. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement by Mr Gourlay who claimed that two projects - a light aircraft for military use and a small all purpose swing wing strike trainer - were being held back by Government reticence? What action has been taken with regard to the first proposal of a light aircraft for military use upon which the Minister recently gave some information? Further, is the proposal for a small all purpose swing wing strike trainer receiving favourable consideration?
– I am grateful to the honourable senator for asking the question because I saw the Press articles in two newspapers this morning. I propose to make reference to the reports because 1 was most concerned al what I read. The newspapers to which I refer were the ‘Canberra Times’ and the Melbourne ‘Sun* of today’s date. Because I was so concerned at what I read and found it so hard to accept. I sought through my Department an explanation from the officer concerned. I have here a teleprint of that explanation which I propose to summarise. The officer states that he has seen the statement which appeared this morning in the ‘Canberra Times’ and the Melbourne ‘Sun’ allegedly reporting comments made by Mr Gourlay, an engineer of the Government Aircraft Factories, who has just returned from 6 months overseas as a 1968 Churchill Fellow. He says that Mr Gourlay has provided verbal and written reports of the conversation he had over the telephone with an unidentified reporter from the Melbourne ‘Sun’ who rang him about the Churchill scholarship. When Mr Gourlay mentioned that he had spent some time at Forth Worth the reporter inquired about the crash of the Fill on 20th September, but Mr Gourlay made no comment on that, nor did he make any of the succeeding comments on the Fill as reported in the Press. The use by Australian industry of technological information that he had gathered while overseas was then discussed, as were also projects in which Australia is now engaged.
Mr Gourlay was aware of published statements and articles on proposals for a light utility aircraft and for a joint Australian-British study of its use as a trainer. Honourable senators will recall that I informed the Senate of these proposals in response to a question by Senator Bishop recently, and 1 made a statement on the efforts that we were making to maintain a viable work load for our aircraft industry. Mr Gourlay was asked by the unidentified reporter whether the joint Australian-British study of the Jaguar provided for an aircraft which could serve similar roles to the FI 11. His answer, which I quote, was: ‘No, most definitely not.’ That is what he said, but what appeared in the Press in headlines was exactly the opposite of that.
– Does the Minister say that this conversation went along without Mr Gourlay asking the identity of the journalist?
– Do not try to distract me. 1 am saying that Mr Gourlay claims that he has been grossly misrepresented in the Press on a number of scores which I have not finished with yet. In fairness to the officer of my Department 1 believe that I should repeat what he said in his report to the Department. When asked how the aircraft in the joint AustralianBritish study differed from the Jaguar and why it was cheaper, Mr Gourlay replied that any information he possessed had come mainly from an aircraft magazine. He added that he had been led to believe that the aircraft would have less sophisticated electronic equipment and would be more suited to Australian conditions. When asked whether it could steal the Jaguar’s world market Mr Gourlay replied: ‘No, but if it is well designed it would most likely find an overseas market.’ It will be seen that Mr Gourlay has been grossly misreported in referring to the Fill and the Jaguar. Further, Mr Gourlay has assured my Department that he certainly made no statement that the projects were held back by Government reticence, nor did he say that the Government was supposed to be giving its decision on both ideas towards the end of the year.
– What is the position in regard to the projects?
– As I indicated to the honourable senator in answer to a question - I think on 22nd August - the position is that studies are going on and we are making progress. J would like to be able to give the honourable senator a further progress statement before the Senate rises, if any further progress is made, but I want to assure him and the Senate that we are making every effort to find other avenues of production for the Commonwealth Government Aircraft Factories and other factories associated with the aircraft industry, and we are not without prospects for the future’.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry say whether the big chain stores are the main importers of some 600 to 700 tons of New Zealand lamb being brought to Australia this year? If so, what are their percentages of the total imports?
– I am not in a position to give an answer at short notice but I shall obtain the information and make it available as soon as possible - probably tomorrow.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the unusual weather pattern over the south-eastern portion of Tasmania, which is now in its third year and which has reached the proportions of severe and damaging drought, will the Government give urgent consideration to extending to this area Commonwealth drought relief in the form of direct grants, fodder concessions and general emergency relief in an effort to relieve the very dire financial position of primary producers affected by drought?
– I recall that I made a statement before the Senate rose a little over a week ago in relation to special provisions for drought relief. I shall take on board the subsequent question that the honourable senator has asked and have it put to the Treasury without delay. I would hope to be in a position to give a fairly prompt answer to the question.
– Mr President. I am in your hands. I do not know whether to direct this question to you or to the
Leader of the Government; I must therefore rely on your judgment in this matter. J have received today a letter from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects dealing with the matter that has already been decided in the Senate, namely, where the new and permanent parliament house should bc. I am also in possession of a document from the National Capital Development Commission which states on page 11 that the Commission intends to develop a new master plan for the Department of External Affairs building on Camp Hill, which is immediately behind the present Parliament House. I direct your attention, sir, to the fact that there is a Joint Committee of the Australian Capital Territory, and also a New and Permanent Parliament House Committee under your guidance. Is there an opportunity by which the Senate could be informed as to the intentions of this multiplicity of authorities that are taking the matter out of the hands of the Parliament?
– 1 think the Royal Australian Institute of Architects is quite within ils. rights in expressing a point of view. I find no fault with that at all. I take it that the other report to which the honourable senator refers would have been put in print in anticipation of the new and permanent parliament house being sited where it was then to have been, that is. at the side of the lake. I do not think that the other two Committees to which Senator Cormack has referred have any real bearing on the matter under discussion, but I certainly find nothing wrong with the architects as a body expressing an opinion.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. What censorship is now being imposed on news from Vietnam? Has the previous absence of censorship endangered our troops serving in Vietnam or our aims in that country? Are the present censorship restrictions unacceptable to the Australian reporting staff in Vietnam, resulting in the withdrawal of Australian correspondents? Are Australians now to receive information from Vietnam only from Government sources?
– The Minister for Defence was asked a question on this matter in another place earlier today. I have captured the substance of what he said in reply. I propose to give that in reply to this question. If it falls short of the information that the honourable senator is seeking, I will refer the matter to the Minister for Defence. In substance, the Minister for Defence said in another place today that no new restrictions have been placed on servicemen, affecting what they may or may not discuss with the Press. The present difficulties appear to arise out of an effort to bring about some uniformity on this difficult question as between the three Services and to relieve restrictions which have been applied to the Public Service and to the three armed Services. In the case of the Army they have been applied since 1917. In the case of the Navy and the Air Force they are of more recent origin.
Since this is a matter that affects the three Services, the Department of Defence set out a draft directive aimed at achieving uniformity and clarity. The draft was conveyed to the commander of the Australian forces in Vietnam in terms more definite than the Minister for Defence had intended. He takes responsibility for that. At the same time the forces were advised that this was still only a draft and that amendments would continue to be made to it. The Minister for Defence’ believes that the whole situation can bc altered with benefit both to the Services and to the Press. Of course, opposition is to be expected from obvious quarters. The Minister is anxious to reach an accommodation with the media of public information in order to facilitate their work but not so as to inhibit the Services in the proper discharge of their responsibilities. Governments of all political persuasions have maintained restrictions on the public utterances of servicemen for good and sufficient reasons having to do with the maintenance of morale and efficient administration. For these reasons the matters referred to apply beyond Vietnam and also beyond purely military information. The Minister has received very little by way of constructive criticism. If the complaint is that the pressmen rather than the servicemen to whom they talk are responsible for information given, the Minister will have the situation amended. He has been asked by wire and Press services to review the situation. He is willing to do that as early as it is practicable.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. In the light of the rather favourable outcome of recent European Launcher Development Organisation ministerial discussions overseas, has the forthcoming work programme at Woomera and Salisbury in South Australia become fuller and more definite? Can the Minister give details?
– A meeting of Ministers of member countries of ELDO was held in Paris on 1st and 2nd October. I was represented by the Secretary of my Department. He and our Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr Knott, were the Australian representatives at the ministeral meeting. Its purpose was to deal with problems that arose at the ELDO meeting in July 1968 relative to members’ financial contributions and work sharing. These problems were further discussed at the meeting on J st and 2nd October without finality being reached. An outcome of the meeting was an expression by a majority of members of the desire to continue launcher development. That, of course, is inherently part of the programme of the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera. A further ministerial meeting of ELDO is to be held in November. That meeting will aim to establish an ELDO programme that is compatible with the overall European objectives in space activities. Meanwhile the current ELDO programme is proceeding. The next firing from Woomera is scheduled for late November. When I have received further reports from my Secretary on his return to Australia in a few days, I hope to be in a position to give a broader picture of the future of ELDO and its problems. At this stage there is quite a hope that the ELDO programme, which in a sense is part of the programme of the complex at the Weapons Research Establishment, will continue.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, lt follows upon that asked by Senator Cavanagh, to which we received a general answer. In particular I ask: Has there been a breakdown in the morale of the national servicemen who comprise almost half of our forces in Vietnam? Is this the true reason for the latest imposition of censorship on Press reports from Vietnam?
– 1 would reject that proposition wholeheartedly and would say that there has never been any suggestion that there is any difference between national servicemen on the one hand and permanent servicemen on the other. They are all good Australians who are doing a job for Australia.
– There has been a breakdown in morale.
– There has been no breakdown and any attempt’ by the honourable senator to link the rationalisation of the normal procedures which, as has been indicated by the Minister for Defence, were introduced as far back as 1917, with an alleged breakdown of morale of the servicemen is unworthy of the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the Government has made no pronouncement as to its intention regarding the long term financial support which export industries can expect with respect to the losses caused to them by the Government’s decision not to devalue Australian currency? Does the Government recognise that the difficulties in marketing being experienced by exporters of Australian products are brought about to no small extent by government policy? Will the Minister endeavour to bring to the Senate in the very near future a substantial statement by the Government on this most important matter?
– The honourable senator is really persistent in his questioning of me in relation to the implications of currency devaluation in the primary industry field. From time to time, I have given him answers which 1 have sought from the Minister for Trade and Industry. He now wants further elaboration. I shall seek to get the information for him as expeditiously as possible.
– Could the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport advise what progress if any is being made by the Government in securing a 50% interest in a British shipping line to help offset the adverse charges of the overseas shipping monopolies?
– The Government is very conscious of the need to participate in overseas shipping with a view to obtaining cheap freights for the carriage of Australian cargoes to overseas ports and the transport of overseas cargoes to Australian ports. With this in view, we have made arrangements, I think, not so much with a British company but with other companies, to obtain a 50% interest in a shipping line servicing ports outside Australia. I shall have to ask the honourable senator to put on notice his question relating to the obtaining of a 50% interest in a British shipping line so that 1 may get an answer for him from the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– I address a question to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. In order to gain continuing publicity at home and abroad for the valuable tourist attractions and facilities in the Cradle Mountain area of Tasmania, of which the Minister will be so well informed, will the Minister use bts undoubted persuasive powers to obtain an official postmark for the Cradle Mountain Post Office and also urge the issue of a special postage stamp depicting this outstanding summer and winter playground?
– The obvious interest that the Senate takes in the question stems from the fact, of course, that it refers to an outstanding tourist resort in Tasmania, an area of great glacier formations, lovely lakes and unique chalet accommodation. However, the decision as to whether it should be depicted on a postage stamp will rest with my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral. I understand there has been some discussion on this matter. Senator Marriott’s question prompts me to think that I should take up with the Australian Tourist Council in November a suggestion that each State Tourist Minister put forward a State attraction of this calibre for further consideration by the Postmaster-General for featuring on postage stamps.
– Did the Minister for Customs and Excise read a report in the Sydney weekend Press which described in considerable detail the existence of an LSD club catering for 12 and 14-year olds? In the light of such happenings is he satisfied that the Department’s drug detection squad and the State police are preventing this social problem expanding as was indicated in the report?
– I read the report in the newspaper and was horrified to learn that young people in Sydney were addicted to drugs. I share the honourable senator’s concern at the growth of this vice in Australia. I can assure him that the Department’s drug detection squad, and particularly the narcotics bureau, is joining with the New South Wales police in looking promptly at this matter. The two bodies are cooperating as closely as possible in an endeavour to stamp out this vice.
– By way of preface to my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General I refer to the fact that nearly 2 years ago the then AttorneyGeneral, commenting upon a proposal that I had advanced for the introduction of a Commonwealth court of family relations, said that the matter would be considered. Did the Minister see a newspaper editorial commenting upon the recent remarks of Mr Justice Barber supporting the setting up of such a court? Bearing in mind the ever present problems arising from broken homes, will the Minister advise whether this matter is still under consideration? If it is not, will he request the Attorney-General to give further consideration to the original proposal?
– I regret to inform the honourable senator that the newspaper report of Mr Justice Barber’s comments has not come to my notice. However, T shall have pleasure in taking up with the Attorney-General the question whether the establishment of. a court of family relations is still under consideration and, if so, the stage that has been reached.
– Has the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral seen a report that Ansett Transport Industries made a record profit of 33. 8m last financial year despite a huge provision for taxation purposes? Has the Minister also seen a report of the same date that temporary releases from Australian drama requirements granted earlier this year to four city television stations which are part of the Ansett television network now have been extended by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to 8th February next year? Bearing in mind that the losses sustained by this company’s television operations are subsidised by the Australian taxpayer because of this Government’s policy of rationalisation of airline services, does the Minister consider it fair and reasonable to other commercial television stations, which are doing their utmost to honour their obligations to the Australian public under the Broadcasting and Television Act, that this particular network should receive this favourable concession in such circumstances? In view of the overall profit made by Ansett Transport Industries last year, and in order properly to encourage the use of Australian dramatic and light entertainment programmes by all commercial television networks and not merely by a couple of them, will the Minister request the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to review its latest decision?
– I do not know whether the PostmasterGeneral has seen the statement that the honourable senator has brought to my notice, but I will convey the honourable senator’s comments to him and obtain a considered reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, ls it a fact that Trans-Australia Airlines has been anxious to import six extra DC9 aircraft for some months? Being in favour of the Government’s two airline policy, and in view of the report today that Ansett-ANA increased its profit in the last financial1 year to $3. 75m, I ask the Minister whether he will now expedite the importation of extra jet aircraft? Will he also request that the air services between Adelaide and Perth, and Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney be increased as they appear to be grossly inadequate at present and have scarcely been increased for several’ years, in spite of a substantial increase in the number of passengers carried or anxious to be carried?
– I have noticed that there is an increasing need for additional aircraft to cater for the public generally throughout Australia, particularly between Adelaide and Perth. I understand that before the end of this year additional aircraft will be made available for this service. I ask that the rest, of the honourable senator’s question be put on notice and I will obtain a detailed answer.
– 1 ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: ls it a fact that the censorship of 16 millimetre films is carried out by deputy censors and not by the Chief Censor and that these deputy censors are usually employed to censor films intended for television where censorship requirements are much stricter than they are for films for cinema showing? In view of the fact that a large number of these 16 millimetre films are imported into Australia by embassies and various film societies for display at either private or fil’m society showings, will the Minister take steps to see that the same censors are used to censor the 16 millimetre films as censor the 35 millimetre films and the other films that are intended for display in public cinemas so that the already harsh censorship restrictions on all films are not even harsher in the case of 1 6 millimetre films?
– It is a fact that 16 millimetre films are screened by deputy censors in each State of the Commonwealth. All 35 millimetre films, television and theatrical films are censored by the Chief Censor who is in New South Wales. The standard of censorship is the same in each State. Therefore, there is no need to answer any other part of the honourable senators question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the great volume of interstate motor traffic and the many and differing road signs in the States, will the Minister give consideration to calling together the respective State road transport Ministers in an endeavour to have uniformity of road signs and traffic laws throughout Australia, thus eliminating the confusion that exists for interstate drivers at present?
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate was chairman of a road safety committee about 10 years ago which brought down a very interesting report on road safety throughout Australia. Attention was given to signs in that report. I think that the report made about twenty recommendations. I agree that there should be a national road safety code. Clearly it is difficult for travellers between States to know the different laws and the meaning of the different signs. I win take the matter up with the Minister for Shipping and Transport and obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– 1 wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, lt relates to the censorship regulations that have been referred to in regard to the war in Vietnam. Does the Minister think that the present regulations, which are based on the year 19.1.7, are appropriate today? Is the same restrictive discipline that is placed on permanent public servants in their day-to-day administration appropriate for the situation in Vietnam? Has the Government had any cause to be worried about news reporting of the war in Vietnam? Has the Government taken any definite action to discipline a news media, an individual journalist or a television reporter? If so. who or what organisations has the Government tried to discipline and what: are the reasons for this disciplinary action?
– I will answer the honourable senator’s question in a general sense. I have referred already to what the Minister for Defence said in another place today. This will be the essence of my answer. The Minister for Defence said that the present difficulties appear to arise out of an effort to bring some uniformity into this difficult question as between the three Services and indeed to relieve restrictions which have been applied to the Public Service and all the armed Services. I believe that this new rationalisation - for want of a better word momentarily - stems from a desire to bring about some kind of uniform understanding. The first part of the question posed by the honourable senator was whether the 1917 code would be applicable to the type of warfare in which we are involved at present. I do not think so. I think the Minister for Defence - in complete fairness to him - was setting out to obtain a working code which everybody would understand, accept and work to. I ask the honourable senator to put the question on notice and I will obtain a more detailed answer, but I believe that the answer I have given expresses the spirit of the Minister’s answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, ls the Government aware that favourable conditions throughout Australia give reason to believe that wheat production this year is likely to be of record volume? Taking into account the problems which beset this primary industry in making overseas sales of wheal, can the Minister assure the Senate that discussion has taken place between the Government, State governments and the Australian Wheat Board to ensure that there is no impediment to sufficient storage facilities being readily accessible to all wheat producers?
– Yes, the Government is aware of the very strong possibility of a record crop of wheat, although present indications in New South Wales are not nearly as favourable as they were some 3 weeks ago. The crop forecast for New South Wales at that time may not be realised. I am afraid that sufficient storage will not be readily available if the forecast: proves correct, so that New South Wales farmers will not be able to gel their wheat off their farms as soon as they would like. I have some information which should prove of interest to the honourable senator. It is to the effect that world wheat production this year is expected to climb to 294 million metric tons, which is 6% above last year’s production and 3% more than the previous high of 285 million metric tons produced in 1966. The Foreign Agriculture Service of the United Slates of America has estimated the world wheat yield this year to be 20 bushels an acre, which is up 4% from last year. The Canadian crop is estimated to bc 1 7.680.000 metric tons; the United States of America crop, 43.453.000 metric tons; the Mexican crop. 1.793,000 metric tons: and the South American crop, 10.355.000 metric tons.
The information 1 have before me gives estimates for other countries and I would be happy to make it available to the honourable senator.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, by stating that on 30th April last I asked a question regarding the application made by certain people in Western Australia for further television licences. The Minister asked me to place the question on notice and I did so. About 3 weeks ago I asked her to remind the Postmaster-General that the question was still on notice. I now inform the Minister that I have had a reply through the editions of the public Press of 25th September last but the question still stands in my name on the notice paper. Will the Minister please have it removed from the notice paper?
– Yes, if that is the wish of the honourable senator.
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a further question on the censorship of news from Vietnam. My question arises from the answer the Minister gave to my previous question and the answer that he gave to a question asked by Senator Willesee. The Minister in his answers used as justification of censorship the statement by the Minister for Defence that uniformity is desirable between the Services. 1 now ask: Why is it necessary or desirable to have uniformity in news reporting or news releases between the three armed Services?
– I think the basic answer to the honourable senator’s question lies in the role of the Press media themselves. They would have a general principle or code of conduct by which they would act. I would think it natural for that code to be uniform between the Services. I would think it almost elementary that it would be desirable to have an understanding of the normal requirements in order to facilitate the service given by the news media. The Minister for Defence has said, in effect: Look, if we are at cross purposes in relation to this matter, I am quite willing to examine it. I am desirous .only that we should have an understanding of the procedure adopted.’
– In effect, suppression of the truth should be uniform.
– No. Senator Murphy is being very naughty by buying into a subject on which he has not been asking questions.
– 1 have asked a question and the Minister has not answered it.
– When I answered the honourable senator’s previous question 1 indicated that 1 had heard the Minister for Defence give an answer on the same subject in another place. I sought to capture in my words the answer that he had given. I said then quite clearly that if any matters remained undetermined and were placed on the notice paper, I would get a reply.
– I asked a subsequent question: Why should there be uniformity?
– I am suggesting that there are many good reasons.
– Tell me one of them.
– If the honourable senator cannot understand that, 1 cannot help him.
– I preface my question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by reminding the honourable gentleman that in the debate on the adjournment of the Senate on 26th September I referred to a report that the National Capital Development Commission intended to proceed with the erection of a building on Camp Hill for the Department of External Affairs. Can the Minister now tell the Senate whether the National Capital Development Commission still intends to proceed with that building? If that is the Commission’s intention, will it be permitted to proceed?
– I regret that I have not answered the queries raised byrne honourable senator during a recent debate on the adjournment of the Senate. I will take the matter up at the end of question time and ascertain whether an answer is readily available. As soon as an answer is obtained, I will give it to the honourable senator.
– My question to the Leader of the Government refers also to the new draft censorship regulations applying in Vietnam. Has the Government made it clear to all armed .Services public relations officers and other officers in Vietnam that no censorship should apply to matters other than those related directly to military security? If not, what is the extent of any discretion or instructions in respect of other than military security matters upon which these officers might approve or permit Press releases?
– 1 do not know the answer to the honourable senator’s question, particularly as he relates it to public relations officers. 1 shall seek the information and provide him with a reply.
– I direct a further question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs arising from the answer given to my earlier question. As it is not clear to me why it is necessary or desirable to have uniformity between the three armed Services on news reporting or news releases, will the Minister give me one reason why it is desirable or necessary?
– The answer that I gave was in substance what Che Minister for Defence had said.
– Then say ‘no’.
– I quoted what the Minister said. If the honourable senator wants a repetition of that 1 suggest that he should put his question on the notice paper so that I may obtain an answer for him.
(Question No. 380
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
In view of the desire of all Australians to stop inflation and combat all forms of rackets, will the Government, as a major step, introduce* legislation to prohibit money lending organisations, including insurance companies, fringe banking groups and all associated wilh money lending practices, from charging extravagant interest rates, over and above the present ruling bank lending rate?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
Such broad legislation would extend beyond the powers of the Commonwealth.
(Question No. .MM)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers:
Information on the matters requested for the period up to 30th June 1968 is contained in the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board’s first annual report which was tabled on 11th September 1968. Supplementary information for the period from 1st July to 1 1th September is:
Approved research organisations for the purposes of section 6(a) of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act 1967:
Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd - 47 York Street, Sydney, New South Wales.
Applied Research & Development Service Pty Ltd - Grimshaw Street. Bundoora, Victoria.
Australian Cement Research Services Pty Lid - 41 Yarra Bank Road, South Melbourne, Victoria.
Australian National University (Department of Chemistry) (Department of Geology) (Department of Forestry) - Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
Broken trill Pty Co. Ltd- 500 Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria.
P. Brown & Associates - 635 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, Victoria.
Howard Cock & Associates Pty Lid - 151 Northern Road, Heidelberg West, Victoria.
Crichton Industries Pty Ltd - Lester Street, Norville, Bundaberg, Queensland.
Dames Harley & Associates - 266 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide, South Australia.
Dural Leeds Holdings Lid - Cnr Calder Highway and Roberts Road, Niddrie, Victoria.
C. Keky - 2 Davis Crescent, Mount Gambier, South Australia.
Kinnaird Hill de Rohan and Young - 46 Fullarton Road, Norwood, South Australia.
Monash University (Department of Mechanical Engineering) - Clayton, Victoria.
Nilsen Development Laboratories Pty Ltd - 51 Marion Street, Fitzroy, Victoria.
Philips Industries Ply Lid - Tapleys Hill Road. Hendon, South Australia.
Research Laboratories of Australia Pty Ltd - 24 Brougham Place, North Adelaide. South Australia.
South Pacific Engineering Pty Ltd (trading as South Pacific Engineering and Research Company) - 2-6 South Street. Rydalmere, New South Wales.
University College of Townsville (Department of Engineering’: - Pimlico, Townsville. Queensland.
University of Melbourne (Department of Mathematics) (School of Forestry) - Parkville, Victoria.
University of Newcastle (Department of Civil Engineering) (Department of Mechanical Engineering) - Shortland, New South Wales.
University of New South Wales (School of Civil Engineering) - Kensington, New South Wales.
The following organisations appearing in the Board’s report have since been deleted from the Hoard’s list of approved research organisations:
Holdenson & Nielson (Products) Pty Ltd- 95 Cecil Street, South Melbourne, Victoria.
Four’n Twenty Pics Pty Ltd - 35-41 Union Road, Ascot Vale, Victoria.
Gordon Edgell Ply Lid- 186 Blues Point Road, North Sydney, New South Wales.
and 3. (a) Organisations for which grants have been authorised and the amount of the grant in each case:
(Question No. 469)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions: lt is expected that the future location of the Army Aviation Centre will be considered by the Government in the near future. Pending such consideration, when all factors will be taken into account, it is not practicable to answer the questions posed.
(Question No. 475)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
What is being done to implement the recommendation of the 1968 United Nations Mission to New Guinea that additional staff be allocated to the Department of Labour to permit more frequent inspections and stricter enforcement to ensure that the rights of workers are fully protected?
– Mr Barnes has now supplied the following answer: lt is policy to increase the number of labour inspectorial staff attached to the Department of Labour as the Territory work force grows. There are now twenty-one officers engaged full lime in inspection activities, an increase of five since the beginning of this year. Places of employment are visited as often as possible to ensure that the requirements of labour legislation are observed. The Department of Labour has also embarked on a comprehensive training programme for indigenous officers to fit them for positions within the inspectorial service. The first indigenous officers in this field are expected to take up duty in 1969. (Question No. 482)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– Mr Barnes has now supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 485)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following reply:
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
Has the Public Accounts Committee any authority to examine the accounts and methods of the Department of Supply?
– I now provide the following answer:
Yes. The Department of Supply receives an appropriation for its expenditure from Parliament and expenditure from this appropriation is examinable by the Public Accounts Committee. Some activities of the Department are financed through trust accounts and the operation of these accounts is also examinable by the Public Accounts Committee.
(Question No. 522)
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
– I now provide the following answers:
(Question No. 524)
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
To what extent has the transfer of the Department of Supply from Melbourne to Canberra been effected and when will it be completed?
– I now provide the following answer:
There are520 positions involved in the transfer of the Central Administration of the Department of Supply from Melbourne to Canberra. The first stage of the transfer involving 291 positions was completed in January 1968. The majority of the remaining positions will be transferred during December 1968-January 1969 and the balance will be completed later in 1969.
(Question No. 561)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
New South Wales Parliament, including a Peeping Tom listening device and a spy pen?
-I now provide the following answer:
There arc at present no restrictions on the importation of bugging devices such as those referred to by the honourable senator. Controls over the importation of goods can be prescribed by regulation and the question of proposing such regulations for bugging devices has been under consideration. However, 1 am not yet in a position to indicate the outcome of these considerations.
– On 26th September 1968 Senator Georges asked me the following question:
In directing a question to the Minister for Supply I refer to a question which I asked him during the Estimates debate. I asked whether any moneys are being or were to be spent by the Department of Supply on biological warfare. The answer was no. Can the Minister explain the purpose of experiments on atmospheric contamination andneuro-muscular pharmacology disclosed in the Defence Standard Laboratories’ report at pages 33 and 35? Can he assure the Senate that these experiments are in no way connected with biological warfare?
As has been stated previously, a small number of Australian scientists are charged with the responsibility of keeping up todate our technology of defence against biological and chemical materials. This involves some research work as well as keeping in touch with allied activity in these fields. The experiments described in the Defence Standards Laboratories’ report relate to research work being undertaken in atmospheric contamination and neuromuscular pharmacology.
It is known that many chemicals and other particles are carried in the atmosphere causing contamination to exposed surfaces. In orderto develop adequate protection against such chemicals, studies are made of their diffusion. Whilst these studies are undertaken basically for defensive military purposes, they also make important contributions to the solution of the allied problems in the civil field, for example, respirators for people working in wheat dust and spray painting fumes. As to neuro-muscular pharmacology, research is being undertaken on certain natural poisons which affect some animals by attacking the nerve/ muscle junction; the aim of the work is to determine the mechanism of operation of these poisons andto develop appropriate protective measures and antidotes. One protection measure being studied is the effectiveness of various types of materials for use in protective clothing. Again, since certain chemical agents act through the skin, and some act on the neuro-muscular junction in men. the defensive military significance of this work is clear. So also is the allied civil problem: for example, sea wasps exist and have caused loss of life, and in civil life men occasionally wear protective suits, for example in the chemical industry.
Pathogenic agents are not used in these experiments. No work on offensive biological or chemical warfare agents is undertaken in any establishment of my Department. Investigational work in the fields covered in the report is essential to defence against these types of agents.
– Senator Marriott asked me on 22nd August about the authorship of the official publication ‘The Australian Economy 1968’ and whether the views and opinions expressed init were those of the Government or the Commonwealth Treasury.
The Acting Treasurer has informed me that this publication is the thirteenth in an annual series which commenced in 1956. The first included a foreword by the Prime Minister of the day, then the Rt Hon. R. G. Menzies. The foreword said:
This Economic Survey, designed to be the first of a series of Annual Surveys, has been prepared in order to present for public information and guidance an objective account of current trends and problems in the Australian economy.
These surveys are drafted in the Treasury and are issued on the authority of the Treasurer. Their purpose is not to present views and opinions but rather to give an account of the course of recent economic events, to attempt to assess economic prospects in the period immediately ahead and to discuss some current economic questions as objectively as possible.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1968
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1968
Social Services Bill 1968
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1968
– ‘by leave - I make this statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his capacity as Chairman of the Australian Loan Council.
A series of loan agreements has been successfully negotiated in the United States, lit total, these borrowings by the Commonwealth amount to $US180m. Three of the loans are from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and a fourth is a joint loan from the Export-Import Bank and United Slates commercial banks. The Export-Import Bank has agreed to lend the Commonwealth $US50m- $A44.6min two tranches of $US25m each, to finance the importation of specified categories of capital equipment from the United States. Since the Export-Import Bank is an agency of the United States Government, the loans arc not subject to the United States interest equalisation lax. The first tranche of the new loan will carry an interest rate of 7% per annum and will be issued at par. lt will mature finally in 1983.
The second loan is for an amount of $US75m - $A67m - to assist in financing the purchase of 24 FI 1 1 C aircraft, spares, associated equipment and services, “litis is additional lo an earlier borrowing of $US80m arranged in 1966 for this purpose. The loan will carry an interest rate of 67o and will be issued at par. Repayment of amounts drawn will be spread over 7 years. The third loan agreement is for an amount of $US53m - $A47.3m - to assist in financing the purchase by Qantas Airways Ltd of four Boeing 747 or jumbo jet aircraft. One half of the loan will bc provided by the Export-Import Bank and the Boeing company, and the other half by a syndicate of United Slates commercial banks.
Th<; proposed expenditure in the United Slates on the four aircraft and related equipment is $US132m, of which Qantas will finance 20% from its own resources. The Commonwealth will be looking to borrow the remainder in two tranches of approximately $US53m each, and the present loan represents the first tranche. Interest on the Export-Import Bank-Boeing portion will be at 6% , and on the commercial bank portion will be i% above the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company’s prime rate, with a minimum of 5.5% and a maximum of 7%. At present, this would mean a rate of 63-%. The loan will be repaid over a period of 7 years. The fourth loan agreement covers a borrowing of $US2.5m - $A2.3m - to assist in financing the purchase by Trans-Australia Airlines of its fifth Boeing 727 aircraft. It will carry an interest rate of 6%, and will be repaid over 7 years.
An agreement which the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) signed on behalf of the Commonwealth Government with the Union Bank of Switzerland in Zurich 2 weeks ago provided for a loan of approximately 10 million Swiss francs to complete the financing of this purchase. When account is taken of the recent 200 million deutschemark loan in Frankfurt, and the Swiss loan for TAA, loan agreements totalling approximately $A208m have recently been concluded.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
Thai leave bc given lo introduce a Bill for an Act lo alter the Constitution m> as to provide for equal representation of the people of the several States in the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Murphy moving a motion relating to the order nf General Business after 8 p.m.
– I move:
For the information of honourable senators I point out that order of the day No. 8 is the adjourned debate on the report of the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 September (vide page 998), on motion by Senator Scott.
Thatthe Senate approves of the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, and that the names of the Divisions suggested in the Report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name ‘Ku-ring-gai’ be substituted for ‘Hornsby’ and the name ‘Grose’ be substituted for ‘Blacktown’ and the name ‘Cook’ be substituted for Kurnell’.
Amendment (by Senator Scott) - by leave - agreed to:
Substitute ‘Berowra’ for ‘Ku-ring-gai’.
-I move the following amendment:
Leave out ‘the Senate approves of the redistribution of the Stale of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon. the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, and’
Insert ‘, since the distribution provides for a greater equality of population in the proposed divisions than has been allowed to develop in the existing divisions, the Senate approves the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. F. L. Ley. C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the Senate on the 18th day of September 1968, but does so with reluctance since the distribution:
provides for a greater inequality of population of the proposed divisions than has occurred in any previous distribution;
fails to provide that as nearly as is practicable one man’s vote is to be worth as much as another’s;
ignores the constitution’s plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives; and
denies the basic human right set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government, such will to be expressed by elections which shall be by equal suffrage, and agrees’
We are concerned here not with the rights of political parties but with the rights of the people of Australia. As is apparent from what 1 referred to in the amendment, there has been declared to be a universal fundamental right of people, a common standard of achievement to be attained everywhere in the world; and this applies to Australia as much as to every other country. Indeed Australia was one of the great number of countries which voted for theUniveral Declaration of Human Rights. There were a number of dissentients, mainly from the Communist countries, but the great bulk of the people of the world through their representatives, voted for the principle that the basis of the authority of government was the will of the people to be expressed in genuine and periodic elections conducted by equal suffrage. So it is the right of the Australian people that we are concerned with, not only in this redistribution but in other redistributions.
The right to equal suffrage has been denied for a considerable time in Australia. By one pretext or another the Government has failed to pursue the Constitution and the law in order to have redistributions made as promptly as they could be made. The present redistribution is at least 7 years overdue. Justice delayed is justice denied. Equally, electoral justice delayed is electoral justice denied. So far as there is any amelioration of the present disgraceful situation, then it is a delayed amelioration andto that extent the people of Australia arc denied justice.
The history of the matter is well known. It has been dealt with in the other chamber. Events that took place some years ago such as the failure of the Government then to act to bring in a fresh distribution after one had been disapproved by the House of Representatives make a sordid story of attempts to preserve government by denying equality of representation. Equality of representation is the core of democracy. Without equal representation, it cannot be claimed that this is a democratic country.
– Do you mean equality of numbers when you speak of equality of representation?
-I mean equality of numbers. Equal suffrage and equal representation can be achieved by an electoral system which provides that certain citizens - indeed, as in our country, even persons other than citizens - are permitted to vote. As long as those persons are properly representative of the mass of the people, and as long as those electors are able to vote under a system which provides for a fair equality between them then we have equal representation, and we have equal suffrage. No-one can achieve mathematical exactitude either in an electorate or in a population which is constantly in change. No-one can get mathematically exact equality of representation unless he were lo use methods other than those which we have. But we can go as nearly as practicable towards that.
What we have had grow up in Australia is a deliberate attempt, by legislation and also by the blatant declarations of ministers several years ago which have been referred to in this chamber, to see to it that there was no equality of representation and that certain areas would be represented in a higher way than others - plainly, that all persons in the country areas would have votes which were of greater value than those of persons in the cities.
– You do not agree with that at all?
– I do not agree with it in the slightest. No man who believes in democracy would believe that one should set out deliberately, as has been the plan of the Government, to ensure that persons living in certain areas should have a vote which is more valuable than that of persons who live in other areas. The value of a vote should not depend upon the area in which a person lives.
People are represented in the House of Representatives, lt is not supposed to represent acres, or trees, or sheep, lt is a House of representatives of the people. The argument that country seats or country people should have votes which are more valuable than those of the people in the cities comes down to this: There are certain matters which, if decided by the representatives of the people when elected on a basis of equality would be decided in a certain way. The attitude has been that this system should not be allowed to stand - that there should be a bias in favour of country interests so that these matters would be determined in another way.
What is that but a denial of democracy? lt means that the vote on the basis of equality is to be denied in favour of some purported overriding interest in people in certain country areas. Surely the overriding interest is the interest in the preservation of democracy. What is more important, that those in country areas should be able to sway legislation in their favour or that the people of Australia should be entitled to fair and equal representation so that a man, whether he lives in the city or in the country, will have an equal say in the election of the representatives of the people? If that is the test which divides the political parlies, if that is the test which divides the Opposition and the Government, then 1 am proud to be on the side of those who say that they believe in equality of representation, that all Australians should be equal politically when it comes to electing members of the House of Representatives.
– They should have equal weight in their vote.
– They should have equal representation. That system should bc arrived at by giving, as Far as possible, the vote to all adult persons so that the vote will be properly representative of the people, and then giving equality of vole to all of those voting. There are methods by which that might be achieved but this is the system which is conceived of by our Constitution and which should be carried out. The underhand means which have been used to achieve this can only be deplored. The Liberal Party should not pretend to believe in democracy. It should not be descending to the use of methods such as have been used in the legislation in order to preserve itself in government even at times when the majority of the people may vote against it.
– You mean it should not descend to the tactics used by the Labour Government in the United Kingdom to preserve itself?
– The Labour Government in the United Kingdom has followed a system of first past the post voting, a system which has been used also by other parties in that country. As J understand it, there is no complaint that the method of voting departs substantially from equality of vote. If there is, I am not aware of it.
– But 48% of the people elect 58% of the representatives.
– That may well be the result of a system of first past the post voting. One will understand the difference between a preferential system and a first past the post system. Your complaint about the system is not a suggestion that those who were elected to government received fewer votes than those who were not elected, that the Labour Party received fewer votes than did the Conservatives. I think it would be fair to the Senate if, in your interjections, you were to make that clear instead of Suggesting that in some way there had been a departure from the equality of voting principle in the United Kingdom. The bias in favour of the rural electorates has been carried out to a marked degree in the redistribution of New South Wales electorates as appears from page 4 of the report of the distribution commissioners. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the table showing proposed divisions.
lt is apparent from the table that there have been grave departures from the quota which is established in the numeration provisions in the Representation Act. For example, in the country electorate of Darling the number of electors is some 18.65% below the quota whereas in the city electorates of Parramatta and Sydney it is 12.42% and 13.56% respectively in excess of the quota. Those statistics relate to electors. When one looks at the section dealing with population one sees that there have been even wider disparities. The electorate of Grayndler has 125,110 persons whereas the electorate of Robertson, a country area, has 73,280 persons. That is a difference of 72.5% in those two electorates. How can anyone claim that this is a fair result, that this is equality of representation, that this is equal suffrage as envisaged by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which we acceded and which we arc bound at least to do everything we reasonably can lo carry out if we believe in the United Nations Charter which has been adopted by Australia and confirmed by the Parliament of Australia?
– Does the United Nations declaration permit any margin at all. do you think?
– The United Nations declaration envisages a system of equal suffrage. We think that any person who believed in democracy would take the view that we should strive for that equality. We know you cannot get it with mathematical exactness unless you go to enormous trouble but you can strive for and aim at that equality and then, if you find that there need to be incidental or accidental departures from it, let that be. Suppose that in New South Wales, for example, one hits aimed for and arrived al this basis of equality and that in trying to draw the outline one finds a mountain range which cuts off 1,000 people and puts them on one side instead of on the other. Suppose also that the distribution commissioners then said: The commonsense thing is to associate those 1,000 people with this side of the mountain range rather than the other side’. One could understand and accept that as an incidental or accidental departure from the outlines of the electorates. But Iel us not set out with the notion, as we have here and as appears clearly from the tables, of creating electorates of different size. A deliberate departure from equal suff rage would not be consistent with the United Nations Charter.
– Would not the United Nations attitude of equal suffrage be a prohibition against multiple suffrage? Would nol that be rather the meaning to bc given to equality of suffrage against multiple voting in the hands of individuals?
– Nol at all. The doctrine of equal suffrage always has been founded on the notion of-
– One man one vote.
– Not one man one vote, rather one man one vote one value. The rights of the citizens were to be equal. One has only to look through the rest of the Declaration of Human Rights to see that. How can one justify departure from the other parts of the Charter which indicate thai there is to be equality between people and that you cannot depart from that equality whether on grounds of sex, race, colour or on any other ground? The very fact that these other provisions exist in the Charier indicates that what is meant by equal suffrage is that people are to be equal politically, lt is not merely that Senator Byrne, for instance, should not have twice as many votes as I have; his vote must noi be twice as valuable as mine. If it is the whole principle is thrown away. It makes a mockery of equal suffrage if each person has a vote but some voles are more valuable than others, lt is nonsense to suggest that this is in accord with a great Charter which sets out than men are to be politically equal.
– Can you instance some countries where the principle of numerical equality applies?
– That is a very good question.
– I hope that you will express the degree of disparity that does exist.
– For some years the same kind of situation existed in the United States as exists here with the disparity of 72.5% as between Robertson and Grayndler. In some areas of the United States the extraordinary departures from equality resembled the rotten borough system of Great Britain. However, by a series of monumental decisions in cases such as Baker and Carr, and Wesberry and Sanders, the United States Supreme Court declared that the words chosen by the people in the United States Constitution meant that as far as practicable one man’s vote was to be worth as much as another man’s vote. In the Wesberry and Sanders decision the Court determined that these words alone, without anything else in the Constitution, were enough to show that there must be equality of voting between persons: that there must be equality of representation.
– What disparity is accepted?
– 1 have the figures. In many cases the disparities were less than those that exist under our present distribution, not only in New South Wales but also in the other States. Certainly some were much less than 72.5% - they were down to the twenties and even less. The general line taken by the Supreme Court in a large number of decisions was to insist that as far as practicable there should be equality. Broadly, the Supreme Court saw to it that any system which was aiming at a departure from equality was struck down. I will supply these figures to Senator Webster.
– Is the Grayndler figure the run-down figure for the end of 7 years?
– That is the figure now.
– Do they contemplate a run-down or loss of voters in Grayndler in the next 6 or 7 years? Is that the idea?
– I think that the proposition that the distribution commissioners operated on was to take account of the factors mentioned in the Electoral Act. Whilst they had in mind the principle of one man one vote one value they felt obliged to consider these other factors. Paragraph 9 of (he distribution commissioners’ report at page 3 states:
Strong representations were also made to your Distribution Commissioners concerning the principle of ‘One vote one value’. While your Commissioners had regard to this principle, they were, of course, obliged to give due consideration lo the factors specified in section 19(2.) of the Act. Under your Commissioners’ proposals, all Divisions contain a number of electors within the limits specified in section 19(1.1.
So, one can see that the distribution commissioners set out to look rather at the permissible numbers, going 20% one way and 20% the other way under the Act, instead of setting out with the notion of arriving at equality of voters in the electorates. Having set out with the permissible limits in mind, they then referred to factors such as community of interest, means nf communication and so forth. The Opposition believes that the principle which has been enunciated by the United States Supreme Court should be applied here. The matter has been discussed before and I will not take honourable senators through all of the arguments, but the same words are used in the Australian Constitution. There is no doubt that the people of Australia expect that they are entitled to no less democracy than has been applied in the United States. In answer to Senator Webster and for the assistance of other honourable senators. I point out that the figures I have in front of me were collated by Mr Whitlam, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. They indicate that Arizona, where the difference in population between the largest and smallest districts was 12.7%, was redistricted by three Federal judges and that California, where the difference was 13.8%, was approved by the Californian Supreme Court on 18th December 1967.
– Thirteen per cent of what?
– That was the percentage difference in population between the largest and the smallest. Florida, where the maximum difference was 1 1.9%, was redistricted by three Federal judges and this was upheld by the Supreme Court on 15th January. Illinois, where the figure was 14.4%, was redistricted by the Illinois Supreme Court plus three Federal judges. The figure I have for Indiana is 2.6%. Yet it was redistricted by Federal judges by a two to one majority on Nth February 1968 and this was upheld by the Supreme Court on 4lh March 1968. Maryland, which had a variation of 2.7%, was redistricted by three Federal judges.
– Do they apply any other principles apart from arithmetical equality? Were factors such as community of interest and communications canons to be observed?
– These arguments were all put - the argument that the interests of country areas were of special value and should be over represented, and the argument that because country members had to travel therefore their task was somehow more difficult than that of members representing city seats. Of course, the answer given by the Supreme Court was that the overriding consideration was representation of the people. The Opposition in this chamber adopts the same view. We believe that the difficulty suffered by members who have to travel greater distances is mct by the use of improved means of communication and that it can also be met by the provision of a greater travelling allowance and more staff. We believe that the last method to be used is the paring down of equal representation of the people. I have the figures for a number of other American States. If Senator Webster or any other honourable senator wishes he can have access to them. Indeed, it may be convenient if I incorporate the document in Hansard.
– Would you quote the greatest disparity between electorates that has been approved?
– I notice that a disparity of 15.5% in New Jersey was upheld by the New Jersey Supreme Court on 2nd April 1968. This seems to be the highest figure in the list that has a notation beside it. as to what has happened.
– Would that appear lo the honourable senator to be an acceptable disparity?
– My attitude is that any deliberate disparity is unacceptable. Any disparity which might occur because of some reason of convenience or because of an incidental reason in the drawing of the boundaries would be acceptable. As long as one sets out with the notion of achieving equality, to have minor adjustments of boundaries in order to cater for mountain ranges and so on, in my view would be not a matter of great moment. One could understand the adoption of certain minor changes. The desirable objective is to have complete equality. 1.1: there were minor departures for other reasons 1 do not think anyone would contend that a real and substantial infringement had occurred. With the concurrence of hoourable senators I incorporate in Hansard the following table.
– You put a degree of emphasis in one place and others put it in different places.
– No. There must be complete suffrage and equality of representation.
– In what you quote as being something good there is a 15% disparity and you are willing to accept that that is reasonable.
– No, I am not willing to accept that as reasonable. 1 am stating the approach of a Supreme Court of the United States of America on the matter. I have given the figures because they were asked for. I certainly do not concede that a departure of 15%, or anything like it, is acceptable.
– When you say that the Illinois redistribution was approved by the Supreme Court, was that the Supreme
Court of Illinois or the Supreme Court of the United States?
– In Illinois the difference between largest and smallest was 14.4%. That was redistricted by the Illinois Supreme Court plus three federal judges. 1 cannot verify the figures. I gave them because they happened to bs conveniently available in a statement made by Mr Whitlam. I am giving the effect of them as well as I can. They will appear in Hansard for the convenience of honourable senators.
– There is a difference in the United States. Can you cite any country where there is no disparity?
– lt would probably bc impossible to get a mathematical exactitude, but we must strive for this. We do not have exact equality because there must be a difference between the number registered to vote at the time of the census and the number when the vote is taken. We must understand that there probably will be movements of the people who have been registered on the voting roll at any time. All these things are incidentals of our electoral system, but we must strive for equality. The commissioners have stated that they were forced to depart from equality because of the provisions of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which we opposed when it was debated in this House. Such a striving for a departure from equality is to bc condemned because it is a denial of the rights of the people to equal representation.
We accept the proposals because if we arc to act in the interests of the people we are accepting something which is an improvement on the existing situation. Let noone think that we think it is desirable. It is an improvement on the existing situation where some electorates have swollen out of all proportion since the last redistribution in 1955 whilst other electorates have contracted. No doubt this will happen again under the proposed redistribution. M the proposed redistribution is disapproved in the Senate, under the obnoxious provisions of the Representation Act we return to the old situation. The present extraordinarily unfair electoral divisions would operate. With the Government playing cat and mouse, as it is, with the country and the Parliament, if we rejected the proposals for New South Wales and an election were held this year it would be he’d under the existing boundaries which, from a democratic point of view, are intolerable. No-one would attempt to justify those boundaries. That is the only basis of our acceptance of these changes. We say that they are unfair, unjust, a denial of human rights and a denial of the political equality of the people of New South Wales, but they are at least some improvement on the existing situation. For the reasons 1 have indicated we press the amendment. We do not oppose the proposed boundaries.
– I support the motion:
Thai iiic Senate approves of the redistribution of the Slate of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley. C. W. Prince and K. F. Mallon. . . .
I indic:,te that my party rejects the amendment moved by Senator Murphy. It is interesting to note that his proposed amendment is different from that proposed by his colleague in another place. The basic difference is to be found in the fourth part of the amendment which states that the redistribution: denies lbc basic human right set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that the will of the people shall be the basis of authority of government, such will lo be expressed by elections which shall be by equal suffrage.
My party supports the proposed redistribution. We greatly regret that the party will lose a seal which it holds at present. That docs not necessarily mean that the Australian Country Party is losing an electorate. We pay great tribute to Mr Failes, who has represented the seat of Lawson for many years and who, although appealing against the loss of Lawson, accepts that the proposed redistribution is one which probably could be claimed to be as good as any made under the present circumstances.
Senator Murphy indicated the attitude of his party. I believe he was very fair in his comment because not once did I hear him mention that there had been any gerrymander proposed under the redistribution. In respect of every previous federal redistribution of which I have read, particularly those in more recent years, members of almost every party have suggested some untoward action in introducing the redistribution and indeed have indicated that a benefit has been gained by one party or another. Some honourable senators who spoke in the debate on previous legislation have suggested a gerrymander. I give Senator Murphy credit because in all he said he did not claim that anything had been done to accord advantage to any particular party. However, while I congratulate him for that, 1 suggest that he directed his attention entirely to the basis of the Commonwealth Electoral Act which was passed by both Houses of Parliament in 1965 and which was recently amended. In expressing the will of the people both Houses of Parliament gave to the distribution commissioners directions which served as the basis of the proposals we now have before us. I believe that any member of a political party, other than a member of Parliament who represents the densely populated sections of a city, would readily realise thai an equality of vote does not exist where an individual voter has nol the same benefits of access between himself and his representative as exist in other electorates: that where such equal opportunities do not exist it can be properly construed that (here is an inequality of vole. lt seemed that Senator Murphy strained himself to bring in what 1 understand to be the Australian Labor Party concept expressed by mouthing the words ‘one vote, one value’. Senator Murphy on one occasion used the words ‘one man, one vote, one value’. Certainly that expands the high sounding phrase a little too far. My Party believes in the principle of one vote, one value. It disagrees with the principle of equal numerical strength in every electorate. Indeed. I suggest that many members of Senator Murphy’s own Party would support my contention.
– The policy of his Party in Victoria is first past the post, so that between 30% and 35% of the electors can determine who wins a seat.
– If Senator Little is expressing the view that in this chamber and in another place, and perhaps throughout Australia, the real views of members of the official Opposition Party are inconsistent, I. agree with him. 1 doubt if any honourable senator opposite would challenge the proposition that his Party’s views are inconsistent in relation to the demand for equal votes in all electorates. 1 note that honourable senators opposite are very quiet. I think they have every reason to be quiet, because that principle is not acceptable in Australia.
– Why not?
– Senator Cant is very vocal. By experience he knows that when the Labor Party was in office in Western Australia it endorsed the principle that some areas in Western Australia need have no basis whatsoever of population in electing a member of Parliament. Senator Cant nods his head in approval. The main point I wish to make is that every member of this Parliament should be particularly proud of this redistribution of boundaries. In the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918- 62 which was amended this Parliament provided that every constituent in Australia should have an opportunity to present his views to the distribution commissioners. 1 would be pleased if any honourable senator who follows me in this debate could advise mc whether any Australian parliament, or any parliament in the world, has designed legislation which ensures that no gerrymander can be worked by a political party.
– How much notice was taken of that provision? That is the answer.
– Probably it is more the question.
– There is a whole lot of it written there, but a fat lot of good it did us.
– The honourable senator expresses the attitude of a man seeking benefit for his own particular party. 1 do not believe that was intended in the redistribution.
– Who was the Minister in charge of the Bill? Was he claiming preference for his Party?
– I do not know which Minister was in charge of the Bill introduced by the Labor Government in Western Australia. Perhaps Senator Cant could tell us later.
– We are talking about the Commonwealth Bill.
– I was talking about the Western Australian Bill. Of course, Senator Cant does not wish to speak about the position in Western Australia. He would endorse the fact that there is one rep resentative of the electorate of Kalgoorlie which covers an area equal to about 90% of Western Australia. There is no equality of vote between an elector in the Kalgoorlie electorate and an elector who lives in the heart of Perth.
– The Perth electorate, under the old boundaries, has fewer electors than Kalgoorlie - about 21,000 as against about 36,000.
– Senator Cant has not quite replied to the point. I was pointing out that organisations and constituents were given every opportunity to present their views to the distribution commissioners. 1 found it quite interesting to read the comments of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard). Perhaps Senator Murphy was expressing his own views on the matter in this chamber. Perhaps they are not altogether supported by the back bench members of the Opposition. I draw the attention of honourable senators to a letter signed by Mr Fred Collard, member of the House of Representatives for Kalgoorlie, dated 1 1th March and addressed to the Chairman of the Redistribution Committee, Commonwealth Bank, Williams Street. Perth.
– What has that to do with the New South Wales boundaries?
– I think Senator Murphy ranged pretty wide of the Commonwealth Electoral Bill when he spoke in this debate. We are dealing with a principle here.
– Even to oratory Western Australia is more relevant.
– That is so. I take it that Mr Collard expressed the view of the Labor Party in Western Australia. I ask honourable senators opposite to alert me to the fact if that is not so. Mr Collard wrote, in part: f understand that it is competent for me to make submissions to your Committee relative to the redistribution of electoral boundaries in Western Australia, and particularly as affecting the electorate of Kalgoorlie which I presently represent.
I might add at this point that the attitude of myself and my Party is to support fully the comment made in the letter. The honourable member went on:
If this is so, then T would respectfully draw attention lo certain factors which, in my opinion, arc such as lo warrant the boundaries of the
Kalgoorlie electorate being drawn to ensure that it contains no more than the absolute minimum of electors.
He went on to say:
In the first place I refer to the size of the electorate as it now stands some 92% of the area of the State, the difficulty of communication, transport and persona! contact with the electors.
Why would be write that, other than to indicate that his constituents were put at a disadvantage by the difficulty of communication and that businesses ako suffered a disadvantage because of the difficulty of communication. As a member of Parliament he realises how difficult it is to give the division of Kalgoorlie representation which is adequate or is equal to that of a more compact area.
– He should be given more assistance by way of allowances rather than by a reduction of the number of electors.
– We alf hope that the honourable senator will have an opportunity to speak on that subject in the not too distant future. Whilst giving Senator Murphy credit for the proposal that he has put forward, I make the point that the attitude professed by the Australian Labor Party here today will not read well in rural areas. I remind the Senate that the Country Party does not. control1 every country electorate in Australia. Apparently the great Liberal Party and the Labor Party have an attraction also to rural people. Senator Murphy’s words, which were endorsed by other Labor Party supporters, will not sound particularly attractive in country areas. By the terms of his amendment he has said that the Labor Party considers that lack of means of communication and travel within a division, remoteness and the disabilities arising therefrom have no relevance when it comes to achieving equal numbers within electoral divisions. 1 criticise the Labor Party for that proposition.
– Usually the honourable senator is friendly.
– Usually I am friendly. In this instance T suggest that the Labor Party will do itself no good by stating as its policy the belief that the number of voters in the Kalgoorlie electorate should be equal to the number in a division in the middle of Perth. Their member in Kalgoorlie does not believe this.
– Usually there have been more in Kalgoorlie than there have been in Perth. That has been the position for years.
– The honourable senator has suggested that for years the division of Kalgoorlie has had more electors; and I do not believe that that is a fair situation. It is interesting to note that in introducing an amendment Senator Murphy referred to the Declaration of Human Rights, a subject which was not raised in the other House. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber asked whether he could instance an occasion on which action taken in Australia had been contrary to the Declaration of Human Rights. We realise that he had no real argument against the system of redistribution that exists in the Commonwealth of Australia. Although he said that he believed every electorate should have equal numbers he referred to the United States of America and finally emphasised that even there the people were willing to accept a 15% disparity in numbers.
– I read out that they would not accept even 4% disparity.
– But did the honourable senator not say also that they had accepted a disparity of 15%?
– I did not.
– Senator Murphy now says that he did nc< express that view.
– The honourable senator asked me whether I approved of it and I said no. I read what was on the paper and gave what I thought were reasons, but I did not say why I thought it should or should not be acceptable.
– I thought the Leader of the Opposition made it clear that there was a 15% disparity between the largest number and the least number of electors in various divisions. There is no difference of opinion between Senator Murphy and myself when he states that some disparity is necessary, but, as Senator Byrne has pointed out, it is as to the limits of that disparity that Senator Murphy argues.
– Not merely the limits but the intention, whether we set out to achieve a disparity or whether there is a minor disparity which is inevitable. It fs (he deliberate disparities which are objectionable.
– I do not think the Senate will accept that proposition. Senator Murphy said that obviously the day after a redistribution there could be some disparity, but he then went on to say that he had forgotten to mention that in the United States, despite all the criteria that he had read out, a 15% disparity had been accepted by the United States Supreme Court. We see quite clearly that this is fact. Al the time of federation in Australia, because so much of the population was centred in the great metropolises along the eastern seaboard, and in other parts of the country there were such enormous areas to be covered by the representatives, it was decided that there should be some disparity in the number of voters in electorates.
– Where is there a word of that in the Constitution?
– Let us not refer to the Constitution but let us see what Sir William Lyne is reported to have said on 5th June 1902. He said:
There is a somewhat elastic but necessary provision that the quota of electors shall bc the basis for (he distribution of (he division-
Senator Murphy would agree with that ; shall be adhered to as nearly as practicable but may be departed from lo the extent of one-fourth more or less.
That was the proposition in 1902.
– A disparity of 50%?
– That was the proposition in 1902. Even my own parly was not in existence in those days. We can take it from the words I have cited that at that time speakers on the Constitution discussed the problem of electors not being given equality of voting rights if there were to be equal numbers in each electorate.
– Does the honourable senator not believe in equality of voting rights?
– I suggest that the basic principle of everyone in a democracy having one vote would be a particularly good proposition. However, I suggest that Senator Murphy completely avoids a consideration of the disadvantages suffered by people in remote areas compared with those who are in compact electorates. 1 do not believe that he really wishes to avoid that consideration.
– Utter rubbish!
– Despite thai remark, I understand thai Senator Poyser represents some rural interests in Victoria. He is not willing to see a disparity in votes. A weighted vote to people in country areas will compensate for the disadvantages that have been mentioned. Let us take as an example the electorate of Mallee. Does Senator Poyser suggest that people in that area would have equality of representation, no matter who the member may be, when they have such difficulty in getting together to discuss a matter of political importance?
– One vote one value is the position, and that is what it should be.
– The honourable senator does not define what is meant by value. I am sure that he would agree that in representation the value is not there for a man who lives 200 or 300 miles from his member of Parliament. I do not believe that that fact can be denied. Senator Poyser nods his head about this. 1 think that that is a disgraceful attitude. I do not believe that the Australian Labor Party in its own mind believes in it.
– You simply do not believe in democracy.
– That is utter rubbish. At least the ALP is now stating a view that was not accepted by any of those who have spoken, in what it proposed in Western Australia. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition would shake his head and say no, but when his Party got into power it would immediately amend the provision in any State and see that even numbers occurred in every electorate.
– You know that I have already introduced a Bill to achieve exactly that result in every State.
- Senator Murphy expresses the view that if his Party got into power he would wish to achieve this in every State of the Commonwealth. I think it is as well for the people to know that that is the policy pf the Australian Labor Party. I certainly disagree with it entirely. I express the view of my political Party when I say that there must be a disparity in numbers of electors in electorates so that an equal value vote is given lo those people who live in the more remote areas of Australia.
– That is double talk.
– lt is not double talk. The Leader of the Opposition expressed it quite clearly when he tried to give an instance of what had happened in America. In short, I have great pleasure in endorsing the propositions that have been put forward. I speak in relation to New South Wale3 but 1 express my view also in relation to the Victorian proposed redistribution, with which 1 am in agreement. In actual fact, what the commissioners have done lo the best of their ability has brought about a redistribution on criteria of which we should ali be particularly proud.
– 1 support the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). For a change, I want to deal exclusively with New South Wales. lt amazes me that other than a lament about the electorate of Lawson there seemed to be no submission by the first speaker in this debate on the Government side as far as New South Wales is concerned. The Leader of the Opposition in his early remarks indicated that on a comparison of the growth in the outer western suburbs of Sydney with the position in some of the inner city areas there must be some adjustment, but that is where we part company with Senator Webster in relation to the 1955 position. In the original proposals of the commissioners the New South Wales electorates of Dalley, East Sydney, Parkes, Watson and Lawson were abolished, and this is where the crunch comes in. Parkes had been a traditionally Labor held seat for over 20 years. in any change made on quotas away from the coastline of New South Wales it is remarkable that the major casualty is the Australian Labor Party. I do not say that in any spirtit of carping criticism. On voting patterns between 1955 and this redistribution it seems to me that we have been considerably the losers. I would go a little further and say that we are talking about electors - not people. When we look at the inner city area of Sydney, the metropolitan area, we find a tremendous number of new citizens, unnaturalised people who are non-voters. These are people who have social problems and who rightly come to elected representatives. In the main these are matters of a federal nature, whether they relate to social services, migration or other subjects.
I do not question for a moment - nor did my Leader - the need for an adjustment when one electorate has 40,000 voters and another has 100,000 voters but we say, quite frankly, that we are the greatest losers on the voting pattern. Let me refer to the mid-western suburbs in the electorates of Lowe and Evans. I think Senator Byrne interjected, when Senator Murphy was speaking, to ask whether one vote one value was the only criterion to be applied. We talk about community of interest. In the green covered publication with which we have been supplied are a mass of submissions by interested parties - not only members of my party - as to what should be done in relation to revisions. When the final report came out the only substantial change made - this would not be denied by anybody - was a transfer of a few thousand votes from the electorate of KingsfordSmith lo the electorate of Phillip. 1 know that the present member for Phillip did not lose any sleep about that change. I do not cavil if one deals with geographical affinity or something of that kind.
Let us remember some of the inequalities in the United States that have been mentioned. In a particular instance in the State of Texas there is what is described as a rather peculiar setup’, with an electorate straddling a river. Consider the case of the Parramatta River in New South Wales. If one wanted to adjust the Lowe electorate there would be several alternatives. One could go down into the adjacent electorate of Evans, or across the river to the Liberal held electorate of Bennelong into Gladesville or, as was done, extend into the Parramatta electorate. Let us consider community of interest. We in the Senate talk a lot about the three-tiered form of Government - municipal government. State government and Commonwealth government. When a local government authority takes up a particular postal problem it is usually on a regional basis. In matters of air pollution and water pollution, in the initial stages it is local government that has to endeavour to prosecute big companies which take no notice of local government ordinances, but at some point of time the matter is referred by the council to State government and federal representatives.’
In numerous instances the theme of these proposals is community of interest. Ever since the Lowe electorate was formed it was generally assumed that the municipalities of Concord, Burwood and Strathfield were the main focal points at a local government level. Submissions were made that if the Sunnyside section of Evans that has been put into Lowe were put back into Evans there would be an affinity of interest, that is. it is portion of the Drummoyne municipality. Nobody can convince me of the value for this purpose of the Eastwood area being in Lowe electorate. 1 was fortified by the public complaint of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) as to why that area could not have been left alone. lt is nol a question of the Australian Labor Party losing at least five out of six seals. There is a gradual erosion of voting patterns. I do not think that any senator should adopt a mealy-mouthed attitude and say that this is not like a State redistribution, that we are dealing with a Commonwealth redistribution. Nobody can convince members of my Party in New South Wales. We are the losers as far as voting patterns are concerned. What is the alternative? There is a very simple one, when we look at such massive electorates as Werriwa and Prospect. If the commissioners in New South Wales had done something like the Queensland commissioner, Mr Weise, has done in relation to the Kennedy electorate, we would have had a different pattern. There would have been an additional electorate in the outer western suburbs of Sydney and at the very least there would have been an even break in relation to voting patterns.
Considerable time was given by Senator Webster to the question of whether only the Australian Labor Party suggested that votes should be equal. Let me refer to the Sydney ‘Sun’ of 3rd October 1968, which contains the result of a Roy Morgan Australian Public Opinion Poll. 1 know that it is very fashionable for Government senators Vo wave the result of one of these polls triumphantly and say. ‘There you are, you are out of step.’ Of course, one cannot win them all on these polls; Here is an indication that 45% of the people believe that voting parity should apply. Senator Murphy and our counterparts in State Labor governments - New South Wales had more than 20 years of Labor government -suggest reasonable adjustments; but apparently honourable senators opposite are not satisfied with reasonable adjustments. That is all we ask for. We certainly will not be content to say that the New South Wales redistribution is virtually a line ball. lt is not a line ball. The electorates of Dalley, East Sydney, Parkes, Watson and Lawson will be abolished. Honourable senators opposite know in their heart of hearts that in any election on the existing boundaries the most vulnerable seat for the Government in New South Wales is Parkes. Despite what Senator Webster said about the electorate of Lawson, I fail to see where the Liberal Party, the senior partner in this coalition Government, has lost anything in New South Wales.
Another point that 1 make is in regard to the leapfrogging technique. In respect of the electorate of Lowe, if the distribution commissioners had wanted to make any adjustments they could have considered areas other than areas across the Parramatta River. I am not advocating that electorates should straddle rivers, because they are usually natural boundaries. If the commissioners accept the submission of my parliamentary leader, Mr Whitlam, that the Hawkesbury River was a natural boundary between the electorate of Robertson and the metropolitan area, I fail to see why the Parramatta River should not be used as a boundary, as it is for municipalities. Had the commissioners done that, they would not have had any need to consider the Eastwood region.
If they had to consider areas across the Parramatta River, it is remarkable that they did not go across the municipality of Concord to Gladesville, lt might be argued that, as is borne out by State figures, Gladesville provides a fairly healthy Labor majority. These things have to be said. We are dealing with facts and figures as they are now. We are not dealing with the world as we would like it to be. I believe that some of the non-Labor people who made submissions will agree with me when I say that community of interest was not considered very seriously, especially in relation to metropolitan municipalities. If the coastline approach had been followed rigidly, step by step and quota by quota, and if a particular figure had not been accepted for the electorate of Dalley, when it came to the country electorates the fears about the principle of one vote one value and what it entails in regard to overall democracy would have been dissipated considerably. 1 am making fairly strong criticisms. But the point is that in all the submissions that we make we do not simply make wild assertions; we quote facts and figures to prove our point. I do not intend to weary the Senate by giving specific details. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a letter that appears on pages 201 and 202 of the booklet of suggestions, comments or objections lodged with the distribution commissioners. 3 Coronation Parade
Enfield, N.S.W. 12 August 1968
The Distribution Commissioners,
Commonwealth Electoral Office,
The Commonwealth Centre,
SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000
Lowe Electorate Redistribution Proposals
We, the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth Electoral Division of Lowe desire to lodge objections to the proposed redistribution affecting this electorate.
Accordingly, we submit the following suggestions which we consider more in keeping with community interests:
Numerically, the Lowe existing quota of 57,254 would be reduced by 4996 voters, if Eastwood subdivision (part south of Rutledge Street and First Avenue and east of Ryedale Road) were subtracted.
The addition of Ashbury (2617 electors) and CROYDON PARK (3357) would bring the Lowe electoral strength to 58,232.
Besides returning to LOWE electorate quota to 57,370, which is close to the Electoral Commissioners original quota, it places this area which is a segment of Drummoyne Municipality into EVANS Electorate, which embraces the major portion of Drummoyne Municipality.
In making these submissions, we the undersigned are firmly convinced that municipal councils will more and more in the future be in the vanguard of various community representations to Commonwealth Departments, be the subjects as wide apart as postal facilities or migration affairs.
In this regard, it can be successfully argued that Concord, Strathfield and Burwood municipalities may on occasion, have affinity of intention in such problems with the adjacent municipality of Canterbury (assuming these submissions were accepted).
Conversely, due to geographic and other local factors, it is extremely hard to visualise any community campaigns involving Commonwealth departments which would find the Eastwood region allied to the other components of the revised LOWE electorate as submitted by us.
C.Healey 3 Coronation Pde, Enfield
Roll No. 2872, Strathfield Sub-Div.
Comm. Div. Lowe
St. E./D. Burwood
John H. Holland 20 Minna St, Burwood
Roll No. 1441. EnfieldNt. Sub-Div.
Comm. Div. Lowe
St. E./D. Burwood
Rexcrompton 39 Bareena St, Strathfield
Roll No. 1438, Strathfield Sub-Div.
Comm. Div. Lowe
St. E./D. Burwood
L.Garlet 1 Kessel Ave, Homebush West
Roll No. 984, Strathfield West Sub-Div.
Comm. Div. Lowe
St. E./D. Burwood
P.Boyland 57c Wentworth Rd, Strathfield
Roll No. 483, Burwood Sub-Div.
Comm. Div. Lowe
St. E./D. Burwood
That letter indicates whatI mean by a reasonable approach on the matter of community of interest by reference to a particular mid-western suburbs electorate. In regardto voting flexibility, the commissioners had an alternative in regard to the electorates of Blaxland and Reid. Massive suggestions were put to them. Any of those suggestions could have been adopted and would have necessitated only a small adjustment of the electorate of Evans. It would have been quite possible to make an adjustment to the electorate of Lowe which would have allowed the Sunnyside region to go back into the electorate of Evans.
The point that I make is that in the midwestern suburbs electorates it would not have required the adoption of any revolutionary proposal to convince us that justice was being done. If a couple more electorates had been created it would have been more of a line ball in regard to electoral casualties than is the proposal that we now have before us. 1 know that other New South Wales senators are far more conversant with other sections of the Sydney metropolitan area than 1 am. I am sure that they would be able to give a fairly clear picture of the overall voting pattern. When we get beyond that point, if we are honest with ourselves in relation to the principle of one vote one value, for the life of me I cannot see what anyone has to fear. Obviously, with the exodus of people from the inner city areas to the western suburbs and the northern suburbs the final result would be a fairly even pattern. 1 do not doubt for one moment - neither does anybody else on this side of the chamber - that in an electorate such as Darling particular problems have to be faced up to.
– Your leader does not face up to them in his proposition.
– The honourable senator will have an opportunity to refute what 1 have said. I repeat that in the five New South Wales electorates that will be abolished, with the exception of Lawson I do not know of any traditional Government seat that has gone by the board.
– The honourable senator is dodging the issue. He was talking about Darling.
– 1 am saying that if: my formula were followed out through the electorates to Darling the fears would bc dissipated considerably. If we members of the Labor Party have to accept the fact that there has been a contraction of population in West Sydney and East Sydney, on the basis of some conception of justice the Liberal Party should accept casualties in other seats. But it has not done that. I emphasise that the padding that has been done in the St George is remarkable. I am yet to be convinced that the inclusion of the subdivision of Mortdale will make it any easier for the Labor Party to win the seat of Barton. Honourable senators opposite may say that in Western Australia and South Australia there is a bit of give and take and that in New South Wales Grose and Prospect should be Labor seats. But those seats have to be offset against Berowra and our loss of four certain Labor seats and the abolition of a fifth seat which, with the exception of the last 3 years, has been a Labor seat for the last 20 years. Although honourable senators opposite talk about the New South Wales redistribution being a fair deal, in my opinion, which is shared by honourable senators on this side of the chamber, it certainly could have been considerably better, lt is strange that in relation to the electorate of Evans it was not merely Australian Labor Party spokesmen who emphasised these points.
In conclusion let me say that I believe that spokesmen for the Government have a case to answer. It is not for them to give explanations of the situation in Western Australia. I would like subsequent Government speakers to dispute my thesis about the abnormal number of Labor seats that have been liquidated in. this redistribution. My second point is that, as indicated in the gallup poll to which 1 have referred and whether honourable senators opposite like it or not, by the evolutionary processes of democracy th: idea of unequal representation has gone by the board. That has happened in the United States, to which Senator Murphy referred. There have also been considerable adjustments to the disadvantage of rural constituencies in Canada. I believe that in Canada some people had the fear that the cities would milk the country of all its resources. I do not believe that the new swinging Prime Minister of Canada is doing anything like that. Apparently he is a product of a redistribution plan. With a different government in office in Canberra the position would be the same.
– I rise only to answer, if I can, some of the propositions that have been put forward somewhat illogically, in the light of the amendment that has been moved, by members of the Opposition. The Senate is faced with a curious situation. It is curious in this way: Senator Scott has moved a motion for the adoption of certain proposals made by the electoral commissioners. Senator Murphy has moved an amendment which says in effect: ‘We agree with this resolution but we want to say that wc agree with it with reluctance.’ Then, for the best part of three-quarters of an hour, we heard a speech from Senator Murphy in which he stressed the virtue of one vote one value. He stated that it is the very core of democracy and he used expressions which would suggest that if you do not have one vote one value there is something flagrantly and vitally wrong with the electoral system. His speech was an impassioned plea that this particular redistribution was defective because it did not have one vote one value.
If that be the case, then why do not Senator Murphy and the members of the Labor Party vote against the proposal? If the reasons which have been given by Senator Murphy have validity, then they are compelled to oppose this redistribution. Yet they are not prepared to do that. In a weak way they say: ‘We approve with reluctance.’
I do not know whether that is an indication of the strength with which the members of the Labor Party hold to the principles which they regard as virtues or whether it is an indication that they are nol masters of what they do in this place. They have masters outside this chamber who tell them what they have to do even to the extent of whether or not they shall approve the redistribution in New South Wales. That is the attitude of a Party which feels that it can govern this country. If it feels it can govern this country, then one would suppose that in matters such as this the parliamentary members could be trusted to make up their own minds instead of accepting the dictates of a body outside.
Senator Murphy suggested that his Party is the repository of all the virtues and that other parties have no virtues at all. He accused the members of the Liberal Party of pretending to be democrats. The Liberal Party is the only Party which, in this whole affair of redistribution, comes out with clean hands. A proposed redistribution was put forward in 1962, and the Liberal Party was prepared to stand by that proposal. But there was what I am prepared to call an unholy alliance’ - because that is what it was - between the Country Party and the Labor Party which prevented that redistribution from going through. If there is any blame to be attached to anybody, it is unfair to throw that blame at the Liberal Party. Everybody was conscious in 1962 that there was need for a redistribution of boundaries. The Liberal Party faced up to that, but the Labor Party was not prepared to do so. In those circumstances, what could the Liberal Party do in order to achieve a redistribution but to recognise the politics of the situation and introduce the amendments which have now led to this redistribution? 1 would say that the Labor Party must recognise that if it finds defects in the present redistribution - and I think it is looking too closely and too partially at it - it has only itself to blame for an act which in 1962 it ought to have had the wisdom not to have committed. I think that, on reflection, its members realise that.
We have heard from Senator Murphy and Senator Mulvihill the suggestion that this redistribution is defective because it fails to give effect to the principle of one vote one value. 1 do not mind expressing my view. With the broad principle - not the exact principle - of one vote one value, I am in agreement. I think it will be found that most members of the Liberal Party are in agreement with that. But that is not relevant to a consideration of the present redistribution because the Electoral Act lays down what is to happen when a redistribution occurs. The Commissioners have carried out what the Electoral Act requires them to carry out. and no one is suggesting thai they have not. But if they have carried out those requirements, then I think the Parliament will be acting objectively if it accepts what has been done by an independent body. If the Act had required that there should bc one vote one value-
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. (General Business taking precedence of Government Business)
Debate resumed from 24 September (vide page 919), on motion by Senator Cormack:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– In the few brief moments that were available lo me before the debate was adjourned on 24th September last I referred to the great changes that had taken place over the years in the transportation of cargoes and to the fact that these alterations in our transportation systems would continue in tha foreseeable future. Even while the Committee was conducting its inquiries changes were taking place. Since the tabling of the report there has been further evidence of changes in methods of transportation.
The Committee, in its report, states that it believes that there has been an element of haste in introducing the container system into Australia without what we believe to be necessary consultation between the various interests concerned. However, I think that the setting up of the Committee and the taking of evidence had the effect el’ stimulating interest in the system and of bringing the various interested sectors more closely together, particularly in view of the fact that in the future the container method of transporting cargoes will be used by ships, by railways and even by aircraft especially after the jumbo jets come into operation. The container system is not new. We are inclined lo think of the container system in relation to ships. Container ships have been operating most effectively between the west coast of America and Hawaii for 10 years and have brought about a great reduction in costs. In Australia there is much evidence that the use of containers on railways, particularly between capital cities, has made a big impact perhaps not so much in reducing costs as in the faster movement of cargo. I believe that the railways will play a more important part in the future in shifting cargo nol only between capital cities but also between country districts and ports.
The fact which impressed us most in relation ro container and cellular ships was the quick turn round. They do 6 trips a year between England and Australia compared with 24- by the conventional ships now in operation. This means that less capital is involved and there should be a big saving in interest payments by shippers whose cargoes will be transported to Australia from overseas in a much shorter time than previously was the case. This is something new to Australia and of course there will be a period of trial and error. That would seem to be inevitable. For (hat reason 1 believe that the most important recommendation from the Committee is for the establishment of a Commonwealth-State consultative committee which will have responsibility for ensuring that facilities are adequate for the most economical movement of containers through all stages and for the general planning associated with their movement. I agree entirely with Senator Bishop who expressed the opinion that such a committee would play an important part in the introduction of the system. 1 believe it is the first step that should bc taken to ensure that there is reasonable planning and that every avenue is investigated, including Commonwealth and State relationships, to ensure that our laws are adequate to cover the movement of containers particularly front the various States to the terminals from which the ships will sail.
There is a large area of controversy about shipping, freight rates and documentation in the future. As a Committee, we became very much aware of the dangers of monopolies in the door to door concept of handling cargo. With this in mind the Committee approved in principle the proposal for the Australian National Line to operate, probably in 1969, in the AustraliaJapan trade as a conference member. As honourable senators are aware, more recently the Government has expressed the intention of investigating the possibility of becoming a partner in a British shipping line trading between Australia, the United Kingdom and the Continent. In other circumstances I, as a layman, would question the advisability of that because I am not one who believes that the Government will find this to be a very profitable venture - that probably has been the experience in the past - but I. believe that the Government should take the step because of the fear of monopolies. The Committee was most cognisant of that aspect. The danger cannot bc over emphasised or ignored having regard to the consortia and the overseas conferences which will operate between Australia and the United Kingdom in the first instance. By being a member of the conference the Government at least will have some knowledge of and some say in shipping rates, services and so on.
As I have said, the dangers inherent in monopolies was brought before us continually by woolbrokers. maritime insurance companies, wool dumpers and others. In relation to insurance, the two consortia contended that insurance clone exclusively through them would be more convenient and cheaper than would otherwise be the case. The contention has a tremendous amount of merit when you acknowledge that it would be most difficult for a number of insurance companies to insure the various products in a mixed cargo carried in a container, having regard to the different rates of insurance and the different destinations involved.
– What is the proposition?
– A documentation insurance rate would cover the container from the point of loading, whether it be at Bourke, to its destination perhaps somewhere in England. The whole container would be covered by one insurance company associated with the consortia. More recently the Federal Exporters Overseas Transport Committee has expressed opposition to the proposal for various reasons. The Committee, while not opposing the idea was fearful of the creation of monopolies. lt might be thought that the Trade Practices Act would come into this but it must be remembered that much of this documentation and insurance is determined in England, or at least overseas, and therefore is outside the ambit of the Trade Practices Act.
Tn my opening remarks I mentioned that in my opinion, and I believe in the opinion of the other members of the Committee, there was undue haste in providing port facilities for those cellular ships that will take containers. I think this fact has been borne out since the Committee tabled ils report by the fact that other shipping lines have been offering rates that may be more favourable than those offered by the cellular ships. 1 wish to make particular reference to the Scandia type of ship. As its name implies, this ship was developed in Scandinavia. Fourteen of these ships are now operating on the Australian run. 1 was very impressed with this type of ship. I believe this was the consensus of the other members of the Committee.
The Committee inspected a Scandia ship whilst it was in Sydney. It also saw the roll-on roll-off type of ship that operates between Tasmania and the mainland. I believe that this ship will prove very worthwhile for the transportation of Australian cargo and that it will be very competitive with the cellular type ship that will come into operation next year. The Scandia ships have a reasonable speed and a quick turn- round. I think the most important feature of these ships is that they are constructed to give maximum flexibility and can take containers of various sizes, such as pre.dung cargoes of wool, paper or almost any other type of cargo.
Those honourable members who have seen this type of ship will have noticed that they have most efficient cranes on deck. Of course, they are serviced from the wharf by modern fork-lifts. I believe that the Scandia type ship will improve tremendously in the near future and that in various ports it could have a turn round of possibly not much more than 2 days. This is particularly good when one remembers that it is different from the cellular type ship in that whereas the same type of container is lifted into a cell on a cellular ship, ‘.he Scandia type ship takes various types of containers which perhaps take a little more stacking in the holds. I believe that the evidence presented by the companies operating Scandia type ships was well presented. In addition, there seemed to be a spirit of co-operation amongst them to provide a regular service between Europe and Australia. These operators are rationalising shipping, which is of tremendous advantage to Australia.
The Committee is of the opinion that the Scandia type ships are deserving of a high degree of priority insofar as the provision of adequate port facilities is concerned. It seemed to me that there was a good deal of pressure from all quarters to give the two British consortia a high degree of priority by way of improved port facilities, consolidation areas and so on. I do not disagree with this at all. 1 do not have any fault to find with ships of this type. I believe that if they can be operated efficiently and to the advantage of Australia the Government must ensure that their owners are given every opportunity to do so. In saying that I should also point out that I believe that the Scandia ships operating on a long coastline such as we have in Australia will prove highly competitive to the cellular ships and will give a first-class service. They will be more able to pick up from various ports in Australia as they have their own cranes on deck. This will be particularly so in the bigger ports. For this reason I think that they will prove to be particularly important to the Australian trade.
T also wish to refer to wool. I do so not because 1 am particularly interested in the wool industry but because wool is going to play an enormous part in the container concept of shipping, lt should be remembered that one-third of Australia’s exports to the United Kingdom is wool. For that reason it is of great economic importance that the cellular ships of the two consortia carry a maximum amount of wool. Otherwise many of their containers will be returning to the United Kingdom empty, which would be extremely expensive for the shipping companies and the exporters.
In my opinion the two consortia have not made sufficient investigations to ascertain whether the wool trade is satisfied that the use of containers for either conventionally dumped bales or high density dumped bale« is in its best interests. When the Committee began its hearings in May of last year little had been done by the three segments o* the wool industry - the growers, the brokers and the buyers - to ascertain whether the new concept was in their best interests. In an endeavour to bring the three segments together, the Department of Trade and Industry held a workshop on wool transportation - I think it was in August of last year - and it highlighted the need for the rationalisation of wool handling not only from the point of view of shipping but also from the point of view of handling generally, including the concept of a wool village, to which 1 will refer directly.
A while ago I quoted some figures to the Senate on transportation and handling costs of a bale of wool going from Bourke in New South Wales to an overseas mill in, say, the United Kingdom. About 100 handlings per bale are required and the cost amounts to $28 per bale, which is a considerable sum for the transportation of wool. The idea of high density dumping is to get more bales into a smaller space, such a container or a sling. There is really no clear evidence that high density dumping is completely acceptable to the shippers and the mills. The Committee found that there was a great deal of uncertainty in this regard. I believe it is true to say that most shippers of wool believe that most types of wool will not be harmed by high density dumping. But it would appear that when wool contains a lot of vegetable matter the fibre can be damaged to some extent. Therefore, I think that there will be quite a considerable amount of wool that will not be high density dumped and probably will not go into a container. This danger or uncertainty regarding damage to the fibre and the economics of the whole concept of high density dumping for containers would appear to me to be paramount to the economic future of the consortia operating cellular ships. Nothing must be done that will damage the long term interests of the wool industry. In other words, I think that the buyers must be given the option of choosing the type of ship that will best serve their interests. lt would appear that wool buyers are particularly impressed with what they call the wool pre-slinging method. I do not know whether any honourable senators - particularly those interested in the shipping of wool - have noticed references to this aspect in the Press lately. I have one such reference in front of me. It appears in a monthly booklet entitled ‘Harbour’. A picture is shown of wool loading by fork-lift. In this picture one will notice that two lots of eighteen bales are either high density dumped or conventionally dumped. That is what is called single dumping. The picture shows two groups of eighteen bales banded together on a forklift. This might be described as a container because it is square and easy to handle by a forklift, a sling or a crane on a ship. It is easy to stack and other cargo can be stacked on top of it. I believe that for this reason wool shippers will be inclined to look to this method as much as they will to containers, particularly in relation to cellular ships. This seems to be a cheap way of handling wool. We are told that the slung bales illustrated in the picture can be lifted from the wharf into the holds of ships in li minutes. When one considers the old method of handling wool, whereby the waterside workers were required to lift the bales singly and stack them, one realises that this method would be an improvement. I mention it because it could be a threat to containers, particularly those which will be used in cellular ships. I believe that the Scandia type ships which can take containers or wool in slings or as it is shown in the picture, will be very useful to the wool shippers. If that is so I think this will prove a detriment to the cellular type of shipping.
– Is the Scandia type ship a special ship for transporting wool?
– No. The Scandia type ship can take any kind of cargo. It will take bundles like those illustrated in the picture or any cargo at al’l. I believe this will be a very good ship in the future and indeed is a good ship at present for the handling of Australian cargo. I would like to mention the proposed establishment of a wool village where brokers could store and display wool1 for sale, do their bulk classing, have dumping facilities and generally could sort out bales either into containers or (he slings to which I have referred. To me this is a great necessity in some of our major ports, particularly Sydney. Anybody with a knowledge of the wool stores around the Sydney area knows that they are ol’d and are operating in unsatisfactory conditions due to transport difficulties, narrow roads and so on. In the foreseeable future we will have a wool village established from which brokers will operate and where all the wool’ will be stored and displayed, lt will be taken to the ships from there. The establishment of a wool village will mean a reduction in costs in the wool industry.
– Will the wool village bc sited at Woolloomooloo?
– No, it will be 20 miles out at Villawood, I think. The most difficult thing about the proposed project is that the wool stores in the Sydney dock area are old and are not very valuabl’e. Before this establishment can be completed the buildings will have to be disposed of. This will not be profitable and probably will delay the completion of the project for quite a while. I should like to mention a matter which was not within the terms of reference of the Committee, but I think it is important to look at it when we are talking of shipping. I refer to the conference system that operates at present. It has many advantages and many disadvantages. 1 will mention the advantages first, it provides fixed or reasonably stable shipping rates over a given period, lt provides for rationalisation of shipping, which has been most important, particularly with a costline such as we have in Australia. Small cargoes of meat are picked up at Gladstone and the ship then comes down to Brisbane or Sydney and fills up its holds with other cargo. Ships would not go to Gladstone to pick up a small amount of cargo if it were nol for rationalisation or a formula which provides for the costing of the movements of the conference line ships. We have the various types of shipping and the regular calls, as required, at the various ports. A lot of discussion has taken pl’ace about this and there is a good deal of uncertainty about the conference lines in the minds of shippers at present.
The disadvantages, as I see them, arc that such a system prevents competition in shipping, particularly in shipping rates, lt gives almost a monopoly power to shipping companies. The conferences are closed conferences. New shipowners are prevented from entering them. 1 think that the most important aspect is that the system works on a cost plus formula and guarantees a fixed income from capital which, in my opinion, is a deterrent to competition either from the point of view of the service or the rates charged for shipping. After the last war I had a little experience of the cost plus system in building. It is a most unsatisfactory method wilh which to become involved. Those are some of the disadvantages that I envisage. F mention this matter, although it is outside the terms of reference of the Committee, to demonstrate how necessary it is that the Government should not provide for shipping facilities which tend to give added assistance to monopolies or to one type of shipping, such as cellular shipping, ships which take containers only, the Skandia type which can take containers and almost all forms of cargo or some conventional types of ships which no doubt will operate for many years to come.
– The Government will have its own ships, too, of course.
– lt may. We do not know yet. Recently reference was made to Russian ships calling at Australian ports. Much opposition has been expressed to the operalions of the Russian ships. I agree that where a government owned shipping line - that is what it amounts to - offers substantially reduced rates in order to attract a particular type of shipping and then pulls out. and does not operate for a year or so, a certain amount of uncertainty and disruption to the shipping trade are caused. So I cannot see a great, deal of merit in the suggestion that the Russian ships should enter the trade. Because in future ships will operate between Australia and all the places with which we trade, we will have a quick turnround of ships, which will mean there will be less money involved in the trade. We will have improved trade with other countries - we are lifting our production from year to year - and I think this will bring a greater degree of competition between the shipping lines. Therefore the various conferences will be put on their mettle to compete with some of the other shipping lines which will operate between Australia and our overseas markets. I am firmly in favour of competition. 1 think we should have healthy competition, which is the lifeblood of any worthwhile enterprise. I think that will happen. Freight rates for cargoes transported between England and Australia have been supplied by the container consortium. There has been some reduction in rates but no guarantee has been given. We may be lucky enough to contain the freight rales at their present level, even if there is not much hope of reducing them.
To sum up: The whole exercise of the Committee was to investigate, and make recommendations for, speedy implementation of improved transportation of various imports and exports, and more particularly, to investigate the use of containers in this concept. A great change is taking place at present. When the Committee brought out its report it was conscious of this change. I believe that the most important point in the report relates to the setting up of a consultative committee of the Commonwealth and the States which could be of great assistance in bringing about a greater degree of efficiency in the various types of shipping that will be operating.
I wish to pay a tribute to Senator Cormack, the very efficient Chairman of the Committee. In my opinion he did an extremely good job. He knew where to seek evidence, and he also knew a great deal about the constitutional issues involved. T am sure that other members of the Committee will agree that he did a most efficient job and share my gratitude for the work that he did.
One result of the establishment of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes and other committees of the Senate set up recently is that honourable senators from both sides of the chamber get to know each other. This should result in better work as a Senate. 1 am sure that my colleagues, irrespective of party affiliations, will agree with that idea. I also pay a particular tribute to Mr Alan Cumming Thom and Mr Guy Smith for the splendid job they did with the Committee as Secretary and Assistant Secretary.
Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) [8.33-1 believe that the broad aspects of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes have been dealt with adequately by Senator Bishop and other honourable senators. I do not wish to go over ground which has been covered already. 1 want to deal specifically with the impact of containerisation on Tasmania. The economic advantages of containerisation are obvious to all honourable senators who have examined the matter. One needs only to walk through the container terminal of Associated Steamships Ltd in Melbourne to realise that it is the shape of things to come. 1 do not think that anything that will happen in the future will prevent it. The report of the International Containers Symposium, recently held in London, showed that the cost per ton of handling cargo by container vessels is about half the cost incurred by conventional vessels.
If every Australian State were to benefit by the introduction of containerisation, or unitisation, to which Senator Bull referred when adverting to Scandia ships, close cousins to container vessels, then obviously it would be to the benefit of the Australian community as a whole; but if one State is not lo benefit, obviously there will be serious repercussions in that State. I suggest to honourable senators that that is exactly the situation facing Tasmania. Reference has already been made to the Committee’s remarks on the seemingly impossible situation which faces Tasmania. An honourable senator who spoke in this debate 2 weeks ago referred to that situation but 1 wish to deal with it in more detail because the Committee’s comments spell out the problem that faces the Tasmanian export industry. Section 109 of the report states:
The diversion of existing shipping caused by the arrival of cellular container ships, particularly as it relates to the operation of conventional ships to Tasmania, poses a special problem which baffles the Committee. What is apparent is that governments must give particular attention to any disabilities likely to be suffered by the Tasmanian fruit export industry and Tasmanian exports generally.
Section 108 states, in part:
The advantages to mainland fruit exporters of faster transit time, economies in packaging, possibly lower insurance rates and belter presentation at point of consumption appear considerable.
If any further verification is needed of Tasmania’s unfortunately unique position in this regard, it can be found at page 10 of the report of the Australian Apple and Pear Board for the year ended 30th June 1968. The Board stated:
The Board has also established a Committee lo have liaison with the contaner consortia on the phasing in of container services for fruit, lt is the general understanding that container services will be available only for some of the fruit from the mainland of Australia and that Tasmania will continue to be serviced by conventional vessels.
My comment on that passage is: Not if 1 can help it. When the three passages I have quoted from the reports of the Australian Apple and Pear Board and the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes are related to the figures cited at the International Container Symposium the problem that faces the Tasmanian fruit industry is starkly revealed. That is true, not only of the Tasmanian fruit industry but of all Tasmania’s export industries. I do not think it is necessary for me to emphasise the importance of the fruit industry, particularly to southern Tasmania. This year the fruit crop was worth about $14m. The great bulk of it is exported through the port of Hobart. The industry is bedevilled with problems. That situation is not peculiar to the fruit industry. All primary industries face problems of some magnitude, but the basic problem is that of overseas markets.
Tasmania is involved in problems of attracting investment, but its biggest problem is to get goods produced in Tasmania to the markets on a competitive basis. High shipping freights are one of the biggest obstacles to be overcome. Prior to the last fruit season the Conference Line applied an increase of about 7% to the basic formula freight rate. In the words of the Australian Apple and Pear Board report, that increase ‘resulted in a virtually crippling increase in the freight rate’. During 1967, 70% of the f.o.b. value of fruit exported from Australia was taken up by freight charges. In fact, the increase in freight charges between 1966 and 1968 was 40%. lt is clear that Tasmania in particular faces a very uncertain future. At page 9 of the report the Australian Apple and Pear Board slates: lt seems essential that some way must be found to reduce substantially the present freight burden if the industry’s continuance in export is to be economically viable. Discussions have already commenced with shipowners with a view to a new arrangement for 1969 and beyond, but the Board feels there is an area here where the Commonwealth Government itself could be of assistance. 1 want to be fair. I do not want lo take this out of context, i am nol suggesting that the statement refers specifically to the Tasmanian fruit industry, lt is a reference lo the Australian fruit industry as a whole. On the one hand there is recognition by the Australian Apple and Pear Board of the problem that exists; on the other hand there is recognition by the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes that Tasmania is the State with the biggest problem. In these circumstances 1 suggest that the Commowealth Government should look first at Tasmania if it is to provide assistance. 1 am sure that the Commonwealth Government does not want to see this sort of situation develop. What are the alternatives available to us in Tasmania? It would appear that there are three: Firstly, to induce the overseas container companies to bring their ships directly to Tasmanian ports; secondly, to provide a container feeder service to the main terminal ports of Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney; and thirdly, coming on to the point that Senator Bull referred to, to provide facilities which will induce overseas shipowners running unitised vessels, such as the Scandia type which was mentioned by Senator Bull, to trade directly to the ports of Tasmania.
The first of the alternatives appears to be ruled out. The overseas people feel that the schedule for the container ships must be tight because of the very high capital expense involved. I think we should all recognise this. Overseas shipowners do not appear to be interested in varying that schedule to include ports other than Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney. The problem of the second alternative is that if sufficient container feeder ships are provided during the fruit season to lift the 500,000 cases required to be lifted, what are we to do with the ships in the off season? No shipowner will operate ships that he can employ for only 3 or 4 months of the year. So it seems that the only real alternative available to Tasmania is the development of facilities which will attract the unitised Scandia type of ship. At the moment the port of Hobart and other ports around the Tasmanian coast are well developed. At Hobart, when the fruit season is at its height, 5 or 6 vessels may be loading at once.
With the unitised type of freighter there is a need for a large apron space and large marshalling yards. With the fruit industry there is need for a cool store on the wharf to handle the fresh fruit and to keep the ships adequately supplied with cargo. As Senator Ball mentioned, the flexibility of this type of vessel is what makes it so attractive lo so many exporters. The cellular ship is a restricted vessel. The facilities must function like clockwork and everything must be organised to ensure that there is no holdup in the supply of containers. The flexibility of the unitised or Scandia type of ship offers attractions that the cellular ship cannot offer. It could well be that if sufficient of the unitised vessels were trading to Tasmania we would avoid the problem which we assume could arise from not having container vessels calling at Tasmanian ports. The feeling at present is that we must have some means of attracting these vessels to Tasmania when the changeover to the new methods realty takes effect. It is expected that within the next 12 months the conventional ships will no longer be able to compete with the unitised and container vessels. Most certainly we do not want to see a situation in which we in Tasmania were dependent on conventional ships. If that were to happen, how would Tasmanian exporters hope to compete with exporters in mainland States who have the advantage of the new forms of cargo handling?
– What would be the economic life of the type of ship about which the honourable senator is now talking?
– The unitised vessel is, one could say, $0% of the way towards being a container ship. In the ordinary conventional ship .there is a single hatch opening. When the cargo is lowered into the hold it has to be pushed out in the wings in the ‘tween decks, the lower hold or wherever one is loading. In the unitised ships of the Scandia or Welhelmsen design - all the open hatch designs - the cargo is lowered directly into position and all this handling of goods is cut out. But the life of the ship would be no different from that of an ordinary cargo ship. So it is a matter of economics. I think Senator Bull said that the turn-round time of a unitised ship could be about 2 days. Everyone would be working hard to achieved a turn-round of 2 days for a unitised ship, but the turn-round time is much closer to that of a container ship than is that of the conventional ship.
As 1 want to speak specifically of problems facing Tasmania I shall confine my remarks to that State. The Hobart Marine Board and the port authorities in Tasmania have not the resources readily available to finance the facilities to which I have referred. As I hope I have demonstated through the report of the Select Committee and the report of the Apple and Pear Board, there is a problem confronting us in Tasmania. I feel that as a first step it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government to recognise the problem that exists and to realise that if the fruit industry in Tasmania suffers a setback as a result of the new methods of container handling it. could result in the complete demise of the Tasmanian fruit industry. In that event thousands of Tasmanians would be looking for work and not only the fruit industry but also other ancillary industries would be affected. The Commonwealth Government does not want to see this happen. I suggest that the extra burden which would be placed on social services alone should be enough to induce the Government to provide whatever assistance it can.
My feeling at this stage is that the Commonwealth could indicate to Tasmanian port authorities its willingness to accept responsibility, to recognise that the problem exists and to make available finance to the order of $lm to provide port facilities. This is the figure that the Hobart port authorities have in mind as the cost of developing a terminal of this nature. Having made this suggestion I hope that the Commonwealth Government will give serious and sympathetic consideration to it. If it is not prepared to do this, we in Tasmania could face a very grim situation in the next year or two. None of us wants to see this happen. I believe that the Government does not want to see this occur. So I suggest to the Commonwealth that this is the time to act. lt should now indicate that it is prepared to face its responsibility and help
Tasmanian industries, anil in particular the fruit industry.
– As a member of the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes, I would like to say that it was a very pleasurable task, lt was very informative lo bc a member of that Committee. I believe it was one of the first such committees to be appointed by the Senate and I believe that the Government was very wise in submitting the question of the containerisation of cargo to a com.mitteee of this kind. If the Committee did nothing else, it aroused many people lo the need to give consideration to the very important question of the transport of goods to and from Australia. Containerisation is a departure from the orthodox system of handling cargoes; it is something new; yet it almost became an accomplished fact before the Committee began to investigate it. However, many sections of the community which were interested in shipping cargo were not very well informed on the subject, nor were they alert to the necessity to acquaint themselves with the problems associated with it. I repeat that if the Committee did nothing else it caused these people - some semi-governmental bodies - to awake to the necessity to bring themselves up to date and acquaint themselves of what was involved, lt is an innovation that is indisputably acceptable to all sections of the community, lt is very simple in practice and one wonders why something of this kind had not been introduced in the shipping world before today. 1 suppose it could be said with truth that had it not been for the economics associated with shipping and its ever increasing costs containerisation would never have come about. It was introduced at great cost to shipping companies. The initial costs of converting ships and building ships of the container type have been tremendous but the shipping companies no doubt realise that they could not carry on with the old conservative system. They were compelled to have a look at something different and even though the initial cost was heavy they hope to bc able to balance the financial position as the years go by.
– A lot of replacement would have been going on in the normal course of events.
– That is true. Normally there would be replacement, lt. does not mean that because this containerisation system of handling cargo has been introduced the other forms of shipping are to be just passed over. They must continue. There will always be a need for these other types of shipping according to the types of cargo. In simple language, the containerisation type of shipping is the collection of a number of commodities which are placed in containers, and the containers are then placed in a ship constructed to accommodate them. If we had a number of parcels on the table in front of me and we wanted to transfer them to an outer office we would get a carton, place the parcels in it and take it out as one container of goods. That, is containerisation, in effect. That is a simplification of it.
I have listened to some very good speeches on this report by Senator Bishop, Senator Wheeldon, Senator Bull and other members of the Committee, all of whom contributed a great deal -of lime and a lot of good thinking and good sense duringthe deliberations. My chief purpose in rising tonight is not to go into a lol of detail but to say that as a member of this Committee it pleased mc considerably to meet quite a number of people interested in shipping and other transport in my own city of Brisbane and in other places who have been most complimentary of the report that the Committee has submitted. Copies have been sought from me, as they have no doubt been sought from other members of the Committee.
I have had some very flattering references to the report and I. would like to take this opportunity of congratulating members of trie Committee, the Secretary and his assisant. on their assiduous attention to this subject, lt was most interesting. 1 was certainly advantaged by the additional information which I received as a result of being a member of the Committee, and I want to pay a particular compliment to Senator Magnus Cormack, the Chairman of the Committee, for the work that he performed in that capacity. He showed- a lol of imagination and drive and gave close and assiduous attention to many problems. He initiated a number of inquiries in quarters to which no other member of the Committee would have had access. In the overall result he proved to be an excellent chairman, thoughtful, forceful and inquisitorial - much more so than some who appeared before the Committee would have wanted him to bc. The fact is that he carried out an excellent job of work, lt was a pleasure to serve on the Committee and I believe the report will be a good guide. The results, of course, will be something for the future but 1 am satisfied, having regard to all factors, that containerisation is something that hud to come and is working out very satisfactorily.
I think that satisfactory arrangements are to be or have been made on the industrial side, an aspect in which I and others were closely interested. Many of us, if nol all, were disturbed by the appearance of a monopoly that showed itself in the investigations of this matter. The Committee was very keen to see that we were not approving of some great monopolistic enterprise that would have the effect of excluding people who have been engaged in direct shipping or in ancillary industries such as other forms of transport, merely because of some consortia that would be associated with this innovation. But, I think, as time went on as a result of investigation and inquiries that fear was appeased to a great extent, and with a measure of competition the fear of monopoly might bc dismissed.
– In rising to speak to this debate I do so with a great deal of pleasure and to congratulate the members of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. Having been very interested in the concept of containerisation from its inception I have read the report with a great deal of interest, knowing that the senators on this Committee have gone into this aspect very carefully. They have reported very fully and have made some frank recommendations which are most constructive. I hope that the people in this country concerned with shipping will take note of them and endeavour to put them into practice.
Containerisation is a new form of freighting, as Senator Gair said earlier this evening, where one no longer has the individual movement of individual parcels. Today with containerisation these parcels are placed in a container, be it of steel. laminated wood or fibreglass which is now being tested. They are completely containerised and sealed. Whereas in the past parcels were handled individually, today they are being handled in 20-ton loads.
Let me run briefly through the complete containerisation operation as we see it in a port, lt can be broken down into three areas - firstly, the terminal port or wharf facilities; secondly, the marshalling area; and thirdly, what is known as the breakbulk area. The terminal wharf area is one in which for the completely cellular type of ship there are very sophisticated cranes that; have a big capacity and are specially built and in which the wharf is specially constructed lo take the weight of the containers. The marshalling area requires a reasonable amount of ground. The whole point of containerisation is a quick throughput of containers and of the ship in the port. Here it is necessary to avoid congestion as much as possible and to be in the position that if one ship is loading and another one is waiting to come in the second ship will not be held up. The containers have to bc presorted and made ready to be loaded on to the second ship. Al’so. within a very short space of time containers will have to be unloaded from that ship. There are both export and import containers. So a great area of ground must be available to handle both groups of containers.
The break-bulk area is related more to the exporter or importer who docs not handle sufficient volume to enable him to fill a container at either his warehouse or his factory. He brings his export goods lo the break-bulk area where they are packed into a container. Imported goods are broken down in this area and taken out from there to their main distribution points. Sometimes containers are half filled at the factory or warehouse and taken to the break-bulk area to be filled with other goods. When the volume is sufficient for the manufacturer, exporter or importer to utilise a complete container there is no need for the container to go to the break-bulk area, ft goes straight through to the marshalling area.
There arc these three necessary stages in the concept of containerisation. They must all be placed as close as practicable to the terminal container port itself. Coupled wilh this there must be easily accessible roads to the container area, the marshalling aron and the break-bulk area. There must also be good rail facilities because containerisation does not relate only to the industrialised areas in the cities, lt relates also to country areas to and from which containers will come and go by either road or rail. The essence of this concept is to avoid congestion and to have plenty of area so that the containers can be moved as quickly as possible with the ultimate object of getting the ship into and out of the port as quickly as possible.
It is expected that Australia will move into the container era next year - possibly as early as March. Great problems are associated with the introduction of containerisation. There will be great problems for quite some time after containerisation gets under way. lt has been necessary for Australia as a trading nation to move into the container era because practice and experience overseas have shown that there can be quite big reductions in freights. If that is the case it is necessary for Australia to get these freight reductions, if that is possible, or at worst to hold freights so that we will not be placed at a freight disadvantage compared with our overseas competitives.
Containerisation has become virtually a worldwide concept. Two years ago we were discussing in this country the introduction of it on the United. Kingdom and Continental trade. Today we are aware that containerisation will be introduced on the far eastern trade. It is being introduced on the American trade. At the present time Farrell Lines has let a contract for the construction of five ships. Originally the number was to have been six; but it is now back to five, because of the danger that the company might have been overtonnaging on the American run. In all probability the containerisation of the South American trade will start in the not too distant future. So, from the stage of discussing the probability of one of our trade routes being containerised, in the short period of 2 years we have reached the stage at which many of the main lines on our other trade routes are also turning to containerisation.
I mentioned that there are considerable savings in the adoption of the concept of containerisation. I can only hope that the savings will come back to this country - to the exporters and importers - and that in turn they will come right down to the individual consumers. Terrific cost structures have been associated with the old method of cargo handling and the conventional type of merchant ship as we have known it. The old system has been extremely labour intensive and very costly for that reason. Let me hasten to say that I am not criticising the labour for one moment. But in this age of machines men find it very difficult to compete with them. Containerisation can be classified as mechanisation and a method of bulk handling of freight. At the present time the ships on the United Kingdom and Continental run are averaging in the vicinity of two and a half voyages a year. That is not very many voyages for a ship to make when one considers the capital cost of a ship and the cost of crewing a ship, lt is estimated that these ships spend about 45% of their time in port. This is due to the slower method of handling cargo. As 1 said at the outset, the present method involves the handling of individual packages, whereas under containerisation the packages are bulked and moved in loads of between 15 and 20 tons in the one lift. lt is estimated that under containerisation the ships on the United Kingdom and Continental run will do six to seven voyages a year. Here we can see the great areas of saving. Overseas Containers Ltd and Associated Container Transportation Ltd - -the two big British and European consortiums - are bringing nine ships into the trade in place of the great number of ordinary merchant ships that are operating at the present time. I shall have a little more to say about that later. These nine ships, averaging six to seven voyages a year, will give a weekly service between the Australian mainland and the United Kingdom and the Continent. So we can see the great savings on capital cost alone. In addition we can see that the capital is being made to work when nearly three times the present number of voyages will be made. The shipowners will be making their capital work for them much more than they are at present. This should mean big savings for Australian exporters.
Let me refer now to some aspects of the labour intensive side of the present method as compared with containerisation. With the quicker turnround of ships it is estimated that in the White Bay terminal in Sydney, with containerisation, it will be possible lo load and unload 1.100 containers, which is virtually the full com.plement of containers in a container ship, in something like 30 hours. Under existing methods the same amount of cargo would take in the vicinity of 2 weeks to load and unload. It will be seen therefore that the whole exercise of containerisation is certainly one of speed.
I mentioned earlier the hope that we would have reductions in freight rates when containerisation is introduced into Australia. Here again it is hard to draw comparisons between Australia and what has already been put into operation in other countries because of the fact that Australia is placed a long way from her markets and as yet no container ships have operated on such a long sca leg as they will have when they begin operating between Australia, the United Kingdom and the Continent. But in the United Stales of America, the Matson Line, which runs a service between the west coast of America and Hawaii originally had some sixteen ships servicing that run. Today it has seven container ships handling an equivalent tonnage of cargo. What is of more importance, since the introduction of container ships the Matson Line has seen freight rate reductions of something like 16% whilst in Australia during the same period we have seen an increase of something like 33% in freight rates. So this is an area to which we look, as an exportingimporting nation with the hope that when containerisation is finally introduced into Australia we shall see reductions in freight rates. 1 mentioned in this place on another occasion that I was very disappointed that as yet the Overseas Shipowners Representatives Association had given no indication whatsoever that there will be any reduction in freight rates. The Association has said that it is hoping it can hold freight rates.
– A pious hope.
– A pious hope. I am afraid that I must agree with Senator Cormack on this. Perhaps there may be one or two other factors creep in which may be of some assistance in the future, but to me one very disappointing aspect of the initial discussions on containers is that these people are fearful of giving any indication as to whether freight rates will be either plus or minus and prefer to say that at this stage they can give no indication whatsoever of future freight levels. We certainly know there are going to be great capital costs with the introduction of containerisation by these two consortia. Overseas Containers Ltd and Association Container Transporation Ltd, the two big consortia in the United Kingdom-Continent trade. They are building nine container ships of some 27,000 tons, each having a capacity of some 1130 containers. Onequarter of these will be reefers or refrigerated containers about which I shall have a little more to say mi a moment.
Another thing that we shall have to watch very closely with the introduction of containers by these two big consortia - let us face it. they are very big and very powerful - is the fact that at the present time on the Australia-United KingdomContinent run a lot of merchant ships are operating. Under the formula that exists between the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee and the Conference group of shipping companies there are laid down certain conditions covering the replacement of vessels, the rate of depreciation of vessels and what is known as a ‘fair play index’ whereby the replacement cost of the vessels is related to present day or current costs. The thing tha’t does concern me with the introduction of containerisation is this: When these nine ships which the two big consortia claim will be of sufficient capacity to handle their tonnage share of the Australia-United Kingdom-Continental run are placed on the run, what will be done with the other ships? I can only hope that Australian exporters and importers will not be expected to pay for any redundancy that creeps in and that the companies concerned will be able to find either other runs or buyers for the so-called surplus ships. I hope, too, that this country will be kept completely in the picture as to what is going on so that any capital replacement, or any loss that these consortia may claim will not be reflected in the freight rates that we will have to pay.
Perhaps T am not. a very nice person, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is one of the main reasons why at this stage they will not give any indication of whether freight rates will be plus or minus with the introduction of containerisation. Tt must be said, however, in fairness to these companies that they have a lot of capital involved in their existing fleets, but 1 would also say that we Australians have a lot of capital involved, too. We are entering into a completely new concept of freight transportation. Therefore, freight rates do play a very important part indeed in the overall economy of the country. 1 saw quoted recently figures which indicated that the freight bill paid on imports by this country was in the vicinity of the amount earned by our second largest export earner which at that stage was wheat. Something like $600m was spent on freight in a year. That is a lot of money. Therefore we must do all we can to get reductions in freight rates. I can only hope that the ship-owners in their turn will reciprocate those feelings.
Reverting to the Matson Line, I should like to refer to one other very vital point. lt is the reduction in pilfering with the introduction of containerisation. The Matson Line has estimated that pilfering was down by some 85% last year and that insurance claims were down by some 75%. This brings me to another area which at present is causing quite a bit of concern. Senator McClelland mentioned it when he spoke last on this subject. 1 refer to documentation. This is causing quite a problem. The proposed document that was produced by the European and British consortia was not accepted by the British export-import trade. Likewise, some 3 weeks ago, the Federal Exports Oversea Transport Committee, the exporter-importer group of Australia, saw fit not to accept it at this stage.
There are certain fears with regard to this documentation. They relate to the clanger that monopolies can arise through the fact that transportation can be arranged on a door to door basis, the freight charge including the cost of everything. For example, goods can be delivered from the factory door in Australia to the warehouse door in perhaps the United Kingdom or on the Continent. In this way there is one freight figure for the whole operation whereas at the present time you can get a road transport bill or a rail transport bill’, a customs agent’s bill and many other bills on the way through. Under the containerisation concept, it is proposed that where possible negotiations will be on a door to door basis and it is here that the documentation becomes extremely complicated.
The fears that are held by Australian exporters include such matters as whether you can lose sight of the actual insurance aspect and therefore do not know whether you are paying too dearly for insurance. A second fear is that the system could tend towards the creation of monopolies in that the shipping company will do all the documentation, including the insurance and in this way eliminate many of the insurance companies with which a number of our traders have transacted business over a great number of years. These things are causing problems for the export-import group. What the outcome will be on documentation I would not like to say at this stage, hui I was very pleased to see that the exporter groups in this country are making sure that they are not going to be blindly taken into something at this stage. Before committing themselves, they want to feel absolutely confident that what they ultimately have will be something which will be of benefit to both the ship-owner and the shipper.
I refer again to the nine cellular type ships to be built by the OCL-ACT consortia. One-quarter of the containers carried on those vessels will be refrigerated. Instead of the normal kind of refrigeration the cold air system will be used. It lends itself extremely well lo containerisation because the containers may be plugged into special units on wharves or in marshalling areas, and when they are lifted on to the ship they are plugged straight in lo the refrigeration system on it. Another aspect is that whereas a refrigerated ship is a very expensive proposition a container ship can have onequarter of its containers refrigerated or it can carry ordinary containers at no great cost. Although I can see advantages in that situation I can see one area of great disadvantage. I refer to Tasmania and 1 hope I shall remember to mention it again when dealing with terminal and feeder ports.
I have mentioned the cellular type of ship. On the Anstralian run we have had the Scandia type which will handle containers, strapped pallets and general cargo. 1 believe that these ships are a belter proposition than the straight cellular type during this period of transition from the old method of cargo handling, if I can use the term, to the concept of containerisation. The Scandia type will not require any special facilities at wharves and will require perhaps only sufficient space within a marshalling area to handle the containers it brings. No special crane will be necessary. Loading and unloading capacity will come along with the ship. This type is more flexible than the cellular type of vessel in the OCL-ACT group.
To me as a South Australian this is very encouraging because the unit type ship of the Scandia class can come into a terminal port, such as Melbourne or Sydney, or a feeder port, such as Hobart or Adelaide, and still be able to handle its cargo whether containerised or palletised as well as the ordinary cargo which will be carried during the period of transition because many exporters and importers will find it impracticable lo change completely lo containers. lt would be of disadvantage to many of our exporter-importer groups if penalties were applied to them because of their failure to containerise their products. If containerisation is to be more efficient we must encourage people wherever possible lo become efficient and to use the container method. I. feel that the Scandinavian type ships will be better suited lo our needs in the initial stages of the introduction of containers.
For years Australia has been confronted with the problem of over-tonnaging. the inefficiencies of which have been apparent under the old method of freighting, the space thai has been left vacant and the quality of the service that has been given. This has caused many problems. Some 2 or 3 years ago rationalisation was introduced. The number of ships trading to Australia was reduced and over-tonnaging fell considerably. Two weeks ago an article in the Australian Financial Review’ caused some concern, lt staled that the Scandinavian countries might break away from the conference because they were not being given a big enough share of the trade. The French and the Germans have entered the British and European consortia OCL-ACT and the Scandinavian countries fell that the tonnage to be carried by the nine, ships I have mentioned would leave them with a smaller share. The four Scandinavian groups which are working together have pointed out that at present they handle something like onethird of the Australian tonnage.
The problem of over-tonnaging again lends lo raise its ugly head. As I. have said. nine ships of the OCL-ACT group and a number of Scandinavian unit type ships are coming on to the Australian run. This points immediately to the fact that perhaps OCLACT are over-tonnaging. Although I am not an expert I feel some concern because the groups apparently are not prepared to work together. The Russians, too, are now in the Australian trade - they are not entering; they are wilh us - and this year it is expected that the Russians will, be making something like 24 voyages to Australia and the Poles something like 12. At the present time they are carrying wool which is the cream of cargo on the Australian run. The carriage of wool to the United Kingdom and the Continent represents something like one-third of our total cargo. Now an outside group is coming in despite the fact that the European and British. consortia and the Scandinavian countries had provided what they considered to be sufficient tonnage to handle our trade. The Russians are taking quite a slice of that tonnage.
– But it is their wool.
– A lol of it. not all. I believe that two British companies have contracted to use Russian ships. This creates problems. I am not debating at this stage whether they should be on the run. 1 agree with Senator Cormack that we must face the fact that eastern European countries - Communist bloc countries if I can put it that way - buy a lot of Australian wool. Once the hammer falls on the wool it becomes their property to do with as they wish. If they want Russian ships to carry the wool we cannot slop them and we will be in trouble if we become too critical, irrespective of what we may think.
Returning to the problem of overtonnaging, we are faced with a big problem because a large slice of the cake is being 1.,ken. Having regard to the number of ships still to come on the run we could finish up with a surplus of tonnage. This could lead to inefficient use of the tonnage available, thereby preventing reductions in freight that wc look for.
With the introduction of containerisation we will have three main terminal ports at Sydney. Melbourne and Fremantle and feeder ports at Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart. I can see problems associated with this setup. On another occasion I mentioned the location of terminal ports in relation to feeder ports in the States concerned. At present we have a uniform freight rate irrespective of the port where the goods are loaded and shipped. At present it is agreed that the uniform freight rates will continue. In the past the uniformity of freights has been in the form of a written agreement. Today there is only a statement that Australia will have uniformity. This is not good enough. I will not be happy until the Government legislates to give the feeder port States the security that is necessary so that in time people will not forget that they agreed to uniform freights and suddenly start pointing out that distance should be considered because there is a 300 or 400 mile journey for goods freighted from, say, Adelaide or Hobart to Melbourne. Some may be inclined to say: ‘We live in the port area of Melbourne. Why should we pay the same rate of freight as those people who have lo bring their goods a substantial distance to the port of Melbourne?’
I emphasise that it is necessary - if it is at all possible - for this matter to be covered by legislation so that those who can remember will be safeguarded by law from those who have short memories. Otherwise, I envisaged that as time goes on some States will be penalised. If all States try to establish a terminal port the concept of containerisation will be defeated as ti envisages ships coming to port fully loaded, unloading, reloading fully and leaving quickly as possible. That is why only three terminal ports are to be established. One can only agree with the constructive opinion in regard to a minimum number of terminal ports. But I do believe that at this stage insufficient security is provided for the feeder ports of Brisbane, Adelaide and Hobart.
When mentioning Hobart one must remember the particular problem that Tasmania will face with containerisation. I refer to the apple industry. We all know that Tasmania is the greatest producer of apples in the Commonwealth and that, likewise, it is the greatest exporter of apples in (he Commonwealth. Apples are a very perishable commodity and they must be kept under refrigerated temperatures with very small variation. Apples deteriorate even under refrigeration. With the introduction of containerisation there will be a minimum number of ships providing a service to the United Kingdom and Europe and these ships will take at the most only one-quarter of their cargo in refrigerated containers. So there are big problems associated with Tasmania and the export of her fruit.
I wish to refer to the report of the Committee. As I said earlier, I found it extremely interesting and very constructive. Recommendation 3 states:
Thai action be taken by all port authorities to ensure the provision of facilities which will enable the efficient operation of types of unit-hold vessels other than fully cellular container vessels.
The report then refers to paragraph 14, which deals with this aspect in much more detail. I think this paragraph is a very important part of the Committee’s recommendations. lt states:
The introduction of the fully cellular container shipping operation to the Australian trade is an investment decision by groups of shipping operators. The success of this type of operation, as revealed in evidence on the Matson Company’s United States West Coast/Hawaii run need not necessarily indicate comparable success on the much longer UK./ Australia haul, dealing with a much more complex trade. However, a system which reduces the turn around of ships, increases the speed of transit, and provides regularity of service on a door-to-door basis should produce considerable benefit to the national interest, lt is obviously desirable to encourage any proposal containing these benefits, whether it be by fully cellular container vessels, unit-load vessels or rollon, roll-off vessels. 1 emphasise the next passage: lt should be of concern to governments to ensure that a position of preference Ls not granted to one operator or type of operator, which could then be used to protect him or it from a wrong investment decision.
One factor associated with the introduction of containerisation that has been of concern for a long time is that containerisation by the European consortia - perhaps 1 am being rather harsh in saying this - was introduced into Australia in a hurry. 1 feel that the Government must ensure that Australia is not married completely to a particular system as another system may be of far more benefit, may be far more efficient and may give greater reductions or savings in freight. So, 1 fully support the recommendations of the Committee in that respect.
At paragraph 5 1 the report states that the Committee sees nothing but good coming from a proposal such as the Scandia type of ship, lt has been stated that the four companies will co-operate as efficiently as possible before any irrevocable steps are taken to place the greatest percentage of the Australia-United Kingdom trade within the operational hands of two British consortia or one consortium if such was to be the ultimate outcome. I can only say here that the Committee’s foresight was extremely good because it has been reported that OCL called a meeting of the Australian Tonnage Committee - the Conference group of shipowners - in London with the idea of getting within the ambit of one operating company. So, I compliment the Committee on this particular aspect. Paragraph 51 of the report continues:
I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural container meeting in this city some 2 years ago when all facets of trade, industry, commerce, labour and transport including the shipowners, were present. Everybody came along with constructive views, critical or otherwise. It was a most revealing experience to me and one that could only do good for the whole of the country. One matter that did cause a lot of concern was the problem of labour that would be associated with the introduction of containerisation. I could not let this debate pass without mentioning that Mr Fitzgibbon, the Secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, was present at this meeting. He stated quite frankly thai his Federation was not opposed to containerisation; it appreciated that containerisation was something that came with the progress of a nation.
– He would not talk to us.
– He spoke to us on that occasion and he spoke extremely well. The meeting was open to the Press. I was very pleased to see this attitude adopted. Mr Fitzgibbon made it perfectly clear that so long as the Federation was kept in the picture it would play its part in the introduction of containerisation. 1 felt that the attitude of the Waterside Workers Federation was extremely constructive and helpful. 1 have spoken at quite some length. 1 can see great long term benefits flowing from containerisation. I can see lots of short term problems, too, and no doubt some of them will continue into the long term. I only hope that patience, experience and co-operation will ensure the introduction of containerisation into Australia so that in the ultimate the people of Australia will receive the benefits of this new concept of freight transportation.
– 1 was a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. I include in my remarks admiration for those who served on the Committee, for those associated with it and for those who gave evidence before it. 1 commence my remarks by endorsing those words of praise that were uttered about the officials and the secretarial staff of the Committee. I think all the words to express this appreciation have been said. I take the matter no further than to say that all members of the Committee and everyone associated with it did their best. No man could do more and no man should do less. The Committee was an all party one. Its decision was unanimous. It is noticeable that questions of party policy did not enter into the discussions. The Committee was appointed lo bring down recommendations based upon the evidence presented to it. Evidence was given by experts in the various subjects under discussion. On (he evidence presented to the Committee it could have arrived at no other decision than the unanimous one that it submitted. Whether or not this Committee or any other committee is successful depends upon whether the Government acts upon the unanimous decision of the Committee. The Senate Select Committee came to conclusions based upon the expert evidence of those conversant with the industry which they represented.
The container method of handling cargo in some regards is fraught with dangers, but as yet the Government has given no indication that it is prepared to. act upon some of the Committee’s recommendations. 1 think this shows either neglect on the part of the
Government or inability to realise the seriousness of the position as it was considered by the Committee. Many people spoke about the advantages of containerisation, but it is fraught with dangers to Australia, it has not been proved beyond doubt, or in fact proved at all, that the container method of handling cargo will benefit the Australian nation. There is strong evidence that it could affect the livelihood of ports and cities that have been established over 100 years or more. There is evidence that bond stores, wharf cold stores and maritime insurance companies, which have been built up over the years, could collapse overnight. Those are some of the dangers that could be associated with containerisation. Whether there is sufficient foundation for those fears is a question that could not be answered.
Containerisation, as it will develop, is so unknown to the Australian shipping community at present that the answer could not be obtained from the evidence. Had the Committee been a continuing one it would have been holding regular meetings to obtain the answers which it was unable to obtain in the time available to it before submitting its report lo the Senate. Therefore one of the recommendations was that a continuing committee for the purpose of inquiring into the introduction of the container system and to advise the Government on the dangers that could be inherent in the introduction of containers should bc established. At this stage there is no suggestion of the appointment of such a committee.
The tendency is to believe that the Committee was studying the question of cellular ships. The Committee, under its terms of reference, had the responsibility of ascertaining whether facilities were available for the container method of cargo handling. The pertinent words are ‘the container method of handling cargo’. The Committee had to interpret what was meant by the container method of handling cargo. At one time cargo was put in a sling in the hold of the ship and carted from the hold under the wings or under the decking, but in postwar years groups of articles were packed together and loaded in the open hold of a ship. The Committee was of the opinion that this was a part of the container method of handling cargo. The cargo did not have to bc packed in an enclosed container. The container did not have to be a cellular one.
A lot of evidence was given about the cellular container concept, of the Scandia type ship and of the unit load basis of using pallets in the open hold. On inspection the Committee saw pre-slung cargo placed in nets and lowered into the hold. The nets remained on hooks until such time as they were unloaded. Evidence was given about the roll-on roll-off type cargo vessel, which is in use between some Australian ports today, lt is used for short trips between Adelaide, Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island. 1 understand the intention is to use such ships on the run from Australia to New Zealand. I believe it is the more convenient method of cargo handling, but it is space consuming and costly having regard to the space required for cargo. Evidence was given of the lighter aboard ship or LASH system which would seem to be of great benefit to Western Australian shipping because of the long delay that ships have to face when waiting for the high tide to enter a port. Under this system the cargo is on barges within the ship’s hold. The barges can be unloaded and left to be lowed in by motor launch while the ship continues on its journey to Darwin. On its return it picks up the empty barges or the barges loaded with cargo to bc taken to Fremantle. This obviates the need to wait long hours for a high tide.
The Committee was of the opinion that all these systems of handling cargo came within its terms of reference. Therefore it considered all the systems, lt was very interested in and concerned with the cellular type of vessel, which the two British consortia intend to introduce on the United KingdomAustralia run. The two consortia were formed out of the existing conference line companies operating from the United Kingdom to Australia. Their only previous association with the monopolies was as members of the conference line. The formation of only two consortia, comprising existing conference line operators on the United Kingdom to Australia run. for the purpose of introducing cellular container shipping on that run will create a monopoly. Senator Young staled that Overseas Containers Ltd will introduce six cellular ships on the run. The first is expected to be on the run in January 1969 and the last by mid- 1969. By June 1969 it is expected that six cellular container ships will be in operation. Associated Container Transportation Ltd, which will have three ships in operation, is the other consortium to engage in the container handling of goods between the United Kingdom and Australia. Evidence was given to the Committee that on the basis of the 1965 figures - the latest figures available at that time - 1.9 million tons, or 65% of Australia’s exports, is suitable for carriage by containers in cellular vessels.
– That is general cargo.
– Yes. And .1.7 million tons, or 66% of imports, is suitable for carriage in containers. It would take about eighteen ships to carry the cargoes between Australia and the United Kingdom. Nine ships are to come into operation in the first 6 months of next year. They are to pick up half the cargo to be carried between the United Kingdom and Australia. Associated with this development is the formation of Seatainer Terminals Ltd, equal partners in which are Overseas Containers Ltd and Associated Steamships Ltd. The duty of Seatainer Terminals Ltd is to handle all the loading and unloading facilities for cellular containers at Australian ports. At least half of the cargoes between the United Kingdom and Australia are to be carried by two United Kingdom consortia and the loading and unloading facilities, generally provided in Australia by the port authorities, are to bc provided by Seatainer Terminals Ltd, the ownership of which is shared between one of the United Kingdom monopolies, Overseas Containers Ltd, and Associated Steamships Ltd.
Trans Ocean Containers Ltd was formed by Associated Container Transportation Ltd to handle the transport by land of the cargoes carried by sea by Associated Container Transportation Ltd. In theory full container loads are to be shipped from inland England to inland Australia. For example, the canned fruits of the River Murray areas in South Australia and Victoria may be loaded at the canning factory and taken overland to the ship that is to carry them to the United Kingdom. At Tilbury, the United Kingdom port, they will be loaded on to road transport and will be delivered to their inland destination. A monopolistic interest is to carry out the transport of the cargo, commencing by road transport at an inland Australian factory and finishing by road transport to the inland United Kingdom destination.
Much evidence was given to the Committee of the fear of that monopolistic control. It was surprising that such evidence came mostly from representatives of Chambers of Commerce or Chambers of Manufactures throughout Australia. I think it can be assumed that those witnesses represented associations, some members of which have near monopolistic control of particular operations and would thus be in a good position to appreciate the dangers of monopolies. But witness after witness expressed fear of monopolistic control of shipping. An economist from the Australian Wool Board told the Committee: We thought containerisation would get us away from the power of the shipping companies who have dictated their terms to us. but now by a decision’ - I will refer to that decision later - ‘it seems that they will have a greater stranglehold on us than ever before’.
Monopolistic control of the transport of cargoes from inland Australia to inland United Kingdom means that the master carriers of Australia are completely at the mercy of the shipping companies who may dictate who will use their services. The insurance companies that today insure goods transported by sea will compete against OCL, which offers to shippers an overall charge which includes, among other things, the cost of insurance. This is unfair competition for insurance interests that have been built up by reputable companies over a century.
The shipping companies pointed out in evidence that they thought they could get a better deal by handling the insurance themselves and underwriting it to a particular insurance company. They said: ‘Because of the millions of dollars worth of goods that we carry, we have a great power of barter in respect of insurance’. Not all the fears expressed may materialise, but somebody should be watching the situation constantly on behalf of the various Australian interests. It can be claimed that the unitised system of handling cargoes is preferable to the cellular system in that all types of cargo are acceptable for unit loading, including containerised cargo; but a cellular container ship is specially designed with guide rails for the purpose of loading and unloading containers of an internationally agreed size. Its value lies in the fact that it has selfcoupling and uncoupling slings which are operated by one crane driver. A 20-ton container can be taken off the ship and placed on a lorry or wharf and a full 20- ton container taken from the wharf to replace it. By this system loading and unloading rates of 500 tons an hour are achieved. This results in a cargo movement of 1,000 tons an hour in cellular container ships, with labour employment of only two crane drivers. The labour intensive costs of cargo handling are reduced, but the cost of installation of cellular container ships for the British consortium is $67m. The consortium wishes to amortise its installation costs, and to gain a reasonable return. There was no suggestion that there would be any reduction in freight rates; in fact, the evidence was to the contrary. Shippers when questioned stated the cost of shipping cargo to England in the previous year and OCL, one of the container companies, quoted a price for shipping that quantity of cargo at about 7% below the amount that had been paid. However, we were told that there was to be no reduction in the costs at the sea terminal; this was to be a saving in wharf dues and in handling charges on the wharf. Yet the shipping companies will still receive the same amount. I believe that since that evidence was given overseas shipping freights have been reduced by 4%.
Honourable senators will realise that whereas previously a big proportion of the cost was expenditure in Australia on labour, port dues and so on, with the use of cellular containers the biggest proportion of expenditure will be overseas to meet the cost of manning ships, building ships and possibly for the port facilities which, in the main, will be of overseas manufacture. Although we will find that the expenditure will now be outside Australia rather than inside Australia, there will be also a reduction of business in port areas and a big reduction in the manpower employed on our wharves. Much of our port labour will become redundant. As Senator Young said, there will be great bulk areas where labour will be employed, but much of the labour required to handle full container loads will be employed far from the wharf area and it will be manpower of a type different from what we know today. Although this may not be detrimental to employment as a whole, it will affect the residential area of our seaports. if there is anything in the suggestion that the sea transport of goods can be compared with the pipeline which takes oil from the well to the place of consumption, and that the ship is used only for that part of the voyage where nothing else can be used, because of the high cost of these vessels the shipowners will get from them as many trips as possible. The quicker their turnround the better it will be for the shipowners. If there is any validity in this theory, eventually Fremantle will be. the port for all goods from the west and Sydney the port for all goods from the east. Already it has been decided by the shipowners that they will bypass South Australia and not provide a feeder service to (hat State. Although the South Australian Harbors Board does not take the suggestion seriously at the moment and hopes that South Australia will be included, I believe that it is the beginning of the end for Port Adelaide as a trading port.
– For general cargo.
– Yes, for general cargo, although I do not know what other cargoes we have from Port Adelaide. We had strong evidence from one witness who impressed the Committee with his knowledge of the cartage of goods. 1 refer to the manager of Trans-Ocean Containers. He gave evidence that in the light of his considerable experience he believed that the best means of transporting goods for distances up to 130 miles was by road transport, that the best means between 135 miles and 800 miles was by. rail, and that over 800 miles the best method was by sea transport. AH witnesses who followed or had some knowledge of the transport of goods were, despite cross-questioning, unable to dispute those figures. The decision to transport goods by rail from South Australia, using the Gillman area of South Australia as the base for a feeder service, indicates the logic of what the witness said. The belief was expressed by the witness, who is the manager of a company which is responsible also for the transport of goods by land, that if this theory is accepted all goods from South Australia will be taken by rail to the port of Melbourne. A further development would be that if goods were produced between Adelaide and Melbourne there would be no need to take them to Adelaide and they could be railed direct to Melbourne. In this way products from the Mount Gambier and River Murray areas would be taken direct to Melbourne and would never reach Adelaide.
Although there may be a transfer of emphasis from waterside labour to railway workers, I do not know to what extent this would take place, lt is obvious that there will be an upheaval in established ports and to the way of life and to industries that we now have in South Australia. The expected threat to the waterfront was one of my reasons for serving on the Committee. Although 1 found that work on the Committee was very interesting. I found it also very time consuming. This made it very difficult for me to catch up on other work. Nevertheless it was interesting and there was the hope that in the revolution in sea transport we would be able to make some recommendations which would acknowledge the plight of waterfront employees. I thought that some concessions to them might be recommended by the Committee and perhaps adopted by the Parliament. Although one would have expected a representative of (he industrial movement to be one of the first to give evidence before the Committee, the representative from the Australian Council of Trade Unions was one of the last witnesses to give evidence. He said that a committee had been formed for the purpose of making a submission to the Committee. He emphasised that the Select Committee should not sell itself on cellular containers but should consider at the same time the question of unitised cargoes.
There was no claim on behalf of waterfront employees for any alteration in their conditions of employment. Because the Committee was not satisfied with this evidence it asked Mr Fitzgibbon to appear before the Committee. For some considerable time, although under severe crossexamination, Mr Fitzgibbon very cleverly evaded any question that was asked about conditions required by waterfront employees. I suppose he was reluctant to answer because he thought that they were matters for the ACTU. But shortly after Mr Fitzgibbon had given evidence, in the May Day procession in Sydney the waterside workers proclaimed on a float in the procession that containerisation would mean bigger profits for shipping companies and bigger profits for producers and that they wanted a reduction of hours and protection against redundancy by superannuation benefits and by other means. The publicacation of that union and issues of the shipping journal since then have contained claims of payments which should be made to waterside workers. We were unable to make any finding on this question because of absence of evidence. The only finding on industrial matters was that demarcation disputes will arise. Evidence that these are best settled - if they can be settled - within the framework of the industrial movement was given by the union and the stevedoring employers.
One can see the importance of the matter. For the first time since Fremantle has been operating as a port, waterfront employees there will be engaged not by the harbour authorities but by the shipping companies. We have heard, but not in evidence, that this is a matter of concern amongst employees on the waterfront. There was no evidence by the union that has the responsibility of looking after the welfare of that section of employees as to whether the Committee should do anything about it. Tn relation to disputes, for instance, in regard to redundancy and demarcation on the waterfront, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has power to act if the existence of an interstate dispute can be established.
I think it is beyond dispute that the Commonwealth has power in relation to industrial disputes concerning commodities that are exported or imported. It has undisputed power to set up a tribunal to consider every grievance that arises on the waterfront in industrial relationships, without the need to establish the existence of an interstate dispute. Mr Fitzgibbon was asked whether ho approved of the establishment of such an authority. He said that this was a question for the ACTU to settle and that it could not be recommended. One can see the defeat of the whole container system if the high cost vehicle transporting the goods is to be held up at a port while there is some dispute over demarcation extending over several days, or until such time as the parties utilise the slow approach to a federal tribunal for the purpose of solving the question. These are all matters that have to be considered.
I have perhaps laboured the possibility of a monopoly and tried to explain some fears in relation to it. We asked government departments what was the solution of the problem of monopoly control. They rely on section 10a of the Trade Practices Act, which relates to shipping. This Act operates only when one establishes to a tribunal that someone is doing something detrimental to the competition that is necessary in the public interest. Before one can lake any action against a British consortium for doing something that is contrary to free competition, one has lo establish that in shipping free competition is necessary in the public interest.
The Trade Practices Act prescribes that when a shipping company is named it cannot do a number of things, lt cannot offer concessions for the purpose of attracting exclusive shipping to its line to the detriment of some other line. If one establishes that monopoly is not in the public interest, the legislation prohibits, amongst other things, ottering concessions and other inducements to patronise the line. But this is not the fear of people who gave evidence expressing a fear of monopolies. They do not fear that the overseas consortiums would give concessions for the purpose of attracting business. The fear of the Australian shippers is that there will be a demand for increased freight rates to meet the high capital expenditure involved in the introduction of the system.
The provisions of the Trade Practices Aci in relation to shipping were enacted last year. No one who appeared before the Committee could fell us of the powers of the Act and how it operates. The Attorney-General’s Department was relucant to give evidence on the basis of hypothetical cases, saying that legal opinions are not generally given on this basis and that an opinion given on a hypothetical case might be found to be wrong when an actual case came up for decision at law. We have no judgments by a tribunal to give any clear indication of how the Trade Practices Acf may operate. There are grave fears among big sections of those interested in shipping as to the power of the Trade Practices Act to stop such powerful monopolies as will operate between the United Kingdom and Australia.
The Committee considered what alternative could be used if we are desirous of free competition. There is the big question of someone buying into an industry in which companies are spending S67m on these facilities. We believe that an opportunity is available for the Australian National Line not only to operate between the United Kingdom and Australia but also to become part of the Conference, whereby we can have some representation by an Australian organisation in the fixing of cargo rates within the Conference.
We believe that we could in this way get some information as to the balance sheets of shipping companies registered in Great Britain which by law they are unable to disclose at the present time to any outside interest. For the purposes of the operation of the Trade Practices Act we cannot look into the question of the profits of these companies in a previous year. There was a strong feeling that (he operation of the Australian National Line within these consortiums would be the best security that we could find to overcome the fears expressed to the Committee as to monopolistic control. This could be a cheap investment even if the line itself were an unprofitable venture. It could still give security to big interests in Australia because we would be part of this new concept that threatens so much the established method of shipping.
I want to say a word or two about Tasmanian apples. I will not say a great deal, because we had on the Committee a better representative of Tasmanian interests than I. The evidence disclosed that the Tasmanian apple crop requires a great number of refrigerated cargo vessels in a short period. All Tasmanian apple exports are for Great Britain and the Continent. Cellular container ships carrying 300 refrigerated containers would have no hope of lifting the cargo even if all other cargo was excluded. The Tasmanian apple crop has to be exported at a time when it is in competition with meat cargo for refrigerated space. At the present time extreme difficulty is experienced in obtaining refrigerated cargo space for the export of the Tasmanian fruit crop. Last year hardship was experienced because two vessels which are normally on the run have been taken over by the American Army in order to supply the troops in Vietnam.
It is a question of finding ships that are fully refrigerated. Many ships that are half refrigerated can be found, but they will not come to pick up half a cargo of apples. There must be some other cargo for them to pick up. The wool sales in Tasmania are arranged to coincide with the arrival of ships, so that ships can take half a load of profitable wool cargo and half a load of refrigerated fruit cargo. If the cellular container ships cannot take the apples but will compete, and compete successfully, for the wool cargo, that will deprive Tasmania of the shipping service that it now has to take its apple crop overseas, because ships will not go there for half a load of apples. So the Tasmanian apple growers are in a plight. They do not know what the future holds for them under the container system.
They have put forward another point. If there is, as there will be, some refrigerated space available for the transportation of apples in the apple season, it is logical that the shipping companies will take apples from the mainland ports rather than from the Tasmanian ports. The result will be that the Tasmanian apple growers will be in serious competition with the mainland apple growers. Although they are in competition at the present time, because of the ability of the mainland growers to obtain better and more regular transport in cellular container ships there will be a tendency to increase the apple growing areas on the mainland lo the detriment of the Tasmanian industry.
Much government money is invested in the Tasmanian apple industry. Many people have invested their savings in it. They have suggested that a bounty be paid by the Federal Government. Tt is evident that the Tasmanian apple growers have this fear. I do not know whether there is justification for their fear. However this matter should be looked at continually with the object of taking remedial action or providing relief for the Tasmanian apple growers, who have invested their savings in this industry, if the dangers arc real and if there is a threat to the industry. We still do not have the committee that we believe should be responsible for looking after matters that may arise under the cellular container system.
One could speak for hours on this matter, but because of the time I will proceed now to make a few remarks about the wool industry, in order to show what is facing it. The industry is complaining. The surprising point about the evidence that we heard from the industry is the number of organisations, boards and councils that deal with wool and have discussions on the reasons for the high cost of wool1 and our inability to export it at a competitive price. They all come to the one conclusion - that the labour cost in the wool industry is too high. They do not ever look at the top administration and at the number of people who are fully employed on finding out that the labour cost in the industry is too high. Evidence was given by eleven witnesses from eleven various bodies that have some say in or some control of the industry. Most of these bodies employ highly paid secretaries and research officers. Some of them are headed by men with knighthoods. One realises how many people are living off the sheep’s back.
The only solution that they found to the problems raised by containerisation was to form yet another organisation - an organisation of wool’ dumping firms to deal with the high density dumping of wool. The evidence given to the Committee was that the British shipping consortiums told the wool brokers that more bales could be put in a container if the wool was high density dumped. The reply from the wool brokers was: ‘Firstly, we do not know whether this process is injurious to wool’. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is now conducting investigations on the matter. Secondly, we do not know whether the wool buyers and the mills in England are prepared to accept high density clumped wool, whether it will thaw out and whether special plants will be needed’. The British shipping lines then distributed through the Department of Trade and Industry to the wool brokers a letter which said to the brokers: ‘Unless you make some firm proposal to install high density dumping plants by .lune 1967 we will set about installing them’. So, at a cost of $30m, a high density dumping plant was installed by the wool brokers.
A research officer from one of the wool organisations came to the Committee and complained about what he claimed was an ultimatum from the shipping companies on this matter. He was the one who said: “We thought that under containerisation we would get out of the stranglehold of the shipping monopolies, but instead they are putting us right in’. When asked: ‘What makes you think that the wool dumping firms will do this?’, he replied: ‘There are two reasons why they will do it. One is that it is a very profitable operation and the other is that two of the biggest dumping firms have shipping interests’. Therefore, for those reasons, the brokers decided to install a high density dumping pl’ant at a cost of $30m, rather than let someone else install it. They did that at a time when it was imprudent and when they did not know whether high density dumping was beneficial or detrimental to wool and whether the overseas buyers would accept high density dumped wool.
Here we see some of the powers of monopolies before they start operating. What will be their powers once they have started operating? The wool1 firms, which seem to be hopeless in the field of the manpower employed in the production, marketing and sale of their product, have set up another organisation which will handle the dumping of wool and which will have a complete monopoly in every State other than Western Australia.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMulIin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681008_senate_26_s38/>.