26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is concerned with the matter of whether there is to be an election this year, is the Leader of the Government aware that there is very great interest in the matter in this chamber? At all events, one honourable senator will be due to present himself to the electors in the State of Victoria, and if an election is to be held this year, the business of the Senate will be affected as well as the business of the country, ls the Leader of the Government also aware that the Prime Minister has given a Press release stating that there will be no election this year? If that is correct, can the honourable gentleman tell honourable senators frankly what is the position? Will he confirm that the Prime Minister has made a statement to the Press to that effect? Will the Minister tell us whether the Government is to act in accordance with the traditional practice that Parliament should be the first to be informed of such important matters which so intimately affect Parliament?
– I can readily appreciate that honourable senators have a very real interest in this matter. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, Senator Greenwood has a direct personal interest in the question of an election. It is equally true, as we all know, and as the Leader of the Opposition would know, that the constitutional responsibility for the announcement of elections rests with the Prime Minister. If and when the Prime Minister makes an announcement about any matter, it is my responsibility as his representative in the Senate to make an announcement here.
– Has he made a statement to the Press?
– 1 am not aware of any such statement that the Prime Minister has made to the Press.
– Senator Georges tells me that he has.
– 1 do not think we can accept a statement, even if made in all good faith, by an honourable senator that it is his understanding that a statement has been made to the Press. As I indicated earlier, Mr President, this is a matter for the Prime Minister. If and when he makes a statement on the matter I will convey it to the Senate.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question about the earthquake which occurred yesterday in Western Australia. As there is no national disaster fund, what, steps does the Government intend to take in order to recompense the people in Western Australia who have suffered severe losses through this disaster?
– 1 am sure everyone agrees that the effects of the earthquake in Western Australia are to be regretted. Our sympathy is extended to persons involved in the consequences of the earthquake, it is my understanding that a State has the very proper right when suffering from the effects of a natural disaster which it is believed go beyond the capability of its sovereign resources, to make representations through its Premier to the Prime Minister, and through the Prime Minister to the Commonwealth Treasurer. A short time ago in another place the Treasurer dealt with a question in a similar vein. He made it quite clear that if any representations were made to the Commonwealth by the Premier of Western Australia in relation to what happened yesterday those representations would be very carefully examined by the Commonwealth.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Will the mechanism of the nose wheel section of all Viscount aircraft in Australia be re-examined in the light of last Thursday’s incident at Sydney airport when the lives of twenty-three passengers and several crew members were endangered? I am sure that we all pay tribute to the skill and ability of the pilot in bringing the aircraft in safely. If these examinations can be undertaken, will the
Minister advise the Senate whether or not they will be undertaken urgently?
– I inform the Senate, and particularly Senator Davidson, that Senator Scott, who represents the Minister for Civil Aviation in this place, is not here today because of a family bereavement, in respect of which I am sure we all extend our sympathy. Acting on his behalf I ask Senator Davidson to put his question on the notice paper. I ask also that any questions which it was proposed to direct to Senator Scott, either as the Minister for Customs and Excise or as Minister representing another portfolio, be placed on the notice paper or deferred until tomorrow.
– Has the
Leader of the Government in the Senate seen reports that Mr George Bundy, a former adviser to both President Kennedy and President Johnson and a supporter of (he war in Vietnam, has called for the United States of America to de-escalate that war? ls Mr Bundy correctly quoted as stating that the United States cannot expect a military victory, that it should seek agreement even though it may not get it and that, with or without agreement, it should plan and execute a substantial reduction in the level of United States military effort there? In view of the weight that ought to be attached to the words of a man who was adviser to two presidents-
– Order! The honourable senator’s question is very long.
– 1 am about to finish it now. As Mr Bundy was adviser to two presidents and was closely involved with American policy in Vietnam, will the Minister urge the Government to reconsider its present mindless approach to the ending of the Vietnam war?
– I am sure that nobody would expect a responsible government to shape its foreign policy on the basis of a report in an article in a foreign newspaper. The question is really preposterous. I did not see the report, but anybody with great or little background experience is entitled to express a view. However, to suggest that the Government should shape its foreign policy on the basis of a view expressed by an individual, no matter how important he is, is an unreal suggestion.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I understand that a high level team of scientists from the United States of America is at present in Australia as a result of an agreement reached between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister early this year. Can the Minister give the Senate details of this visit and tell us what value for Australia can flow from such visit?
– I wish to inform the Senate that the team of American scientists is in Australia at the present time and was welcomed here last week. The topics which the scientists intend to develop in their preliminary talks for the purpose of mapping out the scope of the mutual interests of the scientists of Australia and America were discussed. They have been described as appertaining to civil science and are expected to include the areas of arid zone research, range management, meteorology, hydrology, oceanography, radio and optical astronomy, immunology and some other scientific questions. That would be a sufficient indication to the Senate as to the scope of their possible interest. It is interesting to observe that Professor Sir Hugh Ennor, when welcoming them, said that he imagined that there was much to be gained by co-operative scientific effort in joint symposiums in relation to the study of the Great Barrier Reef and problems of human biology in New Guinea.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. On Wednesday of last week I asked him a question relating to supplies to Vietnam. As this was a matter relating to his own Department, he promised thai he would give me a reply the next day. 1 now ask him: When will he be in- a position to reply to my question?
– In truth, I understood that I had information made available to me, but it does not appear to be readily at hand. The honourable senator’s question will be answered, if not during question time today, then certainly tomorrow.
– J direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the decision on whether or not there is to be an election this year been influenced in any way by the ultimatum issued by the Democratic Labor Party?
– 1 know of no ultimatum; I am sure that the Prime Minister would know of no ultimatum; and 1 am sure that Senator Gair would know of no ultimatum. In all the circumstances, I do not think the question needs any further answer.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, is supplementary to that asked by the Leader of the Opposition at the commencement of question time. The Leader of the Opposition implied some criticism of the Prime Minister for not having made an announcement that there was not to be an election, ls it not the responsibily and duty of a Prime Minister to announce whether a federal election will be held and. if one is to be held, when it is to be held? Would it not be verging on the ridiculous if the Prime Minister were to be expected to state yes or no each time some news medium commentator or some odd parliamentary leader indulged in election forecasting?
– I agree entirely with the proposition put by the honourable senn lor.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry a question. In view of the importance to Queensland and Australia of the sugar talks now taking place overseas, can the Minister inform the Senate whether any progress has been made in the talks and whether there is any prospect of a new sugar agreement being arrived at?
– The information in my possession is to the effect that a statement concerning an agreement is expected within the next 2 or 3 days.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister been directed to reports of an appealmade at the week-end at an adult education seminar by Professor S. D. Rubbo, Professor of Microbiology at the University of Melbourne, calling on the Government to make a statement on the dangers of germ warfare and the use of destructive chemicals in Vietnam? Professor Rubbo is reported to have said that the type of defoliation chemicals being used in Vietnam could open the door to the further use of chemicals and gases in warfare. He is reported also to have said that Australia, as a party to the Geneva Protocol of 1925. should have no part in the use of such chemicals in Vietnam and that the Federal Government should make a statement on the question irrespective of the issues of the war itself. I ask the Minister: Firstly, is the Geneva Protocol of 1925 which forbids the use of poison gas in warfare too limited for present day conditions? Secondly, will the Government make a statement as suggested by Professor Rubbo, and as well on the proposals recently made to the eighteen nation disarmament conference in Geneva by the United Kingdom Government to outlaw microbiological or germ warfare?
– I recall that last week I gave an answer in some depth to Senator Georges who had posed certain questions concerning an examination by Australia, and by my own Department in particular, of what has been described as germ warfare. On that occasion I made it abundantly clear that Australia had taken no deliberate action in this field. Hansard has a record of both the question and the answer. Senator Cohen now has asked without notice a far wider question which seeks a definition of the implications and extent of the Geneva Protocol. Quite clearly this is a question for the notice paper. I think I will refer it to the Minister for External Affairs rather than to the Prime Minister.
– There are two parts to the question. One is about the use of chemicals in Vietnam.
– I will pick up and repeat what 1 have said already in relation to that aspect. I will get a considered reply from the Minister for External Affairs as to the full extent of and
Australia’s participation in the Geneva Protocol.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is it correct thai Australian forces, both at home and overseas, use or are issued with margarine? II so, why is it preferred to butter?
– First of all let me explain to the honourable senator that much of the food used by Australian soldiers in Vietnam is supplied through the American forces. I am informed that margarine has been used but I understand that the American forces now have turned back to the use of butter. I think that will be good news for the primary producers, not only of New Zealand but also of Tasmania and Australia as a whole. One of our troubles in Vietnam is the lack of facilities in which to store for any lengthy period a large quantity of perishable foodstuffs. The Americans have such conveniences and have been good enough to keep food of this nature in storage for us. In the main it: has been found better to use American rather than Australian foodstuffs.
– Will the Leader of the Government congratulate the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party for saving Australia $l.Sm and for saving the people of this country the tremendous amount of work in which they would have been involved in an unnecessary election?
– Whilst 1 have the greatest respect for the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, and whilst, equally, I have every respect for other honourable senators, including Senator Kennelly, I see no circumstances either on this particular day or within the last few days which give rise to any special reason for congratulating Senator Gair.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Is the Minister in a position to answer a question asked by me recently relating to the making of a special grant to Tasmania for the setting up of an external studies division of the University of Tasmania?
– I remind the Senate of the great interest that Senator Rae has shown in this subject, which is a very important one to northern Tasmania. The Minister for Education and Science has advised me that the Australian Universities Commission is now considering the submission of the University of Tasmania in which appear its requests for the triennium 1 970- 1972 and will make its recommendations to the Commonwealth and State governments during the first half of 1969. lt is not Commonwealth policy to depart from the triennium system. This being so, the earliest time at which the new Commonwealth grants would commence is the beginning of 1970. Senator Rae will be reminded, of course, as will all honourable senators, that the particular function for which the Australian Universities Commission was set up was to act as the authority from which would stem recommendations for university appropriations.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the very difficult times being experienced by primary producers throughout Austrafia due to falling prices and increased costs, why has the Government allowed interest rates to rise by a further ±%. thus adding to the farmer’s already heavy burden?
– The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Mr Phillips, issued a Press statement in relation to this matter on Friday last. I should have thought that all honourable senators would have received circulated copies of it in their mail boxes. In the event that they have not, I shall repeat now what was said because the statement deals also with the secondary matter of the statutory reserve deposit rate. The statement reads:
The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Mr J. G. Phillips, today announced that effective 14 October 1968 the maximum overdraft interest rate chargeable by trading banks would be increased by i% p.a. to 74% p.a.
Mr Phillips explained that when the maximum overdraft interest rate is changed, the arrangement with banks is that general movements are made in most trading bank lending interest rates in the same direction and broadly to the same extent.
Mr Phillips also announced that the Statutory Reserve Deposit ratio of the major trading banks would be increased from 8% to 9% - by % on 23 October and by 1% on 15 November.
Tn recent months, Mr Phillips said, demand on domestic resources had continued to strengthen and the call on funds in domestic capital markets appeared to be running strongly. An overstrong rise in domestic demand would have adverse effects on internal costs and prices as well as the balance of payments-
And most certainly it would have an effect upon our capacity to export -
Mr Phillips recalled that trading bank fixed deposit interest rates had been increased in June to maintain their relative attractiveness. The action now announced was designed to bring a cautionary influence to the developing situation, without impeding the underlying growth of the economy.
– In addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister lor Primary Industry, I refer to a statement made toy the Minister on 20th September 1968 in which he referred to the shipment of beef or mutton to the United States of America. He also indicated that loading could commence from 1st December 1968 for arrival at ports in the United Slates from 1st January 1969. 1 ask: Is the Minister aware that a longshoremen’s strike will commence in the United States on 1st January 1969? Will this strike be an added handicap to shipments of meat from Australia to the United States? Has (he industry been made aware of this new situation?
– 1 am not aware of the circumstances mentioned by the honourable senator, but as one who is not without hope, I feel that the date mentioned for the beginning of this strike may be postponed or that the strike may not take place. I am sorry that I am not in a position to say any more than that.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. Will he consult with the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party to ascertain the authority of Mr B. A. Santamaria, who purported to make certain significant statements on behalf of the DLP in a television commentary on Sunday last, to make such statements on behalf of the DLP?
- Mr President, whilst the honourable senator’s question has no doubt excited some interest among honourable senators opposite, I wish to make it abundantly clear that as far as I am concerned the internal arrangements of a political party are the concern of that party. Whether Mr Santamaria was speaking on behalf of the DLP is a matter for Mr Santamaria and Senator Gair to sort out between themselves.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that in the past the Commonwealth Government has in the case of national disasters, such as earthquakes, given assistance to those affected by the payment of an amount equal to the amount paid by the State government? Is the policy of $1 for $1 assistance still adhered to by the Commonwealth Government? Does the Minister appreciate that the Australian Labor Party recently proposed that a national disaster organisation be formed and that that proposal was defeated by the Government with the assistance of the Democratic Labor Party?
– In answer to a related question earlier today I indicated that where a State government considers that a situation has arisen that could verge on being or be implied as a national disaster the primary responsibility at the outset is for the Premier of the State to write to the Prime Minister and no doubt through the Prime Minister to the Treasurer. It is my understanding that such a situation is then examined with good will on all sides and that if appropriate, some formula is found to provide for assistance. As to the remainder of the honourable senator’s question, what has happened in the Senate on earlier occasions is a matter for the history book and Hansard.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government. Will the Government cause a thorough seismological survey to be made in order to ascertain whether there is any possibility of the occurrence of a similar earthquake to that which took place yesterday, or a more serious one - I understand that a less serious earthquake has taken place today, again in Western Australia - so that sufficient precautions can be taken to prevent any undue loss from such a calamity?
– The honourable senator asks a very interesting question. 1 would need to examine it to discover where 1 should direct the question. On certain aspects of this matter work is done by scientists in the Department of Supply, and this might well be so of other departments. If the honourable senator will put the question on the notice paper 1 shall certainly have it directed to whichever department is appropriate to take the lead in relation to it.
– Would the Leader of the Government condemn any announcement to a meeting of the Government parties and to the Press on such an important question as the life of the present Parliament, without a similar announcement to the Parliament, as an act of contempt of and discourtesy to the Parliament and the Opposition parties?
– No. After all, parties have meetings. Sometimes they have meetings two or three times a week. I am sure that the Australian Labor Party has what it calls a caucus meeting not once but many times a week, and I am quite certain that it would not be appropriate for a statement to be made here by leave on what happened at caucus meetings, but 1 am bound to say that rumours do get into King’s Hall as to what happens al such meetings.
– ls the Minister representing the Attorney-General in a position to answer a question recently asked by me requesting information as to the consideration being given to the establishment of a Commonwealth court of family relations?
– I am in a position to tell the honourable senator that I have received information from the AttorneyGeneral that his Department has been making a pursuing study of this matter, to the extent that one of his officers visited the courts of family relations when passing through America in 1964. However, the tentative thinking of the Department is that this matter is still in an experimental stage, even overseas, and that when it is finally considered in Australia it will be a matter for State decision. However, the matter will be kept under review, but 1 would not expect that it would develop to the stage of decision in Australia at any early date.
– Can the Leader of the Government advise the Senate whether there is to be a federal election this year?
– I made it clear earlier that the question of an election is the constitutional responsibility of the Prime Minister. If and when he were to make a statement and ask me to make a statement here, I would most certainly make it.
– I would like to draw to the attention of the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs an advertisement which appeared in the ‘West Australian’ of Saturday, 5th October 1968, and which has, 1 understand, appeared in other newspapers on different dates, for Burroughs adding machines. I can provide the Minister with a copy of the advertisement, which includes a photograph of an Aboriginal girl and some kind of calculating machine. The advertisement gives the girl’s name and it states that, she left school at 15 and that mathematics was her worst subject. The advertisement claims that now she can find the square root of 36.989.71 in 3-10t:hs of a second. The machine is a Burroughs C3350 and is described as the equal opportunity calculator. In asking the Minister to draw this advertisement to the attention of the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, I should like to point out that a large number of people, including myself, are of the opinion that the only possible construction that can be put on the advertisement is that if an Aboriginal is capable of working this machine then anybody is capable of working it, which is a slur on a great many Australian citizens.
– Order! The honourable senator’s question is becoming a little long.
– I shall finish it now, Sir. I realise that the Minister has no power to censure the Burroughs people or the advertisers, but will he at least consider referring the matter to them so that they will refrain from making this insulting type of statement?
– From thelong question which the honourable senator has asked, I gather that his real concern is that I should draw the attention for the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs to an advertisement of which the honourable senator does not approve. I will draw the Minister’s attention to the advertisement.
– I address a ques tion to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it not a fact that during the recent visit to Australia of Mr Dominic Mintoff, the Leader of the Maltese Labour Party and a former Prime Minister of Malta, some assurances were given to him by the Minister for Immigration that further consideration would be given to the present situation in which Maltese, although they are British subjects, have to wait considerably longer than migrants from the United Kingdom before they are eligible for social services and other benefits? Has the Minister considered this matter? If so, what is the result of his consideration?
– I could not give the honourable senator a detailed reply to that question. Because of its importance I wilt obtain a reply from the Minister.
asked the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Australia to determine if Australians have a higher or lower level of pesticides in their fat than previously?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister for Education and Science has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Has the Minister read a statement by Dr A. H. Weatherley, of the Australian National University, that due to the failure of the Commonwealth Government to grant adequate funds for sports training research, Australian athletics would drop below mounting world standards?
Senator WRIGHT- The Minister lor Education and Science has supplied the following answer:
I have seen the newspaper report to which the honourable senator refers. The one reference to Dr Weatherley in the report did not quote him as speaking of a failure of the Commonweatlh Government lo grant adequate funds for sports research. The position of course is that the Commonwealth Government makes grants available for a large variety of research projects, selecting the projects on the advice of the Australian Research Grants Committee. The Commonwealth also makes funds available to universities for general research purposes of their own choosing.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What effect has the closing of the Suez Canal had on world trade and, in particular, on Australia’s trade?
Senator ANDERSON- The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following reply:
The present closure of the Suez Canal appears to have had less effect on world trade than the earlier closure in 1956. In 1956 the closure resulted in great demands for shipping, particularly for tanker shipping, resulting in a marked increase in charter shipping rates and a higher transport cost for commodities. The present day use of very large tankers has made it more economical to use the longer route via the Cape, even from sources close to the Canal, and the present closure had comparatively little effect on charter shipping rates other than to arrest a downward trend which was apparent before the closure as a result of a world surplus of chaner tonnage. Liner shipping was more affected, particularly between Europe and the Far East, where an additional 6 to 10 days was added to steaming times and freight rate increases of up to 171% were imposed. This was a temporary measure only, and some liner companies are planning to schedule their services in future omitting the Canal.
The effect on world trade has been to increase freight rates and lengthen delivery times on vessels previously using the Canal. The main effect of the closure on Australian trade was that a surcharge initially of 3J% and later of 6% was imposed on freight rales to the United Kingdom and the Continent, and delivery times to the United Kingdom and northern Europe were increased by 2 to 3 days. Delivery times to the Mediterranean areas increased by about 8 days. The surcharge has since been merged into the general freight rale.
Fill AIRCRAFT (Question No. 488)
Senator KEEFFE asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON- The Minister for
Defence has provided the following answers:
Fill AIRCRAFT (Question No. 490)
Senator KEEFFE asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON - The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer:
Fill AIRCRAFT (Question No. 49.1)
Senator COHEN asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON- The Minister lotDefence has provided the following information:
Fill AIRCRAFT (Question No. 500)
Senator COHEN asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON- The Minister for Defence has provided the following information:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What will be the particular function of the F111 aircraft when used as part of Australia’s defence force?
Senator ANDERSON- The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer:
The function of the F111C force will be to meet the air strike-reconnaissance requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force as part of the overall capability of that force.
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
Is it the Government’s intention gradually to change the production pattern at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory from small arms and other small arms activity to consumer and commercial goods; if so, to what extent has the change-over been effected, and when will it be completed?
Senator ANDERSON - The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Lithgow Small Arms Factory will continue as the Commonwealth’s basic source of rifle and machine gun production. Some diversification into production of other defence stores has taken place in order to ensure that the Factory has a viable workload. Such diversification will continue as necessary. Additionally, where appropriate to the maintenance of defence potential, the Small Arms Factory will continue to undertake certain commercial work.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Will the Minister examine the circumstances surrounding the employment placing of Egyptian migrant Mr Nabil Messiha who was a top soil scientist in his former country but has not been able to follow his professional calling in Australia?
Senator WRIGHT- Yes. Following press publicity given to this particular case, my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, answered a similar question without notice in another place on 19th September. The Minister has asked that the honourable senator be assured that his Department is continuing its endeavours to place Mr Nebil Messiha in work suited to his qualifications, and has arranged further employment interviews for him in New South Wales and Victoria.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Is there any percentage of time prescribed for advertising, news and entertainment on Australian radio and television; if not, has the Australian Broadcasting Control Board made any such suggestion, and what has been the response of the broadcasting and television stations?
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer:
Standards to be observed by the licenseesof commercial television and commercial broadcasting stations intheprovisionof programmes have been determined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. They specify in some detail the amount and distribution of advertising matter which may be broadcast and telecast. There are also requirements for the allocation of time for religious programmes free of charge, for Australian produced programmes on television and for Australian musical compositions on broadcasting stations. There is no requirement for a specified amount of time to be devoted to the broadcasting or televising of news and entertainment as such. In respect of commercial stations, the selection and arrangement of programmes is primarily a matter for licensees, while the Australian Broadcasting Commission is responsible for the programmes provided by national stations.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Has the Government rejected the Weeden Committee report or that section of it which suggested that a frequency in theVHF band be reserved for educational films; if so, was it because of expense or because of the opposition from commercial stations?
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer:
A statement made in the Senate by Senator Anderson when tabling the Report of the Advisory Committee on Educational Television Services - Hansard, 12th May 1966 - contained the Government’s attitude to policy questions in connection with educational television raised by the Report. 1 refer the honourable senator to the statement, which covers the points raised in his question.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has replied as follows:
) asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
Is it a fact that the proposed agreement between Australia and Japan relating to Japanese tuna long line fishing within the 12-mile limit off the Australian coast, which was announced in the Parliament on 19th September, imperils the Australian fishing industry, particularly the South Australian industry, and the position of Port Lincoln as the largest fishing port in the Commonwealth? If so, will the Government take steps to re-negotiate the agreement in order to conserve the source of production and an important South Australian industry?
Senator ANDERSON - The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
As stated by the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs in the Senate on 19th September, the Government is considering the draft agreement negotiated recently by Australian and Japanese officials and will make a further announcement as soon as possible. The initiative taken by the Government to extend its jurisdiction over fisheries from 3 to 12 miles was designed to give further protection to the Australian fishing industry. The interests of this industry have been given every consideration in the negotiations.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Over the past 5 years the Australian Meat Board, through its European representative and by way of periodic visits by Board members, has maintained a close watch on developments in the European Economic Community. During this period the Board has arranged for Australian meat to be displayed at exhibitions and fairs in France and West Germany, and in addition publicity material on Australian meat has been distributed in Germany, France and Italy. Visits to Australia by private importers and representatives of government officials from the Community have also been arranged by the Board. On 11th September the interim annual report of the Board for the year ended 30th June 1968 was tabled in this Senate. I draw the honourable senator’s attention to page 2 of that report which sets out expenditure on publicity in Europe. Page 12 of the report also gives information on the problems being faced in selling Australian meat to the member countries of the EEC.
The honourable senator is no doubt aware that the importation of beef and veal into the Community is regulated by a variable levy system. This system has resulted in imports from both Australia and other countries being severely curtailed as, apart from only a few weeks, levies were in operation throughout 1967 and 1968. By way of illustration, thelevy on frozen carcase beef for the last week of August represented 70% of the c. & f. price. Under these conditions it is virtually impossible to trade.
– On 27th August
– On 26th September 1968 Senator Ormonde asked the following question:
Is it a fact that the city of Darwin is the only Australian city not honoured by having a naval unit or naval ship named in its honour? Will the Minister give consideration to rectifying this omission.
The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answer:
There is no naval unit or ship named after the city of Darwin, nor, at the present time are there any Royal Australian Navy ships named after Canberra or Adelaide. It has been the practice to reserve the names of capital cities for major units of the RAN, and Darwin, Canberra and Adelaide will all be considered when a new major unit for the RAN is acquired.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
– The staff is 1,000 or more.
– I think I am correct in saying that the cost is three times greater than our representation in the United States of America. Why should $4m be spent on a commissioner’s office in a country with whom our relations are lessening and will lessen, so far as we can see, until they reach the stage where our ties will be no stronger than and not very different from our ties with any other country? J believe that in the circumstances the expenditure is too great.
– Do we own the building or do we rent it?
– I understand that we own it. I am calling on my memory now. I recall Sir Eric Harrison being appointed . as High Commissioner. My recollection is that he had in mind the purchase of Canberra House. We have to remember that Australia House is doing a functional job. One of the departments housed there is the Department of Immigration.I will return to that subject shortly. Special circumstances exist between the United Kingdom and Australia because traditionally we are members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, which has grown up over a long period. An old story, which still has some substance, is that many Australians who visit the United Kingdom have a hire car and a driver waiting at Tilbury docks or Southhampton and they rush off the ship and say: “Drive me up to Australia House’. They rush to Australia House and say: ‘I am here. What can you do for me?’ Australia House is not a tourist bureau. Ithink there is some degree of truth in the story that some people -I do not suggest that parliamentarians adopt this approach - imagine that Australia House will assist them with their various problems. No doubt Australia House gives a certain degree of help, but that is not its function. I think that sometimes a great degree of misunderstanding occurs about its functions.
I take on board what Senator Laught has said. He cited examples of other countries which have a different concept of the role of a high commission and its physical establishment. It is conceivable that the functions of a high commission could be divided so that one section could provide assistance for tourists wishing to read Australian newspapers, to meet other Australians, to pick up mail or to do a little shopping for Australian items. I think the honourable senator referred to wine and a few other products. He said that that function could be separated from the real role of the Australian High Commission which, of course, quite clearly is in a far more important field. 1 refer honourable senators to the provision to British migrants to Australia of assisted passages. In a period of about 10 years the numbers of British migrants to Australia increased by about 83%. Those increased numbers were processed through the immigration section of Australia House.
Australia House handles our relationships with European countries in which the Department of External Affairs does not have the necessary facilities. All in all, I find it difficult to accept the view of Senator Lillico that because there has been some loosening of the bonds between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian Government there should necessarily be a marked reduction in the appropriation for Australia House. The honourable senator said that the position is not as it was 30, 40 or 50 years ago. But goodness me, there has been tremendous development in that time. The movement of British capital to Australia has greatly increased. Our huge immigration programme has been established. We have set up trade relationships with the United Kingdom. All these matters have to be brought up to date and looked at in the light of conditions in this day and age. I do not think current affairs can be linked to a situation of even 10 years ago because there have been significant changes in our relationships with the United Kingdom. 1 want to advert to some of the background argument that Senator Laught advanced. Senator Sim also raised several points. It is true that in other countries we have diplomatic posts staffed by career diplomats as representatives of this country whereas traditionally in the United Kingdom for the most part political appointments have been made to the High Commission. The present Deputy High Commissioner is Mr Knott. Before his appointment he was the head of the Department of Supply. He was preceded in that position by a former head of the Prime Minister’s Department and by Sir Edwin McCarthy, former head of the old Department of Commerce and Agriculture. This method of appointment is consistent with the role played by the Office of the High Commissioner in London as distinct from the function of an ordinary diplomatic post.
The question of whether the administration of the High Commission should be moved to the Department of External Affairs has been canvassed down through the years in debates on the Estimates and in correspondence. I have a letter written by the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, which deals with this aspect. He wrote, in part:
In this context, diplomatic exchange is lo be seen as one area - a very important area - of a whole network of relationships. Diplomacy is concerned with the execution of a Government’s external policy and the special inter-relationships with the external policies of other governments. But our relationships with Britain, as 1 have indicated, are so all-embracing, extending as they do through family relationships, culture, religion, tradition and government, that I think a special institutional arrangement for the Government’s part in the process is warranted. For instance, we follow closely trade and monetary policies, tax structure, defence, scientific and educational policies. The main administrative innovations in government, both local and national, are of importance to us because there is so much counterpart in Australia of the principles of British administrative activity. There is hardly the same need for emphasising the formal processes of diplomacy as there is in our relationship with other countries. I recognise that these things can change and that there is always the risk (hal we will be left with the form but not the substance of a special relationship. However, where new factors enter into the picture I would regard it as a matter of importance to study their effect.
I am quite certain that what has been said in this debate with particular reference to the Office of the High Commissioner will be studied very carefully by the responsible officers of the Prime Minister’s Department. 1 think it is recognised that Australia House poses some problems. It would be foolish to suggest otherwise. Problems are involved because of the multiplicity of departments each of which plays its part under fairly difficult conditions. I can promise only that the matters raised to date will be drawn to the attention of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I did not ask for anything.
– If the honourable senator does not ask for anything he will not get anything.
– I realise that, but the honourable senator should have asked, in which case the High Commissioner would have looked after him. Perhaps the honourable senator took too many people with him, or perhaps he had spent loo much time in Soho or Earl’s Court and the High Commissioner heard about it. Perhaps Sir Alex. Downer was looking for more deserving politicians. Sir Alex, looked after me and 1 met quite a few of his friends, although perhaps I was not really sober at the time. I am not a club man, but I was taken to three or four Service clubs during an afternoon in which 1 was well entertained.
Coming now to the more serious side, I think something should be done about Australia House. Australia is just as much entitled to be represented under one roof in London as is Canada. The Canadian building is imposing, but Australia House is not so imposing. In London things which arc Australian are very hard to find. Tourists travelling about London seem to gain their impression of Australia by what they see in Earl’s Court, an area in which are situated joss houses and cheap boarding houses. Yet tourists are the people in whom we should be most interested. Australian tourists in London are inundated with publicity inviting them to stay at the overseas and country clubs and other establishments, but 1 do not think they are appropriate surroundings for Australian tourists. I think some attempt should be made to reestablish Australia House. The Australian Slate governments have their establishments spread all over the Strand. They have very puny places: probably the New South Wales headquarters is the best of them. The Stales should be represented under one roof and should not be competing with each other. There is nothing to be gained by competing if people do not know where to find them. Australia House is not the sort of central spot to which people would be attracted, but if we could attract them to a central spot a great deal could be done to improve our situation in London. Possibly what is needed most in Australia House is an Australian public relations department rather than just a girl behind a counter providing information. A public relations department should be a big organisation employing well paid men and women who know their jobs. The. publicity side of public relations is lacking in Australia House at the moment.
I should like now to refer to the Australian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association for which $19,350 is appropriated under Division 430, subdivision 3, item 03. That seems to me to be a very miserable contribution to an organisation which is supposed to have as its purpose the duty of cementing Commonwealth relations in a period when they seem to be falling apart. I am a member of the executive of the Association and I represented the Association in London, for which I am thankful. One of the proudest boasts of some of our leading politicians is their membership of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The late Harold Holt talked about it quite a lot. His obituaries mentioned what a great part the late Prime Minister had played during his association with the organisation. Most members of Parliament feel proud of their membership of the Association and talk about it quite often, yet this great Commonwealth of ours invests annually only $19,000 in the Association. That is not a very startling contribution to solidifying the Commonwealth of Nations or to enabling us to play our part in the Association at a time when relations need solidifying. I do not think we do very much to impress the Asian or Afro-Asian people who attend conferences of the Association, because an impression is given that it is run on a shoe string. Committees of the Association are always trying to work out what something will cost or whether a constituent body can alford a bigger or smaller contribution. Members of the Association do a tremendous job, but they have to do it on the cheap. I do not see why we cannot make a bigger and more active contribution to maintaining this organisation, which is needed very much in present circumstances.
I propose to refer now to the suggested memorials for the late Right Honourable Harold Holt and to remind the Senate that nothing very much has been done to perpetuate the name ‘Chifley’. In Sydney there is a corner named after Chifley.
– Chifley Square.
– All right. I am not saying this disrespectfully, but the Minister for Supply. (Senator Anderson) was surprised to know that there was such a place at the top of Hunter Street in Sydney. I am trying to work out some way of letting people know that there is a place called Chifley Square. Perhaps it was named by the Sydney City Council. Other much more imposing places have been named after aldermen. Streets have been named after aldermen and all sorts of other people of lesser importance. 1 feel that due homage has not been paid to the name of Chifley’. I would not be surprised to learn that, the Post Office does not use it as a business address for the delivery of mail. lt just happens to be the name of a corner.
– Is that so?
– That is another matter; 1 am talking about the cities. I was thinking that if the Post Office concentrated on the use of the name ‘Chifley’ as and address it would become better known as an area and the Square would possibly suffice; but at the moment very few people know that Chifley Square is at the top of Hunter Street near the Commonwealth Centre.
– It ought to be called Chifley Square.
– Is that its name now?
– But it is not very imposing. I think it is due to a lack of foresight rather than a lack of respect for Chifley that a better memorial has not been established, although he would not have wanted a memorial to himself.
A matter of less importance is the fact that more than 3 years after his death there is still not hanging in Parliament House a portrait of Dr Evatt. Surely he is entitled to have his portrait in Kings Hall, if only because he was President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I do not know who works out the protocol on these matters. I see hanging in King’s Hall the portraits of many people who were not as important to Australia as Dr Evatt was. I would like the Parliament and the Government to give some consideration to commemorating Dr Evatt’s life in the politics and legal affairs of Australia by at least hanging a portrait of him in the national Parliament House, because he spent a good deal of his life here and was a national figure. So I suggest that there should be some proper memorial to the former Prime Minister, Mr Chifley, and that there should be a portrait of Dr Evatt in King’s Hall or elsewhere within the precincts of Parliament House.
I do not want to rake over the ashes of the past. Two years ago we had a very important debate on VIP aircraft. I am not suggesting that all the problems have been swept under the carpet, but I would like to know whether the Minister is able to assure the Parliament that things are not as they used to be; that a proper accounting system is in operation; that things that were secret are no longer secret-
– And that manifests are being kept. We are inclined just to have a crisis and then to pass it over. I do not think the Government should believe that because it is not being criticised now we are satisfied that everything is all right. We would be assured if the Minister was able to tell us that things are not as they used to be; that it is more difficult to get a VIP aircraft now than it was 2 years ago; that the aircraft are put to more efficacious use; and that we have not the reason to have doubts that we used to have. The, Minister would be doing the people of Australia a service if he was able to give us such an assurance.
While I am referring to the Prime Minister’s Department I want to comment on the present situation regarding the election that we were going to have. I hold the view that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) or somebody near him-
The CHAIRMAN (Senator DrakeBrockman) - Order! Under which item is the honourable senator referring to this matter?
– I think this matter has to do with our public relations, on which we are spending-
The CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
asked me a question about rent which followed an uncertain answer I may have given earlier about whether we own Australia House. The fact is that Australia owns Australia House. We have Canberra House on a 42-year lease, and it is in relation to Canberra House that he probably will find the significant amounts to which he directed attention. I shall give the honourable senator the full explanation that I have here relating to rent and the maintenance of Australia House and Canberra House for which there is an allocation this year of $719,900. I point out that the appropriation last year was $824,400 and expenditure was $760,345. So there is a decrease of $40,445. This item caters for the maintenance and servicing of both Australia House and Canberra House and includes rent for Canberra House. The annual charges for Canberra House are $429,840 for rent; $9,460 for garage rent and 522,270 for heating, air conditioning and so on. Portion of these charges is recovered from sub-tenants who occupy the first three floors of Canberra House. This amount is credited to revenue. In addition to maintenance of both buildings, the cost of electricity, office cleaning, window cleaning, furniture maintenance, uniforms and so on is met from this item.
The reduced provision is due mainly to the devaluation of sterling and the fact that no amount has been included for essential alterations at Australia House. Plans for the work had not been accepted finally when the estimates were prepared and the necessary funds will be provided in the Additional Estimates. There have been some increases in other areas but these have been offset by non-recurring maintenance items. That gives a rather better picture of the situation. The honourable senator also asked whether salaries for officers of the Department of Immigration find their expression in the estimates of that Department or whether they are included in the vote for Australia House, which is covered by the Prime Minister’s Department. The locally engaged staff employed under the High Commissioners Act is covered by the Prime Minister’s Department and therefore particulars in relation to them will be found in these estimates. The Australia based officers employed under the Public Service Act are covered by the Department of Immigration estimates. I will have to find out the breakup and let the honourable senator know later.
– lt is $300,000 more.
– It is $300,000 more but that is a mere bagatelle compared to the amount that has to be spent if we are to get this thing off the ground in a practical and constructive manner. I certainly do not think enough is being done to promote Australian art and culture, and that, which is being done is being tackled in the wrong way. I believe that basically this is the fault of the present Government. Unfortunately the thought is abroad that this kind of industry belongs to the social status group that seeks society and all that goes with it, that it belongs to the arty tarty crafty type. In fact it belongs lo the Australian people, the ordinary people of the community, because they more than anyone else are the basis of this country’s traditions and cultures. Therefore, 1 say that that which has been done to date has not been directed in the right way towards attracting ordinary Australian people into taking an active interest or participating in the enjoyment and benefits of the Australian arts. Secondly, that which has been done is insufficient to provide for those who earn their living in this industry on a permanent and substantial basis.
– I am going to suggest one or two ways. In Australia, as in other countries, the arts include the theatre, which in turn includes drama, light musicals, the opera, ochestras, dancing and music. Those who perform within the arts sphere include actors, singers, musicians and dancers. But there are also a great number of supporting staff including entrepreneurs, producers, directors, authors, choreographers, and theatrical agents. Then there is the general theatre staff such as the wardrobe staff, the carpenters, the painters, the props men and all of those who are behind the scenes in the theatre. There is also the advertising and promotional staff, and of course, there is the secretarial work involved with it.
What I am saying in fact is that this is a comparatively large industry in this country but up to the present time at any rate, those who are employed in it have been employed on a casual basis because there is no continuity, nor has there been any continuity of work for them. Indeed, a recent publication estimated that while there are some 8,000 professional people in the performing arts in this nation, only about 2,500 of them earn their living therein on a full time basis. In fact, many performers take positions on the fringe of the performing arts. I refer to such people as announcers, news readers and those who take part in commercial advertising.
The reason for this quite obviously is that to date the Government has only been playing with the fostering of the industry and not endeavouring te encourage any proper and tangible development of it. Doubtless the Minister will say that the Australian Government has set up the Australian Council for the Arts. But so far as I can see, to date no-one has been told how the Council intends to function or what is to be considered by it. We know that recently Dr Jean Battersby was appointed Chief Executive Officer of. the Council. I was interested to read that on 2nd October last she said:
It makes me mad when I see some of Australia’s greatest artists and performers having to go overseas.
I believe that one of the tasks that must be tackled by the Australian Council for the Arts which has been established by this Government is to try to keep in Australia those who are skilled and experienced in promoting the performing arts. I should like to know what the Government has in mind or what the Australian Council for the Arts has in mind so far as the formulation of its programme is concerned.
We have heard a long list of reputable and imposing names, but, to date, so far as I know no member of the Australian community has been told how the Council will function or what will be considered by it. I am told that the Council is to be concerned with the theatre arts, drama, opera and ballet and film making for television with educational and cultural emphasis. Existing agencies, such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the recently formed Music Board, the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board and the Commonwealth Literary Fund also will advise the Government on matters of this nature. What I am suggesting is that the fact that we have these organisations working as ancillaries to the Australian Council for the Arts shows how top heavy the situation has now become.
I also see that the Australian Arts Council has appointed a sub-committee to advise the Council on what it will do so far as drama is concerned. On 1st October, the Australian Arts Council announced the formation of a drama committee to advise the Council, and it is interesting to note the names of the members of that committee. They include Mr Geoffrey Dutton, an Adelaide poet and author, Professor K. C. Masterman, Head of the School of Drama, Australian National University, Miss Patricia Rolfe, Assistant Editor of the Bulletin’, Miss Katherine Brisbane, theatre critic, Mr John Summer, theatrical producer, Mr James Sharman, theatrical producer, Mrs M. L. Thiersch, Tutor in German at the University of Adelaide, Professor K. Macartney, actor and producer and former associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Melbourne, and Mrs H. W. Houghton, producer, of Tasmania. As I say. that is an imposing list of reputable people. But, let us face it, the Sydney Stadium is often packed out by teenagers seeing international pop stars while the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust puts on a show at Newtown lo an audience of only 300 or 400.
What I am suggesting is that it is about time the Australian Council for the Arts realised that this is not merely a world for the academics or theoreticians, that it is a practical world and if the Council is to promote the industry and do something for it there should be connected with the Council professional entrepreneurs who know something about the industry. It should certainly have with it people connected with Actors Equity, who have been in the industry for a long time and who know the problems of the men and women engaged in the industry on a professional basis. It must also have associated with it people connected with the musicians union.
– No. I want to take those who attend pop to culture, but before we can hope to do that we shall have to make culture a little more popular than it has been, ft will have to be more than just something for those who wear lovely gowns and dinner jackets. It will have to be made something from which those who attend can learn and become better informed and educated. 1 say to the Minister and the Government: ‘Do not make this Australian Council for the Arts something only for the society people of this nation. Bring in programmes or stories that will attract the ordinary Australians to the proper legitimate theatre’.
– It probably is cheaper for people to go to the legitimate theatre to see shows put on by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust than to go to the pop shows at the Sydney Stadium. Frankly, I would not know because I never go to the Sydney Stadium. What I am suggesting is that there should be more promotion of a practical nature by the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust and those connected with the theatre of drama. They should do as much promotion as is done by those who promote the pop shows.
– What I am saying to the Minister and to the honourable senator is that the people are not interested in going to the theatre because it is well up and above them. On an opening night, at a premiere, all one sees are beautiful ladies with glittering gowns, and men in dinner jackets. For some unknown reason, the ordinary man, the ordinary woman and the ordinary teenager in the community automatically says: ‘This must be above my comprehension.’ In order to attract the teenagers in the community to the legitimate theatre and towards an appreciation of the things that really matter there will have to be more practical nien in the Australian Council for the Arts and the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust.
There is a very urgent need for a thorough inquiry into the economic problems faced by the performing arts. Such an inquiry has been carried out in the United States. In fact, a 2-year study by two eminent professors of literature and arts was sponsored by the Twentieth Century Foundation in the United States, and the results of their work were published in a 582-page book entitled ‘Performing Arts’. I suggest that such a study in Australia could take into account the incomes of those engaged in the industry, the expenditure required to promote the industry and the trends of the industry, and could include an investigation into likely sources of financial support and matters of that nature. 1 notice that the amount set aside for the Commonwealth Literary Fund this year is $110,000. The expenditure last year was $66,000. I hope that this indicates that the Government has taken some cognisance of a matter that 1 raised by way of a question earlier this year.
The CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The matter could come under either the Department of Immigration or the Prime Minister’s Department. 1 suggest that the honourable senator be allowed to continue.
The CHAIRMAN- Very well.
– I do not blame any individual for the fact that the correct information is not available. I do not know whether the trade unions are at fault for not supplying to this employment office information regarding variations in awards or whether a Commonwealth department is to blame. I turn now to the provision for the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. I believe the Government should be congratulated on the amount it has allocated. Perhaps 1 would not have been able to say that, had 1 not heard another statement made on another matter today. It appears to me that the Government is endeavouring to acknowledge the result of the referendum on the rights of Aboriginals. I am sorry that a larger amount is not provided, but nevertheless the proposed expenditure is a significant increase on the expenditure last financial year. I ask the Minister whether it is proposed that the officers who are to be appointed will work in conjunction with the relevant authorities in the States or be completely independent?
That is the only observation I wish to make on that aspect. But in relation to Aboriginal affairs in Queensland 1 commend to the Minister and his officers the work of Pastor Brady in Brisbane. Not only is Pastor Brady looking after a certain section, he is also going into all walks of life to seek out those who need his assistance. He has established a club in Brisbane that is run exclusively by Aboriginals. Pastor Brady seeks no support whatsoever from other sections of the community. His express desire is to show that Aboriginals are capable of running their own affairs. I assure the Minister and honourable senators that Pastor Brady is doing an excellent job for the Aboriginals of Queensland. I trust that he will be encouraged to do more in the future. T hope that Pastor Brady will soon be rewarded with a scholarship that will entitle him to go overseas and do additional work on behalf of the Aboriginals of Australia.
asked what was the charter of the Council. The burden of his presentation was that the Council should look specially at provision for the education and cultural requirements of youth so that its activities and funds are directed partly to persuading young people towards a keener appreciation of cultural things; that we cannot expect people absorbing pop music today to be brought straight to classical music, and that there must be a degree of education, encouragement and inducement. That is the way in which I interpret his submission. My officers are not aware of the charter or of how the $1.5m is to be allocated. The Council for the Arts is to meet this week to recommend the allocation of funds to the various sections of the performing arts, so the honourable senator’s submission is timely. The points that he has made could be well put to the Council by way of the daily Hansard, if the honourable senator so chose, or by some other means. He also made particular reference to the Commonwealth Literary Fund.
– Perhaps I could give the honourable senator the material that 1 have. Senator Greenwood, too. made some points with which 1 will nol be able to deal at this stage. An increase of $44,000 is proposed in the appropriation for the Commonwealth Literary Fund for payment to the credit of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Trust Account. The purpose of the Commonwealth Literary Fund is to assist Australian writers and to encourage an interest in Australian literature. This is done by the award of fellowships to writers; contributions towards costs of publication of Australian books and journals of high literacy merit: sponsorship of public lectures in Australian literature; and the award of pensions to writers in recognition of their contributions lo Australian literature.
The increased provision for 1968-69 is to meet the cost of increasing the value and number of fellowships. The value of each award has been increased from $4,000 to $6,000 and the number of awards raised from four to six. Grants to literary magazines have been increased from $5,100 to $12,745. Costs of publication of books have considerably increased and additional funds will be required to cover this item. During the past year the increases have been partly met from accumulated savings in the Commonwealth Literary Fund Trust Fund but these are now exhausted. So that the Fund can continue its present activities additional funds have been provided. Senator Greenwood dealt with travel provisions for the Returned Services League.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m. (General Business taking precedence of Government Business)
: - That is a very doubtful authority.
– I accept my learned friend’s opinion on this very doubtful authority, but I do not think he will disagree with the principle which was enunciated. I shall quote it. The principal test is this: What is the purpose of the legislation being challenged? This raises the question that while beyond doubt we have control over overseas trade and commerce, which extends to loading and unloading on wharves, insurance, and so on, there could come a period when overseas trade goes across the border and ceases to be overseas trade and becomes interstate trade. We could have power in the very factory where overseas trade originates. If fruit juices are being prepared at a factory in Berri on the River Murray in South Australia, for the purpose of filling a container to be shipped to somewhere in England, the Commonwealth would have power over any operation of the process, including the wide range of wages and conditions operating in the cannery which is preparing juices for overseas trade. There was a case - I believe it was Wragg v. the State of New South Wales - which involved a company that was importing chinaware into New South Wales. The claim was that the company one and that interstate trade could not selling the chinaware was not in breach of the New South Wales Act insofar as the State had power over the sale of chinaware in New South Wales. On appeal it was decided that the procedure was a valid one and that interstate trade could not extend to the selling of chinaware. (Extension of time granted).
– I am saying that the High Court has decided that while they are taken interstate it cannot properly be claimed that there is a breach of section 92 of the Constitution.
– 1 am trying to point out that the judgment refers to all things incidental to trade and commerce and could have the same effect as or wider effect than the word ‘intercourse’ in section 92. While a State restriction could apply in respect of intrastate trade, an area in which a State has power, it has not been tested before by a court whether a State has such power in the case of trade and commerce under section 51 (i) of the Constitution. We are relying solely on legal opinion and on this point the legal authorities are reluctant to give an opinion. The test that a court will apply is what is the purpose of the legislation being challenged.
A case was decided on the importation of potatoes into Victoria from Tasmania. It was found that a Victorian court had power to prohibit the entry of the Tasmanian potatoes because the potatoes were diseased. It was held that the court was entitled so to rule in order to prevent the spread of disease in Victoria although the prohibition of the entry of the potatoes into Victoria would appear prima facie to be a breach of section 92. Nevertheless, the Victorian authorities had the power to act to prevent the spread of disease in Victoria.
The Commonwealth has unlimited powers in respect of overseas trade, lt could well happen that canned fruits produced in the River Murray area of South Australia could become the subject of Commonwealth legislation and, at the same time, the subject of State legislation. While the Commonwealth has undisputed powers in respect of overseas trade and commerce, some doubt exists as to whether those powers extend to the processing of goods intended for sale on overseas markets in circumstances where State legislation exists to protect the State by providing for health and hygiene conditions in factories, and in particular, in a factory producing goods for sale overseas. It is beyond dispute that the Commonwealth has powers in respect of the movement of goods involved in overseas trade and commerce, so long as it is clear that overseas trade and commerce are involved. The question of when overseas trade or commerce ceases has not been resolved.
– That is so. lt is beyond dispute that the Commonwealth has powers in respect of wharves set aside specifically for the purpose of overseas trade and commerce. The High Court has ruled that the powers of the Commonwealth extend to loading, unloading and supervision of cargoes. Facilities have been established by the shipping companies for the sole purpose of handling container cargoes. By no stretch of the imagination can it be claimed that they are to be used for intrastate cargoes. Therefore these facilities must come within section 51 (i) of the Constitution and therefore within the control of the Commonwealth Parliament, lt seems that the Commonwealth Government has not yet realised that. To support that belief I wish to quote a question asked by Senator McManus of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) in the Senate. As reported at page 1474 of the Senate Hansard of 6th June 1968. Senator McManus asked:
With reference to the annual report of the Australian Chamber of Shipping, which contains a survey of Australian ports and comments thai the foregoing survey offers some food for thought as it provides a picture of nationwide activity lacking any form of central control. Containerisation alone calls for some national plan. Some planning has taken place but in insufficient detail to be completely effective, ls this adverse comment justified? If so, what central planning is intended to meet the future needs of Australian ports?
The Minister replied:
Under the Constitution, the responsibilities of the Commonwealth in sea transport do nol extend to the administration of ports and harbours within the States or to the regulation of intrastate shipping. These are matters that rest primarily with the particular State governments concerned.
It is clear from the Minister’s answer that the Commonwealth disowns any liability. But wharf facilities set aside solely for the purposes of overseas trade surely must fall within the powers of the Commonwealth, contrary to the answer given by the Minister to Senator McManus. My purpose in raising this matter is to bring to light the question of the action the State authorities are to take in the present situation. Evidence was given to the Committee that one container ship will replace five conventional ships. Nine container ships will replace forty-five conventional ships. The average time in port of a container ship will be about twenty-four hours, as against the average time in port of 1 week for a conventional ship. A considerable loss of wharfage dues will be suffered by State harbour authorities. They have not yet determined how they will carry on with the introduction of container shipping. The Committee heard complaints to this effect from State harbour authorities, notably the authority at Fremantle which supplied figures of expenditure on wharf facilities. The Fremantle authority made it clear that it did not know how it would meet the cost of the future extension of wharf facilities for container services.
The Victorian Harbour Trust Commissioners referred to the loss of revenue and stated that they had recommended to the Victorian Government that il should impose a trans-shipping tax in the port of Melbourne. Honourable senators are aware of Sir Henry Bolte’s liking for novel taxes. Sometimes he leads Australia in their introduction. If Victoria imposes a transshipping tax, how will this affect the Stales that are supplying a feeder shipping service to Melbourne under an agreement wilh the companies that those companies will charge one freight rate applicable to the various ports of origin of the goods? Feeder services will operate from ports in South Australia. Tasmania, Queensland and other Stales to the terminal port where they will be trans-shipped to Melbourne. The shipping companies are prepared to quote a freight rate that is uniform in respect of all ports. Will this still prevail if one Stale - which could be followed by other States - is to charge a trans-shipping tax on goods unloaded from a mother ship on to ships of a feeder service plying lo other Stales? If goods have to be trans-shipped and there is to be a tax on the trans-shipment, this could have a detrimental effect on the Stale of Tasmania, which will be relying on the feeder service. Victoria is in the position that it has no alternative but to impose the tax in order to supplement the amount received in harbour dues for the purpose of improving ils wharves. The evidence given in South Australia was that funds collected in harbour dues are paid into general revenue and expenditure from general revenue is determined by the priorities fixed by the State Cabinet. There is no assurance that funds received in harbour dues will be spent on wharf improvements.
With the introduction of containerisation the States will collect less in harbour dues from shipping companies. So some means must be found to gather some revenue from future shipping transactions. As I have said, Victoria has a solution by imposing a charge on trans-shipping which, although it may solve some problems for Victoria, may create problems for many other sections of the Australian community. This is another question that will have to be looked into continually by any committee which is formed for the purpose of advising the Government on whether it should accept some responsibility for reimbursing the States for any loss they may suffer from their reduced income through harbour dues brought about by fewer ships being in port for a shorter time.
Although roads are a matter for State authorities, if the Commonwealth has an overriding power there may be need for consideration to be given to a test before a court of the validity of questions such as the power of the State to fix axle loads, the length of vehicles and whether transport vehicles may carry goods without permits through an area where rail transport is available. There arises also the important question as to whether certain roads should be strengthened. Although the Commonwealth cannot insist on a State building roads to a particular specification, there remains the issue as lo whether the Commonwealth should not, at least in respect of certain roads, finance an improved road standard to facilitate the hauling of heavier transports. Already the shipping companies have found that it is uneconomic to carry containers measuring 20 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft and in some places they have imposed a surcharge on containers of that size in an endeavour to force shippers to use the 40 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft containers which will lake 35 tons. However, there are few roads in Australia on which a container 40 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft can be conveyed without a breach of the State laws being committed. So a question to be decided is whether the State law shall prevail.
Strong evidence was given to the Committee that a variation of 1% in the permissible loading within a certain range of goods would result in an increase or decrease of Sim in the cost of goods and services in a year. So, for certain goods transported by road, if we can increase the permissible loading by 1% the cost to the community will be reduced by Sim in a year. Although we have a national roads board which is at present making recommendations as to permissible loads and is taking into consideration the inability of large transports to traverse some roads - I have already said that there are more than 500 bridges in Victoria, most of which are of poor quality and would not take heavy loads - the Commonwealth itself should be looking into this question. The Select Committee recommended that the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads should take up the question as to whether roads from one area to another or from one State to another should not be strengthened - I gather at Commonwealth expense - for the purpose of giving to the public the benefit of the saving which could be brought about by increased permissible loads. If there is to be a higher cost for transporting goods in the small 20 ft x 8 ft x 8 ft containers, the increased cost could be minimised to some extent by providing roads from the wharf area to the breakup bulk terminal area over which the 40-ton containers could be transported. In many of the States the road curves are such that the larger containers could not be used. The Commonwealth should be giving consideration to the condition of roads that wm have to be traversed through these congested areas.
I thank honourable senators for granting me an extension of time. In that extra time I have tried to impress on the Senate the need for the Commonwealth to look continuously at this question in a way that no individual politician or Minister could, and to consider the adoption of the Committee’s recommendation that there be established a permanent committee, representative of the States, to keep an eye constantly on all the problems which we envisage but to which we cannot find a solution before the introduction of containerisation. 1 trust that such a committee could advise the Commonwealth so that it may avoid many of the disadvantages that unplanned containerisation could bring in its wake in Australia.
– One can walk across Tasmania.
– If Tasmania is such a small area as some honourable senators would suggest, no doubt they will agree that the cost of putting in a railway system there would not be so great as to cause anybody any great headaches. 1 am sure they all will agree with me that this is a most important project to be undertaken as an integral part of the consideration of the effects of containerisation. I therefore urge that consideration be given to retaining this well developed port as an integral part of the feeder service for containerisation and that, as a necessary adjunct, consideration be given to the construction of a rail link from Launceston to Bell Bay.
Let me turn now to a second matter that equally concerns the island State; that is, the problem arising in Hobart in particular but really in all areas in relation to the fruit export industry. This has been referred to already by others. I now refer briefly to paragraph 107 of the report, lt states, in part:
Mainland fruit can be handled, but there appears a distinct possibility that, even with feeder ships running from Tasmanian ports to the mainland, a very high percentage of the Tasmanian fruit crop will continue to be exported in conventional refrigerated vessels.
Paragraph 108 states in part:
The seasonal peak of the fruit crop, and the incapacity of the planned ships to carry the volume involved, restrict the likelihood of an easy solution, but the Committee would not like to see the situation ignored, to the detriment of the fruit industry.
May 1 say at that point ‘Hear, hear!’ I am sure other Tasmanian senators would heartily agree with me. This industry is vital to Tasmania, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of containerisation. The paragraph continues:
The advantages to mainland fruit exporters of faster transit lime, economies in packaging, possibly lower insurance rates and better presentation at point of consumption appear considerable. On grounds of fair competition, it appears to the Committee that the Tasmanian fruit exporters deserve greater consideration by shipping companies.
In paragraph 109 the Committee refers to other aspects which highlight the importance of containerisation to Tasmania’s fruit export industry. Now let us look at the Committee’s recommendations in paragraph 300 of the report. Sub-paragraph 3 of that paragraph is in these terms:
That action be taken by all port authorities to ensure the provision of facilities which will enable the efficient operation of types of unit-load vessels other than fully cellular container vessels.
That is of great importance to Hobart in particular. Sub-paragraph 5 states:
The Commonwealth Government, in association with the Tasmanian Government, should give special consideration to the situation which will arise in connection with the inability of the shipping consortia to accommodate the export of the Tasmanian fruit crop.
Senator Young, Senator Wriedt and, I think, Senator Cavanagh also referred to this problem. Having outlined those parts of the report I do not intend to dwell on them because it is abundantly clear that Tasmania, particularly in relation to its fruit exports, has a special problem arising from containerisation.
On the face of it, several proposals should be considered. The first is the improvement in cool storage facilities, particularly in Hobart. Senator Wriedt has referred to that.
About 60% of our total fruit exports are shipped from Hobart and it may be that this is one - I do not suggest it is more than one - of the important considerations in the protection of the Tasmanian fruit industry. If such new facilities have become necessary as a result of the introduction of containerisation and are to be provided, then it seems that this is one matter in relation to which Commonwealth assistance will be not only desirable but also essential.
The second proposal is for specially negotiated shipping rates. It may be that with the advent of containerisation it will be possible to negotiate special shipping rates in respect of the Tasmanian fruit export industry to overcome the disadvantages which will arise. The third proposal - to me this is not a very cheerful prospect - is for a subsidy to be provided. If a subsidy has to be provided it may well be that it could be in the form of reduced insurance and freight rates rather than a direct subsidy to the industry. These are all matters which will have to be considered. The fourth proposal is for improved organisation and greater control of apple and pear marketing to overcome the disadvantages and to try to find new markets in areas where we will not have to compete with countries which are obtaining the advantages of containerisation.
– Only as a backwash of containerisation, not as a direct result. Perhaps this is one of the things that could be negotiated on the side. On the face of it I cannot see that it necessarily puts us in a better position to negotiate. Senator Cavanagh has raised the possibility of imposing trans-shipment taxes. This is another problem which will arise for Tasmania. It must be considered carefully and should not be lost sight of.
All these special problems involve special consideration. Therefore I urge that the Committee’s recommendations for the setting up of another committee to investigate the side effects of containerisation be accepted. 1 suggest that a sub-committee of that committee bc set up to investigate the particular problems of Tasmania for the reasons that I and other honourable senators have mentioned. Tasmania has a particular interest in containerisation and a particular problem arising from it, and it seems most appropriate that the proposed sub-committee should contain representatives of the Federal Government, the State Government and the industries vitally concerned. If such a committee is set up I have no doubt that some of the honourable senators who comprised the select committee and prepared this report would, because of their very special knowledge, be excellent candidates for appointment.
– Yes, and if the subcommittee that 1 have suggested is set up I would recommend that he certainly be one of the members. But that is a matter for himself and for those who set up the committee. With those suggestions and requests I have much pleasure in supporting the adoption of this report.
– You get the advantage in an inclusive freight rate from Launceston to Melbourne.
– I agree that it is possible that an inclusive freight rate will be struck, but there is also the possibility that we will be disadvantaged by the fact that this inclusive freight rate, whatever it may be, will be absorbed in extra costs brought about by the necessity for double handling.
– But, somewhere along the line the shipping industry will have to meet this cost. I suggest that the inclusive rate to Tasmania will probably be in the form of a subsidy. I should like some information on that point later when Senator Cormack sums up because 1 feel that he has gone into this matter very thoroughly indeed and it is possible that something that escaped me is in his mind.
– Under the present proposal the various areas of Tasmania will have to send all their main products to the marshalling port at Melbourne. In our view, it would be of more benefit to Tasmania if we were able to assemble those goods in a central marshalling area in Tasmania. I should say that the obvious place for such a marshalling port would be in the northern part of Tasmania because that is the closest part of the island to the mainland and the goods would have a shorter distance to travel to the mainland. We feel that it is obvious that a port on the north coast of Tasmania should be included in the 4 or 5 main marshalling ports for Australia, or whatever the number may be.
Senator Rae mentioned another matter which has been referred to by Senator Cormack. I speak of the problems experienced by our fruit industry. The Tasmanian fruit industry is facing some very great problems and is in dire need of every possible assistance. Insurance and freight costs have placed great burdens on the industry for a number of years, and it would offer some ray of hope to the orchardists of Tasmania if some modification of the principle of containerised transport could be introduced into the fruit exporting industry. I think it was Senator Bull who spoke of the co-ordination of industries right back along the line to the point of original production so that the fullest benefit might be gained from this new method of transport. He also referred to the establishment of a centralised wool selling centre near Sydney. I foresee that similar centres could quite easily be established in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia for the centralised handling of wool.
The wool industry should closely examine its operations. I believe that the industry has been strongly influenced by the self interest of the wool brokers. Traditionally the wool brokers have been able to stand in the position of financial adviser and general factotum to the industry. They have received their revenue, rain, hail or shine. The producer has had to take all the risks. He has bad to put up with the various production hazards, such as drought, floods, pests and the other problems that confront the man on the land. Whatever has happened to the producer, the broker has always received his share of the cake. I believe that the brokers have used undue influence in the wool industry, particularly by their suggestions as to the way the industry should be run. I refer to the pressure that was put on the growers during the referendum on the organised marketing of wool. I think that the wool growers realise only too well now that they were sold the wrong idea at the time. Not only is there no organised marketing scheme now. but also there is less certainty as to the future of their industry than ever before. Not only is there uncertainty of a market but also there is the growing competition from synthetics.
For a long time I have been of the opinion that the transportation of greasy wool halfway across the world is an economic absurdity. In the earlier days of the wool industry there were small scouring plants in the outback of Australia, and some of the lower grades of wool, the second pieces, the bellies, the locks, the crutchings and that type of thing were scoured. Jo that way at least one half and often 75% of the bulk weight was reduced, which in turn reduced the freight rate to the selling centre.
– I am expounding a different principle at the moment. The fact is that if 10 tons of locks, stained pieces or the like are put through the scour one can expect the scoured wool to weigh 3 tons or less. The freight saved by the type of scouring plant that was situated throughout the back country of Australia in times gone by was of benefit to the wool grower. But there are very few scouring plants around nowadays. I do not know of any country scouring plants still in existence. Someone may be able to correct me on that. This means that the wool grower sends away the wool as it comes off the board, lt is costing him more in actual handling costs, too. The wool presser gets a higher rate. The cost of a jute bale has gone up too. The cost of a bale is frightening. At one time a man on the track could get a wool bale from a grazier to make himself a bed, but these bales are so valuable now that it would be cheaper for the grazier to buy a mattress and give it away.
The cost of a wool bale is a considerable item in the cost of production of wool. The added bulk when wool is carted in the grease is a matter that should be looked at very closely. As Senator Cormack pointed out, the railways put up the freight on scoured wool. That would have been a State government decision. 1 believe that the wool industry as a whole should have exercised its influence and protested against the increase. After all, the Australian Country Party owes its very existence to its hypnotism of the people on the land. The Country Party keeps telling the people on the land that it acts in their interest. The fact that the State governments imposed a higher freight rate on scoured wool is a reflection on the Country Party and casts doubt on its claims that it has in mind the interests of the primary producers. The point I wish to make is that when the new concept of wool handling comes into operation the practice of sending greasy wool overseas should be examined at a national level.
– I will refer to the apple industry at a later stage. I am dealing with another aspect of primary industry at the moment that is nearly as important as the apple industry. The whole point is that when dumping of wool, double dumping and the like are discussed we do not decide whether we want to send lanolin and fertiliser to the other side of the world as well. And at a very high cost too. With the exception of some vegetable matter in the way of Bathurst burr. Noogoora burr, grass seeds, a few bindieyes and the rest of the excess that is sent in the wool, I suppose the lanolin and fertiliser would be the most expensive products transported halfway across the world to the markets in the United Kingdom and Europe. They are processed there. 1 do not know what use is made of them.
– That is not the point I am making, ft may be possible to scour some of the sand out. but most of it stays, lt is more difficult to scour sand out than it is to scour om the other foreign matter that is found in wool. But it has been the custom in Australia for the last 100 years to send greasy wool overseas. This is one matter that should be considered by the joint Commonwealth-State consultative committee that the Senate Select Committee has recommended should be appointed to supervise the introduction and operation of the container method of handling cargoes. I think that when this joint committee is deliberating on the important matter of containerisation it should have a look at some of the practices of preparing products for export. Wool in particular should be examined because space, weight and bulk are all important factors. The joint committee should insist that a comprehensive method be adopted so that the wool is as near to clean as possible. The method of appraisal should be modified so that clean, scoured wool may be bought here, with the extra saving that can accrue to the grower.
– That is right. Even the coal is washed. 1 am putting the same simple proposition in relation to wool. For many years the broker or the overseas buyer was getting the advantage of an addition in weight because so much Australian wool was grown in a very dry climate - the bulk of it in the western lands of New South Wales and Queensland, and in Western Australia. When it got into the tropics in the holds of ships it increased in weight from 3% to 5% but the wool grower did not get any of the advantage of this increase in weight.
– Yes, they would. They buy it after the moisture has come into it. The air in the northern hemisphere to which our wool goes is never as dry as the air where it is grown. The intake of moisture remains with that wool. No adjustment back to the grower is ever made. That is the point that I am making.
– And put the honourable senator on the totalisator agency board; he is not a bad gambier. Let me come back to the export of apples, to which Senator Lillico referred. In 1961 I saw an experimental container of apples that had been sent from Tasmania to Victoria to be taken to the United Kingdom in the Stratheden’. When it arrived in Victoria some technical fault was found and the apples were left on the wharf in Melbourne. We find prejudices against old customs along the line that can prevent industries from getting the full benefit of containerisation unless we have some overall surveillance and supervision. It is my view that this is of such importance that some move on a national basis should be made for the setting up of an interstate commission to supervise this new phase qf shipping and to co-ordinate all of the various factors from the point of production right through to the point of distribution in our overseas markets. Every possible economy should be made but it will not be made under the haphazard laissez-faire system. This will mean a measure of assistance and, in very rare cases, direction.
There are many disadvantages in the face of maintaining our position as a trading nation. We missed the bus in world markets because we were too hungry after the end of the second world war in seeking to get rich quickly. We allowed inflation to take place and prices to get away. We have encountered the vicious cycle of wages chasing prices and we have reached the position where we have great difficulty in maintaining our share of the international markets. The only reason is price. We can produce quality goods in every field. I would go so far as to say, with a little national pride, that our goods are as good as or a little better than those produced in other parts of the world. The big disadvantage that we face is the cost factor, which affects the price of our goods on overseas markets. The new system of handling cargo will perhaps give us a new approach.
The Committee reported, I think, that there would be an overall gain of about 7% in freights by the use of the container method. This is quite a consideration. The percentage might be even higher if all of our transport were co-ordinated. We would have to get the interest, first, of the individual producer and, secondly, of the people who have traditionally handled the goods. Also, the State governments would have to become interested. The Commonwealth Government, in my view, would have to coordinate these activities to bring the overseas shipping companies to the party. In my view, it does need an overall authority to enable our primary producers in particular, but also secondary industrialists, to gain the fullest advantage offering from this new phase of sea transport, and to make whatever savings can be made along the line to help us to compete on world markets.
– It would be impudent for me to address myself to that, because not only have the unions their well advised and well equipped advocates to put forward their points of view, but also we have conciliation and arbitration instrumentalities that have final responsibility and authority in that direction. Aunt Sallys can be put up and knocked over in all of these matters, but the situation is far too serious to knock any idea that is put up.
– The honourable senator is looking for a nigger in the woodpile. This system will give both primary and secondary industry a second wind in approaching the problem of competition in world markets. The Committee reported on the possibility of an international monopoly in shipping. It was quite courageous for a committee with a majority of Government senators openly to state its advocacy of a type of socialism, with the suggestion that the Commonwealth should enter such a field of privilege of the private entrepreneur of the past. Great good can come from the recommendation that the Australian National Line should enter this trade in a very small way. I cannot see it being anything more than an experiment, just putting our toe in to test the state of the water. If this recommendation is adopted it will give us a listening post to ascertain what is going on in international shipping. The way the conference lines have been able to hold nations to ransom is legend. I have no doubt that at present Australia is being held to ransom. If the lines are allowed exclusive control of this new transport technique of using containers and containerised packaging and transporting, they will take every ounce of benefit they can obtain for themselves. That is the nature of the industry. Already they are sharing the booty by allocating various ports at which different lines will call so that they can increase their profits and reduce their costs. That is a natural thing for them to do. 1 do not think that the Australian consumer or producer of primary or secondary goods is obtaining any benefit from the process so far. When the use of containers becomes a general practice and all our goods are packed into containers of one variety or another, quite a substantial advantage should flow back by way of a reduction in costs and prices.
The technique of containerisation perhaps is more novel to people living in other parts of Australia than it is to Tasmanians. Since 1959 or 1960 we have had this method of transportation between Melbourne and Devonport and Hobart with the Princess of Tasmania’ and, the ‘Bass Trader’, and the ‘Seaway Queen’ which is operated by the Union Steamship Co. of New Zealand Ltd. I was interested to learn that, during last year, of Melbourne’s total general cargo trade of 6.1 million tons, 2.2 million tons in the coastal trade was handled in containerised or unitised form. Of this volume 80% or 1.7 million tons was handled exclusively at six specially designed berths which cater for specially designed ships. The existing two-berth ferry terminal which is used exclusively by ships of the Australian National Line in the northern Tasmanian trade put through 1.1 million tons. The area of land used as a marshalling point was 6 acres. The ‘Princess of Tasmania’, which plies between Melbourne and Devenport, handled 407,781 tons of roll on roll off cargo and 81,974 passengers and had a turn round time of 10 hours. This quick turn round has been of great benefit to those who want their produce to be transported quickly or to arrive fresh on the bigger markets of the mainland, and it has assisted to provide a very rapid and convenient passenger service. The ‘Bass Trader’, which is a cargo carrier and not a passenger carrier, moved 542,581 tons of roll on roll off and lift on lift off cargo, lt had a turn round of 7 to 8 hours, which is a very rapid turn round. The ‘Princess of Tasmania’ has to work to a set schedule because of passenger bookings, el cetera, lt has been a great boon to the tourist trade in Tasmania to have in operation a service whereby people can drive from distant parts of the mainland, arrive at the wharf in Melbourne, drive their car on to the ship and then after a very comfortable night’s sleep drive the car off and lour around the State. This, as 1 said, has been a great boon to the tourist trade in Tasmania and has given a lot of people the opportunity of having a very pleasant motoring holiday which, previous to the advent of this type of vessel, was unavailable to them.
The concept of containerisation is not new to Tasmania. We are accustomed to seeing large semitrailers that have been packed at Melbourne warehouses and which after that first handling deliver the goods lo the door of the distributor in any part of Tasmania. Under the old system a man either in the factory or on the farm loaded the commodity on to a truck. When the truck arrived at the wharf the goods had lo he unloaded on to the wharf. The next procedure would be to load from the wharf on to the ship. That is three different handlings. At the other end the goods were unloaded off the ship and on to the wharf, then loaded on to a truck and unloaded wherever the truck went. The number of handlings has been reduced from six to two. That is a very important factor not only in the speed of handling but also in the cost. Earlier I spoke of the advantages that the mainland States had over Tasmania in regard lo unification of railway gauges and the money spent on roads. The total transportation system has specially designed terminals and equipment, including ships, trucks, rail cars and containers as well as high speed cranes for loading and unloading ships and transportation equipment to transport, sort and store 10-ton to 30-ton units of various sizes. This is such a breakaway from the conventional cargo handling system that it needs the very closest of study to see that all elements of the system are used to the best advantage.
The Commitee made some splendid recommendations. We Tasmanians appreciate very much the section of the report which relates to Tasmania. The Commonwealth Government, in association with the Tasmanian Government, should give special consideration to the situation which will arise due to the inability of the shipping consortia to accommodate the export of the Tasmanian fruit crop. This problem will have to be hammered out by those who understand all sections of the industry from the orchard to the point of distribution. 1 believe that such a review is overdue.. The apple industry could quite easily follow the fate of the berry fruit industry, which at one time was a very thriving industry. Now it is more of a rarity to see berry fruits growing in Tasmania than it was the rule in the past.
– At one time the main outlet for berry fruits was the jam manufacturing industry. But that has moved to South Africa where the costs of production are more favourable. The climatic conditions are similar and cheap labour is available there. 1 understand that the same company operates in both areas. The change has had such an effect in Tasmania that the berry fruit industry is practically a dying industry there. The same thing could happen to the fruit industry generally in Tasmania unless care is taken to protect it. lt is an exclusive industry. I think it should be able to survive because 1 foresee the time when Victoria and Tasmania will become the main suppliers of the Asian market.
It is to be hoped that when the Australian Government overcomes the stupidity of ils present foreign policy Australia will establish friendlier relations with the people in Asia who are expecting to improve their standards of living. Instead of our spending money to kill them we will be spending money to help them to survive. The time will come when the people of Asia will want to have fruit on the sideboard. At the moment all they can hope for is a little rice in their bowls.
– That is true. Even honourable senators opposite feel that they have arrived when, after paying for their bread, meat and margarine they are able to buy a little fruit for the sideboard. Speaking in the wider sense, I believe that in future the people of Asia will come to appreciate the crisp, succulent, juicy and vitamin-loaded fruit that is grown in the cool southerly climate of Tasmania. If we can capture 1,000 million Asian customers our fruit industry will flourish. It would be a great pity to allow those opportunities to escape, not only for the people in the industry but also for those people in Asia who would appreciate the advantage of having our fruit to eat after battling to exist on a diet of rice alone.
Recommendation No. 6 of the Committee states:
The Commonwealth Government should have early discussions with State governments and the Australian Mort Authorities Association in connection with the revenue problems which will arise from the variations in normal berth usage and high capital investment costs involved in the development of container berth facilities.
In the light of that recommendation I believe that further consideration should be given not only to the setting up of a consultative committee of the Commonwealth and the States, but also of a body to coordinate all the factors relating to design mentioned earlier by Senator Rae. In Tasmania Mr J. K. Edwards is an authority on container port construction. Judged by the work he has done at the port of Launceston I would agree that he is a very able man. Other people throughout the Commonwealth have a great knowledge of these matters, lt should be the policy of the Commonwealth Government to approach these people on a nationwide basis to ensure a degree of uniformity in the equipment and facilities provided in the ports to be used by the container ships. The financial arrange ments should also be the responsibility of the Commonwealth.
The problem that must be faced has been well summed up by the Committee. There is to be a complete change in the system from the old fashioned idea of the haphazard handling of cargoes into the holds of ships. Those methods are very wasteful of time and involve disadvantages in the time taken to turn ships around. We are entering an era of economy and efficiency in moving goods from countries of production to the areas where they are to be consumed. The possibility has been opened up of Australia’s entry into this trade now that the Australian National Line is to operate to overseas ports. 1 believe this to be a very progressive and forward looking step.
I started my speech by complimenting the Committee on the amount of work that it did and the industry that it showed in preparing and collating all the information included in the report. The way in which the Committee carried out its job on behalf of the Senate deserves our highest praise. I wish to thank Senator Cormack, the Chairman of the. Committee, and the members of the the Committee - Senator Bishop, Senator Branson, Senator Bull, Senator Cavanagh. Senator Gair, Senator Lillico and Senator Wheeldon - for the work they have done on behalf of the Senate.
– Does the honourable senator mean they were too narrowly drawn, or not relevant?
– I think both. They were too narrow, and 1 do not think they were judiciously drawn. In the initial areas of the Committee’s report, reference is made to the fact that a decision had to be made as to what were the power- of this Committee in dealing with what r s quite clearly the object of the Senate when it set up the Committee. As Chairman, I assumed the responsibility of relying upon the Standing Orders with relation to relevancy. This was very important, as is illustrated by the fact that one witness who assumed that he would be able to protect himself challenged whether the Committee had jurisdiction to cross-examine him. He claimed that the terms of reference precluded the Committee’s ability to cross-examine him on a particular subject. As Chairman, 1 ruled at once that the Committee had jurisdiction to cross-examine him because, under the Senate Standing Orders, the subject matter upon which various senators were crossexamining him was within the terms of the Standing Orders of the Senate which were relevant to the situation. 1 maintained that attitude on jurisdiction throughout the inquiry by the Senate Select Committee. As we went on, we found that our terms of reference were narrow and, with the consent of the Committee, I expanded the terms of reference to make the matters that were relevant to the terms of reference come within the ambit of the Select Committee’s inquiry.
Another matter to which I feel 1 must address myself is the problem of how to provide back-up resources for Senate select committees. I am sure Mr President will forgive me if 1 introduce this matter because it relates to the domestic jurisdiction of the Senate. When 1 said to the Clerk of the Senate: ‘This Committee cannot operate effectively unless it has greater back-up resources administratively than have been allowed to it,’ the Clerk of the Senate properly pointed out to me that the appropriations of the Senate were not of an order or nature that would allow him to provide those resources which a select committee appointed by the Senate is properly entitled to expect.
I made some reference to this when tabling the report. 1 made further reference to it in the speech that I made on the Budget Papers which relate to the ability of Parliament to be able to provide the resources which will enable the Parliament to conduct parliamentary affairs. As I mentioned in my speech on the Budget Papers, I am grateful that the Government has seen its way clear to make a substantial addition to the Senate appropriations for the maintenance and conduct of Senate committees. So it is agreed. But then we get the curious situation that when the Government has agreed to increase the Senate appropriations in order to provide these facilities, the Public Service Board enters the scene and begins to decide how this sum of money shall be allotted in relation to the conduct of parliamentary business.
I want to make it perfectly clear that I deny the ability of the Government to decide how much shall be allotted to Parliament for the conduct of its business. And I reject in toto the idea that the Public Service Board should decide how parliamentary committees shall be manned. In terms of parliamentary practice, you may describe mc as a primitive in the sense that 1 believe that Parliament should be responsible for the conduct of its own business. Historically, Parliament is responsible for the conduct of its business, and I deprecate in the strongest possible terms any attempt by outside agencies to intervene between Parliament and its business. Having said that in dealing with the principle of the conduct of parliamentary affairs, 1 pass on to the problem in which the Committee found itself involved.
– In the existing circumstances of the general administration it is not possible for the President of the Senate, for example, or his Clerks, who are parliamentary officers, to decide how the appropriation shall be used. The Public Service Board at that stage intervened to proffer not only opinions but administrative decisions as to how many officers, for example, are required in Parliament to provide back-up resources for parliamentary committees. I do not think this is any business of the Public Service Board at all.
– I am glad to hear that because there has to be an expression of opinion in the Parliament in relation to elements outside the Parliament making decisions as to how Parliament, in the administration of its own business, shall conduct itself. Parliament is the law maker of the community and the highest court in the land, according to the concept of May, the great parliamentary authority. Therefore, surely Parliament itself and nobody else is capable of making decisions as to what its requirements are to sustain the business of Parliament. 1 do not put it in tiny stronger terms than that at this stage.
The next matter which bears upon the points to which 1 think 1 should address myself is the fact that, as .1 said, we found ourselves wandering, for a while anyway, in exploring the problem which the Senate had instructed us to investigate. As I mentioned earlier, we had to expand the rather narrow and, I suggest, hastily .chosen terms of reference under which this particular Committee should operate. As is mentioned in the report, wc also found ourselves, pari passu, conscious of the fact that the Government itself had set up an administrative committee within the arcanum of government to examine the same problem in which the Senate had instructed us to involve ourselves. I am not worried about this because the Committee was conscious that in the problem of investigations of this order and nature there are principles to be adduced by Parliament, and those principles have to be given effect by the Government.
Mr President, if you will permit me to illustrate the point of view, 1 shall recollect a story that I bore in my mind during the course of the conduct of this Select Committee. Once during the war I found myself in an argument within the decorum of an office when an officer of rather junior field rank was dealing with a professional soldier of much superior rank. The question turned on an operational instruction or an operational order. There is a difference in those two terms in the narrow context of the Army. An order is a detailed matter and an instruction is a much looser matter. But sometimes an instruction becomes a directive, which is a higher order still. I remember saying - rather impertinently - to the professional or the regular that he was issuing not an operational instruction but an operational order in which he was attempting to organise the battle down to the corporal commanding a section and that that was not the function or responsibility of the chief of staff - that the battle had to be fought by the corporal and the section.
The Committee constantly found itself involved in the problem of how far it should explore the problem of, say, the wharf labourer, the manager of a co-operative in the Murrumbidgee irrigation area or the wool grower at Bourke or in western Queensland, lt became quite clear as the inquiry proceeded that however much the Committee explored this aspect at the grass roots level it had to clearly remember that when Parliament makes laws it makes them in relation to the generality and provides areas for government to manoeuvre subsequently in terms of subordinate legislation as is done in most Bills.
I do not intend to follow Senator Cavanagh down the interesting constitutional paths that he mentioned in the substantial, contribution that he made to the debate, because at this juncture, following upon and arising from the remarks 1 made a moment or two ago. 1 do not consider Parliament should give expression to the abstract constitutional concepts that may be involved in this report and to which, indeed, the Committee has drawn attention under the heading ‘Constitutional Arguments’. 1 turn therefore to the problem as the Committee found it. I shall express a personal opinion in this regard. I felt thai the commercial community had been stampeded into acceptance of a method of transportation that was perhaps unjustified. But on the other hand it is quite true to say that the sort of organic growth of traditional commercial behaviour patterns - if I can use a bit of modem jargon - was of an order and nature that some dynamic had to be inserted into the whole area of trade and commerce in Australia. To that extent I consider that the Department of Trade and Industry was correct in examining the whole of this problem and in creating the rather startling impact thai it was able to create in commerce in Australia.
When one refers to the container method of handling cargo one is referring to only a minute part of the Australian transportation system. The industrial revolution in relation to transportation had already been achieved before the narrow cube concept of cargo handling was evolved. For example, the vast bulk of Australia’s exports in the extractive industries - wheat and so forth - had already been taken care of with the introduction of the bulk carrier, which is in effect a major container. So when we discuss containers we are discussing general cargo - and general cargo is the profitable area of cargo movement. The main charges in the Australian freight structure take place in the general cargo area. Therefore, the container system of handling cargo when applied to general cargo is operating in the area of highest cost. As the Committee was considering this aspect it not only became clear that we were entering an area where the private sector was habituated to trade patterns but also - and this to me carried almost clements of tragedy, because for all my life I had heard that the private sector was exploited and inefficient and that the method of solving this problem was to set up statutory boards - that the most lethargic of all elements in the movement of cargoes were the statutory boards that were set up.
Senator Gair is not in the chamber at present, but Senator Bull is in attendance. I am sure that he will recollect the extraordinary surprise the Committee experienced when it called the Australian Meat Board to give evidence on what it, as a statutory board charged with the supervision of a substantia! area of Australia’s exports had done, to find that it had done almost nothing. The Committee then called the Australian Wool Board to give evidence and found that the same sort of situation existed. By that time the message had started to seep through to the other statutory boards and we found subsequently that the smaller and less important boards were willing to come before us and illustrate that in the previous 6 weeks, 2 months or whatever it was they had been able to do something about it.
Without going on for a long time elaborating this point I wish to say that the Committee has done an effective job within the area in which the Senate instructed it to operate. I think the best that can be said for the Committee is that it animated large sections of government administration, statutory authorities and the private sector. I hope th:, t the Committee was able to bring to bear upon the trade union movement of Australia some acknowledgment of the fact that an industrial revolution of this order and nature cannot be effective unless the trade union movement plays its part. I think that in substance the trade union movement in Australia has basic problems.
Amendment (by Senator Cormack) - by leave - agreed to:
Thai the following words be added to the motion: ‘and request the Government to consider the implementation of the report.’
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
– Getting the run around.
– That was only the beginning. Then 1 wrote to Mr Nixon. After a period he wrote to me stating that the matter was one for the Treasurer to attend to. Then I wrote again to Mr McMahon. On this occasion 1 did not get a letter back; I was telephoned by Mr McMahon’s secretary. I want to be fair to the Treasurer. At this time he was over in the United States at a banking conference, so I do not hold this against him. I was informed that if 1 wrote to the Secretary of the Commonwealth Banking Corporalion I would get the information. My approach has always been to go right up the middle for anything 1 want; I do not believe in finessing. On that basis 1 wrote to the Secretary of the Commonwealth Bunking Corporation, stating that recently 1 had asked the Treasurer for details of the wages and conditions applying to members of the cleaning stuff that services the Commonwealth Bank Building on the corner of Pitt Street and Martin Place, Sydney, and that the information I sought embraced details of the appropriate award under which these employees operated. I stated further thai Mr McMahon’s staff had advised me to write direct to the Corporalion seeking this information.
That was about 17 days ago. I can say that at least most Ministers reply fairly promptly. In the intervening period, honourable senators may recall, I asked question No. 359, concerning the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and details of its Press advertisements. I received from the Treasurer a short answer which pointed out that the Corporation operated under the Commonwealth Banks Act and was not bound to give me any specific information. My leader, Senator Murphy, advised me that he felt the answer was very skimpy and that if the matter were pressed the Corporation probably would be obliged to give us more detail. Being a senator who is very slow to anger and having plenty of patience, I did not take issue at that point. In the meantime, in the last few weeks I was asked by organiser Groves what was happening on this matter.
I believe that I am entitled to get an answer. After all, in the words of Tennyson, ‘Their’s not to reason why’ on relative wage scales. All that the Miscellaneous Workers Union is asking for is free access in order to discuss trade union membership with employees. Who knows but that the union might discover that it has a host of agreements that are superior to those which the bank has with this section of employees. In any case, it is a field in which I have quite a bit of interest as to the conditions that apply. I have also on the notice paper question No. 590, which stemmed from a recent Australian Broadcasting Commission Weekend Magazine’ programme which highlighted the mushrooming of contract cleaning work. One gentleman who was interviewed stated that he even had his own security service to investigate those people whom he took on as employees.
Senator Ormonde will agree with me that the staff in question gives excellent service. These people are entitled to use their bargaining power to get the best wage scale possible. All I am asking for, after the writing of these numerous letters, is a little promptness from the Commonwealth Banking Corporation in stating what the wage scale is. When that is achieved 1 will have no desire to be a dilutee conciliation commissioner. As Senator Cavanagh and Senator Bishop, who are well versed in trade union lore will agree, a union is entitled to access to information as to the rates that apply. 1 know that the Bank Officers Association has access to the higher echelons of the various banks to discuss wage agreements and it has had its successes. All that the New South Wales branch of the Miscellaneous Workers Union asks is that it have an even break and that the cards be on the table.
We want to know whether or not these people are being exploited. Whatever the existing rates, the union is entitled to bargain and, where necessary, endeavour to get additional remuneration for the people concerned. I do not believe in secrecy. When T roam into the Commonwealth Bank Building at about 7.30 in the morning and talk to people there, they are vague about whether their wages compare favourably with those of others. This iron curtain should be lifted. I hope that after these representations tonight the Commonwealth
Banking Corporation will not shelter behind any technicalities but will come up with a clear cut answer giving chapter and verse in relation to the rates. I can then pass the ball back to the Miscellaneous Workers Union, which can carry on from there. It is a very simple request. I know that my leader agrees that the time is overdue when this information should be forthcoming.
(Question No. 545)
SenatorSIM asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
WilltheMinister obtain information from the Australian Meat Board as to what market research it has undertaken and what promotioncompaigns it litis conducted within countries of the European Economic Community?
asked a question concerning drought relief. I am now able to give the following answer:
As announced by the Prime Minister on 20th August, the Commonwealth has ceased to reimburse South Australia for expenditure by local authorities after the end of September 1968 from grants by the State for the maintenance of employment in rural areas. However, it should be emphasised that it has not been the Commonwealth’s intention that the provision of such grants by the State should necessarily cease after the end of September 1968. As the honourable senator may be aware, the provision of natural disaster relief is primarily a responsibility of State governments and the Commonwealth normally intervenes only where the cost of providing relief is judged to be beyond the normal financial resources of the State concerned. In present circumstances it has been judged that any measures which the State feels it necessary to continue after the ‘cut-off’ date for Commonwealth assistance would be likely to involve only limited expenditure which the State itself should be able to meet.
It might be added that it is within the competence of the State governments and their authorities to undertake employment-giving works in particular localities within their Stales if they feel that such works are required to meet local employment problems and they have access to considerable funds which can be used for such purposes. In 1967-68, for instance, borrowings availablefor capital works by the South Australian Government and its authorities were about $115m, compared with borrowings of $107m in 1966-67. As a result of decisions taken at the June 1968 meeting of the Australian Loan Council such borrowings are likely to increase by at least a further $1 9m in the current financial year.
Submarine Maintenance Facilities, Cockatoo Island
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia)I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Extension of submarine maintenance facilities, Cockatoo Island, New South Wales.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake Brockman) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
Sydney (Kingsford-Sniith) Airport
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia)I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Extension of north south runway and associated pavement works at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
That the Senate lake note of the report. 1 ask leave to make my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be granted to Senator Webster on account of absence overseas.
Suspension of Standing Orders
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 of General Business after 8 p.m.
Order of General Business
-I move: That intervening General Business be postponed until after consideration of order of the day No. 8 after 8 p.m. this day. 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.
Consideration resumed from 10 October (vide page 1233).
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed expenditure, $24,837,000.
Proposed provision, $10,277,700.
– At the adjournment of the debate last Thursday I was directing attention to the
High Commissioners Office in the United Kingdom. I do nol. wish to add a great deal to what f have said so far. I was drawing attention to the fact that when an Australian parliamentary delegation was in London recently it travelled around unaccompanied. lt might be thought, that this is an insignificant, matter to draw to the attention of the Senate, but this was in fact an official delegation from the Parliament of this country. My experience with other parliamentary delegations and with this one is that the delegation is accompanied everywhere by the head of mission in almost every case, but that if he is unable to accompany the delegation it is accompanied by one of his senior embassy staff, who introduces the members of the delegation to the persons the delegation is to meet. He is able to brief the delegation on these people and assists generally. The delegation visited various countries, and it was only in London that this policy was not adhered to. I regard this as an insult, not to me and not to the members of the delegation but to this Parliament, that this should have been allowed to happen. I. think it proves the disinterest of the High Commissioner in the Australian parliamentary delegation that visited London. This matter should be of some concern to the Parliament.
I wish to absolve from any criticism the other officers of the High Commission. The Deputy High Commissioner. Mr Critchley, and the Official Secretary did everything they could to assist the delegation. Although 1 do nol think that any members of the delegation met any officers of the High Commission other than the Official Secretary, the other officers were available to assist at any time and, indeed, did assist in many ways. I do not want it to be thought that I have any criticism of the officers of Australia House. My criticism is, unfortunately, directed at the High Commissioner. I believe thai he treated this parliamentary delegation with the gravest discourtesy.
Having said that, 1 come back to my main point. I believe that, in view of present circumstances, there should be a thorough investigation into whether our relations with the United Kingdom are nothing more than an anachronism and whether Australia House should be under the control of the Department, of External Affairs. The Senate should be told a lot more about the rather large expenditure of $4m on Australia House. As I said last week, this expenditure is, I think, three times greater than the expenditure on any other Australian mission overseas. 1 seriously doubt that Australia is getting value for its money. If the High Commissioner believes that attending Wimbledon is more important than meeting an Australian parliamentary delegation that is his concern. But if he does this sort of thing he cannot consider himself above criticism, not only from delegations but also, I believe, from this Parliament.
I conclude by saying that 1 regret having to raise this matter, but I believe .1 am duty bound to draw the attention of the Senate to what occurred in London and to the fact that we were not received in London with the courtesy and co-operation that we experienced elsewhere. In fact. I believe that we were treated with the gravest discourtesy.
– I also refer lo the High Commissioners office in London. I have visited that office on two occasions. I visited it 10 years ago and again this year. I must say that 1 received courtesy from both incumbents of the office. I consider, however, that Senator Sim has directed the attention of the Senate to quite an important matter. 1 shall say nothing about what Senator Sim has related in connection with the visit of a parliamentary delegation, because he speaks of the circumstances as he found them; but I consider that the time has arrived to consider the whole of Australia’s representation in the United Kingdom. I feel that it is time to make some fairly drastic alterations.
There is a lot in what Senator Sim has said concerning the functions of the Department of External Affairs and the part that it, through its appointee in London, should be playing in connection with the important moves that arc occurring between the embassies and high commissions situated in London. It seems rather amazing that the person holding the top office of the Department in London is neither an ambassador nor a high commissioner but that he is in effect a very senior and trusted servant who does not have the rank of ambassador, high commissioner or commissioner. T think that the Australian Government is suffering as a consequence. So Senator Sim’s remarks should be looked at very closely from the external affairs angle.
I desire to stress the adequacy of Australia’s representation in many other fields in London. Australia House, as all honourable senators know, is a very large building that was erected about SO or 60 years ago in what was a very important part of London in those days - the Strand. The building has no pretence to being anything other than monumental. It has no pretence at being convenient, economic in working or comfortable to work in. I therefore think that sooner or later - and I hope sooner - the Australian Government will have a good look at the adequacy of the building itself. The next point, as I see it, is that the functions should be carried on in two buildings some distance apart. When in London I have observed that the governments of some other countries pay great attention to advertising their wares. This is done by having a building in a part of London most frequented by people - people searching for ideas, tourist destinations and goods to buy.
I believe that the ideal building in London at the moment is one known as the Swiss Centre because there the whole of the activities of Switzerland are arranged in a most attractive way in one building. Swissair, for instance, has an important office there, as has the Swiss Tourist Department with a railways office, an office for hotel accommodation and an office for bus tours. Below there is a Swiss restaurant in which typical Swiss dishes are served. On the ground floor there is a grocer’s store, as it were, selling chocolate, wine, cheese and other articles peculiarly Swiss. Consequently, one becomes thoroughly converted 10 the excellence of Switzerland in this building. Above the ground floor are the various governmental offices. The building is situated in Piccadilly, an area frequented by many times more people than is the Strand where Australia House is situated. 1 therefore think that the Australian Government should seriously consider the development of an Australian centre in a part of London frequented by people of the kind T have mentioned.
Perhaps an Australian centre could be created in the Knightsbridge shopping area and Qantas Airways Ltd and the Australian wine centre from Soho could be encouraged to go there and show the attractions of Australia - tourist potential, travel, food, drink, clothing and literature - particularly Aus traliana. These could all be on view in a prominent, part of London. The present position in the Strand could be retained for the general administrative work and our foreign affairs section. What I might call the public intensive activities of the Government, government departments and government instrumentalities such as trade, primary industry, tourism, immigration and so on would be carried out in an area of London far more frequented by people who would be interested in Australia than in the area where Australia House is at present.
This action has to be taken at some time or other. We have been going now for nearly 70 years in the one position, but the reason for our being in the United Kingdom has altered so considerably in the last 20 years that we should have another place of business. I put this to the Government for very serious consideration. Other countries, particularly the European countries, are increasing their hold of British trade. No doubt the European Common Market has spurred them on. The outcome of the Common Market negotiations could well be that the Common Market countries will be one with the United Kingdom, but I still think we should pursue with all our might and main, and all our shrewdness, the idea of capturing and retaining British trade and promoting Australian immigration and tourism in such a centre. 1 therefore join with Senator Sim in directing attention to Australia House and its function, but I want to say quite distinctly that while I was there 1 received every courtesy and assistance from its officers. This was done at the direction of the High Commissioner himself and so I have nothing to complain of in that regard. But I do make a suggestion for myself along the lines 1 have just mentioned.
– I rise to say that 1 think the time is due - probably overdue - for a long hard look to be taken at this expenditure of $4m a year on Australia House. In view of declining Commonwealth relations and decreasing trade with the United Kingdom, it seems to me that this is a hangover from past decades when the ties and the trading relations between Australia and the United Kingdom were so much closer and so much greater, and that this expenditure is far too high. In addition to the Australian High
Commissioner, in the United Kingdom we have six Agents-General. The Tasmanian representative seemed to me to be continually engrossed in trading matters, more expecially apple and meat exports to the United Kingdom. Why, in the light of the circumstances that exist today we should expend this amount of money on an organisation in the United Kingdom I do not know: J can only seek enlightenment. There may be some good and substantial reason but why it should be so much greater than the amount expended in other countries - one or two of them at least - with whom we have greater trading relations, 1 do not know.
When we lake into consideration the fact that both political parties in the United Kingdom seem to be hell bent on turning their backs on Commonwealth relations if they can get into the European Economic Community - that is what they would do - T go along with the idea that perhaps it is an anachronism that we should go on for ever with this elaborate organisation in the United Kingdom. I very much question (he necessity for it when we compare the position that exists today between this country and the United Kingdom with that which existed 30. 40 or 50 years ago.
– f refer to the proposed expenditure under Division 436 - High Commissioner’s Office - United Kingdom. I wish to refer briefly to the remarks made by Senator Sim. 1 am impelled to say that I regret that my colleague has seen fit to make the reference that he did to Sir Alexander Downer, our High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. I shall speak of the honourable gentleman as I have found him over many years. He is a thorough gentleman, a most courteous and conscientious man, and a very able administrator. My estimation of this gentleman remains as it always has been. 1 regard expenditure in relation to the activities of high commissioners or trade commissioners as a vitally important aspect of maintaining sales in overseas countries. The United Kingdom is still a major market for our goods and will remain so for a long time ahead. 1 think there is a great need for an acceleration of trade commissioner activities. If we can ensure a robust and active approach to placing our goods on new markets while retaining the old markets, this is a sound business investment. I make the general observation that we need greater trade commissioner activities than we have today. We have dedicated men in the service who do a far greater job in maintaining and promoting business activities in other countries than is generally appreciated. I take this opportunity of saying those few words of praise.
– At this point I interpose to deal with some of the matters that have been raised. I do not intend in any way to cut across Senator McClelland’s path if he wishes to speak on the same matters or another matter in relation to the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. On Thursday last, 10th October, Senator Sim referred to the experience that he and others, as members of a delegation, had at Australia House. When the debate was adjourned Senator Sim had not completed his speech. Today he continued in the same strain. As would be expected, I sought some explanation of the points that he raised. A signal went to Australia House. The reply indicates that Australia House learnt of the delegation in May. It was visiting Great Britain and the European Economic Community countries on a goodwill and study mission. The reply states:
We at once informed relevant British authorities - the Commonwealth Office and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association - but their efforts lo prepare detailed programme had to wait until 5th June when we received information on the personal interests of members of the mission. lt was impracticable to provide detailed programme before group’s departure.
We sent a draft programme to the Minister in Brussels.
This included the following itinerary:
I gather that Messrs Bate and Robinson did not go to the show. The reply continues:
Kenilworth suggested by Commonwealth Office, notHigh Commissioner, because most members of group, including Senator Sim, had listed agriculture as an interest.
Minister’s reply also asked for opportunity for delegation to talk to Mr Donovan, EEC expert at Australia House.
This was arranged for the Friday morning in Australia House, after which those members not due to go toKenilworth were able to visit Board of Trade for talks with Lord Brown, Joint Minister of State.
All members also invited to British Government lunch on the Thursday.
The Official Secretary met and farewelled delegation on behalf of High Commissioner as both he and the Deputy had other commitments.
Air Vice-Marshal Headlam was also at airport to welcome his Minister and Air Commodore Parsons farewelled him.
Our last official contact with delegation was on Friday, 5th. We became aware quite late that Senator Sim remained in London longer than expected, but as he made no’ approach to us we assumed that he had private arrangements.
That is the information that has been supplied to me. Senator Sim made the point that a lack of courtesy was displayed to the delegation, including himself. It certainly was not intended. Obviously some lines were crossed as to what was to take place. I am sure that the confusion will be regretted by the High Commissioner and his staff, and indeed by Senator Sim and the delegation.
Senator Laught referred to Australia House in a wider context. He suggested that consideration should be given not only to the building but to the organisational side of Australia House. He asked whether or not a division of responsibilities should take place. It is true that Australia House has a host of departments. In more recent days - since I have been there - certain activities have been moved to Canberra House. The Taxation Branch is in Canberra House.I know that because my daughter worked there when she was in London. There has been a certain breakdown of the concentration of activity at Australia House.
– I do not wish to labour the points I have made. I hope it is not suggested that 1 have offered any private criticism of Australia House in respect of my own stay in London, lt is true that I stayed longer in London than other members of the delegation. It is also true that I did not contact Australia House. I did not contact Australia House for the simple reason that I did not want any assistance. I had made my own arrangements and I was quite happy to go along that way. My criticism is directed only in respect of my experience as a member of a parliamentary delegation.
My views are shared by other members of the delegation.
I make the final point that the Minister who led the delegation at no stage during our stay in London met the High Commissioner even though he was present in Australia House when the delegation conducted meetings with Mr Donovan, the Trade Commissioner. A Minister of the Crown, leader of a parliamentary delegation, was completely ignored by the High Commissioner. I do not withdraw anything I have said. Certainly some arrangements were made, lt is true that only two members of the delegation went to the Royal Show. What the Royal Show had to do with a study of the European Economic Community 1 do not know. The suggestion that we should spend a day at the Royal Show seemed to us to have no logic or validity. We were in London to study the possible effect upon Australia should Britian enter the European Economic Community. Thai is why we did not go to the Royal Show. We wished to spend more time in meeting people who could help vis to form views and upon whom we could press Australia’s viewpoint. lt is true that certain arrangements were made but they appeared to be most unfavourable when compared with the arrangements made in every other country we visited. The members of the delegation nl no stage had any communication whatever with the High Commissioner. The leader of the delegation did not see the High Commissioner and I take that to be an act of discourtesy, not to me personally, because frankly 1 could not care less, but to this Parliament which we represented on that trip abroad.
– I want lo say a few words about the Office of the High Commissioner in London. I take it that Senator Sim was referring to Sir Alexander Downer. When I was in London 2 years ago .1 could say nothing but good of the High Commissioner. He looked after me on two or three occasions. 1 thought that possibly he was trying to make up for some of his opposition lo me during his time as a member of this Parliament. That is quite understandable. Sir Alex. Downer was a Government supporter and I suppose he saw this as an opportunity to give a Labor senator a look about London. I had the use of a car that he made available to me. I do not blame him if he was less attentive to Senator Sim because Senator Sim is a member of the Party of which he was a member and is on side anyway.
– I am not criticising.
– It is a square.
– There is now an electorate, also.
– A fountain has just been erected in Chifley Square.
– Has the honourable senator ever visited the suburb Chifley in the Australian Capital Territory?
– In Commonwealth Square.
– It was.
– There is a little bank at that intersection.
– That manifests are being kept.
– The several matters which I wish to raise and to which I wish to direct the attention of the Minister include the appropriation for rent and maintenance of Australia House. First, I inquire whether Australia House in fact is rented. This matter was raised some minutes ago. I would like to know whether it is rented or owned. Secondly, an honourable senator said a short time ago that one of the factors that must be brought into consideration in relation to the expenditure of about $4m on Australia House and the High Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom is immigration. 1 ask whether the amount of $3,133,000 for salaries in the overseas service in the Department of Immigration includes the salaries of the immigration officers who are employed at Australia House. In other words, must we add to the $4m some part of the $3,133,000 in the estimates for the Department of Immigration in order to ascertain what the immigration and other aspects of the work of Australia House are costing the Government? The other matter to which I wish to refer is one that was raised by Senator Ormonde. He said that he was not sure that a fountain had been erected in Chifley Square. He will notice that in Division 430 an amount of $5,000 has been appropriated for that purpose.
– Senator Ormonde dealt generally with Australia House. He indicated that he was given quite proper treatment, as befits his office as a senator. I am sure that that would be the experience of most. Of course, there was Senator Sim’s experience, but he made it abundantly clear that he did not have any complaint about any treatment that was handed out to him. His reference was to a mishap in the handling of a delegation. 1 do not know that I can add much more on this matter generally. Senator Ormonde tended to argue in the opposite direction to other honourable senators. He wants to concentrate everything under one roof, whereas I think Senator Laught advocates a reasonable breakup of the role of Australia House.
Senator Ormonde then dealt fairly briefly with the late Mr Chifley, who was a Prime Minister of Australia. He expressed the belief that Mr Chifley’s great contribution to Australian history had not been properly recognised. He seemed to think that there was no recognition of Mr Chifley’s contribution. But. of course, there is Chifley Square. I understand that that is the postal address of the Commonwealth building there. Then there is the suburb of Chifley. Senator Ormonde said that he was talking about recognition in cities. I think he was sailing pretty close to the wind in not acknowledging Canberra to be an important city, lt is the national capital. I recall that in a debate in this place last week on the electoral redistribution proposals for New South Wales the name of the proposed seat of Grose, by the will of the Senate which was accepted by the Government, was changed to Chifley. I believe that everybody will acknowledge that calling a suburb of the national capital Chifley, having Chifley Square and having an electorate which Mr Chifley represented in part as the member for Macquarie called Chifley represent evidence of recognition of Mr Chifley’s contribution.
Senator Ormonde went on to say that there was no portrait of the late Dr Evatt in Parliament House’ I would think that that is a matter not for the Prime Minister’s Department but for the Presiding Officers of the Parliament, who have the responsi bility for the hanging of paintings in King’s Hall and various other parts of Parliament House. I will have the attention of the Presiding Officers drawn to the honourable senator’s representations on that matter.
Senator Ormonde went on to refer to the amount of $19,350, which is the Australian contribution to the central fund of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. From the fund are met fares and accommodation for delegates to CPA conferences. Australia pays a grant to each member of the Australian Parliament who attends. The formula is the brainchild of the Association. It is not an arbitrary amount that Australia says it will pay towards the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The Australian Government makes an annual contribution to the general council of the CPA; contributions vary according to the predetermined formula. It is not a formula that we in Australia arrive at on an ad hoc basis. A working party recommended that the CPA budget for the 5 years from 1969 to 1973 be increased by 30% over that for the past 5 years and that Australia’s contribution be increased from 7.6% to 9.6% of the total contributions. The Australian Government accepted those proposals, and the increase in this year’s Estimates results from that decision. So we are meeting our responsibilities in accordance with the Association’s request.
Senator Ormonde wanted an assurance from me that it was more difficult now for Ministers to use VIP aircraft than it was previously. I did not know. The only time 1 have ever used a VIP aircraft I had good, valid and sufficient reason to ask for it in the exercise of my responsibilities, and I received it. Without wanting to go back into history on the VIP situation I have a note here which I shall read to the honourable senator in the hope that it will be informative for him. On 24th October 1967 Mr Harold Holt announced in the House of Representatives the system that would be followed in arriving at the amount to be recovered from the Prime Minister’s Department for the VIP flight. The charge is assessed on the basis that the squadron is an integral part of the RAAF. As such, the capital cost of the squadron and certain other charges are recovered from the Prime Minister’s Department by the Department of Air.
The estimate has been assessed on current Hying hour rates for the various aircraft on the basis of the Treasury cost formula together with airport charges, aircraft cleaning costs and rations with allowance for hours flown as an integral part of the RAAF. The system followed in assessing these charges is that recommended by Treasury and accepted by the Government. The expenditure in 1967-68 covered the period from 1st January to 30th June 1968 and was made up as follows: Aircraft flying $297,458; catering services $5,976; airport charges $962; and aircraft cleaning $1,242, making a total of $305,638. An amount of $750,000 has been provided for 1968-69. The major factor in the increased allocation is the higher hourly rate cost due (o the phasing out of the Viscount and Convair Metropolitan aircraft and the greater use of the BAC1 1 1 and Mystere aircraft. 1 assure the honourable senator that there is proper supervision of the use of the VIP aircraft.
– I rise to speak to Division 430 - Administrative, and 1 refer to subdivision 5 which relates to assistance to the arts. This year an amount of $1,500,000 has been budgeted for the support of the performing arts. This amount is not much more than the amount set aside last year, having regard to the fact that we budgeted for an expenditure of $lm on the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, $10,000 on the Australian Musical Foundation, $6,000 on the 1968 Perth Festival, $25,000 on the 1968 Adelaide Festival of the Arts and $165,000 as a contribution to the cost of the Australian Ballet Company tour of Asia. The last three items I mentioned will not incur any expenditure in this financial year. As I have said, the amount of $1,500,000 that has been set aside this year for support for the performing arts is not much more than the amount that was expended last year.
– How would the honourable senator spend it?
– You want more pop than culture?
– ls it not quite often cheaper for a person to go to one of the so-called cultural performances than it is to go to the pop shows?
– The honourable senator asked the Minister to make this something not only for the society class. I am saying that the theatre is open to everybody.
~-l refer to the Hgih Commissioner’s office in the United Kingdom. I believe that Senator Sim was unlucky. I think it is the experience of the vast majority of Australians who have visited Australia House that every courtesy is extended. I am appreciative of the courtesies that were extended to me during my visits to London. But 1 do suggest that the Department of Immigration’s employment office in London is not properly briefed on the actual working conditions in Australia. I do not wish to lay this criticism at the door of anybody. But when 1 discussed wages and conditions with the employment office-
Iiic CHAIRMAN- Order! I think the honourable senator is referring to the estimates of another department.
– T would be grateful if the Minister would give some information as to what is comprehended in two amounts to be appropriated. They relate to Division 430 - Administrative. T notice that amounts are provided for travel facilities for the Federal President of the Returned Services League of Australia and the fares of delegates to the national congress of the RSL. What is the origin of. and justification for. these facilities and fares being provided? Is it Government policy that the fares of delegates of national bodies to conferences will be paid? The second matter concerns the proposed expenditure of over $8,000 on the royal commission of inquiry into the statement of Lieutenant-Commander Cabban and matters incidental thereto. I would like to know the carry-over expenses in regard to that particular inquiry in view of the fact, that the inquiry was concluded last year. I think, and a report presented to Parliament in February or March of this year.
Milliner gave his personal experience of Australia House and then referred to an immigration matter. He said that immigration officers at Australia House were not au fait with working conditions in Australia. Mr Chairman, you quite properly raised the point that Senator Milliner’s remarks might not be appropriate to the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The officers concerned could be employed by the Prime Minister’s Department or the Department of Immigration. 1 will inquire into the matter and will direct the honourable senator’s comments to the appropriate Minister for consideration. Senator Milliner also referred to Aboriginal affairs. I am happy to report that it is intended that the Commonwealth will have a very broad liaison with the various State organisations and authorities. In this way the wealth of experience that has been gleaned by those who have been responsible for the affairs of Aboriginals al the State level will be drawn upon and the experience and resources of the Commonwealth will be brought to bear on the problem.
Senator McClelland commented on the proposed expenditure on cultural activities. He pointed out that $l.5m is to be provided to the Australian Council for the Arts. If one looks at the broad picture of expenditure on cultural activities one will see that there is an increase in this regard of $371,655 this financial year. Some items are obviously no longer necessary and have been deleted - for instance, those relating to the Adelaide Festival, the Perth Festival, the Australian Ballet and Elizabethan Theatre Trust, which previously received $lm. These, of course, are now provided for in the SI. 5m to be appropriated for the Australian Council for the Arts. There is a whole series of items. The matter has to be looked at in the broad.
– I was about to say more on the subject.
Report pf Select Committee
Debate resumed from 8 October (vide page 1 096), on motion by Senator Cormack:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– When the debate adjourned on Tuesday last, 8th October, according to Hansard I had spoken for 50 minutes. In 50 minutes even an Irishman can say quite a bit. I shall refer to one or two matters to conclude my remarks. 1 refer to the Commonwealth powers which are mentioned in the report. The Select’ Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes heard evidence from professors of law at various universities. The report mentions that the container concept could open up wide powers never before visualised by the Commonwealth and could produce different relationships between Commonwealth and State powers. I made some notes for the Committee. I pointed out that section 51 of the Constitution states.
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: - (i.) Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States:
Section 92, which we all know, states:
On the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.
Section 98 states:
The power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.
The wide power of the Commonwealth, which extends to navigation and shipping and railways the property of the State, in relation to interstate trade or overseas trade can be visualised. Under section 51 (i.) the Commonwealth, beyond doubt, has power over overseas trade and commerce but is unable to place restrictions on interstate trade. With the introduction of the container system, where 18 tons of mixed goods are conveyed from England to the wharf at Melbourne and then conveyed by rail, ship or road to a depot in
South Australia and from there to a country area in South Australia, this question arises: At what stage, if any, does overseas trade cease to be overseas trade and become interstate trade and at what stage does trade cease to be interstate trade and become intrastate trade? The questions are legal ones, the answer to which are not known and cannot be known until some test case is decided.
The position becomes clearer with an operation which deals purely in the container system of cargo handling and where wharves are set up for the purpose of receiving and discharging containers. No question arises as to the wharf being used for interstate or intrastate trade; at all times it is geared for the purpose of overseas trade. Apart from any restrictions imposed by the Constitution, undoubtedly the Federal Government has full power to regulate that trade.
The witnesses from the legal profession were reluctant to give an opinion on hypothetical cases. We have to look at previous decisions of the High Court to see how it has interpreted the powers of the Commonwealth in relation to overseas trade. In the case of James v. the Commonwealth in 1936 the High Court laid down that the meaning of the phrase ‘trade and commerce’ in section 51 (i.) has the same meaning as the phrase in section 92. In the case of Australian National Airways Pty Ltd v. the Commonwealth in 1945 it was held that the word ‘intercourse’ in section 92 can be invoked to enable the Commonwealth to control non-commercial matters. Various decisions of the court given in relation to section 51 (i.) include power over all things incidental to trade and commerce and even the same power or wider power than the word ‘intercourse’ in section 92 embraces. The term trade and commerce’ has been given a meaning to include the following activities: Loading or unloading of goods on wharf - R v. Foster ex parte Eastern and Australian Steamship Co. Ltd in 1959; supervising and handling of cargoes and the guarding of same - Dignan v. Australian Steamship Ltd in 1931; airfield supervision and maintenance - Australian National Airways Pty Ltd v. the Commonwealth in 1945; certain factory hygiene - O’sullivan v. Noarlunga
Meat. Lui in 1954; and banking - Bank of New South Wales v. the Commonwealth in 1948. lt could include such matters as gas pipelines, electric transmission wires, wireless and television, as decided in the Bank of New South Wales v. the Commonwealth in 1948. The principal test is contained in the case Huddart Parker v. Morehead in 1908. 1 think this is an important judgment.
– What is the purpose of getting the goods into a State if not for freedom to sell them?
– I am pointing out only that there will be limitations on the output that the judges have expressed.
– And it has not been resolved as to when it begins.
– I add my congratulations to the Senate Select
Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes and its officers, and 1 congratulate Senator Cavanagh for what I believe was a very comprehensive and thoughtful contribution to the solution and consideration of this matter. The report of the Committee is an excellent example of the work which can be done by Senate select committees. The report is comprehensive and clear, and I have no doubt that it will provide a reference for years to come. However, the report mentions and honourable senators who have taken part in the debate have referred to the many questions which still have to be determined before containerisation can work smoothly in our community. Some honourable senators have dealt with many of the general and particular aspects of the report. I shall make one general comment before going on to deal with some of the problems that will arise in Tasmania, the State which I represent. As a general indication of the advantages of containerisation I quote the following interesting paragraph at page 23 of the 1967 report of the Australian Sevedoring Industry Authority:
Where a conventional berth today may handle between 100,000 and 150,000 tons of general cargo per year, a unit load berth can increase this to 500,000 tons and a container berth to 2,000,000 tons.
Clearly that is a tremendous increase and a tremendous benefit to be obtained in berth utilisation from the introduction of containers.
Turning now to Tasmania, two problems in particular appear from the report. The first appears from some paragraphs which 1 propose to read. Paragraph 220 states:
To cope with the containerisation of overseas cargo the Bell Bay containership terminal will bc the focal point for feeder services to Melbourne.
Bell Bay is the port for the Tamar Valley, Launceston and the north-east. Paragraph 224 refers to the fact that the railways have adequate connections to the ports generally in Tasmania. Paragraph 235 states:
The Committee sounds a note of warning in relation to road haulage. It appears that, in America at least, there is a tendency to move towards 40 feet containers, with even a possibility of surcharge rates on smaller sizes. If this should eventuate on a wide scale, and cellular container vessels are at present planned in a way which could accommodate the 40 feet size, then acute problems will obviously arise.
I pause there to say that Senator Cavanagh already has referred to this matter in one sense. I simply refer to the fact that under regulations that exist in all States in Australia it is not legally permissible at the moment to carry a 40 feet container on the roads. In States other than New South Wales and South Australia the overall length of vehicle required to carry a 20 tons 20 feet unit would of necessity be between 45 and 47 feet and must have a tare weight of not more than 1 1 tons. There are problems in the carriage by road of containers that are 20 feet long, and certainly of containers that are 40 feet long. Paragraph 236 of the report states:
The Committee heard evidence from all State railway authorities and the Commissioner for Commonwealth Railways. It is clear that the shipping operators have discussed the transport of containers through the State railway systems as the most likely method of long haul carriage, and also in relation to transport from shipside to depots, lt is clear that the railway authorities -.ire confident that they can cope with whatever container transport they are asked to provide, on a basis of competition with land or sea operators.
Paragraph 237 states:
State railway authorities have, over many years, developed equipment and handling methods to deal with containers. They have clearly thought in advance of their problems and are prepared to introduce any further new methods and equipment necessary. They are also prepared to extend branch lines for terminals and depots where this is necessary ….
Finally in relation to this aspect of the matter, paragraph 239 states:
In view of this, and similar evidence throughout the Commonwealth, the Committee is satisfied that the nation’s railway systems will be adequately geared to carry out their part in the door-to-door delivery of containers.
Summing up the report, it appears that railways are an essential aspect of containerisation. But, unfortunately in the port of Launceston - as far as containers are concerned that means Bell Bay - there is an absence of a rail link. Bell Bay is a major port. As I mentioned, it is the central area for the north and north east. It is developing very rapidly. Recently a new bridge has been built to link the two sides of the river. Industrial growth in the area is proceeding at a very rapid rate. Bell Bay obviously is planned to be one of the major container feeder ports.
Over a period of years various proposals have been made to overcome the problem presented by the absence of a rail link. Committees have inquired into the matter and have made recommendations. While shipping was able to go to the port at Launceston city there was no great need for a rail link. But now, with the increase in the size of ships, the increase in draught and the increasing importance of the time delay caused by the extra travel by water, it has become impossible to expect ships to go the 30 miles up the river. Accordingly, it seems that with the advent of containerisation three aspects will have to bc considered. The first is the probable increase in the weight of loads to be carried lo the Tasmanian ports for shipment to Melbourne as the collection and transshipment port. There we have a particular problem in relation to the port of Launceston. The second is the problem of carrying such heavy loads by road. The Committee was at some pains to point out the problems in carrying 40 feet containers, or even 20 feet containers, by road. The third is the need for a revival of the consideration given previously lo extending the rail link to Bell Bay from the nearest point on the railway system in Tasmania.
The Port of Launceston Authority is blessed with one of the best known experts and authorities on container port development in Australia. He is Mr J. K. Edwards, who has advised on and designed the construction of container cargo terminals throughout Australia. The Authority is developing the port and making regular improvements designed to facilitate its use by the largest of ships. The port will be able to cope with any shipping that may be expected in the normal course of the Tasmanian shipping trade. An industrial complex of considerable importance to the nation is developing in the area. There are such large industries as Comalco Aluminium Ltd, the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd-Tasmanian Electro Metallurgical Co. works, a new wood chip industry and a new thermal power station. It is of some importance to note that a very large percentage of the wool produced in Tasmania is shipped out through this port. About 20% of Tasmania’s fruit exports go out through the port.
As a matter of interest to honourable senators, I suggest that it is of some significance that the Comalco industry uses more power than the whole of the State of Western Australia. That gives an idea of the size and importance of the undertaking there. 1 am not saying that the Comalco industry in Tasmania is more important than Western Australia; but certainly in the field of development Tasmania is perhaps showing the way to other areas. The port of Launceston is a progressive one. The Authority has been able to reduce its port charges al a time when charges in most spheres of activity in the community are increasing. The Launceston port charges have recently been reduced by 1215?-. The port is central to a large agricultural and industrial area. It has every prospect of continuing to be one of Australia’s vital and important ports, serving a very useful function in the container trade in Australia, except for one matter - the absence of a rail link. Wilh the advent of containerisation comes the resurgence of the importance of ascertaining whether such a rail link can be built now and. if so, whether it is economically feasible.
Grants have been made to various rail system throughout Australia. Over si period of years the Commonwealth has participated in the development of railway systems. This is a most laudible and worthwhile objective. But there is one State - and only one State, I think - which so far has not benefited from the Commonwealth’s activities in relation to railways, and that is Tasmania.
– Would you say that the advent of containerisation would put the industry in any better bargaining position?
– Tasmania was well represented on the Committee by Senator Lillico.
– At the outset let me congratulate the members of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. They have done great credit to themselves for the man-hours they put into their deliberations and for the great amount, of work they did in obtaining evidence from the many witnesses who appeared before them. They carried out their job in a thorough manner. They brought credit also to the Senate, which is accepting increasingly the practice of setting up select committees. This report indicates the vast potential the Senate has for collecting and collating up to the- minute reliable information and making it readily available for members of the Federal Parliament and the general public to debate and examine. lt could be said that the subject of containerisation has brought with it all the prospects of a revolution in shipping techniques. It is the biggest revolution in sea transport, since the conversion from sail to .steam. When we realise the impact of the steamers in reducing the time taken to transport goods from one nation to another. the larger size of the vessels, the improved accommodation that was provided and the amenities that were incorporated into the steamers compared with those in the sailing ships, we must come to the conclusion that the new technique of handling cargoes by the container method will bring about vital and far reaching changes. It can mean many things, not only on the international and national levels but also on the State level. Senator Rae has drawn attention to some of the ways in which the new method of cargo handling can affect the State of Tasmania. Let me say first that I am of the opinion that in investigating the situation in Tasmania the Committee was perhaps influenced very much by the fact that, because of our geographical position, we are off the main shipping lanes and that therefore Tasmania would be confronted with great problems in deriving any benefit from or participating in the advantages that will come from containerisation. But I still require proof that a Tasmanian port should not be included among the main ports to be visited by international ships.
The setting up of a few major marshalling ports is in concept a splendid idea for economising in the provision of installations at ports but I feel that the proposal is an arbitrary one in that those areas which have to send their goods to the marshalling ports suffer a disadvantage as compared with those areas whose products are produced close to the marshalling ports. Senator Rae mentioned the port of Launceston. We have good facilities there. As Tasmania is an island State there are only two methods of transport between it and the mainland. The other States enjoy the benefit of four methods of transport. Therefore, Tasmania should be given special consideration in connection with such an important phase in the development of sea transport as containerisation.
The mainland States receive quite large Commonwealth grants in direct and indirect ways for the unification of railway gauges. Because of this unification, it will be possible in the very near future for containerised goods to be railed from Fremantle or other places in Western Australia right through to Queensland direct. This represents a tremendous advancement after the years during which we have suffered through the shortsighted policy of the States who adopted varying railway gauges in the past. This all comes back to lack of national interest and national purpose. Now, after 60, 70 or even 80 years of disadvantage in this way, Commonwealth and State government policies are being directed towards the unification of railway gauges. Although this will be of great advantage to the mainland States, it will be of no benefit whatever to Tasmania because we have no connecting rail link.
The same argument applies to the vast amounts of money that are being spent by the Commonwealth Government on some of the mainland road systems. I refer for example lo the beef roads of the Northern Territory and north Queensland. Money is being spent also by the Commonwealth on other roads in the mainland States. This is another development in transport which facilitates the carriage of much larger loads on semi-trailers and other types of road transport vehicles, lt is of great benefit to those who can take advantage of this new method, but here again Tasmania has not the benefit of a road system connecting it with the mainland. Therefore, it is unable to take advantage of the development of new methods of road transport.
In view of all this, Tasmania is forced to rely on the other two forms of transport - sea and air. Therefore, the proposition that was put forward tonight and earlier today by Senator Wriedt that we should receive special treatment in this new phase of transport by the provision of facilities for the container method of handling cargoes warrants every consideration. Because of the reasons which I have outlined, we should receive special consideration for the establishment of a marshalling port for the overseas shipment of containerised cargoes.
– Not by the Tasmanian exporters.
– We saw no difficulty with Tasmania except in the context of perishable exports such as apples.
– That did not reduce the freight. The State railways increased the freight rate on scoured wool.
– What about the apple industry? Are you going to say anything about that?
– A lot of the sands of Western Australia go overseas in wool bales too.
– No coal at all could be exported if it were not washed.
– Who would gel that advantage? Does the honourable senator think the mills got any advantage? They could not possibly do so.
– Put him on the Australian Wool Board.
– Will the honourable senator address himself to the problem of demarcation amongst the transport unions.
– 1 am not knocking any idea. 1 am just looking for-
– ls that so? I thought that it was a flourishing industry.
– They do not even have a sideboard.
– My contribution to this debate will be fairly short. I join Senator O’Byrne in congratulating Senator Cormack and the members of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes on their report. There is no doubt that the Committee worked exceedingly hard and did a very thorough job. I believe that great credit is due to Senator Cormack, Chairman of the Committee, who showed great dedication and knowledge in guiding the Committee in its consideration of this very important matter. 1 wish also to pay a tribute to Senator Laught. If it is said that the Senate gave birth to this Select Committee, it must also be said that Senator Laught fathered it. In the first place it was Senator Laught’s suggestion that the Committee should be set up. He raised the matter in the Government party rooms and suggested that the Committee should be established. The Senate approved of the establishment of the Committee and I do not think we should overlook that Senator Laught conceived the idea of its establishment. 1 thought that two interesting comments were made by Senator O’Byrne. He suggested that wool scouring is a very wasteful process and said that wool should not be sent away in its greasy state. From the point of view of the freight payable, that is very true. It is not a new suggestion. A point that is overlooked is that the buyers wish to send the wool away in its greasy state and the mills wish to receive it in that condition. Once wool is sold it becomes the property of the buyers and the mills. We cannot afford to dictate to them as to how they should receive the wool. I must admit that I could not follow Senator O’Byrne’s argument that the buyers gain a monetary advantage because the wool increases in weight. The suggestion was that it picked up moisture. 1 find this suggestion rather interesting. It is known that wool will gain weight if it is taken from a dry climate to a moist climate, but the wool in question would have been paid for already according to its weight at the time it was bought. When it reaches its destination, whether it is a mill in Bradford or in Italy, it does not matter what it weights; it is just so much wool that was bought and will make so much cloth. That is all that matters. The weight of the bale when it reaches its destination is of no concern. If the wool gains in weight the Australian wool grower will not have suffered any monetary loss. So I cannot see much merit in the argument advanced by Senator O’Byrne in this respect.
The containerisation of cargoes is not new; it has been in operation on the west coast of the United States for some years - probably up to 10 years. So some experience has been gained in handling various types of cargoes in the United States. Nevertheless, great changes have occurred in the transportation of cargoes and there is no doubt that changes are accelerating today at an ever-increasing rate. Containerisation affects not only the transport of cargoes by ship but also the handling of cargoes for transport by rail, road and, more so day by day, by air. With the introduction of huge new aircraft such as the jumbo jets there is little doubt that the container method of handling cargo will become increasingly popular and will be used more for air cargoes. There is no doubt that containerisation is here to stay, but we as a great exporting country must find out what advantages can be gained from the container method of handling cargoes. The Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes was able, to point out some of the advantages, the disadvantages and the problems associated with this method. It is some cause for concern that the Committee was not able to advise us clearly whether we would achieve lower freight rates on all types of cargoes. Perhaps the best we can hope to achieve is a maintenance of the present rates and to avoid, as far as possible, any increase. I suppose that if this only is achieved it will be of some considerable advantage.
There is no doubt that the shipping companies would gain greatly from containerisation. I note that with the quick turn round of container type ships we can expect six round trips each year between the United Kingdom and Australia as compared with two-and-a-half trips at the moment. I am indebted to Senator Young for some figures which show that the costs involved vary with the present standard type ships according to the length of stay in port. One notes that the average stay in ports in Australia has been increasing steadily over the years. The average combined loading and discharging time over a S-year period to 1963 was 39.3 days, and in 1965 it went as high as 48.7 days. In 1966 it was 39.7 days. Tn the United Kingdom and at continental ports the time was considerably less. The average stay in port for the 5 years ending in 1963 was 31.2 days. The longest stay was in 1965 when it was 34.4 days, but in 1966 it was 32.7 days compared with 39.7 in Australia. The total average combined loading and discharging times in Australia and the United Kingdom has varied from 70.5 days to 83.1 days, and in 1966 it was 72.4 days, lt can be seen that ships are spending a considerable amount of time in port while loading and unloading. As this is one of the most costly exercises involved with shipping, a quick turn round, with the average stay in port in some cases being only 2 days, will achieve great savings. There is no doubt that in this respect there will be a great advantage from containerisation.
The Committee expressed some concern at efforts to stampede Australian exporters into adopting containerisation, because in the course of its investigations it found that other methods of handling cargo also achieved a quick turn round. For example, the Scandinavian ships are very flexible. They can handle certain types of container cargo or carry palletised cargoes, which in some cases give great advantage. Our own Australian National Line has shown that the handling of wool in slings achieves a considerable saving. Therefore it would be well for us not to put all our eggs in one basket by adopting containerisation completely; we should ensure that there is free competition between ships using different methods of cargo handling. To some extent this will avoid the monopolistic tendencies mentioned by the Committee and referred to by Senator O’Byrne. I must say that I failed to understand Senator O’Byrne’s argument when he gave credit to the Government members of the Committee for adopting some of the principles of Socialism. As I read the report the Committee suggested the great benefits that were to be derived from competition rather than from monopoly control of any kind. It went to great pains in its recommendations to point out that there should be competition between the various shipping lines and also in the various methods of handling cargo. So perhaps our dedicated Socialist colleague, Senator O’Byrne, allowed his thinking to be coloured by his enthusiasm for Socialism which, after all, is the greatest and most vicious monopoly.
The Committee stressed also the need for proper planning. I think it was Senator Bull who suggested that there has been some element of haste. Nothing could be more disastrous than to introduce this almost revolutionary type of cargo handling in haste without proper planning. The Committee recommended the appointment of a Commonwealth and State consultative committee which could iron out some of the bugs involved in the handling of cargoes. One such problem is the difference between States with regard to axle loadings. In my own State of Western Australia I think it would be impossible at this moment to transport a container by road because of the axle loading limitations, yet Fremantle is to be one of the container ports. Consequently there appears to me to be a great need for a committee of this type to iron out various problems, of which axle loadings is only one. 1 propose to mention only one or two other matters. I refer first to quarantine, which raises some serious problems. Our Australian quarantine laws are strict in order to prevent the entry into Australia of exotic animal and plant diseases. Unless there is proper inspection it. seems that there would be a danger from cargoes in containers which might have been loaded in, we shall say, England where foot and mouth disease was recently experienced, and unloaded in Australia, perhaps in a country area. The Committee did well to draw attention to this aspect and the need for proper care in policing our quarantine laws, lt was very satisfactory to note also that the Commonwealth Department of Health advised the Committee in its evidence that there would be no relaxation of our quarantine vigilance which could result in an increased risk of disease. T’.ie Committee did well to note that and lo lay considerable stress on the need .for proper quarantine precautions.
I mention the question of wool only very briefly. There is no doubt that if the container trade between the United Kingdom and Australia is to be profitable it must include wool. Here I suspect that some pressure was brought to bear by the United Kingdom shipping combines to force wool into containers without proper investigation of the cost or effect of high density dumping. I believe that those engaged in the wool trade were far from satisfied that high density dumping would not be injurious to the woo! fibre. Although today it is appreciated that it probably will not have any injurious effect on clean wool, certain types of wool could be seriously affected by it.
As I understand the position, the Australian Wool Board and the International Wool Secretariat, in company with others concerned, are still carrying out investigations before committing themselves completely to this form of dumping. There is one interesting development; that is, medium density dumping, which would enable the cargoes to be handled in pallets very readily and, I believe, very economically. So, not only is high density dumping likely to be in operation, but there is an alternative in medium density dumping, which may prove as economical as high density dumping and which may do less harm to the wool.
The only other matter that I wish to mention in relation to wool is the very archaic methods by which wool is handled today. Between the farm and the ship it is handled between 85 and 100 times. These days such cumbersome methods of handling Australia’s major export seem strangely out of place. We have the concept of the wool village. I do not wish to comment very much on this aspect. I understand that a move is now being made to establish a wool village in Sydney. But many problems are involved. There is the large amount of capital invested by the pastoral firms. A few of them have fairly modern wool handling stores. Other stores arc anything but modern; in fact they are obsolete. One fears that if any premature move is made at high cost the wool grower will be the one who will have to pay for it in the long term. Therefore caution is desirable in all these matters.
I have spoken only briefly about the report. There is no doubt that it will be of great value to an understanding of the problems, the advantages and the disadvantages of the container method of handling cargoes. There is no doubt that we are approaching new and revolutionary methods of handling cargoes, whether they be by road, rail, sea or air. But it is foolish to rush in and adopt these methods without proper investigation and proper examination of all the factors involved. This Select Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator Cormack, has done not only the Senate and the Parliament but also Australia a great service in its very thorough investigation of all these matters, lt did not mind treading on corns when they had to be trodden on. Out of it all has come a most valuable report which I believe should act as a guide to the Government and to all concerned with the introduction of not only containerisation but also the various other modern methods of handling cargoes.
– As one who is now engaged in the interesting but arduous operation of working on a select committee, T must say that I compliment the Chairman and members of the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes on the very interesting and thoroughly carried out piece of work that they did on behalf of the Senate. It is interesting because it is one of the beginnings of the operation of Senate select committees. We should look upon this report and the report of the Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures as a benchmark in the current life of the Senate. We may well find ourselves engaged in new and interesting work. If one can judge the future by what we have had before us in these two reports, the Senate is doing valuable work for both itself and the Australian community.
We have before us a document that has engaged our attention - very properly. I would imagine - for quite a number of evenings. Probably we have taken longer to consider this report because of the extreme interest in the subject by many honourable senators and, as we all know, by a great number of members of the public. I have not had the opportunity to read through all the supporting material that led to this report; but I have had the opportunity to study the report briefly and to look at the conclusions, which lead to the recommendations. Many other speakers have dealt with the recommendations, but I wish to refer briefly to three of the conclusions. The “hird paragraph of the conclusions states:
There exists the possibility of the development of a monolithic global shipping operation.
That refers lo paragraph 9 of the report, which states:
The ultimate development of the container system may be the emergence of a few very large organisations, operating under a global, monolithic structure, with supplementary development of integrated local transport systems. There is no evidence of this occurring in the immediate future, but, as a possibility, the ramifications of such a development are immediately discernible and constitute a matter of international significance. The most recent discussions in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) reflect concern at these problems.
This is an extremely important conclusion for a country such as Australia, which is one of the large trading countries of the world and which depends on international trade and the carriage of goods - exports from Australian ports and imports from overseas ports - for its general growth and living standards a great deal more than do many other countries. The emergence of a global monolithic transport organisation is a matter of immense concern to this country.
If this conclusion is valid - there is nothing that 1 can read in the report to make me believe otherwise - -we may see around the world the concentration of transport in the hands of fewer and fewer and larger and larger people and the Australian trading pattern could well be placed at increased hazard. Some part of the national gain of the Australian people could well be passed off if the transport of products - both those that Australia buys and those that it sells - were in the hands of somebody who was totally disinterested. To me, this is one of the more important conclusions. I was concerned to feel that as time went on, well past the presentation of this report, the work at UNCTAD would he taken into account at least by the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport. I hoped that that Department would be concerned about the future problem for Australia if a global monolithic organisation managed to seize command of the transport structure outside this country.
Then there was the following comment in paragraph 6 of the conclusions on page 75 of the report:
Conceptually, there should be a reduction in the cost of transport of Australia’s exports by container operators, both on the sca leg of the operalion and on the through transport operation, although the percentage reduction remains in doubt in relation to varying cargoes, lt appears that the economics implied in the concept of container transport should pass, to some degree, to Australian exporters.
That refers to paragraphs 15 to 17 of the report. Despite the thorough work of the Committee, the exhaustive inquiries that were conducted and, if I might say so, the particular skill of the Chairman, the Committee found it very hard to get from the various people involved in overseas transport arrangements with Australia very much satisfaction on the question of potential freight savings. One thing that we all expect of the container method of handling cargoes is that it will be more convenient, faster and more efficient and will lead to a reduction in costs. Some part of that reduction in costs, we would all hope, would come back into the pockets of the Australian pro ducer and the Australian community generally; but it seemed very difficult lor the Committee to get any precision. There were considerations of a 7% reduction on full container loads, which was not expected with any degree of certainty, and a 2% reduction on less than container loads. In paragraph 17 of its report the Committee states in part:
The members realised that this aspect of the operation is determined in London offices, and not in Australia, but were gravely concerned at the fact that while British exporters had been given an indication as to southbound rates the Australian exporter was being left in the dark as to his position. lt is a matter for some concern that there should be a situation in which people who are importing goods into Australia from the United Kingdom - I am disposed to believe what is said in the report because it was said by my colleagues, who have done a thorough job - apparently have an idea of their costs but that the people who are exporting goods from Australia to the United Kingdom appear to find it very difficult to get any idea of their costs. All this appears to make an increasing argument of Australian national concern in the control of the products we buy and sell once they come into or leave our country.
I want to refer briefly to the other conclusion which interested me. Paragraph 7 states:
The new concept of cargo handling may involve new fields of the exercise of Commonwealth power, and contains the seeds of legal conflict and the genesis of potential difficulties in Commonwealth-State relations. lt is stated in the report that there are possible areas of increased CommonwealthState conflict because, 1 imagine, of the problems of interstate trade referred to in section 92 of the Constitution and the difficulties of rationalising those problems between one State and another. If this is to be the case, the sooner it is tackled and sorted out by a Federal-State approach the better it will be for all concerned because there is no need for Federal and State governments to be quarrelling over matters of this character. It does not produce any useful result for anyone; it does not produce any additional income for the Australian people as a whole; it produces only less income for everyone to share.
I turn briefly to a question that was raised by Senator O’Byrne, namely, whether there is any case for the revival of the Interstate Commission which was operating in Australia just before the outbreak of the First World War and which fell into disuse about, I think, 1921. This is envisaged in sections 101 to 104 of the Constitution. Section 101 provides:
There shall be an Inter-State Commission, with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance, within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce, and of all laws made thereunder.
I do not want to go into this. It is a matter for separate discussion and detailed investigation, but it is possible that an interstate commission operating under sections 101 to 104 of the Constitution is the kind of body that should be considered as a means of overcoming the problems of the Federal and State governments in relation to transport within Australia and as between Australian ports.
– lt is impossible for me to refer to all the elements that have been raised by the various honourable senators who have addressed themselves to the problems associated with the introduction of the container method of handling cargoes with which the Select Committee appointed by the Senate concerned itself. At the outset let me congratulate the clerks who refused to bow their heads to the terrible American bastardised word ‘containerisation’. As a purist in the English language I applaud the clerks for their determination to ensure that at least the Select Committee addressed itself in reasonable and rational English.
I wish to go back to the time when this Select Comittee was first proposed and its appointment was approved by the Senate. I think that the Senate, acknowledging that the time had arrived in Australian constitutional practice when it should assume a role in the complexities of modern administrative legislative practice, selected the problem of the future impact of this new method of handling general cargoes for consideration by a select committee and duly appointed such a committee. Looking back, I feel that perhaps the Senate was ill advised to choose this subject as an initial effort to engage the undoubted talents that exist in this chamber. I feel this because the Senate, by the appointment of the Committee, addressed itself to the examination of a problem without definitive terms. It was, in the modern jargon, an open ended operation. Therefore it was extraordinarily difficult for the Committee to bring down a report dealing with the subject in relation to which the beginning but not the end could be seen.
On the whole question of Senate select committees - I think it appropriate that I should mention this before I embark upon the peculiarities of the report which is the subject matter of the Senate’s attention at the present time - 1 address myself in terms of advice from my experience and, I think, the experience of my Committee. I was the Chairman and therefore I use the personal pronoun. The terms of reference of Senate select committees in the future must be selected more carefully than they were for the Committee that was set up to inquire into the container method of handling cargoes. It was very clear in the initial areas of investigation by the Committee that the terms of reference that had been drawn up and approved by the Senate were not applicable to the problem in which the Committee found itself involved.
– What was the extent of the suggested intervention by the Public Service Board?
– I agree with you.
Commonwealth Banking Corporation
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! Tn conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That Iiic Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise at the instigation of the New South Wales Branch of the Miscellaneous Workers Union to refer to the current attitude of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation towards providing certain information that has been sought either by parliamentarians or by that trade union. This story commences away back in July of this year. As the Senate will appreciate, honourable senators have their own different working hours and habits. I was in the New South Wales federal members’ rooms at 7.30 one morning when I was approached by organiser Lloyd Groves of the Miscellaneous Workers Union, who complained to me of the difficulty that union representatives had had in mingling with employees who are responsible for the cleaning operations in the Commonwealth Bank Building in Martin Place and, beyond that, their difficulty in ascertaining existing rates of pay.
Knowing the union to be a very efficient unit and knowing organiser Lloyd Groves as a man who moves in a very easy fashion, I was intrigued to find out just what are the wages that apply. After all, this is 1968, and if anyone is able easily to find out what a senator’s salary is, I think that I am entitled, as the union is entitled, to find out what wages the Commonwealth Banking Corporation is paying to people on the cleaning staff. Consequently, I undertook to seek the necessary information. This is where the merry-go-round commences. On 18th July 1 wrote to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and asked what was the wage scale of these employees, whether they were subject to a State or federal award, and one or two other attendant questions. In due course I received a reply from Mr McMahon in which he said that this was a matter to which his colleague, the
Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) would supply an answer.
– Senator Mulvihill was courteous enough to inform the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) that he would be raising this matter. The Leader of the Government has available from the Commonwealth Banking Corporation a reply which reads:
Wages for all Commonwealth Banking Corporation cleaning staff in New South Wales are determined with due regard to the provisions of the Watchman, Caretakers, Cleaners, Lift Attendants etc. (State) Award. Although the Corporation is not a respondent to the award cleaning staff conditions of service are not less favourable than the award.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681015_senate_26_s38/>.