26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has any contribution of surplus food been made by the Australian Government to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations towards the experimental world food programme being conducted by that Organisation?
– I am unable to answer the question in detail. I think the honourable senator would know that over the years it has been the custom for Australia to make considerable quantities of wheat available to countries in need of it. I am not in a position to say whether anything has been done through the Food and Agriculture Organisation, but I will make inquiries and let the honourable senator know the result of them.
– Can the Leader of the Government give the Senate any information on the current state of the negotiations in Paris on the possible cessation of military activities in South Vietnam?
– No, I could not give any indication at question time of the present state of the negotiations. As the Senate knows, we have a representative or observer in the Paris area and in Washington. There has been speculation in the Press in the last 24 hours on developments that may take place. I believe that it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment on that speculation beyond saying that, very properly, the Government is being kept fully informed of what is happening in Paris and I am quite confident that the Prime Minister will make a statement if and when it is appropriate to do so.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. In view of the increasing number of children now continuing their education until at least the age of 21 years, will the Minister give consideration to extending the pensions of dependent children of repatriation and service pensioners until the age of 21 years, which is the age applicable in relation to taxation deductions?
– The honourable senator knows that the children’s education scheme has proved to be of immense benefit in Australia. I think about 8,000 children are receiving benefits under this scheme at present. The question that the honourable senator has raised has been considered, but up to this time it has not been possible to do anything more than was done in the last Budget.
– 1 preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, by referring to the fact that the east coast of Tasmania is suffering a severe drought and that a request for Commonwealth assistance has been made by the Premier of Tasmania and others. Will the Minister convey to the Prime Minister the information that at a well attended meeting of drought stricken farmers, which was held at Swansea last night, an urgent request was made for both State and Federal assistance, by way of relief from land tax and carry-on finance loans and also for grants to purchase grain and grass hay and to transport them to this drought stricken area? Will the Minister convey to the Prime Minister the urgency and importance of an early decision on the extent of Federal assistance and ensure that such assistance is not granted in a way similar to the way in which earlier State Government managed loans were granted? The conditions attached to those loans and the long delays in actually processing applications caused farmers to describe the action of the State Government as a mere political gimmick.
– As the Senate will appreciate, in cases of severe drought or in circumstances of national calamity there is a prescribed approach on a Premier to Prime Minister level. It is clearly understood that when a matter arises which is considered to be within the responsibility and capability of a State the responsibility rests on the State, but the Commonwealth does intervene in cases of special calamity.
J need only remind honourable senators of the shocking fires that occurred in Tasmania and which became a national disaster. On that occasion the Commonwealth intervened and made a tremendous contribution to the relief that was so necessary. In the instance under review, if it is thought that a serious situation exists in relation to a drought area ] am quite certain that it will1 be the subject of representation on a Premier to Prime Minister level. I will direct the honourable senator’s observation and request to the Prime Minister as desired.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In an endeavour to minimise the incidence of industrial accidents and so assist in the promotion of the campaign to increase Australia’s exports, will the Minister consider having a series of posters printed for display in work places warning- against unsafe working conditions in industry? Will he consider also the proposition that employers should be encouraged to form job safety committees to assist in this dual purpose campaign?
– One finds real interest in the honourable senator’s suggestion. One cannot do too much to bring to the notice of employees whose weariness increases as the day progresses the necessity for alertness to the possibility of injury. The suggestion for posters to be displayed and the creation of job safety committees would be two means by which this end could be achieved. I shall ask the Minister himself to add any additional comment he might think fit.
– On behalf of the people who live in Coober Pedy, the opal town in the north of South Australia, I direct a question to the Minister for Supply. Is the Minister aware that the people of Coober Pedy have a telephone link with Woomera and that the nearby stations are connected through the Department of Supply post at Mirrikata? What fee is charged to people at Coober Pedy who telephone through the Department of Supply post at Mirrikata? If they have cause to use the telephone at night is it necessary for them to pay an opening fee of $6? Can they bc helped to some extent in their loneliness by being required to pay a lower opening fee?
– 1 had some inquiries made in relation to this matter and 1 inform the honourable senator that as part of the establishment of the Woomera rocket range homesteads in the area were provided with telephone services free of installation and rental charges. Eleven of the homesteads are connected to the Mir.rikata switchboard. The only way to gain telephone access to the homesteads from anywhere outside the range area is through the Woomera-Mirrikata link. The Mirrika ta switchboard is manned only during normal business hours and use of the service outside those hours necessitates the switchboard operator being recalled to duty. The minimum call back cost is $6. This cost is passed on to the caller. These arrangements have operated with satisfaction to homestead owners for many years, it is true that the service is operated by the Depart mem of Supply.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the Australian Government add its voice to the worldwide pressure for stopping the bombing of North Vietnam in the hope of helping to break the deadlock at the Paris talks and so giving everybody a glimmer of the prospect of peace?
– 1 am sure the hearts and minds of everybody are directed towards peace in this area. I am quite certain that the Australian Government can be depended upon to do all it can in this direction. There has been some speculation in the Press over the last 24 hours, but I think it would be improper for me to make any comment on that at this time.
– I preface a question which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry by saying that in answer to a question supplied to me yesterday he stated that a meeting between Australian and New Zealand representatives of the pea and bean industry and officials of Australia and
New Zealand was under- active consideration. Has this meeting been arranged? Has a date been fixed? Will the meeting have the official recognition of both the Australian and New Zealand governments? Ls it not correct to say that agreement only between the industry representatives of the countries concerned would be of little value unless it was recognised and honoured by the respective governments?
– 1 answered two questions on this matter yesterday. One was asked by Senator Lillico and I think the other by Senator O’Byrne. Senator Devitt has also directed his mind to the mutter. He spoke about it during the debate on the proposed expenditure last evening. 1 am informed that the venue of the proposed meeting is still being discussed by New Zealand and Australian officials and by the Australian industry. I am informed also that the industry panel in Australia is to have another meeting towards the end of this month and that, tentatively, a meeting between the various Australian and New Zealand groups is set down for the second week in November. As to the other question asked by the honourable senator. I point out that arrangements for programming are being made by officials of our Department of Trade and Industry and their counterparts from New Zealand. Beyond this, is it not appropriate for me to go at this time.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it a fact that certain nylon sportswear imported from Hong Kong attracts a duty of 97% whilst the same sportswear imported from New Zealand attracts a duty of only 22%)? Is there any evidence that some traders in New Zealand are adopting the entrepot system of importing goods from Hong Kong to New Zealand and then, without doing anything to them, exporting them to Australia and so deriving benefit from the lower rate of duty? Have there been any complaints about this? If the Minister has not the information at the moment, will he make inquiries and lcl me know whether his Department has any knowledge of this entrepot practice?
– It is a fact that a higher rate of duty operates on nylons imported from Hong Kong than on nylons imported from New Zealand. I do not know whether the duty is 97%, but I will find this out for the honourable senator. 1 do not have any evidence that goods are sent from Hong Kong to New Zealand and re-exported to Australia, but T will make inquiries and inform the honourable senator of the result.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the statement attributed to the Minister for Defence regarding the dangers of further wars of national liberation. That statement was challenged yesterday by Senator Georges. Has the Government any details concerning the Indian Government’s protest lo Peking on 1 9th June in which it accused Peking of attempting to create a war of national liberation in the Naga provinces and stated that it had concrete proof of Chinese complicity in training, arming and aiding subversive elements? Further, has the Government any information to support a broadcast by Peking Radio on 16th September reporting: ‘The people’s armed forces, led by the Communist Party of Burma and those of the various nationalists forced successive new victories in July in bold and fruitful attacks on the enemy in many places’?
– The point that the honourable senator has raised only adds strength and force to the observations made by the Minister for Defence.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. No doubt the Minister is aware that the Commonwealth’s migration scheme has produced a serious language problem in schools throughout Australia, particularly those in industrial areas. I ask: In view of the importance that migrant students learn English, has he any information of the advantages of language laboratories in schools, such as that which operates at Northmead High School in New South Wales, where listening posts are provided with headphones to receive programmed lessons from radio or from tape or disc recordings for the teaching of English and other subjects to migrants? Will the Minister investigate the new teaching device with a view to its introduction whereever possible in areas which have a large migrant population?
– The only language laboratory that I know of that is operated by the Department of Education and Science is at North Ryde and it is used for the teaching of English to Asians. The staff of that laboratory has been increased only in recent months. I am grateful for the honourable senator’s reference to Northmead High School where apparently a laboratory is conducted with the aid of electronic equipment, including tape recordings, for the teaching of various subjects to migrants. I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Education and Science for determination of whether it would be appropriate for his Department to take further interest in teaching English and other subjects.
– 1 did nol see the comment in the Press. T will certainly direct the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I think if is axiomatic that expansion of Australia’s export industries and trade is fundamental to our success, prosperity and development as a nation. T am sure that the Minister will examine all avenues that are suggested that go towards that very proper motive.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. As a partici pant in the Vietnam war, is the Australian Government being informed of proposals now being considered in Saigon, according to reports in today’s Press, to end the bombing of North Vietnam? What is the Government’s attitude to these proposals?
– 1 suggest the honourable senator’s question is premature. Very properly, the Australian Government has its representatives available, both in Washington and in Paris, and at this very important time it would be quite improper for me, as the representative of the Government in this place, to make a statement in relation to the matter.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Supply, relates to Woomera and the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury. Has the Minister had an opportunity to make a detailed examination of future employment trends at the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury? Is he satisfied that the staff at the Establishment can be maintained at its present level?
- Senator Bishop has shown a very real interest in this problem and has asked me a number of questions about it. I repeat that at the present time discussions are going on between all the countries involved in the European Launcher Development Organisation programme in relation to our commitment at Woomera. There was a conference in Paris but it was not conclusive as to ELDO’s future programme. There is to be another conference in Bonn on 11th November at which Australia will be represented, of course, and it is hoped that that conference will come to grips finally with the future firings. It can be assumed, I think with confidence, that the firing scheduled for November will take place. Naturally we are concerned with what happens after that firing. This in itself wilt have a considerable impact upon Woomera because, as honourable senators know, this is one of the projects scheduled to take place there. Another aspect of this matter is that we have renewed the joint agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom for the joint project at Woomera. This will give us a degree of confidence for the period covered by the agreement. In fairness I want to say that I would be in a better position after 11th November, when we will know the future programming for ELDO, to give an informed and far better answer in depth than I am at present.
– J ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. By way of preface I wish to say that South Australian exporters to South American and Caribbean ports are vitally concerned that Port Adelaide be included in the schedule of regular services provided by the K Line to eastern States main ports. Is the Minister aware that the September service lifted 800 tons of cargo from Port Adelaide and that exporters are most anxious to participate in the next sailing scheduled for November? Advice has been received by the South Australian Exporters Association that Port Adelaide is to be excluded from this sailing. Will the Minister seek to have this decision amended to include Port Adelaide and so provide South Australian exporters with the same facility to maintain regular supplies to established clientele as is enjoyed by eastern Stale exporters?
– Although this question was directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport I think the matter falls within the portfolio of the Minister for Trade and Industry. T have had some information made available to me about it. I am told that arrangements recently were discussed about the K Line ships calling at Adelaide. I understand the matter also was discussed in Adelaide at meetings between exporters, the shipping lines and representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry. This is how that Department comes into the issue. The meetings dealt with arrangements for calls during 1968 and beyond. Future arrangements for the K Line are currently under review. There are many difficulties because of the large range of ports involved in this service. The position of the South Australian exporters is understood and will be taken into account. The matter is in the negotiation stage at present and therefore it would be appropriate for the honourable senator to seek further information later.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs seen references to a committee of inquiry, headed by General Alexander of the British Army and consisting of senior military officers from Sweden, Canada and Poland, which has been inquiring into allegations of genocide in eastern Nigeria allegedly committed by federal Nigerian forces? Has he seen references to the finding of the committee that genocide has not been committed? In view of the very serious concern which a large number of Australians have felt regarding the allegations of genocide during the Biafran revolt, will the Minister obtain, if he can, for the information of the Parliament a copy of the report of this committee of senior military officers and attach to it any appropriate comments about its accuracy or any other comments which he cares to make?
– I shall direct the honourable senator’s question and the implications of it to the Minister for External Affairs.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Can the Minister indicate the general purpose of the agreement signed yesterday by the Minister for Education and Science and the head of an American scientific delegation sent to Australia by the President of the United States of America?
– I am pleased that the honourable senator has seen fit to refer to this matter, because I believe that inadequate attention has been given to it. The Senate and probably the Australian public have not yet realised the tremendous significance of this scientific team of top ranking American scientists who, at the instance of the two governments, are engaging in discussions with their Australian counterparts. It has been announced that over an initial period of 5 years there would be general and specific joint programmes for scientific co-operation. The governments would bear the cost of discharging the respective responsibilities under the agreement. Scientists of a third group of countries would be encouraged to participate and the results of scientific research would be made available to the rest of the world. As recently as this week 1 indicated the subjects that are comprehended in the proposed programmes. Having regard to the eminence of the scientists who have been brought together 1 feel that it is of great importance that Australians should understand that we are given by this co-operative effort access to the tremendous scientific resources and research in the United States of America.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs inform the Senate of the current attitude of Australia to the recent political changes in Peru and Panama? ls full diplomatic recognition given to each of those nations?
– I think it was last week that I gave some information on the coup d’etat that took place in the areas referred to by the honourable senator.
– 1 think the Minister said that it was subject to investigation.
– Yes. I do not have any further information at this time. I imagine that it is far too soon to get a proper appreciation of what is happening, beyond what 1 have already said.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, lt relates to Commonwealth assistance to victims of the earthquake in Western Australia, about which other questions have been directed to the Minister this week. Can the Minister advise the Senate whether a request for assistance has yet been received from the Premier of Western Australia? If so, has the Federal Government made a decision on the request? If no such request has been made, has the Federal Government decided on its own initiative to grant assistance to the earthquake victims?
– As I indicated in answering an earlier question on another subject, the procedure in these matters is for the Premier of a State to make representations to the Prime Minister. 1 think it would be too early for an accurate assessment to be made of the nature and extent of the damage caused by the earthquake. It is my understanding that the matter is awaiting a proper appreciation of the damage. I can inform honourable senators that earlier today I heard the Prime Minister answer a question on this subject in another place. He said that a Lord Mayor’s fund has been opened in Western Australia to raise funds for victims of the earthquake and that the Western Australian Government opened the fund with a contribution of $50,000. The Prime Minister said that he had received from the Premier of Western Australia a telegram requesting a contribution of the same order from the Commonwealth. I am happy to say that the Prime Minister in answering the question confirmed that the Commonwealth Government is agreeable to this. The necessary action is in train. Dealing in greater depth with the question asked by the honourable senator. I think it is premature to comment on the ultimate cost of the damage and the part the Commonwealth will be asked to play, f understand that that aspect is awaiting information from the Western Australian Government.
– In directing my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, 1 remind him that Mr McNamara, the President of the World Bank, has ordered a feasibility study of the use of television for educational purposes in poorer nations. Will the Minister ask his colleague to request that such a study should be extended particularly to Papua and New Guinea and that the results be communicated to Australia as a matter of urgency? If the study shows that the use of television, perhaps through an earth satellite, is feasible in Papua and New Guinea, and as Mr McNamara has indicated that the Bank will lend money for this purpose, will the Government consider seeking a loan from the World Bank?
– One can only say that the honourable senator has presented a most imaginative viewpoint. The Senate will know from the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television the enthusiasm that obtains in this chamber for the use of television at home for education, but the suggestion that it might be used as an international medium for the education of underdeveloped peoples is certainly quite exciting until, perhaps, one considers the cost. The honourable senator asked whether I shall request the Government to consider making an application to the World Bank to provide for that feature. The answer is certainly, Mr President.
– 1 ask the MinisterinCharge of Tourst Activities whether be can indicate to the Senate the position of tourism as an income earner for Australia, especially in the light of a statement reported in the ‘Canberra Times’ this morning that tourism was the world’s No. 1 export industry and it was expected that international visitors would spend about $100m in Australia this year, ls it planned to step up promotional activities to increase even further the number of visitors to Australia next year? If so, will the Minister ensure that visitors to Australia are not subjected to the same excessive percentages on service and other charges in hotels and restaurants that are exacted in other world tourist centres?
– Referring first to the last part of the question, the Australian Tourist Commission has been emphasising that for the tourist industry to succeed we must have first class service al reasonable cost. As to the second part of the question, we are endeavouring to increase tourist promotion in every avenue possible. The honourable senator made an interesting reference to the report of the remarks of the Chairman of the Australian Tourist Commission, Mr John Bates, when speaking yesterday in connection with Export Week in Melbourne. I think it would be interesting to state just one fact which Mr Bates mentioned to his audience because it strikes me as being most interesting. He said that if only twenty-four tourists could be attracted to a city each day, it would be the economic equivalent of acquiring a new manufacturing industry with an annual payroll of $100,000. This is a new way in which to state the importance of tourism.
– Has the
Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen a report in last night’s Melbourne ‘Herald’ of a statement made by the Leader of the Aus tralian Labor Party in the Victorian State Parliament condemning the undemocratic imprisoning of a young national service conscientious objector for 2 years duration, which he will have to spend in Pentridge Prison with many notorious criminals? If he has not read the report, will he read it and confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service in an endeavour to have this savage and unjust regulation amended so as to allow young objectors to spend their detention periods in more favourable environments?
– I regret to say that I have not seen the article to which the honourable senator has referred. However, I. am obliged to him for bringing it to my attention. The prison conditions in which any class of prisoner is required to serve his sentence are a matter for earnest consideration. I shall see that this article is brought to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service and shall advise the honourable senator of the Minister’s views on it.
– 1 preface my question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government, by asking him whether he is aware of the Government’s decision to change the name of the Marraboon Dam at Emerald to Fairbairn Dam? As almost every resident of the Emerald district is strongly opposed to the change of name, will the Minister use his good offices to have the name Marraboon Dam retained?
– I am not aware of this matter. Naturally, I will make some inquiries to find out the facts. Whilst what the name should be is a matter of judgment, I believe that the name Fairbairn is a highly distinguished and creditable one; but that is not to reflect upon the other name. I certainly will find out the facts and let the honourable senator know them.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister received from the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s committee on commodity problems any information that might assist in solving the present crisis in agriculture?
– The answer, as far as 1 personally am concerned, is no; but I will make inquiries of the Minister for Primary Industry to see whether any representations have been made to him, and let the honourable senator know the result.
– 1 direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question in relation to a question on the notice paper. The question on the notice paper is shown as being directed to that Minister, but I believe that lt should be directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. On 8th October I gave notice of Question No. 591, which concerns the attitude of the Federal Government towards the future of the wood chip industry in Western Australia. As there is very serious concern in the State, and particularly in that part of the State in which the wood chip industry was to be established, could the Minister do something to obtain an early reply to that question?
– I certainly shall be pleased to ascertain, some time today, whether it is possible to provide the honourable senator with the information he requires.
(Question No. 551)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Territories has supplied the following information:
Al present there is one flight each way each week, and a second will begin on 27th October. The Territory Department of Trade and Industry is active in promoting the development of tourism.
Has the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral seen a report that Ansett Transport Industries made a record profit of $3.8m last financial year despite a huge provision for taxation purposes? Has the Minister also seen a report of the same date that temporary releases from Australian drama requirements granted earlier this year to four city television stations which are part of the Ansett television network now have been extended by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to 8th February next year? Bearing in mind that the losses sustained by this company’s television operations, are subsidised by the Australian taxpayer because of this Government’s policy of rationalisation of airline services, does the Minister consider it fair and reasonable to other commercial television stations, which are doing their utmost to honour their obligations to the Australian public under the Broadcasting and Television Act, that this particular network should receive this favourable concession under such circumstances? In view of the overall profit made by Ansett Transport Industries last year, and in order properly to encourage the use of Australian dramatic and light entertainment programmes by all commercial television networks and not merely by a couple of them, will the Minister request the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to review its latest decision?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
The honourable senator’s question is based on his own version of the Government’s airline policy which is not correct. The matter of Australian programmes to which the honourable senator refers is dealt with on page 84 of the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1968, which was tabled in Parliament recently. The Board’s report indicates that, in response to special representations which put forward in detail the financial problems facing four of the more recently established metropolitan television stations, the Board in February 1968 decided to waive temporarily the requirement for them to televise 2 hours of drama each month. I am aware that the Board has indicated that this concession has been withdrawn and that as from February 1969 the stations concerned will be expected to have reached the position of televising Australian drama in the popular viewing times for at least 2 hours each month as is required of other stations. The designation of the particular date referred to is to allow all 4 stations to complete their plans to meet fully the Board’s requirements, although the Board advises me that 2 of the stations concerned, including A TV Melbourne, are at present meeting all the Board’s requirements in respect of Australian content.
I should say that there is no Ansett television network such as the honourable senator’s question mentions. Of the stations in the group in question. Ansett Transport Industries owns ATV Melbourne and has a substantial interest in TVQ Brisbane. The companies which operate the other two stations in the group are noi controlled by the Ansett organisation.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion hy Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act in order to discontinue the present 10c in the Si income tax rebate on Commonwealth loan interest. The rebate will, of course, continue to apply, in accordance with the terms of the relevant prospectuses, to all securities now on issue. Under the terms of the Bill, however, the rebate will not be carried by Commonwealth securities issued on or after 1st November 1968. The income tax rebate of 10c in the $1, or 2s in the £1, on income derived from Commonwealth loan interest was introduced in 1942 to retain the benefit which exemption of Commonwealth bond interest from State taxes had previously conferred on tax-paying investors. Since that time it has applied lo all newly issued Commonwealth securities, apart from Treasury notes since February 1966.
The rebate has outlived its original purpose. With minor exceptions of no importance here, no taxable securities issued before 1942 are still held by members of the public. The rebate has for some time now come to be regarded by investors generally as an inducement to invest in Commonwealth securities, and acts as a method of subsidising Commonwealth loan interest by towering the rate which has to be offered. It does not, however, perform these functions in an effective and equitable manner, since it benefits only investors who are taxpayers and is of no value to taxexempt investors. Even between taxpaying investors, the incidence of the rebate is uneven as it may give greater than normal benefits to traders in Commonwealth loans, and it gives reduced benefits to financial institutions whose taxable income is less than their income from Commonwealth loan interest. This is because the rebate is only available to the extent that Commonwealth loan interest is included in taxable income. Thus, the bond rate, generally regarded as the key interest rate in the economy, has varying effects for different investors, and has no certain relationship lo other yields in the market. This is an unnecessary complication in the loan and interest field and in monetary management.
In addition, it has become increasingly apparent in recent months that market dealings in short term Commonwealth bonds, running into many millions of dollars each year, are being arranged solely to obtain substantial benefits from the rebate, lt is estimated that approximately one-third of all large bond transactions are now associated, directly or indirectly, with what has come to be known as ‘rebate washing’. The practice was associated with short term securities which were being acquired in cash loans until steps were taken to discourage this in the February 1967 loan. With the approval of the Australian Loan Council, the Commonwealth changed some of the procedures for making the first interest payment on, and for instalment purchase of, short term securities issued in Commonwealth loans.
While these changes reduced the opportunities for making ‘Rebate Profits’ on loan subscriptions they have had no effect on similar transactions in securities already trading on the market. In particular, there has been a tendency for ‘Rebate Washing’ operations to concentrate on securities about to mature, where there is no risk of capital loss on resale. To the extent that maturing securities are purchased solely to obtain the benefit of the rebate, redemptions will be higher than they would otherwise be, since the purchasers are interested only in recouping their outlay by redeeming the bonds. This was the case in both the February and May conversion loans, in which there were total redemptions of $174m, of which some $60-65m appears to have been redeemed by ‘Rebate washers’. In other circumstances, most of these securities would have been converted on maturity. 1 have emphasised this particular feature of the rebate, because of the impact it has been having on Commonwealth taxation receipts. However, there are other features of the rebate which led the Commonwealth to raise the question of its abolition with the Australian Loan Council some time ago. I have already mentioned that it does not operate evenly as between tax paying and non-tax paying investors. Because the rebate varies in its incidence as between different investors, depending on their tax status, it has complicating and distorting effects on the capital market and on institutions and investors in the market. The rebate makes it difficult to determine the relative value of bond yields. In these ways it runs counter to the Commonwealth’s efforts to encourage and sustain a wider market in Commonwealth bonds. The rebate does, of course, represent a direct deduction from Commonwealth income tax collections. The cost of the rebate to the Commonwealth is at present around $15-16m each year. The cost to revenue has increased by an estimated one quarter over the past 5 years.
As for the likely effect on Commonwealth bond rates, we have concluded after considering the question carefully that any adjustment in interest rates on Commonwealth securities needed to maintain their relative attractiveness overall would be quite small. There would be changes in the sources of subscriptions. Some institutions which have been regular subscribers to Commonwealth loans because they are able to take advantage of the rebate would almost certainly reduce their subscriptions. Other non-taxable institutions or institutions which are not able to take full advantage of the rebate would find any increase in bond rates attractive and could be expected to increase their subscriptions.
There is, in our opinion, no reason why abolition of the rebate, and any consequent small adjustment in bond rates that might follow, should lead to any disturbance in semi-government interest rates. AH existing issues will, of course, continue to carry the rebate until maturity in accordance with the terms of the loan prospectus at the time of issue. At the present time there are some securities on issue which would still be eligible for the rebate until 2004.
The Commonwealth recognises that any increase in bond rates on future issues would have to be met mainly by the States on their works programmes and on housing advances from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has therefore given an undertaking to the States that the cost will be one of the factors to be taken into account when the financial assistance grants arrangements are reviewed in 1970. For the intervening period the Commonwealth has offered to reimburse the cost to the States on the basis of mutually acceptable estimates.
The Commonwealth regards this measure as one which has become increasingly desirable in recent years with the development and growth of the Australian capital market. As I have said, the rebate is a confusing and complicating factor in the operations of the market and is affording scope for tax avoidance on a growing scale. Its original purpose has been served and there is therefore no reason for retaining it any longer.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to declare the rates of income tax payable for the . 1968-69 financial year by individuals and companies and by superannuation funds that do not invest the statutory proportion of their assets in public securities. I will later introduce a separate Bill declaring the special rates to apply to certain other income of superannuation funds, trust estates and members of partnerships for 1968-69. The rates of tax proposed for individual taxpayers will apply to income derived in the 1968-69 income year and are the same as those which applied for the 1967-68 income year. However, the Bill provides for an increase in the exemption levels of the age allowance. This allowance is available to persons who have been residents of Australia throughout the year of income and who at the end of that year have attained, if men, the age of 65 years, or, if women, the age of 60 years.
For the 1967-68 financial year the age allowance operated to free from tax aged persons whose taxable income did not exceed §1,196. A married taxpayer contributing to the maintenance of his or her spouse was exempt from tax if the combined taxable income of the couple did not exceed $2,106. These exemption limits coincided with the sum of the full age pension and the maximum amount of other permissible income for age pension purposes. The exemption limits are now to be increased to $1,248 and 52.184 respectively in line with the increases in age pensions announced by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in the Budget Speech.
For the 1968-69 financial year tax at less than normal rates may be payable if the taxable income of an aged person does noi exceed $1,532 or, where the taxpayer comes within the married couple provisions, if the combined taxable incomes of the taxpayer and spouse do not exceed $3,514. For 1967-68 this partial relief from tax could apply only up to taxable incomes of $1,451 and $3,287 respectively. For the purposes of the age allowance, residents of certain Territories of the Commonwealth are treated as residents of Australia. Residents of the island of Nauru were eligible for the age allowance in 1967-68. However, on the formation of the Republic of Nauru, the island ceased to be a Territory of Australia and residents of the island will not qualify for the age allowance in 1968-69.
The rates of primary tax payable by companies on incomes derived in the 1967-68 income year are being increased by 2.5c in the $1. For public companies the rates will be 40c in the $1 on the first $10,000 of taxable income and 45c in the $1 on the balance. For private companies the rates will be 30c in the $1 on the first $10,000 of taxable income and 40c in the $1 on the balance. The rates payable by life assurance companies, co-operative companies and non-profit companies will also be increased by 2.5c in the $1.
The exemption from tax of non-profit companies with taxable incomes of $416 or less is to be continued. To ensure that the new rates do not bear too heavily on incomes marginally in excess of $416 the level of income at which full rates of tax are to apply is to be increased from $1,188 to $1,386. The rates of tax payable by a superannuation fund that does not invest a statutory proportion of its assets in public securities are also being increased by 2.5c in the $1. These funds will, therefore, continue to be taxed at the same rates as those applying to the mutual income of life assurance companies. The increased rates will apply to income derived in the 1968-69 income year.
Apart from the matters 1 have mentioned, the provisions of the Bill are similar to those of the Act which declared the rates of tax for the 1967-68 financial year. I do not think further explanations are necessary at this stage.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
Thai the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will declare the rates of income tax for the 1968-69 financial year on certain income of superannuation funds, trust estates and members of partnerships-. The rates declared by this Bill are the same as those imposed for the 1965-66 financial year, and each year since, for the purposes of legislation introduced in 1964 to counter tax avoidance arrangements brought to the Government’s attention in the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation headed by Sir George Ligertwood.
A rate of 50% is declared on the taxable income of a superannuation fund that is not exempt from tax. This rate does not apply, however, to the investment income of a fund that is subject to tax only through the fund’s failure to comply with the 30-20’ rule concerning investments in public securities. The rate on this income is declared by the Income Tax Bill . 1968. For income of a trust estate, other than a deceased estate, to which no beneficiary is presently entitled and which is not taxed as if it were the income of one individual, the rate declared by the Bill is also 50%.
For income from a share in a partnership over which a person lacks, or is deemed to lack, real and effective control and disposal, the Bill imposes a rate of further tax sufficient to bring the aggregate rate on this income up to 50%. No further tax is payable, however, if a taxpayer’s average personal rate of tax is 50% or more. Neither is further tax payable by taxpayers who are eligible for the age allowance and whose taxable incomes do not exceed the prescribed limits for the application of the age allowance provisions. Thus for 1967-68 further tax was not payable by a person eligible for the age allowance whose taxable income did not exceed $1,451 or, where the taxpayer came within the married couple provisions, if the combined taxable incomes of the couple did not exceed $3,287. These limits are to be increased to $1,532 and $3,514 in conformity with the increases proposed for the application of the age allowance provisions by the Income Tax Bill 1968.I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill which I have just introduced provides for amendments to the Excise Tariff 1921-1967 by, firstly, inserting a new item to provide an exemption from excise duty on ships stores; and, secondly, exempting from excise duty spirit used for scientific and industrial purposes.
The first of these amendment, which is contained in the first schedule to the Bill, arises from the Government’s decision to exempt from customs and excise duties ships stores consumed on overseas ships. When the original Excise Tariff Proposals on this item were first introduced in another place it was pointed out that the Customs Act provided authority to exempt from customs duty imported goods used as ships stores. The Excise Act, however, contained no such authority and therefore, as a matter of expediency at the time, a new item providing the excise duty concession was inserted in the schedule to the Excise Tariff. This action was to be of a temporary nature until such time as the provisions of the Customs Act and the Excise Act governing ships’ and aircraft’s stores could be brought into line. The amendments necessary to achieve this were introduced in the Senate on 26th September this year and honourable senators will observe that provision has been made in the Excise Tariff Bill for the new item to cease to operate when the appropriate amendments contained in Excise Bill (No. 2) 1968 come into force.
The amendments contained in the Second Schedule to the Bill stem from the Tariff Board’s report on essential oils and other substances. The Excise Tariff has for a number of years provided concessional rates of duty on spirit used in the manufacture of scents, toilet preparations and essences provided such products contained certain minimum quantities of Australian essential oils. The Board recommended that the Excise Tariff was not the appropriate vehicle for assistance to essential oil production and recommended that assistance, where warranted, should be accorded by means of protective duties under the Customs Tariff. The Government accepted this recommendation. As a consequence of this decision and the fact that about 95% of industrial spirit usage is free of excise duty, it was further decided to remove the excise duties from that balance of spirit used for scientific and industrial purposes, the bulk of which is used in essences, scents and toilet preparations. The repeal of items 2 (K), 2 (L) and the amendment of item 2 (M) to the Schedule to the Excise Tariff provide for this change. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 16 October (vide page 1 346).
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $23,876,000.
Proposed provision, $765,000.
– When the consideration of these estimates was interrupted last evening I was replying to some observations made by Senator Devitt.I would like to canvass some of the points raised. He referred to the duty payable on a home built yacht which was sailed to Tasmania. As I recall the issue, the matter is one for the Department of Customs and Excise rather than one for the Department of Trade and Industry because a provisional by-law is involved. The by-law is given under customs regulations in certain circumstances which have relation to the period of time that the craft has been owned. Certain securities have to be given as to the retention of the craft after it reaches Australia. The bylaw contains another provision, ifI remember, in relation to size and tonnage. As I have indicated, I think that case was and is a matter for the Department of Customs and Excise rather than a matter for the Department of Trade and Industry. As to the generality of the question asked, the Tariff Board imposes a duty. The procedure is not such that the Government varies the rate of duty simply because a situation may arise in which some humanitarian or other element is involved.
– That was not the point I made.
-I think the question was a customs issue as to whether or not this case should be considered by the Minister for Customs and Excise in relation to by-law rather than as one which attracted a duty. I suggest that the honourable senator refer the matter to the Minister or his officers. Senator Devitt referred also to timber imports under the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. He stated that: as a result of the repudiation of the agreement by the New Zealand industry the Australian timber industry is being quite seriously damaged due to the increased imports of New Zealand timber. The Australian industry, through a timber industry panel, from time to time has held discussions with departmental officials concerning the operation of the Free Trade Agreement and the effects of New Zealand imports. Both the industry and the Government have maintained a close watch on the position. The industry is aware of the remedial measures available under the Agreement in the event of imports reaching a damaging level.
The same kind of provisions were canvassed in relation to Tasmanian peas and beans. The clear understanding is that the safeguard provisions of the Agreement would be invoked should imports result in or threaten serious damage to the Australian industry. No undertakings have been given as to a specific ceiling which imports must not exceed. This year imports have increased, but they still constitute only a relatively small proportion of the total market. The industry has not made any approach to have imports from New Zealand restricted, but it is aware that the Government would be prepared to give prompt consideration to any case presented to show that damage is being caused by increased imports from New Zealand. That information was given to me as a result of inquiries I made overnight on the comments made by the honourable senator.
Senator Devitt referred, too, to Australian trade promotion efforts in Japan. Australian trade promotion efforts in Japan are increasing. The trade promotion and publicity budget for 1968-69 is$402,000 compared with $233,000 3 years ago.That is in addition to the expenditure on the Trade Commissioner Service. Also Australian private interests, including marketing boards, expend substantial amounts in conjunction with annual promotions. We all have had this in our minds when we have read about the promotions and indeed when we have met some of the people who have come to Canberra. The trade commissioner strength has increased greatly. The total Australian based staff in Japan increased from three in 1960 to fourteen in1968. The locally engaged staff has increased from 7 to 25. An office was opened in Osaka in 1965. The Australian based staff doubled in 1968. In addition the Australian Tourist Commission opened an office to promote tourism. I recall a customs office having been established in Tokyo. As Minister for Customs and Excise I had hoped to visit it, but I never had the opportunity.
Some questions were asked about impediments on imports. The field is a very wide one. There is no question of discrimination. We have British preference, as we all know. We have also a genera] tariff, a preference tariff and the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. The tariff is varied only after investigation and report by the Tariff Board. The Government reserves the right to decide policy issues which may be inherent or involved in the particular matter.
– I think the Board raised the tariff recently in regard to motor vehicles.
– It the honourable senator is referring to plan A and plan B arrangements to build up the Australian content. That was something which was to be done over a period of time. I think we all would accept that the Tariff Board has done a wonderful job for Australia. The scheme has had its teething troubles and its work management problems. Sometimes things become distorted and get out cf balance. The fundamental concept of the arrangements was that over a period the motor vehicle industry would build up the Australian content of vehicles. The companies have joined either the small group or the group operating under plan A and the scheme has proved very beneficial to the Australian motor industry and the Australian economy.
– I was referring rather to the barriers put up by the United States concerning, for instance, second grade beef, and to the relative performances of the two countries, not to a condemnation of the system.
– The honourable senator is talking in terms of our exports rather than the implications of our Tariff structure. No doubt an argument could be made, but in this debate on the Estimates I do not think I should go beyond what has been said.
– I refer the Minister to Divisions 910 and 911 which appear in document B. Last year the expenditure for both divisions totalled $25,755, whereas the appropriation this year is for $765,000. 1 appreciate that a large part of the appropriation is for compensation payments to pyrites producers. Included in the appropriation is a grant of $6,000 to the Inventors Association of Australia. No such provision was made last year. The appropriation of $374,000 for buildings, works, plant and equipment in respect of overseas establishments has risen from $25,600 last year. I would like the Minister to comment on those matters. I turn now to the appropriation in Division 520 of $150,000 as a subsidy for the South American shipping service. Last year the expenditure on this item was $300,000. I would like the Minister to explain why the appropriation this year represents only half of last years expenditure. In the same subdivision no appropriation appears for the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee, although the expenditure last year on that item was $10,000. ls there a special reason why no appropriation has been made for that item this year?
This year for the first time an appropriation, of $2m. has been made for payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from the devaluation of sterling and other currencies. Is the appropriation applicable only to secondary industries and not to primary industries? Was any payment of this type made prior to the start of this financial year? I ask that question because the devaluation occurred nearly 12 months ago. Is this to be a continuing subsidy, or are payments to cease after expenditure of the appropriation of $2m?
– My queries relate to Division 520 - Administrative. This year an amount of $3,390,000 has been appropriated for export promotion. At page 227 of the Auditor-General’s report appears a table of amounts expended by various bodies during the previous year. Am I correct in assuming that the amounts relate to the promotion of certain primary products? At the bottom of the table appears an item for flour export promotion. Payment of $6,307 was made to the Australian Wheat Board and a similar amount was paid to the Federal Council of Flour Mill Owners of Australia. Is the Minister aware whether those are the only amounts paid by the Commonwealth for the promotion overseas of Australian flour? Are other funds used for such promotion? Australia is facing the probability of a record wheat crop of about 700 million bushels this year.
– What is the figure?
– Nearly 700 million bushels.
– Where did the honourable senator get that information?
– It has appeared in the Press. Estimates have been made ranging from 500 million bushels to 700 million bushels, of which 60 million bushels will be for home consumption, 200 million bushels will be subject to the overseas price under the new stabilisation plan, and markets must be found for the remainder. Wheat growers speaking at meetings have made those estimates. Reports that have appeared in the Australian Press have indicated that world wheat crops will be similarly high. We must face the problem of disposing of several hundred million bushels of wheat on the overseas markets. Only a very small fraction of the total crop will be consumed on the home market. In past years a great number of Victorian flour mills have closed down. I suppose the position is much the same in other States. The mills have closed mainly because they lost their export markets, mostly to Japan. Japanese buyers of our wheat process it and undersell us in many countries of the world.
Has the Government decided to extend the promotion of Australian flour in overseas countries, particularly in Asia and South-East Asia? If so, I would like to know by how much it is to be extended. If the figures I have cited represent the complete picture of flour promotion, flour suffers badly by comparison with other products. The total of those two amounts for flour promotion is only $12,600. According to the Auditor-General’s report the Australian Canned Fruit Industry Board received last year $187,381; the Australian Dairy Produce Board $314,937; the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board $88,626; the Australian Meat Board $99,091; the
Australian Wine Board $55,953; and the Australian Apple and Pear Board $84,173. Then we come to the flour industry, which is very important and needs some type of promotion overseas, not only for the purpose of achieving a higher home consumption of our product but also with a view to decentralising industry and finding employment in country areas. A very low sum of just over $12,000 is provided for the promotion of the wheat industry. In the year prior to that it was only $5,200, which seems to me to be a very low sum for the promotion of exports of Australian flour.
I refer next to payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from devaluation of sterling and other currencies. I should like details relative to the appropriation of $2m for this purpose. Senator Lawrie has referred to secondary industries applying for reimbursement. If secondary industries have applied for reimbursement of losses due to devaluation, what type of industries are they and will the ‘reimbursement be a continuing amount? Is the amount likely to rise in the future because of the devaluation problem? Are these small industries or big industries within our community? Have applications for reimbursement been outstanding since the decision was made in November last year to make these reimbursements? If the industries involved are small and have waited all this time for some action to be taken we could expect that some of them would be in dire financial straits. It is true that large amounts have been appropriated and are available for primary producers, but I should think that it is equally important that secondary industries which have attempted to obtain export markets for their goods in line with Government policy and which are feeling the strain of this long delay should have been reimbursed by now.
It is almost 12 months since it was decided that such assistance would be given. I should imagine that if the purpose of the reimbursement is to compensate for the loss of export markets some secondary industries would have applied for assistance. It seems to me to be strange that we are able to find money for primary industries and to provide immediate relief - I agree -that we .should .do -so - ‘but do nothing to reimburse the secondary industries. It seems that this long delay is likely to continue for some time. I should like to know whether applications for reimbursement have been made, the nature of the applications, from whom they emanated and the type of industry involved.
– I draw the Minister’s attention to industrial research and development grants, which are dealt with in Division 526. I have never been able to find out why and how the Government arrived at its policy with regard to grants to industry for research. We are not provided with many explanations. Senator Cohen raised a few queries on this subject yesterday, but I suspect that the Minister wanted time in which to get some particulars. The matter which is of principal interest to me is whether the Government, the Minister or the Department knows the nature of the research involved and whether it is in the best interests of the community or the industry before determining that a grant shall be made. For example, I note that Peters Ice Cream (Vic.) Pty Ltd received a research grant of $10,000. I know that that is a wealthy organisation. Peters (Vic.) Trafalgar Milk Supply Pty Ltd received a grant of $8,000, Peters (Vic.) Yarragon Dairy Co. Pty Ltd received $18,000, and other similar grants were made. Is it possible that the money made available by the Government is assisting these firms to investigate methods by which they can manufacture ice cream without using milk or other dairy products? Some are doing this at present. Most of the ice cream we use today is not made from dairy products. Perhaps the Government is financing these companies to put dairy farmers out of business. Many of the companies receiving assistance in this way are quite wealthy organisations, but perhaps the research which is financed by the Government will enable them to make ice cream from water as the Italians do or as Mr Whippy does.
– Would that necessarily be bad?
– It would be for the dairy farmers.
– Would it be bad for the country?
– The Commonwealth is subsidising the dairying industry to the extent of $27m, yet at the same time it is advancing money to firms -to conduct research which will enable them to make their product without using dairy products. Perhaps I have a one track ‘mind on this, but sometimes I think that one section of the Public Service does not know what another section is doing and that they work against each other. I should like the Minister to express a view on the general principles I have raised in relation to the dairying industry.
– The honourable senator referred to the Peters Ice Cream Company. From where did he take his information?
– From an answer to a question asked by Senator Cohen on 8th October.
– Did the honourable senator say that the Peters Ice Cream Company had received a grant?
– Peters Ice Cream (Vic.) Pty Ltd received a grant of $10,000, Peters (Vic.) Trafalgar Milk Supply Pty Ltd a grant of $8,000 and Peters (Vic.) Yarragon Dairy Co. Pty Ltd a grant of $ 1 8,000. If I may repeat what I said earlier, if that money is provided to enable the industry to make ice cream without using milk or any other dairy product - that is what these companies are doing - the Commonwealth is defeating its own purpose. I should like some information from the Minister on that matter. I note also that the firm of Massey-Ferguson (Aust.) Ltd received $130,000 for research, but research into what? That is almost a monopoly organisation in the tractor industry. It is a very well established organisation, but still the Commonwealth has provided that company with $130,000 to help it examine improvements for the industry. How can that be justified?
I notice also that British Automotive Industries Pty Ltd received a grant of $20,000. If that money was provided to the company to finance industrial research into methods of eliminating dust or air pollution it was money well invested. If it was used to investigate means of reducing the amount of carbon monoxide emitted from motor vehicles I believe that it would have been a good investment. But if it was provided only for the purpose of giving the company more profit or making its ‘business more secure, that is a quite different matter. The Government should know for what purpose the money is being used.
– Where is the result of this research given, in Australia or to the head office?
– The material to which 1 have been referring does not say. Another company that received a grant was J. & A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Ltd. If it needed any government assistance for research I would be surprised. It received $1,783. Although that is not very much, I ask why that company received any grant at all. That amount is chicken feed to it. I suppose honourable senators know what that company is. Sir Edward Warren is the head of it. It controls nearly half of the coal export trade to Japan. I do not think it would be very serious about this matter. Yet the document shows that it has received $1,783. This is only a small matter, but it. seems to me to show carelessness. Castlemaine Perkins Ltd received $4,274. I think it is a brewery company, although the document does not say that it is. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd received $5,543. This is beyond me. I cannot understand it.
I point out that most of the money goes to firms in Victoria. I suggest that the Victorian dairy farmers are less in need of assistance from the Government than is any other group of farmers in Australia. If the money was going to the north coast of New South Wales to help find ways of keeping farmers on their properties, it would be all right; but the document does not show that that is happening. I do not suppose that any of the money is going to the north coast of New South Wales. I express this point of view because I believe that the Government should know what the money will be invested in and whether it will be used by the dairy and ice cream companies to find ways of doing without dairy products. If it is being used for that purpose, without the knowledge of the Government, this is a colossal! waste of public funds.
– What would the honourable senator do .about margarine?
– That is another matter. It does not come under these estimates. I cannot go outside these estimates, however much the honourable senator tempts me to do so. I am trying to keep within the rules. I do not want to get offside with you, Mr Temporary Chairman. The Bellambi Coal Co. Ltd received nearly $4,000. Although the amounts that these companies are receiving is not l’arge, I want the Government to have a look at the matter. If some of these wealthy companies are receiving a couple of thousand dollars here and a couple of thousand dollars there when they have no reason to ask for money, I believe that it is sheer carelessness on. the part of the Government to give them these miserable handouts. These wealthy companies probably do not even know that they receive the money.
– They probably put it in their petty cash tins.
– That could be so. A government department has produced this document. It shows that Australian Portland Cement Ltd received $10,656. If it received the money for the purpose of investigating the dust hazard, which Senator Laucke would appreciate, I would say that it would be a good investment and we all would support it because it would be helping industry and maintaining the health of the community. But if that is not the purpose we should have a second look at why this company has received this amount of money. I have spoken about these matters before, particularly in regard to the dairy industry. I ask the Minister to express a view on the general principle.
– I wish to ask the Minister a question which I presume would come under the appropriation for Tariff Board salaries and allowances. Will the Minister give me an assurance that the Tariff Board has available to it the necessary resources, in the form of research officers, statistical officers and so on, to enable it to carry out its intended review of industry, as laid down in its last annual report and also to continue to perform its normal function of dealing with references from the Government without too much del’ay? I seek an assurance that there will be no objections to the Board obtaining all the resources that it desires.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) agreed to:
That further consideration of the Department of Trade and Industry and intervening divisions be postponed until after consideration of the Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Air.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed expenditure, $73,230,000.
Proposed provision, $4,310,000.
National service rural occupations reestablishment loans and vocational training scheme $315,000.
– This sudden change in the matters under consideration means that we have to reorientate ourselves in our approach to the Estimates. I shall have to put to one side for the time being the matters I was proposing to raise in relation to the Department of Trade and Industry. I refer now to that item in Division 410 which relates to payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from devaluation of sterling and other currencies, for which the allocation this year is $35m. Certain sections in our community, particularly the apple growers, have indicated to me some concern about the way in which the Government’s proposal is being implemented. In Western Australia I do not think this applies to any other State the apple growers sell about 90% of their crop on forward sales. As a result they came out very well in relation to the apples which were held in the Suez Canal, but they are concerned about the present situation.
I have been informed that the payment in respect of devaluation is to be made to the owner of the commodity that is being sent overseas. The owner is no longer the grower because he has forward sold to his buyer in Europe who, as I understand it, pays only 90% of the amount for which he contracts to buy the apples, retaining 10% in case of damage or loss by any means during shipment. Because of this withholding he is not the complete owner and is not considered to be the owner in terms of the devaluation compensation proposals. When I inquired further I should like the Minister to explain this situation to me I was informed that the payments will be made to the shipowners who are transporting the apples because the apples are in their custody. If that is so it will present a serious situation to the apple growers of Australia, particularly those of Western Australia very many of whom are involved in this. I do not know whether the aspect I have mentioned is appreciated by the apple industry generally although those who are very close to it, particularly the cooperatives which handle the packaging and dispatch of the fruit, are well aware of it.
The next matter I should like to mention is a proposal to reconstruct marginal dairy farms. This is mentioned in the documents attached to the Budget Speech. At a meeting in Ipswich a few months ago the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) induced in the dairy industry a degree of optimism when he said that $25m would be made available over 3 or 4 years for the rehabilition of the industry. This would give owners of small dairy farms an opportunity to leave the industry and be trained in other fields. However, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in his Budget Speech, stated that only $lm will be made available this year. That statement has created a lot of concern particularly in the south west of Western Australia, because the farmers there were expecting that approximately one third of the $25m which would be spent over 3 or 4 years would be made available to Western Australia. The Minister may be able to put me straight on the situation. Additional amounts have been made available to Western Australia and for that reason perhaps the State Government is expected to meet the problem of rehabilitation. That may be the answer I do not know but it is disconcerting to find that, whereas Western Australia expected to receive $8m altogether, only $lm is to be made available this year for the whole of Australia.
I want to refer now to marketing. Because this subject does not appear in either Appropriation Bill (No. 1) or Appropriation Bill (No. 2) I shall relate my remarks to Division 410 Administrative. I register my criticism of the fact that no funds are being made available for investigations into the international market situation. By this I do not mean just seeking for markets; I mean investigating the situation with regard to underdeveloped countries with a view to improving their standards of living so that they may be enabled to purchase more in the way of primary products. I know that there are many research projects in operation, and I appreciate the amount that is being spent on research in the various primary industries, but the area in which I have suggested some research should be undertaken is extremely important because it is recognised that only 7% of the food of the world actually crosses the boundaries of countries and 60% of the world’s population is starving.
The research that I suggest will have to be undertaken on an international scale, and the suggestion I offer is something along the lines of what was contained in a question which I asked this morning, lt is that Australia should be contributing to or even inaugurating some form of international market research with a view to enabling these underdeveloped countries to raise their standards of living in order that they may be able to buy more primary products.
It is a fact that Mr McNamara of the
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has proposed making $10,000m available, 1’argely I think for this purpose, this year. This would be one way of tackling the problem but I feel that he probably is not seeing the difficulty in exactly the way that I see it. The Bank proposes to make this money available to these countries to help them increase their primary production. This is quite a good thing, but I do not see it as an effective way of raising the standards of living of the people of those countries so that they may be able to purchase more goods from outside. Capacity to purchase goods from outside naturally follows an increase in the standard of living.
I think research in this direction is important because of the dissatisfaction in all avenues of primary industry throughout Australia with overseas markets at the present time. So far as I can see, no provision has been made for research of this nature in the appropriation for the Department of Primary Industry, but I feel that if we could make some contribution along these lines we would be setting a pattern which would be of value not only to ourselves but to other primary producing countries who find that they have not enough avenues for marketing their commodities.
– 1 refer to Division 410, sub-division 3, item 06, which relates to payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from devaluation of sterling and other currencies, and propose to deal briefly with the matter raised by Senator Wilkinson. I am concerned mainly with the position of apple growers. Some time ago, in the Senate I referred to the need for the payment of compensation to apple growers in Western Australia for the losses suffered by them due to the devaluation of certain overseas currencies. I feel that the apple growers have been most unfairly treated as compared with the shippers, but I cannot believe that the shippers did not allow for devaluation when they offered the growers a price for their fruit. I understand that the shippers have claimed that they are entitled to some of this money as compensation for losses suffered by them in connection with a shipment of fruit to Germany. They want compensation for the fact that because they could not sell the fruit in Germany they had to reship it to London.
I feel that even at this stage we need to have another look at this matter because the apple growers of Western Australia alone have suffered because of their traditional habit of selling direct to the shippers. I think they are being unfairly treated. I fail to see why the shippers should gain and the growers of the fruit should lose.
Another matter to which I wish to refer relates to war service land settlement. It is covered in item 01 of Division 875, where provision is made for financial assistance to States in connection with war service land settlement. I mention this matter because of the experience of a particular settler. He sought to apply for a loan from the Commonwealth Development Bank but was told by the Commonwealth war service land settlement authorities in Perth that he could not do so. The reason offered for applying the veto was that his holding was considered to be an economic unit. I do not know what sort of muddled thinking is used to define what is an economic unit. Nor do I see how it can be argued that what was an economic unit in 1947-48 when these areas were sub-divided for war service land settlement is an economic unit today, especially in view of the very marked changes that have taken place in circumstances in the rural industry at that time.
This seems to me to be a point that should be investigated. If the Development Bank is prepared to lend this man money on second mortgage, why should the war service land settlement authorities have the right to veto the making of any application for such a loan? I should like an investigation made of this matter.
– I wish to refer to item 03 of subdivision 3 of Division 410. This item relates to agricultural extension services. I notice that the amount appropriated last year was $200,000 while the amount expended was $125,621. Admittedly the amount appropriated last year was underspent by a considerable sum, but the appropriation for the coming year is only $100,000. I should like some explanation of this because in my opinion extension, services come within the most sensitive and important areas of agricultural production. We spend large sums of money on research work, particularly by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. In addition, almost every university in Australia is carrying on some sort of research work in the primary industry field.
It seems to me that the breakdown in the general research programme is in the extension services. I should have thought that, in order to try to reduce the gap between the cost of production and the price that the grower is able to get on the world market, which is a buyer’s market, we should be attempting to spend more on extension services with a view to getting the results of our research work on to the farms where it could do some good. It seems to me to be a bad policy for the Government to be reducing the appropriation for this sensitive and important area of extension services in the agricultural industry. I hope that the Minister can give some very satisfactory explanation of this. I have spoken on the matter of extension services on several occasions, and it is very disappointing to me now to see that the amount to be appropriated for this important work is to be reduced not down to the amount spent last year, but down to something below that figure. The amount to be appropriated takes no notice of the increased costs resulting from gradual devaluation. The inflationary spiral, as we all know, is still with us. This matter should be looked at. It seems to be grossly out of proportion to the needs of the agriculture industry that the amount for the agriculture extension services should be reduced.
I refer now to the appropriation to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from the devaluation of sterling and other currencies. I notice that $21m was expended for this purpose last year and that $35m is to be appropriated this year. The devaluation of sterling, which gave the impetus to the devaluation of other currencies, took place in November of last year. Whilst I am aware that income from the sale of certain of the 1966-67 crops may not flow through to the producers until some time in the future, I would think that the amount needed for this item should be less and less as each month goes by. I would like to know whether there will be a continuing appropriation for this item from year to year and whether, by this method of compensation for losses sustained, the Government is in fact propping up the incomes of primary producers. Will this appropriation fade out as the crops that were grown prior to devaluation are sold? In any case, crops grown this year and in the future should be grown with current world prices in mind and not world prices before devaluation. If this appropriation is to subsidise commodities sold overseas at devalued prices the Government should indicate when it will cease paying this amount for the loss of revenue as a result of devaluation.
I refer to bounties under the Dairying Industry Act. It has been the Government’s policy to phase out the uneconomic holdings in the dairying industry by way of either amalgamating holdings or assisting farmers to turn to other forms of primary production. The Government’s intention was to make the dairying industry more efficient and able to stand on its own feet. I do not know how far the Government’s programme has proceeded in this regard, but I notice that the appropriation for bounties remains at $27m, which is the amount that has been paid to the dairying industry over a number of years. I would have thought that, as uneconomic farms were amalgamated into economic units, or turned to some other form of production, the units that were left would be more efficient and the time would be approaching - if it has not already arrived - when we could look forward to a reduction in this appropriation-. I would like the Minister to advise me how far the Government’s dairy reconstruction scheme has progressed and when it is expected that the $27m subsidy- will be reduced! as a result of greater efficiency in the dairying industry.
– Mr Chairman, I think that I should answer the queries that have been raised so far before hearing from other honourable senators. Senator Wilkinson asked a question regarding compensation to the apple industry as a result of devaluation. The position- is that whoever was. the owner of the apples at the time they were exported - whether it be a person or corporation - will be compensated for the loss incurred as a result of devaluation. This means that, if a grower has disposed of his fruit, whoever he sold it to will be eligible to receive this compensation. But I imagine that this matter would have been taken into consideration by the buyer and the seller. That is the explanation in regard to Senator Wilkinson’s question.
– Then it is not going to the shipowner?
– Not unless the shipowner is the owner of the apples. 1 do not know whether a shipowner would buy apples.
– I do not think so.
– If the shipowner is not the owner of the apples this amount would not be payable to him. It would be payable to the shipowner only if he purchased the apples. The other matter raised by Senator Wilkinson was in regard to marginal dairy farms. He queried the fact that only $lm is appropriated for 1968-69. I remind Senator Wilkinson that, although only Sim is to be appropriated this financial year, it is expected that a sum of $25m will be made available for this purpose over the next 5 years. The dairy reconstruction scheme has been elaborated on in this chamber on more than one occasion, but I think it may be of assistance if I outline the Government’s proposals. The necessity for the implementation of this scheme has been brought about by the unsatisfactory conditions that have existed for some years in the dairying industry. I think that my remarks m this, regard may answer the question that Senator Cant asked. If not’, I will try to give him an answer to any aspect I have not covered’.
The unsatisfactory conditions that existed in world markets for dairy produce prior to the devaluation of sterling have worsened since. This factor, of course, has added to the problem of the marginal dairy farmer. The reconstruction of marginal dairy farms has been the subject of consultation between the Commonwealth and the States aimed at developing arrangements which will be uniform so far as CommonwealthState relations are concerned - and I should point out that this is not easy - whilst at the same time enabling arrangements within each State to fit in with normal State practice in lending to primary producers. It is envisaged that the scheme wilt operate in two ways. Firstly, it will provide an opportunity for the marginal dairy farmer who desires to do so to sell his property and improvements at a fair and reasonable price. Secondly, the scheme will assist the nearby farmer who, with additional land, could develop a very profitable unit.
The Commonwealth is prepared to make available to the States over the next 4 years a sum of up to $25m in order to carry out this scheme. Legislation and agreements with the States will be introduced to implement the scheme. As I have mentioned before in this place, it is expected that expenditure this financial year will not be as heavy as in subsequent years when we will experience the impact of the scheme for a full year. That is the reason why only $lm has been appropriated this year. I think I mentioned recently in this place that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) hopes that legislation to carry out this scheme, if the States agree to it, will be introduced in this session.
Senator Sim spoke about reshipped fruit. At the moment I do not have any explanation for this item. I will try to obtain it for him and will pass it on. He also wanted to know something about the veto affecting loans from the Commonwealth Development Bank for war service land settlers. The suggestion was made that when these war service settlements were made available they were considered to be economic units. I think this matter is understandable. Conditions vary so much because of fluctuating seasons and prices. What was an economic unit 3 or 4 years ago may not be one today. I think this is a pretty difficult question. I recall some years ago when I was a member of a New South Wales Pastures Protection Board that we made travelling stock routes available. One director said that 1,800 acres was an ample acreage for a man to make a living. I pointed out to him that whilst that was the position then it might not necessarily be so in 4 years time. That was when wool prices were high and conditions were good. Unfortunately it has been proved that I was right. This aspect has to be considered. I do not know that I can give any more information other than to say that the Commonwealth Development Bank has proved, in my experience, since its inception to be doing a very good job for people who want assistance and are eligible for assistance from it. The Bank does not baulk at taking a second or a third mortgage. I know of some remarkable instances of the Bank going beyond granting second and third mortgages. It takes great notice of the circumstances of the individual applicant. I think the Bank has played a very large part in helping people who are worthy of assistance. It has done a good job for Australia.
– My point is concerned with the veto that has been used.
– I have no explanation of this but will try to get it. Senator Cant spoke about agricultural extension services and mentioned that votes had been underspent. He referred to the value of these services and I wholeheartedly agree with him. I think they play a very important part in my own State of New South Wales. It is very important that the funds made available for these purposes should continue to be made available. This year $3,400,000 has been allocated against an expenditure last year of $2,899,897. I think this allocation will resolve the doubts that the honourable senator had in mind. The honourable senator also wanted to know something about the effect of devaluation on primary industries. He was speaking of grants to industries to make up for reduced returns arising from the devaluation of sterling in some countries. I think he wanted to know how long the Government would be pre pared to continue paying compensation to industries which have suffered because of devaluation. I have received some information on this matter and it reinforces my own thinking. The Government has not yet announced when compensation payments relating to devaluation will cease. As honourable senators know, the Government set up a committee to deal with devaluation and reports have been received and acted upon in one or two instances. I understand that reports have not yet been received in other instances but are expected shortly. When they are received the Government will take action in respect of the immediate situation. This information has confirmed my own thinking. At this point the Government has not yet announced how long the compensation will continue. I am unable to say whether the Government has come to a decision about this.
Senator Cant also asked about payments made to the dairy industry. He mentioned that a subsidy of $27m has been provided for the industry over a period of years. The honourable senator wondered whether the time had arrived for the amount of the subsidy to be reduced in view of what the Government has in mind in trying to stabilise that industry. As he would realise from the reply I gave to Senator Wilkinson’s queries, the scheme that the Government has in mind has barely been put into operation. I think that the State governments of Queensland and New South Wales have had a scheme operating to try to produce the same result that the Commonwealth has in mind. Those schemes to this time have not been sufficiently successful to influence the Government to reduce this amount of $27m. When the Commonwealth scheme commences it may - and I only say may - be possible to reduce this amount. I think the honourable senator will be well aware that a large number of dairy farmers, particularly in Queensland, New South Wales and his own State, have been suffering very great hardship for a number of years. It is hoped that the scheme that the Commonwealth has in mind, under which it will provide up to $25m over a period of 4 years, will be of considerable assistance to the industry.
– I want to support what Senator Cant said about agricultural extension services. I noted that this year’s allocation under Division 410 had been reduced. This year $3,400,000 has been allocated for this purpose under Division 875 in Appropriation Bill (No. 2). I am rather confused about this matter. In one part of these documents we see that a certain amount has been allocated for agricultural extension services and in another document we see that a far greater amount has been allocated. I wonder whether or not this second figure applies to the extension of research services. If that is the case, there is a great difference between the two.
For a number of years I was a member of a research committee associated with primary industry. The greatest problem was to get the message through to the individual grower. Discussions with the State department in South Australia indicate that this problem is still current. Research is carried on and recommendations are made to industry, but it is very difficult to get the message through to industry and have the recommendations put into practice. The States would like to extend their agricultural extension services, but money is the limiting factor. South Australia is greatly limited, as all States would be, but that limitation would be reduced if the amount allocated for agricultural extension work were increased. My suggestion would be not to set out the amount in broad wording such as is contained in the Estimates and as it is put through to the respective departments or States but rather to state in detail that the allocation is specifically for extension of work in specific areas. In this way the money would be utilised correctly and we would not have the great gap that exists at present. This gap should be closed as soon as possible.
We have been told that primary industry must increase its productivity. The only way in which productivity can be increased is by the use of muscles or the application of intelligence. In most cases the farmer can supply the muscles. I do not speak with any disrespect to the man on the land. We have our research services which can take steps to improve the position of those engaged in primary industry. Unfortunately the research services still have to get the message through to primary industry. I suggest that the Government consider this point. Again I ask for further clarification on the great discrepancy between the two sets of figures I have mentioned, even though the wording is identical.
I refer now to the Auditor-General’s Report. At page 185 under the heading Australian Meat Board’ it states:
The Australian Meat Board operates under the provisions of the Meat Industry Act 1964-1966, with principal functions relating to the promotion of the consumption and sale of Australian meat, meat products and edible offal, both in Australia and overseas, and the control of the export of these products from Australia.
The reason why I mention this is that a few years ago, well prior to devaluation, Australia agreed to open the doors far wider for the importation of New Zealand lamb. I do not wish to speak about the pros or cons of the importation of lamb, other than to pass one comment. This was done, as I said, prior to devaluation. Now an entirely different set of circumstances exists. The point I make is that while the Australian Meat Board has control of the quality and consumption of all meat in Australia, to my knowledge no legislation has been enacted to give the Board authority to control the quality of imported meat. I think it is essential that something be done. At present we are importing from one country only. In all probability meat, be it poultry, lamb or something else, could be imported from another country.
– It is like the American system with regard to DDT.
– Yes, but I think it is essential that this area should be covered from the standpoint of health as much as anything else. The legislation in question was introduced prior to the importation of meat. Probably we never expected to be importing meat, but the day has arrived when we are importing lamb. Certainly it is only a small quantity of about 700 tons a year. Somebody, preferably the Australian Meat Board, should be authorised to exercise control over the importation of meat. All meat slaughtered in this country is subject to this rigid control. Meat imported for human consumption in Australia should be subjected to the same control.
– I propose to relate my remarks to Division 414 - Bureau of Agricultural Economics and to raise a problem connected with a very important primary producing section of the community whose wants and requirements over the last 4 or 5 years seem to have been sadly ignored. I refer to the banana industry, which should be a flourishing, thriving and prosperous industry but which, over the last 3 or 4 years, has been going through a great crisis. Unfortunately that crisis is reaching startling proportions. In May or June 1963, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics conducted a survey into the banana industry. In fairness to the Bureau I should say that its report was a very worthwhile and constructive one. Unfortunately it seems to have been pigeon-holed by this Government because little, if anything, apart from expenditure on research, has been done to attempt to overcome the problems of the banana growers. It is interesting to read this passage at page 75 of the Bureau’s report:
It is of interest to note the income that farmers are prepared to accept as a return for their labour and management This has been measured by deducting interest from farm income, and the results from the 3-year average for the whole farm and the banana enterprise, together with the charge on operators’ labour for purposes of comparison are shown for each area.
For the purposes of the survey six areas were considered. They were the far north of Queensland, the central coast of Queensland, the southern coast of Queensland, the far north coast of New South Wales, the mid-north coast of New South Wales and that section of the banana industry which is in Western Australia. As I represent New South Wales in this House, it is interesting to note that in 1963 74% of the farmers in the banana industry in the mid-north coast of New South Wales were receiving net farm incomes amounting to less than $2,000 a year. In the north coast of New South Wales 88% of the producers were receiving less than $2,000 a year. When we bear in mind that not only the producers but also their wives, and families, in a great number of cases, are working on the farm, we can see that the net income received in 1963 was much less than the basic wage at that. time. What is the situation today? Unfortunately a. vast number of them are very much in the red as a result of lack of marketing arrangements. When we bear in mind that this has an effect not only on the 3,000 growers in the industry in New South Wales, and their families, but on the whole economic system of the north coast of New South Wales including the cities’ and towns in that area, I suggest to the Government that a great deal should be done to assist these people. Many are leaving the industry. Today the acreage under cultivation is less than it was in 1963. Despite the fewer number of farmers in the industry and despite the reduced acreage under cultivation, the production of bananas is greater.
Today banana producers must pay costs as high as $3 a case to get their product on to the markets. As their return averages only between 30c and 40c a case their dire situation is obvious. Yet the retail price paid by consumers is as dear in times of glut as it is in times of under supply. Purchasers of bananas in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and Melbourne are paying as much as 20c to 25c per lb white the banana growers are receiving only from 30c to 40c a case.
I suggest that the Department, following the survey made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, should take a very serious and expeditious look at the situation of banana producers. The Department must ascertain, what assistance can be given to them other than through research. 1 am aware that at Gosford on the central coast of New South Wales research is being conducted into fruit fly as it affects the industry. But one of the problems concerning banana producers is that the more- effective the research, the greater is banana production and the more difficult it is to seH the increased production.
I have previously raised this matter with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) to see what can be done to assist the struggling producers on the north coast of New South Wales who are engaged in an industry that is vital to Australia. I am sure that Senator McKellar, who represents New South Wales in the Senate, appreciates the dire position of the industry. He has visited the area.
I turn now to the export situation. Japan will not buy bananas grown in New South Wales or on the eastern coast of Austral’ia because it is claimed by the Japanese that the bananas could be affected by the Mediterranean fruit fly. They are anxious not to be plagued with the problems of fruit fly in Japan. That is. all very well, but the banana growers on the north coast of New South, Wales have assured me. that there is ito Mediterranean fruit fly on the eastern coast of Australia., They say that the problem exists only in the small sections of the banana grow/rag industry located in Western Australia. Because: the trouble is evident there the. Japanese say that, it could also exist on the eastern coast, but. they are thousands of miles; apart. I have: been informed that, the Japanese buyers of bananas grown in the Pacific islands have agreed to establish a fumigating plant on the wharf to- ensure that bananas shipped to> Japan* are fumigated before they enter that country.
I suggest to- the Government that we should’ try to obtain an export market for our bananas by establishing a fumigating plant in Japan for treatment of bananas bought from this country. During July and August members of the Rural Committee of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party visited the north coast of New South Wales. At Coffs Harbour we saw a great number of very attractive and nutritious by-products of bananas. If any representatives of the Department visit Coffs Harbour Mr Toscan will show them there a great variety of by-products of bananas. Consideration should be given to the granting of assistance to the New South Wales Government under section 96 of the Constitution for the purpose of assisting the banana industry to establish suitable processing works in the area in which the bananas are grown.
The little country of Uganda each year puts onto the market about 54 million bottles of banana liqueur. I have tasted the Uganda banana liqueur and have compared it with the banana liqueur produced at Coffs Harbour. I believe that if assistance is given to market the Australian product it will sell much more readily than the Uganda product. I do not wish to speak at unnecessary length. I feel sure that the Minister appreciates the problems of the banana producers. My colleagues on the Rural Committee, after visiting the banana producing area, were amazed at the critical economic situation of the industry. I ask the Minister to ensure that officers of the Department of Primary Industry, who are experts in marketing, are sent to the area to study the industry and to have discussions with the growers, officers of the Banana Growers Federation and others connected with the economy of towns on the north coast of New South Wales. If ever a primary industry has needed urgent government assistance, it is the banana growing industry.
– I wish to refer to the appropriation in Division 410’ for payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from the devaluation- of sterling and other currencies. I refer particularly to the worrying position in which fruit, canners are placed through devaluation losses on the 1967 pack of canned deciduous fruits. I understand that the 1968 pack is covered by devaluation compensation, but the. pack of the previous season, from which sales made and shipped1 prior to the date of devaluation’ but not paid for at that time, and consignment stocks on hand overseas at the time of devaluation and held for a period of more than 6 months from the date of shipment, are in an uncertain position at present in respect of compensation.
This has a direct impact on the cooperative canneries in South Australia, and all other canneries throughout Australia. It bears particularly heavily on the organisations with grower interest. An uncertain situation has arisen through matters beyond the control of the. canners, exporters or growers. Doubt exists as to whether compensation will be payable. I wish to stress the great importance to canners of compensation in respect of the 1967 pack of deciduous fruits. I implore the Minister to do all in his power to ensure that compensation will be forthcoming.
– Senator Young directed a question about the presentation of figures. His question arose out of a reply I gave to an earlier question. Senator Young asked why certain figures appear in document A as against figures appearing in document B. The answer is that in document B provision is made for grants for agricultural extension services on projects which are common to a number of States, and in this instance a grant of $.01 m is to be distributed to those States. The provision in document B of $3.4m is for specific State projects. It could well be asked why both these appropriations do not appear in either document A or document B. I have been told that there are legal requirements which necessitate the appropriations being shown in this way. I appreciate that this can be misleading unless one looks at both documents.
I was asked whether there was any inspection of meat coming into Australia. This question would have been prompted by a fear of the possible introduction of disease into Australia. The honourable senator will be aware that we have a very rigid system of inspection of meat that is exported from this country. This inspection system is so rigid that it has cost meat exporting companies and co-operative societies hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring their abattoirs up to an acceptable standard and to ensure that meat passing through those abattoirs is of a very high quality and is free of disease. The meat which is imported into Australia is a matter mainly for the Department of Health. From questions that have been asked and answers that have been given in this place and in the other place the honourable senator would realise that the Department of Health and officers concerned with quarantine are really on their toes to ensure that there is no possibility of introducing disease into Australia, whether in meat or by any other means. But this is a matter which does not involve the Australian Meat Board.
– What about the licensing of imports?
– I cannot give an answer to that at the moment. Perhaps the departmental officers will be able to provide me with information so that I can answer the question at a later stage. Senator McClelland talked about the banana industry. I was very pleased to hear from him that he and others have visited the banana growing areas to see at first hand the conditions in which this industry is operating. As more members of Parliament get first hand knowledge of matters of this kind the better informed we will be when we discuss the industry. I speak with some feeling on this subject because I have been a primary producer, although not a producer of bananas, for 50 years. It is true that the banana industry has been in the doldrums, a situation which has been brought about by heavy production and low prices.
The honourable senator mentioned Coffs Harbour, an area which I know fairly well. I have been told that one cause of the glut of bananas in that area has been the comparative ease with which backyard growers can produce a crop for which they can get a reasonable return. This may be of benefit to those who do not rely solely on bananas for their .livelihood, but it does create a difficult situation for those who are fully occupied in growing bananas. It results in a glut of production which brings with it lower prices. I do not know, but perhaps backyard growers of bananas do not take so much trouble to ensure that the bananas they grow are free of disease. We have heard in the past of bunchy top and other diseases in banana plantations. Although not very much has been heard of this lately, it is one disease that has plagued banana plantations over the years. The banana industry is one among many in which the primary producer gets the rough end of the stick. The banana grower produces the product, but the people who handle it, right through to the consumer, invariably seem to get more out of it than the grower. This is not an easy problem to solve. It has been considered by the Department of Primary Industry, which has investigated ways and means of assisting the producers. One method of assistance would be through the agricultural extension service, which could provide information which is very valuable to the industry. In addition to the problem1 of diseases the banana plantations suffer from frost damage. I have no doubt that Senator McClelland has seen, as I have seen, plantations on one side of a road very heavily affected by frost while areas on the other side of the road have not been affected. This is just one of the vicissitudes that growers have to put up with. No doubt Senator McClelland has been told, as I was, that in the Coffs Harbour region many of the dairy farmers have used bananas as feed for their cows. I have been told that the cows like bananas very much, although I believe that they can affect the milk.
– A New South Wales departmental agronomist advised them to do this.
– It may be a good thing provided that it does not flavour the milk. I am not partial to banana liqueur - I prefer other kinds - but I have sufficient confidence in Australia to believe that if imported banana liqueur is of a better quality ours will soon be of that standard.
Senator Laucke mentioned compensation in regard to canned fruit packs. I am aware of the interest that he has taken in this subject. The two criteria announced by the Government for devaluation compensation were that the losses were demonstrable and unavoidable. In other words, it must be shown that there are losses and that the losses could not have been covered by insurance. Shipments of canned fruit made before the date of devaluation and not sold on the United Kingdom market until after the date of devaluation could have been covered by the forward exchange facilities of the Reserve Bank and therefore the loss would not meet the criterion of being unavoidable. However, in view of the effect of the legislation on individual canners, the Government has asked that the Devaluation Reporting Committee look at the matter again. The question will again be reviewed by the Government when this further report is received.
– I refer to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and wish to raise the same subject that was referred to by Senator McClelland. I was fortunate to accompany him on his visit to the north coast of New South Wales to examine the banana industry. It was quite obvious that the industry was in need of direct assistance from the Commonwealth Government. It is seeking assistance through a stabilisation scheme which provides for a marketing plan which the growers hope to introduce in conjunction with Queensland growers, provided agreement can be reached between the two states. The growers are seeking Government assistance also in relation to the establishment of a pilot processing plant, through which it is hoped to establish the economics of the processing of by-products. As indicated by Senator McClelland, we were able to examine thirty-four by-products made by one individual in his backyard. I believe that some of them would be marketable. The fact that this person was producing such byproducts in his own backyard, with primitive machinery and in a primitive operation, did not give him an opportunity to establish a cost of production for those by-products. But it has been established that by-products can be produced economically from the banana industry. Officers of the Banana Growers Federation believe that a grant - perhaps under section 96 of the Constitution - of about $50,000 would provide a pilot plant to establish the operation on an economic basis. The Federation is asking for such a grant.
Despite the fact that the area under bananas on the north coast of New South Wales has dropped by between 3,000 and 4,000 acres, the production is reaching peak levels because of the better methods of production and the good seasons that have been experienced. The result is that when the growers send their goods to the market they receive prices that are absolutely unacceptable. Figures given to the delegation of which I was a member indicate that from October 1966 to February of this year the industry in New South Wales, which consists of about 3,000 growers, lost a total of $2,105,000 or an average of $702 per grower, in its marketing operations. People cannot stay in an industry that is operating at that level for very long. It is quite obvious that, like other primary industries that have received assistance from the Commonwealth from time to time, this industry is urgently in need of assistance.
Some of the returns that are received by the growers are very illuminating. Some return slips were given to us by prominent growers in the various areas that we visited. They show quite conclusively that the industy cannot be made to pay in any circumstances. One return slip shows that 59 cases of bananas were sent to the agents; the gross return was $77.30; the charges were $50.30; and the return to the grower was $27, or an average of 46c a case. The grower has to meet a cost of 40c for the case in which he puts his bananas.
– Are they 40 lb cases?
– They are bushel cases. I think they average 56 lb. They are called bushel cases. Another return slip shows that a grower sent 39 cases of bananas; the gross return was $50; the charges were $30.25; and the return to the grower was $19,75, or an average of 51c a case. Again the case itself has to be paid for. The last return slip to which I will refer shows that in November last year a grower sent 38 cases of bananas; the gross return was $50.60; the charges were $32.40; and the return to the grower was $18.20, or an average of less than 50c a case.
– The charges are nearly twice the net return.
– That is so. The growers were able to indicate to us that under the present system of marketing they were able, by personal visits to the markets in Sydney, to follow their product through to the agent to whom they sold it and eventually to the retailer who finally sold it. They found that when they were receiving a return of 46c to 50c a case their product was being sold at up to 15c per lb. They observed the agents selling their bananas for more than twice the amounts that had been paid to them.
These growers are very hard workers. I think the Minister will agree that a banana grower works extremely hard on his property. He has irrigation. He has the problem of keeping everything clean. He has a permanent system of marketing if he has his operations moving as most growers have. These growers have found that for a period of 14 months they have not been able to get in front. Some people might think that there is a very simple answer, namely, that the growers divert to some other type of production. The average holding is about 10 acres. Some holdings are as small as 5 acres; others are as large as 20 acres. The considered opinion is that the average farm would be about 10 acres. Most of the properties in the areas that we examined are not suitable for any other type of production. So there will have to be a complete walkout of a large industry if something is not done urgently.
Assistance could be given in relation to export markets. Perhaps talks between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Japanese could establish a system under which we could enter the Japanese market. That market is paying high prices for bananas; at least, I understand that the consumers in Japan are paying high prices. The adoption of a system of spraying or some treatment system that we were prepared to set up at the point on arrival in Japan could well mean that markets would be available for these growers. They are in a desperate position at this stage. Their position is not that they have had a number of good years and now have struck one bad year, which has hit them hard; they have had a series of bad years. They have been affected economically to such an extent that many of them are getting out of the industry. Some of them are struggling on, trying to keep their plantations going while their wives go to work. Others have their wives working their plantations as best they can while they take jobs, in the nearby towns - jobs with the local shire council or any other type of manual work that they can get.
This is an industry that could thrive. It is an industry that will thrive if the Commonwealth is prepared to have serious talks with the industry leaders from Queensland and New South Wales and, to a lesser extent, from Western Australia, where limited quantities of bananas are being grown. Senator McClelland and I hope that serious consideration will be given to the matters that we have raised. To date the growers have received very little encouragement from the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), who seems to take a very cavalier attitude to this industry. He seems to say: ‘It will solve its own problems in its own good time’. If that is the attitude that is to be taken there will be a drain of a large section of the population of the north coast of New South Wales. This industry can and will create decentralisation. Admittedly the area is developing from the tourist angle. But tourism alone will not hold the population of the towns that are there now.
I ask the Minister to convey to the Minister for Primary Industry our comments on the importance of this matter; to seek a grant for the establishment of a pilot factory to establish the possibility or otherwise of producing by-products that will be economic and saleable; and to seek the commencement of talks between the growers and the Government with the object of establishing a marketing system that will not permit the exploitation that many agents are imposing on the growers today.
– I refer to the appropriations for the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’ and fisheries services in Division 410. The ‘Fisheries Newsletter’ is a very good publication. It covers the fishing industry pretty well. I refer more particularly to fisheries services, for which $34,000 is being appropriated this year. I do not think $34,000 is a true measure of what the Government should do for the fishing industry, which now is earning so much money for this country.
I refer the Minister to page 201 of the Auditor-General’s report for the year 1967-68, at which reference is made to the Fisheries Development Trust Account. The
Trust Account was set up in 1956 with a fairly substantial credit, being the proceeds of the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission assets. Moneys in the account may be expended, with the Minister’s approval, for purposes related to fostering the development of the fishing industry in Australian waters. Page 202 of the report itemises expenditure in the last two financial years. Income from investments in the years 1966-67 and 1967-68 has amounted to approximately $34,000. I do not think that amount has any relation to the proposed allocation this year for fisheries services.
There is a great variation in the ways in which the trust moneys have been used. In the year before last a sum of $67,000 was spent whereas last year expenditure was under $8,000. Some of the items on which money was expended are interesting. For instance, there was an expenditure of $577 in 1966-67 on a training school for fisheries field officers. In 1967-68 no moneys were expended in that avenue. I believe that the training of fisheries field officers is part of an extension service which should be given to the fishing industry. Probably I will be told that the States have their own officers looking after the fishing industry in their own areas, but I point out that the Northern Territory is part of the Commonwealth’s own area and we were told only yesterday that fishing in the north was developing rapidly and that more officers, more assistance and more extension services should be provided.
Another interesting item is the expenditure in 1966-67 of $7,442 on crew training on the ‘Espirito Santo’ for the South Australian Fishermen’s Co-operative Ltd. If training can be given in South Australia there is no reason why it cannot be given in other parts of the Commonwealth where the fishing industry is achieving increasing importance. For that reason I include crew training in my range of extension services for fisheries, particularly as the trust moneys and the other vote are available. Last year a sum of about $5,000 was expended on the preparation of sea surface isotherm maps. That probably is money very well spent. Another interesting point is that $250 was expended in 1967-68 on research into the artificial cultivation of pearl shell oysters. I should not imagine that very much research would be done with $250. In view of ‘the importance of pearl shell oysters and what is being done, particularly in the Thursday Island area and the north western part of Western Australia, perhaps the Government should take the matter in hand and step up research and assistance in that field. It is interesting to note also that in 1966-67 an amount of about $192 was expended on art examination of and report on the Australian fishing fleet. I do not know how much examination one would get for $192.
– That should have been included in our proposal yesterday relating to a matter of public importance.
– It was not included. In any case the matter in question yesterday related only to the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef whereas I am referring to the whole of the Australian coast.
– Yesterday you said that the fishing industry was in good order.
– I am mentioning the amounts that have been expended out of this Trust Account. There was a prawn survey of the Gulf of Carpentaria on which $14,000 was expended. The honourable senator did not mention that yesterday. There was a tuna survey in Tasmania on which $19,000 was expended, and a tuna survey on the Queensland east coast on which $26,000 was expended. Neither of those was mentioned. I hope something can be done to step up expenditure on fisheries research along the whole Australian coastline, on the provision of extension services, and on the training of crews and field officers so that we may earn an increasing income from the harvest of the sea surrounding our continent. I commend that thought to the Minister.
– Although I relate my remarks to Division 410 - Administrative - I will deal largely with the report of the Australian Meat Board. I preface my remarks by stating that I know we have .received only recently an interim report and other matters may be dealt with when the full report is received. However I want 1o renew my agitation last year for a broadening of the personnel of the Australian Meat Board. Events over the past 12 months have proved conclusively that there was justification for the complaints made by honourable .senators on this side of the chamber relating to the need for trade union representation on the Board. We believe it is long overdue. I say that because some of the skirmishing that went on during the year about the provision of protective clothing and one or two other matters was tied up with new production techniques. Those matters could have been clarified considerably before some of the conflict arose if the union had had some say on the Board.
In this year 1968 it is quite wrong to visualise the role of the trade unions in any industry as being confined solely to wages and conditions. Obviously in an industry like the meat industry where techniques are changing and, naturally, the fear of redundancy arises, it is essential that the workers on the production lines know what the future holds for them. When replying to questions raised by other honourable senators Senator McKellar dealt with certain costs incurred by the industry in meeting the challenge of overseas markets. We know that in November a very important national election will be held in the United States and it is reasonable to assume that certain American economic policies will be changed considerably. As a result, there is a certain amount of disquiet among employees in the industry as to whether they will be affected by certain trade promotion activities overseas. It is much better for all concerned if the top officials of the Australian Meat Employees Union discuss these trends in trade with the top echelon of the industry.
When one travels extensively one learns just how mobile such officials are. I have in mind Mr W. Taylor, Federal Secretary of the Australasian Meat Employees Union who is constantly travelling and has a vast knowledge of the industry. I cannot see for the life of me why there should be any hesitation on the part of the Board to discuss matters with him. There is no question of any secret industrial techniques being discussed. I believe that a man of the calibre of Mr Taylor would have something to contribute. Top union officials like Mr Taylor certainly do not sit at a desk day after day. They go out in the field and obviously must have a pretty fair appreciation of what the people on the production chains think. It will be agreed that even with modern appliances there are many easier ways of earning a living than working in an abattoir. It is a question of using psychology. If people think they are in partnership with the employer - that is the gospel being preached today about industrial harmony - they will work harder, and for that reason alone I think the union should be paid the compliment of being allowed to take part in discussions.
If I recall correctly, in a similar debate last year Senator McKellar, speaking on behalf of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said: ‘When these things occur consultations take place’. I would be very interested to know on how many occasions in the past 12 months members of the Australian Meat Board consulted federal officers of the Australasian Meat Employees Union in an endeavour to overcome problems that arose. I point out that irrespective of what government happens to be in office in Great Britain the trade unions, through the British Trade Union Congress, have the right to send a representative to sit in on the discussions that take place in the vast network of committees that cover agriculture and other aspects of life in that country. I do not think anyone has been paid a compliment here. But let me emphasise that the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union would not want me to grovel on its behalf; far from it. All the union wants is equality of right of discussion of the things that concern it.
Let me refer now to a reply given earlier by Senator McKellar to an Opposition senator in relation to the inverted situation in connection with meat coming into this country. He said that some of these matters were governed by the Commonwealth Department of Health. I remind him of that historic occasion when I dumped on his desk some tins of Chinese meat. The Minister knows also that, probably because of lack of liaison, the answers given by the Commonwealth Department of Health have not always squared with those given by the Department of Primary Industry, and other departments. This was clearly demonstrated on one occasion when the Minister was telling us one story about cheese while the Commonwealth Department of Health was telling us something else. There was also a certain amount of double talk on the part of the Department of Health in connection with the tinned meat from China.
I am glad to know that both Senator Lawrie and Senator Bull agree with me in that they, too, are not happy that the Australian meat industry has been adequately protected in regard to meat imports. I remember reading in one report of the Australian Meat Board a statement to the effect that employment prospects for members of the meat employees union in this particular section of the industry looked bright. But the reverse has been the case. I speak here particularly about employment in the preparation of by-products from meat. With the intensification of the importation of tinned meat on the one hand and the restriction of exports to the United States of America on the other, the work force of the meat industry is going to be caught in the squeeze. Let me emphasise that I am agitating quite unashamedly for broadening the representation on the Australian Meat Board. How often have Federal officers of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union been brought into consultation? Another important guest seems to be missing from these discussions. I refer now to the authorities who operate the various capital city abattoirs. So far as I can see, they are not represented. I should like to know when they are brought into consultation with the Australian Meat Board on trends in the industry.
There are two other matters relating to the meat industry on which I should like some information. In its report for last year, the Australian Meat Board stated that there were bright prospects of an increasing market for meat in eastern Europe. I should like to know what has happened in that field. Has that market improved? Or has it remained more or less static? Finally, I do not know what the Board’s attitude towards the matter is, but I understand that the advisory authority has stated that a bad image has been created overseas by those slimy exporters - I call them that for want of a better word - who, from time to time, in an effort to make a few extra dollars, export kangaroo meat under all sorts of brands. The whole of the Australian meat industry suffers as a result of the nefarious activities of these people. What action does the Australian Meat Board take against these people? Does it remain passive, or has this practice been submerged in overall Cabinet discussions? I shall leave the matter there and wait to hear interesting answers from the Minister.
– I am sorry that Senator Young is not here, but what I have to say in response to his comment will interest Senator Mulvihill also. No licences are required to import meat into Australia. Senator Poyser outlined the difficulties experienced by banana growers, as did Senator McClelland. One of the greatest problems confronting the banana grower is that the banana is a perishable commodity and this in itself gives rise to difficulties in marketing. Both Senator Poyser and Senator McClelland argued that the Government should be doing something about this matter. I should say that the banana growers federation is a pretty live wire organisation, and I am sure that this organisation has already put before the Government anything that it feels the Government could be doing for banana growers. I do not think Senator Poyser was fair to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) when he said that the Minister’s attitude was that the position had to right itself. I remind him that Mr Anthony comes from a banana growing area. He has lived in that area all his life. He is familiar with the problems of the banana growers and I am quite sure that anything he could possibly do to help them will have been done or will be done.
Senator Lawrie spoke about fisheries matters. I should have thought that after yesterday’s debate everything pertaining to fisheries would have been settled. Apparently that is not the position. But I have now some more information for Senator Poyser. It is that for the year 1968-69 the Minister for Primary Industry has approved the expenditure of certain sums from the special research portion of the Commonwealth extension services grants for banana research. These sums include $6,000 for post-harvest banana research, $4,000 for pre-harvest banana research and $6,956 for research into the control of fruit fly in bananas. I would stress here that the Government is always prepared to examine proposals submitted by the various industries for research, in common with other matters affecting industry with a view to providing matching Commonwealth funds. That has always been a feature of this Government’s policy.
Let me return to fisheries matters. Under Item 05 of subdivision 2 of Division 410, the sum of $34,000 is provided for reimbursements to State departments for work done on behalf of the Commonwealth in administering Commonwealth fishing laws, such as the issuing of licences, and the costs of the Fisheries Branch are incorporated in the administrative notes of the Department. Some years ago, the Government decided that the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Fisheries Development would examine all proposals that came forward for expenditure from the trust fund. This Committee advises the Minister for Primary Industry as to whether projects advanced by the industry are worthwhile.
Here I should like to suggest to honourable senators that it would assist not only me and my office but also the Committee if, in dealing with these proposed expenditures, honourable senators dealt only with the matters covered by the proposed expenditure in question and refrained from referring to matters of policy. I do not seek to deny in any way the rights of honourable senators, but I remind them that we are now dealing with the proposed expenditures in Committee. I suggest therefore, that if they confined their remarks to the particular matter under consideration and refrained from dealing with broader policy aspects it would be very helpful indeed in allowing us to get these proposals through quickly. Questions relating to policy can be answered at some other time.
Senator Mulvihill referred to representation of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union on the Australian Meat Board. This matter was thoroughly considered by the Government at the time of the reconstitution of the Board in 1964. The Government concluded that industry representation should be confined to livestock producers, who provided the funds for the Board’s operations, and others directly engaged in the export of meat. That is my view of the matter also.
The decision was based on a consideration of the functions of the Board and of the structure required for its effective performance on those functions. The Board is essentially an export marketing authority and is not directly concerned with or responsible for meatworks operation and procedure. Moreover, for the Board’s effective operation, it is considered that the Board should be kept as compact as practic able. Before its reconstitution in 1964, it consisted of 12 members. This proved too large and too diverse a representation for effective operation. As a result, the Board had to resort to a relatively cumbersome committee system in order to function. That is the reason why the membership of the Board was reduced when it was reconstituted. I think I have answered all the questions that have been raised so far.
– I refer to the proposed expenditure of $34,000 for the fisheries services. The Minister said that the provision of funds for research work in the fishing industry was embodied in the administrative grant. I wonder if the Minister could give some indication of the vote for research purposes, bearing in mind the increased interest in the fishing industry as a result of the meeting of the State departments of agriculture in February of last year and the general level of national interest in the development of a fishing industry in Australia. Before leaving this matter I should point out that it appeared to me that Senator Lawrie quoted the wrong figure when he referred to expenditure under the old whaling trust fund on tuna survey in Tasmania. I may not have heard him correctly, but I thought he said that an amount of $26,000 was provided for tuna survey in Tasmania. In fact, that sum was made available for tuna survey on the east coast of Queensland. The amount made available for Tasmanian tuna research was $2,130.
– It was $19,000 the previous year.
– In 1966-67, yes. But for 1967-68 it was $2,130. I hope that Senator Lawrie does not object to me correcting him, but I think that the record should be kept straight. I notice that an amount of $35,000 is to be appropriated for payment to the States for the administration of re-establishment loans. I imagine this item refers to the reestablishment of personnel from the armed Services. In the light of the expenditure in 1967-68 of $35,000, and as it is my impression that there would be a greater demand for funds of this nature, it seems strange that the amount has not been increased beyond $35,000.
– That is only for administration. That is not the loan.
– But the provision of funds for research work in the fishing industry was included in the administration appropriation. I refer now to bounties under the Dairying Industry Act. I made quite a lengthy observation regarding the dairying industry last year. I do not want to go over the same ground again, except to say that it is my view - and I think the facts will support me - that the proposed appropriation of $27m is the same as has been appropriated for a number of years. But this sum is considerably below the amount made available in, I think, 1953, when about $36m was appropriated. In the light of increased costs and the other problems that are bedevilling the dairying industry, it does not seem to me to be a realistic figure. In fact, to maintain the status quo, having regard to increased costs and so on, the proposed appropriation should be in the vicinity of $35m. Despite the problems that exist in this industry - and I feel that we all understand them very well - there has been no increase. I hope that the Minister will pardon my harking back to the rehabilitation of the dairying industry, but quite apart from our own knowledge of the industry from the contacts that we have with it, we are almost daily bombarded with information, advice and pleas from sections of this quite important national industry.
Despite the remarks the Minister made a while ago about sticking to the Estimates and not deviating into the area of Government policy, I am unable to see how I can divorce my thoughts from questions that he regards as policy matters when dealing with the intimate details and so on of the dairying industry. I hope that the Minister will accept that I cannot differentiate between an examination of the proposed appropriation and past appropriations without making some rather broad commentary upon the problems of the industry. After all, if we did not comment on certain aspects it would be very difficult to substantiate the appropriation for this particular section. I hope that the Minister will bear with me because I think that this is a particular field that affects so many people and so many sections of our society.
Is any part of the $25m which is to be made available for the rehabilitation of the dairying industry provided for research? Whilst grants, bounties and subsidies are doing a tremendous amount of good for the dairying industry, in the light of present day experience and the problems now besetting the industry it seems to me that these subsidies are more or less blocking gaps. When one gap is blocked problems break out somewhere else. I think consideration should be given to making a detailed study of the trends in the industry so that potential problems can be perceived and action taken to meet them.
The Government is providing $25m over a period of 4 years for rehabilitation purposes and none of us know, or could possibly know without doing detailed research, whether or not some other problem will arise in this industry. This has been the experience over a great many years in the wheat industry, the wool industry, the dairying industry, in the root crops industry and in the vegetable industry. In primary industry generally, as fast as one problem is cleared up, another breaks out. In relation to this $25m which is to be made available to the States, could the Minister tell me whether a research allocation will be made available and whether the States will be encouraged to undertake research in local areas which will enable them to make, possibly, a long range prediction as to what is likely to happen in the dairy industry?
The Minister gave an assurance that the details of this $25m rehabilitation scheme are being worked out between the States. I think that in answer to a question some time ago the Minister advised me that there would not be a unilateral arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States but that when an agreement was reached on the broad subject of rehabilitation it would be on a national basis. This does pose some difficulty, I suggest, because certain problems which exist in one State may not necessarily exist in the same industry in another State. We are still waiting for the details of the scheme to be worked out and I am of the opinion that this will take some time. All sorts of difficulties will arise because of the local factors I have mentioned.
I think that research is one of the best things that primary industry can undertake. Most honourable senators continually are reminded that two-thirds of the world’s people are starving or are not getting enough to sustain them at a proper dietary level. Research ought to be encouraged throughout the world. It should be promoted at every possible opportunity. We are doing a good deal of this in Australia but I am not certain that we are doing as much as we could. I was greatly interested recently when I received information that science may be on the point of a breakthrough in the production of a grain which will have sufficient protein content to make it a whole food in the same way that milk is a whole food. This would go a long way towards solving the problem of feeding the starving people throughout the world. We should remember that a lot of the troubles and difficulties in the world are caused because people cannot get sufficient to eat. Bearing in mind that there is this exciting possibility of a scientific breakthrough, we can only hope that every encouragement will be given to research. If there is any possibility of increasing the funds needed to enable science to make a breakthrough in this area I hope there will be no hesitation on the part of the Government to do this. This is the attitude we ought to take. I hope the Minister can give me some indication that this is the approach of the Government to these matters.
I recall that we had some trouble aboutthe insecticide content of meat sent to markets throughout the world but particularly to the North American market. I know from my own experience and contact with the industry that the North American market has refused to accept meat containing a certain level of insecticide, particularly DDT.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I want to refer to losses due to devaluation of sterling, particularly as they affect the canned deciduous fruit industry. I listened to what the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) said in reply to Senator Laucke about the criteria adopted by the committee set up to deal with devaluation. I particularly want to bring to the notice of the Minister the case of the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd which was incorporated only 10 years ago. It lost a substantial amount as a result of devaluation. The figure given to me by that organisation is nearly $70,000. That is not the final figure. It is a substantial amount to be lost by a co-operative in one year, particularly by a developing and improving co-operative. Its applications to the devaluation committee and to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) have not as yet been agreed to.
The organisation made representations on three counts. It said that in fact the 1967 stocks were part of the 1968 trading year. It asked that it should be covered for the 1967 stocks which had been shipped from Australia more than 6 months before devaluation occurred. It also asked that it be covered for stocks held in Australia which were awaiting shipment to the United Kingdom and also in respect of stocks shipped prior to devaluation but for which payment had not been made. The Government has said that insurance could have been taken out in respect of these sales. However, it has been admitted more recently by the Minister concerned that in fact there was a great deal of confusion among bankers and canning exporters and that the position was not clearly known, nor could it have been known. Had the Government anticipated more definitely the trends occurring in the United Kingdom it may have been able to help the producers. It seems to me that in the circumstances the representations made on behalf of this industry, and in particular by this organisation which has shown that it has lost a substantial amount of money, ought to be accommodated. I hope that the committee and the Minister will do this. I believe that these representations have continued since August.
The other matter I want to raise relates to tobacco research and, in a general way, to the Australian Tobacco Board. No doubt the Minister is aware of the research that has been taking place into the elimination of the nicotine content from tobacco leaf. The tobacco industry has reported on this matter at various times. I understand some research has been undertaken by the Tobacco Board with funds made available for this purpose. I noticed in the Press today that a retired farmer in Bonn, Germany, has developed a nicotine free tobacco leaf. This could have an extraordinary effect on the industry. Because of the great importance of the Australian tobacco industry and because of the incidence of smoking, I am wondering what information the Minister can give me about what has been done by our own organisations in Australia and about this new development in Germany.
– I spoke earlier today about agricultural extension services and I will be very brief on this occasion. Since speaking I have received some figures relating to extension services in South Australia and the optimum number of people that the South Australian Department of Agriculture would like to see involved in this work. I would like to have these figures included in Hansard. At present South Australia has 135 extension officers. To meet its optimum requirements at the present time the authorities require 66 more people to work in this field of extension. The basic increase is 50%. They do not suggest that this be granted in one lump sum in one year, because this would mean wasted manpower and wasted money. They are hopeful that some consideration will be given to spreading the amount over a period of 3 years so that the increase in numbers can be made over a few years.
I refer now to page 192 of the AuditorGeneral’s report where reference is made to the Wheat Prices Stabilisation Fund. The report states:
Since the commencement of the stabilisation plan in 1946-47, payments from the Wheat Prices Stabilisation Fund to the Australian Wheat Board for payments to growers have approximated $295m of which $173m was derived from levies on growers, $10m net income from invested funds and SI 12m from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
The net income from invested funds is a return on growers’ investment. Of an estimated total of $400m that has been invested by the wheat industry for the benefit of the consumers because of the cheaper home consumption price, according to the report the return has been only $112m. One does not have to assume that at this stage a subsidy is not being paid to the wheat industry. Looking at the figures in the report, one can see that as yet the Australian wheat industry is not being subsidised.
– Senator Devitt raised the question of administrative expenses for agricultural loans. Unfortunately he is not present at the moment. The loans were made to eligible ex-servicemen of the 1939-45 War and the
Korean and Malayan operations. Each year the amount outstanding on the loans is being reduced. This is reflected in the reduced provision for administrative expenses. Senator Devitt asked whether dairy farm reconstruction is separate from research and whether any part of the $25m, to be spread over 4 years, is allocated for research. Dairy farm reconstruction is separate from research. No amount is allocated for research, but the cost of the programme of dairy research approved by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) is $821,000. The Commonwealth will contribute on a matching basis with industry to finance the programme, but the sum allocated is not part of the $25m. Senator Bishop asked about devaluation compensation to the canned fruit industry. Earlier I answered some questions on this. The Australian Canned Fruits Board has been paid $4.26m for disbursement as compensation to the industry.
– What is the position with regard to the Riverland Co-operative?
– I wilt try to obtain that information before the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry are completed. Earlier I stated that the Government had not yet announced any decision on the action it proposed to take with regard to devaluation losses. As honourable senators know, the Devaluation Reporting Committee reports from time to time and action is taken as reports are received. Senator Young raised a question regarding the payment made to wheat growers which has been hammered out here on many occasions. Apparently the Auditor-General agrees with me. The inference is very clear. There is no subsidisation by the Australian consumer of the wheat growers. In my view such a stage will not be reached until this further amount of $112m, which has been mentioned by Senator Young and is mentioned in the Auditor-General’s report, is paid to the wheat growers. This is brought about by the aid given to the consumers by the wheat growers over the years through selling their home consumption wheat at a far lower price than that obtaining overseas. Over the years this has amounted to some $200m. So far the amount paid by the people to the wheat growers through taxation is short by $112m.
– I refer to the proposed expenditure of $33,000 for the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’ in Division 410. The ‘Fisheries Newsletter’ was mentioned by an Australian Country Party member a short while ago. I did not hear a reply from the Minister. I would like to know how the amount appropriated for 1968-69 will be spent. Will it be spent on editorial costs or distribution costs? I would like some breakdown of the figure. I refer to the proposed expenditure of $37,000 for incidental and other expenditure. I take it that that item relates to the petty cash account. It is significant that the sum is greater than comparable sums set out under different headings - $33,000, $34,000 and $35,000 - for which information has been supplied. But the petty cash amount of $37,000 has no description.
A sum of $100,000 is appropriated for agricultural extension services. That is a decrease of $100,000 on the allocation for 1967-68. Brief reference was made to this by an earlier speaker, but I would like more details. It seems unusual that the amount should decrease at a time when we are trying to expand primary industry. Provision is made also for $76,000 for minor research and other projects. The actual expenditure last year was $89,378. The appropriation this year is less than the expenditure last year. Perhaps the Minister will supply some details as to the minor research projects referred to. Payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from devaluation of sterling and other currencies this year will amount to $35m. Last year the actual expenditure was the same as the appropriation, I wonder whether the Minister can supply details of the proposed expenditure and tell me how much of the $35m will go to the respective industries.
Returning to my comments on the minor research projects, I want to know whether any allocation is made for research into the beef industry. As a matter of fact very little reference is made to any research. At page 172 of the Auditor-General’s report reference is made to ‘Meat Research - Recoverable Administrative Charges’. For 1966-67 the amount was $106,909. Last year the amount decreased to $103,101. I would like to know what reference is made to this in the appropriation and whether or not it is set out under some other heading. In paragraph 179 of the Auditor-General’s report one sum is shown for the meat industry and another is shown for meat research.- There has been a substantial increase in both those figures. Perhaps the Minister will explain where this is shown in the Estimates this year.
I accept the statement made by the Minister that items of policy ought not to be discussed, but I think it is relevant to make some reference to the meat industry, which is in a state of flux at the moment. As honourable senators know, Australia depends very largely on export income from meat - particularly my State and the north of the State. I think we should set down for the record some aspects of the industry which could act as future guide lines. In order to emphasise the importance of the industry I will detail the numbers of people who are employed in the various meatworks north of the Tropic of Capricorn. At Queerah meatworks 330 people are employed. The two major meatworks in the Townsville area employ about 900 people. The meatworks at Merinda, north of Bowen, employs about 350 people. At the Cape River meatworks, in the area west of Townsville, about 120 people work. At present the Cape River meatworks is closed. At the Katherine meatworks in the Northern Territory 130 people are employed. The Darwin meatworks employs about 60 people, making a total of about 2,000 people employed in meatworks.
The industry also employs boilermakers, members of the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, and others. It is estimated that about 3,000 people are employed directly in the processing and manufacture of meat products in that northern area. If account is taken of the dependants of workers in the industry, it is clear that about 10,000 people depend for a living on the production section of the beef industry. In addition transport workers and waterside workers are affected.
Graziers with small properties in the northern areas are now living a hand to mouth existence. Since the Government agreed voluntarily to forgo the American meat market - or a large section of it - graziers on large properties have not been greatly affected. They are able to keep their cattle pending the arrival of better days. Perhaps when the American presidential election is over better days will come, but for the time being the industry is in a precarious state. The main sufferers are the people in the production section of the beef industry and the graziers on small properties who cannot afford to hold on to their stocks in the expectation of better prices.
The meat industry is very important to Queensland. The major part of the Australian meat industry is located there. For the period of 11 months ended May 1968 our exports to the United States of America, including Honolulu, totalled 178,314 tons, or 77.2% of our total exports of meat. It is plain that in regard to the meat market we have put, so to speak, all our eggs in one basket. To the United Kingdom we exported 10.7% of our meat exports; to Japan 4.9%; to Canada 1.6%; to Okinawa 1.2%; to Malaysia, including Singapore and Borneo, 1%; to Malta 0.6%; and to New Guinea 0.5%. Other countries took the remaining 2.3%.
When I have finished detailing the information I require I will ask a series of questions. A statement was made by supporters of the Government and by graziers who own large properties that there would be an immediate reduction of meat prices throughout Australia. I do not know whether honourable senators opposite are aware of it, but the reduction has taken place only in some areas. Retail butchers claim that wholesalers are charging them just as much or more than they were before Australia’s voluntary relinquishment of the American quota. I think the onus is on the Commonwealth Government to do something about it. Obviously if meat prices to consumers can be reduced, consumption will be increased and perhaps graziers on small properties can be helped out of a sticky situation.
What is the best approach? Is it a stabilisation scheme that fixes prices for beef on the hoof, or is there an alternative? In this field the Government should show initiative to overcome the problem. Two establishments in the Townsville and Cairns areas have reduced the prices of beef. I have a list of the prices charged by them as from 20th September 1968. Honourable senators opposite will remember that when the Government agreed greatly to curtail our exports of beef to the United States statements were made that prices to the Aus tralian consumer would be reduced. I shall cite prices which illustrate what has been done by two establishments in northern Queensland, and obviously could be done throughout Australia. Perhaps the Minister has the answer. I am not aware of it. Hindquarters of beef, broken sliced, are sold for 33c per lb; T-bone steak 55c; export rump steak 49c; chuck steak 37c; corned brisket 27c; mutton sides, cut up, 18c; legs of mutton 32c; legs of lamb 48c; and lamb chops 43c. Those prices represent a big reduction on prices in retail butchers’ shops generally throughout Australia.
I would like the Minister to state clearly whether the Government has in mind a stabilisation scheme in respect of beef on the hoof or otherwise for rationalisation of the beef industry? Is the Government taking any action to reduce the price of beef to the consumer in line with the statement made by representatives of the Department of Primary Industry, or it may even have been by the Minister for Primary Industry? Is anything being done by the Department or at a higher governmental level to obtain new markets? As I said earlier, over 77% of our beef exports has been shipped to the United States of America.
– We do have an Australian Meat Board.
– Is it operating?
– One would not think so in view of the rackets that are going on. Is the Government in a position to guarantee that producers on small properties will be able to stay in the beef production industry? I also ask the Minister to explain whether the appropriation of $37,000 for Incidental and other expenditure’ the petty cash account can be broken up under other headings. I wish now to refer to the fishing industry, but not in great detail. I hope that the Minister will be able to persuade his colleague the Minister for Primary Industry to produce a schedule or explanatory document setting out the Government’s plans for the fishing industry as a whole, including the operations in northern waters about which we talked at length yesterday. I appreciate that pamphlets are available giving information on some aspects of the industry, but I would like a comprehensive or condensed booklet setting out the intentions of the Government.
– Some of the questions that are asked are rather involved. When Senator Keeffe was temporarily absent from the chamber I pointed out that some of the questions asked relate to matters of policy.
– I was in the chamber when the Minister said that.
– Very well. If I can obtain the answers to the questions asked by the honourable senator I will do so. They are not available in the information provided to me. I will give the information I have about the items under discussion at present. Senator Keeffe referred to the ‘Fisheries Newsletter’, for which an appropriation of $33,000 has been made. This sum is to meet publication and distribution costs. For 1967-68 the appropriation for this item was $31,000 and the expenditure was $30,982. The newsletter is prepared, edited and printed monthly by the Department. The Publications Committee has approved of its publication. The gross cost of printing and distributing the Fisheries Newsletter’ in 1968-69 is estimated to be $33,000. The estimated increase in expenditure is attributable to increased bulk postal charges and a special reprint of the issue covering the IndoPacific Fisheries Commission thirteenth session which is to be held in Brisbane during the early part of the new financial year. The ‘Fisheries Newsletter’ is distributed free to fishermen and persons associated with the fishing industry. Revenue from the sale of advertising space is estimated at $16,000. These receipts are credited to revenue under the heading ‘Miscellaneous’.
Some questions were asked relating to fisheries services for which the appropriation for 1967-68 was $33,200, the expenditure for 1967-68 was $33,112, and the estimate for 1968-69 is $34,000. Reimbursement is made to State departments for issuing Commonwealth fishing licences and supervising the licensing requirements of the Commonwealth Fisheries Act and Regulations. Payment is on the basis of $4 per licence issued. Licences are issued in respect of calendar years. The provision is based on an estimate of licences to be issued as follows: New South Wales, 1,628; Victoria, 415; South Australia, 997; Queensland, 1,605; Western Australia, 3,069; and Tasmania, 696 - a total of 8,500.
I was asked also why one amount for agricultural extension services was shown in the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) where as another amount was shown in Appropriation Bill (No. 2). I said earlier that the amount shown in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) was not the same as that shown in Appropriation Bill (No. 1). The amount of $100,000 shown in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) is the sum available for distribution to all the States, whereas the considerably greater amount shown in Appropriation Bill (No. 2) is for specific grants to the States. The amounts were shown in this manner because of legal requirements. The honourable senator referred also to meat. I agree with his remarks about the importance of the meat industry, particularly to Queensland. This industry is important not only to the small graziers but also to the very large number of people who work in abattoirs and other parts of the industry. The honourable senator asked also what the Government’s intentions were in regard to the meat industry, but I do not think this is the time to discuss Government policy. I shall go so far as to say that to the best of my knowledge there is no suggestion that the Government will act in the manner which the honourable senator suggested.
Senator Keeffe referred also to the decline in meat prices not being passed on to consumers. I do not think that this is a matter for discussion in a debate on the Estimates. The fact is that the price of cattle did react to the announcement of restrictions of imports into the United States of America, but this was a temporary fall in price. Prices soon firmed and they have now almost fully recovered. This has been borne out by the prices received by some members of this chamber for the sale of cattle in the last few weeks. The levels are now almost back to those which were prevailing immediately before restrictions were announced. I think what I said to growers in reply to a question on this subject was good advice - that they should not indulge in panic selling, because there were other markets available. It is very pleasing to see that prices have returned almost to their former level. I am aware of what is happening to the price of meat because I happen to buy the meat for my family.
asked about payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in
Australian currency arising from devaluation of sterling and other currencies. The estimate for this item is $35m. The explanation for this proposed expenditure is very detailed so I shall not state it at length. In addition to the amount estimated for this year, $21 m was paid in compensation for devaluation losses last year. The immediate loss to the Australian Wheat Board arising from devaluation was $10m. Senator Young asked about the Australian Dairy Produce Board. It appears that the loss suffered by the Board! will be $1.7m. The Australian Egg Board is expected to lose $0.278m, the Australian Honey Board $0.009ro, the Western Australian Grams Pool $0.303m, and the Papua and New Guinea Copra Marketing Board $0.379m, making a total of $12.669m. Other payments for dairy produce are butter, $4.60m; cheese, $1.31m; skim milk powder, $2.53m; and casein, $0.67m - a total of $9.1 lm. In addition the compensation for eggs is expected to be $0.178m, for canned fruits $4.220m, for sugar $6.6m, for honey $0.145m and for applies and pears $0.3m. The appropriation for 1967-68 for the subdivision was $22,509,500 and the expenditure was $22,434,999. The estimate for this year is $36,531,000. I do not know whether there are any queries that I have left unanswered.
– What about the fixation of the price of beef on the hoof?
– I do not know anything about that. If the question was asked I did not hear it, and m any case I do not have an answer.
– I remind the Minister of my earlier submissions in respect of the Australian Meat Board. I asked three specific questions. I wanted to know whether there had been an expansion or contraction of our meat exports to eastern Europe.
– If the honourable senator will let me know the division to which he relates his remarks I shall try to get the information for him.
– I am referring to the interim report of the Australian Meat Board which has been circulated.
– We are not discussing that at the moment.
– When will it be discussed?
– Not at this point of time, because we are now dealing with the Estimates.
– The Minister has not made the situation very clear, so I shall deal with the other points on which I should like clarification. I refer to meat employees being disturbed at the imports of meat from other countries. Did I understand the Minister to say that their best approach was to the Minister for Trade and Industry rather than to the Minister for Primary Industry or the Australian Meat Board?
– I did not say that today.
– Since I made the initial submission the Minister has not given any answer. If any answer was given, what form did it take? The other question I asked dealt with the: attitude of the Australian Meat Board in relation to damage caused to the Australian meat industry by the sale of kangaroo meat. They were the questions that I raised with the Minister, but I have had no answers.
– I call Senator Wilkinson..
– Am I not to get an answer?
– I repeat that I shall answer questions regarding appropriations, but I do not propose to answer questions which take the form of a series of second reading speeches on Government policy.
– Order! I remind Senator Mulvihill that he may speak when he is given the call. I call Senator Wilkinson.
– I remind the Minister that when I spoke earlier I expressed some concern that the Estimates did not include any amount for research on an international plane. I know that it is not possible to say that such an amount should be included, but I should like to know whether in due course the Minister will pass on to rae Minister for Primary Industry this suggestion which does not relate to a matter of policy but is a question of an amount of money that ought to be spent.
I ask the Minister to reply to my questions in relation to the appropriations for tobacco research and the allocation of tobacco charges under Division 410. I asked him about the amount of research that was being done on the development of a leaf that might be nicotine free. I referred to the report that had been made by tobacco interests and particularly to a report in today’s Press that a German ex-farmer at Bonn has developed such a leaf. Because of the importance of this matter to the industry generally and to the Australian industry in particular, I asked whether he could give me some information on it. If he cannot do so, will he make inquiries to ascertain the extent to which this new development might have an impact on the Australian industry and what the research has produced.
– My query on this occasion is a very brief one. It relates to the appropriation for payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from the devaluation of sterling and other currencies under Division 410. I refer to an answer that I received some weeks ago from the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. On that occasion I asked him when an announcement would be made that compensation in respect of losses arising from devaluation would be paid to the dried fruits industry. The answer that I received was that an announcement would be made very soon. Can the Minister now give any indication of whether this matter has been finalised or of when he will be able to make an announcement on it? The people in the dried fruits industry work mainly on overdrafts, as the Minister is probably aware. In fact, many of them complain that they are borrowing their own money from the packing sheds in order to stay in the industry and are paying interest at the rate of 7% on money that they have invested in their co-operatives. They are in a very bad way at the moment. I know that they need these compensation payments urgently. I ask the Minister whether he has any further information on the matter.
– Let me reply to Senator Poyser first. I have not any further information to that which I gave the other day. I have some additional information for Senator Keeffe. It was not available when I answered his other questions. It relates to the Auditor-General’s Report. The credit of approximately $160,000, which is referred to in the Auditor-General’s Report in relation to beef research, is the cost of research projects which are undertaken by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and for which provision is made under Division 414. The cost consists of salaries and administrative expenses charged to Division 414. The cost of the research projects carried out by the Bureau is recovered from the Meat Research Trust Account and credited to revenue.
I regret that I had an answer on the subject of tobacco for Senator Bishop before, but overlooked it. I hope that it covers the questions that he has asked. If it does not, I ask him to ask them again. It is true that a tobacco which is reportedly nicotine free has been developed in Europe. However, it has not been developed commercially and is only at the experimental stage. No research has been proposed for Commonwealth permanent support, which is directly concerned with research into nicotine free varieties. As far as I know, no such research is presently being undertaken in Australia.
– I enter this debate to speak on the appropriation for administrative expenses under Division 410 and to make a protest against the attitude of the Minister in replying to Senator Mulvihill. To my mind, Senator Mulvihill wanted definite information on meat exports. The Minister suggested that he should not use information contained in the annual report of the Australian Meat Board in a debate on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. Of course, that is not so. I believe that honourable senators may use any information that comes into their hands for the purpose of clarifying the expenditure of a department. This Department is related to primary industries. This is the time when all of its activities come under scrutiny by the Parliament. There should be the greatest scrutiny of its activities before we pass the appropriations for its future activities.
In all honesty, Senator Mulvihill sought definite information on a particular matter. He quoted extracts from an annual report, but he did not seek to have a discussion of that annual report. He was conveying information contained in the annual report and making inquiries on a particular matter. Whilst I realise that Ministers are subject to very critical and lengthy examination at times, I believe that it behoves them to be tolerant in debates on estimates and to accept the right of honourable senators to ask questions and use information that may come into their hands for the purpose of seeking consideration of their grievances. I still believe that Senator Mulvihill is entitled to replies from the Minister to the questions that he raised in this debate before we pass these estimates.
– I asked the Minister a series of questions which I believed were legitimate and consistent with the items that we are debating. I regret to say that, apart from providing a little information on a couple of matters, the Minister brushed them off. I propose to repeat them because they are very important to me and many other people in this country. I’ ask for the courtesy of an answer. I believe that the Minister is adopting a personal attitude here. In the course of a debate yesterday he said:
I have heard some stupid statements made in the Senate …
– Mr Chairman, I raise a point of order. This has nothing to do with these estimates.
– I uphold that point of order. I ask Senator Keeffe to refer to the estimates that are before the Committee.
– I am merely trying to point out that the Minister is adopting a personal attitude in supplying answers to me. I regret that very much. I now ask my questions again in all sincerity. How is the petty cash account in item 07 of subdivision 2 of Division 410 made up? It is described as ‘Incidental and other expenditure*. I did not receive a reply to that question when I asked it before; so I am asking it again. I refer to the appropriation of $3 5m for payments to industries in respect of reduced returns in Australian currency arising from the devaluation of sterling and other currencies. I asked a very simple question, namely, how is that amount to be divided up and which industries are to receive a share of it? Will the meat industry receive any? Will the banana industry receive any? Will the pineapple industry receive any? Will the fishing industry receive any? Will the wheat industry receive any? I do not think this is a state secret. If the Minister is trying to pass the buck to his advisers, I feel sorry for them. I believe that he has a duty to give me a reply.
I also referred to the appropriation for minor research and other projects. I agree that the Minister referred to the AuditorGeneral’s Report and obtained some of the information in relation to the meat industry. But what makes up the other amount? The Minister gave a superficial answer. I want a detailed answer. I believe that this is a reasonable request. I brought in the meat industry under these estimates. I believe that this is a completely relevant issue because we are discussing the estimates for the whole of the Department of Primary Industry for this year. The Minister seems to want to keep secrets on these matters, but he should be answerable to the Australian Parliament. He gave the facetious answer that some Government senators had done very well out of selling cattle in the last few weeks.
– Order! I do not think you should say that, Senator Keeffe.
– He said it to me. He said that some honourable senators on the Government side had been selling cattle in recent times and had done well out of it. That is fair enough. In addition he said that he had advised graziers to hold their cattle so prices would improve. That is all very well for the big bloke, the bloke who has unlimited capital on which to live, but it is of no good for the little grazier and the people who are employed in the meat industry. These things all flow from the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry. The Minister said that he bought the meat for his family and that he had found a reduction in price, but that is one particular instance. I quoted two instances in two cities where there had been a reduction in the price of meat. I ask for fairer treatment from the Minister. If he thinks a decline in the meat industry is a laughing matter, it is not a laughing matter for the people who are engaged in it.
– First of all I want to rebut most emphatically the suggestion that there is any question of personality in the way in which I am answering queries raised by Senator Keeffe or by anyone else. I recognise the right of everyone in this chamber to ask questions on the Estimates, and it is my job to supply the answers to the best of my ability. That is what I have been doing. It has been the custom in this place for many years for the Division and item numbers to be quoted when any questions are asked, and for questions to relate to the estimates and not to matters of policy.
In replying to some of the questions asked by Senator Keeffe earlier I apparently omitted - I regret the omission - to reply to his question relating to an appropriation of $37,000 for 1968-69 for incidental and other expenditure. I point out that although the appropriation last year was $32,200 expenditure was $31,065. The allocation covers the following provisions for expenditure chargeable to this item: An allocation of $3,400 is made for contributions to international organisations. This sum is made up of $400 to the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage and includes an annual contribution of 2,500 rupees which is made on behalf of the Department of Primary Industry, the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, which are members of the Australian National Committee of the International Commission on Irrigation and
Drainage. Then there is a contribution of $1,830 to the International Dairy Federation, Brussels; a contribution of $870 to the International Whaling Commission, London, and a contribution of $300 to the International Society of Horticultural Science representing a subscription fee for Australian membership.
An amount of $4,000 has been appropriated for advertising; $400 for storage, expenses for costs other than those borne by the Department of Supply; $6000 made up of $5,500 for freight and cartage and $500 for other expenses associated with the removal of the Department’s Adelaide office to new accommodation; $2,600 for minor maintenance and minor works; $1,200 for repairs and maintenance of machines and equipment; $500 for the translation of foreign periodicals and $5,800 made up of $2,300 for secretarial and other services to conferences and $3,500 for other costs associated with meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council. Then there is an appropriation of $1,500 for ADP services; $7,000 for reimbursement to the Australian Wheat Board for the preparation of rolls for an election; and $4,600 to cover other expenditure including legal expenses, cleaning, water rates, fuel, light and power, compensation and medical expenses. That completes the break-up of the $37,000 to which the honourable senator has referred. If he has any other questions he would like answered he can raise them later. As regards the general policy on meat, that is something outside the scope of these estimates.
– I should like the Minister to consider again his reply to my question relating to non-nicotine tobacco leaf. As I understood him, he said that no research had been conducted by any of the boards or appropriate authorities into this matter and that the Government had given, no consideration to it. In view of the significance of this development and in view of. the fact that the Government negotiates, I understand, with various advertising media to restrict tobacco advertising, I request that he make a special point of asking whoever is concerned with this to see to what extent it may be possible to develop a tobacco leaf in Australia which would contain less nicotine than is the case at present.
– 1 will do that.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Air
Proposed expenditure $350,257,000.
– 1 should like to raise a number of points in relation to this Department. The first refers to Division 690 - Royal Australian Air Force - and the item which relates to the Citizen Air Force, for which the appropriation of $510,000 last year has been reduced to $470,000 this year. There ure requests from many parts of Australia for the establishment, either by squadrons or in some other way, of units of the Citizen Air Force because, as honourable senators are aware, service in that arm is the equivalent of service in the Citizen Military Forces so far as youngsters who are required to register for national service are concerned. In Queensland - I speak in particular in relation to my own State - there is no arm of the Service at Townsville. So if a youngster expresses a desire to train in the Air Force and thus comply with the requirements of the National Service Act relating to call up. he is precluded from doing so. This means that he must register with the Army, and not every youngster is interested in serving with an Army group. I ask the Minister, firstly, why there has been a reduction in the appropriation, and secondly, whether there is any intention either now or in the immediate future to increase the appropriation to provide for the setting up of additional units.
I turn now to Division 694 - Adminis trative Expenses and General Services - and in particular the item relating to office requisites and equipment, stationery, printing and text books. Expenditure on this item last year amounted to $1.666m but this year the allocation has been increased to $1.975m. In addition, there has been a significantly large increase in the appropriation to cover postage, telegrams and telephone services as covered by item 03. Is this because of the increase in telephone charges or because of an increase in the postal services which will be required? Item 07 of the Division relates to payments under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act in relation to which the appropriation is $120,000 compared with expenditure last year of $110,000. Although the increase is not significant the Minister might explain why the increased allocation has been made. .1 have a number of other matters to raise but I will leave them until later so that the Minister will not bc confused by having too many questions in front of him.
– I shall reply first to Senator Keeffe’s question relating to Division 694 and the increase in the appropriation for office requisites and equipment, stationery, printing and text books. The substantial increase has been brought about because of some new requirements and an increased quantity of normal supplies caused partly by an increase of Service and civilian personnel during the year and partly by an extension of Royal Australian Air Force activity. Expenditure on window cleaning services is expected to be higher in 1968-69 than in 1967-68 because of the occupation of new buildings and also because an increased proportion of this requirement will be let to civilian contractors. The increase in the estimates for fuel, heating, electricity, water and sanitation over the relevant 1967-68 expenditure is due to the expansion of the Royal Australian Air Force both in numbers and in localities.
asked the reason for the reduction in the appropriation this year as compared with expenditure for last year, with relation to item 02 of sub-division 1 of Division 690. Expenditure in the year 1967-68 was $445,934. The expenditure proposed for 1968-69 is $470,000. This represents an increase of $24,000. I am told that the reason for the increase is the slightly larger number. What was the last question the honourable senator asked?
– lt related to item 03 of Division 694. An increase is shown here and I asked whether this was due to increased services required or whether it was due to increased charges.
– The information I have is that the provision of $21,000 has been included for Vietnam postal concessions. Allowance has also been made for a continuation of the upward trend in postal expenditure evident during recent years caused by the growth of the Royal Australian Air Force. The provision for expenditure in 1968-69 on installation costs and telephone and teleprinter services is considerably higher than the expenditure for 1967-68 because of several outstanding liabilities on new projects such as the switchboard at the RAAF Base, Pearce, which is expected to be completed and on which the provision will be largely expended in this financial year. The cost of electronic data processing communications is expected to decrease in 1968-69 because of the hire of new medium speed data transmission equipment, the cost of which is included in item 09.
– I direct the Minister’s attention to item 01 of Division 690 which relates to the provision of $76,181,000 for pay and allowances in the nature of pay for the Permanent Air Force. I refer also to item 02 which relates to the Provision of $470,000 for the Citizen Air Force. The inquiry 1 am making arises out of propositions which have been put to me, particucularly by retired officers of verh high repute who cannot understand why we have not a Citizen Air Force of some standing. A provision of only $470,000 for the Citizen Air Force compared with $76,181,000 for the Permanent Air Force indicates to me that the Government does not treat very seriously the suggestion of these former Air Force officers, who are my friends. They argue that it is just as logical to have a Citizen Air Force standing by in the event of emergency to support the Permanent Air Force as it is to have Citizen Military Forces or a citizen naval detachment standing by. I agree with them. Apparently the Government does not agree with this idea.
These men also suggest that some of the outdated machines could be used for this purpose and at very little cost to the Government. I daresay they would have in mind machines that now go to the scrap heap. As one former top officer explained to me, we would have been in dire trouble at the beginning of the last war if we had not had this second division, as it were, of aircraft to go into the Coral Sea battle. My friends also explained that England was defended with the aid of second class planes that were of no use in normal circumstances but which became very useful when the country was in danger. These retired men generally see the Citizen Air Force as secondary support for Australia in any crisis in which it might find itself. They feel that we are the poorer for not having an adequate Citizen Air Force. Apparently according to the proposed provisions for the Citizen Air Force and the Permanent Air Force, the Government does not seem to see much of an advantage in the Citizen Air Force.
I was wondering whether it would be impinging on policy to ask the Minister why this is so. is it because the Citizen Air Force cannot get volunteers that such a low appropriation is proposed? Or is it that the Department does not force the issue by engaging in advertising? The Permanent Air Force has a very intense advertising programme which is highly successful, but there does not seem to be any advertising programme designed to interest young or middle aged men in joining the Citizen Air Force.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) L5.12]- I have another series of matters on which I require information. When dealing with Division 694 a moment ago, the Minister asked what was the last point 1 had raised. I had raised two points. One related to item 03 and the other to item 07. Item 07 relates to payments under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. There the difference between the expenditure last year and the proposed appropriation for this year is approximately $9,000. Does this sum represent premiums paid for compensation policies, or do the premiums come under some other grouping? I come now to item 08 which relates to compensation for personal injury and damage to property. The expenditure of this item last year was $13,660. The appropriation proposed for this year is $40,000. Does the Government expect that there will be pieces of Fill aircraft dropping somewhere? What is the reason for the big jump in this item? 1 refer now to item 10 which relates to the training of personnel at other than RAAF establishments. The expenditure on this item last year was $815,702. The proposed appropriation for this year is $1,295,000. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to give me - some detailed information about this item. I come now to item 02 of Division 696. This relates to buildings and works, including repairs and maintenance. The appropriation proposed for this year is $800,000. The amount actually expended last year was $1,842,876. Does this indicate that when the buildings for the Fill aircraft are completed at Amberley the Government will be faced with no more liability under this heading?
Division 698 relates to repair of aircraft and other equipment. Here the proposed expenditure is $10,869,000. This is a very big sum. Can the Minister tell me how much the Mirage aircraft are costing to keep in the air? What is the cost of maintenance, repairs and overhaul of these aircraft? .1 should like that expenditure dissected. I come now to Division 700. 1 am intrigued by the note which reads:
Moneys received from the sale of unused equipment and si ores which are to be replaced, from sales of clothing to personnel and from sales of material to contractors to complete Air contracts, may bc credited to the items to which they relate
This division has been split into seven items. Am I to take it that the Air Force in fact buys the materials mentioned in the seven items lor sale to contractors? If so, what is the extent of this system of contracting? .1 refer to the purchase and manufacture of aircraft and associated initial equipment. I notice I hill the amount to be appropriated of $122m is an increase of S20m on last year’s expenditure. How much is provided ibr the equipping of either the Mirage or FI 1 1 aircraft? Mr Deputy Chairman, am I allowed to ask a question concerning Division 705 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings - which is under the control of the Department of External Territories?
Senator McKELLAR (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) 15.15] - 1 will reply firstly lo Senator Ormonde. I am afraid that Senator Keeffe can rattle off questions quicker than 1 can ascertain the answers.
– 1 will repeat them slowly.
– That is unnecessary. I will try later to answer the questions that Senator Keeffe has asked. Senator Ormonde asked why the Government does not provide for a larger Citizen Air Force. The short answer to that question is that this is Government policy. Over the years Australia has had what is known as the Citizen Military Forces as an adjunt to the Army, which has proved to be very valu able. I appreciate that if those men whom Senator Ormonde referred to who used to be in the Air Force were in (he Citizen Air Force this could be very valuable too. I cannot say offhand what its value is. I could perhaps supply some information to Senator Ormonde that might be of! assistance to him. The present strength of the Air Force is 21.564. The Citizen Air Force is comparatively small. In the Auxiliary Squadron there are 95 officers and 480 airmen, in the University Squadron there are 48 officers and 296 cadets and in Air Training Corps instructors we have 540 Officers and 251 airmen. There are 54 part time chaplains. The amount paid to those personnel by way of pay, honorariums, efficiency grants and miscellaneous allowances is S470,000. Senator Ormonde also asked whether the lack of advertising was the reason for the Citizen Air Force not getting enough recruits. I am informed that the target for the Citizen Air Force has been met.
asked a question regarding the appropriation for payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. This amount is purely to provide for compensation payments for claims in existence or expected. Senator Keeffe also asked a question regarding equipment for the Mirage aircraft. I am informed that the amount concerned includes provision for air frames, equipment, spares etc. and will require a certain amount of research if it is to be dissected.
– Can it be done?
– Yes, 1 think it can be. 1 am saying that without any actual knowledge of whether it can be done. But 1 should think that it can be done. If Senator Keeffe wants the information I will supply it if it can bc obtained. 1 may not be able to provide an answer immediately to some of the questions that honourable senators may ask, but if necessary I will ensure that answers are forwarded to honourable senators. Senator Keeffe also pointed out that an amount of $40,000 is to be appropriated for compensation for personal injury and damage to property as against an appropriation of $50,000 last year, of which $13,660 was expended. This is a fluctuating item of expenditure. In 1966-67 the expenditure on this, item was $64,000. The proposed expenditure for 1968-69 is based on the expenditure over the past few years. The other questions asked by Senator Keeffe are still being considered.
– My remarks relate to the proposed expenditure of $560,000 on meteorological services. What is comprised in that amount? Will that amount be paid to another department or to persons outside the Public Service? How is a separate account kept for meteorological services?
– 1 am informed that this item is paid to the Bureau of Meteorology.
– I address my remarks to payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. The amount to be appropriated for this item is $115,000. Has any payment been made under this item to servicemen who have served overseas testing the Fil l aircraft or in other than special areas? I may have asked the Minister this question during the debate on the estimates for the Repatriation Department. 1 think this is an important matter. A serviceman who is in a special area may be sent to, say, the United States on a testing job and whilst in the United States he would be covered not by repatriation benefits but by the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. That is why I would like to know how many servicemen would be covered by this item, and their location, and whether this is the general principle.
– In the course of the last few days I saw a reference to compensation payments to those who are overseas training to fly the Fill aircraft. I think that it may have been in reply to a question in another place. 1 will see if I can obtain the information for the honourable senator.
– I refer to the proposed expenditure for administrative expenses and general services. Some time ago by way of a question I raised a query concerning the application of the new remuneration rates for members of the Services. I have thumbed quickly through the Senate notice paper and to my surprise a question that I thought was on the notice paper does not appear there. My question related to the recently revised rates of pay and allowances for certain musterings in the Royal Australian Air Force. The new rates place a flight sergeant - I think the rank could be senior flight sergeant - and a warrant officer on exactly the same rate of pay and, I believe, allowances as a flight lieutenant. According to my information this has caused a good deal of hearburning in the Service. Persons who attain the rank of flight lieutenant must have some special qualifications or ability. Presumably - and I think it is a reasonable assumption - they would have had a number of years service. This may also apply to other branches of our defence Services. However, I have no specific knowledge about this. lt seems to me that something has gone wrong. Surely it was never intended that a person of non-commissioned officer rank would suddenly find himself in this position in regard to the important matter of pay and allowances. I would like the Minister to tell me what has occasioned this state of affairs. Is my information correct? If so, is some remedial action to be taken to correct the situation? If it is decided that the situation is intolerable, will an adjustment be made in relation to the date on which the new rates of pay and allowances for the non-commissioned officers I have mentioned become operative?
– Firstly I want lo refer to the acquisition of sites and buildings for the Department of Air but which are under the control of the Department of External Territories. Why is there no allocation this year for this purpose when there was an appropriation last year of $63,000 and an expenditure of $62,600? Can we have some details of the expenditure last year under this heading? Does not the Department of External Territories intend to acquire any sites or buildings this year? If not, why not?
The next matter I want to refer to is the expenditure under the National Capital Development Commission Act. Last year expenditure under this heading amounted to $626,000. The allocation this year is $470,000. On what did the Government spend that money last year and on what does it intend to spend this year’s allocation? The next item I want to refer to relates to rent. There is a substantial increase in the appropriation this year of well in excess of $352,000. Where is all this rent being paid? The Government must be the most affluent tenant if it is to spend all this money on rent. Judging by the appropriation this year, and the appropriation for the two preceding years, expenditure on rent is a continuing process. One wonders if some of the defence money is being spent unwisely. Why does not the Government acquire property and’ reduce this figure? Provided that property is wisely bought - not like the diplomatic purchase in Paris - in a time of rising inflationary trends, normally it can be disposed of when it is no longer required and, if it does not show a profit, at least it will not show a loss. In the meantime there would not be this continuing expenditure on rent. Perhaps the Committee could be given some explanation of these matters.
– 1 now have the answer to some of the questions that have been asked. There was a review of pay groupings in the Royal Australian Air Force and there are some anomalies in the higher pay groupings. Remedial action will be taken concerning this matter. Senator Keeffe asked me about the appropriation for compensation for personal injury and damage to property. He asked why this year expenditure is to be $40,000. I have answered that question. This is a fluctuating appropriation. He also asked why the appropriation for the training of personnel at other than Royal Australian Air Force establishments is much higher this year than in the previous year. The answer is that the courses are held mainly overseas. Expenditure this year is expected to be about $400,000 more than last year mainly because the money is required for pilot training in the United Kingdom. I was asked about compensation. All servicemen are covered by the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. However, servicemen serving outside Australia are covered by the Repatriation Act. The Parliament recently passed legislation which also covers them while on leave in Australia. The position is that Service personnel training in Australia are covered by the Commonwealth’s compensation provisions.
I was asked a short time ago about the acquisition of sites and buildings. The esti mates provide $158,000 for this purpose. Of that sum $28,000 relates to commitments outstanding at 30th June 1968. It is proposed to acquire property in 1968-69 to a total value of $158,000 and further expenditure on these properties will amount to $130,000. I was asked another question relating to the National Capital Development Commission. There is an allocation of $470,000 for expenditure under the National Capital Development Commission Act. The appropriation last year was $626,000 and that money was spent. Provision is made under this division of the estimates for the cost of building fifty-one houses in the Australian Capital Territory for allocation to married members of the RAAF serving at Fairbairn. The National Capital Development Commission arranges construction and then transfers the houses to the Department of the Interior. The houses are permanently reserved for rental by serving RAAF personnel and the occupants are responsible for all rental charges. The present accounting arrangement is that the Department of Air deducts rental from the pay of members concerned for disbursement to the Department of the Interior. Such disbursements are made under Division 690 which deals with pay and allowances in the nature of pay. The basis of this estimate of expenditure under the National Capital Development Commission Act is the advice of the NCDC as to the estimated cost of houses. The figure this year is $470,000.
asked me why there is to be no expenditure this year for the acquisition of sites and buildings under the control of the Department of External Territories. This appropriation deals with acquisitions outside Australia and no such acquisitions are proposed this year. Division 710 relates to rent paid to State housing commissions for married quarters for personnel and rent for offices and buildings leased by the Department of Air. Rents are recovered from RAAF personnel occupying those quarters and this amounts to over $3m.
– When we are speaking to certain estimates we are asked to give the number of the division concerned. It would help us considerably if the Minister would do the same when he is replying to our questions. I asked him why there was to be no expenditure this year under Division 705 for the acquisition of sites and buildings. I also asked how the sum of $62,600 was spent last year. If I understood the Minister correctly when he explained the allocation for rent set out in Division 710, the actual return is greater than the expenditure provided for. I take it that the Commonwealth will make a profit. I did not catch the figure he gave but I think it was something over $3m.
– I am told that some of this money is for Commonwealth owned houses. This provides for the discrepancy the honourable senator mentioned. Was there another question?
– 1 wanted to know why $62,600 was spent under Division 705 last year.
– I answered that question, ft was for the acquisition last year of property outside Australia. This year we do not propose to acquire property outside Australia.
– I asked why there was no allocation this year. I also asked - and this is the third time I have put the question - for an explanation of the way in which the sum of $62,600 was spent last year and where it was spent.
– I have already answered two parts of the question. The money was spent in New Guinea.
– I ask a further question in relation to Division 694 - Administrative expenses and general services. I refer to the proposed expenditure on meteorological services. I ask the Minister to explain how the amount of $560,000 is calculated.
– The answer to that question is that the account is supplied by the Department of the Interior. So the Department of Air relies on the Department of the Interior to ensure that the bill is correct.
– Did the Minister answer that part of my question which related to rates of remuneration and allowances, whether justice will be done by increasing the rates and whether the increase will be made retrospective?
– I answered the question.
– I did not hear the answer. The question related to the position which has arisen as a result of the recent increase in pay and allowances to members of the Service, which puts a flight sergeant and a warrant officer on the same level as a flight lieutenant. I ask: How general is the situation? ls an adjustment to be made? If so, will it be made retrospective to the date upon which the adjustment was made to other ranks? I refer now to Division 702 which provides for the expenditure of $122,658,000 on aircraft and associated initial equipment - purchase and manufacture. I comment that, when placing orders for equipment, other countries add certain provisos. The instance to which 1 refer concerns the purchase by Italy of Boeing 707 aircraft from the United States of America. My understanding is that at the time of placing the order the Italian Government said that it would place the order conditional upon the Boeing company providing specifications and entering into an agreement whereby the Italian Government would manufacture certain parts of the aircraft. I understand that the Italian Government has had written into the contract the proviso that it has the right to manufacture the wing sections of the Boeing 707s. which is within the capability and capacity of that country.
Will the Minister tell me whether thai is a practical proposition in the ordering of Australian defence equipment? I appreciate that we do not have the technical or specialist sophistication that perhaps we should have. I. refer to . Australia’s performance during the years of World War IF, when we moved from not being able to manufacture motor cars to designing and manufacturing aircraft. 1. refer to the aircraft we called the Wackett Wonder, which was quite a good performer. Other aircraft were built here. Is it within the realms of possibility for us to enter into contractual arrangements with the supplying company for the manufacture of essential parts of aircraft to be ordered?
This would have a two-fold effect. It would provide us with the skills necessary to develop our aircraft industry to a far greater extent. At the same time it would have the advantage of damping down the fluctuation in the employment situation so far as it relates to the very highly skilled specialists employed in the Government Aircraft Factories and who, I am informed on very good authority, are in a field of their own. It takes many years to train them to the degree of skill necessary to carry out this professional work. They may well be provided with permanent, flowing employment. It could give a greater employment opportunity and provide Australia with that additional element of independence in the manufacture of equipment of this kind which we should try to attain. I ask the Minister whether it is possible for us, when placing orders for the supply of aircraft and equipment of a similar character, to insist on our being able to perform certain of the manufacturing and fabrication work.
– This is the fourth time that I have asked this question. I refer to my question in relation to Division 705 - Acquisition of sites and buildings. I have been informed of the location of the expenditure, but will the Minister tell me on what the money was spent? In answer to my third question he said that it was spent in New Guinea. I hope to obtain a reply, even if the Minister and I have to be locked in here during the suspension of the sitting. I return to three other questions that I asked. I asked for an explanation of the expenditure under Division 702 - Aircraft and associated initial equipment - purchase and manufacture. I asked for a breakup of the expenditure and how much of it was involved in the purchase of the Fill aircraft. The Minister said that he would endeavour to obtain the information for me. I posed a question in regard to Division 698 - Aircraft and other equipment - repair and overhaul. I referred to the Mirage aircraft. I again ask that the information be supplied without further request by way of a question on notice. Will the information be forthcoming automatically from the Department? I think the requests are reasonable. I certainly insist on being supplied with some information on them.
– In reply to Senator Devitt, I said that there was a difference in salaries and that remedial action would be taken. I do not know how soon this will occur. That is the answer I gave.
– Will it be retrospective?
– I do not know. The Minister for Defence has made a statement which deals with the honourable senator’s other queries about making some arrangement, when ordering aircraft from other countries, to make spares and parts of the aircraft, etc. This is a matter for the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Supply. Senator Keeffe said that he asked one question four times. I will make another attempt to answer it. I said that the money was spent in New Guinea. It was spent on the acquisition of land for airstrips.
– In what part of New Guinea?
– My advisers do not know, so I cannot tell the honourable senator. It was spent on housing, too.
– The Government does not know?
– It is all very well to laugh, but a lot of questions have been asked in a very short time. I have told the Committee that if I cannot provide the answers here, those answers can be obtained and if the information is not classified, I will provide it later. I cannot provide the information now. With regard to the other questions that Senator Keeffe asked-
– I rise on a point of order. If we have the right to ask questions about this expenditure, surely we have the right to expect some kind of answer.
– I repeat that I have no intention not to provide any answers; but the answers are not available at present. I have given an undertaking that if the information is not classified and the answers can be obtained, I will obtain them. I shall continue replying to Senator Keeffe.
– I raise another point of order. Senator McKellar has said that if the answers are available he will obtain them. I do not want classified information. I shall not pry into things that can be classified in that category. Can the Minister provide the answers or not? If he cannot there is no point in my asking questions.
– Order! The Minister has given an undertaking to obtain the information.
– With respect, he said that he would obtain the answer if it was possible.
– Will the Minister obtain the locations of the airstrips in New Guinea on which the money has been spent?
– I will try to obtain that information.
– Speaking on the point of order-
Order! I have ruled on the point of order.
– Perhaps now I could give the answer to Senator Keeffe. Out of a total provision of $ 179.278m, both cash and credit, an amount of $1 72.695m relates to aircraft and modifications ordered prior to 30th June 1968. The details are as follows:
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
– I want to pursue the line of inquiry that I was pursuing at the suspension of the sitting. I now ask whether the Minister is able to tell the Committee the location of the airstrips which he says were purchased with the $62,600 which appears under Division 705. I ask also whether he can tell us of the background for the first explanatory paragraph in Division 700.
– The information that I have been given is that the airstrip is located at Port Moresby. I believe the honourable senator asked a question earlier about the Mirage fighter. The departmental officers are working on this inquiry, but I do not expect to have an answer for the honourable senator tonight. I shall supply him with an answer in the course of the next few days. I have not an answer now to the honourable senator’s inquiry about Division 700, but I shall see that he gets one.
– In the circumstances, and as 1 have given adequate notice by asking for this information on about three occasions, I propose to move that the Committee report progress on the estimates for this Department and proceed to consider the estimates of the next department.
– I have been advised that a more appropriate motion for the honourable senator to propose would be that consideration of the estimates for the Department of Air be postponed.
– Accordingly, Mr Chairman, 1 move:
That further consideration of the estimates for the Department of Air be postponed.
– 1 do not know whether it will be sufficient to satisfy the honourable member’s question, but the only information 1 have is that which is contained in Appropriation Bill (No. I) 1968-69. Division 700 - Equipment and Stores - relates to moneys received from the sale of unused equipment and stores which are to be replaced, from sales of clothing to personnel and from sales of material to contractors to complete Air contracts, and we are (old that these amounts may be credited to the items to which they relate. Under item 01, which relates to airframe, aero engine and aircraft ancillary equipment, the proposed expenditure for 1968-69 is $23,543,000. For 1967-68 the appropriation under this item was $19,1.95,000 and the expenditure was $19,190,062. For item 02, which relates to guided missiles, armaments, bombs and explosive stores, the proposed expenditure for 1968-69 is $5,343,000 whereas for 1967-68 the appropriation was S5.487.000 and the expenditure was $4,970,589.
Item 03 relates to transport, fire fighting handling and construction equipment. For this item the proposed expenditure is $7,215,000; for 1967-68 the appropriation was $4,900,000 and the expenditure was $4,896,075. Item 04 deals with communications, electronic and general electrical equipment, for which the proposed expenditure is $9,782,000. For 1967-68 the appropriation was $7,079,000 and the expenditure was $5,777,779. Item 05 refers to maintenance and servicing equipment and materials. The proposed expenditure for this item is $6,571,000, whereas for 1967-68 the appropriation was $3,200,000 and the expenditure was $3,296,024. Item 06 relates to barracks, domestic and medical equipment, clothing and textiles for which the proposed expenditure is $3,873,000. For 1967-68 the appropriation was $4,156,000 and the expenditure was $3,290,196. Item 07 relates to liquid fuels and lubricants. The proposed expenditure for this item is $6,700,000: for 1967-68 the appropriation was $6,272,000 and the expenditure was $5,190,465. For Division 700 the total proposed expenditure is $63,027,000 and for 1967-68 the total appropriation was $50,289,000 and the total expenditure was $46,611,190.
That is the only information J have available to me at the moment. I have said at least three or four times in the course of our consideration of these estimates that I shall endeavour to obtain information which cannot, be supplied during the course of the debate and will make it available to honourable senators as soon as T can.
– Tn these circumstances. Mr Chairman, is it not the traditional practice to postpone the con sideration of the estimates until the information is supplied, not merely to the individual senator who has requested it but to the Committee of the Senate? This is a committee matter; it is not a request being made by an individual on his own behalf. We are engaged in a consideration of the Estimates by the Committee as a whole. My understanding is that the course 1 suggest has been readily agreed to in the past. If it has not been agreed to on any occasion it has been insisted upon, not in any way as a party political approach to the matter but because this was the only way in which the Senate could exercise ils function, through the Committee, to ensure that the Estimates were properly considered. I press the Minister for Repatriation to consider this and to agree that, if honourable senators want information on these matters during the consideration of the Estimates, consideration of this part should not be concluded before that information is supplied. If the Minister wants to go ahead to deal with other aspects, well and good, but certainly consideration of the estimates for the Department of Air should not be concluded until such time as the information which has been sought by honourable senators has been supplied.
– What is the item on which the explanation is required?
– As I understand it, the item relates to the construction of certain aerodromes. The Minister has conceded that he is unable to supply the information at this stage. The appropriate course would be to postpone further consideration of this item or at least this portion of the estimates until such time as he is in a position to supply the information. I ask the Government to consider this action, especially in the light of its being substantially the traditional method of dealing with estimates. On previous occasions when Ministers have not been able to proceed with the estimates of their department there has been no difficulty about standing over consideration of them. There should be no difficulty on this occasion. This should not be a matter requiring a vote by the Committee; it should be agreed to as a matter of common sense.
– 1 woul’d think that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) would be the first to recognise that because of the multitude of estimates with which Senate Ministers have to deal it is almost a superhuman task tor them to be familiar with any detail that is requested. The right of a member of the Opposition or any other honourable senator to ask for information and to probe any item is not in dispute. We are here as Ministers to give service to honourable senators by the provision of all possible information from the departments. Up to this stage there has been a complete understanding on this matter within the chamber.
In regard to Senator Murphy’s point about standing estimates over, 8 or 10 years ago, when we were concerned with a determinative vole, that procedure would have had validity in a proper case. Of course, by interrupting our procedure unnecessarily we only frustrate ourselves. Tonight we are dealing only with a motion to take note of the proposed expenditure. As Senator Kennelly and other senators will remember, this procedure was devised 7 or 8 years ago, after quite some debate, to enable us to proceed with our consideration of the Estimates without waiting for the House of Representatives to conclude its consideration of them. With this procedure all the rights of the Senate are preserved because, after we pass the motion to take note of proposed expenditure, when the Bill comes before us at the conclusion of this debate in Committee it will be open to any honourable senator to put an item to a determinate vote.
– ls not now the time when we should* deal with the matter? We do not want to have to deal with it again.
– According to such standing orders as one chooses to observe, it is within the will of the Senate. I have put one perfectly valid argument to another constitutionalist. 1 also remind honourable senators that we are dealing with a block of estimates. Why should we frustrate ourselves for the rest of the evening by not considering items other than the controversial one within that block of estimates? I will be surprised if, by the time we have done thai, the resources of the Department of Air have not provided all the answers that Senator Keeffe reasonably requires.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) ment which, as I understand the position
– I do not think we have before us a motion for adjournment.
– The motion before the Chair is that the proposed expenditure for the Department of Air be postponed.
– Then, Mr Chairman, I raise a point of order. I submit that such a motion is contrary to standing order 1 1 S and cannot be entertained without leave of the Committee.
– On what ground does the Minister submit that?
– Standing order 115 reads:
No Senator shall, unless by leave of the Senate, or unless it be otherwise specialty provided by the Standing Orders, make any Motion, except in pursuance of notice openly given at a previous sitting of the Senate, and duly entered on the Notice Paper.
Let me add that any amendment is required to be in a specific form. If there is before the Chair any amendment to the motion to take note of the proposed expenditure, under standing order 137 it must be:
By leaving out certain words only;
So I submit that the motion in its present form is incompetent.
– In regard to the point of order raised by Senator Wright, he will know from past experience, and by recollecting many amendments that he has moved in Committee, that we have always followed the practice of postponing clauses. For his information I cite standing order 205, which does not require any notice at all.
- Mr Chairman, I appreciate your remarks about Senator Wright’s attitude to such questions in the past.
– I suggest that the honourable senator speak to the motion.
– The motion, as I understand it, is that the proposed expenditure for the Department of Air be postponed. I understand that it is a postponement until such time as the information requested by a particular senator is supplied. The real question is: Is there any justification for postponement until we receive that information? The point is that we are being asked to approve an expenditure of $385.3m by the Department of Air this year. This is a serious matter. The people elected to represent the States should ensure that there is no wasteful expenditure.
Senator Keeffe has exercised his right to scrutinise every item of expenditure. He must be given concrete answers to his questions before he or any other honourable senator is justified in voting this sum of money for the next 12 months. Before Senator Keeffe or any other honourable senator can report back to his constituents on the justification for voting this amount of money he has to ensure that there is no wasteful expenditure by this Department. Many questions involving this Department arise, ft is unfortunate that in this chamber we have a Minister only representing the Minister for Air. I do not believe that we can criticise the responsible Minister. He is advised by officers who should have their fingers on these questions all the time. The question that arises is: What is wrong with this Department that, it cannot supply the information that we want? It is not a matter of criticising the Minister. As Senator Wright said, a Senate Minister cannot be expected to perform the superhuman task of knowing all the details. But where are the people in control of the Department who should be able to supply the answers to the questions that we have been asking today?
In relation to Division 705, the question has been repealed about three times. The first two times it was asked there was no knowledge of how the sum of $62,600 had been spent. The third time it was asked we received the information that it was spent in Port Moresby. The fourth time it was asked we received the information that it was spent on four airfields.
– No, not on four airfields; for airfields.
– I recognise that there may have been a mistake. Tonight we received the information that it was spent in Port Moresby. I want to know whether it was spent in Port Moresby and what are the sizes of the airfields. The answers to those questions may lead to more questions. There is some suspicion that any information was grasped in order to satisfy Senator Keeffe. That is not good enough when we are being asked to vote about $385m.
The questions asked in relation to Division 700 - Equipment and Stores - have not been answered satisfactorily. All that the Minister has done has been to tell us the expenditure on various items in past years. We want a detailed account of how this money was spent last year and how it will be spent this year. The Minister, through the head of the Department, is unable to supply that information. Should we vote an amount of $63m in respect of Division 700 when we do not know how that sum of money will be spent? We cannot even get a satisfactory answer on how it was spent last year. Is it right for people who are the custodians of the public purse in this chamber to vote that sum of money without receiving the required explanations?
All we say is that this .Department has been lax in supplying the required information. It should get to work before we finish our consideration of the Estimates and give us the information for which we have asked so that wc can pass the Estimates. I do not think there is any intention on the part of anyone on this side of the chamber to deprive the Government of funds by refusing to pass the Estimates but we would be lacking in our duty - 1 refer now not only to Opposition senators but also to honourable senators on the Government side - if we passed the Estimates without knowing how the money was spent last year and how it will be spent this year.
– I have given repeated assurances-
– 1 raise a point of order, Mr Chairman. This is a motion for postponement on which Senator McKellar already has spoken.
– We are in committee and anyone may speak.
– I understand that 1 got the call. I just want to say - 1 think this will satisfy Senator Cavanagh - that I have given repeated assurances this afternoon that any information not available at the present time will be made available, provided I can get it, at a later stage in the form of a statement.
– We want it before we pass the Estimates.
– The honourable senator has spoken, and now I am speaking. This information can be made available to every member of this place. Neither I nor the. Department has tried to cover up anything.
– Is this the way to do it?
– Will you be quiet?
– I rise to order. This is not an explanation. The Minister has said that he will try to get the information. Are we to get the information before the Estimates are passed?
– Order! The Minister is giving his answer and I have no control over what he says.
– If you would only keep quiet you would get the answer.
– We want the answers before the Estimates are passed.
– You are not satisfied with this?
– Hear, hear!
– I thought you were asked to keep quiet? Having regard to the number of questions that have been fired at the Department in such a short space of time I am not suggesting that should not happen it obviously has been physically impossible-
– Hear, hear! Then adjourn it.
– Order! Senator Cavanagh, you have had your say.
– I am agreeing with him, Mr Chairman.
– It has been physically impossible for the Department to get the answers that have been required in the time available.
– Then postpone these estimates until it is physically possible.
– Order! I ask for silence while the Minister is speaking.
– I am quite prepared to allow time to permit the answers to the questions to be provided. There has not been time to provide them as quickly as Opposition senators would wish. That is OK. I go along with the honourable senator. It is the Opposition’s job to query the Estimates. I have no quarrel with that. In view of all that has happened I am quite prepared to accept an adjournment or postponement until we have an opportunity to get the answers to the questions that the Opposition has raised. Mr Chairman,I move:
– Mr Chairman-
-I was on my feet. Mr Chairman.
– This does not solve my point.
– Order! The Minister tried to propose a motion. There is already a motion before the Chair.
– They can listen to me on the adjournment if I do not get a go now.
– I call Senator Devitt.
– Why did 1 not get the call? How doI get the call?
– I was gagged through you and the Minister when the estimates for the previous department were being discussed.
– Order! If the honourable senator does not keep quiet I am afraidI will haveto name him.
– I want my say before we go tonight. I can assure you of that.
– Order! I call Senator Devitt.
– I support the motion because the Minister has indicated that he will get the information if he can and will supply it to us. It has been my understanding all through the piece, and I believe it would be conceded, that it is part of the responsibility of an Opposition to inquire into Government expenditure, not necessarily for our own personal information but so that the record will show how the funds of this country are being spent. That is all I ask for. The Minister has said that the Department should be given an opportunity to get the information. 1 put to you, Mr Chairman, that 1 raised the matter of the salary and allowances of certain officers in the Air Force some time ago. Surely to goodness sufficient time has elapsed since then for the Minister at least to give me a little more information than merely to say across the chamber: ‘We will see if we can get the information for the honourable senator’. That is the only point I raise. 1 have aired this matter on two occasions since we commenced debating the Estimates today. The Minister has indicated that it takes some time to get answers to questions and that the questions have just been raised. On the contrary, the questions have not just been raised. 1 raised this question some time ago. While this may not be a very important matter to honourable senators, it is an important matter to members of the Services. If we are to have some regard for the people in the armed Services we will do our job. If someone does not know his rate of pay, allowances and so on it is up to us to raise the matter in this place. Far from this being the first occasion on which I have raised this matter, I say to the Minister that it was raised some time ago and one has the right to expect, on an occasion such as this when we are examining the estimates of the Department, that at least some attempt will be made to provide answers.
– I am always most anxious to hear Senator Mulvihill, as he knows, and of course Senator Cavanagh we must always hear. 1 intervene merely to say that Senator Devitt obviously did not hear what Senator McKellar said. The Minister said he was prepared to postpone this item and-
– That was after a motion was proposed.
– It was put in that form in the request. When he proceeded to indicate to the Committee the item to which he would wish to proceed there was a procedural difficulty. I rise merely to indicate that the only procedural difficulty is that Senator Keeffe’s motion is formally before the Chair. If that is adhered to then I expect it has to be put. However, if we really want to get information for our electors I suggest that we accept the Minister’s statement to that effect. Would it not be in accordance with the status of this chamber to withdraw the motion so that Senator McKellar may indicate the next item that he would like the Committee to consider?
– I want to explain to the Senate why I am such an aggrieved party. With all due respect to the remarks of Senator Wright and Senator McKellar in reply to Senator Keeffe’s request for information, 1 entered the debate because, like Senator Wilkinson, I was completely brushed off on a technicality which .1 know could be applied to the consideration of other departmental estimates - namely, that we should stale the Division number to which we are directing our remarks. I was seeking to refer to an item relating to administration and I paid the Minister the compliment of quoting from reports of the relevant department but I was told that 1 was quoting from an incorrect report.
I do not want to be dragging in other issues. I entered this debate for only one purpose. Later 1 shall be speaking to the proposed expenditures for the Department of the Interior and the Immigration Department. When dealing with the Immigration Department, I shall be quoting from the report of the Immigration Planning Committee. When dealing with the Department of the Interior I propose quoting the background of the park proposals of the Department of the Interior. In view of our earlier skirmish, I now feel that when I quote from a report the Minister will say: ‘That is a report. It is not relevant to administration’, and I shall be required to sit down without getting any answer to my question. lt is that attitude which has made me so irate.
I seconded Senator Keeffe’s proposal for a special reason. I want to be sure that, in subsequent discussions, after having paid the Minister the compliment of doing our homework and studying the various reports, we will be given reasonable answers to reasonable requests. Earlier I asked a question with relation to the export of meat to
Europe. The officers of the department concerned were present. I am not now referring to the officers of the Department of Air. The Minister said: That information is in the Australian Meat Board’s report. 1 have not got to answer that question.” I have been smouldering all night about that. I do not apologise for my attitude because 1 want an answer to my question and 1 think it better that I should say so now than to wait till 10.30 tonight to say it.
– All I seek now from the Minister is clarification of the position. 1 understood that the Minister has agreed to my proposal but wants the right to . nominate the next division to be discussed.
– He has that right.
– J n those circumstances, we have achieved what we set out to achieve and I am quite happy to withdraw my motion and to allow discussion of this matter to be postponed until such time as the required information is obtained.
- Senator Keeffe is asking for leave to withdraw his motion. Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) agreed to:
That further consideration of the estimates for the Department o£ Air and intervening divisions bc postponed until after the consideration of the estimates for the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Army.
Department of the Navy
Proposed expenditure, $215,149,500.
– I refer to Division 636, item 03. This item relates to armament stores. The proposed appropriation for 196S-69 represents an increase of approximately 100% over the expenditure for .1967-68. I assume that this has something to do with the purchase of equipment for the Charles F. Adams clas’s destroyers, and f would appreciate some confirmation of that view. I. refer next to Division 640 which relates to naval construction. 1 refer in particular to the destroyer lender ‘Stalwart’. On page 27S of his report, the Auditor-General refers to an appropriation of $125,000 presumably for equipment bought under the credit arrangement with the United States of America. I would be interested to know exactly what that equipment was, if the information can be supplied. 1 should also like to know what consideration was given to the introduction of automated processes on the vessel and whether any of the proposed expenditure includes provision for remote control or automated processes in the engine room. I presume that some of this money has been expended for that purpose. Again on page 278 of his report the Auditor-General makes reference to twenty patrol vessels which are being constructed. In the first paragraph of that reference appear the words: . . joint venture by two Queensland companies by fixed contract with escalation provision (or labour and material.
Can the Minister explain what the contract provides? I ask this question because, during the year, additional sums amounting to approximately $17,500 were appropriated for the purposes of this contract. I should also like from the Minister some detailed information relating to the vessels themselves. Presumably these vessels are to be used for the normal patrol purposes which one would expect with vessels of this type. If they are to be used for the same purposes as similar vessels belonging to other navies, 1 should be interested to know why they are so slow for the amount of money which apparently is being expended on them and why they are also so lightly armed.
Cun the Minister tell us at this stage the unit cost of the vessels? 1 understand that delivery has not yet been completed but that up to this stage apparently $12m has been expended on them. I should like to know also whether the Minister can tell us the unit cost of the submarines which come within this item. I understand that the original contract price for each submarine was $10m. Presumably provision for only one submarine is included in the proposed appropriation for this year. 1 should like to know also whether provision is made in Division 640 for the construction of a submarine rescue vessel which the Australian Navy does not possess at the moment, although other navies with such small fleets as three submarines do have these types of vessels, ff no provision for a submarine rescue vessel is included in the proposed appropriation, perhaps the Minister can explain just why this is so.
– I refer to Division 638 which relates to ships, aircraft, machinery and plant. I refer in particular to the Skyhawk aircraft. These aircraft were bought from the United States of America in 1967 at a cost of $10m. It was reported recently that it has been impossible to obtain spare parts and other equipment to keep these fighter bombers in service mainly because the United States Services could not supply our requirements. Because of this, the aircraft have been grounded to some extent. I have asked previously whether the Government aircraft factories could produce spare parts for our own aircraft and other equipment, such as masks, which I am told are in short supply. The Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) on behalf of the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) said that the Department of the Navy would investigate to what extent such equipment could be produced in Australia. The important point to remember is that we are becoming more reliant upon other countries, particularly the United States, for this equipment and in many cases it is in short supply. lt is also expensive. I think that the Government aircraft factories should be able to produce most of this equipment. The Minister for Supply, on behalf of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) said recently that the Government is looking for work for these factories and that they are in fact doing work that should be done by private enterprise in order to keep them going. To what extent does the Department of the Navy think that it can use the facilities available in Australia to produce the equipment for this type of aircraft?
– 1 have a number of questions that 1 wish to pose to the Minister. I. refer to the proposed appropriation for pay and allowances in the nature of pay for the permanent naval forces. I notice that there is a substantial increase over last year’s expenditure. Has this been brought about because of some increase in salaries generally or because of the appointment of additional naval staff? I refer also to Division 634 - Administrative expenses and general services. It appears that moneys received from canteen tenancies and associated rentals may be credited to this Division. That ex planation is very indistinct. Has the money been so credited? If so, under what heading and how much has been credited? For what canteens has that money been credited? I think those are fair questions to ask. They are not meant to confuse anybody. I am sorry if I have asked embarrassing questions, but I want to know the answers.
The proposed expenditure for special training fees for naval aviation and other personnel is another matter concerning me. Will this money be spent in Australia, the United States, Britain or some other country? The proposed expenditure for repair and other charges for ships, aircraft, machinery and plant is $ 11.5m, which is quite a substantial increase from last year’s expenditure of about $8. 5m. I want to know how far behind schedule is the construction of twenty patrol boats for the Navy. It would also be helpful if I were advised whether any of these patrol boats will be based in Townsville or some other northern port on the Queensland coast and not Sydney or Melbourne. I would also like to know the individual prices of the patrol boats up to their completion. In other words, will the first one completed cost any less than the last one that has been completed so far or the last one yet to be completed?
I refer also to HMAS ‘Melbourne’. As most Australians are aware, at the moment the Navy is operating without an aircraft carrier. This will be the situation for some months. Could the Minister advise the original date that refitting was to be completed and the original estimated cost of that refit? Can he now advise the likely date that the refitting will be completed and the likely cost? I have a number of other questions but I will leave them for the moment.
– 1 wish to reply to a couple of questions that Senator Wriedt asked. The fixed contract price for the patrol boats is to be increased $17,500 each or $350,000 for the 20 that have been ordered. As I understand the position, 12 of those patrol boats are in operation. It is expected that the other 8 will be available shortly. The increased cost is for changes in design and extras . that have been required by the Navy. Each unit is expected to cost $800,000, including fitted equipment. Senator -Wriedt also asked a question concerning the increased appropriation for armament stores. The increased use of missiles and ammunition, in Vietnam is the reason for that increase.
Senator Keeffe referred to moneys received from canteen tenancies. These are rentals paid by such people as barbers, bootmakers and so on who are licensed to operate at naval establishments. The appropriation of $791,000 for special training fees for naval aviation and other personnel includes $137,000 for special training fees iti Australia and $640,000 for special training fees overseas. Senator Bishop asked to what extent the Government aircraft factories could be used to produce the equipment for our aircraft. He mentioned the shortage of work for these factories. I heard him ask a question along those lines of the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson). 1 hope to get some information for Senator Bishop on that aspect. 1 have not received answers to the other questions asked by Senator Keeffe, but I hope to have that information at a later stage.
– I refer to Division 640 - Naval Construction. The estimate is $47,449,000. I wish to deal with Garden Island in particular. 1 ask the Minister: What is the position regarding the refitting and state of preparedness of HMAS ‘Melbourne’, which is in dock at Garden Island? As most honourable senators are aware, there has been a great deal of industrial trouble associated with the refitting of HMAS ‘Melbourne’. I wish to express a point of view regarding the management of Garden Island, which is probably the basis for the trouble there. There are 14 unions operating at Garden Island and T know most of the union leaders there. They seem to be well set up, decent, intelligent Australians who are skilled men. They do not desire to hold up production at Garden Island. But there is a certain atmosphere at Garden Island which I think the management, the Naval Board and the top officials should do something about. The unions are concerned at the conditions. They feel that the conditions should be similar to those found in an ordinary workshop or factory. But this is not so at Garden Island. I would like the Minister to express a view on this.
There should be a civilian managerial staff to break the contact between the organised tradesmen on the job at Garden Island and the naval management. Navy personnel, because of their training and experience, are not able to deal with men freely employed. Navy people deal with trainees, reservists and other Service personnel who are subject to naval discipline. However, unionists are not subject to that type of discipline. When management tries to apply that kind of discipline it gets into trouble. There is disharmony and disruption in the industry. The naval management and the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) ought to try to find a solution to this problem which is always recurring at Garden Island. I do not think the unions want to stop work any more than the management wants them to stop.
All sorts of strange things happen at Garden Island. Unionists at the steel works, at Mort’s Dock, or Cockatoo Island work for one employer. At Garden Island they often work for subcontractors. While there are many unions involved in the work at Garden Island there are also many subcontractors. In a sense the unionists are not working for the Garden Island authorities but are directly responsible to contractors who appear one and not the next. As a matter of fact this happened on the refit being carried out to HMAS ‘Melbourne’. Contractors would move their plant on to the island whilst the men were waiting to know when they would be able to get on with that job. They could not work until the contractors were ready to work. If there are fourteen different groups of people on one job then there will be complications. The people there really work for subcontractors and sometimes people working for themselves have a habit of appearing not to be terribly interested in getting on with a job. Possibly this is sometimes due to the fact that there are certain conditions imposed which take the urgency out of the matter.
I have met the men at Garden Island. I have been to their meetings and have spoken with their committees. They have been really frustrated about getting on with the job. Demarcation disputes occur which should not occur.- There is a sense of urgency about work on a ship like HMAS Melbourne’. The men are very interested in getting on with the job but at Garden
Island they are not always able to do this. This is due to the three-way conflict that appears to exist. There are fourteen unions operating at Garden Island and probably this is too many. . They, have their demarcation disputes and they have different ideas on wage rates. This does not always work out in a naval establishment.
The control system operating at Garden Island is the worst feature. The Department of the Navy and the top management at the dockyard let the various jobs. The electrical work may go to one subcontractor and the painting work may go to three or four subcontractors. This is what happens throughout the entire field of the work. Private industry would not operate in this way. 1 cannot imagine any major private industries in Australia carrying on in the way that operations are carried out at Garden Island. I ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) to take this matter up with the Minister for the Navy. I ask him to explain the views I have expressed. 1 ask htm to consider the effect of the contracting system for the work to be done and its influence on industrial peace at Garden Island. However, I particularly want to know the stage that has been reached in the reconstruction of HMAS Melbourne’. Is the Minister happier now about conditions at Garden Island than he was 12 months ago? Will he give real thought to the question of industrial relations at Garden Island so that there can be continuity of employment and production?
– I. know that Senator Keeffe also is interested in HMAS ‘Melbourne’. The original date of completion of the 12 months refit was December 1968 and the original cost was estimated at $7. 26m. lt is still1 due to be completed in December but the cost is now estimated at $8.432m. The increase is said to be due to additional refitting work, disruption because of industrial unrest and wages escalation. Senator Ormonde mentioned the industrial unrest at Garden Island and I will have more to say about that matter. There have been continuing discussions with union representatives over many months about the industrial climate and considerable progress has been made. As the representative of the Minister for the Navy, I can say that I feel1 the position is better now than it was some months ago. As Senator Ormonde well knows, there is a long history of difficulty. The honourable senator mentioned this history. One matter relates to the demarcation of shipbuilding trades. I think the honourable senator mentioned that 14 unions are involved at Garden Island. That is a large number of unions and it is only reasonable to expect that differences of opinion will arise between them. The general manager at the Garden Island dockyard is a naval officer but he has many civilian personnel directly under him. One of these is the production manager. He originally was an apprentice at Garden Island and therefore he should be familiar with the feelings of the men working there.
Either Senator Ormonde or Senator Keeffe asked me about the unit cost of submarines. We anticipate that the four submarines will cost $47,552,000. This includes base spares for them. Those are the answers I have at the moment to the questions asked. I will try to have the other answers shortly.
– I should like the Minister to give me some information on one or two items. The first relates to payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. The appropriation last year was $236,000 and actual expenditure was $253,670. There was expenditure in excess of the appropriation. Obviously there were more accidents during the year or more payments for accidents than were anticipated. This year the Parliament is asked to approve ah appropriation of $250,000, which is about the same as last year’s expenditure. I respectfully ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) to tell us what is being done in the Department of the Navy to reduce accidents on shore and at sea. lt would appear that the Government is satisfied in merely accepting that these accidents happen and in providing an appropriation for them. I point out that industry today is ‘ concentrating on safety and consequently is receiving rewards for having so many accident free days or accident free weeks. I. am anxious to know what the Royal Australian Navy is doing to try to reduce this appropriation. Accidents involve not only money but suffering and loss to the employees. They do not receive as compensation what they would receive in Service. pay.
The next item to which I refer is the compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury. Last year $45,000 was appropriated and $35,864 was spent. I would like to know what damage occurred to property and what personal injury was caused. Is there any way to avoid this? Apparently this year the Department of the Navy, in despair, has thrown up its hands and has almost doubled last year’s expenditure. Is the Department’s action such that the claims for compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury will double? Surely there must be some clear explanation. What is the Department’s intention? I do not know whether the $35,000 expended last year included payments as a result of the ‘Voyager’ disaster, but 1 note that last year provision was made for an ex gratia payment of $60,000 to Captain Robertson. I do not know whether the payment of $60,000 was made out of the general appropriation.
I would like to know the pre-entry expenses for recruits, for which this year $50,000 has been appropriated. What expenses are incurred before recruits enter the Service? The explanatory paragraph in Division 636 states: (Moneys received in respect of the following services may be credited to the items to which they relate - sales of clothing to personnel; sales of materials to contractors to complete naval contracts; sales of rations to officials, contractors’ employees and others: sales of unused equipment and stores which are to be replaced: sales of oil fuel.)
What naval clothing is sold to personnel? Is the Department the purchasing agent for contractors and does it supply them with materials for the purpose of completing contracts? Is the Department a retail store? Who are the others to whom the rations are sold? Does the Department have a system of retailing? I want to know the terms of sale. Are the goods sold at a loss, at a profit or at cost? To whom are they sold?
– I have one question to ask; it is not a very long one. I am not concerned about receiving an answer this evening. 1 refer to the proposed expenditure of $1.1,476,000 on ships, aircraft, machinery and plant - repair and other charges - under Division 638 and, by way of contrast, to the pro posed expenditure of $3,614,000 on repairs and maintenance under Division 657. 1 would like to know the reason for this double classification of repairs and whether it would be possible to amalgamate the two items. What reason is there for separation? In due course would it be possible to have a little more detail on the repairs and maintenance item?
– 1 seek some information concerning certain items under Division 634. I refer to the proposed expenditure on office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing; postage, telegrams and telephone services; and naval aviation and other personnel - special training fees; and to the ex gratia payment of $60,000 to Captain Robertson last financial year. This year the appropriation for office requisites, etc., is approximately $310,000 greater than the expenditure for 1967-68. I know that the Printing Industry Employees Union of Australia is most active on behalf of its members. 1 did not know that the cost of newsprint was that much higher. If the Government permits the importation of Hong Kong newsprint that figure will be reduced, but the Government will be paying more in unemployment benefit. The expenditure on postage, etc., in comparison with the first item 1 mentioned, is only $38,000 greater. It appears to me that the appropriation for this year could have been under-estimated. However the officers of the Department of the Navy should know their requirements for postage, etc. 1 think the Minister should give fairly substantial detail about the proposed expenditure on special training fees for naval aviation and other personnel. The appropriation this year is $530,000 less than that for last year. This is at a time when we are supposed to be providing for the defence of our country. I am gratified that Captain Robertson has received an ex gratia payment of $60,000. I hope the Government will make a similar payment to Gunner Newman’ of Queensland.
I turn my attention to the appropriation for naval construction under Division 640. I note that it is $2m less than for last year. The Committee is entitled to some explanation as to why, in this period of our history, we should be spending $2m less than we did in the last financial year. The appropriation for the purchase and manufacture of aircraft and associated initial equipment under Division 642 is down $36,000 on last year’s expenditure. I am reliably informed by officers of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that skilled tradesmen in the aircraft industry in Melbourne are faced with the threat of unemployment. We are building up industries, but employees are to be thrown on the industrial scrapheap.
– Work will be found for them.
– Senator Sim will have the opportunity to speak again. He might prefer to go to the United Kingdom again to see if he can get better treatment,
– 1 have answers to some of the questions asked. Senator Cavanagh passed a series of questions in relation to sales made under Division 636. The sales to which he referred include sales of oil to shipping companies where commercial stocks are unobtainable. That is the information given to me. He asked the basis on which the items are sold, lt is the cost to the Commonwealth or market price, whichever is the greater. 1 was asked a’ question about the cost of spares for the Skyhawk aircraft under Division 638. For practical reasons we must buy the initial spares at the time that the aircraft is purchased. This is common practice, as I understand it. The maximum use is made of local production for maintenance spares, lt will be appreciated that, because of the limited number of each item of spares, local production is out of the question for some items because of cost. 1 think that is beyond doubt.
asked whether it would be possible to amalgamate Division 638 - ships, aircraft, machinery and plant - repair and other charges, and Division 657 - repairs and maintenance. The reason why they cannot be amalgamated is this: Division 638 applies to the maintenance of ships in docks carried out under the technical supervision of naval personnel. Division 657 relates to repairs to buildings and works, which is the function of the Department of Works. I was asked a question about the Permanent Naval Forces, for which provision is mads under Division 630. The difference between last year’s expenditure and this year’s appropriation is due to additional personnel joining the Forces and to the provision of $3.9m for the introduction of trade group pay from March 1968. Those are the answers that I have at the moment.
– I refer to the proposed expenditure for naval construction under Division 640. I believe that some reference has been made to the submarines that Australia has on order. I ask the Minister - perhaps I should know the answer - when the submarine orders will be completed and when the submarine flotilla will become operational. I think this is a matter of importance to Australia’s defence.
– I am seeking some information relating to Divisions 650. 652 and 653. I have noticed that these appropriations are under the control of other departments but in each case there is quite a substantial difference between last year’s expenditure and this year’s appropriation. I imagine that there is involvement with other departments and other movements, but the differences are considerable. Last year’s expenditure under Division 650 on advances to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was $716,447. The amount appropriated this year is $1,054,000. Last year’s expenditure under Division 652 for the acquisition of sites and buildings was $2,130. This year’s appropriation is $35,500. The trend is reversed in Division 653 - National Capital Development Commission. Last year the expenditure on this Division under the National Capital Development Commission Act was $7,250. This year no amount has been appropriated. I would appreciate an explanation from the Minister.
– I wish to refer to several more divisions. Previously 1 sought information about the completion dates of patrol boats. The Minister in his reply on that subject did not state a date of completion. I specifically asked for an estimated date of completion and information as to how far the programme is behind schedule. I hope that the
Minister will have another look at that for me. 1 now refer to Division 648 which sets out details of recoverable expenditure by other administrations. Last year’s expenditure on the items listed under this Division ranged to about $2. 5m. This year there is no appropriation for any item in the Division. The appropriation last year for ‘Other’ was overspent by about $100,000. I would like some information from the Minister on how the money was spent in respect of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and ‘Other’. 1 would also like to know what countries are covered by the word ‘Other’. 1 turn now to the appropriation of $35,500 under Division 652 for acquisition of sites and buildings. Last year’s expenditure on this item was $2,130. I would like to know where the money is being spent and on what. 1 am a little puzzled by Division 653 - National Capital Development Commission. The estimates state that money appropriated under this Division is for expenditure under the National Capital Development Commission Act. This year no money has been appropriated for this Division. Probably there is a very simple explanation. Last year’s appropriation was underspent by $250.
Earlier we discussed the appropriation for the construction of houses for Air Force personnel in the Canberra area. 1 respectfully suggest that one of the great weaknesses of the Government is in the provision of housing for Service personnel. Efforts made to recruit young people into the Services are partially successful. Recruitment for the Army is probably the most successful because people are conscripted into the Army. So far they have not been conscripted into the Navy or the Air Force. It is necessary to offer more than adequate salary ranges and attractive conditions of service. One of the greatest handicaps to successful recruitment of young people to make a career in the Services is the lack of housing facilities. 1 doubt that the Minister for the Navy (Mr Kelly) has seen any of the housing provided for naval personnel, except the front row showpieces. I have seen the shocking conditions under which young married couples, often with youngsters, are living. Honourable senators opposite in the same age group, if offered the same living con ditions, would shy clear of the Navy or the other Services. Some naval personnel have to live in conditions worse than those provided for pigs. On this occasion I will not name places. I did that once before and some unfortunate young people had to suffer. In some cases they were transferred from the naval depots in which they were established. It is a shocking state of affairs when people in the Services are blackmailed. Orders are passed down from Government level to the heads of the Service departments. This time I will not nominate the places concerned but 1 suggest that the responsible Minister have a look at some of the housing conditions for young naval personnel.
– I draw the attention of the Minister to Division 636 under which appropriations are made for general stores for ships, fleet auxiliaries and naval establishments. I want merely to point out that the projected expenditure for this Division is $40,527,000. Last year’s expenditure was $31,760,225. The expected increase is over $8m. or about 274%. f now direct the Minister’s attention to the report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June 1968. At page 276 under the heading ‘Stores and Store Accounting’ the Auditor-General said:
Previous reports have referred to unsatisfactory features of store accounting in the Supply Division (formerly (he Naval and Air Store Branch), New South Wales. The position with regard to the triennial stocktaking programme was reported to have worsened during 1966-67 and a high rate of discrepancies continued to he disclosed by stocktakings.
He then referred to the Public Accounts Committee and went on:
During 1967-68, special measures were taken to overtake arrears of stocktaking wilh the result that all stock inventories were subject to physical check before the close of the year. Whilst the necessary investigations of discrepancies revealed had not been concluded when, this Report was prepared, departmental records indicate that, as at 30 June 1968, there had been a marked reduction in the rate of discrepancies.
The appropriation of over $40m is a large sum of money to be spent by the Department. 1 am a little concerned to draw the inference, perhaps incorrectly, that physical stocktaking has come about fairly late in the day. I ask the Minister whether in due course, when the final results for 1967-68 are available, he will advise me of the discrepancy in the final check figures at 30th
June 1968 by physical stocktaking against the projection, and whether the continuing trend of improvement referred to is still in evidence.
– Earlier 1 asked the Minister, about the speed of the patrol boats. I have, not received a reply. Also, i have not received a reply to my question regarding the submarine salvage vessel.
– 1 ask the Minister to indicate whether the appropriation of $47,449,000 under Division 640 for naval construction represents completely new work or the completion of work which was commenced under the vote for the preceding year or years. To what extent does the appropriation of $47,449,000 for this year represent provision for completely new work and to what extent is it for the completion of work commenced in the preceding year?
– I am informed that the estimated date of delivery of the last patrol boat is April 1969. Senator Wriedt asked about the speed of the patrol boats. That information is classified, but I can say it is over 20 knots. Senator Davidson asked some questions about advances under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. This vote is controlled by the Department of Housing on behalf of the Department of the Navy. The appropriation of $1,054,000 is based on the amount assessed under the agreement to cover the share of the Department of the Navy of the cost of erecting approximately 321 dwellings to be rented by Royal Australian Navy personnel. The proposed expenditure is $337,553 greater than that of 1967-68 - when it was $716,447 - due to a greater number of houses to be built for the Navy. I refer next to the acquisition of sites and buildings under Division 652. The provision of $35,500 under this division for expenditure in 1968-69 is for acquisitions made on the Navy’s behalf by the Department of the Interior, which controls the vote. The provision of $35,500 is for the acquisition of land at HMAS ‘Leeuwin’ in Western Australia at a cost of $22,500 and in the Northern Territory at a cost of $13,000. Expenditure in 1967-68 under this Division was $2,130.
asked whether I could advise him of the order of error as revealed by a physical check. I shall endeavour to obtain from the Minister for the Navy the information which has been sought and shall supply it to the honourable senator. Some mention was made also of a career in the Services. I am not sure what the position is with regard to the recruitment of naval personnel at present. So far as I know it is all right. An additional 1,000 persons will be recruited this year. One of the factors which militates against recruitment in our armed Services is the comparatively early age of retirement for Service personnel. Although it might be a good thing for the Services, it creates problems for a man who goes into the Services at the comparatively early age of 18 or 20 years - or perhaps even younger in the Navy - and who retires at the age of 40 or 45 years. After a career in the Services he has no commercial knowledge of the outside world. For these reasons people are not encouraged to make a career in the Services. But as I have mentioned, it is a good thing from the point of view of the Services because they do not keep a man who is no longer fit to do his job. However, as against this, a man setting out to make a career for himself at the age of 40 or 45 years, or in some instances 50 years, will find some difficulty, depending on his rank at the time of leaving the Service and the type of work he has been doing.
My attention was distracted while Senator Byrne was asking his question. I shall obtain from my advisers the information sought and will provide him with an answer later. 1 was asked also when the submarines now under construction would be completed. lt is expected that the last of the four Oberon class submarines will be completed in August 1969.
– Early in this debate I asked some questions about Divisions 634 and 636, but so far 1 have received no reply. I hope that it is the Minister’s intention to reply to those questions before we conclude the consideration of the estimates for this Department.
– I refer to Division 634 - Administrative expenses and general services. At the beginning of the items under this Division there is a form of words which states:
Moneys received from canteen tenancies and associated rentals may be credited to this Division.
This seems to me to lack a certain, amount of the precision that one would expect to find in public accounting. When I turn to the report of the Auditor-General in relation to administrative expenses and general services I find that for the previous year there was no reference under that item to any credits being received for offsets. I should like to find out, not as a matter of any great urgency, why it is done in this fashion and why the estimated returns which are offset are not already discounted in the figures. I should like to know also why there is this rather vague comment that these moneys may be credited to this division.
– 1 refer to the provision for extra duty pay for civilian personnel in Division 632. I am rather intrigued at this expression. Am I right in assuming that extra duty pay is the payment of overtime to civilian personnel and that ‘extra duty pay’ is a naval term which means overtime? Or is this a payment for some other purpose? I would appreciate some explanation of the expression ‘extra duty pay’.
– I regret that I have not provided Senator Cavanagh with answers to his questions. The increase in the proposed expenditure for travelling and subsistence is due to an expected increase in the number of naval and civilian personnel who have been overseas in connection with the guided missile destroyers and other projects and who will bc returning to Australia with their families.
– I did not ask about that.
– I have noted the honourable senator’s references to Divisions 634 and 636.
– I was seeking information on payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury, and pre-entry expenses of recruits.
– I was trying to give the honourable senator a full explanation of Division 634. The proposed expenditure for payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act is $250,000, whereas last year the appropriation was $236,000 and the expenditure was $253,670. The proposed expenditure this year is $3,670 less than the expenditure for last year. The reason is an expected reduction in the number of lump sum payments for compensation. The only information that I have on compensation paid for damaged property and personal injury is that the proposed increase in the expenditure is due to the settlement last year of a number of substantial claims which will bc paid this year.
– What were those claims?
– I have not that information at present, but I shall endeavour to obtain it for the honourable senator. The estimated expenditure for preentry expenses of recruits is $50,000. In 1967-68 the appropriation for this item was $60,000 and the expenditure was $54,930. The estimate for this year is $4,930 less than the expenditure last year. The brief reason for that variation is that the final expenditure on this item is 1967-68 was higher than had been expected when the estimate for 1968-69 was made. I was asked also whether extra duty pay referred to in Division 632 was overtime for civilian personnel. The answer is yes. This is the normal overtime payment for civilian salaried and wages staff.
– I am not satisfied with the information that I have received from the Minister; I do not think he provided me with answers to the questions I asked. I asked whether it was intended to make an appropriation this year equivalent to the expenditure last year on workmen’s compensation in anticipation of there being as many claims this year as there were in previous years. I asked what campaign is being conducted by the Department to achieve safety in operations and to reduce the amount payable as compensation. I have been given no information in reply to those questions. I was told what the expenditure was for last year and that it was intended to reduce the amount by about $3,000 this year. I believe that I am entitled to more information than that. Does the Department intend to let things muddle along year after year, increasing the compensation each year for more broken bones and more widows in the community? What is the Department doing to eradicate the risk of damage?
The explanation given by the Minister for this year’s appropriation for compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury being double the expenditure last year could be understandable. This year’s appropriation provides for claims that will have to be met in respect of damage that was caused last year. But what is the damage? What does this Department do that causes damage to property and personal injury? Was there any particular accident that gave rise to these claims? What are the damage to property and personal injuries that occur each year? I believe that we are entitled to know these things. Then I want to know what the preentry expenses for recruits are. What does a recruit cost before he comes into the Service. On what is this money spent? All I am told is that this year’s appropriation represents a decrease of about $5,000 on last year’s expenditure. No attempt is made to answer the question that 1 ask. I also ask whether the payment to Captain Robertson was specifically provided for last year or whether it was included in a general appropriation.
I am of the opinion that I have not received an answer to my question in regard to Division 636, unless some vague reference was made to it as 1 was walking in the door. What are the retail or wholesale activities in the sale of goods, the sale of clothing to personnel, the sale of materials to contractors to complete naval contracts and the sale of rations to officials, contractors” employees and others? Who are the ‘others’? What do we sell to these people? Do we sell these goods at market value; do we sell them at cost; or do we sell them at a loss? lt seems unusual for the Department of the Navy to set itself up in competition with suppliers. There may be some valid explanation of this matter. 1 believe that 1 am entitled to an explanation, and I want one.
– 1 will give Senator Cavanagh the only informa tion that I have available to me at the present time in regard to compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury. We will try to obtain some additional information for him. I know that this information will not please him or satisfy him, but it is all that I have. This item provides for compensation payable for damage to property, other than Commonwealth owned, and injury to personnel, other than Commonwealth employed, arising from accidents involving ships, motor vehicles, aircraft or other property. It also provides for damages awarded to Service personnel and civilian employees of the Department of the Navy who elect to seek damages by civil court action in lieu of accepting the statutory compensation payable under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. The provision made is based on known claims pending, plus an estimate, made in the light of previous expenditure trends, of the amount likely to be required for miscellaneous claims.
Senator Cavanagh mentioned the payment to Captain Robertson. That was paid during last year. So it is not included in the amounts that are being appropriated this year. That is all the information I have on that matter. The honourable senator’s question in relation to item 03 in Division 634 related to the increased appropriation. The increase is made up of $68,000 for extra printing requirements for air publications; $38,000 for binders for air publications; $20,000 for cards for electronic data processing use on ships; $48,000 for electronic data processing stores catalogues; and $134,000 for office machines. The appropriation under item 04 includes postage. It is believed that the estimate given is sound. We expect that it will be correct. The appropriation under item 06 concerns training. The main reason for the reduction this year is an accounting agreement under which the Royal Australian Air Force no longer charges the Navy. That accounts for $881,000. In regard to Division 648, Senator Cavanagh asked what countries were covered by the term ‘Other’. The whole of this Division refers to expenditure incurred by the Navy on behalf of other governments, in respect of which receipts will be paid into revenue in 1968-69. The governments covered by the term Other’ include the United States Government. That is all the information I have at the moment.
– I return to the question of patrol craft. The Minister said that the speed of these craft is classified. 1 point out that the current edition of ‘Jane’s Fighting Ships’ gives quite a lot of detail on this matter.
– I understand that it is available there.
– Can the Minister say whether the information contained in that publication is correct or incorrect?
– No, 1 cannot.
– Can the Minister give me any information on the question that 1 asked him previously about the construction of a salvage vessel for submarines? ls that envisaged?
– The information that I have been given is that we have no requirement for such a vessel, and therefore there is no proposal for the construction of one.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) 1.9.37] - 1 appeal to the Minister, in all justice, to consider whether 1 am receiving justice in relation to the questions that 1 am asking. 1 do not want to do what was done earlier tonight, when we had to move a motion for postponement. Surely when we are asked to vote about $2 15m we have a responsibility to make sure that we know how it will be spent and that it will be spent in the best interests of the nation. 1 repeat that I am not criticising the Minister, who represents another Minister. But God help the defence of Australia if the heads of these departments cannot supply us with information in reply to the simple questions which I have asked and which have not been answered.
What is the Department of the Navy doing to prevent accidents? Is that an unreasonable question? ls there any reason Why some indication cannot be given of the campaign of the Department? Or is it doing nothing about the matter? Is it unreasonable to expect the Minister to reply to that question? Is it beyond the capacity of the heads of the Department to supply the information that is required to reply to that question? Is it beyond reason that I should ask for the postponement of these estimates until that information is made available?
Is the Department coming here year after year wilh increasing appropriations for compensation in respect of accidents, loss of life, damage to property and personal injury, without conducting any campaign to eradicate these accidents?
We have been told - and I accept it - that the appropriation under item 09 in Division 634 is for compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury. After 1 have repeated my question twice, I finally receive the answer that this year’s appropriation is in respect of claims for damage caused last year which will have to be met this year. That is the reason given for this year’s appropriation being double last year’s expenditure. We have been told that the appropriation is in respect of accidents involving ships and vehicles and compensation payable to individuals who decide to lake civil action rather than to accept workmen’s compensation. There may be a number of other individuals who decide to accept workmen’s compensation but who could claim civil negligence. This year’s appropriation is $70,000. The Minister says that, the appropriation is for compensation awarded by courts because of the negligence of this Department.
– I did not say that.
– The Minister said that the appropriation was for compensation payable to people who claim for damage caused by ships and vehicles and people who decide to take civil action rather than accept workmen’s compensation. Civil action succeeds only when negligence can be proved. What is this Department doing? Here we are expected to vote double the amount that was voted last year because someone can prove negligence on the part of the Department. Are we not entitled to an explanation from the Minister of what is being done to eradicate this negligence which is costing the nation so much and which is possibly costing the individual much more?
What are the pre-entry expenses incurred by recruits as mentioned in item 13 of Division 634? I still have not received an answer to that question. I am asked to vote $50,000 for expenditure in this direction even though I cannot find out what it is. I am still awaiting information about the trade we are doing in materials, supplies, rations and so on. Do you mean to tell me,
Mr Minister, that the departmental officials advising you cannot say what the materials are, to whom they are supplied and the basis of sale? Where can I go to make a purchase tomorrow? Am I included in the classification ‘others’ to which you referred earlier? 1 ask the Minister: In all fairness is it unreasonable to expect answers to those questions? They are not tricky questions. They are not being asked to upset the Minister or the Department. They are straight out questions, and the Senate should know the answers to them before it passes the estimates. If it is beyond the capacity of the officers here tonight to answer the questions, can we get this section postponed until the Minister can supply the information? It is insufficient for the Minister to say that the information will be supplied some time after we have approved the appropriations.
– I do not want to get into an argument with Senator Cavanagh, who is within his rights in making inquiries about these estimates that 1 would never query; but I believe he is implying things tonight-
– Madam Temporary Chairman, I rise to order. The discussion on the Estimates is for the purpose of obtaining information relating to certain expenditure, not for the purpose of criticising a contribution by another honourable senator who is seeking information. In relation to what division is Senator Marriott seeking information?
– I am speaking to Division 634 and, in the first place, am directing my remarks to item 13 which relates to pre-entry expenses of recruits. There seems to be a query - let us put it that way - relating to this item for which the appropriation is $50,000. I come into this debate because to me the item is so obvious that I think it should be plain to everyone else. 1 know a bit about it because a young nephew of mine recently joined the Army. He lived in Launceston and applied to join the Army. The Army authorities, having received his written application, said: ‘Come to Hobart and be interviewed, have a medical examination, then go back and get leave from your work’. Finally they brought him to Hobart and swore him in as a member of the Permanent Army of Australia. I believe that all the expenses incurred by the Department of the Army in signing up that young lad were pre-entry expenses. I point that out in reply to the questioning that is going on. Naturally, when you are enlisting men in the Navy from all parts of this vast continent you must, incur expenses before they sign on the dotted line. If that is not clear enough to the honourable senator or if I am wrong, the Minister may say so. I was just as interested in explaining how the money was expended as the honourable senator was in trying to imply that the expenditure could not be explained.
I turn now to items 08 and 09 in Division 634, which relate to payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act and compensation payable for damage to property and personal injury. If we were discussing the running of an annual Sunday school picnic or the operations of a static industry or of a factory and found that each year there was heavy expenditure for compensation and damages, I would be one of the first to support a full inquiry. I praise an industry that goes all out to save its workers from injury. But in this case, in the Royal Australian Navy, we are training men for defence, for war, for active service. We have only to see any unit of any arm of the Services being trained to wonder why the dangers they have to face and the work they have to perform do not result in many more claims for damages.
I do not believe that the sum involved ls an untidy sum. It is unfortunate if anyone is injured or does any damage to another person at any time. But when we are training men for the armed Services of the nation it is a risk we have to take. Any honourable senator or anyone reading the report of this debate who has worn a uniform would know that it is better to have a few accidents and damage done in training so that you are well trained when you go on active service and are better able to look out for yourself. So while decrying that there are expenses, 1 believe that they are explainable. I do not think that the honourable senator is fair in implying that it is negligence on the part of the Department of the Navy, the officers of the Navy or its personnel. It is one of the risks of training in the armed Services of the country for which young men are good enough to enlist.
– I rise only, to ask whether the Minister can clarify one or two points covered by items 08 and 09 in Division 634. These are matters about which Senator Cavanagh has been asking questions. Can the Minister say whether the amounts of $250,000 and $70,000 respectively, which are the appropriations for the current year, are in respect of claims that may arise under liability which, out of those claims, may have to be met by the Commonwealth, or whether any part of those two amounts represents prospective payment for claims which have arisen already and in respect of which liability has been determined? 1 think the Minister did make a reference to it earlier and I ask the question again only because of certain comments made by Senator Cavanagh. My purpose in asking is to clarify the matter.
– The second part of the statement I made in reply to the question asked about compensation payable for damage to property and for personal injury was in these terms:
The provision made is based on known claims pending, plus an estimate made in the light of previous exprenditure trends, of the amount likely to be required for miscellaneous claims.
Admittedly the amount appropriated this year for compensation payable for damage lo property and personal injury is practically double the amount appropriated last year but it is not a large sum of money. There is a difference of $35,000. After all, I think it is better to be sure than sorry. I point out to Senator Cavanagh that, given time, information can be supplied on some of the matters in respect of which information has not been supplied already.
– You told me-
– I heard you in silence. In fairness I must say that the officers who come here cannot anticipate every question that will be asked in relation to the Estimates. That would be completely impossible. They come here armed with a lot of information but it is inevitable in my book - I have seen it here year after year - that some questions will be asked to which it will not be possible to give answers at the time of asking. It is possible, however, to give the required information within 24 or 48 hours. That can be done in connection with all the matters in question here. I think it is unreasonable to expect the officers of a department, whether it be the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army or any other department, to come here armed with all the information that is likely to be requested by honourable senators. These men are not the accountants of their departments. Even if they were, they could not be expected to anticipate every question that might be asked during the discussion of these appropriations. And let it be said for the Senate that it has been recognised for very many years that proposed expenditures get a thorough going over in this place. But that is as it should be.
Senator Cavanagh mentioned accidents. He asked whether the Navy was concerned about trying to prevent accidents. The Navy is very conscious of the need to reduce the number of accidents. Within the organisation of the major industrial establishments, there is a nominated safety officer. Returns of accidents are required to be furnished to headquarters for analysis. These accidents are listed in the returns under various causes. This is clear proof that the Navy is interested firstly in the accidents that occur and secondly in trying to prevent future accidents.
A question was asked about the appropriation of moneys under Division 636. I have already mentioned oil fuel. Other examples include the sale of clothing to personnel on repayment and also the sale of materials to contractors for the making of clothing and for the completion of other naval contracts. I was asked about the deployment of patrol vessels. There is no present intention to locate a patrol vessel at Townsville. I cannot recall a question being asked about that tonight; but one was asked at some other time. I have answered the question about the speed of these boats and have said that the information is classified. If some publication has stated their alleged speed, 1 am not prepared to say whether the information so published is correct. All I am told is that the speed of the patrol boats is classified information.
Reference was made to Division 653 which relates to the National Capital Development Commission. Last year we expended $7,250 under this head. There is no allocation for any such expenditure this year. Last year we made the final payment on the electronic data processing equipment. Hence, no further appropriation is sought under this head. Honourable senators will note that as time goes on 1 am able to supply information that I did not have earlier. That is typical of this exercise. Given time, I can provide the required information, but 1 cannot provide answers to a number of questions which are asked in a hurry. I do not condemn honourable senators for asking questions in a hurry. That is their job. But in some cases it is physically impossible to give the required information at the time when honourable senators would like to have it.
– 1 conclude this expression of my dissatisfaction by saying that I will take the mailer no further. 1 am certainly very pleased that Senator Marriott’s explanation was not the official justification offered. I am not satisfied with the mere statement by the Minister that the Department is trying to prevent accidents and has nominated safety officers. We should have some details of what the safety officers are doing. As to payments covered under item 09, I merely asked what the claims were for last year and the year before. 1 am entitled to be given that information, but the Minister cannot supply it. Nor can his department. The Minister says that it is physically impossible to give this information at once but that if he is given 24 hours he can obtain it. 1 have suggested a procedure that may be adopted. If my suggestion is accepted, he and his officers will have until next Tuesday to find answers to my questions. I do not want to embarrass him by moving for the postponement of this discussion.
– I did not catch what the honourable senator said about Tuesday.
– I said that the Minister said it was physically impossible during the discussion of proposed expenditures to supply answers to all the questions that are asked quite legitimately by honourable senators. I agree wtih him to some extent although I still think that capable officers should have more information than has been supplied to us tonight. I still have received no information as to what these pre-entry expenses cover. AH I. have heard is that they cover the cost of getting Senator Marriott’s son or some other relation into the Army.
– I did not give a reply to that question.
– It would be better to keep Senator Marriott’s son out of the Army if the Department has to find $50,000 to cover the cost of getting him in. And that is the only explanation 1 have received so far as to the need for an appropriation of $50,000.
– ft was a nephew.
– Let us keep Senator Marriott’s relations out of the forces and so avoid this heavy cost to the Department. But this is the only information the Senate has been given as to why we should agree to this proposed appropriation of $50,000. If the Minister would agree to adjourn this discussion until next Tuesday his officers would have from now until then to find answers to what I think are legitimate questions. I think I have a right to expect answers to them before agreeing to the proposed expenditure. If he does not care to agree to my suggestion, I take the matter no further. I rely merely on the Minister’s promise to give me the required information within 24 hours.
– Here is further proof of my earlier statement that, given time, I can supply answers to questions. I. am now able to give some additional information relating to the preentry expenses of recruits. The expenditure on fares in 1967-68 was $41,137. The estimated expenditure for 1968-69 is $39,000. There is a reduction here. The expenditure on accommodation and meal costs in 1967-68 was $2,600. This year it is estimated that this cost will be reduced to $2,500. Medical costs last year amounted to $3,514. This year the appropriation sought is $4,000. Last year, $3,279 was spent on advertising. The amount sought for this year is $2,000. Incidental expenditure last year amounted to $4,400. This year it is estimated that this cost will be reduced to $2,500. The total expenditure on these items last year was $54,930. The estimate for this year is $50,000. This includes provision for fares, travelling expenses, medical examinations and miscellaneous expenditure incurred prior to the enlistment of recruits. That should clear up the matter. If any other information is required, I shall be only too pleased to provide it for the honourable senator.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Army
Proposed expenditure, $383,332,000.
– I refer to item 12 of Division 664. lt relates to the hire of aircraft, vehicles and equipment. 1 have a question on the notice paper relating to regulation 108a of the Army Financial Regulations, which suggests that payments are made to Army personnel for the use of their own private aircraft. The appropriation sought for this item for the year 1968-69 is $239,000. The amount appropriated last year was $335,000 and the amount actually expended was $314,069. Is this the item under which Army personnel who use their own aircraft in the course of their duties are paid? If so, how much of last year’s expenditure of $314,069 was paid to Army personnel who used their own private aircraft? If this is not the item under which those payments are made, will the Minister advise me of the correct item and how much was expended for this purpose last year? If it is possible I would like him to give the names of the personnel to whom these payments were made.
– I confine my remarks to compensation for personal injury and damage to property. The total expenditure on this item in 1967-68 was $134,266. An amount of $280,000 is projected for the current year. I have regard to the comments that were made under a similar heading in the estimates for the Department of the Navy. I would like a dissection of that item showing the estimated appropriation for personal injury and that for damage to property. I am not anxious to obtain that information tonightt, but I would like to be informed in due course.
– I refer to Division 660- Australian Forces - and in particular to pay and allowances in the nature of pay. Quite a serious matter is raised in the
Auditor-General’s report that no doubt affects soldiers of all ranks insofar as their pay is concerned. Paragraph 273 of the Auditor-General’s report under the heading Pay Accounting’ states:
An Army Pay Accounting Centre was established in 1962 for the purpose of mechanising and centralising accounting for the pay of members of the Permanent Military Forces.
One of the functions of the Centre is tha preparation and issue of pay variation advices which constitute authority to Army units to vary and up-date members’ pay entitlements.
Audit test checks during the year disclosed weaknesses in procedures relating to the payment and recording of higher duties allowances and tax instalment deductions, resulting in incorrect entries in members’ pay accounts. The unsatisfactory features were represented to the Department which has advised of proposals to issue revised accounting instructions and to undertake an investigation to ascertain the extent of the irregular entries. 1 ask the Minister: What action has the Department taken to ascertain the extent of irregular entries? What is the result of that investigation? The Auditor-General’s report continues:
An examination of departmental records after the close of the financial year disclosed that advances made to the Commissioner of Taxation based on estimates of tax instalment deductions from members’ pay during 1967-68 exceeded the total amount actually deducted by approximately $1,615,000. The precise amount of the instalment deductions will not be finally determined until all group certificates for the financial year have been issued.
No doubt all group certificates have been issued for last financial year. What is the precise amount of instalment deductions incorrectly made? The Auditor-General’s report continues:
The excess of the total of advances over the total of deductions means that the appropriation for pay and allowances of the Department of the Army . . . has been incorrectly debited wilh the amount of $1,615,000 and income tax revenue increased accordingly.
I regard this as a rather serious matter. It would appear that as a result of the Department’s pay accounting procedures members’ pay and allowances have been undercharged so far as deductions are concerned. This must throw a great burden on those soldiers who already have problems so far as dependants are concerned. The AuditorGeneral’s report continues:
The absence of an internal audit over the activities of the Army Pay Accounting Centre has been the subject of correspondence between my Office and the Department. The Public Service Board recently created an additional position in the Army’s internal audit organisation but. at the dale of preparation of this Report, the position had not been filled. 1 think that the Department should be pressing for the expeditious appointment of such an officer in order to overcome the obvious deficiencies that must be causing great hardship to servicemen insofar as deductions from their pay and allowances are concerned. In appendix C at page 355 of the Auditor-General’s report, under the heading Defaults and Irregularities’, one sees that a corporal, a private and a second lieutenant have been charged in connection with defaults and irregularities. In one case an amount of $981 was involved. I think that the Department should take stock of its pay accounting procedures.
I come now to what the Minister will probably regard as a hardy perennial of mine. I refer to disciplinary methods in military corrective establishments. The Minister is no doubt aware that 1 have raised this matter during the last two or three debates on the Estimates. I think it is appropriate that I should again raise it. On 7th May last I received an answer from the Minister representing the Minister for the Army to the following questions that 1 had asked upon notice:
I do not know whether it is coincidental, but since I first raised the matter in the Senate the number of servicemen who have been detained in solitary confinement on a bread and water diet has substantially reduced. I notice that from 1st July 1965 to 30th June 1966 - and I assume that these figures are for all Services because they are all held in the Military Corrective Establishment at Holsworthy - 469 personnel were detained. Between 1st July 1966 and 30th June 1967 there were 690 military personnel detained and from 1st July 1967 to 31st December 1967 there were 344 detained.
– Where were these men detained?
– They were detained in a military corrective establishment. So far as solitary confinement and bread and water diets are concerned, I am pleased to see that there is a great reduction in the number of such cases. In 1966 there were 105 and in 1967 there were thirty-seven. Honourable senators will note that there was a substantial reduction in that year. In the period from 1st July 1967 to 31st December 1967 there were only three such cases. Frankly, this is a great improvement but I still yearn foi the day when this type of barbaric treatment is discontinued. We ail remember the case of the young conscientious objector named Townsend. He was detained because of his conscientious objection to a particular war. He was subjected to military detention, then, as a result of not obeying a military command given to him by the commandant of the corrective establishment, he was placed on a diet of bread and water. Whilst in solitary confinement on that diet he had the humiliating experience of being awakened every half hour so that the authorities could see that he was still alive: This was a shocking indignity. As a result of the matter being raised in this chamber and in another place we know that after this man had been awakened every half hour for a period of 48 hours the responsible Minister intervened and stopped what was happening.
At that time I think either the then Minister for the Army or the Minister for Defence said that, as a result of this exposure, methods of military imprisonment and punishment were to be revised. The question I ask at this stage of the Minister for Repatriation is: What revision has taken place and what modernisation has occurred in methods of military detention? How far has the revision progressed? This is the 20th century. 1 am sure all honourable senators on this side of the chamber regard this sort of treatment as being callous, brutal, sadistic and inhuman. Certainly it could be regarded as being a hangover from the 17th century. When one reads Australian Military Regulation 367 one sees there is not one bread and water diet but two diets. There is one diet for a certain type of punishment and a super diet for another type of punishment. This sort of thing should be cut out. It has been cut out in the civilian prisons in New South Wales. The time has long passed when this type of punishment for military detainees should cease.
I now want to refer to courts martial. As the Minister would know, the people who sit on courts martial are officers of the Australian Army. Something should be done to revise courts martial procedure. I hope the Army will consider revising the procedure of using courts martial to try soldiers facing serious capital charges of a nonmilitary nature. 1 hope this practice will be abolished. My colleague Senator Milliner raised the case of a young serviceman tried by court martial in Vietnam on a charge of murder. He was subsequently convicted of a charge of manslaughter.
– In what sense does the honourable senator say that that is of a non-military nature?
– I am referring to charges of murder, manslaughter and things of that sort.
– I am suggesting that a man facing a capital charge of such a nature should have the right of trial by jury, just as any other citizen has.
– If he assaulted an officer without killing him, would that be-
– The honourable senator may speak later. I am putting my point of view. I. am referring to a soldier charged with an offence for which conviction could mean life imprisonment. I am saying that that is a charge of a nonmilitary nature. A man who may be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment should certainly be entitled to the right of a trial by jury. He should not be tried - as apparently was found to be the case by a courts martial appeal tribunal - by a kangaroo court. The man to whom I am referring was charged with the murder or manslaughter of an Army officer. The man accused was tried not by his peers but by seven military officers. He was convicted and .sentenced in Vietnam and sent back lo Australia .to serve his sentence in a civilian gaol. He was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of either 5 or 10 years. He was tried not by a jury but by Army officers and he was sentenced.
– Order! The honourable senator’s lime has expired.
– The first question 1 want to answer was raised by Senator Poyser and it dealt with the hire of aircraft, vehicles and equipment. This item covers payment for hire of aircraft and other vehicles used in the conduct of Army exercises and the hire of aircraft for survey mapping purposes. It excludes the hire of motor transport for movements to and from camps which is a charge on item 01 of Division 664 which I will refer to in a moment. The decrease in the appropriation this year is due to the Army being able to provide its own aircraft for survey duties in lieu of the charter of civil aircraft as was the practice in 1967-68.
I now want to refer to item 01 which deals with the appropriation for travelling and subsistence. The appropriation under this heading this year is $8,636,000. Expenditure in 1967-68 was $8,572,877. There is an increase of $63,123 in the appropriation for this year. This item covers expenditure on road, sea, air and other fares and expenses of civilian and military personnel travelling on duty or on posting, including, in the latter case, their families. It also covers military personnel travelling on leave and fares of Citizen Military Forces members and cadets in attending parades. The increase is due to higher Australian Regular Army and CMF strengths in 1968-69 compared with those of 1967-68 and to increased Army activity. The hire of aircraft owned by members of the Army is not covered by item 01 of Division 664 under travelling expenses. No payments have yet been made for the use of aircraft owned by members of the Army.
asked for some information concerning compensation in respect of personal injury and damage to property. The estimate for this year under this heading is $280,000 and expenditure last year was $134,266. This item covers payments for compensation in respect of personal injury or damage lo property and includes payments to ARA and CMF members as well as civilian employees other than those payments made under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act which are charged to item 09 of Division 664. The increase takes into account known claims expected to be settled this financial year and payments for medical and dental services amounting to SI. 5m. Expenditure under this heading last year was $1,422,279. The item covers claims for medical services, etc. 1 think that covers the questions asked by Senator Poyser and Senator Cotton.
asked a series of questions for which 1 have some answers. He referred to Division 660 and the pay for members of the Australian Regular Army. The incorrect items for higher duties allowance and taxation have been taken into account. The investigation has not yet been concluded, but to date overpayments have been detected in 170 cases out of more than 930 cases where this might have occurred. Overpayments amounted to about $3,300. A further 170 cases remain to be examined. Overpayment of $1.6m to the Taxation Branch does not mean that soldiers have had that much extra money deducted from their pay accounts. The overpayment arose from an error of duplication in the closing stages of the financial year. Reconciliation of taxation deductions made has been effected with the value of taxation certificates issued. In August 1.968 a position for one internal auditor was created at the Army Pay Accounting Centre. Applications have been received. Some applicants will be interviewed within the next week or two. lt is significant to note that already 25 internal checkers operate at the Army Pay Accounting Centre.
I have some information regarding military detention. 1 will deal with it very briefly because, in my view, it does not come under the divisions which we are discussing tonight. However, the matter has been raised and 1 will give a very brief reply. I agree with the honourable senator’s figures. I think I supplied them on behalf of the Minister for the Army. Before Simon Townsend’s ease the trend was towards a reduction in detention, which resulted in the suspension of the No. 1 diet - that is the bread and water diet - at the correction establishments and which had already led to the appointment on 4th July of a committee of inquiry into Service detention arrangements authorised by the Minister for Defence. The Department is examining all aspects of discipline within Service detention barracks. That investigation is still continuing, so I am not yet able to announce the outcome of it.
– I wish to direct attention to the item for defence food research under Division 664. I notice that last year the appropriation was $38,000. My question is: To what did the appropriation relate and why is no amount specified for this year? I hope and trust that it does not relate to the Scottsdale food research station, which is one of the few in the world doing what 1 believe to be outstanding work of a very high standard - of world standard - of which we can be very proud. In many ways food research is vital. In many ways it is as vital as weapons research, lt is important that we should continue to extend food research. This food research station is one of the few places that is peculiarly well situated for the continuation of this work. On the occasions that I have visited it, I have gained the impression that it has an excellence of performance and an economy of finance which would be a credit to any private or public enterprise. It is in the heart of a high density vegetable growing area, lt is undertaking work which is of civil and military worth. I hope that not only will it be encouraged but it will be extended so that knowledge of the treatment of foodstuffs can continue to develop. I inquire somewhat in trepidation in case there should be any suggestion that this undertaking should be reduced.
– 1 have only two short salvoes to fire, in the light of the time. I relate the first to the provision for administrative expenses and general services in Division 664. I imagine that would embrace the Duntroon Royal Military College. I do not expect an immediate answer, but I think the matter could be probed. In the general syllabus of the College, as with most British Army staff colleges, the practice is to give a general knowledge test to cadets who are to be the officers of the future. In Great Britain officials of the British Trade Union Congress are invited to speak to the cadets so that in later years, when the Army has to live with civilians in a complex society, the cadets will have a broader knowledge. I pose this question to the Minister: In the light of what has happened in Britain since the middle 1930s - my authority, as honourable senators probably know, is Lord Citrine, a former British TUC general- secretary - will the Government consider inviting some top trade union people to lecture to cadets at the Duntroon Military College on general knowledge subjects? In future Army personnel will be stationed in some of our Territories. We are going through a changing period. A greater undertanding often can remove friction.
The other matter to which I refer would be covered under Division 681 or Division 684. Both relate to the acquisition of sites and buildings, but expenditure under the first comes under the control of the Department of External Territories and expenditure under the other comes under the control of the Department of the Interior. For the benefit of the Minister’s advisers, let me say that I did have correspondence pending with the Minister for the Army. I seek information on the bracketed reference to two departments. Some time ago the Minister representing the Minister for the Army supplied an answer which stated that the Department of the Army did not intend to relinquish the engineers’ depot at the Sydney showground when sporting interests wanted amalgamation of sports arenas. Three weeks ago, in the Sydney ‘Sun’, the former test cricketer and now sports commentator Sid Barnes, contended that a move was afoot whereby certain land at the Holsworthy military camp was to be swapped for this land at the showground. I am curious to know whether there was any truth in that statement. If so, what has happened about the feasibility of the site? Or does the original information I obtained from the Minister 3 months ago still hold good?
Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) 110.27] - I have a brief question to raise. It relates to the appropriation under Division 664 for the training of personnel at other than Australian Army establishments. The appropriation is $1.558m. I would appreciate advice as to where this training is given.
– Unlike Senator Mulvihill, 1 have only one salvo to fire. It is a case of have gun must travel, because I must refer to ex-Gunner Newman. Yesterday I asked a question of the Minister. Tonight I refer to the proposed expenditure for compensation for personal injury and damage to property under Division 664. I have asked a similar question on at least two previous occasions. Yesterday the Minister, in the final section of his answer, said:
I am not in a position to state whether or not it is intended to make any further payment to him.
He was referring to .Mr Newman. I know that the Estimates were drawn up some considerable time before the episode occurred. I believe it is only fair that, in all the circumstances, ex-Gunner Newman should be compensated for the shocking treatment that he received in the first place and - if I may use the vernacular - for the way he was railroaded. That is all I say on the subject at this point. I appeal to the Minister to refer the matter to Cabinet to see if an ex gratia payment can be made lo Mr Newman.
Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the temporary Chairman do now leave tha chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly):
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681017_senate_26_s38/>.