26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Will the Minister request the Minister for Civil Aviation to make a statement for presentation to the Senate setting out what the Department of Civil Aviation has in mind for a second or third airport to serve the city of Sydney, and perhaps the associated cities of Newcastle and Wollongong, with as much precision as he can? Will he indicate when the plans are likely to mature? Will the statement deal also with the delays and with the problems associated with the completion of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) terminal?
– The problems associated with the development of airports throughout Australia are ever increasing because of the great demand for air travel in Australia. At the moment the Government is spending at the rate of S60m a year on the development of Australian airports. The revenues derived by the Department of Civil Aviation from the various sources of income that it has approximate $20m a year. However, the Department always is making long term plans for the development of additional airports. The Leader of the Opposition has requested that a statement be made in relation to the development of further airports for Sydney and perhaps the associated cities of Newcastle and Wollongong. T will ask the Minister for Civil Aviation to make the statement as requested by the Leader of the Opposition.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. In view of the importance of the meat export industry to Australia and, more specifically, our beef exports to the United States of America which are being threatened by the strongest opposition from the American National Cattlemens Association, will the Government undertake to make representations at top level preferably by the Minister for Trade and Industry to the United States Administration as early as possible following the Presidential elections to ensure that Australia’s share of the 1968 United States global quota is at least retained?
– Yes, 1 will make representations to the Minister for Trade and Industry as requested by the honourable senator. I note that the honourable senator suggests that representations by Australia be not made until after the Presidential election period. The Minister for Trade and Industry is overseas at present. I interpret the question as suggesting that J convey it to the Minister for Trade and Industry on his return so that representations to the United States Administration, if appropriate, could be made by him as the Minister for Trade and Industry of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– Is the Minister for Works aware of the possibility of industrial action amongst building workers who are employed by the Department of Works in accordance with wages and conditions prescribed by Determination 212 of 1965? In order to prevent the possibility of an industrial dispute, will the Minister request the Arbitrator immediately to convene a conference of the parties to the determination?
– I have no knowledge of the dispute to which the honourable senator refers and will be obliged if he will direct my attention to its place and character, in which event I will see that it has attention.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Yesterday I asked a question on secular marriages and was greeted with considerable amusement by honourable senators, including the Minister. I now wish to ask a more direct question of the Minister on the same matter. What right has the RegistrarGeneral in Brisbane to limit secular marriages to between the hours 10 a.m. to 3.30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays? Is this a result of a direction from the AttorneyGeneral in order to discourage secular marriages?
-I would regard it as within the ordinary discretion of any official carrying out official duties, such as the RegistrarGeneral of Marriages, to prescribe reasonable hours for the convenience of the public. Insofar as the question suggests that the AttorneyGeneral would have any motive to limit secular marriages,I would repudiate that. As to whether or not he has given any direction on the matter in actual fact, I shall ascertain and advise the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, I am concerned at Press reports referring to clamouring by some members of the United Nations for accentuation of sanctions against Rhodesia to the extent of military action. I understand that Australia is not committed to such accentuation by virtue of its present involvement. Is this so?
– It is true that Australia is committed to economic sanctions in the matter of the dispute between the United Kingdom Government and Rhodesia, and this is in the framework of participation in the United Nations; but this is clearly intended to seek a solution to the problem by peaceful means. Australia is not committed to, and would also be opposed to, any military action as a means of achieving a settlement in this particular situation.
– That is, by Australia?
– Yes, by Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. As it is anticipated that the annual difficulties associated with serious unemployment will occur in north Queensland and Tasmania in the immediate future, will the Minister indicate whether the Government has any plans in hand to relieve this situation, such as, for example, by the establishment of factories in north Queensland for the manufacture of air conditioning units?
– Itisnot within my knowledge that there is any specific proposal for Government assistance for the manu facture of air conditioning units in Queensland. As the honourable senator knows, the level of unemployment at the present time is probably at an all time low. With regard to the seasonal relaxation of employment that is expected in Queensland and to some extent in Tasmania, the ordinary arrangements apply. It is not appropriate that I should attempt to state them at question time. As for the suggestion that industry should be established in centra] Queensland, this matter has been featured in the last month or so as a prominent part of the purpose of the Liberal Party, at the instance of the Queensland Premier, in speeches made by the Prime Minister and by other leading Ministers of this Government. But, of course, an industry of that sort cannot be established simply by making a speech. Establishing an industry involves planning and financing.
-I address my question to the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities. Knowing how interested most travellers are to see important museums and art galleries when visiting cities, is the Minister satisfied that sufficient factual publicity is given in tourist brochures at home and abroad concerning the museums and art galleries in Australia? For instance, has any action been taken to publicise extracts from an article which appeared in ‘Kalori’, the journal of the Museum Association of Australia, which staled that if a choice had to be made as to which is the best museum in Australia then pride of place should be given to the Tasmanian Museum in Hobart?
– Perhaps one should admit the soft impeachment that too little is made in tourist publicity of the existence of museums, especially special feature museums. Senator Marriott was good enough to mention the reference to the Tasmanian museum and an article by Dr J. W. Evans, who was Director of the Australian Museum in Sydney from 1954 to 1966. Dr Evans was good enough to say that the Tasmanian Museum seems to have been successful, as a result of its displays, in creating a better public image than any other museum on the continent. I must say that this is a matter of gratification to me.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Fill aircraft is to have a new wing structure, as has been suggested. If so, what are the details and what effect will this have on the price of the aircraft? What is the anticipated further delay in delivery and what performance changes will result from the modifications?
– The Minister for Defence made a statement on this matter in another place yesterday. He said a number of things in relation to the fatigue problem that had arisen. In relation to the wing carry through structure, I think he said that investigation was going on. It bad been reported that investigation of the ground fatigue testing failure of the wing carry through structure had revealed that the failure was due to an isolated small crack induced during the manufacturing process in the metal surrounding a taper lock bolt hole. No other imperfection of this nature had been found during inspection of more than 2,500 bolt holes. However, hole inspections are continuing and a reinforcement of larger stress areas of the wing carry through structures will be accomplished on all aircraft in order to spread the load more evenly. He also made it clear that any cost associated with achieving an acceptable solution of the wing carry through structure will not result in an increase in Australia’s ceiling price of $5.95m. The same thing applies to any faults discovered within a year after delivery of any aircraft is taken. I think that covers the substance of the question that the honourable senator asked.
– J direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Can the Minister inform me or the Senate when the Government of Indonesia will accept and accede to the United Nations sponsored convention of Vienna which sought to establish a convention of diplomatic immunity and privilege within a country in the comity of nations? Secondly, will the Government seek from the Government of Indonesia an undertaking to observe the sanctity of the embassies of the members of the comity of the Asian Pacific Council nations from so- called spontaneous protest mobs protected by the Indonesian Army?
– I will seek the information from the Minister for External Affairs in the first instance and it will then devolve on him to make inquiries at the diplomatic level about the issues that have been raised very property by the honourable senator.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior dis< cussed with the Minister for the Interior the resolution of the Senate adopted on 1 0th October, 13 days ago, in which the Minister for the Interior was requested by the Senate to refer back to the redistribution commissioners the Queensland redistribution proposals? Has the Minister referred back these proposals to the commissioners? If not, what or who is responsible for this disregard of the express wish of the Senate? Is there any truth in the rumour that the proposal will not be referred back this year? Is the Minis,ter prepared to give an assurance to the Senate that there will be no further unnecessary delay in respecting the wish of the Senate regarding the Queensland redistribution proposals?
– The Senate has discussed the problems associated with electoral redistribution throughout the Commonwealth. The Senate resolved that the proposals for one State were to be referred back to the redistribution commissioners. That State was Queensland. As far as I know, the Minister for the Interior will ensure that a further report is forthcoming. As the honourable senator has asked a detailed question, I ask that it be put on the notice paper so that 1 can obtain a detailed reply from the Minister for him.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, follows on the one asked by Senator Devitt. I listened carefully to what the honourable senator had to say. I notice that this morning’s ‘Canberra Times’ states that there has been no basic increase in the cost of the Fill because of the further modifications that had to be carried out or because of the faults that had been detected. 1 did not hear the Minister’s reply very clearly. I ask him whether that statement means that until we take delivery and for 12 months after whatever further faults are found or whatever further modifications that may need to be carried out, the cost to Australia will not increase. I note that the newspaper referred to the basie cost, lt would appear to me that it would increase the basic cost. I ask: Does this mean that whatever extra costs there may be from now until the time of delivery, and for 12 months afterwards, there will be no further charge to the Australian Treasury?
– The honourable senator has added some refinements to the question that 1 attempted to answer. In view of his approach to the matter I suggest that it would be more appropriate if he put his question on notice so that 1 might get an answer for him. The answer I gave was that any cost associated with the achievement of an acceptable solution to the problem of the wing carry through structure will not result in an increase in Australia’s ceiling price of $5.95m. The same applies to faults discovered m the year after we take deliver)’ of aircraft. I appreciate the point in the question which the honourable senator has directed to me. I shall direct it to the Minister for Defence and get a more precise answer for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has the Government given any consideration to opening negotiations with the United States Government with respect to the cancellation of our order for the Fill aircraft?
– The answer is, no. There is no suggestion that we should cancel the order for this aircraft. The Minister for Defence stated quite clearly as late as yesterday that in view of the present stage of completion of these aircraft, which Australia is to receive, any cancellation of the order would not have any material effect on the basic price of $5.95m that we will have to pay. I think the Minister for Defence stated that in another place today. I know of no suggestion that Australia should cancel ils present order for the Fill aircraft.
– I direct a question lo the Leader of the Government in the Senate, lt also relates to the Fill aircraft. Are the reports correct that the United Slates Government is likely to acquire only some 400 of these aircraft, if it goes on with its order al all, instead of the originally contemplated number of at least 1,500? Does not this mean that the aircraft is no longer acceptable in the United States for the role it was originally designed to play? Does it nol mean that there must be serious doubts about the usefulness of the aircraft to Australia, especially as it was intended that their acquisition by Australia would mean an integration with the United States defence system? Will the Government give proper consideration to this matter again and tell the Senate exactly what is involved in the increase in the cost not of the aircraft but of the associated equipment? How will the already stupendous increase in this cost be affected if in fact the United States cuts back the run to 400 or fewer?
– The alleged cut back in the order for FI 1 1 aircraft by the United States Air Force is purely a matter of conjecture. There has been no statement from the United States defence forces. This is merely a matter of Press conjecture. It would be idle for me to attempt to answer a question about something which is purely a conjectural proposition. Whatever the situation is with relation to an alleged cut back of United States requirements, it should nol necessarily be interpreted in the way in which the Leader of the Opposition has interpreted it, and it certainly will have no bearing on the ceiling price of $5.95m fixed for the aircraft to be supplied to Australia.
– I address a question to the Minister representing tha Minister for National Development and draw the Minister’s attention to a statement made by Dr P. A. Young in Adelaide on Friday. Dr Young is a former director of Australian Mineral Development Laboratories. In his statement Dr Young makes a plea for additional means to be found of financing what he calls a programme of long term applied research. As the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories - an organisation which was established jointly by the Commonwealth and State governments - is. among other things, currently working with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation on Australia’s largest desalination project, will the Minister inquire whether there is any retarding of this kind of research due to the lack of finance to which Dr Young has referred? Will the Minister ask his colleague to examine the importance of this kind of research with a view to making adequate funds available?
– The Australian Mineral Development Laboratories - AMDEL - was formed by the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth Government in the mid-1950s to carry out, with the mineral industry, research into mineral development in Australia and the treatment of minerals by various methods. It was always understood that the industry would find the funds necessary for the Laboratories to carry out exploratory projects. I have no idea of the source of the funds that are being provided for research on the important project of desalination, but I assume that would be the responsibility of the South Australian Government and/or the Commonwealth Government. Because of the importance of the subject I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for National Development and ask him to reply to the honourable senator direct.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that the subscriber trunk dialling system - known as STD - between Canberra and Brisbane is not operating effectively today? As this is a continuing problem between Canberra and Brisbane, will the Minister approach the Postmaster-General with a request that the STD system be raised at least to the standard that exists between Canberra and other capital cities?
– If the position is as stated by the honourable senator I shall certainly bring the matter to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence seen the report of a statement made by Dr Alain Enthoven, systems analyst for the United States Secretary of Defence, relating to cut backs in and cancellations of the Fill aircraft because of expense, inadequacy of range and technical problems? Will the Minister call for Dr Enthoven’s evaluation and make a report to the Senate? Because of the widespread discussion on this aircraft will the Minister tell us its correct name? Is it F one eleven, F double one one, F one double one, F one hundred and eleven, F triple one or F one one one?
– I have settled for F one eleven, but if a thing is good I guess it does not matter how one describes it. I will refer the other part of the question to the Minister for Defence for a reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. No doubt the Minister is aware of the wide publicity given to the delivery of a cake to the Prime Minister this morning and the fact that a note was included saying ‘The Phantom Strikes Again’. Can the Minister inform the Parliament how much of the 70 lb cake was removed in transit? Has the phantom been identified as a member of the United States Central Intelligence Agency or the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, or was he or she merely an underpaid member of the Department of Customs and Excise?
– I am at a complete loss because I was not aware of this fantasy.
– I direct a further question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the subject of the Fill aircraft. My question arises from what is perhaps a misunderstanding of his reply to Senator Turnbull on the question which was asked concerning the possibility of a cancellation of the order for this aircraft. Did the Minister say that we would be obliged to meet this cost whether or not we took delivery of the aircraft and that if the contract were cancelled there would be no change in Australia’s obligation? I ask also: What happens if the United States decides not to proceed with the manufacture of the aircraft? Will we still be obliged to adhere to the financial arrangement which we entered into with the United States?
– In replying to Senator Turnbull I did not say what has been attributed to me by the honourable senator. J said that the ordering of the aircraft for Australia was at such an advanced stage that the cost of cancelling the contract would represent a very significant part of the price quoted, that is, S5.9m. As to the rest of the question, anyone with an appreciation of what is involved in setting up the tremendous mechanism required to manufacture an aircraft of the quality of the Fill would not think in terms of our cancelling the order. I remind the honourable senator that the American Air Force is using the Fill at the present time, subject to short term groundings of the aircraft. The establishment of all that is required to build an aircraft cannot be achieved in a week, a month or even a year - it takes years. However, since there may be some element in the honourable senator’s question on which I have not accommodated him with a reply, if he puts his question on notice T shall get for him a documented reply from the Minister for Defence.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister remind the Minister for Trade and Industry of an interview in 1966 with representatives of the Tasmanian Canning Pea Growers and the Australian Vegetable Growers Association during which Mr McEwen said: ‘In negotiating the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement the Government negotiated sufficient safeguards to ensure that the industry does not suffer serious damage as a result of the Agreement’, and that ‘the Government would be prepared to use these provisions to safeguard the pea and bean industry, if necessary’? As more than twice the amount of peas and beans is coming from New Zealand each month than came in a whole year before the Agreement was signed, wm the Minister use the provisions of which he spoke to the growers representatives as a safeguard against the serious damage that now confronts the industry?
– The safeguards mentioned by the honourable senator exist in the Agreement made between New Zealand and Australia. As J understand it, if the growers of a commodity feel that the commodity is being affected by imports from New Zealand they may make representations to this effect to the Minister or the Tariff Board with a view to invoking the provisions which are in the Agreement for the protection of the industry, as mentioned by the honourable senator.
-“- in addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories I direct his attention to an article headed ‘Bougainville Breakaway’ which was published in the 12th October issue of ‘Nation’. Is the Minister aware that Mr Paul Lapun and Mr Donatus Mola, the two representatives of Bougainville in the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly, intend to ask the Territory Administration to carry out a referendum on the. island of Bougainville to ascertain whether the inhabitants wish to remain with Papua and New Guinea? Is he also aware of the increased incidence of violence on the island and the numbers of arrests which have been made? If the honourable gentleman is not aware of these matters, will he read the report to which I have referred and advise the Senate on the action the Government will take to correct the critical situation?
– The Minister for External Territories and I are both aware of the report that two members of the House of Assembly have said in Press statements that they will propose a referendum for the separation of Bougainville from the Territory. I am not aware of any action they have taken to date toward that end in the House of Assembly. The violence and arrests in the Territory referred to by the honourable senator have not come to my notice. As to the Governments attitude in the matter, the honourable senator will be aware that Bougainville is part of our mandated Territory. Therefore it comes within the parliamentary arrangement by which this Parliament retains supreme responsibility and the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea has an immediate responsibility as to the matters entrusted to its members. I do not suppose that anybody would contemplate advising the people of Bougainville, who number in total about 73,000, that separation by the island could create a viable economy or would be of benefit to them.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General: Is it a fact that the Parliamentary Draftsman is presently on a world tour examining parliamentary drafting methods in certain overseas countries? ls Northern Ireland one of the countries to be visited by him? If so, will the Attorney-General consider the merits of a visit by the Parliamentary Draftsman to the Republic of Ireland?
– It is a fact, as I informed honourable senators some weeks ago. that the Parliamentary Draftsman is on an overseas tour to examine the administrative methods being adopted so that he may ensure that parliamentary draftsmanship in this Parliament is brought up to date. I do not know whether he will have the pleasure of visiting Northern Ireland, but I accept with great pleasure the suggestion that if he is in Ireland he should visit Dublin.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will the PostmasterGeneral arrange for spokesmen for the Government and the Australian Labor Party to bc interviewed on the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘Today Tonight’ in Perth in connection with the decision of the Prime Minister not to hold an election this year? I point out that a spokesman for the Australian Democratic Labor Party was interviewed on his own on this subject last Tuesday. 15th October, and that a balance of opinion is the policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– I could not answer on this matter for the Postmaster-General. I think he would be quite able to make that decision himself, if he thought it were necessary.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it a fact, as stated in the latest issue of ‘Inside Canberra’, that some little time back a Mr Santamaria interviewed the Prime Minister on behalf of the National Civic Council and attempted to blackmail him by saying that the Australian Democratic Labor Party would abandon all its demands for increased state aid for denominational schools and for amendments to social services legislation if the Government would agree to maintain Australian troops on the Asian mainland, and that the Prime Minister rejected this impertinent demand out of hand?
– I did not see the article in the publication called ‘Inside Canberra’: but I am sure that we all know our Prime Minister well enough to know that, while he would be courteous to anybody who called on him, he would not tolerate for one moment anybody being so presumptuous as to attempt to dictate the policy of this great nation to him or to the Government.
– Did the Minister representing the Postmaster-General see a news report on a national stamp design competition in which the winning entry featured a portrait of Captain James Cook which had been entered by a 15-year-old Tasmanian youth, David Allen? Bearing in mind the forthcoming celebrations to commemorate the voyage of that great navigator, can the Minister confirm that a Cook anniversary stamp will be issued?
– I did see a Press article concerning this Tasmanian boy’s entry in the competition. I know that as Australians we look forward to the time when we will be celebrating the anniversary of the arrival of Captain Cook in this country. I do not know what decision has been made by the Postmaster-General concerning any special stamps, but I shall certainly inquire lor the honourable senator and advise him whether a decision has been made already.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. About 2 weeks ago I asked the following question on car rental concessions: In view of the paid up capital of Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty Ltd being only $10, did the Government obtain a personal guarantee from the Managing Director? If not, why not? The question that I now ask is: Has the Minister obtained that information? If not, why not?
– I have not obtained the information because it is not necessary to do so. As the honourable senator well knows, the paid up capital of a company - whether it is $10, $50 or $100 does not matter; it is the asset backing of a company that counts. In this instance the company concerned has been operating successfully in Australia for so long that it was not necessary to do as the honourable senator suggests.
- Mr Deputy President, I rise in the hope that you might guide me in relation to the standing orders that relate to questions. May we expect that the guidance given in those standing orders as they exist, in the rulings that have been given and in the advice that has been presented by the Clerk of the Senate in relation to the asking of questions, namely, that information is not to be given but that questions are to be asked, will be expanded in the future?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - I think the honourable senator may expect that.
(Question No. 418)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answers:
(Question No. 501)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Did the United Kingdom Government make an agreement with the manufacturers of the F111 aircraft to purchase a number of such aircraft? If so, how many?
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answers:
(Question No. 550)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: .
(Question No. 572)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
Dr J. M. Wark, C.B.E., D.D.Sc, F.A.C.D., (Chairman)
Professor H. F. Atkinson, M.B.E., M.Sc, D.D.S., M.D.Sc., F.D.S.R.C.S., Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Melbourne.
Mr L. M. Carr, M.D.S., D.P.D., Chief Dental Officer, Commonwealth Department of Health, (Secretary and Convener).
Professor G. N. Davies, D.D.S., F.A.C.D., Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Queensland.
Mr A. R. Docking, M.B.E., M.Sc, F.R.A.C.I., Director, Commonwealth Bureau of Dental Standards.
Mr W. A. Grainger, M.D.S., F.I.C.D., F.A.C.D., Federal President, Australian Dental Association.
Mr. R. Harris, M.D.S., Director, Institute of Dental Research.
Professor A. M. Horsnell, F.D.S.R.C.S., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., Professor of Dental Science, University of Adelaide.
Professor N. D. Martin, M.D.S., F.A.P.H.A., Professor of Preventive Dentistry, University of Sydney.
Professor E. Storey, Ph.D., D.D.Sc, Professor of Conservative Dentistry, University of Melbourne.
Professor K. J. Sutherland, M.B., B.S., M.D.Sc, F.D.S.R.C.S., F.I.C.D., Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Western Australia.
(Question No. 577)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answers:
The university put forward proposals that would have involved an expenditure of $4,653m in 1968-69 and have required a budgetary allocation of S4.54m. These proposals were, however, not accepted and the university was asked to base its planning on the enrolments forecast by the Government when it announced its decision to establish the university and within ah allocation of $3.5m. The funds for university purposes in 1968-69 are thus expected to exceed the cost forecast by the Government by $648,000. but to be $694,000 less than the sum proposed by the university in August-September 1967. I understand that the university considers that funds available in 1968-69 arc sufficient to meet the university’s present programme.
(Question No. 607)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
How many dossiers on Australian residents who have never been charged with any offence are held by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation?
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer:
I do not propose, by answering this question, to depart from the practice of refusing to discuss the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
(Question No. 619)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answers:
Particular attention will be given to those ureas of manufacturing which offer the best prospects for rapid development. These are:
Service industries providing essential goods and services for the transport, building and construction industries and other Territory industries.
The programme recognises- that a policy of selective tariff protection will be important in fostering the systematic growth of secondary industries. The question of modification to the existing tariff machinery is currently, being examined.
– On 9th October, Senator Cavanagh asked if there was an international agreement on tariffs and trade, and if so whether it prevented a country from giving a subsidy on- exports, with particular reference to. .sugar and butterfat commodities. 1 informed the honourable senator that there is a .General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, usually referred to as GATT. I also indicated that I would get the information asked for regarding the particular commodities which he referred to. The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has now supplied me with the following information:
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade does not contain any provisions which would prevent a member country from subsidising exports of primary products, which include sugar and butterfat products. However, if any member of GATT does subsidise exports of any primary product, that Agreement requires the country concerned not to do ‘ so in such a way as to obtain more than an equitable share of world export trade in that product.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the lists of grants approved for the year 1969 on the recommendation of the Australian Research Grants Committee.
– In the Senate on 8th October 1968, Senator Turnbull asked a question about Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty Ltd. Today I partly answered that question. I have now received further advice from the Minister for Civil Aviation. The question was:
What guarantees were obtained from Mr McIlree in regard to his payment to the Government for his monopoly? Was a personal guarantee obtained? If not, why not?
The Minister for Civil Aviation has now provided the following information:
As required by the tender conditions for the car rental contract, Avis submitted a security deposit of $ 1 ,000 which will be held by the Department until the completion of the contract. In his company’s tender, the Managing Director of Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty Ltd, offered his personal guarantee for the payment of the moneys due to the Commonwealth during the period of the contract. The other shareholders of Avis are also prepared to guarantee the company’s financial obligations to the Commonwealth under the terms of the contract, lt is proposed to have deeds of these guarantees executed prior to the commencement of the contract on 1st July 1969.
– On behalf of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory I present the report of the Committee on the desirability of establishing in Canberra a municipal type market for fruit, vegetables and farm products. I seek leave to propose a motion in relation to the report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That the Senate luke note of the report. In speaking to this motion, I point out that the report may not appear to have much significance for Australia as a whole. However, I assure the Senate that all sections of the Australian Capital Territory community and the region adjoining it, together with growers of fruit and vegetables in near and distant places, will read its pages with relief and encouragement. The Committee has made many recommendations and the report deals fully, yet concisely, with the reasons supporting all that we have recommended. The history of attempts to improve both the wholesaling and retailing of fruit and vegetables in this important and ever rapidly growing city is factually and clearly recorded. The kernel of the inquiry which was wisely referred to my Committee by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) was whether, and if so when, in what form and where, a municipal type market for the wholesaling and/or retailing of fruit and vegetables should be established in Canberra.
Our inquiry was exhaustive and thorough; thorough, because in addition to taking evidence from many sections of the Canberra community and from growers and growers co-operatives from several areas, we studied carefully prepared and detailed submissions from the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of the Interior. Altogether sixty-one written and oral submissions were made to the Committee. Our examination of all aspects of the question of marketing was exhaustive as, through the power granted us by Parliament, we inspected markets in all mainland capital cities and from my Tasmanian colleague, Senator Devitt, we received a report on the Golden Gate Market in San Francisco, said to be one of the most modern in the world. The inspection of the other markets persuaded the Committee to call witnesses greatly experienced in market administration and they, together with Professor R. A. Layton, Professor of Marketing at the University of New South Wales, and a firm of business consultants provided expert evidence in respect to administration, design and layout. They also informed us of changing trends in marketing, particularly in regard to the preparation and packaging of fruit and vegetables for sale. Throughout the inquiry the Committee realised that any system of marketing of these commodities in this national capital city should be fair and acceptable to all sections of the community and contain in it adequate scope to meet changing trends and increased requirements.
I believe that the Committee was in possession of sufficient expert opinion and was fully acquainted with the hopes and desires of the many and varied interested sections of the Australian Capital Territory community to enable it to prepare a report which sets out a comprehensive set of recommendations. Of these, the following four are the most important.
That an area of approximately 35 acres at Fyshwick in the vicinity of and adjoining the present selling area on Dalby Street and Canberra Avenue bc reserved for the now proposed retail market and to allow for its future extension and when required to provide space for a wholesale fruit and vegetable market.
This latter recommendation is made because it is known that a percentage of the population, sufficient to justify every consideration, has continued to patronise the selling area. We have requested that strict health and hygiene standards be maintained. Having said this, f believe I should give the Senate a brief word picture of the situation in respect to the marketing of fruit and vegetables in this city at the end of April this year when the Committee commenced its inquiry. On the wholesaling side, a company had been formed and paid at auction $40,000 for a leasehold at Fyswick and had covenanted to erect at a cost of not less than $250,000 suitable buildings for the storage, ripening and wholesale selling of fruit and vegetables. This company is now in operation at the site. The Sydney market and other interstate wholesalers were and will continue to be available. In the retail sphere, licensed hawkers, who had previously squatted at vantage points around the city, had been permitted to settle 4 days a week on an area in Dalby Street, off Canberra Avenue, in close proximity to the wholesale company. Also, conventional fruit and vegetable retailers - and there were approximately ninety retail outlets in Canberra - were faced with a type of competition never anticipated when developers constructed the shops and the tenants signed their highpriced leases. Some twenty hawkers’ trucks were operating from the selling area, paying a permit fee of $2 per operating day. It was estimated that from 10% to 12% of the Canberra-Queanbeyan population was visiting the area each week. It was obvious that the selling area was popular, but it was equally clear that the conditions under which it was operating could not be permitted to become permanent. We requested and obtained very quickly improved sanitary facilities at the site.
It is my belief that the Committee’s report offers a fair and workable plan which, if adopted, will provide adequate wholesaling and distributing facilities as well as a modern competitive system of retailing through three specific trade channels; the retail shops; the market on at least 3 days each week from 8 a.m. until sunset; and the long existing service from travelling or itinerant hawkers. The Committee emphasises that these hawkers, from now on, must be prohibited from squatting anywhere at any time. The report contains recommendations covering the administrative control of the market and spells out clearly a just method by which stalls may be allotted to applicants.
Mr Deputy President, I said earlier that this report may not appear to have much significance for Australia as a whole. However, 1 believe that the inquiry has covered fully all aspects of the marketing of fruit and vegetables. It has delved into the past, examined all relevant aspects as they exist today and it looks to the future. Therefore, I believe it can and should be used as a guide by authorities in other cities and towns who now or in the future may be facing the problem which the Minister for the Interior referred to my Committee for report.
I express my appreciation to all members of the Committee and to our many witnesses. I particularly express our appreciation to the Clerk of the Committee. Mr L. M. Barlin, for his unremitting work with the Committee. I confidently commend the report to the Government in general, and the Minister for the Interior in particular, for action. I ask the Senate to take note of the report.
Debate (on motion by Senator Devitt) adjourned.
– I ask leave to make a statement relating to Business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances has. for some time now, been concerned al the number of regulations prescribing rates of pay and allowances for members of the Defence Services being promulgated providing for the retrospective operation of increases dating back, in some cases, as far as 5 years.
On 25th September Senator Wood tabled a notice of motion for the disallowance of certain amendments to the Naval Financial Regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1.968 No. 77. These regulations provide for the retrospective operation of certain allowances back to 1963. It was decided at a committee meeting that this notice of motion should be given in order that the right may bc reserved to move against these regulations at a later date if it was thought necessary. The Committee is currently conducting inquiries into this and related matters, and at the conclusion of these inquiries, will table a comprehensive report relating to the retrospective operation of Defence Services Regulations.
It is considered that the period of retrospective operation of that part of these regulations which provide for payment of an allowance to 1963 is excessive. However, in view of these facts, namely, that the circumstances affecting the payments are unusual, that the rejection of (he regulation would deprive servicemen of amounts for which payment has been approved; that there are other regulations wilh retrospective operation in respect of which no action has been, or is being, recommended; and that the Committee is proposing a report to the Senate on the questions which are of concern, we feel that it is the proper course to withdraw the current notice of motion.
Accordingly, in the absence of and at the request of Senator Wood, I withdraw Notice of Motion No. 1, Business of the Senate standing in his name.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be granted to Senator Branson on account of absence overseas.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) - by leave agreed to:
That leave of absence for 2 months be granted to Senator Toohey on account of absence overseas.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first lime.
[4.14] - I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to authorise the Treasurer to borrow a sum of $ 1 26m to be advanced to the Stales for housing. The Australian Loan Council agreed, at its meeting last June, that the total borrowing programme for States’ works and housing for 1968-69 should be $710m. Of its share of the total programme each State nominated the proportion it wished to receive as advances in accordance with the provisions of the Housing Agreement Act 1966. In aggregate, the States have sought $126m for this purpose, distributed as follows:
This represents an increase of $3,160,000 or 2.5% over the amount advanced to the States last year. These advances are repayable over 53 years and bear interest at 1% per annum below the long term bond rate. They are made under the authority of the Housing Agreement Act 1966 which continues in operation until 30 June 1971.
One of the provisions of the present Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement is that at least 30% of the amount advanced to each State annually is to be allocated by the State to a home builders’ account. Advances are made from this account to building societies and other approved institutions which in turn make loans to individual home builders. Honourable senators will be fully aware of the significant contribution made by this arrangement. Under the Housing Agreement Act 1966 the Commonwealth has advanced almost $243m to the States for housing purposes. Of this amount, about $82m has been advanced through home builders’ accounts, which together with moneys accruing in the accounts from earlier advances has assisted some 15,800 families to acquire their own homes. The balance, supplemented on account of dwellings for the defence forces, has enabled State housing authorities to construct more than 21,000 dwellings. T commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos I to 9) 1968
Bills received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) put:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the questions with regard to the several stages for the passage through the Senate of all or several of the Sales Tax Bills Nos 1 to 9 being put in one motion, at each stage, and the consideration of all or several of such Bills together in the Committee of the Whole.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bills (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bills be now read a second time.
The purpose of these Bills is to increase the general rate of sales tax from 12i% to 15% and so give effect to the sales tax increases announced by the Treasurer in the Budget Speech. The classes of goods to which the 2i% increase applies are numerous. Among these the more important are commercial motor vehicles, motor cycles, caravans, motor vehicle parts and tyres, office furniture and business equipment, advertising matter, stationery and other paper products, confectionery, potable spirits, toys and sporting equipment, including yachts and boats, soaps, detergents, polishes and chemicals, lawn mowers, travelware and musical instruments. Goods which have been subject to tax at rates other than the general rate of 121% are not affected by these Bills. The other rates are 25%, which applies to passenger motor vehicles, jewellery, toilet preparations, etc., and 2i%, which applies to household appliances, furniture, etc.
The increase in rate is expected to yield $34m additional revenue in the current year and $44m in a full year. To avoid disruption of trading in goods affected by changes in sales tax rates, it has long been the practice for such changes to take effect from the day following their introduction into Parliament. Accordingly, these Bills have effect from 14th August 1968.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKellar) read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill provides for the raising of loan moneys amounting to $5,500,000 for war service land settlement in the States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania during the 1968-69 financial year. As honourable senators are aware, the Commonwealth is responsible for the provision of the whole of the capital moneys required for the war service land settlement scheme in those three States. It is anticipated the money will be made available in the following approximate amounts: Western Australia $2,500,000; South Australia $2,192,000 and Tasmania $808,000. Just over S5m of this money is needed to meet the requirements of settlers for working expenses and for stock, plant and, where necessary, the replacement of plant purchased previously. This sum of S5m will be matched more or less by the estimated receipts for repayment of advances made to settlers during earlier years of the scheme. These repayments, of course, are paid to the credit of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Honourable senators will recall that one of the basic principles of the scheme was the concept that lack of capital was not to debar an otherwise eligible ex-serviceman from participating in war service land settlement. In fact, most settlers have borrowed their full financial requirements from the settlement authorities. The authorities, for their part, accepted a charge over the assets concerned as security for the money advanced. Many settlers; particularly those allotted farms in the more recent years, have as yet been unable to improve their financial position to the stage where they can operate without further borrowing. Since . they are generally not in a position to offer acceptable security to banks, stock firms or other lending institutions, they still need to have recourse to credit from within the scheme.
About $450,000 of the §5,500,000 will be needed for development work mainly on block drainage of irrigated holdings at Loxton and Cooltong in South Australia and for limited farm reconstruction work on some farms created from large scale developmental projects where those farms have not achieved the level of productivity desired under the scheme. A small sum will be charged under the heading of acquisition, being costs associated with perfecting the titles of lands already paid for and developed, or where adjustments in areas have been necessary following survey.
I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.
Debate resumed from .22 October (vide page 1443), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the House covers 30 pages and contains several schedules. I would have liked more time to study it more closely but the Government, for some reason which I trust will be explained to us later, requires this Bill to bc treated as an urgent matter. Although the Bill is fairly simple in construction it contains many details about which I shall be making inquiries at the Committee stage. Briefly its purpose is to seek the approval of the Parliament to the guarantee by the Commonwealth Government of the borrowing of $US7m-$A6.2m - by the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The Territory House of Assembly already has agreed to this borrowing and it now requires the ratification of this Parliament before the matter can proceed further.
The loan is sought to deal solely with one facet of economic development in the Territory, namely, the upgrading of the telecommunications system to provide for greatly increased telephone and telegram services. This matter was first brought to notice by the International’ Bank following an inspection Of the Territory some time ago. For some reason which I trust the Minister will explain in reply, the Government has taken this facet out of the general recommendations made by the Bank and has decided to proceed with it evidently as a matter of urgency.
The loan, which is to carry an interest rate of 6£%, is repayable over 20 years with a repayment holiday for the first 5 years. Evidently that period has been decided upon because it. is estimated that completion of the work will . take 4 years. I assume that a year’s grace has been allowed so that repayments will not commence until after the work has been completed. Total cost of the project is estimated to be about $US14m. The difference between the loan covered by this Bill and that amount will be repaid by the Territory out of its revenues. So the Territory will have to repay $7m out of its own revenues and Australia will be guarantor for the remaining $7m. I notice that a special agreement has been signed on this occasion although, it terms of section 75a of the Papua and New Guinea Act, we would be required to be guarantor in any case. I am wondering whether this practice will apply only to the loan now under notice or to future loans for further reconstruction or developmental work in the Territory which automatically come within the terms of section 75a. On each occasion will it be necessary to sign an agreement?
I refer honourable senators who are interested in this matter to the publication Programmes and Policies for the Economic Development of Papua and New Guinea’ dated September 1968 which was prepared by direction of His Honour the Administrator. Some details of the problems confronting the Territory are given. It would seem that there are considerable problems. That is why the Opposition offers no complaint about Australia guaranteeing this loan. Some 120 pages of the publication deal with the economic developmental problems confronting the Territory but I shall quote only one or two comments which deal solely wilh the matter of communications. At page 61 he makes these comments:
Many of the processes of economic development depend on adequate communication services, in particular telephone and telegraph services. As noted by the 1963 Bank Mission, the operation of these services in the Territory suffers from the relatively low but rapidly increasing volume of traffic, the scattered nature of development and the difficulties of terrain.
These conditions should find plenty of sympathy in Australia where we have greater distances and more people who are users of communications systems. I should imagine that in Papua and New Guinea the percentage of people who would be users of these services provided by the Postmaster-General’s Department would be very much lower than the percentage in Australia. A little later the objectives of the telecommunications programme are stated. The first is said to be:
Alleviation of the present congestion and delays in local and long distance internal traffic.
That suggests that already in the Territory the services have slipped well behind. It appears to me that those responsible in the Territory will have a double job to do; not only will they have to catch up the lag and correct the bad service which I understand is provided in the Territory because of the lack of staff and facilities but also they will have to look into the crystal ball and estimate what the development of Papua and New Guinea will be over the next few years. It will be necessary also to make the very difficult forecast of how many of the indigenes will be lifted to the economic level at which they will start to get on the queue to demand telephone lines and services to their area. The second objective is:
Improved access to international networks.
I wonder whether the Minister can let me know whether this will include updating the service between Port Moresby and Australia. I understand that at the moment this service is rather poor. In referring to improved access to international networks, if what is meant is not a service feeding into an international network, is it a reference to the service between Port Moresby and Australia? What does it mean? The next objective is:
Establishment of a modern telecommunication system capable of further development.
I should think that is pretty obvious. The Administrator makes some other comments which repeat the problem. He says that the increasing demands are placing a severe strain on the facilities available. That situation is not foreign to us in Australia. I notice that the material in the report is rather out of date because it states at page 63:
The present telephone and telegraph system incorporates 30 exchanges with 9,150 lines to which 7,700 subscribers are connected. Long distance telephone calls are mainly over high frequency channels whilst telegrams arc transmitted through 18 circuits by radio with some circuits operating morse code.
Further down the report states:
The major defect in the telecommunications system at the present time is the trunk line system. This is to be completely re-equipped.
This can be well appreciated because of the terrain and the distances in the Territory. I note that it is intended to do away entirely with morse code. That would be consistent not only with the Australian system but the system used throughout the world. I believe that no morse lines remain in Australia. This is consistent with modern practice. Dealing with finance the Administrator said: lt would noi be possible for the Administration, alone, to finance a development programme of this order. The first few years of the programme, however, will be financed in the extent of S6.3m by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
That is the loan which this Bill seeks to authorise. The report continues:
This programme, in conjunction with the IBRD loan, calls for a capital expenditure of some $1 3.85m, of which approximately $7.55m must be found from Administration sources during the period. If charges are raised to economic levels, the project should be commercially viable in the Iona term. 1 do not know whether the Minister has any idea of the problems of financing that the question of economic levels will pose. He would be aware of what is involved because of the debates we had in this place last year on the raising of telephone, telegraph and postal charges in Australia. But it seems to me that this programme will create difficulty for the Administration which will be faced with many of the problems with which we were faced in the development of Australia, lt will be necessary to take lines to places where there will be difficulty of access and not very much demand for the service. At the same time there will1 be overtones of development which will demand these services.
There is also the question of charging. lt. is hard to fix a flat rate for an area which is receiving a third class service of the type that would be available to someone in the Highlands of New Guinea or in the backblocks, especially when this service is compared with the efficient operations of the metropolis. This is a matter on which probably every honourable senator receives a letter at least once a fortnight from someone inquiring about a line or an exchange being shut down or an exchange not being open at night. When the level of services has dropped there is a problem as to the level of charges to be applied. The Postmaster-General’s Department has been very sympathetic in these cases and from time to time I have been able to persuade the Department to reduce the charges in some areas. But if honourable senators think about this problem for a moment they will realise that it will impinge on a young Territory to a greater degree than it does on
Australia. I do not think anyone would dispute that this is the type of basic reconstruction that must take place in the Territory before its economic, development can be achieved. lt is apparent that the project for which the loan is sought has been well researched. It was suggested first by the International Bank and it has now been requested by the Territory. I take it that the Australian authorities have made their own independent investigations and are completely satisfied that the best type of updating is proposed. In considering this project we- are dealing with technical work in which Australia has much experience in this type of terrain. 1 shall say no more about the matter al the moment. I intend to raise several points with the Minister in the committee stage. I have had not time to make’ a thorough check of the schedules to the BilK Perhaps the Minister may be able- to explain some of them to me when I refer to them in the committee stage. I shall leave any further questions until then. It is sufficient to say at this stage that the Opposition supports the Bill and will co-operate in trying to get it through this pl’ace speedily in accordance with the wishes of the Government which, for some reason, wants, the matter dealt with quickly.
– 1 am grateful for the support that Senator Willesee has indicated the Opposition will give to the passage of this Bill. The Government’s reason for proceeding quickly with this measure is that the legislation will need to be in operation at the end of the month. A speedy passage of. the legislation will enable the various procedures which arc required to be determined before that time when, as honourable senators will appreciate, it is hoped that the Senate will not be silling. Senator Willesee said that he intends in the committee stage to. raise some questions of particularity. Perhaps I shall be able to deal with those matters at that stage.
It . must be understood that this is the first . loan to be obtained from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and, to this extent, this Bill will establish a precedent. Senator Willesee . asked why we were proceeding in this way. I think the short answer is, asI have said, that this is the first loan to be obtained from the Bank for the Territory. It is true to say that the International Bank has afforded a high priority to the improvement of telecommunications in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and to the project which is proposed by the Territory Administration. Senator Willesee made the point that this work is being done in collaboration with the Territory Administration which bad the advantage of help from experts from the International Bank. TheBank considered that the project was suitable for a bank loan.
Application has been made also to the International Development Association, which is an affiliate of the Bank, for funds for a series of agricultural and livestock projects. This is an interesting point. In addition a survey of roads and highways is being conducted under the sponsorship of the Bank. So. whilst this is the first international loan, it is very heartening and important to be able to record that it is not necessarily a oncer. It may well be the forerunner of other loan facilities made available for the development of the Territory.
Senator Willesee referred to the guarantee agreement. A guarantee agreement will not be required for the loan from the International Development Association. I think it is true to say that the International Bank regulation requires the Commonwealth to execute a guarantee agreement on this occasion. The legal advisers of the Commonwealth are of the view that this form of contractual guarantee is not authorised by section 75a of the Papua and New Guinea Act1 949-68.
Reference was made to communications. It might be advisable to develop that point in more detail at the Committee stage of the debate. Apparently Senator Willesee put his finger on the spot in saying that it is necessary for the link to be joined to an international chain to have any significance. 1 will get the information for the honourable senator and elaborate on it at a later stage. Senator Willesee commented generally about the cost factor. The introduction of a very costly telecommunications system will bring in its train financial’ considerations in relation to reticulation work that will be necessary. References have been made in the Senate to the costs involved in reticula tion work in this country for the Postmaster General’s Department. I think such financial considerations will be primarily within the responsibility of the Administration of Papua and New Guinea. If any points associated with that aspect remain for discussion perhaps they could be more properly raised when we are dealing with the estimates for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea at a later hour today, or perhaps tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I wish to raise one or two matters relating to the Schedules. Article III in the First Schedule slates:
It is the mutual intention of the guarantor and the Bank that no other external public debt shall enjoy any priority over the loan by way of a lien on public assets.
A little further on it stales:
The guarantor and the Bank shall from time to time exchange views through their representatives with regard to matters relating to the purposes of the loan and the maintenance of the service thereof. . . . The guarantor shall afford all reasonable opportunity for accredited representatives of the Bank to visit any part of the territories of the guarantor (including those of the borrower) for purposes related to the loan.
There seems to be a connection in Article V. When I read it, I think the Minister will understand the point I am making. Article V states, in part:
It seems that the guarantor does not come into this arrangement. I am wondering what types of arrangement for inspectors are contemplated. Are they to be acceptable to the guarantor, or is an arrangement to be made between the Bank and the borrower? Is it contemplated that we shall keep watch through inspectors? I am thinking not so much of the financing as of the construction and carrying out of the project, which is to be done diligently, efficiently and so on. 1 will leave it at that and refer later to the interest payments.
– I have some notes which may be of assistance in answering the honourable senator’s questions. When dealing with article V he moved on to the Second Schedule.
– That is so.
– Perhaps the notes 1 have will provide the answers sough! by the honourable senator. The First Schedule sets out the text of the Guarantee Agreement between the Commonwealth and the International Bank. Under the agreement the Commonwealth guarantees as primary obligor the due and punctual payment of the principal of and the interest and other charges on the loan, the principal of and interest on the bonds, and the premium on the prepayment of the loan or the redemption of the bonds.
The Commonwealth also undertakes, whenever there is reasonable cause to believe that the funds available to the Territory Administration will be inadequate to meet the estimated expenditures for carrying out the project, to make arrangements to provide or cause the Administration to be provided with the required funds. The Commonwealth and the Bank will co-operate fully to ensure that the purposes of the loan are accomplished and will exchange information on the general status of the loan. Under the Guarantee Agreement the principal of, and interest and other charges on the loan and the bonds, are to be free of Australian taxation and of restrictions imposed by Australian law, for example, foreign exchange restrictions. However, such freedom from taxation does not apply where the payments are beneficially made to a resident of Australia or of its territories. The guarantee and loan agreements and the bonds themselves are also to be free from Australian taxation in connection with their execution, issue, delivery, or registration.
The Second Schedule sets out the text of the loan agreement between the Territory Administration and the International Bank, which has provisions similar to those normally appearing in loan agreements entered into by the Bank. The agreement is subject to the provisions of the Bank’s Loan Regulations No. 4, which are amended in certain respects by schedule 3 to the agreement. In respect of article II, the loan of $US7m, or $A6.2m, carries interest at 6i% per annum and has a life of 20 years with repayments commencing after 5 years. There is a commitment fee of ±% per annum on the undrawn amount of the loan.
I am coming now to the point raised by Senator Willesee. Article III relates to the fact that under the agreement the Administration is required to use the proceeds of the loan exclusively on the project, and to procure goods purchased with the proceeds on the basis of international competitive bidding. Under Article IV, bonds evidencing the loan are to be executed and delivered if the Bank so requests. The bonds will be endorsed with the guarantee of the Commonwealth. Article V of the Agreement requires the Administration to carry out the telecommunications project with due diligence and efficiency and to keep the Bank informed of the State of the project. Contractors are to be acceptable to both the Bank and the Administration. I think the honourable senator referred to that point at one stage. Commencing with the financial year 1968-69, the Administration’s Department of Posts and Telegraphs is required to adopt a commercial system of accounts and to have financial statements prepared on this basis audited by the Commonwealth Auditor-General. From 1969-70 the statements may be audited by independent accountants. The Administration is required to establish and maintain telecommunications rates and charges that will provide sufficient revenue to cover operating expenses, including adequate maintenance and depreciation, and to produce a reasonable return on net fixed assets in use for telecommunications services. The Administration undertakes as an objective to achieve a return of 8% per annum on this basis as soon as practicable after the completion of the project.
– -If the Minister is prepared to stop there, I would like to raise a point in relation to what he has just said.
– All right.
– The Minister has just dealt with Article V of the Loan Agreement, which is the Second Schedule to the Bill. This matter interests me. Here in Australia the charging of interest on funds advanced to the Postmaster-General’s Department is a very controversial issue. The situation in Papua and New Guinea seems to me to be different. In respect of the Australian situation we have always argued that the Government does not have to pay interest on the funds in the first place. But the Territory of Papua and New Guinea has to pay interest at the rate of 6i%. Incidentally, I would like to know where that figure comes from. The Minister has just explained the reason for the i%, but I would like to know about the 6%. It may be a set rate that the International Bank charges. I would like to know whether that is so.
The Agreement states that the Territory must cover operating expenses including taxes and levies; but, according to the Minister’s statement, it is not envisaged that there will1 be any taxes and levies to produce the return, which has been fixed at 8%. I am wondering how the Administration will approach this matter. Will it approach it by considering each service individually, as the Australian Postmaster-General’s Department does? The Australian Department says: ‘In considering this service we have to remember that we must have a return of 6%’. In Papua and New Guinea the return has been fixed at 8%. Will the Administration add to that 8% the 6i% that it wiM be paying on the loan? Will the 8% become a theoretical figure? When the Administration services an area, a group of farms or a group of mines, will it say: The cost of this service is $X; we want a return of $X plus 8%’; or will it say: We want a return of $X plus 8% plus 6i%, or a total of $X plus 14%’? Although prima facie, as the Minister says, this is a responsibility of the Territory, because of our tremendous interest and very wide experience in the Territory, this becomes a point of interest to us. To put it at the lowest level, I would like to know from the advisers whether the return envisaged is 8% or *I4i%.
– I am advised that the figure of 8% is inclusive. 1 will continue my comments on the Loan Agreement. They may throw up some other questions. The principal pf, and interest and other charges on, the loan and the bonds are to be free from all taxes and restrictions imposed under the laws of the Territory. However, exemption, from taxation of payments on a bond does not apply when the bond is beneficially owned by a resident of Australia or of the Territory. I do not think there is any significance in that. The undertaking set out in section 3.01 of the Guarantee Agreement is one that is customarily required by overseas lenders. The Commonwealth, when it is borrowing overseas on its own account,’ gives this undertaking in all its loan agreements. That is pretty straightforward.
Senator Willesee raised one other question in relation to inspection. The Commonwealth will be fully informed of all inspections being carried out by the International Bank. The Territory. Administration has agreed to allow Bank representatives to visit the Territory at all reasonable times. The Administration will provide the Commonwealth with copies of reports to the Bank on the progress of the project.
– I refer now to schedule 2 to the Loan Agreement: It is headed ‘Description of Project’, lt seems to me that all the places mentioned - Port Moresby, Lae, Madang, Goroka and Mount Hagen - are on the New Guinea mainland. Reference is made to switching equipment and the types of frequencies that are to be used - ultra high frequency, very high frequency and high frequency. What is proposed sounds pretty reasonable because of the various types of places that will have to feed into the network. Is it envisaged that the project will cover the islands - New Britain, New Ireland and the Solomon Islands - and places such as Rabaul and Kavieng? Are they to be covered in this initial up-dating, or are they to be put off until another time? Has the Minister any information on whether they are to be covered or whether the project is to be confined to the mainland for the time being?
– 1 understand that for technical reasons the outlying islands are not to be covered. I ask Senator Willesee not to ask me why. He would have a belter appreciation of the reasons than I. That is the short answer to his question.
– I note the elaborate arbitration provisions. I was interested to see that the middle man is called the umpire. I do not know whether he has a whistle.- The Third Schedule to the Bill contains provisions dealing with arbitration and disputes that may arise. I refer to the following sentence in section 7.04 (k):
Notwithstanding the foregoing-
Those provisions deal with retribution and other matters that may arise if things go bad:
What does that mean? Docs it mean that any disputes are to be decided within the terms of the Loan Regulations, or will there be recourse to some senior court outside the Regulations?
– I regret to say that at this time I am not in a position to give an explanation to that sentence. However, I will obtain it for Senator Willesee and make it available to him. As he will appreciate, his question has legal implications. My advisers believe that because of the legal implications it would be more appropriate to prepare a reply for the honourable senator and make it available to him.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 1361), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Deputy President, the Excise Tariff Bill 1968 now before the Senate seeks to insert a new item into the Excise Tariff 1921-1967 to provide an exemption from excise duty of ships’ stores. Really, this is a machinery measure. It arises from a previous decision of the Government to exempt from customs and excise duties ships stores consumed on overseas ships. When the original excise tariff proposals - were introduced as a temporary arrangement to exempt from customs duty imported goods used as ships stores, it was indicated that the Excise Act did not contain such .authority. The temporary arrangement was made until such lime as the provisions of the Customs Act and the Excise Act could be brought into line. This is the main purpose of the first part of this Bill. , .
The other section of this Bill deals with the report by the Tariff Board on ‘Essential Oils and Other Substances’. The recommendation of the Tariff Board was that the excise tariff was not the appropriate vehicle for assistance to the production of essential oils and recommended, that assistance, where warranted, should be accorded by means of protective duties under the Customs Tariff. It was decided then to remove excise duty from industrial spirit, and also from spirit used for scientific purposes, the bulk of which is used in essences, scents and toilet preparations.
I will outline to the Senate the excise tariff proposals. The previous duty on spirit for making vinegar was 20c per proof gallon. It will be delivered free of excise duty after the passage of this legislation. The same position applies to spirit for use in the manufacture of essences on which the duties previously varied in the range ot $1 to $1.20 per proof gallon. Spirit for use in the manufacture of scents and toilet preparations attracted duty previously at varying rates in the range of $1.40 to $1.60 per proof gallon. Spirit for use in the manufacture of essences, scents and toilet preparations previously carried a duty rate of $1.60 per proof gallon. Spirit for industrial and scientific purposes previously had imposed on it a duty of $2.50 per proof gallon. All the tariff items that I have just mentioned will be delivered free of excise duty as a result of the enactment of this Bill.
The Excise Tariff Bill 1968 seeks to tidy up the legislation relating to those two matters. As 1 have said, it provides for an exemption from excise duty on ships stores and also exempts from excise duty spirit used for scientific and industrial purposes. We believe that this Bill is a part of the whole scheme of the Department of Customs and Excise to make the administration of the Department more efficient. It also brings into line exemptions from duty on spirits used in Australia for industrial and scientific purposes. The Opposition does not oppose the measure. We give it a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
COAL EXCISE BILL (No. 2) 1968 Second Reading
Debate resumed from 22 October (vide page 1444), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Madam Acting Deputy President, the Coal Excise Bill (No. 2) 1968 is one of three cognate Bills. The other two are the States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Bill 1968 and the Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1968. These Bills are concerned with the provision of funds for the purpose of the payment of long service leave in the coal mining industry. The unhappy years that preceded 1949 in the coal mining industry brought about a new approach to the whole industry. After very serious industrial turmoil many of the long standing demands of coal miners were granted and presented in legislative form. Among those demands was the long hoped for service leave provisions. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) indicated during his second reading speech that he wished to treat the three Bills as cognate measures. I will take the same approach to them.
When we examine the history of this legislation we find that an excise levy was imposed on all coal products whether they were for domestic or export purposes. That levy applied from 1949 to 1961 when, because of the buoyant condition of the fund set up under the States Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Act. the rate of excise struck on coal used on the domestic market was reduced .from 5d or 4.17c per ton to 4d or 3.33c per ton. It was also decided, for the purpose of encouraging and developing overseas markets, to remove completely the excise on coal that was exported.
A report by the Commonwealth Actuary indicates that the fund now has to provide a cash commitment arrangement involving planning finances over a period generally of 5 years. The Minister has been good enough to supply me with some figures which indicate the fluctuations in the fund itself. Revenue received in the first year of operation was $413,718. In 1959, after 9 years of operation, the annual revenue had risen to $1,115,504, and the balance to the credit of the fund stood at $4,113,844. About this time consideration was given to the growing balance in the fund and a reduction in the rate of concession given to exporters to encourage the export of coal.
Since that time we have seen annual revenue fall from $990,988 to $757,000 in 1965 and rise to $806,000 in the current year: The balance of the fund has dropped from over $4m to $2.8m. Because of the forecast of the actuaries that in the 5-year period ending 1972 there will be an expenditure of $7. 2m, provision had to be made to meet this expenditure. On the present basis of excise the revenue would meet only half of the amount required for servicing long service leave payments. The only alternative is an increase in the amount of revenue flowing into the fund and it is through this legislation that that is to be achieved.
It is interesting to note that in 1961 when the concessions were made in respect of coal that was exported, we were exporting less than 2 million tons per annum which was less than 10% of the total production. Today with 30 million tons of black coal being produced, about 10 million tons - or more than 30% - is exported. Coal exports are expected to exceed 15 million tons, or more than 40% of the output, by 1971. It seems that there will be further growth in production. This is an indication of a number of things, including the great demand for our coal from Japan and South East Asian countries, lt is also an indication that to some extent the incentive has helped coal exports.
Home consumption of coal is meeting very fierce competition from the crude oil produced from refineries in this country. It has been a matter of high policy on the part of the oil companies, so far as I can gather, to intrude into an area that was previously the exclusive field of the coal industry. This is shown up in the figures which indicate that a decreasing proportion of the market uses coal. But this smaller proportion has been carrying the entitre cost of long service leave since 1961, and as a result the expenditure from the trust fund has exceeded revenue each year. If locally consumed coal were to continue to carry the entire cost, excise would have to be increased from 3£c a ton to 61c a ton. This legislation proposes that an excise of 4.4c a ton be levied on locally consumed coal from 1st November, which is an increase of 1.1c, and a corresponding amount of 1.1c will be levied on export coal. This will be increased over a period of some 3 years. In November 1968 the amount will be 1.1c, rising to 2.2c from 1st July 1969; 3.3c from 1st July 1970; and finally, in 1971, the exporters will be paying the same proportion per ton into the fund as is paid on coal used for domestic purposes.
So ail in all the amendments proposed in the Coal1 Excise Bill provide for collections of excise by the Department of Customs and Excise on all black coal and remove the provisions which exempted coal that was exported. The other Bills are supplementary to the main purpose of bringing machinery into the legislation to provide for the alteration of the exemption that previously was granted to export coal1, and by 1971 it will be a simple matter of collection of excise on all coal produced in Australia.
It is very pleasing indeed to see long service leave provisions covering the whole of the industry. It is noticeable that the industry has been much steadier since so many of these long needed reforms were introduced. This illustrates that when we have industrial unrest we must look to the basic causes. In many cases people who are discontented in an industry can show this only by direct action. I must pay tribute to the manner in which the Joint Coal Board has approached the industry, and to Senator Ormonde who was an officer of the Board for many years. I commend the Board for the way in which it has administered the industry and the degree of good will that it has generated.
I believe that legislation of this sort was one of the main influences in satisfying a long felt need of the industry by giving some basic security in the form of superannuation funds, long service leave and other conditions in the mines. I hope that Senator Ormonde may make some comments later on this legislation. We do not oppose the Bills. We hope that this fund will be run on a sound actuarial’ basis and that as new demands are made as a result of Arbitration Commission decisions a higher level of long service leave and other benefits will continue to apply in the coal mining industry.
– I am naturally very interested to express a few points of view on this legislation. First, it should never be forgotten that it was the Chifley Government which introduced the principal legislation. It arose out of a struggle in the Labor movement - in the trade union movement and in the Australian Labor Party itself - which culminated in the 1949 strike. Even at that stage, and with a Labor Government, such a thing as long service leave was unheard of in the mining industry, as well as in many other industries. It was unheard of outside the Public Service. In those days mine workers were paid only for what came out on the end of the shovel. A miner was a contractor. He worked for himself. He went down into the mine when the whistle blew in the morning and came out when it suited him. He was a private contractor and the employer had hardly any responsibility to him at all. The miner knocked off when he had mined 30 tons or even when he felt tired. This had a great deal to do with the irresponsibility in the industry. I believe the average mine leader would say that it was an irresponsible time.
At that stage, at the political level, the Labor Party had to think in terms of the federal system. Under the national security regulations the Government was able, with the assistance of complementary legislation on the part of the States, to make the long service leave provisions possible. At that time the Commonwealth had no powers over the coal industry except those relating to the national security regulations. This legislation came about as a result of combining the powers of the Commonwealth and the. States and after consultation with the industry and the unions. As I said earlier, miners used to be paid for what came out pf the mine on the shovel. If the miner did not work he did not get paid. His wife could never organise a holiday unless they were prepared to go without pay. The mine worker received no holiday pay. He could have a month’s holiday so long as he paid for it.
Long service leave was one of the four demands of the miners in the strike of 1949. The real reason for that strike was that it involved a question of justice being delayed and justice being denied. This happened even under a Labor government. A war had broken out and Australia found itself without, coal. All sorts of appeals were made to the miners not to strike. They had to keep working. As a matter of interest, one of the few strikes during the war years occurred on the south coast of New South Wales. The men went on strike because they were not allowed to enlist. That strike had nothing to do with Communism. Coal mining was a protected industry and this meant that the miners could not enlist. John Curtin had to make one of his impassioned speeches to point out to them that it was their duty to stay at work in the mines. Now, miners get paid long service leave and annual holidays. They have holidays twice a year. The miners were the last of the organised working class - I use that term deliberately - to get what looked like justice. They went on strike in 1949 because justice was too long coming. This all goes to show that a little bit of pressure helps.
– It was not a little bit of pressure.
– I realise that, but workers must never give up their right to strike even if they do not use it. They must have that power. Strikes, plus parliamentary action, are the best way to get things done for those people who still work for a living. However, only yesterday the President of the Miners Federation, Mr Smart, said that he was very happy about what is going on. The miners’ leaders appreciate the fact that the Government is continuing the scheme set out in this legislation and is finding money, by way of excise, to maintain the solvency of the Trust Fund. There are a couple of questions I would like to ask the Minister but I will do so during the Committee stage. I often wonder why this Government, when it is being gracious and generous to workers, persists in leaning towards the monopolies.
– J wonder why.
– I do not know. It is doing so in this case. Senator Scott may be surprised that I have found a nigger in the woodpile. The Government is differentiating between coal exporters and those who produce coal for local consumption. The interesting point is that the companies engaged in the export trade are mostly foreign owned. Practically our entire coal industry has fallen into the control of foreign owners. I will read some of the names involved. The Government proposes to assist coal exporters by making them pay only 1.1c a ton On export coal whereas locally consumed coal will not be at the same rate. An excise duty of 4.4c a ton will be levied on locally consumed coal. The present export exemption will not cease immediately but will be phased out over a period of 4 years. That is what was said by the Minister in his second reading speech. This was done so as not to jeopardise exporters. They can take things quietly. This great development of long service leave, this social amenity, may not apply today in other countries, such as Japan. The Government : has said to the overseas interests that if they come here and invest their money- it will not be too hard on them. The Government has said it will take it easy and allow the overseas interests to pay for these things on the layby system.
– We’ can always buy our coal back from Japan. ‘
– -Yes. I will now list some of the. companies that this Government is going to assist. It is going to be generous in order to keep them interested in the mining industry and in the export of coal. The first name that strikes me is that of Mitsubishi. It is a pretty wealthy organisation. I am . certain it does not need this sort of treatment from the Government. The next is Rio Tinto.
– What does the honourable senator think the excise on export coal ought to be?
– All I am doing is reading out the list of companies engaged in the export of coal. There is Mitsubishi and there is Rio Tinto. Has the honourable senator heard the name Rio Tinto? That organisation is not exactly in need of assistance from us. The next is the Clutha Development Pty Ltd. Is that a poverty stricken organisation? lt will be able to pay as it goes for the amenities for its workers. Is it suggested that these organisations cannot afford to pay in the same way that the producers of coal for local consumption have to pay? The producers for local consumption have to put their money down. They have to pay excise of 4.4c a ton. Have honourable senators ever heard of the organisation known as Thiess Bros, and Mitsubishi? Apparently it is in a bad way and needs help.
– Its shares dropped the other day.
– This donation from the Commonwealth will help to put the shares up. Then there is the Ludwig group. There is not an Australian name among them. Perhaps we would find that even the Thiess brothers were not born in this country. The simple fact is that these are the organisations that are extracting our coal and they are principally foreign owned. The coal industry has practically passed into the hands of foreign owners. Even Sir Edward Warren had to duck over to Japan recently before he could finalise his business relating to a new mine. He is on his way to Japan now. I do npt know who is going to be involved in the new project he is engaged on but he said that there would be no Japanese capital in it. He said he could assure the Australian people on that point. He is offside with the Government but that is his affair. I can see no justification whatever for the Government allowing the foreign owners of Australian coal mines to finance long service leave in the way that they are doing. If foreign interests want to come to Australia and make their profits here they ought to accept our industrial con ditions and should pay what local interests have to pay. I am not talking about the miners; I am talking about the Australian companies that export coal.
The President of the Miners Federation asked me to mention one problem that exists in the industry. I refer to the miners pensions, which have stayed put. In a period of inflation miners have found it difficult to obtain an increase in their pension rates. I was asked to raise the matter to see whether the Government would consider increasing mine workers pensions because, unlike other pensions, they seem to have stood still. I know that they have stood still because of some complication between State and Federal laws, the judiciary and tribunals beyond the reach of the Miners Federation. I ask the Government, in its wisdom, to consider increasing the pensions. Today the industry never stops; it is working all the time. 1 must give credit to the workers in the industry. Twenty years ago 25,000 workers produced about 13 million or 14 million tons of coal. Now about 10,000 workers produce twice that amount of coal.
– They should have done it before.
– Of course the mines were not mechanised then. The miners had no machines. The coal owners might never have mechanised had it not been for governments - the process was started by the Chifley Government - setting up an organisation to finance the mechanisation of mines. That is history. The Government has the goodwill of the miners. They would not be working if it did not. Their conditions could not be better. They can emerge from the mine in daylight, see their wives, go on holidays and be paid for public holidays - quite unlike conditions used to be. A man can feel proud to be in the mining industry today, and that was not the position when I was in the industry or an official of the Joint Coal Board. The improvement in conditions started with the establishment of a coal board under the Chifley Government. Senator Soctt, during the course of many of his speeches in the Senate, refers to the conditions in 1949. He is one of the original forty-niners. I know that in his speeches he is not just talking about the miners, he is actually talking about the day he first came into Parliament. I am glad he is here.
– Speaking personally, I am very glad he is here. If one can get through to the good that is in him, one will do all right. I have managed to get through to him. I think most honourable senators are thankful that mine workers are entitled to long service leave. They are able to lead human lives. Previously they were not. They worked round the clock. Now they work one shift. One shift is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. They come home like public servants because the Joint Coal Board, through the Chifley Government, established bathing facilities for them. Previously they used to come out of a mine, fill a kerosene tin with water and stand under it to wash themselves. Now a bathroom at a mine is better than one at the Hotel Kurrajong. The. miners appreciate all the improved conditions, which have helped to make them look like human beings and they are human beings. They are reacting to today’s good conditions compared with the bad conditions that existed previously.
– in reply - I thank the Opposition for not opposing the Coal Excise Bill (No. 2). One or two points that were raised should be answered. Senator Ormonde often refers to the year 1949 and to the introduction of legislation by the Chifley Government in that year to help the coal miners who were working in the industry. The levy on all coal produced commenced at a rate of about 6d a ton and had increased to 8d a ton by 1962. The increase was designed so that the amount in the trust fund could be increased in order to provide the necessary amounts for long service leave. A few months prior to the introduction of the legislation, as Senator Ormonde said, the Chifley Government had on its hands a coal strike which is probably without precedent in the history of Australia. Unemployment in that period rose to 5.6% of the total work force. Since then that percentage has not been achieved again. As a matter of fact it seldom rises above 2.8%. I also advise Senator Ormonde that in the past the Government has exempted exporting companies, including overseas companies, from paying into the fund.
This legislation is designed to put the producers of coal for export on the same basis as producers of coal for home consumption. This will take place over a period. The present rate payable by producers of coal for home consumption is 3.33c a ton. Because the amount in the fund has receded from about $4m to a little over $2m it has become necessary to restore the amount to about the former figure. If we examine the scheme closely we shall find that during the next 2 or 3 years about $7m will be required. The amount that would have been collected if the levy had not been increased would have been a little under half of this sum. At present the fund has about $2m. The moneys would nin ‘out completely if something were not done about replenishing them. So the Government decided that it would put a levy on the coal that is exported as well as on the coal that is consumed in Australia. The Government cannot say to the exporters that as from tomorrow they will have to pay the same levy as the people that ‘are producing coal’ for consumption in Australia, because the contracts have been made. It is for this reason that we have decided to phase the scheme in over a period of 3 or 4 years. As from 1 st November this year those who produce coal for consumption within Austrafia will pay a levy of 4.4c a ton. Those who are producing coal for export will be debited with a levy of 4.4c a ton but in fact will pay only 1.1c. The balance of 3.3c will never be collected. As from 30th June of next year producers of coal1 for export will pay 2.2c a ton. In the following year they will pay 3.3c a ton and after that will be on the same basis as those who produce. coal for home consumption and will pay 4.4c a ton. This is not a subsidy. It is a levy on coal that is produced for export. I thank the Opposition for giving the Bill a speedy passage.
Question resolved iri the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22 October (vide page 1444), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to provide for an excise duty of 4.4c a ton on coal, lt is complementary to the measure that we have just passed. The Opposition has no objection to the proposed provisions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 22 October (vide page 1444), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks to amend the provisions relating to the Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave Fund. The reasons for it have already been outlined during discussion of other measures. The Opposition has no objection to the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through ils remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 1358), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I first became aware of this Bill, as probably most honourable senators did, through an announcement in some newspaper or journal to the effect that the Government was proposing to remove the 10c in the $1 rebate on Commonwealth bonds. At that time the proposal struck me as being a retrograde step, because I was under the impression that the rebate encouraged people to take up bonds and so help the finances of the country. I was interested in due course to see the Bill itself. When I received the Bill - this was before I heard the Minister’s second reading speech - I immediately turned to clause 4 and found that proposed sub-section (2.) of section 160ab confirmed the announcement. Proposed sub-section (2.) provides:
A taxpayer shall not be entitled under the last preceding sub-section to a rebate in respect of interest derived from bonds, debentures, stock or other securities issued in respect of moneys borrowed as from the first day of November, Ona thousand nine hundred and sixty-eight, or a later date . . .
I held the opinion that we probably should do something about this until 1 heard the Minister’s second reading speech and discovered that the proposal was the result of some research work, presumably on the part of the Taxation Branch, which had revealed the very surprising circumstance that at about maturity date, and even at about the date twice a year when interest payments became due, a number of Commonwealth bonds changed hands and a few weeks later returned to the original owners. The Taxation Branch discovered that the practice known as rebate washing was being adopted.
– Were they taking the gold out of the pan?
– I presume that is what was happening. When the rebate was first introduced in, I think, 1942 it was never intended that this kind of advantage be taken of it but some astute financier or finance company saw the loop-hole and was making a good thing out of it. 1 think the Minister mentioned most of these points but I am reiterating them because I think they are most important and lead us to another point. Certain organisations - this applies particularly to superannuation funds and in part to certain banks since the introduction of legislation in 1 960 - either are not entitled to any rebate because they do not pay income tax, or are entitled to only a portion of the rebate. The astute person, persons or finance company to whom I have referred discovered that if a superannuation fund could be persuaded to sell its Commonwealth bonds to them they would be able to claim the rebate because they would be the owners when income tax returns were submitted. In effect, what happens is that an individual or a finance company buys the bonds from a person or another company which does not pay income tax or receives only a small portion of the rebate. The purchaser then is entitled to the 2i% interest and to the rebate.
Later, he sells the bonds back to the original owners at a depreciated value which corresponds to the 2i% interest. The original owners then are in the same position as they were at the beginning. They have gained 2i% on their funds. The finance company has gained 21% and has also lost 2i% in the resale to the original owners, but it has gained the rebate in taxation for the value of the bonds that were held.
This could become a very big thing, because you do not necessarily pay money when you buy bonds if you buy them on a month’s notice. It could happen that one could buy bonds and sell them without any money having changed hands. I mentioned that situation to an accountant in Perth over the week-end and he said: ‘That is quite all right. We can even do that in some circumstances with shares.’ Just how far this practice goes I do not know, lt is interesting to note that the Taxation Branch considers that it is losing about $16m a year as a result of the transactions which take place when interest is due to be paid. That sum of money, therefore, is lost to the Treasury. The disadvantage to the Treasury inherent in this process when a bond is maturing lies in the fact that the company purchasing the maturing bond does not necessarily convert into another bond whereas an individual usually converts. If there is no conversion the Government is forced to look for other avenues of finance to take up the new bonds which are being offered for sale.
Of course it is not possible to put a stop to the practice in relation to existing Commonwealth bonds which will not mature until the year 2004 because the contract provides for a rebate of 10c in the $1. In the circumstances it seems to me that legislation should be introduced which would prevent in some way this transfer by finance companies of large numbers of bonds when interest falls due. This needs to be looked at, because the Taxation Branch is now alive to the situation. One of the serious features of these transactions is that none of them could not occur without collusion. It is necessary to have one group which is prepared to sell and then buy back again within a very short period - perhaps some weeks - and it is necessary also to have another group which is prepared to buy and sell back again. 1 do not think it would be very difficult to find groups prepared to do this, but the point is that there must be collusion which is a bad feature of the present situation.
The Opposition does not oppose the Bill. We feel that it is plugging up a hole which has resulted in losses to the Treasury. We feel that in some way the measure should go further, but we appreciate that this could be difficult because of conditions which are written into existing bonds. Legislation might be introduced to exclude from rebate concessions those who transact large transfers of bonds just prior to interest dales or maturity dates. However, 1 suggest that the Treasurer might consider what can be done about the bonds which mature between now and the year 2004. I understand that half the value of the bonds will mature within 10 or 12 years, but that still leaves quite a long period within which this bond washing could persist. 1 believe that this is a most undesirable feature that has emerged from the legislation and it is something which was never intended. The Opposition, therefore, will give a speedy passage to the Bill as ii stands.
– in reply - I thank the Senate for the speedy passage which it has given to this Bill on the second reading. I hope that it will have an equally speedy passage in the Committee stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 1359), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I understand that it was proposed to debate with this measure the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill 1968. I am quite happy that that course should be followed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - The two Bills may be debated together, but separate questions will have to be put on each measure.
– The Opposition does not propose to move any amendments to this Income Tax Bill as was done in another place. However, I should like to make a few comments on the measure and to refer also to the Income Tax (Partnerships and Trusts) Bill. My remarks on the Income Tax Bill will not affect what I want to say on the other measure. In looking at a tax upon incomes it is quite reasonable to consider whether some alterations which have not been made in this Bill might have been made. A few days ago I was going through some figures with regard to a point which is raised whenever income tax measures are being debated, namely, that the taxpayers in the lower income groups, and particularly those in receipt of the basic wage, are now receiving much better treatment than they were many years ago. A taxpayer in that category is now allowed a much higher statutory exemption from taxation. I agree that this is so when we are speaking in dollars, but it is not so when it comes to purchasing power. This is a matter that should be investigated.
During the debate in the other place the Minister for Air and Minister Assisting the Treasurer (Mr Freeth) said in his reply that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was giving serious consideration to the income tax structure but that the new proposals had not been introduced at that stage. I do not think we can make any valid comparison between the tax paid at some time in the past and that paid today until we get past the stage when the States and the Commonwealth were taxing as separate entities. 1 believe that we must start at about 1945 when the basic wage was $499 per annum. At that time a man on the basic wage with a wife and two children was entitled to an exemption of $422 and was taxed on $77 only. I do not intend to complicate the argument by referring to the deductions that would be allowable for medical and dental expenses and other payments which are a normal deduction for income tax purposes; I believe that it is better to restrict the comparison.
In 1945 the statutory exemption from income tax was $422 on a basic wage of $499 and tax was payable on $77. 1 believe that the tax works out at about 50c. In 1967, the last year in which income tax returns were filed, a person in receipt of the Commonwealth basic wage would have received $1,758 and his allowable deductions for his wife and two children would have been $1,092. I agree that $.1,092 is much more than $422, but times have changed and the purchasing power of the dollar has changed. An amount of $2 today is much different in value from the £1 of 1946. If we exclude all other deductions for medical, dental and other expenses, the person in receipt of the basic wage would be taxed on $666. He would be paying quite an amount in taxation although he is in receipt of the basic wage only. This is one matter that should be looked at.
The next subject that I want to introduce is something that I mentioned when I was dealing with primary industry and its problems only a few weeks ago. I referred to the difficulties that primary producers, particularly those in receipt of smaller incomes, were experiencing. It takes a very small change in the condition of a farm for a farmers income to fall below the subsistence level so that he must start to live on his capital. I made the suggestion in passing that a type of negative income tax might be introduced to enable people in (hat position to exist at a level of income which would obviate the need to draw on their capital.
I have before me a copy of an article by Dr Milton Friedman which appeared in ‘Newsweek’ of 1 6th September last. I obtained the copy from the Parliamentary Library only yesterday and have not found time to change into Australian currency the figures that are cited. It is an extremely interesting article and I will quote from it. I obtained my first information on negative income tax from volume 64, No. 22, of News and World Report’, published in May of this year. 1 was interested to find that the proposition has been put forward in the United States of America for some years now. It is gradually gaining a lot of support from economic faculties and from people who have studied the suggestion because of the difficulties being experienced, particularly by primary producers. One of the features of the scheme is that it could take the place of many social service benefits and would therefore not increase very greatly costs to the Government. It would enable aid to be given where required and not to people who perhaps do not need assistance to the same degree as is given through subsidies. I ask honourable senators to pardon me for citing the American figures given in the article. They can be quite easily changed into Australian currency. Dr Milton Friedman is Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. In his article he wrote:
The basic idea of a negative income tax is- to use the mechanism by which we now collect tax revenue from people with incomes above some minimum level to provide financial assistance to people with incomes below that level. Under present law, a family of four (husband, wife and two dependants) is entitled to personal exemptions and minimum deductions totalling $3,000-
I again remind honourable senators that the figures in the article are in United States currency. The article continues:
If such a family has an income of $3,000, its exemptions and deductions just offset its income, lt has a zero taxable income and pays no tax. If it has an income of $4,000, it has a positive taxable income of $1,000. . . . If it has an income of $2,000, it has a . negative taxable income of $1,000. . . . This negative taxable income is currently disregarded.
Any honourable senators who have dealt with farming accounts know that after the allowable deductions are made from the income earned by a developing farm, the accounts are well in the red. In the hypothetical case cited in the article, a negative taxable income is produced but no credit is given here for that at all. The article continues:
Under a negative income tax, the family would be entitled to receive a fraction of this sum. If the negative tax rate were 50%, it would be entitled to receive $500, leaving it with an income after tax of $2,500. If such a family had no private income, it would have a negative taxable income of - $3,000, which would entitle it to receive $1,500 . . . Let me stress the difference between the break-even income of $3,000 at which the family neither pays taxes nor receives a subsidy and the minimum guaranteed income of $1,500. It is essential to retain a difference between these two in order to preserve an incentive for low income families to earn additional income.
This is one of the main features of the negative income tax scheme. It provides an incentive so that people will not live merely on hand-outs. That comment is applicable in many cases to social service benefits, but in the case of the negative income tax scheme an incentive is supplied to people to do better. The article continues:
This plan is intended to replace completely our present programmes of direct relief - aid to depen dent children, public assistance, and so on. For the first year or two it might cost slightly more than these programmes - because it is so much more comprehensive in coverage. But, as the incentive effects of the plan started to work, it would begin to cost far less than the present exploding direct assistance programmes that are creating a permanent class of people on welfare.
That is a quick outline of the scheme suggested by Dr Milton Friedman. A number of negative income tax schemes have been suggested, but it is generally conceded that Dr Friedman’s scheme would be the easiest, most beneficial and least costly to operate, and the scheme which would meet the difficulties of primary producers. I believe that it would help to solve the difficulties of Australian primary producers. I think my comments on the negative income tax scheme are relevant to my remarks about workers on the basic wage. These factors are disturbing our economy at present. 1 make no apology for introducing my comments on the negative income tax scheme. The Opposition accepts the Bill. We have no objection to it in its present form. However, I hope that the constructive criticism that I have offered may be of value in future. We support the Bill.
– Once again I wish to thank the Opposition for the speedy passage that has been given to the second reading of this Bill. I found Senator Wilkinson’s comments quite interesting. Recently a committee of which I am a member has been taking notice of a scheme comparable to the negative income tax scheme referred to by Senator Wilkinson, but described by a different name. Members of the committee have been quite intrigued by the scheme. I accept what Senator Wilkinson has said in the way of constructive criticism. It may well be that the scheme to which he referred will bear closer study in Australia. I am not in a position to judge whether it would be applicable to Australian conditions at present. It is a different approach from the present Australian taxation system but perhaps it could be looked at profitably.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed from 17 October (vide page 1360), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 22 October (vide page 1456).
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $63,950,000.
Proposed provision, $3,493,100.
– I refer to the appropriation for the overseas service in Division 252. I. am prompted to take part in this debate by discussions that have taken place in our party room among private members of the Parliament who believe that matters that have emanated from the AuditorGeneral’s Report should be placed on record. The purchase of premises in Paris has been the subject of an open inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee, and members of the Committee believe that what the Auditor General has said about the transaction should be placed on record in this chamber. I hope that tonight the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who is in charge of these estimates, will give some explanation of the situation and enlighten the Parliament on it. It is important that the records of the Parliament include this material, because that will enable people to find out exactly what procedures are followed in the future in regard to this matter. In paragraph 80 of his report for 1967-68, under the heading ‘Purchase of Premises in Paris’, the AuditorGeneral said:
In November 1963, with the approval of Treasury, the Department acquired a property in Paris intended for the accommodation of Embassy staff and the Paris staff of a number of other departments. The purchase price of the property was $578,000, and under the terms of the purchase the vendor was permitted to remain in occupancy until 31 December 1965.
During 1967, it came under Audit notice that the premises had remained unoccupied since vacated by the vendor and that certain alterations proposed in order to render the building suitable for occupancy by the Commonwealth had not been effected. The Department was asked for its comments.
The Department, in reply, stated that the future use of the building had been the subject of close examination over a long period in conjunction with other Commonwealth authorities and that, for a variety of factors includingthe high cost of alterations and the now known nonacceptability of the premises for an Australian Chancery, it had’ been decided to dispose of the property on the most favourable terms and conditions possible.
At the time of preparing this Report the building had not been sold and remained unoccupied. According to departmental records’ a significant loss may result from the transaction.
In the circumstances, although some strengthening of controls is contemplated, it is a matter for further consideration whether the procedures relating to major purchases of property overseas should be thoroughly reviewed in order to ensure that Commonwealth interests and requirements are fully safeguarded.
I pay tribute to the AuditorGeneral and his staff. Australia will remain a great democracy while the AuditorGeneral is uninhibited in drawing attention to the mismanagement of governments and government departments, as he has done in this report.I believe that the Press publicity given to this matter and the statement by a departmental officer to the effect that a boy was sent on a man’s errand will mean that this sort of thing will never occur again. The Department has stated officially:
The premises at 59 Rue dela Faisanderie were purchased in November 1963’ at a cost of $578,000. the price being determined having regard to the fact that the vendors were tobe entitled to remain in occupation until 31st December 1965. retaining responsibility for maintenance of the building meantime. The purchase was approved by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer on the recommendation of the Minister for External Affairs.
I am led to believe that the Minister for External Affairs at the time was Sir Garfield Barwick. I understand that this matter is becoming quite a scandal. The purchase was made in 1963. The matter was considered again in 1965. The building has never been occupied. In accordance with prices offering today, a value of$289,406 has been placed on the property. 1 suggest that this is a matter on which the Minister, with the departmental heads alongside him, should give some understanding to the Committee to enable it to determine exactly what is happening. Has this property been put up for auction? Who was the person who authorised its purchase? What was done by all the great men who had a finger in the pie? I am led to believe that one of the very great architects of France, Monsier Demaret, was consulted in this matter. I have been advised that he has since passed away. A senior staff architect in the Department of Works, who was in’ France, reported that the property could be put into proper architectural condition at a cost of about $300,000. In turn, what we want to know is whether any money has been spent on this property in addition to the amount of this purchase price. Why has some attempt not been made to dispose of it? In effect, what is the price which the Department itself has on this property at the moment?
I think that it is a disgrace to find that a property purchased for $578,000 is now subject to a bid of approximately $289,000 which represents a loss of some $300,000 in a short period. Somebody is at fault. I do believe that the explanation that a boy was sent on a man’s errand is not good enough for this Parliament. I do believe that the Auditor-General would be let down if the Parliament did not make the request that the Department and the Minister for External Affairs himself sift this matter and find out what has taken place regarding this building. I hope that when an explanation is forthcoming the Minister will give the Parliament an assurance that no loss will be incurred when this property is disposed of.
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I have quite a number of replies te questions that were asked of the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson). I propose to give those replies after I have dealt with the matter raised by Senator Fitzgerald. The position is as follows: Approval to purchase this building was given in September 1963 following correspondence between the then Prime Minister, the then Minister for External Affairs and the then Treasurer. This fol lowed a search over a period of several years during which very many propositions were examined. The search was hampered by a ban by the French Government on the building of new office buildings in central Paris, which also enhanced the value of existing buildings and prevented the embassy from finding accommodation designed as office space. The purchase was recommended by the Australian Ambassador at Paris and by a senior officer - not a boy - Mr M. Johnston who, because of his previous experience in Paris, was asked to report on the proposal.
A report on the premises at 59 Rue de la Faisandeire was prepared by a French architect, Monsieur Demaret, who was highly regarded in local professional circles. He held the posts of Chief Architect of the French Government and Inspector General of Civil Buildings and National Palaces which are granted only to architects of the highest professional standing. He valued the premises at $654,000 which compared favourably with the price being asked of $578,000. This price was fixed on the basis that the vendors, the Institut Textile de la France, would remain in occupation until December 1965. Before purchase, the building was examined by the senior Australian Security Intelligence Organisation officer in London who expressed the view that it could be made acceptably secure with a minimum of expenditure. The cost of putting the building into a condition architecturally suitable to accommodate the Paris staff was estimated by a senior architect of the Department of Works - again, not a boy- at $300,000. Without a full architectural survey of the structural framework it was not possible to say whether such alterations would be possible.
Although the ASIO representative in London had reported favourably on the premises at the time of purchase, it later appeared that his comments may not have been intended to be a definite expression of opinion. But, at the time, they were taken to be so. The Director-General of Security had a thorough examination made of the plans and location of the building and, in conjunction with the Department of Works, examined whether various security defects might be overcome by structural alterations. He concluded that the building must be regarded as completely unacceptable from a security point of view as a site for an Australian chancellery. A detailed assessment showed that alternative uses for the building, such as residential apartments, would be economically unsound. The Department of Works recommended that the building should be sold.
Arrangements for the disposal of the building are in the hands of a firm of chartered surveyors and properly consultants, Messrs Weatherall, Green and Smith. This firm is preparing a valuation of the property and an outline planning application for submission to the Paris town planning authorities. Approval of this application will facilitate sale since it will serve as a guarantee to the prospective purchaser that he may use the site for the purpose set out in the application. The firm of Weatherall, Green and Smith also will handle the actual sale of the premises. It is a very reputable firm which has been established in Europe for over 100 years. lt was recommended for this task by the Westminster Bank and by the British Ministry of Works. lt is not possible to say what the return from the sale of the building might be. A Paris real estate firm, John Arther and Tiffin, advised in 1967 that there had been a fall in real estate values since 1963 and that if the building were to be used as an office the price ‘could be somewhere around’ $461,425. The firm thought, however, that only a limited number of buyers might be interested in the property in its present form and that it might be more realistic to value the property as a cleared site. For this purpose it was valued at $267,627. This valuation was based on an incorrect measurement of the site and was revised later to $289,406. The Paris town planning authorities at that time estimated the value of the property at $498,339. The very large difference between these estimates illustrates that any estimate of the likely return must be conjectural. I wish to add that no money has been spent on the building. The firm of Weatherall, Green and Smith will put the building on the market at a figure in excess of $500,000. Details of this matter went to the Joint Committee on Public Accounts this week.
I have a number of answers to questions raised concerning other matters. I will endeavour to get through as many of them as 1 can in the time that is available to me. First, I have a reply to a question that was asked by Senator Mulvihill in relation to the United States Naval Communication Station Agreement. The expenditure outlined in Division No. 250 represents the refund of sales tax and duty paid by the United States Government on equipment, materials and supplies in connection with the construction of the North West Cape station. A refund was made in accordance with Article 10 (3) of the North West Cape agreement. The Article reads:
The United States Government will be entitled to receive from the Australian ‘Government the amount of any duties, taxes, or other charges (not being charges for services requested and rendered) which may have been imposed or levied in respect of equipment, ‘materials, supplies of other property which have been incorporated’ in the station or wholly consumed on the site in the construction of the station or which, having been brought from the United Stales expressly for use on the site in the construction of the station, have been exclusively so used and are exported from Australia at or before the completion, of the station.
Senator Mulvihill also asked me about 12 members of the Korean Christian Workers’ Movement who had been dismissed from the Sang Ho Textile Factory and of whom 1 1 were subsequently reinstated. 1 am not able to provide the information at the moment but I will endeavour to obtain it and let the honourable senator know the result. I may even be able to get this information-
– As the Minister said, eleven have been reinstated, lt is the twelfth about whom we are interested. We have eleven back on the job.
– Very well. Senator Mulvihill’ also asked about the InterGovernmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. The objective of IMCO is to facilitate co-operation among’ governments on technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping, in order to achieve the highest practicable standards of maritime safety and efficiency in navigation. IMCO has a special responsibility for safety of life at sea. The Organisation also provides for the wide exchange of information between nations on al’l technical maritime subjects. Numerous meetings on the legal and technical aspects of oil pollution have been held under the auspices of IMCO.
asked what sort of training the students from the Maldive Islands receive in Australia under the
Colombo Plan. I am informed that sixteen students from the Maldive Islands have received training in Australia under the Colombo Plan. In fact, ten students are at present in training in this country. Most of the trainees have been nurses - some 6 in all - and 7 have undertaken studies in education after preliminary English courses at the Colombo Plan English Teachers’ Centre. In addition, 1 trainee is studying accountancy, 1 trainee has completed training as a pilot and 1 trainee has undertaken training in public administration.
asked whether the diplomatic mail service includes the courier service which operates to and from Australian diplomatic missions overseas. The reference in the annual report to the diplomatic and safe hand mail services is intended to cover the two classes of mail which the Department sends to its posts overseas. The term ‘diplomatic mail’ covers material which requires diplomatic cover but does not need to be escorted while the phrase safe hand mail service’ is intended to refer to mails which are escorted.
asked whether these courier services applied in Australia or in areas where there were no other forms of delivery or no telephones; whether this was a matter of security; whether it was necessary for secret means of delivery to be adopted; and what was the explanation for it. The courier service operated by the Department provides for the safe carriage of certain classifications of mail overseas on behalf of all Government departments.. lt is a matter of security and the use of couriers follows the pattern generally in use in countries which have diplomatic services.
asked about the expenditure shown under item 04 of sub-division 4 of Division 250. This relates to the Australian contribution to the regular objectives of the United Nations and is paid direct to that organisation in New York. The costs of the Australian permanent mission to the United Nations in New York are shown in table 9 of page 44 of the estimates for the year ended 30th June 1969. I think it is pretty well known that this fund is in arrears but Australia is one of the nations that have consistently paid their obligations to the United Nations as they have become due. Senator Willesee asked whether I had any later information on how Australia finally managed in getting food aid to the starving Biafran people. The answer is that the Australian gift of 3,000 metric tons of flour costing $217,757 f.o.b. was shipped in two consignments, in September. The first of these, amounting to 2,000 metric tons, arrived in Lagos on 22nd October. The second consignment is due to arrive in Lagos about 3rd November.
Senator Willesee also asked about the ad hoc committee of experts on the demographic aspects of organisation of the population commission which met in Sydney in 1967. A meeting of the ad hoc committee of thi United Nations Population Commission was held at the Australia Square Tower in Sydney from 29th August to 2nd September 1967, at the conclusion of a meeting of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, which also met in Sydney.
The committee examined questions on the concept and census classifications of urban and rural population, the needs and possibilities for research on demographic aspects of population and organisation with special reference to countries and useful direction of development of the work of the United Nations and specialised agencies in this field. Experts from eight countries attended the meeting. At the time the meeting was held the Minister for External Affairs commented that Australia’s offer to hold the meeting reflected its growing interest in the problems of urbanisation in developing countries and in Australia. I shall give other answers at a later stage.
1 believe it is healthy and helpful for the Senate to take a good look at the estimates for the Department of External Affairs because the Department, through its officers both here and throughout the world, do a most important job for the nation. They are, I believe, what could be called the officials of the nation who help in its peace making efforts and whose principal job is maintaining good relations. They advise the Government on organisations and countries in need of assistance and the type and cost of the assistance that could be given by this rich nation to those in poorer circumstances.
Last year we appropriated almost $60m for the Department of External Affairs and the actual expenditure was more than $1.5m less than that which was appropriated. This shows that the Department of External Affairs at any rate is not a department which feels that it must spend all the money that Parliament makes available to it. It shows that it is watching the interests of the taxpayer. We are appropriating just on $64m, according to this document, so there is quite an increase in the amount of money being made available. This would be natural because of rising costs not only in Australia but in countries where we are serving. It also shows an indication of the willingness of Australia to take a bigger share in world affairs, and the more influential we can be in affairs abroad the better it is for the world.
There can be great interest in examining exactly how this Department goes about its expenditure.
Division 250 shows that the actual cost of administration here is approximately S2.5m. That is in salaries. Then all the administrative expenses in Australia of this Department add up to just over S3m. These estimates give an indication to the Senate and the people of Australia that our help to those in need is expanding. I draw the attention of the Committee to sub-division 4 of Division 250 under the heading International Organisations’. This year contributions to, in all, thirteen international organisations will amount to $3,630,500.
In regard to international development and relief the estimates show very clearly that we are increasing our efforts and 1 believe the Parliament would be united in praising the Government for showing this increased interest in offering help from this affluent country to those in need. In subdivision 5 of Division 250, ‘International Development and Relief, we find that under nineteen separate headings there is a total of $39,478,000 being made available to these worthwhile organisations.
Naturally, to carry out the work of the Department overseas costs money. Honourable senators who have had the opportunity to travel abroad will, I believe, all be in agreement that it is a privilege and a pleasure to meet our officers in various places throughout the world. We get a first hand realisation of their dedication to duty and their keenness to be diplomats in the real sense of the word. In Division 252 we find that our overseas service is to cost $7,714,000. This is an increase of about $600,000 on the appropriation for last year. So we find that about SI 5m is available to meet salaries and administrative costs for our services abroad. This does not include what we give to developing nations or to overseas organisations that we help. We should be very proud of our facilities overseas. I congratulate the Government on the way it is spreading this money so wisely. 1 feel very proud of the Department of External Affairs as a whole.. The Senate should be quite happy with this vote of $63,950,000 for the Department of External Affairs for this financial year.
– I was amazed to hear what Senator Fitzgerald said about a building in Paris bought by the Department of External Affairs. Perhaps the officer who recommended the purchase of this building thinks that Australia is even wealthier than Senator Marriott said it is. From listening to the figures that Senator Fitzgerald gave it seems that we paid $578,000 for this building and now look like getting $289,000 for it.Ve will be in the red to the extent of about S2S9.000. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) read out certain figures but it was difficult to take a note of them in order to see how they dovetailed. It is true that we need new offices in -Paris but surely security is one of the things to be considered when buying a building. One is amazed when one hears what was said in the report about this building. All I hope is that the Department of External Affairs does not give a similar job to the same officer. I would not mind if he bought property from mc for that figure but I would make sure that he did not sell it to me at that figure.
– The honourable senator would not let him run Albert Park.
– No. He would not be allowed there. That would be the beginning and the end of bini. To’ my mind this is one of the worst episodes I have heard of. I believe that we do need new offices in Paris but I was amazed to hear the Minister say that the French Government would not permit construction of buildings in Paris. I hope I am quoting the Minister correctly.
– The French Government will not allow construction in one area.
– Does this building happen tq be in that particular area?
– If that was known prior to the purchase of the building it makes the transaction a lot worse. I believe we should have, new buildings overseas. We can do nothing more about this Paris matter but we should make certain that the officers who were involved in this tremendous blue have some training under officers in the various Australian capitals before they are allowed to buy any other buildings overseas. From what has been said it appears that we have to carry the loss. However, what happened should not stop us from purchasing an area in Paris on which we can build and at least provide offices in that city of a standing in keeping with this nation. I would like the Minister to tell me whether there is any thought about rebuilding our offices in London. While our location in London is ideal the building ought to be demolished and reconstructed. It is a few years since I was there and saw the building.
– It has not improved.
– I should not think it would improve. I saw the conditions under which some of our departmental officers worked in London. I remember particularly the offices occupied by officers of the Department of Immigration. Those officers must have changed their ideas since they worked in Australia. I am sure they would not work under similar conditions in this country.
– Which building is the honourable senator referring to?
– I am referring to Australia House. It ought to be demolished and rebuilt. I know that the site is a good one but the building is archaic. New Zealand has built an imposing structure in London and I was informed that the New Zealand Government is paying off the building from the rent that it is obtaining for the offices that are not required by it. No-one blames New Zealand for doing this. I know that Australia is building some offices in Washington. We ought to do the same thing in London and in Paris. We can afford to do this and we should do it. We should build up Australia’s prestige. I was delighted to see what New Zealand had done. Certainly the New Zealand building is not in as good a position in London as Australia House but at least it is a building of which . the New Zealanders can be proud. I do not think any visitor to London could be proud of our building there except that it is located in a good position. The building ought to be demolished and a new one erected.
– The building is a useful mausoleum for the people in it.
– I have no criticism to offer about our officers in London. While I was there I did not ask them to show me any favours. I wanted only a little information about their normal work. I have no complaints to make about them. I knew the present High Commissioner very well, when he was in Australia and I was amazed to read what was said about him recently. I considered him to be one of nature’s gentlemen when I knew him in Australia, and I do not think his transfer to London would have changed his nature, his outlook or his friendliness. I believe that decent buildings help to give a good impression of a country. While they cost large sums of money, I believe they are worth the outlay and we get the value back. From the figures supplied I notice an increase from $5,100 provided for in 1.967-68 to an appropriation of $54,800 for New Zealand this year. The increase is not a small amount, it is true. Could I be informed what building will be built in Auckland, Wellington or wherever it is to be erected? If I could have that information I would be most grateful.
– Did the honourable senator refer to a building being constructed in Wellington?
– It is in New Zealand. I took it to be in Auckland or in Wellington. I do not know whether it is to be built in a country town which grows a lot of the peas that are being exported to Australia and about which many questions have been asked. I do not want to raise that matter now. For the time being that is all I desire to say.
-1 owe a persona] apology to Senator Kennelly because I was not sitting in the chamber for the beginning of his comments on the estimates for the Department of External Affairs, but 1 came in when I heard that he was speaking, lt is quite true that the Auditor-General has made a report in relation to the acquisition of a building in Paris, lt is quite true that the Public Accounts Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament has been inquiring into the purchase. lt is also true that the Minister in charge of the estimates for the Department has made an explanation, but speaking personally, I think that however distressing it may be if we ultimately find ourselves, as a parliament, incurring a loss on the realisation of the site and the building that were purchased for an embassy in Paris, we have to measure it against some of the problems in which a department such as this finds itself involved in attempting to make purchases in foreign countries.’
It is easy enough for us, sitting in our places, to say that we should be careful about acquiring sites. I will illustrate how careful we can be - careful to the point that losses accrue to the nation as a result of spending so much time investigating whether or not we should purchase a site or a building. The example that comes to my mind is prompted by the problem with which we were confronted in Washington. Our largest staff overseas, except for the London staff of the Australian High Commissioner, which comes under the Prime Minister’s vote and not the Department of External Affairs vote, is in Washington. Anyone who has ever visited the chancellery in Massachusetts Avenue realises, as was the case the last time I was there, that this is a totally inadequate building for the second most senior overseas post that we have.
Some years ago a decision was made that opportunities should be taken to purchase suitable land in the area where it was proper that an Australian chancellery should be. After negotiations a sum of about $US900,000 1 understand- anyway the figures are only approximate, but they illustrate the problem - was asked for a piece of land. So much to-ing and fro-ing went on that in the end the value was set in Australia at $850,000. I suppose that it is pretty accurate assessing to be able to estimate in Australia the value of land in Washington in the area where the chancellery was proposed to be placed within a margin of $50,000. The owners of the property refused to sell. An option over the land was taken. Eventually the proposed sellers came down by $25,000 to say $875,000.
– That amount was Australian dollars, not American dollars.
– There was no budging from that price. Finally the sellers became exasperated and decided to end the option. Three days later they sold the same property to the Hilton Hotels group for $1 .5m. The Australian capacity to enter into that area was lost by making too close a scrutiny of what its value would be. I am not saying this in condemnation or praise of anyone. I merely use this example to illustrate that when a government or department is trying to purchase property in another country errors are bound to be made.
I have a personal recollection of a post in a Mediterranean country. The staff was living in the most extraordinary circumstances that would not be tolerated by any civilised country or any country that had pretence to being civilised. Instructions were given to try to purchase adequate property as a chancellery and as a residence for the Australian ambassador or minister in that area. The ambassador would be well known to honourable senators. He was kind enough to show me the papers. It would have taken a Greek from Alexandria to attempt to discover the manipulations that were going on and in which the Australian purchasers were finding themselves involved. It was so intricate, I think, that I say with no venom in my voice at all that it would take someone of the character and quality of Mr Onassis to disentangle all the elements involved. I think perhaps something of this nature occurred in Paris.
The other factor about the acquisition of the Paris building is that one never knows what the French municipal government or the French Government itself will do. The French have had rent control in Paris since about 1870. It is not under a system which is subject to scrutiny, such as the system we have in Australia where regulations can be submitted to the survey of a regulations and ordinances committee to ascertain whether in fact the regulations are adequate, just and proper regulations. One may buy a property in Paris in good faith and find, by the system of administrative jurisdiction in which the French involve themselves, that one has made a bad buy. I think this kind of thing occurred in relation to the acquisition of the Paris building. The net balance, I suggest to honourable senators, as T have been able to witness in various posts around the world, is that there is a profit and loss account for the Australian people and 1 think that if a loss is incurred in this transaction it has to be written off against some of the good buys that have been made; for example, Lord Casey’s buy of the Australian residency in Washington, which was bought for something like $US70,000 or SUS80.000 and today would have a realisable value of probably $US750,000. If one kept a balance sheet and profit and loss account on government expenditure on our posts abroad, 1 think the Australian Government and the Department of External Affairs would come out with a substantial profit on the capital account.
– J take the opportunity to answer some questions that have been asked. Senator Willesee asked for some comments on the application of the principle of universality in the United Nations, with particular regard to divided nations. My notes are pretty long. 1 shall ascertain whether all of them ought to be read. If the answer is in the negative I shall make them available to Senator Willesee.
Universality can be a dangerous oversimplification. It has an appeal to countries which can afford to look from a distance at the countries or regions in question and which are not intimately involved with those countries. Australia has relations with China, Vietnam and Korea in an Asian context in which we have a special interest. We are concerned especially with what other Asian countries say and feel about the Chinas, the Vietnams and the Koreas. Our long term interest is to see an Asia free from the domination of any single power.
In this regard one question for us to ask is how the admission of Communist China to the United Nations would fit into this context. China is unstable and encourages instability and this does not help in securing the confidence of the countries in the region or in the preservation of the delicate balance in the region. China or, for that matter, North Vietnam or North Korea does not have a right of membership under the United Nations Charter. Charter provisions should not be swept aside by some nation’s universality. China should demonstrate that it is a peace loving state. North Korea has never responded to invitations to acknowledge the competence of the United Nations in its annual debates on the Korean question. Nor has North Vietnam acknowledged the United Nations. We cannot see the Communists of China exercising the responsibilities of leadership while China is the chief threat to the independence of her neighbours.
The non-admission of Communist China to the United Nations should not be seen in a negative but in a constructive way. It must be brought home to its people that China does not measure up to the standards expected of a neighbour and fellow member of the United Nations. Our own policy is not one of rigidity or of ignoring China. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) has said, the problem is how to find a way to live with China, lt is not for us alone to make these moves. We would welcome signs from any of these countries that they recognise and accept the principles of the United Nations Charter. Without these signs we cannot conclude that their admission to the United Nations would help the world. On the contrary, it might destroy the effectiveness of the United Nations and perhaps its very existence.
It is Communist China itself which has shown the greatest intolerance towards Taiwan. As we see it, there are 13 million people in Taiwan who do not want to come under Communist control. They have a thriving economy. They participate constructively and peacefully in international affairs. We cannot accept a situation whereby Taiwan might be sacrificed by a vote in the United Nations in favour of Communist China.
asked for an explanation of item 08. This relates to an appropriation of $45,000 for language tuition fees. He asked whether the Department was paying this money to public servants to learn Asian languages or whether it was being paid for students in other countries to learn our language. The provision is for the payment of language tuition fees which are payable to language tutors both in Australia and overseas following agreement with the Public Service Board on the principles to apply to language training. The tuition is given to officers of the Department of External Affairs.
asked whether some of the money to be appropriated for the South Pacific aid programme could be devoted to the training of people who come to Australia from the South Pacific area. He also inquired why it was not possible to organise this through the South Pacific Commission. The answer is that $106,500 has been provided under the South Pacific aid programme for training. The appropriation for the training programme comprises $100,290 for scholarships and fellowships tenable in Australia and Papua and New Guinea, including 40 new awards and 52 scholarships and fellowships continuing from 1967-68. Twelve third country awards will be offered to territories in the South Pacific to permit trainees to participate in courses of instruction arranged by the South Pacific Commission. Apart from the provision for third country awards, direct negotiation between the donor and the recipient has proved to be a more effective means of arranging training programmes.
asked what was happening with regard to our building in New Zealand. The appropriation last year was $5,100. Expenditure for 1967-68 totalled $5,005. The appropriation sought for 1968- 69 is $54,800. The balance of the purchase price on 2 acres of land acquired as a site for the construction of a head of mission residence accounts for $45,300 and the provision for the cost of site survey and investigation on completion of purchase is $5,000. The cost of replacement of the head of mission vehicle is put down at $4,500. I think that answers the questions that have been asked to date.
– I wish to refer to the provision for the embassy in the Kingdom of Greece, and should like to bring the Department up to date. In doing so, I propose to refer briefly to certain events. On 21st April 1967 a military coup took place in Greece. The coup was swift, well planned and practically bloodless. Having seized power, the militaryjunta stated that it had acted to save the country from an impending Communist revolution. Subsequently the junta proclaimed its aim of rejuvenating Greece, which had allegedly become degenerate under parliamentary rule. It will be recalled that the military coup occurred shortly before the Greek general elections in which most observers had predicted a sweeping victory by George Papandreou’s Centre Union, a reform party of moderates opposed both to the extreme right and extreme left.
Since coming to power the junta has suspended parliament, gaoled some 6,500 political opponents, banned all political parties, banned public meetings, terminated civil and personal liberties guaranteed by the 1952 constitution and imposed a rigorous Press censorship. About one thousand books have been banned, including works of modern Greek authors, chiefly historians, novelists and poets. I mention this because the point I am making is that we no longer have a Kingdom of Greece and the wisdom of the expenditure proposed under this head can be questioned. Even the Greek classics are not safe. Plays by Aristophanes, Euripedes and Sophocles have been compulsorily dropped from theatrical repertoirs in order allegedly to protect the moral, spiritual, artistic and cultural standards of the Greek people.
Artists, authors, composers, doctors, lawyers and teachers have been gaoled without trial. Thousands of public servants, university teachers and officers of the armed forces have been dismissed and replaced by so-called loyalists. When we look at the history of the loyalists we see the connection between these people and those who occupied similar positions during the Nazi occupation. The arm of the junta has reached Greeks abroad, whose protests it has attempted to silence by threatened reprisals against their relatives at home.
To the disgrace of the Australian Government it supported this move by immediately recognising the regime and by banning Greek democrats from entering Australia. The haste with which the Government did this was indecent, as has since been proved. The Government was caught. The King abdicated and the
Government is really in a position which it cannot justify. I cannot see how the Government can continue to support the regime which exists in Greece at the present time.
As soon as the military regime was installed, widespread opposition naturally sprang up. Within Greece a patriotic front was formed which still acts and speaks on behalf of all political parties and opponents of the dictators. Outside Greece committees for the restoration of Greek democracy have been formed in most countries enjoying democratic and parliamentary institutions. These organisations are politically non-aligned and include many well-known public and academic figures. Their aim is to work for a return of democratic institutions in Greece. I feel that this Government and this Parliament should assist in this direction. They have succeeded in focusing attention on the situation in Greece, in exposing the junta’s acts of repression and in marshalling world opinion against the regime.
This sort of pressure has not been ineffective. The junta has released about 4,000 political prisoners and dropped charges of high treason against Professor Andreas Papandreou and others still held prisoner. The strength of opposition within Greece and outside probably helped induce King Constantine, who had submitted to the junta, to stage his abortive coup of December 1967.
The next point is important. The Common Market countries have already brought economic sanctions to bear on the regime, while the Council of Europe has warned Greece that she stands to be expelled from the Council unless she returns to parliamentary rule. I believe that this is the advice that we, too, should give to the present authorities in Greece. I suggest that it should be done through the Embassy; otherwise the expenditure of this amount of money - $94,300 for salaries and $106,400 for administrative expenses - will be wasted just as the amount we spent previously - $93,982 for salaries and $79,669 for administrative expenses - was wasted.
Honourable senators who have not yet done so should take the trouble to read an article which was submitted to a journal by the former Ambassador to Greece, Mr
Gullett, ft contains certain references which are an embarrassment to anyone who has a love of freedom and love for a country which has a parliamentary form of government. A letter in response to Mr Gullett’s statements appeared in the ‘Bulletin’ of 17th August 1968. It comes quickly to the point:
Mr Gullett, in his deep concern for the welfare of the Greek people, ‘those poor uneducated peasants’ as he calls them, has decided in his own autocratic way that ‘guided democracy’-
I remind honourable senators that this refers to the previous Ambassador to Greece, and I most certainly hope that the new Ambassador has a better approach to the problem.
– Your approach.
– I hope so. Let me return to the article, which said:
Mr Gullett … has decided in his own autocratic way, that ‘guided democracy’ - meaning ruthless dictatorship’ - was the only way of life for Greeks because what is good for Ethiopia, Nigeria, the Africans, etc., must be good enough for the Greeks, and perhaps for many other nations, which, in Mr Gullett’s book, fall under the same category.
Let me read one paragraph from the threepage article to which I have referred, lt states: lt might be useful- says Mr Gullett - to consider what is meant by torture, lt is a fact that in Greece the proportion of arrests and convictions to the total number of crimes committed is exceedingly high, much higher than in Australia, for example. This is because when a crime is committed the Greek police round up the suspects and proceed to beat the truth out of them. Sooner or later someone talks, usually sooner. We may not like this. But it works.
That was Mr Gullett speaking. And last year we spent almost $200,000 on Mr Gullett and his Embassy.
I suggest to the Government that pressure be brought to bear on those who at present rule Greece to force them to return as quickly as possible to a parliamentary form of government. It is of no use referring to the referendum and saying that the candidate received a 92% result and that that was a form of expression of support for the dictators in Greece. If you take a good look at the method of voting in that referendum you will realise that voting was compulsory, no opposition was allowed, the Press was muzzled and when a person went to vote he was required to ask for a blue or a red card and thus it was apparent to those who controlled the voting place how he intended to vote. It was a rigged ballot of the worst kind. If any honourable senator wants support for that statement he can find it in an article which appeared in the Canberra Times’ of 5th October 1968 under the heading ‘Greece’s Vote of Despair’. It could not be better described.
The expenditure proposed on this Embassy can be justified only if the advice to the Amassador is that the present regime in Greece is not satisfactory as far as Australia is concerned, and that the sooner the Greek people are allowed to express their views freely and to elect their own government and parliament the better.
– I should like to comment on a couple of items in Division 250 - Administrative - and to seek some information from the Minister on others. The appropriation for administrative expenses for the Department of External Affairs has moved simply from $2,200,000 to $2,394,000. This increase is not large, considering the degree of activity on Australia’s behalf in all parts of the world. As Senator Marriott and others have said already, some of us had the opportunity in recent months to see something of the work of our External Affairs officers in a number of countries overseas. My first reaction is to express very great praise for the way in which they carry out their work on behalf of Australia. We have a fine band of diplomatic representatives who are more than ably supported by first class staff.
I put it to the Minister that there is an urgent need for increased expenditure on the facilities available to them. Many offices appeared to me to be inadequate and, what is more, inadequately serviced. In the few minutes that are available to us it is difficult, and probably unwise, to generalise in this matter. I merely state that a visit to a number of European posts during the European summer makes one very much aware of how inadequately they are equipped to cope with a summer period, be it in European summer or any other summer. The absence of air-conditioning or cooling facilities in Australian offices is particularly noticeable when one visits the offices of people of similar status. I am thinking particularly of our offices in Rome and Madrid where it is most difficult for our representatives, because of the lack of adequate facilities, to perform their duties efficiently, effectively and with that kind of accord one would expect from our officers in these very important European posts.
Besides being important External Affairs posts, these are also important Department of Immigration posts. Frequently there is confusion and overcrowding, because the Department of Immigration is particularly busy at present in overseas areas and naturally the activities of officers of the Department of Immigration impinges on the work of External Affairs officers. While reflecting upon and responding to the point that Senator Cormack made in relation to the difficulties that emerge in a number of overseas posts - not every country and not every form of administration is the same - I urge that these matters receive early attention. I believe that there should be more streamlining of what Senator Cormack called to-ing and fro-ing in connection with purchases not only of premises but also of equipment. There seems to me to be an extremely unnecessary delay in communications between Canberra and certain overseas posts in connection with the purchase of what appears to me to be the smallest items of equipment and the slightest movement of personnel.
I turn for a moment to the situation in South America and pinpoint Brazil where, as honourable senators know, we have a post in Rio de Janeiro, although the capital of the country is Brasilia. If you visit Brasilia, as I did a few weeks ago, you will find an open block of land situated in what appears to be open country adjacent to the very modern and thriving new capital of Brasilia. I am given to understand that the open block of land has been selected as the site for the new Australian Embassy. I am fully appreciative of the difficulties of establishing an embassy on this new site at an early date, or even in the foreseeable future, but as more nations move their headquarters to the new capital of Brasilia it becomes increasingly apparent that Australia will have to move its embassy to the capital before too long. It is natural that because of the present stage of development and the distance of the new capital from the population centres on the sea coast there may be a certain lack of desire on the part of the Government or the staff to move to Brasilia. 1 mention that aspect because there is an increasing tendency perhaps to defer improvements or extensions to our office in Rio de Janeiro seeing that in due course it will have to be moved to Brasilia. Al a lime when our people in Rio are called upon to undertake increasing duties in representing Australia this imposes particular difficulties. I. hope that the Department will be able to amend this situation before very long so that while our representation is in this centre it will not suffer from some of the problems which 1 have mentioned.
In dealing finally with this item. I hope that as we establish new posts it will be possible for investigations to be made sufficiently far in advance so that our people who are sent to a new post do not have to spend an unduly long time in the cramped conditions of a hotel. In my short experience 1 have had two opportunities to see something of the discomfort and inefficiencies that arise when a new post is established in a hotel. I am thinking particularly of Belgrade and of Santiago in Chile. I recognise that of necessity a post must open in circumstances where investigations can be carried out before the purchase of a new building or the renting of a building is undertaken, but our people should not be kept in hotel premises unnecessarily for a considerable time because not only are they unable to do their work efficiently but also they are unable to extend themselves and are unable even to set up any kind of representation. I hope that before a post is opened at least some investigations will have been made by somebody so that this stay in a hotel is as short as can be conveniently and properly arranged.
I refer next to the grant to the the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. Last year SI 8,000 was appropriated for this purpose and $18,000 was spent. This year the amount sought is §16,000, which is a decline of $2,000. In an era of our history when we are concentrating more and more on our international organisations, international aid and international assistance, the Australian Council for Overseas Aid is our co-ordinating council for a number of organisations which are involved in overseas aid of varying kinds. With the tendency to increase aid and with the growing need for overseas aid, it would be interesting for me to hear from the Minister the reason for this decline. Does it indicate that the Council for Overseas Aid is withdrawing its several services? Does it indicate that its other forms of administration are being reduced? Can the Minister indicate the reason for this reduced appropriation? The Australian Council for Overseas Aid is not just a hand-out organisation for groups of people who may be in need; it conducts its affairs on a very extended range.
I have been interested in the report of the Council which we received recently and in which, among other things, there is a reference to an investment seminar which will involve about 150 businessmen in the early part of next year. They will include representatives of the institutes of management, the chambers of manufactures, the chambers of commerce and a wide range of efficient organisations within our community which deal with economic affairs on a very high level, lt would seem to me to be unfortunate if this organisation, which not only co-ordinates a number of organisations that support overseas aid but also has a very real and practical assessment of the needs of people and involves a great number of people in voluntary giving and in voluntary concern for the underdeveloped and needy countries, is retarded as a result of what appears to be a decline in the appropriation.
Senator MCKELLAR (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) 19.45 1 - - With regard to the question raised by Senator Georges I inform him that there is a Kingdom of Greece. King Constantine is at present residing in Italy following an abortive coup. A regent, a general of the army, is acting in the King’s place. A new constitution has recently been approved by a referendum which the honourable senator said should not be mentioned. In that referendum 92% of the electors voted in favor of the new constitution which provides for a continuation of the monarchy with reduced powers, a monarchy somewhat the same as that in Great Britain and the Scandinavian countries.
– Oh goodness me.
– The honourable senator does not have to like the answer. He has asked the question and he has an answer, so I ask him now to be quiet. I was asked about the Embassies in Rome and Madrid. Those offices have been in the process of extension for some time, an activity which always results in crowding. If requests are received for additional office space they will be dealt with quickly. Reference was made to Brasilia. The taking of additional space in Rio de Janeiro is under consideration. The problem in Yugoslavia has been exclusively one of availability of accommodation. Two officers have gone from Australia this month to examine a proposal for a new large office. Senator Davidson referred to overseas aid and asked whether it was possible to get information on this subject. The grant for the Australian Council for Overseas Aid last year was $18,000 and this year $16,000 is sought. They are the only answers that I have so far.
– I propose to advert to our chancellery building in Paris. It has been stated that the building was purchased for $578,000 and that its market price at present is about $300,000. We are aware that it is situated in an area where it cannot be demolished to enable us to erect a suitable building. The Department must have been aware of this at the time the purchase was made because at that stage it was contemplated that in addition to the purchase price of $578,000 an estimated $300,000 would have to be spent on improvements to make it suitable as a chancellery. The Minister has denied that in selecting this building a boy was sent on a man’s errand. If he will not accept that remark, perhaps he will accept that a small man was sent on a big man’s errand. The Ambassador in Paris to whom we pay a high salary must accept some responsibility for the mistake that was made. I was glad to learn when I was in Paris that the Ambassador was being moved to Bonn. I notice from the estimates that the expenditure for Bonn is about naif the expenditure for Paris. Perhaps a minor post such as Bonn is appropriate for the Ambassador because he certainly should not be in a major post. I say that with al) due respect to those people who have eulogised our overseas services.
I, like Senator Davidson, visited our chancellery in Rome and found that the
Ambassador and his staff were working under impossible conditions - conditions under which no Australian should be asked to work. I was there in the middle of a heat wave when it was almost impossible to breathe. The office of our Ambassador there had no air conditioning, not even a fan to circulate the air. When I asked the Ambassador why the offices were so lacking in comfort for himself and his staff I was told that the Treasury would not approve of air conditioning for them. But it approved of expenditure of $578,000 to go down the drain in Paris though it will not approve of air conditioning to make life a little more comfortable for our Ambassador in Rome and his staff. Three fans were supplied, but the Ambassador had to allot them to his staff so that the papers they were handling would not become dripping wet with perspiration. If those conditions properly reflect the way our diplomatic service is conducted it is time that the Auditor-General had a longer look at many of our other overseas posts.
Recently the Department of External Affairs established a post in Lima, Peru. I also studied the conditions of employment of the people at that post. The office space is so overcrowded that it is almost impossible for the staff there to do any work. The officer in charge of the post - he was previously a trade commissioner - has more suitable premises available to him but cannot obtain the approval of the Treasury to move into them. It is time that our Treasury officers are told that our overseas posts are to receive more attention than the Treasury is presently prepared to give to them.
The conditions under which the people employed by our overseas services have to work are quite inadequate. I appreciate that the administration of Australia House in London is not the responsibility of the Department of External Affairs. The conditions under which the staff are expected to work there are probably worse in many respects than the conditions that apply at many of our posts in Europe. Australia House is a very fine building, of great historical value, but it is not functionally suitable for the purposes for which it is being used. It should be knocked down and a properly functional building erected in its place, or about half the staff should be moved into another building where better opportunities would be provided for them to work.
I direct the attention of the Minister to the appropriation of $3,034,600 for buildings, works, plant and equipment in the United States of America. Last year’s appropriation for this item was $3,020,600 and the expenditure was $2,300,594. I do not know how many posts we have in the United States. Perhaps the Minister can tell me that, and the purposes for which the appropriation is to be expended. I did not visit New York on my trip overseas. I did not visit any of our posts in the United States. Last year’s expenditure when added to this year’s appropriation amounts to a total of almost $5,400,000, spent or to be spent in the United States, lt would be interesting for honourable senators to learn details of that expenditure.
– We need someone there to look after the Fill aircraft.
– They look after themselves, because they are grounded all the time. In the same division an appropriation of $149,300 appears for ‘other overseas establishments’. I wish to know how many overseas posts are covered by that appropriation. Last year the expenditure on this item was $179,387 out of an appropriation of $216,900. The Senate is entitled to a little more detail about this expenditure, unless it is spread over many of our overseas posts.
I turn now to the appropriations for the Colombo Plan. Last year’s appropriation for special aid to Indonesia under the Colombo Plan was $5,200,000, of which $4,750,122 was expended, or almost $500,000 less than the amount appropriated. Yet this year the appropriation for this item is $7,650,000. As we underspent by almost $500,000 on this item last financial year, why is it contemplated that we will’ spend more than an an extra $2. 5m in the coming year? I would like some further information on that item.
To sum up my remarks: If we can afford to waste $578,000 on a non-functional building in France that cannot be made properly secure - perhaps it could be made functional but it could never be made secure - surely we can afford to provide decent working conditions for the people employed in other overseas posts. I suggest that that action be taken at the earliest possible moment.
– I will try to answer some of the queries raised by Senator Cant before we go any further. There is not very much to add to what has been said already by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), whom I have replaced, in relation to the provision of a chancery in Paris. This building was bought for $578,000 in 1963. 1 understand that it is not suitable for a chancery and that it is now up for sale. This is not a waste of money, as Senator Cant has suggested, because the amount that we will receive for it will be almost as much as the amount that we gave for it.
– The Government will receive about $289,000 and it paid $578,000.
– I am receiving quite a lot of advice. I ask the honourable senator to allow me to reply without interjections from him, particularly in view of the fact that I. did not interject when he was speaking. The only authentic valuation is that received recently from Weatherall, Green and Smith. That firm has put the building on the market at a price which it, not us, has set, namely, a price in excess of $500,000. The reason for not going ahead with another building in Paris is that the Treasury and the Government want to recoup the money that we advanced for this building before provision is made for another one.
– Before the Government makes another mistake to correct this one.
– We do not admit that there was a mistake. What we say is that the building is not suitable for our requirements.
– Why did the Go-
– When we bought it we thought that it was suitable. But things are changing in the world. It was bought in 1963. Senator Cant went on to criticise the Government for not establishing suitable buildings in our overseas ports. I mention that only in passing because Senator McKellar covered it previously. In his next breath Senator Cant raised a question of great significance. He referred to the appropriation for buildings, works, plant and equipment in the United States of America under Division 830. The expenditure under this item in 1967-68 was $2,300,594. The estimate for 1968-69 is $3,034,600. That makes provision for a chancery for our embassy in Washington. The chancery will be a six-storey building because we want to have in the United States something that is suitable for Australia. The Government is spending $3m on that project this year. In respect of the United Nations mission in New York, $3,100 is being provided for amortisation in respect of an apartment at 1060 Fifth Avenue, and $22,000 for alterations to the chancery. Tn San Francisco $4,500 is being provided for the replacement of a vehicle.
Senator Cant also asked about the appropriation for other overseas establishments under the same Division. The appropriation in 1967-68 was $216,900; the expenditure in that year was $179,387; and the estimate for 1968-70 is $149,300. I advise the honourable senator that provision is made for posts as under:
That deals with some of the posts. There are similar expenditures in respect of other posts. Senator Cant also asked about the courier service. The courier service to Europe was initiated in July of this year. The couriers are in the process of being recruited. The appropriation is for fares, not for the salaries of the couriers.
– I refer to the appropriation for salaries and allowances for the overseas service under Division 252. I suggest to the Government that it should have a close look at the salaries and allowances - particularly the allowances - paid to officers - particularly the junior officers - serving in overseas posts. I suggest that the Government consider whether we should adopt a foreign service type of salaries and allowances basis. 1 realise that the salaries and allowances paid to officers in overseas posts are different from those paid in Australia. Many of the overseas posts are in countries with a very high cost of living, lt is very doubtful whether the allowances are sufficient to cover the heavy expenses incurred by officers, particularly young officers with wives and young families. I would like the Government to have a look at this matter. I have good reason to believe that it is one that requires attention. Perhaps the Public Service Board is not the proper body to determine these matters. Perhaps we should have a foreign service range of salaries and allowances for officers of the Department of External Affairs who are serving overseas.
– What does it do?
– Senator Georges is the new Messiah who has come into this place. Might I suggest to him that it does not indicate approval. Australia has posts that he mentioned. For example, Australia has a post in Soviet Russia. If Senator Georges wants to apply the principles that he asks us to apply to Greece, why does he not want these principles applied to Soviet Russia also? Adopting his principles, we should tell the Soviet Government to get back to parliamentary government. Despite his vehemence in denouncing the Government of Greece - I do not support it or oppose it - for its actions in placing people in imprisonment, torturing them and so forth - I cannot support that, of course - I have never heard Senator Georges raise a voice in this Parliament in protest against the imprisonment the other day of Russian intellectuals whose only crime was to wave banners-
– But two wrongs do not make a right.
– I have never heard Senator Cavanagh or any of these great believers in freedom denounce the imprisonment of these people and suggest that the Australian Government either should withdraw recognition or tell the Russian Government to release these prisoners. I note also that we have a mission in the United Arab Republic. Senator Georges would not suggest that Nasser is a great believer in freedom and a great defender of parliamentary government-
– Go down the whole list. There are another twenty of them.
– I will gp down the whole list, if the honourable senator likes. All I say to the honourable senator is that I question his sincerity.
– Order! Honourable senators will cease interjecting.
– That is what I say, Mr Temporary Chairman. We hear this type of criticism only of the so-called right wing governments. We never hear any criticism of the brutality and ruthlessness of Communist or left wing dictatorships. All I do is question the sincerity of Senator Georges. If he wants to apply generally the principle that he wants us to apply to Greece, I will be very interested if he rises in his place and instructs the Australian Government to tell the Russian Government to release those people that I have mentioned and return to parliamentary democracy, or else. I would suggest also that I have little doubt that Senator Georges is an advocate of the recognition of Communist China where the authorities take people out after some sort of mock trial and shoot them in public.
– Steady on!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder!
– There we have it! Let Senator Georges face up to the facts. Never mind about the sale of wheat to Communist China. Let him face up to the question of recognition. Let him apply the principles that he wants to apply to Greece to other countries. That is all 1 ask of him - to apply these principles to other countries. If he is not prepared to do this, I question his sincerity and his motives. I believe that we are entitled to do this.
– I address myself to Division No. 250 - Administrative. As a matter of fact, I wish to speak on a number of points. I refer first of all to sub-division 2, item 13 which relates to incidental and other expenditure. The appropriation for the financial year 1968-69 for this item is $78,300 which represents a substantial increase over the appropriation and expenditure for 1967-68. I refer also to cablegrams and radiograms as well as subscriptions to newspapers, journals and periodicals which appear also in sub-division 2 as items 06 and 07 respectively. A slight decrease occurs in the proposed vote for each of these items. In the case of expenditure on subscriptions to newspapers, journals and periodicals, the appropriation this financial year is $22,000. It has dropped from an expenditure last financial year of $27,922. In regard to cablegrams and radiograms we see that the appropriation has dropped from an actual expenditure in 1967-68 of $799,252 to an appropriation this financial year of $600,000. I would like to know what the significance is of these two sharp reductions.
I refer next to sub-division 3, item 02 which is concerned with the payment of a pension to a former employee under special circumstances. 1 would like to know the details of that matter too, please. Item 03 in the same sub-division deals with relief to destitute Australians abroad, including funeral expenses. I seek information from the Minister about this matter. How much of this money provided as a relief is returned? In what circumstances - I do not want the exact details of them - is this money paid? Have the bodies of some of the persons who have died abroad been brought home for burial?
I turn now to Division No. 252 - Overseas Service, and relate my remarks to repairs and maintenance. I wish to refer to this famous building that we have purchased in Paris. First of all I mention a strange item which appears in this Division. I refer to Item 09 ‘Imprest Advances’. Last year the expenditure on this item was $459,700. This year the appropriation is $64,200. Why has such a tremendous decrease taken place under this heading? A sharp decrease occurs also with respect to furniture and fittings. 1 query the decrease also.
I listened to two honourable senators opposite speaking in this debate on behalf of their Government. One would have thought that they were giving us a dry run of the policy speech of their Government for the next election. We heard Senator Cormack of the Liberal Party endeavouring to brush off and in fact brushing off the fact that the Government had scandalously wasted $300,000 on the purchase in Paris of a building that Australian diplomatic staff has never occupied and that never will be occupied. I do not accept the assurance from the Minister that we will get back more money on the sale of this building than we paid in purchasing it. I think that this is a complete fabrication. It is an attempt to hoodwink the public because the Government has lost the taxpayers’ money. It is trying to get out from under. It does not know where to go. So, it has had to tell untruths about the matter.
I refer the Committee to the report of the Auditor-General for the year 1967-68 and in particular to the last paragraph on page 81 in which the Auditor-General deals with this famous Paris building. The Auditor-General states:
In the circumstances, although some strengthening of controls is contemplated, it is a matter for further consideration whether the procedures relating to major purchases of property overseas should be thoroughly reviewed in order to ensure that Commonwealth interests and requirements are fully strengthened. 1 want to hear from the Minister as to what action if any has been taken on this point and the manner in which this action will be implemented. Set out in the AuditorGeneral’s report are also a couple of other caustic phrases which ought to be included in the record. The Auditor-General says:
During 1967, it came under Audit notice that the premises had remained unoccupied since vacated by the vendor and that certain alterations proposed in order to render the building suitable for occupancy by the Commonwealth had not been effected. The Department was asked for its comments.
What were the comments made to the Auditor-General on that occasion? What happened to the money that was set aside for converting the building? What are the reasons why it was not converted, apart from the rather specious excuses thai were given to the Committee earlier?
I was interested in a reply given by the Minister to a question asked by one of my colleagues. The Minister said, if I heard him correctly, that $100 had been spent on buying two bicycles for a particular embassy. What were they used for? If the Government is going to use this primitive method in order to allow its officials to get around, why can it not at least buy them a motor scooter?
– They use the bicycles to get to the beach hut.
– Yes, the Minister made reference to another expenditure for one embassy for a beach hut. Unless the beach hut is on the Isle of Skorpios, what else is it being used for? Is this a holiday home for the staff of the embassy? It could be that it is in one of these rather primitive areas and there might be some justification for it. Nevertheless, in the line setting out the item of expenditure that was read out, the Minister mentioned $400, 1 think it was, that was being spent on the beach hut. 1 say, quite frankly, that if the cost of materials in this location is the same as it is in Australia, about all that one would put up for $400 is the framework for a palm frond verandah. Perhaps the Minister will give us some details of this matter.
I am disturbed by the attempt by the Minister, the Government and most members on the Government side to tell us a false story indicating that everythig is rosy in the Department of External Affairs. 1 am not blaming the people who are responsible for the organisation of the Department. I think that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) himself is the only person who should be held responsible. If any inefficiency is shown in the Department, the onus must fall on the Minister. If the Minister is inefficient, he is the first bloke who ought to be sacked. The fact that the Government can make light of the wasteful expenditure of such a large sum as $300,000 is consistent with its thinking on the stupid expenditure and the wastage that is going on in the Department of Defence at the moment. 1 will be interested in the replies to my questions. I hope that the Minister will give us the details of these matters.
– First. 1 would like to reply to Senator Cant on a question that I missed; I am sorry. He wanted to know the number of couriers, which is nine. I understand they have not all been employed as yet. I will now reply to Senator Keeffe, who made the accusation that the Minister at the table was lying when he said-
– 1 did not say he was lying. I said he was telling untruths.
– The honourable senator said that I was telling untruths and 1 do not like it very much. I do not think the honourable senator quite heard what I said and therefore I will say it again for his benefit. Then he can continue and say that I was telling untruths, if he likes. I said that the cost of the building was $570,000 odd. It was purchased in 1963.
– What was the exact figure.
– $578,000 in 1963. After having looked at about fifty buildings the Government was informed by the real estate agents that we could expect to pay between $600,000 and $800,000 for the type of building that we required and we purchased this, as I said, for S578,000. We are now informed - and 1 told Senator Keeffe of this - that Weatherall, Green and Smith have pui a valuation on the building and they believe that they will get in excess of $500,000.
– You are still losing about $100,000.
– The honourable senator said that I was telling untruths because I told him that we would get more than we paid for it. I have never at any stage said this and I would like the honourable senator to understand that I am telling the truth and I will continue to tell the truth whilst I am occupying the position of Minister at the table. 1 do not think it is nice of the honourable senator to grab a few figures out of the air, attack a Minister and accuse him of telling untruths when he is endeavouring to give all honourable senators all the facts that are available to him.
These are the facts that I have given him and I have given him the figures. He said after 1 had given them to him that I had said we were to get more for the building than we paid for it when 1 had mentioned to everyone that we had paid $578,000 for it and that the valuers in the area expected thai we would get in excess of $500,000 when we sold it. I also mentioned to the honourable senator that when we sold it we won I’d proceed to purchase a suitable building for a chancery in Paris. I think some members of the Opposition were criticising the Government because it was not providing accommodation suitable for our overseas posts. I went on to advise the honourable senator that we were at present spending about $3m on the provision of a chancery in the United States of America. No money was set aside for repair of buildings in Paris. When the Auditor-General’s report was submitted the valuation from Weatherall, Green and Smith had not been received.
– I take a point of order. The Minister is distorting what I said. 1 said nothing at all about repairing. What I did ask him to explain was the money that had been allocated for the furnishing and so on of the building. What happened to it?
The TEMPORAY CHAIRMAN (Senator Bull) - I think the Minister is replying adequately to your question. The point of order is not upheld.
– It is not very pleasant for one to have to get up and answer this type of question. I did not say that the honourable senator said any of this at all. I am saying it to the Committee, not only for the honourable senator’s benefit but for the benefit of everybody in the Committee.
– I thought you were answering my question.
– The honourable senator thought? He does not have to think all the time. May I repeat the first part of this? I would like to advise the Committee that no money was set aside for the repair of buildings in Paris. When the AuditorGeneral’s report was submitted the valuation from Weatherall, Green and Smith had not been received. It was received only this week and has been passed to the Public Accounts Committee so that Committee will not doubt be studying it.
The beach hut is a rest hut in Accra to which staff go at weekends for a swim. Repairs totalled $400. Accra used to be called ‘The white man’s grave’. The honourable senator also mentioned an item of $ 1 00 being spent on the provision of two push bikes and he wanted to know what they are used for. The answer is quite simple: To ride. Questions were asked about items 06 and 07. The appropriation for item 06 in 1967-68 was $800;000 and the expenditure was $799,252. The estimate this year is $600,000 which is made up of $216,300 for cablegrams and radiograms and $383,700 for teleprinter services. The teleprinter services cover links between Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Washington and London. The cost of cables is expected to be reduced by a significant figure resulting from the implementation of leased teleprinter links between Canberra, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Saigon. Item 07 relates to subscriptions to newspapers, journals and periodicals. The estimate this year is $22,000. The appropriation for 1967-68 was $28,000 and the expenditure was $27,922. This item is made up of newspapers, $1.4,000; books, $6,000 and the United Press International wire service, $2,000. Savings have been made following a review of requirements.
asked about the provision for a pension to a former employee and about relief for destitute Australians abroad, including funeral expenses. Last year S742 was spent to provide a pension to the widow of a former Australian temporary officer. The appropriation this year is SS00. The pension is payable to the widow of an officer who gave long and devoted service to the Commonwealth in the United States of America. Last year the Commonwealth spent $38,181 to provide relief to destitute Australians abroad. The amount included funeral expenses. This year the estimate and the appropriation is $48,300. Expenditure under this item is incurred subject to recovery at a later date. The revised immigration and working permit laws in the United Kingdom place a heavy burden on this vote as we are now unable to repatriate persons to the United Kingdom from Europe. Repayments since 1963-64 have been credited to Consolidated Revenue.
– I wish to refer to the allocation to provide special aid to Indonesia under the Colombo Plan. Last year Australia spent $4,750,122 under this heading. This year it is proposed to spend $7,650,000. This is an increase of about $3m. The Auditor-General, in his report for last year, referred to this aid to Indonesia. The special grant last year was provided to assist Indonesia’s economic recovery. The money was spent on the importation of a wide range of Australian goods and commodities. I would like to know whether the money to be provided this financial year will be spent in the same way as the sum provided last year. Does the Indonesian Government specify or suggest which goods and commodities should make up this special aid or do we stipulate the goods and commodities to be provided? Do foodstuffs of which we have excess supplies constitute the bulk of these goods? If not 1 would like to know whether the Government will direct that our aid under this heading shall consist to a greater degree of such commodities as dairy products, egg pulp, meat, canned and dried fruits, fruit juices and flour, all of which arc in excess supply and all of which arc hard to place on export markets.
I refer now to the appropriation for technical assistance under the Colombo Plan. On referring to the Auditor-General’s report I found that this assistance took the form of the provision of the- services of
Australian experts and advisers, the granting of awards or scholarships for study or training in Australia or elsewhere, and the supply of equipment in the fields of agriculture, health, communications and education. Will this year’s allocation be spent in the same channels as last year’s?
– I have some comments to make relating to the appropriation covering the grant to the United Nations Association of Australia. As honourable senators may know, a United Nations Association is in existence in Australia. It is a voluntary organisation which was created over 20 years ago to stimulate interest in and to disseminate information about the United Nations Organisation. This body, from its inception, has attracted considerable dedicated support throughout the Commonwealth. It has received a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government. The appropriation last year was $13,000 and the same amount has been appropriated for this year. This grant is one of the sources of revenue of the Association. Another source of revenue is the membership fees of those who elect to join the Association. There are other ancillary sources. It gains revenue from the sale of Christmas cards, for example. These cards are sold by the Association on behalf of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund appeal. The Association receives a very small commission from sales and the funds received go to one or two divisions of the Association. Apart from those sources of revenue it receives donations from interested supporters. Nevertheless the overall revenue of the Association is not considerable.
However, the work done by the Association is considerable. I know there is a lot of criticism of the United Nations, particularly of the operations of that international body at the political level. Whether or not that criticism is justified, it is universally acknowledged that the work of the specialist agencies of the United Nations is indispensable to the world. If these special agencies did not exist - T refer to the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund - the governments of the world would have to create them. It is the function of the United Nations Association to stimulate knowledge of these special agencies and to encourage support for their activities. Although it has comparatively few members - not nearly as many as one would wish - and has limited sources of revenue, it does a tremendous job in the schools in disseminating knowledge of the United Nations, providing material for projects undertaken by pupils, and generally keeping the schools, many of which are members of the Association, supplied with literature.
The revenue from which the Association does this work is extraordinarily and lamentably small. My point in raising this matter tonight is to refer to one of the ancillary means by which the Association raises revenue - the sale of Christmas cards. Sales tax has now been imposed on the sale of these cards. Until recently the cards could be sold free of sales tax. In addition, I understand that income tax is now payable on the revenue obtained by these means, small as it is, because the Association is considered to be some sort of trading organisation. There appears to be a contradiction in that on the one hand the Commonwealth provides in the Appropriation Act for a subsidy to be paid to the Association and on the other hand the Association is charged income tax and sales tax on its meagre ancillary source of revenue.
If we acknowledge the value of the United Nations, particularly its specialised agencies, we must realise that it operates in a particular way to the advantage of our young people. It is attempting to build a better world in which they may spend their lives. Because of personal cynicism we may have some doubts as to the efficacy of the United Nations Organisation but at least it is attempting to build a better world for our young people. It is of great importance that our young people should at least have a knowledge of the Organisation and of what it is doing, and that they should be encouraged and invited to participate in its activities. This is made very difficult because of the very parsimonious attitude of the Government in levying these taxes which disastrously affect the otherwise inadequate revenue of the Association.
Another aspect of this matter is that the Association assists in the great fund raising campaigns organised from time to time, such as the great World Refugee Year appeal and Freedom from Hunger campaign. A number of these campaigns have been conducted in Australia. They have received tremendous public support. At one time donations to these appeals could be claimed as taxation deductions and this was a very great encouragement to those who, out of their generosity, wished to support the appeals. In more recent years these latter appeals have been denied support and have suffered as a consequence. If we have a genuine and active interest in stimulating world understanding and if we have a practical desire to assist the underdeveloped, the undernourished and the underprivileged countries, surely the Government could exhibit the same liberalities to the donor to international appeals as it exhibits to the donors to many national appeals such as appeals for the National Heart Foundation and organisations of that character. I think donations to those organisations are tax deductible. I would like to see a much more practical attitude adopted by the Government in support of the United Nations Association by giving consideration to the relief from tax of the totally inadequate revenues which are raised by this active Association, small in numbers but very efficient and effective in the work it manages to do.
I should like to see a much more generous and appreciative attitude to the donors to the great international appeals so that the appeals can exceed the figures reached in the past. We have no reason to criticise the generosity of the Australian public. Time and time again it has responded to appeals of very great magnitude. Today there are projects in the east, which is our particular sphere of influence, which were started and which are operated purely by the financial generosity of the Australian people. It is a poor thing if the generosity of the Australian individual is not matched by the generosity of the Australian Government. Therefore I appeal to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who is at the table, to put both aspects before the Minister and ask whether it would be possible for a more generous approach to be adopted so that the great appeals might receive greater public support and the United Nations Association might be assisted to carry on its excellent work free from the disabilities under which it is now suffering.
– Senator Laucke from South Australia raised two questions. He referred to the appropriation of $7,650,000 for special aid to Indonesia under the Colombo Plan. He mentioned that this year the amount has increased quite considerably, from an appropriation last year of $5,200,000 to this year’s appropriation. We are very anxious to help our next door neighbours and we will continue to help them to the best of our ability. The officers of the Department of External Affairs require a little time to obtain this information for the honourable senator. I shall try to supply it tomorrow. The honourable senator also referred to the appropriation of $6,730,000 for technical assistance under the Colombo Plan. In 1968-69 that assistance will be given in the same form as it was last year.
Senator Byrne made a speech on the problems of helping underdeveloped countries. Australia has done its fair share. In this year of grace, on a per capita basis Australia is spending more than any other nation in the world, with the exception of France.
The honourable senator also asked whether sales tax on Christmas cards could be lifted. I cannot answer that query now because it could and should be directed to the Treasury when its estimates are before the Committee. Because the honourable senator has asked ‘.he question my advisers will look into all aspects of the matter and obtain an answer from Treasury for him. The Government does take notice of and does give income tax concessions to quite a number of institutions that raise money for overseas projects, but not all. We are extending this type of aid. I will have to consider the points raised. The honourable senator is quite correct when he says that the people of Australia are anxious to donate. This is quite evident by the amounts that they donate directly and by the amounts that they donate by way of taxation, through the Government, to help underdeveloped countries. Those are answers to some of the points raised. I will obtain answers to the other points raised by honourable senators.
– I rise to make a few further remarks in regard to what has been said about our diplomatic service, particularly as it relates to what is termed the Kingdom of Greece. Senator Georges referred to the appropriation of $200,000 for our embassy in Greece. He raised the question of whether in fact there is such a position now that a military junta is in control in Greece. One can well understand Senator Georges’ interest in the matter. He was of Greek nationality and he is proud of the fact that he comes from the birthplace of democracy, the land which led the world in democracy, but the land which now is under a military dictatorship. At the time of the military coup questions were asked in this Senate about the situation. The Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs was asked whether we should continue to have diplomatic relations with Greece in view of the fact that the country no longer had democratic government. We were informed that the ambassador was accredited to the King of Greece, the Head of State. This position changed somewhat when the King left the country and opposed the regime that was in control, but the Government still recognises the Embassy of Greece in Australia and continues its representation in Greece. Senator Georges asked whether we should continue to expend this money in a country under military control, which places restrictions on freedom and inflicts suffering on progressive thinkers, contrary to all democratic principles.
asked whether Australia should support the junta merely for the purpose of having representation there. I think he made quite a good case, substantiated by the authorities that he quoted. The Minister’s reply referred to King Constantine and a new constitution that had been adopted by 92% of the people voting in a referendum. Senator Georges told us that it was impossible to obtain any other decision from the alleged referendum held in Greece. When Hitler took over countries in Europe, in order to ‘protect’ the German minorities in them he held plebiscites to ascertain whether the occupied countries wanted the Germans to remain and occupy them. Every plebiscite was carried by some 90% to 100% of the voters. The same thing is happening in Greece today.
– Does the honourable senator advocate the recognition of Communist China?
– I am coming to that very point. It is disheartening to see that there are in this chamber men who will not oppose the establishment of restrictive dictatorships because the alternative would be a Communist system with which they do not agree. The important and only consideration here is what is happening in Greece at the moment. For Senator Marriott’s benefit I admit that I have not expressed the same condemnation of Red China or Russia as I do of the present regime in Greece, but I point out to the honourable senator that although Communism is a system of government with which we do not agree, it has been recognised and accepted by the community of nations - the United Nations.
The Russians were our allies in the last war. We fought shoulder to shoulder with them in defending the same cause. They sacrificed ninety mil’lion of their people fighting the same enemy as we were fighting during that conflict. We recognise them in the United Nations, the community of nations, a world body. I repeat that Communism is a system that we recognise. We accepted the Communists as allies in the last war, and despite the fact that we do not approve Communism as a system of government, we accept Communist governments in the United Nations - the family of nations. Yet we have men in the Senate who are so indifferent about protecting the system for which we fought in the last war that they see some similarity between the system favoured by those who were our allies at that time and the ideology against which we fought. Although Hitter and the German Nazi Party were defeated in the last war there still remain throughout the world supporters of the Nazi ideology. Let us hope that we do not see emerging in this Parliament men who support the ideology against which we fought, together with our Russian allies, in the last war.
The reason for the opposition to the recognition of Red China is not that China is a Communist country, and not as the
Minister has said, because China poses a threat to her neighbours. The Government wishes to build up the neighbouring countries so that they might present a threat to Red China and in this way provide us with a means of controlling her. This Government will agree to admitting Red China to the United Nations only if it can feel that we shall be in a position to control her in the future. The Minister must give direct answers about why the Government will not recognise Red China. It is not sufficient merely to make comparisons.
I submit that he must give a direct answer to whether we should continue to have representation in Greece and support the present Fascist regime there. We opposed this type of regime in the last war. Indeed, the United Nations Organisation was established to protect us from the very evils that some members of this place openly support on this occasion.
We took action against Rhodesia for what we considered to be its undemocratic attitude. We were justified in doing that. Should we not do the same in Greece? Certainly there can be no condemnation of Senator Georges for the attitude that he has taken towards the position in Greece. We cannot shut our eyes to what is happening in Greece simply because someone else is doing nothing about Russia and China. They are two different systems of government. The world is opposed to one and is determined not to see it arise again. The other has been accepted by the community of nations as a recognised system of government, although it does not enjoy our approval.
– Senator Cavanagh has referred to our representation in the Kingdom of Greece, upon which we propose to spend approximately $200,000 this year. He criticised the Government for allowing our embassy to remain in Greece. I should like to tell the honourable senator that we have a fairly large establishment in Greece at the present time, for there is still a Kingdom of Greece. Half the Latin American countries have junta governments and the United States of America does not discard them, because although military regimes take over for a period, these countries eventually come back to democracy.
The honourable senator would like us to walk out of Greece. But I do not hear him utter any protest when Russia walks into other countries. 1 did not hear him voice any objection when Communist China overran Tibet. He did not utter one word of protest. Nor have I heard him condemn North Vietnam for attacking South Vietnam. I do not know why he should criticise us for our action in retaining representation in the Kingdom of Greece.
We want to preserve our relationships with Greece. We are anxious that the Greeks should have the opportunity to return to the same system of government as we have. And this may happen. The honourable senator who suggests that we should walk out might also argue that we should have walked out of Indonesia some years ago. Of course, we stayed.
– No, you did not.
– We stayed there to the end. And what has been the result? We have always wanted to remain friendly with our next door neighbours. We do not attack them in any way at all.
If I might say so, the honourable senator seeks to turn the discussion into a political debate. We do not want to do that. I am here to answer questions on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck). I am only too anxious to answer all questions relating to the various appropriations for the Department of External Affairs. But I do not want this to become a political debate on what the future government of Greece is going to be. The important point here is that we have an establishment in Greece, and we intend to maintain it there.
– That is the complaint.
– That is the honourable senator’s complaint, and it is a political complaint. The fact is that just as we achieved success in retaining a democratic system of government in other parts of the world, so do we hope to see democratic government established once again in Greece. The present government there may only be temporary. We have seen lots of these junta governments established where the Communists have endeavoured to take over. The Latin American countries are examples. In the last 2 or 3 years, some of them have changed from junta governments to democratic governments at least two or three times.
Senator BISHOP (South Australia) L10.59J - I wish to refer to three items. They relate to the provision of $43 1,000 for the International Labour Organisation, $6,000 for the Asian regional experts meeting on vocational training planning in 1968 and to overseas service. I suggest that the Government is not doing enough about providing means for the exchange of delegations between Australia and South East Asian countries in particular. Each year we send delegates, together with some advisers, to the International Labour Organisation. On odd occasions the Government has supported the Asian regional experts meeting, but I suggest to the Minister that consideration should be given to an exchange of students between the countries of South East Asia and Australia in the same way as other countries participate in the exchange of students. For example, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, mainland China and the United Slates of America provide vast sums for the exchange of students. The Government should also give consideration at some future date to such people in industry as trade union officials and management personnel.
– 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 the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly)
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - 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.
– On 18th September during the adjournment debate Senator Cavanagh made a statement expressing concern about the recalling of tenders for rolling stock required for the standard gauge railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. The honourable senator did not indicate the type of rolling stock he was concerned about, but I understand that his statement refers to fifty-two grain hopper wagons to be supplied under the Port Pirie-Cockburn rail standardisation project.
The position with regard lo these vehicles is that the South Australian Railways sought approval under the project to call tenders for the construction of forty-nine of these wagons in aluminium. On the advice of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner it was suggested that, because of the high costs of aluminium, tenders be called for construction in both aluminium and steel in order that the advantages or otherwise of aluminium construction could be evaluated after receipt of tenders. However, the South Australian Railways called tenders for construction in aluminium, or steel, of forty-nine grain hopper wagons. Three Australian firms submitted tenders for construction in aluminium, and the Islington railway workshops submitted a sealed estimate prior to the closing of tenders, also for construction in aluminium. The prices quoted by the three Australian firms, two on a fixed price basis and one subject to escalation, were all lower than the estimate submitted by the Islington railway workshops. In addition, two overseas firms submitted late tenders for construction of the wagons in steel, and the Islington railway workshops also submitted an estimate for construction in steel.
Following consideration of these tenders, the South Australian Railways decided not to proceed with construction of the wagons in aluminium and sought approval for construction of fifty-two wagons in steel, and proposed that this work be undertaken at the Islington railway workshops. As tenders had been called for construction of fortynine wagons in aluminium, and it was now decided to proceed with construction of fifty-two wagons in steel, it was considered desirable to call fresh tenders.
When tenders closed on 3rd September 1 968 for 52 steel bulk grain hopper wagons, offers were received from 11 Australian firms, and 2 late tenders were received subsequently, while a firm price was submitted by the Islington railway workshops. Of the 12 tenders in hand when tenders closed, 2 firms submitted lower prices, both on a firm price basis, than the Islington railway workshops. The results of these tenders were advised to the Commonwealth on 20th September 1968. It is understood that the State Government intends recommending acceptance of the lowest tender submitted by a South Australian firm but the papers have not yet been referred to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). I might also mention that the firm referred to by the honourable senator did not submit a tender for construction of the 52 steel grain hopper wagons.
The honourable senator may be interested to know that all freight vehicles required for the Port Pirie-Broken Hill rail standardisation project, and approved for manufacture to date, have been placed with the Islington railway workshops. Orders placed on these workshops include 7 diesel locomotives, 601 freight vehicles, 3 passenger vehicles, 22 construction vehicles and 9 special vehicles. In addition, conversion to standard gauge of 219 narrow gauge vehicles has been authorised to be undertaken in the Islington railway workshops.
Consideration also is being given at present to authorising the manufacture of other standard gauge vehicles, and conversion of other narrow gauge vehicles, within these workshops where prices quoted are competitive.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681023_senate_26_s39/>.