26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Mr President, are you aware that a majority of members of the Senate have signed a petition asking that the Parliament take action to restore the copy of the Magna Carta to its rightful place, which is within the precincts of the Parliament? Will you accept this petition without any formal resolution as a firm expression of the desire of the Senate? Will you take action, together with the Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives, if he so concurs, to have the copy of the Magna Carta returned to the precincts of the Parliament?
– 1 am not aware of the full details of the petition. I accept your assurance on that aspect. I would certainly be pleased to confer with Mr Speaker on this matter. But there are one or two things that I would like to say that may clear up the position. In 1952 a copy of the Magna Carta was purchased by the Commonwealth and handed to the National Library for safekeeping and to add to its collections. The copy of the Magna Carta was housed in Parliament House for safekeeping, as the only alternative would have been to house it in a stable at Duntroon or in one of the Riverside huts. I am very proud of the fact that I played a part in arranging for provision of the glass case that covers the copy of the Magna Carta. The case is identical with the one which covers the Declaration of Independence. The copy of the Magna Carta could be destroyed or damaged quite easily. Light and temperature will affect it. So, it was housed in Parliament House. When the National Library was officially opened. Mr Speaker and I gave permission for this document to be given to those whom we considered at that time to be the rightful custodians. There is no doubt that the Parliament has expressed the view that the document should be housed within its precincts. 1 will discuss this matter with Mr Speaker. I will also use my endeavours with the National Library Council, of which I am Deputy Chairman. The Parliament having indicated that it would like the return of this document, which it regards as a token of democracy, I see no reason why that course should not be followed. I hope that this will be done at a very early date. But I wish to point out to honourable senators that when this document is returned it will be late at night. The reason for this is not that we are ashamed of what is being done but that it is safer to transport the document at that hour of night, if the document were damaged in any way we would not be able to replace it.
– 1 ask a question supplementary to that asked by the Leader of the Opposition who said that a majority of members of the Parliament had signed a petition requesting that the copy of Magna Carta be returned to the precincts of Parliament House, In your reply, Mr President, you said that as members of Parliament had indicated that they wanted the document returned to Parliament House you had taken certain action. Realising that many people sign petitions without really thinking of all aspects of the petition, and as a minority of members did not sign the petition, according to the question from the Leader of the Opposition, should not the minority in this democracy be listened to in this important matter? Would not a debate on the subject be preferable before a decision is made on some hastily conceived petition which has rapidly been passed around to members?
– My reason for saying what I said in answer to the Leader of the Opposition was to take the heal out of a matter which I believe has been blown up very considerably out of proportion, f am quite happy to accept the assurance of the Leader of the Opposition that a majority of members of both Houses of Parliament have asked that the copy of Magna Carta be returned. In view of all the circumstances I believe that my reply to the earlier question was the correct one; that I have used my best endeavours, which I have no doubt will be successful, to have it returned to Parliament House, at which time the Parliament must accept responsibility for its custody.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report that
Airlines of South Australia intends to conduct a State wide campaign in protest against the proposed Commonwealth terminal tax which the manager of Airlines of South Australia says will increase the cost of a flight from Adelaide to Whyalla by 8.6%, will increase average costs between Adelaide and other South Australian airports by 6% and will impose a great disability on the company? Will the Minister investigate this matter and take whatever action is possible to ensure that this airline is not financially and operationally embarrassed by the proposed tax?
– I have not seen the report referred to by the honourable senator, but it is a fact that a tax is to be imposed on people going to airports and using their facilities. The tax will apply particularly to people who are travelling overseas. It must be realised that there is a very large demand for increased civil aviation facilities throughout Australia. As I mentioned yesterday, the Government is spending in the vicinity of $60m for the improvement of services and the revenue from installations is only about $20m a year. It is necessary to find increased revenue to provide for the expenditure on the development of our airport facilities.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is the Minister aware that the Municipal Association of Tasmania claims that of the Commonwealth aid road funds granted to Tasmania only 16% was allocated to councils whose responsibility it is to maintain the bulk of the State’s rural roads? ls it not correct that the Commonwealth condition is that 40% of the grant be expended on rural roads? What steps are taken by the Commonwealth to see that this condition is observed? How is a rural road defined?
– Under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement Act 1964, §330m was made available by the Commonwealth to the States for expenditure on roads over the ensuing 5 years. The Tasmanian share of that amount is onetwentieth, which would be $16.5m. Under the Act it is specifically stated that 40% of the amount that each State receives must be spent by that State on rural roads. In addition to the large amount of $330m being provided for the States, an amount of $45m will also be provided as matching grants to the States for the development of their roads. The honourable senator asked specifically what steps are being taken by the Commonwealth to ensure that 40% of the funds is allocated to rural roads, as provided in the Act. I will obtain a reply to that question for the honourable senator from the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Bearing in mind optimistic reports that the present Paris negotiations to achieve an early and satisfactory settlement of the Vietnam conflict could well bear fruit, can the Minister say whether the Government has yet given consideration to or has had discussions with the United States Government on whether, in the event of an early settlement of the dispute it will be possible very soon thereafter to bring back to Australia our troops who are at present in Vietnam? If not, will the Government give early consideration to this matter so that everything will be done to get the boys home as early as possible should there be a termination of hostilities?
– I suggest with all the goodwill in the world that question time is not the occasion to deal with a matter of the nature referred to by the honourable senator. Peace negotiations are proceeding and I would think that the governments and the negotiators concerned are naturally hopeful of a result. As I said the other day, it would be premature to consider now - certainly at question time - the implications of an agreement that we hope to see successfully negotiated.
– Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral say whether representations have been made by country people for the cessation or reduction of post office services in country towns on Saturday mornings? If no representations have been made by country people, in whose interests are the services being curtailed? Was not one of the objects of recent substantial increases in postal charges the maintenance of existing services, notwithstanding increased costs of labour and materials?
– I have discussed this matter with the Postmaster-General. I am not aware, nor is the Postmaster-General, of any representations from country people for the cessation or reduction of post office services on Saturday mornings. The position is that the business transacted both at metropolitan and country post offices on Saturdays has been under close examination for some time. Trading hours have been adjusted in accordance with public usage. The examination has shown that it has been usual for most customers to call at post offices before 1 1 a.m. on Saturday and that the provision of post office counter services from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday is appropriate in most cases. However, in some country towns insufficient business is handled to justify post offices remaining open beyond 10.30 a.m. In other towns, mainly in Tasmania, there is no need to open the post office because retail traders do not open. In addition, some suburban post offices in capital and provincial cities have been closed on Saturday because they transacted little business on that day and are reasonably close to other offices which are open. As to the third part of the honourable senator’s question, which related to the objects of recent adjustments to postal charges, they are primarily to offset substantial losses being incurred on the provision of postal services. The new rates applied generally to charges which had not been increased since 1959 or earlier.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: In view of the concern of all Australians and of the whole world about the fight against cancer, is the Minister in a position to advise what progress is being made in research for the discovery of an ultimate cure? What part ls Australia playing in co-operation with other countries, particularly where progress is being made, to implement such advanced treatment and thus try to put an end to this dread disease?
– I appreciate the concern expressed by the honourable senator, about the great scourge of cancer. I cannot give him details of the work that is being done in the fight against this dread disease, although I know that a great deal is being done in Australia and in other parts of the world. I will approach my colleague, the Minister for Health, and obtain a detailed reply to the question, which I will give to the honourable senator and the Senate as soon as I can.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation received any information regarding the future of the Rose Bay flying boat base and the desire of the Woollahra Municipal Council to obtain this harbour frontage for recreational use?
– 1 understood that this question would be asked by Senator Mulvihill, and I have obtained the following reply for him:
There have been no recent discussions between the Department of Civil Aviation and the Woollahra Municipal Council concerning the taking over by the Council of the Rose Bay flying boat base.
Representatives of the Department of Civil Aviation and officers of the Council have, from time to time in past years, discussed the possible future of the Rose Bay flying boat base. The Council has expressed interest in obtaining ultimate use or possession of the land when the flying boat base is finally abandoned.
The land on which the base is established is held on lease from the State of New South Wales and is to be returned to it when no longer required for aviation purposes. The ultimate use of the land is a matter for the State.
This land on which the flying boat base is situated is still required for aviation purposes, and the latest correspondence between the Council and the Department was in July of this year, when the Council was informed that it was not yet possible to say when there would no longer be a need for flying boat operations from Rose Bay.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to a statement in today’s Press that the United Kingdom’s admission to the European Common Market might well take place next year? Did not a delegation of senators and members, led by the Minister for Air, go through some of the Common Market countries in Europe and the United Kingdom to investigate Common Market problems? Will the Minister obtain from the Minister for Air for the Senate a report on the delegation’s activities while abroad with particular reference to the possible effect of the United Kingdom’s admission to the Common Market on Australian trade with the United Kingdom and the Common Market countries?
– I did not see the Press report this morning. The United Kingdom’s efforts to enter the Common Market are a matter of history. It is true to say that the entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market, if it came about, would naturally and of necessity have implications for Australia. It is equally true to say that the Minister for Air led an Australian delegation which went overseas and one of the objectives of which was to glean as much information as it could on the possible implications of the United Kingdom’s entry and on Common Market problems genererally. I shall certainly ask the Minister for Air whether he would be prepared to prepare an informative document which could be introduced and tabled in the Senate and which, if the Senate felt so disposed, could be the basis for further discussion in this place.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that as a consequence of the recent increase in charges on airlines using Commonwealth airports, increases in passenger fares ranging between 4% and 25% - as reported - will ensue? ls he further aware that the greater impost will fall on people in the remoter areas of the nation, and is this not a further blow at the concept of decentralisation?
– I mentioned earlier that it is necessary to get additional revenue to provide facilities for civil aviation throughout Australia. Whether we get it by taxation or charges within the industry is a matter for decision by the Government. The Government has decided that a large proportion of the money for developing our airport facilities throughout Australia will come from general revenue but it has also made a decision that it will get additional amounts from the people who use airports and air facilities throughout Australia, and this is the reason for the increase. I do not believe for a moment that there will be any need to increase fares by up to 25% to provide for these costs.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. By way of brief preface I refer to the fact that on Tuesday last I made further inquiries in relation to the urgent need for relief for all of those adversely affected by the drought existing in the east coast area of Tasmania. I inquire whether it is now possible to answer those particular questions and, further, whether any statement can be made to make clear the proper source from which assistance can be provided so that it may be forthcoming to these unfortunate people without further delay.
– Following the honourable senator’s question on Tuesday, 1 did seek information on this subject, lt is not usual to reveal details of the sort requested by the honourable senator from correspondence between the Premier of a State and the Prime Minister, except with the prior agreement of those persons or their representatives speaking for them. The area and the number of people affected by the drought in the eastern part of Tasmania seem to me to be such that it would not be unreasonable for the State Government itself to provide the necessary assistance. The Commonwealth’s decision on the matter, however, will be sent to the Premier of Tasmania very shortly. As far as the particular sum which the Tasmanian Government may hold in trust as a result of previous Commonwealth Government contributions is concerned, 1 am not at this moment able to give that information with precision. I have been told that the Treasury is looking into this part of the honourable senators question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the present wave of industrial unrest which is holding up wool exports, rail services in New South Wales and building operations in Government departments, and as all present stoppages are the result of decisions of federal arbitration authorities, will the Minister consider calling a top level conference of interests concerned to ascertain whether some solution can be found to the unrest in industry?
– My considered view is that political1 intervention in these matters at an untimely stage is quite unwise. We have sufficient industrial1 and conciliation tribunals, whose duty it is to give immediate and specialist attention to these matters with a view to giving equity to all parties concerned, to cope with the matters.
-H direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Due to the great concern being expressed by country people, particularly those on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, regarding the proposed passenger service charge which will add at least $2 to the cost of each return trip, will the Minister consider not levying that tax on intrastate air travellers so that people living long distances from a city and who are dependent on an air service will not be penalised?
– This is always a problem whenever the Government requires extra revenue for additional facilities for air travellers throughout the Commonwealth. The point that the honourable senator raised is whether the Minister for Civil Aviation and the Government would be prepared to consider intrastate passengers on a different basis from interstate passengers. If the honourable senator places his question on the notice paper I shall obtain a detailed reply from the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the recent conference of the faceless men of the Liberal Party of Australia concluded? Have they given their instructions arising from their deliberations to the members of Parliament or have they returned to their respective States to report to their masters of Ash Street and Collins Street?
– If the honourable senators question was intended to be humorous it completely misfired. In the first pl’ace there was nothing peculiar about the federal conference of the Liberal Party of Australia, lt does not give instructions to parliamentary representatives. What is more, unlike the Australian Labor Party Caucus which pulls the strings as in a Punch and Judy show, every Liberal member and senator is completely free, in accordance with his conscience, to vote how he likes at any time whatever.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that in this morning’s Press there have been reports of an agreement reached at the world sugar conference at Geneva and in view of the importance of this industry to my home State of Queensland and to Australia, can the Minister give us any further information about the result of the conference or the progress made with regard to a sugar agreement?
– In another place a short time ago the Prime Minister was asked a question about the sugar negotiations. I am sure we all agree with Senator Lawrie that the negotiations are of profound importance to Queensland and indeed to the Australian economy. By way of reply the Prime Minister said he understood that the negotiations had ended. He said that he was also given to understand that the Australian delegation, which is led by the Minister for Trade and Industry and includes the Premier of Queensland and representatives of all sections of the industry, has given its approval to the agreement which was reached unanimously. The delegation regards the agreement as being of great importance to Australia. I think that is the substance of the fundamental issue. I should think that the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry will make a subsequent Press statement which will deal with all the aspects of the agreement. It would be quite out of character for me to presume to anticipate the statement that the Minister may make.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether the restraints placed on the export of beef to the United States of America this year will also apply in 1969? Has the Government been successful in obtaining any new markets for Australian beef in order to avoid what appears to be the imminent collapse of the Australian beef export industry because of the loss of the American market?
– The honourable senator referred to the loss of the American market in the concluding part of his question. lt has been pointed out on several occasions here that this is a temporary loss only. J am not in a position to give the information sought in the first part of the question, but if the honourable senator will put it on notice I shall see whether I can get it for him.
– Rather than direct a question to the Leader of the Opposition, I address it to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether any approaches have been made to him to delay the introduction of amending sales tax legislation into the Senate to permit of consultation, by telephone or telegraph, between members of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party to adjudicate on disagreements existing within Caucus and then to instruct the Australian Labor Party senators as to whether they will support or oppose the sales tax legislation in the Senate?
– 1 shall direct the honourable senator’s question to the Leader of the Opposition. This question only adds colour and weight to the answer I gave to a previous question.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health which relates to a question I asked a couple of weeks ago. Now, after two more accidental deaths to children due to poisoning and after several more accidental poisonings, I ask whether anything has been done about the safety pill container which I demonstrated to the Minister in the Senate? Is the Minister for Health still working on this problem? If he does not approve this pill container, has he any better suggestion to offer to prevent the increasing number of accidental poisonings amongst children?
– Like the honourable senator, we are all deeply concerned at the recently reported tragic deaths of two children. I well recall the tablet container which the honourable senator handed to me in the Senate. As promised, I passed it on to the Minister for Health together with the comments which the honourable senator made that day. I shall again take the matter up with the Minister for Health and see whether I can get for the honourable senator information as to the latest position concerning the matter.
(Question No. 459)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
(Question No. 537)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
What are the total charges levied on State Education Departments for educational services provided by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial television stations throughout Australia?
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer:
It is not the practice of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to levy any charges on State
Education Departments for educational services provided by the Commission. In respect of commercial stations, an inquiry has been made of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations. It appears from the Federation’s reply that no charges have been levied on State Education Departments by the licensees of commercial television stations for any educational services provided by commercial stations.
(Question No. 559)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– the Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following reply:
(Question No. 592)
asked the Minister repre senting the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has replied as follows:
(Question No. 595)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister has supplied the following answer:
Adelaide- Perth 79%
Adelaide - Sydney 26%
Adelaide - Melbourne54%
Considering one direction only, a comparison of weekly frequencies between October 1967 and at present shows the following increases:
Adelaide to Perth from 24 to 27
Adelaide to Sydney from 21 to 22
Adelaide to Melbourne from 49 to 55
In comparison the number of seats provided on the Melbourne-Sydney route has increased by 41% in the past 4 years and weekly frequencies have increased from 151 in October 1967, to the present 161. Current average load factors are Melbourne-Sydney 71.9%, Adelaide Perth 74.3%, Adelaide-Sydney 67.8% and AdelaideMelbourne 66.6%. From these comparisons the honourable senator can see that there has been no undue imbalance between the services provided through Adelaide as compared with the MelbourneSydney services when considered in relation to the public demand.
(Question No. 608)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer:
Australia to take up a teaching position with the Australian Board of Missions in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for 2½ years. Mr Mowbray is liable to register but has refused to do so, in breach of the National Service Act. He is, moreover, liable to render service and has not discharged that liability. In the circumstances there was no alternative but to refuse his application.
(Question No. 632)
Senator MURPHY (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
What is being done to implement the recommendation of the 1968 United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territory of New Guinea that a careful and extensive study be made by the House of Assembly of the various alternative forms of governmental structure, to help acquaint the House and the people with the various possibilities before a final decision is made?
Has the Australian Government provided any expert assistance to the House of Assembly for this purpose?
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answer:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
When does the Australian Government think it will be possible to fulfil the hope expressed by the 1968 United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territory of New Guinea that those public servants who were currently exercising judicial functions be replaced with well trained professional magistrates?
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answer:
There are five stipendiary magistrates who are fully qualified lawyers and six full time resident magistrates who are specially qualified. These are independent of the Public Service and operate in most developed areas. It is expected that the system of qualified independent magistrates will service all developed areas by the end of 1969. No timetable can be set for the introduction of a system of independent magistrates in remote areas.
Papuans and New Guineans are being trained in the Territory and as adequate numbers of trained and experienced magistrates become available public servants who also perform executive functions will cease to be magistrates.
(Question No. 635)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
What is being done to simplify the law of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, to make it easily accessible, and to ensure that British forms, procedures and terminology do not create unnecessary barriers between the people and the law?
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answer:
Some adaptations to the law to ensure that it is appropriate to the Territory are:
There are no juries.
A Land Titles Commission not bound to observe strict legal procedure or apply technical rules of evidence deals with land cases.
Local Courts apply simplified rules of procedure.
Statutory recognition is given to native custom.
A Select Committee of the House of Assembly is considering all aspects of parliamentary procedures and matters connected therewith whether within the chamber or outside it.
The Papua and New Guinea Administration has under review the possibility of simplifying the form and wording of legislation but the honourable senator should notunder-estimate the difficulty of achieving simplification without loss of legal precision.
The law is published in both pamphlet and volume form.
(Question No. 636)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
Are any newspapers and periodicals received by the Library of the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea from outside the Commonwealth of Australia and its territories; if so, how many, and what are the names of the newspapers and periodicals?
– The Minister for External Territories has now supplied the following answer:
There is a Library Committee of the House of Assembly. This Committee consists of the Speaker and four other members including the Ministerial Member for Education. There are no official members on this Committee.
The Library at present receives numbers of United Nations and agency publications and also documents from the South Pacific Commission. The American magazine ‘Time’ is obtained when the House is sitting. A magazine called ‘World Veteran’ is sent by the World Veterans Federation and a type of travel magazine called ‘Orbit’ is sent from the United States.
(Question No. 642)
SenatorMcCLELLAND asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation the following questions, upon notice:
Was there an air alert at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport on Thursday 10th October with a Trans-Australia Airlines Viscount aircraft which had to circle Sydney for some three hours in order to use its surplus fuel supply before it eventually made an emergency landing?
Were fire tenders, ambulances and police alerted for an emergency but did someone forget to notify any public hospital to prepare for any untoward happening which fortunately did not occur? If not, which hospital was in fact notified to prepare for any possible emergency?
If any hospital was in fact notified, why was the St George Hospital, which is the closest public hospital to the aerodrome and certainly one of the most efficient in the Sydney metropolitan area, not notified to be ready for any possible emergency?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 6S3)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Territories has supplied the following answers: 1. (a) None, (b) thirty-five welfare officers perform the functions of probation officers for children under 16 years.
– On Tuesday last in the Senate a question without notice was directed to me by Senator Turnbull regarding possible Australian interest in the United Kingdom aircraft carrier HMS ‘Hermes’. Senator Turnbull was referring to an article written by Stewart Harris, the Australian representative of the London ‘Times’, who suggested that the Australian Government should take over the upkeep and maintenance of the carrier. The Minister for Defence has provided me with the following reply:
This is not the first time that the possibility of Australia’s taking over ‘Hermes’ has been mooted. As bas been stated previously, Australia is in continuing and close consultation with Britain and our other defence partners on all the many and varied implications of the British withdrawal from Malaysia and Singapore. This naturally includes consideration of facilities and equipment which might become available as a result of the redeployment of British forces. In any particular case, such as ‘Hermes’, it is a question of whether the British have a continuing requirement for the ship, and if not, how it might fit into Australian defence planning having regard to our overall strategic assessments and needs. These are obviously very complex matters and it is not possible to make any more detailed comment at this time.
My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to request all his Ministerial colleagues to devote one day to looking up their own telephone numbers in any telephone directory in any State or in Canberra so as to understand the difficulties experienced by those without secretaries?
After this exercise, will he then seek their opinion as to the advisability of appointing someone wilh a clear and uncomplicated mind to simplify the finding of frequently used telephone numbers Would he suggest to such an appointee that a list be put on page 1 of the telephone book listing such numbers as trunk lines, telegrams, fire, police, ambulance and public hospitals - and even the Postmaster-General’s Department - thus eliminating the need to spend frustrating minutes going from page to page reading hundreds of words before these emergency numbers can be located?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
The method of presenting information in telephone directories is constantly under review. Outside experts are consulted and over the years there has been a progressive introduction of new features and re-arrangements designed to make it easier for people to find wanted numbers.
In Stale capital city directories the inside front cover and page 1 feature (a) the main emergency numbers with spaces provided for subscribers to write in other emergency and frequently called numbers and (b) a list of the contents of the directory and an index to trie information pages in which are included the special numbers for trunk lines, telegrams and similar services.
In country directories the list of subscribers under each separate exchange heading is preceded by a list of the special numbers and instructions to be followed in making calls. The Post Office recently adopted recommendations of a consultant engaged to advise further on the functional design and typographical layout of directory information pages and these will be given a trial in forthcoming issues of telephone directories.
– Recently, during question lime, Senator Rae asked me to draw to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral reports of certain remarks made by Professor Allen, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Tasmania, calling for the establishment by the Commonwealth and the States of a permanent research directorate to do the work that the Standing Committee cannot do in the standardisation of law in Australia.
The Attorney-General has provided the following answer:
I have read Professor Allen’s remarks as reported in the Press. I have also noted that Senator Rae made it clear that neither he noi
Professor Allen made or intended any criticism of the work done by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General. Nevertheless, I consider that the reported remarks do less than justice to the activities of the Standing Committee.
Since it first commenced its regular meetings in 1959, the Standing Committee has had a considerable amount of success in preparing uniform draft legislation on a large number of matters, which include companies, business names, maintenance, adoption, hire purchase, off-shore petroleum, crimes aboard aircraft, reciprocal enforcement of foreign judgments, enforcement of fines interstate, microfilming of documents, sale of human blood, mental patients crossing State and Territory boundaries, artificial rain making, marketable securities, interstate sale of firearms, authorised trustee investments, legislation giving effect to United Nations conventions on narcotics and the protection of persons from prostitution, extradition of fugitive offenders, probation and parole, and formal validity of wills.
From time to time, the Standing Committee has had the advantage of consulting various ad hoc and other expert committees for assistance in various matters. These include - The Law Council of Australia regarding a uniform criminal code; the New South Wales Law Reform Commission regarding sale of goods, evidence and the age of responsibility; Professor Rogerson of the Adelaide Law School regarding money lenders and consumer credit, Professor Richardson of the Law School of the School of General Studies at the Australian National University regarding domicile; and a Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr Justice Eggleston regarding amendments to company law.
The achievements of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General compare more than favourably with the work done by the Conference of Commissioners on Uniformity of Legislation in Canada and the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in the United States of America. During the period 1918 to 1961, the former body had prepared 45 draft Acts and the latter body, during the period 1889 to 1937, had prepared 75 draft Acts. Not all of these draft Acts have been implemented in the various provinces and States affected.
I desire to make it clear that Senator Rae wishes it to be understood - and he assures me that Professor Allen also wishes it to be understood - that his question conveyed no adverse reflection whatever upon the work of the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General.
– by leave - Yesterday I directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), a question regarding the resolution of the Senate adopted on 10th October, in which the Minister for the Interior was requested by the Senate to refer the Queensland redistribution proposals back to the distribution commissioners. I wish to inform the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior that this morning in the House of Representatives the Minister for the Interior, answering a Dorothy Dix question asked by the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs), stated that the proposals had been referred back to the commissioners and that they should be returned by Christmas. I take this opportunity to commend the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior on the excellent liaison that exists between him and the Minister whom he represents.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Consideration resumed from 23 October (vide page 1536).
Department of External Affairs
Proposed expenditure, $63,950,000.
Proposed provision, $3,493,100.
– Last night I referred to the item in relation to the International Labour Organisation but did not complete what I had to say. I referred to the allocations which had been made for the ILO and the Asian regional experts’ meeting and I commenced to say that it seemed to me that what the Government might do was to consider especially the question of extra delegations. I appreciate that quite an amount of assistance is being given to students, including trade union and management students, under the specialised agencies of the United Nations. I completely support the sort of contributions which the Government is making to assist wherever possible the agencies of the United Nations because this is a very important project.
But I think that in view of the position that our own country has in relation to South East Asia the Government might well have a special look at increasing the number of exchanges between students, particularly those in industry. I refer to trade union delegations and delegations from management in the light of our special relationship with South East Asia, which is growing, and the improvements which those delegations can make to the relations between Australia and the surrounding countries. Looking at Singapore, I admit that some exchanges are arranged either by the union movement on its own or by management groups on their own.
The larger countries - the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and mainland China - are allocating large amounts of money not only for trade union delegations but also for delegations from other groups in the community as a result of which the prestige of the country and the general effect on relationships has improved. It seems to me that we are failing to become involved in the way in which we ought to be involved in these things. Singapore has a special significance because we have given some general assist- ance in the establishment of its new industrial complex in the Jurong area, but as one of the means of cementing the relationship I believe we ought to make special arrangements for exchanges of students and trade union representatives.
We are not doing enough to arrange exchanges of trade union delegations with countries of South East Asia. For example, some of these countries have very specialised and old trade union organisations, for example, the organisations founded in some of them during the period when they were under French domination. The French trade union movement system was copied. For instance, Vietnam throughout all its troubles has continued with the form of trade union organisation which was established under the French administration.
But to my knowledge we have not yet developed special exchanges with all those countries including Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. These exchanges should take place regularly. There should be one or two delegations each year. I can see great value in the assistance given to the very good specialised agencies of the United Nations and through our own Colombo Plan arrangements, but it seems to me that the Government might well consider giving special attention to trade union delegations in the coming year because this sort of work can be much more valuable than exchanges which involve military efforts.
– I want to ask a number of questions. Firstly, I express disappointment in relation to answers to questions I asked before the adjournment of the Senate last night. One referred to the provision for imprest advances in Division 252. I should like to know why the expenditure last year was so large and why the appropriation this year has been reduced dramatically to $64,200. Is this looked upon as a normal imprest account and what is it intended to cover? I also asked a question in relation to incidental and other expenditure under the same division. A very large sum of money is to be provided. Will the Minister please explain what it covers?
Provision is made also for motor vehicles, maintenance and running expenses. Can the Minister tell me how many cars are maintained by the Department in the Philippines and in Rome? In addition, I should like to know the number and type of cars maintained in America. In reply to a question by Senator Cant, the Minister referred last night to expenditure on the new chancery being built in the United States of America. I understood him to say - this satisfied me at the time - that the Government was spending a total of $3m on that project.
Upon examining Hansard this morning I find that it does not show what I understood the Minister to say. The report reads:
The Government is spending S3m on that project this year.
Can the Minister please tell me whether that is the total amount to be spent on the new chancery or is it only the sum to be expended in the current financial year? I have a number of other questions but they do not relate to this division and I shall keep them till later.
– As the Committee will appreciate, I did not deal with these estimates last night because I was committed in Cabinet. No offence was meant to the Committee because I was not here. Senator Scott handled the estimates for me. I am in a little difficulty, as honourable senators will appreciate. If any questions remain unanswered at the end of the day I shall certainly pick them up and convey appropriate answers to the honourable senators concerned. I rather felt that Senator Bishop used the appropriate vehicle of the proposed allocation to the International Labour Organisation to make a point, which I take on board. Senator Keeffe has been more direct. He asked a question in relation to the imprest advances for which provision is made in Division 252. The appropriation is needed only when a new post is being opened. Requirements will be less this year than they were last year, but this does not mean a decrease in activity. It is apparently just fortuitous. The principle of the imprest system, as the honourable senator will know, is that one requisitions for a certain amount. When the amount falls, one requisitions to .restore that amount.
– What was the upper limit last year?
– Apparently the limit on the imprest advances varies from post to post. I suppose that is logical enough. Apparently the figure represents the additional money needed, not the total. In the situation with which 1 am faced here, that is all the information I can give.
– 1 shall assist the Minister to clear up this question. I still do not fully understand his reply. Am I to take it that the appropriation of $64,200 for imprest advances is to bring the amount up to the ceiling for the current financial year? If that is so, why is the ceiling the odd figure of $454,700 that it was l’ast year? Alternatively is there some other ceiling that is not shown? Was the amount last year $500,000, $lm or some other figure? Exactly what is this fund used for? 1 hope I have made myself clear.
– I wonder whether the honourable senator is in complete understanding with me on the imprest advances system. While I am obtaining a considered reply from my officers I will deal with another matter that Senator Keeffe raised last night. This was in relation to the purchase of property in Rue de la Faisanderie, Paris. Last night discussion took place in relation to the purchase of the Paris property. The Department of External Affairs has acquired a number of other properties and has entered into many major accommodation leases. I think last night’s discussion was in relation to the procedures adopted. I have a general comment on that matter. I do not wish to re-open the question this morning, but in fairness I think 1 should inform the Committee of the procedures adopted.
– The Minister may re-, open the question. It depends on what is in that comment.
– That is right. I am a man of peace. In all these matters there has been close consultation with the Department, whose staffs are attached to the missions, and with the Department of Works, the Treasury and the Public Service Board. For example, the need for a new office in Saigon had become urgent over the past few years. Earlier this year the Government appointed a team, comprising representatives of the Department of External Affairs, the Treasury and the Department of Works, to carry out an on-the-spot investigation and to recommend ways of remedying the accommodation problems. A detailed report for consideration by Ministers was made. A detailed security assessment was made by a very senior and highly experienced officer of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Senior officers of the Department of Works examined several other properties before decisions were made regarding their acquisition. For example, within the past 3 years official residences at Mexico City, New York and Ankara were inspected by officers of the Department of Works prior to acquisition. At present an architect is reporting on accommodation problems in Yugoslavia, Germany, Austria and India. An architect and a valuer have negotiated successfully for properties in New Zealand. Indeed the Department of Works is embarking on a policy’ of outposting architects to meet the needs of Commonwealth missions overseas. The Department’s future accommodation needs and the ways of meeting them are discussed at monthly meetings of representatives of the Treasury and the Department of Works, and a long term building programme is being evolved.
Each post has an imprest advance equal to 7 weeks expenditure. An appropriation is needed only when an imprest advance has to be increased or where a new post is opened. That is the imprest advances system. A post is given a certain figure. It expends a certain sum and the amount of the advance decreases. At a certain stage the post imprests for the amount it needs to bring the advance back to the ceiling under the imprest advances system. Last year several new posts were opened and therefore several appropriations were made, totalling $454,700. This year there will be fewer new posts and fewer variations in imprest advance levels. An appropriation of $64,200 is enough. The imprest advance is to an extent a mission’s bank account.
– 1 refer to the appropriation of $2,144,700 for rent of premises for overseas service. I would like information as to the countries where that amount is to be paid for the rent of premises. Would it not be better to purchase our own buildings overseas where we have posts or expect to have them? I ask this because in the cities of the world, as in Australian cities, land values are appreciating. As land values appreciate the rentals increase, subject of course to the conditions of the leases. It is unlikely that the purchase of accommodation for posts in overseas cities, except in the extreme case of Paris, would be a losing proposition. Generally the buildings might be expected to appreciate in value, lt seems to me that the expenditure of more than $2m every year on rental of premises is unwarranted. That sum could be better spent by entering into hire purchase agreements or buying buildings overseas, just as 70% of the Australian people are buying their own homes. I think it is a rather shortsighted policy to continue to pay this amount for rent. I refer also to the appropriation of $902,300 for repairs and maintenance of overseas premises. Does this sum refer to repairs and maintenance of rented premises or does it refer to the repairs and maintenance of premises that we presently own? Is this amount additional to the $2m to be paid for rent? Are we paying almost $lm to repair and maintain buildings that we rent or lease?
I wish to refer also to items 02 and 07 of the same subdivision. Item 02 provides for office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing. The appropriation sought is $404,700. Item 07 relates to furniture and fittings for which the appropriation sought is $574,200. Why are these appropriations set out in this way? Surely, with the exception of perhaps stationery, these are related matters? Does item 07 relate to the furnishing of the residences of the people we have overseas? I should not think that, for the number ‘ of people we have overseas, these amounts are excessive, subject to what I have said about expenditure on air conditioning at the chancellery in Rome, lt seems to me that these two items should be amalgamated unless item 02 refers to equipment and requisites for the chancellery and item 07 refers to furniture and fittings for residences. I should like some break up of the way in which the money is being expended.
I refer now to the post that was opened recently at Santiago in Chile. I note that the appropriation sought for salaries and payment of salaries is $42,400 while that proposed for administrative expenses is $28,000 making the total expenditure $70,400. I should like to know from the Minister whether we have yet got the staff at Santiago out of hotels and into residences and whether we have proper accommodation for them to perform their functions in this place in South America. The reports that came to me while I was overseas indicated that there was a considerable amount of difficulty at this post and that in fact conditions were not very happy with our overseas people there. I should like to know whether some of this difficulty has been cleaned up or whether, in fact, a!’i of it has been overcome.
– 1 refer to the technical assistance provided under the Colombo Plan, which is covered by item 04 of subdivision 5 of Division 250. At the outset I should like to remark that the members of the parliamentary party which visited the Indian Ocean countries were greatly impressed with the high standard of efficiency of the Department’s officers and the great regard in which they were held in the places which we visited.
Here I make particular reference to the work being done under the Colombo Plan in Ceylon. Whilst in Ceylon we visited an organisation devoted to agricultural research. This organisation is financed out of funds made available under the Colombo Plan. Whilst there, we received expressions of the highest praise for Australia’s contribution. We examined the building, the set up and the work being done by this research body. I was impressed with the excellence of the work being done. The buildings and the equipment were not over elaborate, but they were being used to the maximum and the work being done is making a valuable contribution to agriculture not only in Ceylon but throughout the rest of the world. I am quite sure that some of the results achieved will pay dividends by adding to our knowledge of tropical agriculture within Australia itself. In this way we shall derive a direct return as a result of the co-operation that exists between scientific organisations throughout the world.
I met some of the officers attached to that organisation who were trained in Australia, at the university in Brisbane. It was very gratifying to me, after hearing certain criticisms at various times of the moneys being made available under the Colombo Plan, to see the very great use that was being made of this organisation and the very high regard in which it is held in Ceylon.
I refer now to item 09 of the same subdivision. It relates to the International Grains Agreement - Food Aid Convention. The appropriation sought for 1968-69 is $12m. The appropriation last year was $9,500,000, all of which was expended, lt is pleasing to me to see this item included in our proposed expenditure. The problem of distributing surplus food to needy people is of interest and concern to most people in Australia. This International Grains Agreement under which all nations, not merely those who are grain producing, contribute to the cost is a great step forward in solving the problem of distributing our food surpluses to needy people. I express my pleasure at seeing the appropriation for this year increased to Si 2m.
– Senator Cant asked about the proposed appropriation of $2,144,700 for rent. This covers the rent of all office premises and all residences in all posts. The appropriation of $902,300 for repairs and maintenance is to cover repairs and maintenance at all Commonwealth owned premises in all posts overseas, and repairs and maintenance of all rented premises in those cases where the lease makes repairs and maintenance the responsibility of the tenant.
I noted what Senator Cant had to say about the escalation in the cost of rental premises and in property values. I understood him to make the point that it would be desirable to acquire our own properties as quickly as is considered appropriate in the various places at which we have embassies. I would agree with that, but I am sure that this is a matter that has to be looked at with due regard to a series of situations. The series of situations I envisage would relate, if the building is not already erected, to the type of building, its location, the accommodation, the security aspect and all the other factors. Having covered all those situations we then have to relate them in the short run to the budgetary considerations of the Department itself. Even if we wanted to go further in terms of staff, for example, we are limited by budgetary considerations.
I agree with the honourable senator that it is, and would be, most desirable wherever practicable and possible, and having regard to our own budgetary situation, to look at this matter. I am happy to be able to say to the Committee that the whole policy of acquisition is under detailed interdepartmental consideration at the present time. This adds point and substance to the argument that the honourable senator has put.
Turning to the situation in Chile, 1 understand that the staff in Santiago now is housed in premises newly leased. The chancery is operating at present from a hotel but shortly it will move into leased short term premises prior to obtaining better long term accommodation. That rather points up the kind of problem that tends to” emerge. Here is a case in respect of which a decision is taken to set up an embassy. In the short term the Ambassadors staff has moved into a hotel, lt will be appreciated that it is rather difficult to conduct an embassy from a hotel, but suitable long term accommodation not being available they have to accept short term accommodation in a hotel until suitable accommodation is found. lt might be said that all these things should be planned far in advance. I suppose that is true. On the other hand, however, diplomatic situations necessarily do not emerge in that kind of way. Governments might exchange letters and have discussions in relation to establishing an embassy post. The decision having been made, it is desirable to establish the Ambassador or the Consul in the post as quickly as possible. 1 imagine that is what has happened on this occasion. At least the honourable senator can be assured that the staff will move into short term premises at the hotel to give them breathing space to look for long term accommodation more appropriate for Australian’s representatives in Chile.
asked why item 02 and item 07 in subdivision 2 were separate. Item 02 covers expenditure on office requisites, machines, equipment, stationery and so on whereas item 07 covers expenditure on furniture and fittings for the office, the residence of the head of mission and other property. The two items are completely different in nature and therefore are appropriated as separate items. Senator Prowse mentioned the appropriation of $12m this year compared with an expenditure and appropriation last year of $9.5m on the International Grains Arrangement, Food Aid Convention. The provision of SI 2m this year is to cover the cost of our commitment to supply 225,000 metric tons of wheat or flour as food aid in 1968-69.
I spoke last night in relation to Division 250. At the risk of being’ repetitive, I think it would be a poor thing if we missed the opportunity, this being United Nations day, at least to comment upon .and register the fact. The United Nations has been subjected to a lot of criticism in this Parliament recently in relation to international developments. It would be a shame if we allowed our faith in the Organisation to be diminished by the imperfections which from time to time mark its course. .
Australia has been a most consistent and loyal -supporter of this international organisation since its inception. It has been consistently a supporter in financial terms, with the technical aid it has been able to give and with particular votes’ ‘for particular purposes. It has even supplied a President of the United Nations. I think that on this day, when the flag of the United Nations is flying from public buildings, we should register the fact that this possibly is the one day of the year that is recognised universally irrespective of race, creed, colour or anything of that kind. There are great religious feasts which are exclusive to particular denominations. There are great national and even international1 holidays that still find restricted recognition, but United Nations Day is the one day which is acknowledged universally. Having before us today these estimates which relate to the provision of funds indicating our support for the international body, I think we would be failing in our duty if we did not mark the occasion. That is why I rose to speak in this debate.
– I raised a number of points with the Minister a few minutes ago and referred in particular to the chancery in America, the car fleet for our posts in the Philippines, Rome and America, and the petty cash account covered by Division 252. Can the Minister answer those questions now?
– I am sure we all would agree with, the observations made by Senator Byrne in relation to United Nations Day. I regret that I am unable to give Senator Keeffe the exact details relating to the number of motor vehicles we have in Manila, Rome and America and the types of vehicles that are used in the United States. They are not available to me at present. However I will forward the information to the honourable senator by letter as soon as possible.
He referred also to the appropriation of $78,300 for incidental and other expenditure. That sum of money is made up as follows: A sum of $5,000 for maintenance and office machines; $10,000 for freight and cartage; $8,500 for advertising; $1,800 for tuition fees; $5,000 for minor works and $48,000 for other expenditure. ‘Other expenditure’ includes a grant of $13,000 for an exhibition during the visit of the Prime Minister of India and $10,000 for a security inspection. The balance is for miscellaneous expenditure such as the purchase of uniforms and protective clothing, initial stocks of cups, saucers and teamaking equipment, office fittings and such things as plugs, taps, tape recorders and similar minor items, and losses on exchange of currencies. The sum of $10,000 relates to the security inspection of all posts. I have indicated how the balance is made up.
– I wish to raise a matter that has already been raised by another honourable senator. I refer to the International Grains Arrangement and the various items under the Colombo Plan. I wish to point out that of the total of $39m to be appropriated for international development and relief an amount of $ 12m or almost one-third relates to the International Grains Arrangement. As I understand the position, the International Grains Arrangement is substantially an arrangement whereby countries having a surplus of grain of which we are one, provide grain to the deficient countries, many of which are in South East Asia and the Indian sub-continent. One of the great problems confronting Australia and countries in a similar position to Australia is the level of grain production in the distressed areas. I hope I have the general support of my colleagues when I say that what we ought to be doing is making perfectly sure that under the Colombo Plan we actively continue our programme of assistance for research into plant breeding and the higher production of grain, with which we have already had some success.
When I was in India last year I was told that India -had some ability to become selfsufficient in grain production by about 1970, given a reasonable run of seasons. Much of this progress is due to the work done on dwarf wheats - which were originally produced in Mexico - by an Indian who had been trained in Australia under the Colombo Plan. It is very much due to his work in the field of breeding new plants and strains of wheat that India can hope to become self-sufficient in grain production. We should ensure that all encouragement is given to the training of scientists and others who work in the agriculture field so that a better grain production is achieved throughout South East Asia. That is the real solution to the problem. The real solution is not the provision of great sums of money in surplus grain to these countries but the teaching of the techniques of grain production to their peoples so that they will be able to become self-sufficient. Of course, this may lead to a situation in due course where Australia may have to face the fact that by encouraging and training these people to grow their own grain and produce their own agricultural products we will have denied ourselves a potential market. So, the Senate is considering quite an important matter when it is debating the estimates for this Department.
– Senator Keeffe asked a question concerning incidental and other expenditure for overseas services. The proposed appropriation for this item is $291,600, compared to the appropriation last year of $286,600. Much the same answer applies in this instance as applied previously. I will have the amount itemised for Senator Keeffe..
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Department of Defence
Proposed expenditure, $21,645,000.
– Before we begin the debate on these estimates may I suggest a system that I believe we might operate with advantage. I should like to use the defence estimates as a trial run on the system which 1 propose. As Leader of the Government in the Senate I am very conscious of the fact that in dealing with the estimates there are some occasions on which an honourable senator wants an answer in relation to a particular item. In other cases he relates his remarks to ‘Administrative’ and makes a point or a series of points on the general issue that he wants to raise, ft is very difficult for a Minister when an honourable senator expects a reasonably quick reply to specific questions relating to perhaps six items. The Minister wishes to extend to the honourable senator the courtesy of listening to him and he finds it difficult at the same time to locate the reference in the estimates and get advice from the Department, before conveying to the honourable senator the advice that he has been given.
Ideally, if honourable senators who want information on a particular line of the estimates could state their questions, which would be recorded in Hansard, the Minister could supply answers at a stage at which a fair accumulation of questions had been recorded. Then, when an honourable senator speaks generally to the estimates as Senator Byrne did earlier today when he raised a quite valid point in relation to United Nations Day but which did not come within a particular line of reference, the Minister is afforded a better opportunity to extend to honourable senators the courtesy of giving the replies that are available to him from the officers who are in’ attendance to assist him.
– On behalf of the Opposition I begin the debate on the estimates for the Department of Defence. I notice that this year the proposed expenditure for all defence services amounts to $1,069,884,000. At the outset let me say that I realise that we are discussing the estimates and are not making second reading speeches on defence policy. A reading of the defence report for 1968 reveals that so far this nation has no firm policy on defence. In the first instance I propose to relate my remarks to ‘Administrative’ and to refer to the defence report. Quite frankly, if ever I have read a garrulous, turgid, voluble and verbose report it is the annual report of the Department of Defence. This criticism applies particularly to that portion which is set out at pages 7 and 8 under the heading ‘Defence Planning’. For the sake of the record and in the hope that the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), who represents in this, chamber the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), will amplify or elucidate what appears in the report, I shall repeat shortly what it says:
In July last, the first stage pf the reorganisation of the Defence Department machinery was announced - to bring into, operation new joint planning arrangements. These changes lake account of the need to develop strategic concepts and policies appropriate to our defence responsibilities.
The report then goes on- to say:
The new planning arrangements have four main objectives: ! to provide for a larger defence planning com’ponent within the Department of Defence which will .bring to. planning - continuity of application and a melding of, service expertise, and civilian experience in a wide range of disciplines; 1 have tried to ascertain ‘what that last phrase means, but for the’ life of me I cannot comprehend it - unless it means that there is an increase in the bureaucracy of the Department. The report continues: to provide greater capacity for the examination and consideration of longer term planning and policy issues; to achieve greater flexibility and. speedier decision-making procedures , by substituting full time staffs for formal committees; to provide more positive arrangements for the full impact of scientific, political) technological, economic and psychological factors etc. in military planning.
Goodness only knows how the ‘etc’ crept in there. In short, my first ‘ question to the Minister is what is meant by these four new planning arrangements which are set out in the defence report? I do not know what they mean and I defy’ anybody who is not an expert in defence planning and policy to say exactly’ what they mean. I cannot help feeling from a reading of this report that the Department might have become a little overloaded arid top heavy with expertise in report writing.
I refer next to advertising for the recruiting campaign for which the proposed expenditure is $1,300,000. That is the same amount as was appropriated last year when the expenditure was $1,299,462. In other words, the expenditure last year was $538 less than the amount appropriated. When one sees how close the expenditure came to the amount appropriated one can be excused for thinking that the amount was so close as to be uncomfortable. Was the amount appropriated for the financial year almost spent by May, at which time it was decided that no further expenditure would be indulged in? As $1,300,000 proved to be sufficient last year, was it then accepted by all and sundry that the same amount would be sufficient for this year? I mention this because whereas all other proposed expenditures for the Department seem to be an increase on last year’s appropriation, the amount to be provided for advertising for recruiting campaigns appears to have remained static. When one considers that the Government ls indulging in the conscription of 20-year olds for national service and for service in the war in Vietnam one wonders whether the proposed expenditure should be more or whether we as a nation are getting full value for the expenditure.
At page 11 of the Defence Report for 1968 it is stated that the planned expenditure on recruiting advertising for 1968-69 is $1,300,000. The report states that radio, Press and television media are exploited and that a panel of advertising experts supplies advice in planning recruiting advertising. It is expected that about 12,000 recruits will be required in 1968-69 to cope with normal wastage and to provide the planned increase. Therefore expenditure of $1,300,000 to obtain about 12,000 volunteers seems rather excessive. I wish to know the names of the members of the panel of advertising experts who provide advice in planning recruiting advertising.
During the last session I referred in a speech to the subject of advertising. I pointed out that the total annual expenditure on advertising in Australia is about $314m. I also pointed out that about 250 advertising firms are operating in Australia and of that number about nine are completely owned and controlled by overseas interests. Those nine firms control about half of the annual expenditure of $3 14m on advertising. Do those advertising agencies which are completely owned and controlled by overseas principals form part of the panel that renders advice to the Department of Defence on the nature of recruitment advertising?
Some years ago the late Senator Paltridge, when Minister for Defence, told the Senate that a combination of advertising agents or experts combined with the Department to effect the recruiting policy. I well recall that he asked honourable senators for suggestions as to the manner in which the policy then pursued by the Department might be improved. I also remember that my colleague Senator Ormonde made some comments at that time.
– I hope that the honourable senator will not excite him now.
– I dare say that the Minister will invite my colleague to again make some comments. Apparently the system then in vogue about which Senator Paltridge expressed some dissatisfaction is still operating within the Department. The time could well have arrived for the Department to have its own advertising staff to conduct recruiting campaigns. That staff could be engaged full time on the preparation of advertisements the better to effect and co-ordinate recruiting campaigns generally.
I wish to refer to two other matters related to Division 600 - Administrative. I refer now to the appropriation of $419,500 for office services which is more than double last year’s expenditure of $192,300 out of an appropriation of $199,500. I am sure the Minister will agree that some elucidation is necessary of that item. This year’s appropriation for incidental and other expenditure is $135,500, compared with last year’s expenditure of $63,560 out of an appropriation of $67,700. I believe that the matters I have detailed certainly require amplification by the Minister.
– I wish to direct a few remarks in the first instance to Division 606, in which an appropriation of $25,000 - not a large sum - is made as a contribution towards the cost of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation Military Planning Office. I am curious to learn of the donations made by other nations associated with the Organisation. Is it possible to get a breakup of the contributions by the countries involved? I want to go back a little into history. In the early stages of World War II there was some friction about areas of command between the nations involved. I would like to know who is the senior officer in the SEATO Military Planning Office, and what is his nationality. I would also like to know who is the senior ranking Australian officer. I would appreciate advice of the membership and general terms under which the Office operates.
I turn now to the appropriation of $9,005,000 in Division 608 for defence aid for Malaysia and Singapore. It is a considerable sum. Does it include, among other things, the cost of maintaining our Air Force unit at Butterworth? From that amount is provision made for the supply of, for example, anti-tank guns? If so, I am wondering whether we are ever likely to be subjected to sanctions by Scandinavian countries such as Sweden which make that type of equipment. Is it possible to give an indication in broad terms of the percentage of the appropriation that will be used to purchase munitions and general defence equipment produced by Australian industry?
– Senator McClelland has invited me, in effect, to paraphrase the statements at page 8 of the Defence Report for 1968.I have read the four main objectives of the new planning arrangements. I thought that they were fairly understandable.
– They are phrased in Public Service jargon.
– It is necessary to read them carefully. PerhapsI might agree that they could have been expressed in more simple terms. The first objective is to provide for a larger defence planning component within the Department of Defence. All honourable senators should realise that we are living in times when the sophistication of developments requires proper planning as a basic ingredient. There is an old truism that time spent in reconnaissance is time well spent. The same may well be said about planning. I interpret the first objective as stated in the report to mean that in relation to the defence forces it is necessary to co-ordinate planning by people with special expertise and skills.
There is to be of necessity a greater buildup of people involved in planning who will provide a broader capacity for examination and consideration of longer term planning. One of the basic arguments I have heard debated in this chamber in respect of defence is that, rather than have a stop-go approach, there should be planning. If planning means anything, it means long term planning. There are rich rewards to be gained in terms of budgetary considerations and efficiency by long term planning. The report states the third objective to be: to achieve greater flexibility and speedier decision making procedures by substituting full time staffs for formal committees.
There always have been committees - interdepartmental committees or inter-service committees. In my own Department of Supply, I have a series of civilian committees. They consist of people who have expertise in certain aspects of industry. They voluntarily give advice to me, when it is sought, on aspects associated with industry. I would think that the purpose behind this objective is to have a look at all the committees that are in existence and to try to reduce the number a little so that decisions will be made more quickly because people will be concentrating more on planning in a full time capacity. The final objective is: to provide more positive arrangements for the full impact of scientific, political, technological, economic and psychological factors etc. in military planning.
I can appreciate all the factors that are stated, but I cannot give Senator McClelland any information on the word’etc.’. I think it was put in to complete the broad canvas of factors that have to be considered in terms of planning.
The appropriation for recruiting advertising under Division 602 is broken up under the headings of the three Services and then again under the headings ‘Press’, ‘Television’ and ‘Radio’. The total appropriation for this year is $1,300,000, compared with the expenditure last year of $1,299,462. The individual appropriations under the three headings to which I have referred for the three Services are much the same as the individual expenditures last year. I am looking through the figures to see whether there are any significant variations.I note that the appropriation for the Army under the heading ‘Radio’ is $8,000, whereas the expenditure last year was $20,347; that the appropriation for the Army under the heading’ Television’ is $178,000, whereas the expenditure last year was $227,000; and that the appropriation for the Army under the heading ‘Press’ is $424,000. whereas the expenditure last year was $396,521. There are increases and decreases in the figures. Those I have given would probably show the biggest variations. At the end of the line there is very little difference between the total appropriation for this year and the total expenditure last year.
Expenditure on recruiting advertising is programmed over the year to ensure a steady and consistent approach to the community. In all advertising it is generally considered that a consistent image must be kept before the public. In the last financial year the Services required about 12,000 recruits to meet the planned increase of 3,500, which is the same as the figure for this year. Although national service provides about 16.000 men for the Army, the normal wastage created by termination of engagements and discharge because of illness, compassionate grounds and so on must be met. The recruiting programme is planned against the overall need. The recruiting advertising experts are the members of the Commonwealth Advertising Council. They are the top men in the advertising business in Australia and are generally used by the Commonwealth to advise on advertising methods and media. 1 have not the names of the members of the Council, but I could obtain them and have them conveyed to the honourable senator. This is not a closed item. I certainly will obtain information on who they are and let the honourable senator have it.
asked for information about the appropriation under Division 606 of $25,000, which is the contribution towards the cost of the Military Planning Office of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. This item provides for the payment of Australia’s share, namely, 13±%, of the budget for the SEATO Military planning Office.
– I also asked how many Australian officers were in the Military Planning Office and what was the rank of the senior officer.
– A naval captain is the senior officer at this stage. The position rotates through the Services. Senator Mulvihill asked another question-
– It was about the appropriation of $9,005,000 under Division 608 for defence aid for Malaysia and Singapore. I asked how much of that aid was coming from Australian munitions and industrial sources. I mentioned the Swedish anti-tank gun as an illustration of possible difficulties.
– The break-up of the appropriation of $7,968,000 for equipment, as part of the defence aid for Malaysia and Singapore is:
All of that equipment is produced in Australia. Senator McClelland asked about the appropriation for office services under Division 600. The appropriation for 1968-69 is $419,500. The expenditure in 1967-68 was $192,300. That represents an increase of $227,200. As from 1st July 1968 the Department of Defence assumed full financial responsibility for the following services in the Russell Offices area and other premises in the Australian Capital Territory leased by departments in the defence group: office cleaning, fuel oil, water charges, plant operators’ wages and courtyard maintenance. These charges were formerly shared by occupant departments. The additional cost to the Department of Defence in 1968- 69 is estimated to be $200,000. increased provision is also required for services in Russell Building No. 9, which was first occupied in June 1968, and additional rented premises in Canberra and higher usage of oil fuel in Canberra and Melbourne following unusually mild weather in 1967-68. With the concurrence of honourable senators 1 incorporate the following particulars in Hansard:
– I refer to Division 600 for the purpose of asking the Minister what has happened in relation to proposals - which I have advocated for years, even since before I entered the Seriate - for the integration of the three armed Services. The whole question is whether Australia can afford to maintain a Minister for Defence, a Minister for Supply, and a Minister for each of the three Services. Personally, I do not think that we can. I quite realise, of course, that the Minister has an answer: What can we do with our back benchers if we do not have portfolios to put them into? When we regard it from an Australian point of view, this is a negative attitude which the Government has adopted m having one portfolio separated into five divisions. I understand that the Canadians are doing something about it. We have heard that the Government is studying the proposal. I want to know from the Minister how far the Government has got with the abolition of a few of these portfolios and the integration of the Services.
Instead of rising on three separate occasions in respect of the Army, Navy and Air Force, I refer to this division in order to ask what has happened about the integra tion of the three medical services, a matter that I have raised in this chamber on at least four occasions and about which, of course, nothing has happened. I presume that careful consideration is being given to this matter and that careful consideration will still be given to it for the next 5 years in which I hope to stay in the Senate, but surely the Government can think of something to do about it. Surely something has clicked in the minds of some Ministers. Surely somebody in a department has had a little clicking in his head that tells him that this is possible. There is no difference between wounded personnel of the Air Force, the Navy or the Army.
Surely we can have one medical service to cover the three Services. The only difference, of course, is in the examination of people for entry to the Services. Some Services apply more stringent medical criteria in relation to certain parts of the body, but medical men are intelligent enough to understand this even if the departmental officers are not. Here we go, year after year, spending money in this way. The attitude is that it does not matter. This is, after all, the only way in which the Government can boost its defence spending. It does not spend the money on anything useful. In Australia we allocate to defence 3% - with the Fill expenditure it is 5% - of the gross national product, compared with Great Britain’s 9% and the USA’s 11%. The Government has to try to boost its defence spending and I suppose the best thing it can think of is to waste it on little matters such as this. I should like to know what has happened in relation to the integration of the Services and the integration of their medical services. Whilst I am on this subject, I am sure that the Minister will not mind if I take Kim to task for the way in which he replied to a question I asked yesterday in regard to defence. The defence of Australia is very important to everyone.
– I gave an answer this morning.
– I know. I am coming to that. Because the proposal to which 1 referred had been made by a correspondent of the London ‘Times’, the Minister pooh-poohed it. Fancy adopting a suggestion on a defence matter by a correspondent of the London ‘Times’! Let me point out to the Minister that everyone in Australia realises that there are far more brainy people outside in private enterprise than there are in the Public Service, but the Government cannot accept that. Everyone in this chamber will agree that there are many more brainy people who are not Ministers than who are Ministers, yet every time any suggestion is put up to the Minister he tries to denigrate it or the Department comes back with the answer that it cannot be done. That is only the opinion of one or two men in the Department. There are just as brilliant men outside the Department with different ideas, but these ideas will not be accepted because they do not come from the Department. The suggestion with regard to the aircraft carrier ‘Hermes’ was quite a good suggestion. The Minister’s reply suggested that it was not the first time it had been made. Apparently this has been, suggested before and other brains have thought about it. Yesterday when the Minister tried to denigrate this man I interjected - it was not reported in Hansard - to ask whether anybody else had not brains. Here is a suggestion which is worthwhile and by which we can help the British Government but, no, the Government will again give careful consideration to the matter. That is the stock phrase. We get the statement that it is a complex situation and the usual jazz that we get in a ministerial reply to the effect that a more detailed comment cannot be given at this time.
– This is the Public Service jargon about which I was talking.
– Then we agree. Here they go again, giving us all the details, but no action. That is the point. Here is an aircraft carrier that could be utilised by the Australian Government. The Minister himself knows that the Navy has been asking for a second aircraft carrier for years. He also knows that the British Government is financially embarrassed in regard to eastern defences and is withdrawing forces from this area. Here is an opportunity to take over an aircraft carrier, the British personnel of which would be only too happy to serve in Australia, provided we looked after their salaries, superannuation and pensions. Yet all that we can get from the Government is: ‘Fancy a journalist suggesting this’. The Government could not dream of that. He is not even in the Public Service. Therefore, the Government tries to run the suggestion down and goes on with waffle about what it will! do. The Government will be thinking about this for another 10 years. This was a brilliant idea in relation to something we need, but because it did not come from the Department the Government is doing nothing about it and this is the last that we will hear about it.
– I refer to Army publicity, and defence publicity generally. When I came into the chamber, Senator McClelland was discussing these matters and 1 jotted down some figures. The Minister’s reply referred to radio,, television and .Press publicity. Senator McClelland offered constructive criticism and I hope that my criticism, too, will be constructive. Because the defence people have so many masters to serve they could easily get caught up and miss out on the best way of advertising. The popularity, of Press advertising has, in some respects, been declining and its place has been taken largely by television. Radio has maintained its popularity in relation to the advertising of general merchandise, but this thought, it seems, has’ not got through to the Department of Defence.
Last year it spent $22,000 on radio advertising and this year it proposes to spend $8,000. The very reverse is the situation commercially. The advertising income of radio from various commercial sources is increasing but its income. from Government sources is declining, particularly in relation to advertising connected with the defence Services. Army expenditure on television advertising last year was $227,000; this year it will be down to $108,000. This position might be acceptable if the Department of Defence were, generally, speaking, cutting its costs and trying to do .better with the money it has, but last year, expenditure on newspaper advertising amounted to $398,000, and it will rise to $424,000. This is an indication that expenditure on newspaper advertising by Public. Service departments, including the Department of Defence, increasing. On the other hand, television advertising by commercial interests is increasing all the time. I take it that they get results and that is why they do it. Radio is also more than maintaining its popularity as an advertising medium but expenditure in this field by the Department is also declining. I ask the Minister whether there is any explanation for this. Surely what is good advertising for commercial enterprises must be good for the Department of Defence. 1 only express those views, having regard to what Senator McClelland said, because I think Government departments should take notice of people who have some experience. I know a little about the subject. Senator McClelland certainly knows a good deal. This is not destructive criticism. I am simply trying to get the message across to the Department that it is off the beam. It is not accepting general ideas about advertising and I think it might be better if it did. “
I refer now to a matter which has become a kind of hobby-horse of mine because I live in the area concerned and I hear people complaining. I think this is the place to pass on their views. I make my comments in relation to the appropriation of $8,034,660 for administrative expenses under Division 600. 1 think that what I wish to say will be covered by that division. I live very close to Victoria Barracks, in Sydney, which has an area of about 30 acres. It has become hallowed ground; it is almost sacred territory. It is rather interesting that in almost all major Australian cities there is a military establishment. I do not know why the Army always obtains a preferred position and why this position is maintained during a period of great pressure for land on which to build. The military establishments are not there for advertising reasons. There are no signs saying that they are military establishments. On passing Victoria Barracks all one sees outside is a man standing with an old-fashioned rifle on his shoulder, and inside, a couple of church shaped buildings. One has really to get over the fence to see what is inside. In fact there is nothing inside that Whelan the Wrecker could not wreck in a week. There is not a substantial building in there. There is no building in the whole 30 acres that is of more than two storeys. I do not think the Barracks are so firmly established there that they could not be moved without spending a great deal of money. That is the point I make.
A couple of times a year a master plan for Sydney is talked about and mentioned in the newspapers. Recently a master plan envisaged moving the airport to Wyong. The
Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) mentioned this recently. Yet the Victoria Barracks area is hallowed and sacred ground. It is rather remarkable that while our master planners, municipal and governmental, have grandiose plans for the future, all are built around Victoria Barracks. Even the Eastern Suburbs railway has had to go around Victoria Barracks. It is not to go under there because the tunnels might be used for some other purpose. No tunnels wilt be built under the Barracks. If one could add up the expenditure in which Government departments and the railways are involved in maintaining the sanctity pf Victoria Barracks by having to go around them, one would get a colossal sum. I do not think very many people visit Victoria Barracks. You do not see large numbers of soldiers there. On only 1 day. a year do they get together there. The soldiers have a parade, which could just as well be held at Moore Park or somewhere else. I know the area has a ceremonial use. There is a great need for living space and for business premises in Sydney, but it seems that the pressure on the Army has not been sufficient to move it to the thought that the Barracks should be somewhere else. I suppose 90% of the people who travel past there would not know what the Barracks are used for because of the high wall around the area. At the end which adjoins Moore Park soldiers practice with old, worn out rifles and the most old-fashioned equipment one could see. Rifle clubs use that area also. Yet people are battling to get a place in which to live.
The future use of the area must have been discussed somewhere in the town planning schemes. The Government has had protests made to it and it has been asked to hand over the Victoria Barracks area to more deserving causes. I ask the Minister whether he will inform me of the nature of the proposals that have been made. I know that many approaches have been made by Sydney municipal authorities to have the Barracks moved to a more advantageous area. There are more advantageous areas for the Barracks, but the Army and the Department of Defence are old fashioned. I was in the Public Service just long enough to know that if an officer has a file in front of him, he does not do anything on the 17th of the month that may interfere with a decision that somebody made in the preceding month or with a decision made by one’s superior. This custom is observed particularly in the Army and in the Department of Defence.
I ask the Minister whether any negotiations are taking place on the future of the area. Is it not a fact that Sydney municipal authorities and local government authorities around the area, which Senator Anderson knows so well, would be helped considerably if the Government would agree to move Victoria Barracks to a more convenient spot for the Army and to an area where the Army services could have the use of more modern equipment. I could not imagine installing a computer in the Victoria Barracks buildings. The place is old fashioned. It would be of immense benefit to the community of Sydney if the Government could see its way clear to use its influence with the Army and the Department of Defence to have Victoria Barracks moved to a more convenient spot.
Senator BISHOP (South Australia) [3.3J -The first question that I wish to raise is in relation to the matter referred to by Senator Mulvihill, namely, the appropriation of $9,005,000 for defence aid for Malaysia and Singapore. If I understood the Minister’s reply correctly, he referred to the expenditure of $5m for earthmoving equipment. I would like to know whether he is referring to expenditure on earthmoving works or on earthmoving equipment. The main matter in which I am interested is the appropriation of $1,679,100 for defence plant and equipment. I understand that part of the responsibility of the Department of Defence is the placing of orders with industries outside Australia for the supply of requirements for the defence Services. On each occasion that I have asked questions about the amounts paid for equipment supplied from outside Australia, the Minister representing the Minister for Defence has answered. I take it that a question on policy likewise would come within the portfolio of defence.
I refer to the growing amounts which have been spent outside Australia on equipment for the defence services. The strange thing is that this money is being spent overseas at a time when our own capacity to produce our defence requirements is not being utilised. Skilled workers in the defence Services have become redundant. Workers at the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, the Government Aircraft Factories and other places are being, retrenched. The Minister for Supply will -remember that a number of workers have been retrenched. He will know also that those who have not been retrenched are being used to fulfil contracts obtained from outside industries. Instead of being employed on filling defence orders, they are doing coachmaking work, making cubicles for aerodromes, and so on. The Government’s policy seems to be to order more and more defence material from overseas. This ought to be stopped. If the Government has not given proper consideration to’ manufacturing more of our defence equipment- within Australia, then it should do so now.
Recently, when asked what was the total cost of defence equipment purchased from outside Australia in each of the last 5 years, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) said that in 1962-63 the value of orders for defence equipment placed outside of Australia was $120m, that in 1963-64 it was $320m, that in 1964-65 it was $162m, that in 1965-66 it was $286m and that in 1966-67 it was $150m. These amounts, of course, would include the orders for the Fill aircraft, but much of the equipment ordered from outside Australia comprises parts and accessories for vessels and aircraft. These parts and’ accessories could be made in Australia if the Government would only say to outside manufacturers that it insists upon making iri Australia whatever part of the materials or equipment ordered can be made here.
Recently, too, the Defence Department issued figures showing the value of equipment imported from outside Australia. In 1963-64 the value of, imported equipment was almost $92m. In 1964-65 it was $122m, and in 1965-66 it was $122m. The point I am making is that over the years the defence Services have not adjusted themselves to the fact that in Australia we have the capacity to manufacture first-class equipment such as aircraft, ships, and parts for them. These Services are still ordering equipment from outside Australia while we are unable to employ to the full those within Australia who have the capacity to manufacture this equipment.
– I acknowledge the question that Senator Bishop has raised. Because 1 deal with it first, this does not mean that I shall not reply to other questions that have been asked. Most of the required information has been given to the honourable senator and at this stage I can only reply generally then pick the question up again later and develop it. I want to make it abundantly clear that it is the recognised policy of the Government and indeed of the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and myself as Minister for Supply to be looking all the time at the possibility of maximum Australian content and ability to get what we require from Australian sources.
Inevitably, we run into the situation, particularly in the field of higher technology, where there is not the capacity in Australia to give us what we would like to have by way of Australian content. Senator Bishop himself has pointed out that we are breaking new ground in this field. I recall that a special contract was let, 1 think, to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd with relation to microcircuitry work. This is breaking new ground.
I say quite frankly as Minister for Supply that when recommendations to purchase equipment are put to me the first thing I look at is the Australian content. In some cases, of course, we find that the Australian content, where it is available, is so costly that we cannot accept it. It has to be remembered that in all these matters budgetary considerations have to be taken into account. But, I know that it is the philosophy of the Minister for Defence, just as it is my philosophy, that if the cost of the Australian content is reasonable, and if Australian production is efficient, then consideration is given to its use.
Senator Bishop spoke of the aircraft industry in which he has a very real interest. We have discussed this matter before. It is true that there is a rundown of employment in the Government Aircraft Factories because we are coming to the end of orders to meet our requirements with relation to the Mirage and Macchi aircraft, and we have been trying very hard to get something which will enable us to keep a viable defence aircraft industry in Australia. With this end in view, we have sought orders from outside. After all, we cannot just keep on building defence aircraft for Australia because we only require a limited number, and even this requirement is phased over a period of years.
But we have the ability to manufacture certain types of aircraft. On 8th October, Senator Bishop asked me about our efforts to obtain suitable projects for the aircraft industry. I then promised to obtain further information if possible before the Senate rose. I am happy to say that this further information has been made available to me, following negotiations in which I. in cooperation with the Minister for Defence, have been engaging. The information is as follows:
Honourable senators will recall that our efforts are being directed to obtain such work so as to reduce to a minimum the effect on the employment of skilled persons in the industry as the Mirage production programme draws to a close.
One such proposal is the manufacture in Australia of wings for an aircraft designed by General Aircraft Corporation of America. The aircraft is known as the G ACI 00. It is a small 32 place passenger aircraft suitable for short haul feeder airline work. The American company is confident of substantial sales.
I am now pleased to announce that after examination of a report by officers who investigated the proposal in the United States of America Cabinet has authorised my Department to negotiate a suitable contract with General Aircraft Corporation for this work to be undertaken in the Government Aircraft Factories, lt must be appreciated that this project is entirely dependent upon satisfactory negotiations being concluded with General Aircraft Corporation. If expectations are achieved, the project will be of substantial importance to our defence aircraft industry as a whole.
But do not think that this is going to solve our problem. It represents just one of the things we have been trying to do. If our negotiations are successful, it will mean that there will not be the employment turnback at the Government Aircraft Factories that we feared several months ago. This is the type of approach that we have been making to this particular problem. But I do want to emphasise to Senator Bishop that the Government has an awareness of the need for Australian content in the defence services. The greater the degree of Australian content in our defence requirements the lesser the degree of our dependence on imports. That is a factor in our ultimate security. I am sure the honourable senator would recognise that in certain of the higher skills we have not yet reached the degree of technology that would enable private enterprise in Australia, in terms of volume and content, to manufacture certain equipment for us. It is obvious that you do not tool up for a particular piece of equipment if the Australian content is so small’ as not to justify a reasonable capital outlay and the time involved. All those things are being considered seriously. I can only say to Senator Bishop that we are very conscious of the points he so properly raised.
Senator Ormonde dealt with Victoria Barracks. I must admit that he did so with a light brush. The argument relating to the retention of an area like the Barracks area in the heart of Sydney is not peculiar to Victoria Barracks. I understand planning. 1 was a member of the Cumberland County Council, which controls the planning of Sydney. It ran into very troubled waters. It is very difficult to come along 100 years after an area has been established and say: We now have a plan’. Canberra is a planners’ dream; it started from broad acres and everything has been planned. It is a beautiful place. I do not know how long the Trades Hall has been near the docks in Sydney. It has been there for a long time. There is a conglomeration of many old buildings, roads and parks in Sydney and planning is very difficult.
The Barracks are Commonwealth property and negotiations are going on at present between the Commonwealth and the State in relation to various requirements and I cannot dwell on them here. The Barracks are occupied by Army Eastern Command
Headquarters. They really have a role to play. Honourable senators may have seen the vintage firepieces outside the Barracks 1 think it is nice to keep them there. They add grace and colour to the place. At the same time 1. assure the honourable senator that all the paraphernalia of a modern army is ako available. The Barracks form an administrative area. A considerable amount of money has been invested in the Barracks and it would cost a good deal of money to transfer them. The whole matter of the establishment is under consideration. Senator Turnbull took me to task. I must admit that 1 am a little vulnerable when it is suggested that I am rude to any honourable senator at question time. I do not like to be rude to anyone, least of all Senator Turnbull because he comes from Tasmania which is a very sensitive State.
– It has to be. There is not much of it.
– That is right. It is always good to have amicable relationships between a Tasmanian and a mainlander. I have looked at the Hansard record of the reply I gave to Senator Turnbull’s question last Tuesday. I said:
I would think and hope that any matters of defence arising between the United Kingdom Government and the Australian; Government would be dealt with at that level - -
I think you would agree with that.
– Yes. It was the tone you used. That is not in Hansard.
– I did noi have my kind smile on; is that what it is?
– That is right.
– I went on: and would not emerge from a view expressed by a newspaper correspondent.
– But it would emerge.
– I do not think you could really argue or imagine that a major defence decision . would emerge from it, but I think it is all right for the correspondent to comment on it. Then I said:
Nevertheless, I shall refer the question to the Minister for Defence for consideration.
And believe it or not, I received the answer in 2 clays, and I thought you would give me high praise for that.
Senator Turnbull raised also the question of integration. Integration might mean that we would have to find other roles for certain Ministers but I think we could live with that. However, that is an over-simplification of the issue. It is true that Canada has embarked upon an integrated system. It is equally true that Canada is one country which has not had a real role for its defence Services to the same extent that perhaps other countries have bad. Integration is a matter which is under consideration all over the world. Neither the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia or any other country we can think of, as I understand it, has come to the conclusion that integration of the Services is necessarily appropriate.
We are engaging in a degree of integration. The honourable senator referred to medical organisations. I understand that a joint committee has the continuing task of rationalising Service medical organisations to ensure the best use of manpower and equipment in areas such as the joint use of Service hospitals, a common store supply organisation and the integration of the training of paramedical personnel. The joint use of existing Service hospitals has been adopted as a principle.
– Was not that the reply you gave me last year?
– I would not know.
– It just goes on year after year.
– I did not represent the Minister for Defence last year.
– The relevant Minister gave me the same reply then.
– The Army has been given the responsibility for the procurement and supply of medical and dental stores for all three Services. I cannot indicate to the honourable senator in broad outline that a decision has been made to integrate the Services. That is a matter of high policy. Nevertheless wherever it is practicable some effort is being made to integrate at certain levels in the Services. Senator Bishop asked me a question about the proposed expenditure of $500,000 for defence aid for Malaysia as referred to in Division 608. This expenditure relates to earth moving equipment, not to works.
– Mr Chairman, I seek some guidance from you.. As I see it, any discussion on the purchase of the Fill aircraft should be related to Division 702 in the estimates for the Department of Air, but I have always been under the impression that ministerial responsibility for this matter lay with the Minister for Defence. If I am correct about that and if discussion can be left until the estimates for the Department of Air are considered,! will be content; but I dp not want to allow the Defence estimates to go by and then find that I have no opportunity to discuss the purchase and acquisition of the Fill.
– These estimates for the Department of Defence cover an amount of only $21,645,000. They deal only with the Department of Defence as such. I have no objection to Senator Cohen using Division 600 - Administrative - as a device to debate the Fill aircraft purchase, but I will not be able to. give him much information on the matter. He could wait until the Senate is debating the estimates for the Department of Air if he wishes because the purchase of the Fill aircraft comes under that Department. But if he wishes to make some general . observation now I think he should be allowed to do so as it may relieve the burden to some extent on the Minister representing the Minister for Air.
– The contract for the purchase of the Fill aircraft has been the subject of a great deal of discussion in this Parliament and elsewhere in recent weeks.- 1 feel bound to say that notwithstanding the documents that were tabled by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) recently, a highly unsatisfactory position still exists. Each day that passes throws up some new question that not only emphasises that the future of the FI 1 1 aircraft is in doubt but also that the contractual arrangements were open-ended. This has been very much borne out in the last day or two by the disclosure that a report has been prepared in the United States of America - although it has not been adopted so far - which apparently recommends a drastic cut-back in the production schedules of the aircraft. The report, which was prepared by Dr Alain Enthoven, the United States Assistant Secretary of Defense, suggests cutting the FI 1 1 fighter order by 450 to a total of 500 and scrapping the bomber version altogether, lt is quite obvious that if this were to happen our situation today would be very different from that of 1963 when the understandings reached were based upon a production schedule of 1,500 aircraft.
I put this proposition to the Minister at this stage because within the last day or two the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) gave some assurances in the other place that even if the production programme were cut the ceiling price of Australia’s aircraft, SUS5.95m each, would not be increased - still allowing, of course, for what he called an escalation in terms of wages, materials and other modifications. The only way one can test whether the Minister for Defence is justified in giving this assurance is by going to the documents that were tabled in the Parliament on 26th September and seeing whether in fact what he says can be spelled out of the arrangements. The extraordinary thing is that there is only one reference in those documents to the price of $US5.95m as being the ceiling price per aircraft and that appears in a document dated 4th May 1967 headed ‘Text of Extract Referring to Fill From Agreed Minute Secretary Hicks/Deputy Assistant Secretary Kuss Meeting on Australia/ U.S. Co-operative Logistics Canberra’. The reference to a ceiling price appears in paragraph 4 in the following terms:
Based on the exchange of letters between Secretary McNamara and Minister Fairhall on 27th September 1965 and 31st March 1966, the unit price of the 24 Fill A aircraft is re-affirmed to be based on the condition of the UK Agreement. (This calls for a ceiling price of $US5.95m on the basic F111A configuration for a total of $US142.8m.) Configuration changes desired by the RAAF (FB-111A landing gear and wing tins, and reconnaissance capability for six aircraft) are estimated to add JUS 10.5m for a total aircraft flyaway cost of about $US153.3m.
The point I wish to make is this: Where are the letters that were exchanged between Secretary McNamara and Minister Fairhall on 27th September 1965 and 31st March 1966? They would seem to deal with only financial arrangements and not with matters involving security. Why are they missing from the documents tabled in the Parliament on 26th September? Why is it that each time we get to a particular stage in discussing the contract for the Fill aircraft the Senate has to drag more information out of the Government? Why is it that when the Senate orders the Government to put before it documents that the Government should be able to produce after taking into consideration the matter of security the Government does not do so? The Senate specifically excluded any document concerning security. It did not want to see that type of document. But the Senate wanted everything that bore upon the contract arrangements.
When we examine the documents that have been tabled to determine’ whether the arrangement regarding a ceiling price is spelled out we find that it is contained in two letters exchanged between the United States Secretary of Defense, Mr McNamara, and the Minister for Defence, Mr Fairhall, back in 1965 and 1966. T want to know whether the Parliament will be given the opportunity of examining those letters. I also want to know why those letters were not disclosed to the Parliament when the other documents were tabled. There is some reference to a ceiling price but one cannot, by examining the documents tabled, determine how it is spelled out. This is the critical question. I hope that if it is necessary to discuss this matter in. the future - to put it mildly it seems not unlikely that this will happen - we will not find that we lack basic information on which to discuss the matter intelligently.
The other point I wish to raise relates to a reference in the documents that have been tabled that the understanding is based on the conditions of the United Kingdom agreement. That would suggest that the agreement made between the United States and the United Kingdom, which was later cancelled, was a firmer type of agreement than anything we have had with the United States. Recently I asked a question on notice concerning the United Kingdom agreement, which was answered yesterday. The general tenor of the reply seemed to be that in essentials the substantial arrangement as to price presently applicable to the Australian purchase of the Fill aircraft is the same as the United Kingdom-United States agreement. But it appears that originally there must have been some ceiling price in that agreement and that this was later put into the Australian understanding with the United States. I would like to know if that is so because it suggests that the United Kingdom Government was much more prudent and businesslike in its negotiations than the Australian Government.
– What was the date of the British agreement? Was it before or after we agreed to purchase?
– I do nol know. That is not clear from the documents. If I were to speculate I would say that it was after. I think that we must have been in first in that unholy rush in 1963. At any rate, I am leaving aside the question of what will happen if there is a cut back, as has been suggested. 1 am concentrating on what might be called the contractual side of the agreement. Frankly, I think that we are still very much in the dark as to what will happen if the crunch ever comes and it becomes necessary to cancel our order for this aircraft. What would we be up for? The reply to my question yesterday revealed the following information:
The United Kingdom Government has announced that, although the negotiations with the United States authorities have not been completed, the cost of cancelling the order for the Fill aircraft, including the expenditure already incurred, is likely to be about £Stg25m. This is equivalent to $53. 73m. There would also be some additional cost to the United Kingdom as a result of cancelling contracts for equipment placed with British firms.
There are two aspects of that. The total cost of cancellation in the case of the British contract which, incidentally, called for 50 aircraft - more than twice as many as the 24 that we have ordered - is just over a third of the amount which Australia has already paid under its contract without one aircraft being delivered. We have paid out $140m - that is what I was told in an answer that I was given the week before last - without having taken delivery of a single aircraft. That is Si 5m more than the original contract price. Apparently the British were more prudent. Their total loss, including what they have had to make up to firms in their own country, is $53. 73m. 1 believe that there remain substantial questions to be answered. Although no doubt we have not heard the end of this unhappy affair-
– Do not exaggerate.
– There is no exaggeration in what I have said; the exaggeration came in 1963 from a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, when he said that if anybody were confronted with a proposition so immensely favourable to the taxpayer in terms of pounds, shillings and pence as the Fill deal, he just could not have resisted it. That is what was said by Sir Robert Menzies in 1963, so there is no exaggeration in what 1 am saying. I think it is reasonable to say this to the Minister and to say also that what has been offered to us by way- of explanation so far certainly does not satisfy us.
– Before getting on to his main theme Senator Cohen posed a question of procedure. I made it clear that so far as I was concerned he could raise questions at the defence estimates level, but he has raised questions relating to a document which had been tabled and which is on the business paper for debate.
– I would hope that it will be. before we rise
– When will that be?
– I do not mean today; 1 hope that it will- be debated before the Senate rises for the Christmas recess. I cannot see any merit in having a matter stay on the business paper without it being considered by the Senate-. Consequently, with the best will in the world,’! cannot respond to the honourable senator’s invitation to allow the debate on the estimates for the Department of Defence to develop into a debate on the Fill aircraft. If that course were permitted we would be here for a long time. The Fill has been the subject of many questions and answers in the Senate and, as I have said, a document on the subject has been tabled.
– Can we get those letters that I referred to?
– They form part of the actual document. As I understand the position, they were excluded from the document because of their security content, which was mentioned by the honourable senator. I repeat that I- cannot respond to a debate on the Fill. I have co-operated with him by enabling him to make the point that he wanted to make. I suggest that we really must keep to the estimates which are now before us. If I respond to the honourable senator’s’ remarks on the Fill a debate will develop and we will be placed in a hopeless situation in relation to procedures in the debate on the estimates at the Committee level.
Senator WILKINSON (Western Australia [3.40] - I suppose that if my remarks are to be in order I must relate them to Division 600 - Administrative. When the sitting was resumed this afternoon the Minister suggested that we should keep to the letter of the estimates so that we would not stray too far and be making second reading speeches. 1 agree with his comment, but I should like to ask one question. 1 take it that in an examination of the estimates we are permitted to discuss the amounts shown in the estimates and to comment on whether they are too large or too small. 1 take it we are permitted to discuss also whether any amount should be appropriated. 1 should think that the corollary to this is that we should be permitted to discuss an item which does not appear in the estimates.
– Ff it does not appear in the estimates-
Hie CHAIRMAN (Senator Drake.Brockman) - Order! 1 suggest to Senator Wilkinson that he proceed. The Chair will deckle whether he is out of order.
– The point that 1 should like to bring forward is that in discussing the Department of Defence we are thinking in terms of military equipment, military strategy, military buildings and military administration, and that we are relating our remarks to similar aspects of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. A matter which I think is of considerable importance but which is neglected in all these discussions and in the estimates is peace research. This subject is receiving a tremendous amount of importance in other countries and even in our own Australian National University. In the estimates no amount has been allocated for any endeavour to find out the reasons for international tension.
– They would not know where to start.
– Let us be fair about this. I am being serious in making this suggestion. 1 do not accuse the Government of not knowing where to start because I think it would know. Nevertheless, I feel that this is an important avenue that should be looked at. It is much more important to prevent international situations arising than it is to be equipped with the defence mechanism to handle a situation which does arise. This subject has been given much consideration in Canada, where there is a research institute; in Stockholm, where there is a research institute; and in England, where there is a department of a university which studies this subject. I understand also that serious consideration has been given to research work along these lines at the Australian National University and that work on this subject may begin next year.
I ask whether it would be possible for the Department of Defence to consider making an allocation of funds for this purpose. I do not think it is a matter which should be under government control. An objective approach should be made by the University which should receive assistance in order that it may conduct further research on the question of conflict resolution, as it is sometimes called, or peace research, as I described it in the first place.
– I am interested in what the honourable senator has said. I think it concerns the question of grants which may come through the Department of Education and Science. Nevertheless, I will seek information from the Department of Defence and if I can obtain the background details 1 will personally convey them to the honourable senator.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Army
Proposed expenditure, $385,332,000.
– In deference to all the sports fans in Sydney I ask whether the Minister now has an answer to my query about the land at Holsworthy. I put to the Minister the suggestion that the New South Wales Government is attempting to swap land presently used as an engineers’ depot at the Sydney Showground for land at Holsworthy held by the Army. The Minister is a New South Welshman and will appreciate the point of my query. No less a figure than Sid Barnes, former test cricketer and now sports commentator, hinted that that was to happen. I am wondering whether the Minister now has an answer.
13.47] - The information I have is that no suggestion has been made by the Commonwealth or State governments that Army land adjacent lo the Sydney sports ground may be exchanged for land al Holsworthy. I have been informed that the information that the honourable senator was given by the Minister for the Army about 3 months ago still holds good.
– The only reason that J have ventilated the matter again is that Sid Barnes repeated the story in the Sydney Sun’ about a fortnight ago. 1 was wondering whether he had information that I did not have.
– I would not think so. While we are dealing with, the affairs of the Army it may be of interest lo honourable senators to learn of something that will attract worldwide interest although it is not concerned with the estimates for the Department of the Army. The first heart transplant for a patient in Australia was carried out yesterday on an ex-serviceman.
– I refer to the appropriations in Division 664 for payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act and compensation for personal injury and damage to property. When we were dealing with the estimates for the Department of the Navy I raised this subject but received no satisfaction. The Minister told me that he would supply the information. An appropriation of $453,000 is provided this year for payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. It seems to be a continuation of the payments made last year. I am interested to learn what the Service departments are doing about preventing claims under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act; - what safety precautions are being taken and what safety education is undertaken.
Out of last year’s appropriation of $330,000 for compensation for personal injury and damage to property, only $134,266 was expended. This year an appropriation of $280,000 is made. Does the provision relate to personal injury? What proportion relates to personal injuries and what proportion relates to damage to property? Are the injuries dealt wilh under this item other than those for- which a claim is made for workers compensation? Have injuries occurred to Army personnel in respect of which claims for- negligence can be made? ls the Department of Army acting less efficiently to prevent . damage to property? Its appropriation for compensation is much greater than that of -the Department of the Navy?
Like Senator Wilkinson, I want to draw cittern ion to an item which does not appear in the Estimates. During the debate on the estimates for the Department of the Navy 1 raised the matter of . expenses associated with pre-enlistment or pre-entry. I did not obtain any satisfaction . in response to my queries. However, it emerged during the discussion that some of, the expenditure went toward getting Senator Marriott’s nephew into the Army. That was used as justification for expenditure by the Navy. Now (hat we have the benefit of the knowledge that the expenditure went to get such a likely recruit into the armed Services, I would like to know in which item of the estimates for the Department of the Army provision was made for that expenditure.
– I refer to Division 664 - Administrative Expenses and General Services. An appropriation of $1,558,000 is made for the training of personnel at other than Australian Army establishments: Can the Minister offer a few words of explanation of the types of institutions involved in that item? Last year an appropriation of $38,000 was made for defence food research. This year it has received -no appropriation. I assume that defence food research has not been discontinued and that provision is made in another item. Is that correct? Last year an appropriation of $50,000 was made as a contribution towards the cost in special circumstances of the’ re-location of rifle clubs. This year no appropriation has been made for that item. Am t to assume that the rifle clubs have been re-established? Was any attempt made to re-establish, for example the rifle club at Victoria Barracks, Sydney? Were all existing rifle clubs relocated, and if so, why were they shifted?
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) [3.531- I refer to Division 673 - Buildings. Works, Fittings and Furniture and to Division 684 - Acquisition of Sites and Buildings, under the control of the Department of the
Interior. I wish to be informed of the location of the buildings. I also want to take this opportunity to obtain from the Minister, if possible, information on the total cost of the construction of the Lavarack Barracks at Townsville. Is further expenditure necessary on that site, and if so, how much and over what period of time?
My next query concerns the erection of an Army hospital in north Queensland. When is an Army hospital likely to be built there? I inform honourable senators who do not already have the benefit of the knowledge that an old set of buildings which served as a quarantine station a quarter of a century ago is being used as an Army hospital.
– Is the honourable senator referring lo a hostel or a hospital?
– I am referring to an Army general hospital. At present an old quarantine station is being used as a hospital. If the number of troops to be stationed in the area is that of which we have been advised on several occasions, I believe that the building of a modern hospital is warranted, even if it is fairly small at first. Perhaps the Army has already planned such a hospital. I believe that it is a shocking state of affairs if the old buildings which have stood for so many years have to be used. They are in an area of the city that is quite suitable for a hospital - where the quarantine station is situated - but they are a long way from the Lavarack Barracks. A hospital situated near the Barracks would be much handier, particularly for those who suffer minor disabilities and need to spend, say, only a day in hospital.
– Senator Cavanagh asked some questions regarding compensation for personal injury and damage to property. As he acknowledged, I gave a reply when we were discussing the estimates for the Department of the Navy last week. I have some information which I believe is additional to that which I gave him. At the end of the financial year, six claims had not been finally settled by the courts. The other claims had been settled, but in most cases the amounts finally paid were less than the original claims. As a result, total expenditure under this item was $134,266, compared with the appropriation of $330,000. Actual expenditure was broken down in the following manner: Personal injury $114,672; and damage to property $19,594. Those figures make up the total that I just gave.
Twenty writs - most of them involving motor accidents - are outstanding against the Commonwealth. These twenty include the six which were outstanding as at June 1968 and for which provision is required to be made in the current year’s estimates. Based on forecasts by the Deputy Crown Solicitors as to likely settlements and on past experience, the Department assessed an estimate of expenditure of $280,000 under this item for 1968-69. In regard to safety, if 1 recall correctly, I mentioned that an officer had been appointed. The Department is extremely active in matters of safety. However, whatever safety precautions are observed, departmental officers are obliged to take note of claims on hand and likely to be received, to accept the advice of the respective Deputy Crown Solicitors as to amounts and timings of likely settlements and to prepare the estimates accordingly. Senator Cavanagh queried the expenditure on the pre-entry expenses of recruits. I do not know that I have much to add to what I said last week. The cost of fares and other travelling expenses of recruits before entry is provided for in the appropriation for travelling and subsistence under item 01 of Division 664.
asked a question regarding rifle clubs. The expenditure mentioned by him was in accordance with a Cabinet decision in 1962 to the effect thala separate allocation would be appropriated for the relocation of rifle clubs in metropolitan areas if it was necessary to transfer them to other sites in consequence of a rearrangement of land used by the Army. No projects of this nature are proposed for this financial year. Senator Ormonde and Senator Laucke asked to be advised of the countries in which the training of personnel at other than Australian Army establishments - for which $1,558,000 is appropriated - is undertaken. This item covers the following types of expenditure: Fares, expenses and tuition fees for Army personnel training abroad, the countries involved being the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America,
India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Hong Kong; fees for courses undertaken by Army personnel at universities, technical schools, etc., in Australia; and flying training in Australia.
asked a question about the building of a hospital in Queensland. We have a hospital at Yeronga. I know of no other Army hospital presently planned for Queensland. Senator Keeffe also asked about the appropriation for acquisitions of sites and buildings. The Department of the Interior has provided the following particulars of expenditure incurred last year:
The Department of the Interior has advised that the following expenditure is planned for this year:
– I am sorry to have to rise again. The questions that I put to the Minister in relation to the expenditure on buildings were tied in with other questions. If T am told that I am asking them under the wrong division or subdivision, I shall accept the correction. I want to know the total cost of the Lavarack Barracks at Townsville and how much money still has to be spent on them and over what period of time it will be spent. I assume that the figure should include the cost of the accommodation that has been provided in the suburbs of Heatley and Vincent, in particular, strictly for the purpose of housing people associated with the Barracks.
I appreciate what the Minister said about the Army hospital that exists at Yeronga in Queensland. It was used during the war years. It has been improved since then. It was used for the accommodation of ill female serving personnel. After the war it was adapted for use as an Army hospital. There is already a hospital operating in Townsville. It is on the site and in some of the buildings of the quarantine station. I have forgotten the unit that was there during the war. The area was used in the latter part of the war as an Army hospital. The buildings are old and outmoded. 1 ask the Minister, as Minister representing the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch), to convey to his colleague the suggestion that more modern premises be built somewhere in the Townsville area, perhaps preferably - 1 say this subject to investigation, of course - in the Lavarack Barracks area; that is, on the Ross- River to the south of the city.
– Let me reply to Senator Keeffe’s last question first. The Department, of, the Army, like my Department and other . departments, does not receive al] the money that it would like, to receive. I will put to the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) the suggestion that the honourable senator has made for the .building of .a hospital and also the location that he has suggested. I now have the information that he sought in regard to the cost of the Lavarack Barracks. The approved amount was $26m. The expenditure incurred to 30th June 1968 was $21. 8m. Expenditure ‘ is continuing. At this time it is not possible to say whether the original amount that was allotted, namely $26m, will be exceeded or not.
– Does that include the cost of the houses in the two suburbs I mentioned?
– that is the total cost of the Lavarack Barracks. I am advised that it includes the cost of houses.
– Could the Minister tell me who is the officer or who are the officers and what are the administrative procedures for the suppressing of black market transactions and illegal dealings in money in Vietnam? Could he tell us to what extent any members of the Australian defence forces have been involved in such transactions over the last couple of years?
– On each occasion that I have been in Vietnam I have been given information about a certain amount of black marketing going on, not by Australian forces but by other forces in the area. This is very regrettable. I say again that no suggestions came to my notice or to my knowledge of Australians engaging in it. There has been criticism from time to time of black marketing by some of the domestic forces there, but this is a very involved question. It applies not only to Che armed forces but also to civilian forces. In many respects it is brought about by the fact that the salaries and payments that these people receive are so low in comparison with those of our own and allied forces. This, together with the high cost of living, does tend to encourage this kind of black marketing.
It is most unfortunate but it is something that we cannot control. Anything connected with our own forces we can control. The information given to me is that there are some few cases in which black marketing in currency has been conducted in Vietnam. These activities constitute disciplinary offences, as the honourable senator would well know, and are dealt with as such. Details of cases are not available at the moment. We have not any officers detailed specifically to deal with or try to prevent these activities.
– Can the Minister either obtain now or have supplied at some later date information as to whether there have been transactions not only with money but also with Army equipment, including arms, and whether these transactions were such that the equipment or arms would in the ordinary course come into the hands of the enemy? Can he also inform us whether the illegal money transactions were engaged in by officers as well as non-commissioned officers, what happened in those cases, and why there are no specific procedures and no specific officers are engaged on the task of suppressing black marketing and illegal money transactions, in view of the extremely unfavourable publicity which has surrounded such transactions, whether engaged in by our own forces or - presumably on a much greater scale - by others engaged in Vietnam?
– The honourable senator would recognise that it is not possible to provide this information for him this afternoon, but I think it would be possible to obtain it. I shall endeavour to do this and provide him with an answer. I really do not think it would be possible to allot officers for the suppression of this activity. After all other breaches of Army discipline occur and officers are not appointed to prevent them. We shall try to get as much information as it is possible to obtain on the matter raised.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Air
– Quite a number of questions requiring long and detailed answers were asked by Senator Keeffe. The answers to several of them occupy some19 pages of pretty closely typed sheets. I have spoken to Senator Keeffe, and given him copies of the replies. He has concurred in my suggestion that this material be incorporated in Hansard. With the concurrence of honourable senators I now incorporate it.
asked a question in relation to differences in pay for rank resulting from recent alignments of pay with civilian trade equivalents. The written reply that I have forwarded to the honourable senator in respect of his questions of 10th September covers several of the matters raised by him. As far as I can see from the record of the debate, the outstanding questions remaining to be answered relate to whether, in the honourable senator’s own words, justice will be done by increasing the rates and whether the increase will be made retrospective. 1 have already stated that remedial action will be taken, but as to when this will happen and the extent to which the differences will be adjusted, I cannot say.
As the honourable senator knows, Service officers’ rates of pay are generally aligned with the comparable civil professional category and until there are adjustments to the salary scales of the latter by the normal processes of arbitration the differences will remain. In any case, I would hesitate to say that all salary differences will be adjusted, as a very senior non-commissioned offier in a highly skilled trade may well receive a higher remuneration than a newly appointed officer. This is a fact of everyday life and many examples of this can be found in the Public Service and in industry and commerce. As to retrospective payments, I am afraid that I cannot answer this, as such matters must surely be decided by the adjusting authority at the time when a determination is made and with due regard to all of the circumstances of the case.
– Can the Minister advise me whether we are now manufacturing Mirage ammunition in Australia and, if we are not, when such manufacture is likely to take place?
– Negotiations are proceeding with the company concerned in France and an order has been placed in Australia for ammunition for this purpose.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, $53,132,000.
Proposed provision, $229,069,000.
– I confine my remarks to the appropriation of $222m for capital works and services. Last year when the Committee was dealing with the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department I drew attention to the fact that we were being asked to discuss an expenditure of $173m, for which we had very little information. We had no way of determining whether the expenditure was desirable or undesirable and whether it was too much or to little. Some replies were given to me, but they covered only the actual works programme. The replies referred to buildings under construction, additions to exchanges, and so on. Before the completion of the discussion on the proposed expenditure I pointed out that I had not actually been given a great deal of information, apart from what we had originally had before us and I requested that, as a list of proposed projects had been completed by the Postmaster-General in May of that year and made available to central offices, the list be made available to Parliament so that a reasonable discussion would take place on the amount to be spent. I hoped that this year my request would be acceded to.
In the meantime a change in the Post Office accounts took place. Now it is run under a trust account system, with the result that virtually a single line entry appears in Appropriation Bill (No. 2). The amount for capital works and services is $222m. For other services $600,000 is provided. That is the sole reference to the way in which the money will be expended. If I look at the civil works programme for 1968-69 I find that the works in progress at present, for which money was allocated but not spent last year, total $23,677,543. The proposed new works for the coming year amount to $29,956,700. The total amount required for buildings, extensions to buildings and so on - not for engineering equipment or services in connection with it - is $53,634,243. Last year $23,315,145 was spent on works. From the appropriation of $222,600,000 a sum of $168,965,757 remains and there is no information as to how it will be spent. Even though the Post Office is run under a trust account system, I think my request for information to be made available is a reasonable one. Without the information how can we possibly bring to bear, in our consideration of the estimates, an intelligent appreciation of the amount that is being asked for? 1 refer the Minister to what is being done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation under the auspices of the Department of Education and Science. The CSIRO has issued a complete report for 1967-68, which covers every facet of its work. The publication is an excellent one. As yet the Post Office has not presented its report for 1967-68. Last year we had the 1966-67 report available and I used this to make some criticisms. The CSIRO has produced an estimate of expenditure which is extremely thorough, lt is some fifty-five pages in length and covers the expenditure that is proposed in the various avenues of research. The report makes it extremely easy for the Committee to approve the expenditure. I am not saying that we will not approve the works envisaged by the Postmaster-General for the coming year, but we do not really know how the $169m, in round figures, will be spent. I do not think that this is good enough.
Last year 1 appealed to the Minister to supply the information. 1 reiterate my request. Last year Senator Anderson replied. He ignored my request that this information should be made available. He did not even say that he would investigate the possibility of it being made available. This year I make a further plea. I know it is impossible for the Minister to give me the kind of list 1 want. I am speaking of major projects which will cost over $40,000. lt is impossible for the Minister to give me the list now. Therefore I and other honourable senators have blindly to approve of an expenditure of $169m. We can look at the works programme and ascertain what buildings are in progress and what are proposed and we can approve that expenditure. We can see exactly what is going on. That accounts for $53.5m but the $169m. which I think is a considerable amount, has to be approved without any knowledge of the way in which it will be spent.
– How does the honourable senator arrive at the figure of $169m to which he has referred?
– It is $168,965,757. 1 have referred to it as a round figure of SI 69m. It is the difference between the total amount of capital works and services, $222,600,000, and the amount that is being spent on works this year, plus the amount of $53,634,243 left over from last year. The difference between the two is $168,965,000. I have added to the amount of total works that amount of last year’s allocation which has not been spent. Perhaps I should not have done that. If I should not have done that- then it means that we should take away $29,956,000. This makes the situation $30m worse, lt means that we are asked to allocate $200m without any indication as to how the morley is lo be spent.
Before the Minister asked me to clarify the position, I was about to say that I was not referring to works and services related to broadcasting and television because there is not much difficulty in finding out how the money is being spent on these services. We can see what is being spent on technical services, engineering services, on. buildings, works, plant and equipment related to broadcasting and television. 1 can sympathise with the Minister who represents the Postmaster-General in endeavouring to meet the request that I am making. 1 do not see how she can give me the information 1 require. What I am really doing now is protesting at the inadequate information that is made available to the Parliament and on which we are supposed to exercise reasonable judgment and come to a reasonable conclusion with relation to the expenditure of S222,600,000, which to me, and I think most people, is a large sum of money.
– I refer to Division 871. During the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate some weeks ago, 1 raised the matter of the construction of the satellite earth station at Ceduna. I mentioned it again when we were discussing the proposed expenditure for the Department of Public Works. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) did not know at that time which department might be responsible for th is project but he allowed me to outline my case, lt was then discovered that the matter came under the jurisdiction of the Postmaster-General’s Department.
My purpose in mentioning the matter during the debate on the motion for the adjournment was to advise the Minister that I would be referring to it again during a discussion of the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department and would expect a proper reply. I have given the Minister sufficient warning. I do not want to recite the details again. They have been stated twice to the Senate.
Apparently the contract was let by the Postmaster-General’s Department. J want to know why the Department accepted a tender of $538,450, when three other competent contractors who were capable of doing the work had submitted lower tenders than that put in by the successful contractor. Amongst those three lower tenderers was the firm of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd. This contactor was the lowest tenderer and at the time was doing a big job in the area. Acceptance of the lender submitted by D. G. Madin Pty Ltd would have saved the Department $57,490. f should like to know why the successful tenderer for the satellite earth station was also given a contract for the construction of the lower foundation without any lenders being called. This seemed to be a personal arrangement. Can the Minister give me the reasons for this expenditure, which seems to be unjustifiable?
I refer now to Division 405 which relates to broadcasting and television services. I refer in particular to the need for some guarantee that these mass media will give equality of treatment in granting opportunities for the expression of all points of view. This is essential because, if only propaganda Advertisements which give only one. point of view are permitted to be televised then we must develop a community that is capable of thinking in only one way.
I am concerned about the rejection by Channel 10 in Adelaide of a request by the South Australian Vietnam Protest Committee known as the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam that a series of questions be televised. In seeking to justify the rejection of the request, the manager of Channel 10. Mr Hall, said: ‘The control board gives us power to refuse advertisements’. One advertisement was of a film which we saw in the Senate Opposition Party Room, lt was entitled: ‘Inside North Vietnam’. It is Felix Greene’s new colour film. The advertisement contained the words: ‘Banned in New
South Wales’. Mr Hall said that the company had laid it down as a matter of policy that no advertisement containing the words banned in New South Wales’ would be accepted for televising. These words had been included in the advertisement because of their value in attracting people to view the film. It was a documentary film, and, as 1 have said, we first saw it in the Senate Opposition Party Room. Channel 10 was asked to televise an advertisement asking six questions in all. They were:
Do von know that the South Vietnamese Government controls less than half the population of South Vietnam?
Do you know that the South Vietnamese Government governs only soldiers, civil servants and city dwellers?
Do you know that only 1,000 out of 2,500 villages in South Vietnam are administered by the Government?
Do you know that only 4,000 out of 11,600 hamlets in South Vietnam are administered by the Government?
Do you know that Mr Dzu, election runner-up to South Vietnam’s President, is gaoled for 5 years?
Do you know that Vice-President Humphrey wants all groups in South Vietnam to participate in elections? Does our Government?
This station refused to accept that advertisement, yet it televises a regular weekly programme by the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones), a Liberal Party member, which consists of interviews with most of the Ministers from Canberra. In it, Mr Jones is continually stating the Government’s policy on Vietnam to the televiewers of Adelaide. No opportunity is given to those who wish to put another point of view before the viewers.
If we are to have proper administration of this service, if the television channels are to be used to put points of view before the public with a view to educating the public, then there must be some effective means of policing to ensure that advertisements which contain nothing offensive or obscene are not rejected simply because they express a particular point of view. I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to placing some restrictions on those commercial television companies which will not accept paid advertisements which are designed to ensure that all points of view are put before the viewing public.
[4.35] - Senator Wilkinson referred to the appropriation of $222m for capital works and services as covered by Division 870. The provision under this item is the estimated borrowings of the Post Office during 1968- 69. The honourable senator referred to the fact that this is covered by one line in the estimates. I inform him that up to the present funds for the operation of the Post Office have been provided as separate appropriations for capital works - that rs assets - and ordinary services, or operating costs. Revenue earned by the Post Office was credited to Consolidated Revenue and was not available to meet asset or operating expenditure. Under the newly established trust account the Post Office retains its revenue and meets all expenditure from the trust account. As revenue will be insufficient to meet all costs, including capital, some funds will be required to meet the shortfall. These, termed net borrowings, appear as a single line item in Division 870 in the Appropriation Bill (No. 2).
The honourable senator referred also to the one line entry in Division 871 relating to an appropriation of $600,000. The provision under this item represents payment to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission by the Commonwealth in respect of the sale by the Commission to the Western Australian Government of the radio transmitting station at Applecross. The sale price was $1,200,000 of which the Commonwealth will meet 50% provided the land will be used as open park land A class reserve.
Both my advisers and I found difficulty in following certain figures that Senator Wilkinson cited. He might find an explanation of some of the points he raised on page 4 of the document ‘Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1968-69’. I see that he shakes his head. Apparently he has looked at the document and it does not provide the answers he wants. We have endeavoured to get the information but we are wondering whether he is confusing the estimates for one year with those for another. I can only suggest that if he cares to speak to one of my advisers we may be able to sort out the problem. If we can get the information for the honourable senator we certainly will do so. Senator Cavanagh referred to the Ceduna earth satellite station and I think mentioned the sum of $57,000.
– Higher than the lowest tender.
– There seems to be some little confusion on this point. Let me state the details as they have been given to me. The contract price of $538,450 included an additional amount of $43,525 for certain prime cost items which was required to be added to all tenders irrespective of the contractor. The successful contractor, Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd, therefore submitted the second lowest tender by $13,965. In selecting the contractor the Overseas .Telecommunications Commission was influenced by the fact that Hansen and Yuncken had been selected quite independently for associated work by Mitsubishi (Aust.) Pty Ltd, the company which obtained the contract for the earth station antenna. The antenna for the earth station is a very substantial part of the project and requires a two storey reinforced concrete support structure 27 feet high as part of the building complex. The many advantages of having a single contractor working on the site co-ordinating the building and antenna structure were considered sufficient to outweigh the price advantage of $13,965.
The honourable senator referred also to responsibility for advertising on commercial television stations. I am informed that licensees of commercial television stations are responsible for advertisements provided the advertisements comply with the advertising programme standards determined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Subject to the Board’s standards, acceptance of advertisements is a matter of station policy. This applies also to political matter.
– I refer to that portion of Division 405 which relates to an appropriation of $ 1.292m for expenditure by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board under the Broadcasting and Television Act. I have read with a great deal of interest the Board’s annual report and I want to be one of the first to commend the Board for the informative and objective report that it has tendered to the Parliament. In my opinion it is one of the most illuminating documents that has been tendered to the Parliament by way of annual report.
As far as I can see, no attempt has been made by the Board to cover up any of its activities or the activities of those in respect of whom it has a responsibility, namely, the commercial broadcasting and television stations. Every phase of its own activities appears to have been dealt with extensively. Because of the magnitude of the Board’s responsibility to this Parliament and to the Australian people, I believe that the report should be studied very closely by all members of Parliament. Let me add that I believe that since Mr Myles Wright took over the chairmanship of the Board we have been given as much information as it is possible to give in an annual report. In my opinion it certainly is a vast improvement on reports of past years.
Having said that, I now want to make some critical observations on what is going on in the industry today. Firstly, it is obvious from the Board’s report that the Parliament must become increasingly vigilant in its public scrutiny of Australia’s mass media if we are to encourage the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources. If we are unwilling to discuss this issue fully today and to explain the circumstances to the Australian people, tomorrow we may find ourselves discussing nothing that matters very much. As I see it, that is the principal function of this Parliament in the field of mass media.
The trend towards monopolisation of this area of influence is obvious from the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. One need only refer to paragraph 148 relating to broadcasting stations, and to paragraph 250 relating to television stations, to observe that. If one then turns to Appendix H commencing at page 122, which sets out the newspaper and other multiple interests in broadcasting and television stations, and realises that some 14 pages are required to record the interests of influential people in all phases of mass media, one must come to the conclusion that this Parliament has to be forever vigilant in protecting the nation’s air waves.
I now come to the very important matter of programming. I am gratified to see that the Board’s annual report states that last year there was a considerable increase in the number of Australian productions shown to viewers. In the Board’s opinion there has been an improvement in the quality of the Australian material. A survey conducted by the Board indicated that there was an increasing demand for Australian productions. The Board praised Channel 7 in Sydney - and I think rightly so - for ils endeavour to improve the standard of Australian productions. Although I have been a severe critic in the past of most if not all of the commercial stations for their failure to put on good Australian productions, I think it is fair to say that Mr Oswin, the General Manager of Channel 7 in Sydney, and Mr Gyngell, the Programme Manager of Channel 9 in Sydney, are doing all that they possibly can to increase the content of high quality Australian productions. I believe that at long last these commercial stations have begun to understand and appreciate that Australian productions are as good as any in the world, given proper facilities and adequate budgetary allocations. A survey conducted by the Board indicates that the viewing public appreciates such programmes.
I severely criticise the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the attitude it has adopted to applications, lodged by TCN in Sydney, ATV in Melbourne, TVQ in Brisbane and SAS in Adelaide for dispensation from the Board’s requirements regarding the showing of Australian programmes. I do not suppose that one can really blame these stations for attempting to obtain dispensation. Realising that they are participating in a commercial. undertaking, one can only say good luck to them if they get away with it. But I criticise the Board for not only acceding to their requests in the first instance but also extending the dispensation until February of next year after further viewing the matter. Apparently the Board has granted dispensation to these stations for none other than financial reasons.
When one appreciates the popularity of Australian productions, as is shown in Appendix L of the Board’s annual report, one would think that it would be in the financial interests of the stations concerned to comply with the requirements laid down 12 months ago by the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I would have thought that the Board would demand that the stations comply with these requirements. But now we have the ironical situation that, despite a greatly improved financial situation in the last few months, the Board has extended dispensation to the stations that I have named. Channel 10 in Sydney is indulging in a big advertising spree in the metropolitan dailies of New South Wales to attract viewers to its programmes and away from the stations that are putting on Australian productions and employing Australian writers, artists, producers and technicians. I am told that a conservative estimate of the amount Channel 10 has spent in advertising over the last 3 months is $80,000. If that is so, the Board should insist that this amount of money be spent on promoting good quality productions of Australian origin.
If one examines page 83 of the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board one will see the extent to which certain stations are not complying with the Board’s requirements in regard to Australian content of television programmes. Frankly, I do not think that these stations should have been granted any dispensation. I think serious consideration should be given to threatening them with revocation of their licences. These stations are required to put on 2 hours of Australian drama monthly between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m., which is the peak viewing time. If one examines the figures one will find that Channel 7 in Sydney shows 7 hours 27 minutes of Australian productions a month on an average and that TCN shows 3 hours and 5 minutes. But Channel 10 shows a mere 51 minutes, ATV shows 35 minutes and TVQ a mere 31 minutes. SAS shows 1 hour 17 minutes. I suppose that it would be fair for those stations that are really playing the game and showing Australian productions in accordance with the requirements of the Broadcasting Control Board to adopt the attitude: ‘If this group of stations can get away with it then why should we not try it?’ I think that the Board should examine this matter very closely and that it should not grant dispensation to any of these stations in the future, notwithstanding their financial difficulties. The Board should demand that they meet the original obligations and undertakings that they assumed when applying for their licences.
Wrapped up with this whole question is the matter of repeat programmes. Everyone knows that it is cheaper to show an old programme than to purchase a new one. I cannot comprehend why the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, or for that matter the Postmaster-General, do not insist that when a repeat programme is shown the station shall indicate that it is a repeat programme. The viewers are entitled to some consideration. The Board requires stations to indicate that a programme is classified A or AO. This indication is required to be screened either at the commencement of, or during a film. If this can be done for censorship or classification purposes why can it not be done to inform the viewer that the programme is a repeat? In that way the Australian viewing public would have some appreciation of how often this type practice is indulged in.
I refer now to educational television. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board is certainly paying a great deal of attention to this matter, but very little seems to have been done about it by the Government. I think it is implicit in the annual report that the Board would like to see much more educational television. Although that is not actually stated, it is clear if one reads between the lines of the annual report. About 40% of the schools in the Commonwealth are now equipped to receive educational television programmes. In fact, the Board’s annual report states that 4,274 schools are so equipped. At the same time, the Board has pointed out that an amendment to the Broadcasting and Television Act is necessary if specifically educational productions and television services are to be developed on any scale. I believe that this is a matter for the Australian Government. If the Government wants educational television undertaken in Australia or the activities of education through television extended and expanded, and if it wants this to be under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, it should bring in a Bill to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act to enable the provision which has been pointed to by the Board to be complied with.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The remarks that I have to make are related to the appropriation of $222m for capital works and services. I use this occasion to ventilate what I consider to be a burdensome policy which is administered with a certain unfairness to a section of the community. I refer particularly to the policy which the Postmaster-General’s Department follows with regard to the conversion to rural automatic exchanges. There are people who for many years in country areas have experienced the irregularity and the uncertainties of manual telephone exchanges and they have regarded this as part of the difficulty of living in country areas. They have looked forward to the day when they would get automatic exchanges. However, it appears that the policy which is now applying is that, on conversion to an automatic exchange, those who are living some distance from the exchange are required to contribute not insignificant sums to the installation of the automatic exchange.
It is not every country subscriber who is required to pay the costs of installation on the transfer to an automatic exchange, and it is not all those who live a distance from the exchange who are required to pay - it is merely some of them. Of course, the sanction, if people are not prepared to pay what is required or are not prepared themselves to construct the necessary equipment in the way of lines, is that they will lose their telephone services. These matters have been aired on other occasions in various places and I know that questions have been asked in the Senate with regard to the policy and the likelihood of any review of this policy. But I consider that it is a matter which ought not to be left as a matter under review for the months that this policy, as I have been told, has been under review. I raise these matters merely to instance some of the problems which have arisen and to emphasise that the policy does operate unfairly, that it is inevitable that in time the policy will be changed and that it should be changed sooner rather than later.
I have engaged in some correspondence with the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) on this matter and I think that the policy as stated by him can be shortly expressed in his own words. He said:
Every effort has been made to rationalise the system as generously as possible but the fact remains that, in order to secure or continue basic telephone service, the person living distantly from his exchange is required to subscribe more in terms of self help or money than the person living closer to the exchange.
I think it is fair to say that those who live close to the exchange do not have to contribute at all and people who live any distance from the exchange are required to share among themselves the overall cost of the extension of the service to them. They are further in the position that the practice of the Department is to have a meeting of those who are affected by the changeover - at least this h the position in Victoria, or parts of Victoria. When those people are together it becomes apparent that unless those who are required to pay because of their distance from the exchange are in agreement with what is proposed, those who would not have to pay at all would be denied their telephone service. There is, therefore, a form of moral persuasion placed upon those who have to pay not to deny to those who do not have to pay the benefits of the new service. I stress that this is a matter the review of which ought to be brought to a speedy conclusion. I hope that when this review is completed there will be a change in the policy. lt appears to me only right that, those who are to have these rural automatic exchanges should be able to receive them without cost. If for good reason, and I think it would have to be a very good reason, this cannot be achieved the costs should be spread equally over all persons who benefit from the installation of the exchange. The cost should not be shared only by those who live in the outback areas. Those who live in the rural centres close to the exchange who are getting the benefit of an exchange which they did not have before should be prepared to share on an equal basis with those who live further away. I appreciate that I am speaking in regard to this from instances which have come to my attention in Victoria.
I think it is relevant also to note that in the Senate only today, there was a question from Senator Rae from Tasmania in which certain difficulties which had occurred in Tasmania were drawn to the attention of the Postmaster-General. I think it relevant to refer to one of the answers which were given by the Postmaster-General this morning. He was asked whether subscribers in north eastern Tasmania had been required to pay an amount of $180 to connect to an existing main cable and whether that was typical of the charges imposed on the rural sector of the community. The PostmasterGeneral replied that it was not typical. He said: . . more than 98% of country services connected annually are wholly installed and maintained by the Department but, as present policy limits the amount of construction which can be provided at public expense, it is inevitable that some residents distant from the exchange or from existing departmental subscriber line construction must accept responsibility for erecting and maintaining portion of their lines.
In Victoria the amounts which some people have been required to pay are greatly in excess of $180. I refer merely to three instances to illustrate the point and to emphasise that I feel that this is an unfair and burdensome policy. There is one Avenel resident whose case has been referred to me. His telephone service was connected to the Avenel manual exchange. Upon being informed that the Avenel exchange was to be automatic he was told that his transformation would take place at a cost of $1,300. He objected to paying this amount and a compromise was reached whereby his service was connected to the Longwood manual exchange. But because this is a progressive policy of changing over to automatic exchanges, obviously the point arises of what is to happen to him when, in due course, the Longwood exchange is made automatic. One would suppose, because it is more distant, that he may be required to pay an even greater amount, or it may be that he will be allowed to connect to Avenel at a cost of $1,300. But my point is that this should not be a charge upon him at all. It ought to be part of the service which is provided by the Department. These changeovers form part of the expenditure of the Department.
I refer secondly to an instance which occurred at Cope Cope. Thirty-four subscribers were to have their telephones converted from a manual to an automatic exchange. Of that number 18 were informed that they were not required to pay anything; 16 were required to pay, of whom 5 were quoted a sum. of $900 each as the cost of transferring to an automatic exchange. Those 5 persons objected to paying and were supported by the other 1 1 persons in that group. All 16 who were obliged to pay agreed that they would not change over to the automatic exchange. The telephones of those people have been connected to the exchange at Donald. All the 18 persons who were not required to pay for the changeover have had their telephones connected without cost to the Cope Cope automatic exchange. But the same question arises. What will happen in the cases of the persons whose telephones have been connected to the manual exchange at Donald when the Donald exchange is converted to an automatic exchange? lt is apparent that these compromises, as I term them, whereby objecting subscribers have their telephones transferred to a manual exchange, have been effected because of the outcry. There was a considerable outcry about the amounts they were asked to pay. The third instance to which I wish to refer concerns nine settlers at Shelford in Victoria. These persons were required to pay between them $15,000. Two of them, whose details have been referred to me, were each asked to pay $1,860. The position of those people has not been resolved. I understand that a request was made earlier this year for a review of the situation and the decision to change over has been deferred pending that review. I understand that no decision has been made on whether they will be compelled to pay the amount requested or to forgo their telephones altogether.
I appreciate that these matters inevitably arise under the existing policy. The Minister has assured me and other members of this Parliament that the policy is being reviewed. However, I stress that there is no point in reviewing the policy unless the result is to obviate any obligation of the character I have mentioned on the part of persons whose telephones are to be transferred from manual to automatic exchanges. I suggest that the transfer should take place without any charge at all to subscribers or, if there is to be a charge, it should be equally shared.
Essentially this is a service which is a boon and a necessity to people who live in country areas. Having regard to their situation, hardships are part of their lives. I would think that a telephone is one facility which the community ought to be prepared to afford, certainly in respect of a transfer from a manual to an automatic exchange, without cost to the subscribers. Having regard to the amount which is this year being appropriated, and bearing in mind what Senator Wilkinson said about the way in which it is to be increased over the amount appropriated last year, I respectfully suggest that this type of service ought to be provided free of charge by the Department.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.10] - I wish to refer to one or two points raised by Senator McClelland. He spoke of the Australian content of television programmes. Honourable senators may be interested to learn that between May 1967 and June 1968 the overall Australian content of the programmes of metropolitan commercial stations rose from 51.6% to 56.8%. Over the same period the monthly total of Australian programmes in popular viewing time rose from 14J hours to 18 hours a station. Australian drama increased from 2i hours to 5) hours a month. Similarly, the overall Australian content of the programmes of country commercial stations rose from 49.8% to 55.4%. Australian programmes in popular viewing time increased from 141 hours to 20i hours, and Australian drama rose from 3$ to 8i hours a month. It is interesting to note also that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has observed a marked decrease in correspondence expressing concern about a lack of Australian programmes. This decrease obviously is due to the increased provision of such programmes.
Senator McClelland referred again to a matter on which I have provided a« answer on behalf of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). The honourable senator referred to the special problems facing four of the more recently established metropolitan television stations. Because of the comments that he has made this afternoon I think 1 should refer again to the answer I previously supplied. The honourable senator referred to the report for the year ended 30th June 1968 of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The answer supplied by the Postmaster-General stated, in part:
The Board’s report indicates that, in response to special representations which put forward in detail the financial problems facing four of the more recently established metropolitan television stations, the Board in February 1968 decided to waive temporarily the requirement for them to televise 2 hours of drama each month. I am aware that the Board has indicated that this concession has been withdrawn and that as from February 1969 the stations concerned will be expected to have reached the position of televising Australian drama in the popular viewing times for at least 2 hours each month as is required of other stations. The designation of the particular date referred to is to allow all four stations to complete their plans to meet fully the Board’s requirements, although the Board advises me that two of the stations concerned, including ATV Melbourne, are al present meeting all the Board’s requirements in respect of Australian content.
I think that reply answers some of the points made by the honourable senator. Of the group in question, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd owns ATV Melbourne and has a substantial interest in TVQ Brisbane. 1 think that answers the points made by the honourable senator concerning those stations. Senator McClelland also referred to repeats of television programmes. I have been supplied with a note on this matter. This practice has, as I think the honourable senator said, some disadvantages as well as advantages. Surveys have shown that two of three viewers do not see a popular programme the first time that it is telecast. Some people like to see a programme more than once. This seems to indicate that a repetition of certain programmes is in the public interest, particularly in capital cities where viewers have a choice of two or more programmes.
The repetition of some programmes is necessary if stations are to recover the considerable amounts expended on production or purchase of material. There is no obligation on stations to publish the fact that a forthcoming programme has been televised previously and the Board has not seen the need to introduce such a requirement. Although the practice may be helpful to those who viewed a programme when first televised, there is a possibility that the appellation ‘repeat’ would tend to devalue a programme in the eyes of those people who did not view the original transmission.
Senator Greenwood referred to the telephone services of country subscribers. He quite rightly adverted to a question asked by Senator Rae to which I replied this afternoon on behalf of the PostmasterGeneral. I fully appreciate, as I know the Postmaster-General does, that these problems are very real. The Postmaster-General has been examining for some time the whole question of country telephone services. He has asked his Department to go into the question. He has received from his Department a comprehensive report which is currently under review. I know that he believes that this is a very important and urgent matter.
– I refer to the appropriation for broadcasting and television services under Division 405. I noticed that in the answer that the Minister gave to a question asked by Senator McClelland in relation to four television stations she tended to wipe off his complaint by saying that the stations had been established only recently. I would like her, when she next rises to answer questions, to tell honourable senators what she means by ‘recently’ and to tell us for how long these television stations have been established.
– I said that they were the more recently established ones.
– Television started in this country in 1956. It is not satisfactory to say that these stations have been established recently and not to tell us for how long they have been in existence. Certain broadcasting and television standards are laid down, and they should be complied with.
I refer to the excellent report presented by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It is one of the best reports presented by government or semi-government departments for the information of the Senate and the other place. I invite the Minister’s attention to paragraph 221 of the Board’s annual report for last year, which states:
Observations by the Board’s monitors indicate that observance of the advertising time standards by most stations during the year was satisfactory. It was necessary to take up with twenty-one stations instances of non-compliance with some aspects of the standards. Six stations breached the standards on more than one occasion. The Board insisted on compliance with the standards. As mentioned in paragraph 136, the Board in its report to the Minister on the renewal of the licence of station 6PR Perth-
That is a commercial broadcasting station - referred to repeated failure by that station to take corrective action relating to breaches of the advertising time standards.
How many times does the Board have to report to the Minister that these people treat its standard with absolute contempt and continue to breach them whenever it suits them?
– What was the station?
– It was station 6PR.
– Does the honourable senator want it delicensed?
– I will answer that before I finish, if the honourable senator will be a little patient. I refer now to paragraph 136, which was adverted to in paragraph 221. It reads: . . the Board in its report to the Minister on the application for renewal of the licences for the following stations made reference to the matters indicated: 2XL Cooma - continuing unsatisfactory condition of the station’s external plant including inadequate safety precautions.
That station is still operating - 6PR Perth - Repeated failures over a period to take corrective action in regard to breaches of the broadcasting programme standards in relation to the permitted extent of advertising.
This is where we see the difference between the actions that the Minister proposes in respect of these two stations:
The Minister directed in connection with the renewal of licences for 2XL and 6PR that the licensee of 2XL should be informed that the renewal of the licence had been granted on the basis that immediate corrective steps were to be taken in regard to the unsatisfactory condition of the external plant–
In that case the Minister told the station that its licence was renewed on condition that it remedy the matters on which the Control Board found it at fault. With reference to 6PR the Board stated: . . and the licensee of 6PR should be informed that an assurance was required that the requirements of the broadcasting programme standards will be adhered to in all respects in the future.
That is a pretty minor sort of reprimand, unless the Minister is able to produce - this is if the warning has been given - the reply from the station stating that it will comply with the broadcasting standards.
– There could be a lapse in drafting. The Board probably meant ‘shall be informed’.
– The honourable senator may criticise the report if he wishes to.
– I am just putting that forward as a possibility.
– If the honourable senator is not putting something forward seriously he should not say anything. I do not criticise the report at all. I believe that it is an excellent report. At least it draws to the attention of the public and the Parliament the inadequacies of television and broadcasting in Australia. These sorts of complaints have been made over a long period of years in respect of various broadcasting stations and various television stations. 1 believe that it is time honourable senators considered whether they should be prepared to vote the amount that is proposed each year in order to carry on these services, unless some corrective action is taken. It is not good enough for this amount of public money to be expended every year for the support and control of broadcasting and television in Australia when people who are in a privileged position in our society act in this way. The holding of a television licence gives these people a position of absolute privilege. The holding of a broadcasting licence does the same. Because these people have this position of privilege, they have a responsibility to the Australian public. Public money should not be expended to support them in any way if they are not prepared to comply with the standards - they are not harsh standards - that are laid down by the Control Board. If they are not prepared to comply with those standards, we senators should consider whether we are prepared to vote this money to support them.
I will be looking at this matter very carefully next year. If there is no improvement I will be trying to persuade honourable senators not to vote the amount that is sought to be appropriated. There is only one way to put the squeeze on these people, and that is to put the economic squeeze an them, If there is no money they will comply with the standards. But while they can get away with not complying with the standards they will continue to do so. This Parliament should not allow them to continue to get away with it.
I know that the television stations in Western Australia, by subterfuge, exceed the advertising times that the Broadcasting and Television Act lays down. There are many ways and many loopholes by which they can get around the advertising standards - and they use them. One cannot complain. If there are loopholes in the legislation they are entitled to take advantage of them, but it is the business of this
Government to close those loopholes as they present themselves. Here is a broadcasting station that, according to the report of !he Australian Broadcasting Control Board, has been repeatedly warned that it is in breach of the standards laid down by the Board.
– One in eighty-odd is not a bad average, is it? And it would be in Western Australia.
– Perhaps the vocal senator has an interest in some broadcasting stations and might be afraid of the threat to close down being carried out. The standards with which the Board asks these stations to comply are not very difficult standards to comply with and still allow plenty of room for the stations to make money and to put on entertainment for the people, but they are so avaricious for more money that they want to do more advertising in breach of the standards that are laid down by the Board. I should like to know from the Minister, in view of this information in paragraph 136, what is the answer of the licensee of station 6PR to the Minister’s request for an assurance that it will in future adhere to the standards laid down by the Board. This is only fair comment that is placed before us in this report. The Minister has requested an assurance that the station will comply with the standards. This Committee is entitled to know whether it has given an assurance that it will comply with the standards for the next year at least, and we shall have a look at the report next year.
– I should like to refer to Division 870 which relates to the provision of $222m for capital works and services. This covers the single line budget of the Post Office. We were told, when it was proposed to introduce this single line budget, that it would give the administration of the Post Office room to manoeuvre a little in the votes for the various detailed activities of the administration and that we would be given complete details at the end of the financial year of what had been done. My reason for alluding to this is that we have been told that in order to plan and carry out a programme equipment has to be ordered at least 12 months ahead to get the deliveries right. Probably much of next year’s equipment is being ordered now.
I refer to the small country telephone exchanges. We have been told in recent months that there are about 40,000 subscribers on restricted hours. The number has been reduced considerably from about 55,000, but the point concerning me is that not enough of these little exchanges are being ordered to eliminate this undesirable feature quickly enough. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) has informed us that by the year 1975 - 7 years from now - the number will be down only to 15,000. Instead of this problem being eliminated there will still be 15,000 people on restricted hours. We are having a tremendous amount of trouble at present even with regard to manual exchanges, both on restricted hours and on continuous services.
Firstly, it is very difficult to get people who are willing to sit up on the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift to man continuous service manual exchanges. All the time this is getting more and more difficult. I believe that there is some sort of formula whereby if there is only a small number of calls - 6 or 7 - in the period, the operator can sleep beside the telephone. When the number rises above that he has to sit up. The other point is that we are having trouble in the area where I live and over a good bit of Queensland about two phases of these little telephone exchanges. I suppose I get a complaint on an average of about once a week now.
The first phase is that we strike the inevitable row between the operator and one of the subscribers. In one little exchange not far from my home the row that has been going on is a real beauty and nothing can be done about it. The Department cannot get anyone else to run the exchange. It is manual; the automatic is not due for 2 years. If the Department says to the operator: ‘We will terminate your agreement’, about twenty subscribers will be without a telephone service tomorrow. These people have to run a business, just the same as a city business. If we told twenty or thirty people in a section of the city that they would be without a telephone service tomorrow and that the Department could not provide them with something that they always had, would not there be an explosion?
The next point is that many people like to run little exchanges because it means extra pocket money for the lady or man of the house or as the case may be. These are not post offices; they are just exchanges. That is all right for a while. Then the operator gets sick and has to go to hospital and no relief is available. In other cases the operator sells out or gets too old and infirm to run the exchange. There is a little rural community with ten, twenty or thirty subscribers, whose telephones are just turned off. There is a frantic rush to put a few on party lines or on trunk lines to another exchange, and it may be up to 2 years before the rest can be given a service. It is not fair that farmers, graziers and small business people in the country should be just cut off from a service that they have had for a long time. Senator Greenwood referred to payments by subscribers in respect of the upgrading of lines. The matter to which I refer is something about which the people I refer to can do nothing at all. They have not even the alternative of paying extra money to get a service if they want to.
For that reason I appeal to the PostmasterGeneral to alter his budget and his thinking in order to get these people connected somehow to automatic or continuous services and have all services involving restricted hours eliminated by 1975. In some instances they could be connected to bigger manual exchanges. People can be obtained to service them. I appeal to the Postmaster-General to look at that and to reduce this big backlog of subscribers on restricted hours which will exist 7 years from now. These people on restricted hours provide good revenue for the Post Office, because most of their calls are trunk line calls. Because of the restricted hours they are not able to make trunk line calls during periods when lower rates apply, late at night and early in the morning.
As I have said, Senator Greenwood referred to the rural automatic exchange - now called CAX - and the upgrading of lines. He said that people who were further away suffered most, but it does not always work out like that. The site of the CAX is not necessarily where the old manual exchange was. Quite often a subscriber who was previously far away from the manual exchange becomes nearer to the CAX, because it is put in a more central position. Some may not have to upgrade their lines. Upgrading is done for a technical reason. I understand that lines have to be 100% efficient or the CAX will not work properly. It is pretty hard to tell a telephone subscriber who has had a service for 20, 30 or 40 years that he cannot have a service unless he comes good with another $1,000 or $1,500. I appeal to the PostmasterGeneral to look at this matter as soon as he can, to come up with a fresh policy on it, and to alter his budgeting, his thinking and his planning to eliminate the restricted hours and all of the little manual exchanges before 1975 and not leave them still to serve the 15,000 subscribers to whom I have referred.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.35] - I shall reply to Senator Cant because 1 think the points he raised should be responded to as soon as possible.
– He sounded like an angry husband coming home and saying that he wanted to eat raw cottage pie.
– That is right. 1 think the points he raised should be answered as soon as possible. He read from a document concerning radio stations 2XL, New South Wales, and 6PR. Perth. He rather implied that they had been reprimanded and he asked what action had been taken. I shall give him a reply. Ministerial reprimands in connection with licence renewals are responded to quickly. The deficiencies at 6PR were rectified and those at 2XL are being rectified. The honourable senator can rest assured that the matter has been dealt with.
– That is not satisfactory.
– What more does the honourable senator want than for the deficiencies to be rectified? Surely that is what he would want.
– They were told to give an assurance. Have they given it?
– The Postmaster-General has taken up the matter and the deficiencies have been rectified. While the honourable senator was giving a long dissertation based on the document he had it would have been quite to the point to read from paragraph 221 of the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board where it is stated that most stations observe the standards satisfactorily. The honourable senator rather implied that they did not.
– I read that out.
– I am answering the honourable senator’s question. I suggest he listen.
– I suggest you listen. I read that out.
– I am only trying to answer you. I think you might find it interesting.
– It would not be interesting, coming from you.
– I rise to order. I think the Minister should be protected by you, Mr Temporary Chairman.
– I call the Minister.
– I think that comment by the honourable senator was quite uncalled for. I am giving him an answer and the least he might do is listen to it because it is a reply to the very point he raised. In answer to a question asked recently by Senator McClelland I read certain words, which I read again earlier this afternoon and which I shall read again. They are:
The problems facing four of the more recently established metropolitan television stations. . . .
They were the lines I read, and I referred to the more recently established stations.
– When were they established?
– 1 am about to tell you. I have all the information here. The more recently established stations were established as follows: Channel 10, Sydney, 5th April 1965; ATV, Melbourne, 1st August 1964; TVQ. Brisbane. 1st July 1965; SAS, Adelaide, 26th July 1965; STW, Perth, 12th June 1965. In my reply I referred to the more recently established metropolitan stations. As I used that term I shall now give the dates of establishment of the previously established metropolitan television stations. They are: Stage 1 development, commercial stations -ATN, Sydney, December 1965: TGN Sydney, September 1956; GTV, Melbourne,
January 1957; HSV, Melbourne, November 1956; Stage 2 development, commercial stations - BTQ, Brisbane, November 1959; QTQ, Brisbane, August 1959; ADS, Adelaide, October 1959; NWS, Adelaide, September 1959; TVW, Perth, October 1959; and TVT, Hobart, May 1960. The point is that the first list of stations - and this is certainly an answer to the honourable senator’s comment - is a list of the more recently established stations. There is a considerable difference in the dates - from 1956 to 1959 and from 1964 to 1965.
– I again refer to the appropriation of $600,000 for other services listed under capital works and services, because the answer that the Minister gave to my previous question was entirely unsatisfactory. The Minister’s reply differs from the information I have. As I gave a month’s notice that I would be raising this question, I think officials of the Postmaster-General’s Department should have made every effort to prove that my information is incorrect. I refer to the speech 1 made in the adjournment debate on 1.8th September last. The Minister’s reply today should have supplied every possible detail to show that the statements I made then were incorrect. A month ago I gave notice to the Government Whip of the matters I intended to raise in the adjournment debate. The Minister representing the Postmaster-General was in attendance when I spoke on thai occasion. That night I referred also to the matter of railway rolling stock at the Islington Workshop of the South Australian Railways. In the adjournment debate last night the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport gave a detailed and satisfactory reply to the points 1 raised in connection with that matter.
The Postmaster-General’s Department has had a month’s notice. I did not ask for an immediate reply when I raised the matter in the adjournment debate. I raised it then so that the Department would have prior notice and would be able to make every effort to obtain the information for me when the matter was again raised during the debate on the Estimates. Somebody casually pushed across a note that the information was wrong, that there was a difference of $13,000 in the contract prices and that only one tender was lower than the successful tender. That is entirely different from the statement I made in the adjournment debate. I stated that the contract was let to Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd at a contract price of $538,450. I think the Minister confirmed that. The source of my information in this respect is a Press statement issued by J. W. Rawlinson with the compliments of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). In my speech I stated that I believed there were four tenders of a lower price than that submitted by Hansen and Yuncken. I named three of the tenderers. The fourth was not known and still is not known to me. There may be some doubt as to whether there was a fourth tenderer. The contract price of Mr J. Haughton Evins, who has a building firm in Adelaide, was $498,000. T. T. Sheldrick Pty Ltd submitted a contract price just over $500,000. D. G. Madin Pty Ltd submitted a contract price of $480,960.
The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) has had a month to verify what she stated today and she has had a month to prove that my statements were wrong. I ask: What was the tender price submitted by D. G. Madin Pty Ltd and the tender price submitted by T. T. Sheldrick Pty Ltd? There is in course of preparation at present a statutory declaration by Mr J. Haughton Evins that the contract price submitted to Messrs Brown, Brewer and Gregory for the job was S498.000. I shall have that in my possession tomorrow. Also 1 shall have in my possession , tomorrow a statutory declaration from Mr Carkeek Managing Director of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd, that his contract price was $480,960. If one takes $480,960 from $438,450^ on my arithmetic the difference is $57,490. lt is up to the Department now, with a month’s notice, to give me the tender prices quoted. We have been told that the price submitted by Hansen and Yuncken contained some prime cost items not included in the $538,450. The price submitted by J. Haughton Evins, T. T. Sheldrick Pty Ltd and D. G. Madin Pty Ltd also contained the prime cost items, which were in the specifications. They amounted to $200,000. That was the amount allowed for certain sub-contract work. Therefore my information can be proved wrong only by the Minister stating the contract pries submitted to the Department and showing that there was not a difference of more than $57,000. 1 did say when 1 spoke during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate that the Department would be justified in not giving the contract to the lowest tenderer if he were incapable of carrying out the work, or if there were some doubt about his standing. But this ground has not been suggested by the Minister. I therefore take it that it will not be offered as a reason for rejecting the lowest tender. On the Minister’s own statement, some $13,000 could have been saved to the Commonwealth, but apparently this saving is of no significance. Apparently the guiding factor is that the person who has the contract for erecting the antenna shall decide who shall have the contract for the station.
Why do we employ a firm of architects to allocate the contract if the principle guiding the Department is that the one who has the contract to erect the antenna shall be the one to decide the contract? Surely all tendering contractors should be given equal consideration, especially when we remember that Mr Gregory of the Sydney firm of Brown, Brewer and Gregory came to Adelaide to investigate the capability of the tenderers to carry out the work satisfactorily. I remind the Minister that the firm of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd was spoken of very highly by the Department of Works and the Postmaster-General’s Department. Both departments had no doubts whatever about this firm’s capability.
The position therefore is that contractors capable of doing the job were not given the contract despite the fact that they had submitted lower tenders. The Minister has not yet answered my question as to why the foundations for the tower were given to Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd without tenders being called for the work. I regret to say that I did not mention the foundations for the tower when I spoke on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, but I did refer to it when discussing the proposed expenditure for the Department of Works. I am not satisfied, on the information I have, to accept the reply that the figures which I have quoted are incorrect. There is a responsibility on the Department to prove the inaccuracy of my statement by stating the prices quoted by the other firms.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.47] - I shall not go over the information that I have already given to the honourable senator except to say that the contract figure of $538,450 included an additional amount of $43,525 for certain prime cost items which were required to be added to all tenders, irrespective of the contractor. I am informed that the basic tender prices of the other companies did not include that figure. For the honourable senator’s information, I shall state what the prices of the other tenderers would have been had this extra amount been included. The basic tender price of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd was $480,960. When the $43,525 is added, the figure becomes $524,485. The basic price of J. Haughton Evins Construction Co. Pty Ltd was $498,000. When the $43,525 is added the figure becomes $541,525. The basic price submitted by T. T. Sheldrick Pty Ltd was $498,650. If we add to that the $43,525, the price becomes $542,175. Those were the figures which 1 compared with the contract price of Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd, which was $538,450.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
– I am still on Division 871. I believe that if I pursue this matter further we might get some enlightenment on what has happened at Ceduna. I took it from the Minister’s first remarks that there was one tender lower than the successful tender but from her further remarks I take it that there were three tenders lower than the successful tender. That supports my first contention. There is still some suspicion on the letting of this tender, more so as originally Mr Gregory, a member of a firm of Sydney architects, came from Sydney to interview the five firms which had been invited to tender for this construction. It was at the suggestion of the quantity surveyors, Ryder and Hunt, who said that the number of tenderers should be increased, that the contract was opened for public tender.
Why was not the contract open to public tender in the first place? Why were only five firms invited to tender? It is interesting to note that one of the firms which was invited to tender received the job at a contract price which the Minister now admits was SI 3,000 in excess of the lowest tender Apart from the fact that certain firms were invited to tender and that the contract was not open to public tender in the first place, why were public tenders called if the firm which had the contract to erect the antenna was to decide who would receive the contract at an unnecessary cost of Si 3,000 to the taxpayers of Australia?
There is a disagreement between the Minister and myself on the difference between the successful tender price and the lowest tender price. The Minister has explained this by saying that prime cost items to the value of $43,525 had to be taken into account. My informant tells me that when he submitted a tender for the job he included the cost of the prime cost items in his tender price. The Minister says they were not included. 1 suppose that something has been added after tenders closed. It is for the purpose of verification with the person who made the complaint to me that I ask what were the prime cost items on this job that were worth $43,525.
The letting of the tender to the fourth lowest tenderer involved the Australian taxpayers in an unnecessary additional expenditure of $13,000 simply because the Government accepted the advice of the firm which had the contract for the erection of the antenna. Apparently that firm felt that it could work better with the successful tenderer. Where is the validity in that proposition? The antenna is placed on a tower block, and the earth station is similar to a telephone transmission exchange in that it is a separate building. The antenna does not rest on the building. Why could not any contractor erect the building without the co-operation of the contractor who had the contract for the antenna? The Minister has not yet answered my question as to why the contract for the tower base, which would be the one associated with the erection of the antenna, was given to the firm of Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd without any tenders being called. This is something additional to the $500,000 contract price. I think we must get clarity on these questions. At least we have the fact that there were three tenders lower-
– There were not three tenders lower; there was one tender lower.
– My information is that Hansen and Yuncken submitted a tender of $538,450. I take it from the Minister that the tender submitted hy I. Haughton Evins Construction Co. Pty Ltd was $498,000 to which must be added the $43,525, which would bring it just in excess of the tender submitted by Hansen and Yuncken. The tender submitted by Sheldrick Pty Ltd was $498,000, and the $43,525 must be added to that. Checking my figures again I see that I have made a mistake. I apologise. There was only one tender lower. The original statement was correct. The prime cost items for $43,525 were not the prime cost items in the original contracts for which the three firms I have mentioned tendered. For the purpose of verification I ask the Minister for information on the prime cost items covered by the $43,525 which was added later.
I repeat the questions 1 asked at the outset. Why was the contract for the tower base let? In the first place why were certain firms invited to tender? Why were the contracts not open to public tender? If the contractor or sub-contractor for the erection of the antenna was to be the letting agent, why were numerous contractors who had no chance of succeeding put to the high expense of quantity surveying, preparing prices and submitting tenders for this job? Why was the architect from the firm of Brown, Brewer and Gregory sent to Adelaide for the purpose of interviewing those who had submitted tenders for the job? It is all additional cost to building firms which I suppose will . have to go through the same procedure in respect of future contracts.
Why is it necessary for the contractor for the earth station to be able to work in conjunction with the contractor for the antenna, which is an entirely separate project? The explanation the Minister has given for that is unsatisfactory to me. There is no question that the three firms that I have mentioned were not capable of carrying out the job. This is not the first station of this kind to be built by contractors other than Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd. So I do not think that firm is the only firm possessing the capability to do such a job.
– I thank the Minister for her reply to my previous questions but it did not go very far. I did not request information relating to the appropriation of $600,000 for payment to the Overseas Telecommunications Commission because I already knew of that, but the Minister gave me the information and I do not mind. I am still referring to Division 870. My request, which has not been answered, has been emphasised by the remarks made by Senator Geenwood and Senator Lawrie who pointed out the need for other services. I appreciate that under the trust account the Post Office will be handling its own funds, and I appreciate also that on 1st July this year when the trust account came into operation the Post Office obviously was without funds. At that stage the income and expenditure for the old No. 1 and No. 2 accounts either balanced or there was a small deficit. I quite appreciate that the Department had to start with $222m in order to function. I do not dispute this fact. I am also aware that the sum of $222m does not cover the operations for the whole year. But it seems to me that we should be able to examine the work envisaged for the coming year. That was the request I made. 1 said that I was aware that the Minister could not supply this information straight away, but I ask her to forward my request to the Postmaster-General. The Minister is no doubt aware that I was in the Engineering Planning Division of the Post Office for 9 years as an engineer. 1 know that a list of proposed projects is compiled and made available to the central office in May. It seems to me that this information should be made available to the Senate. 1 requested it last year and I have again requested it this year. I hope that the Minister will pass my remarks on to the Postmaster-General.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [8.12] - I apologise to Senator Wilkinson for giving him the wrong information. I appreciate the point he makes. I have spoken with my advisers about providing the details he has requested. I shall refer the honourable senator’s comments to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). I am unable to say what reply the PostmasterGeneral will give, but I will do my best to get whatever information I can for Senator Wilkinson. Senator Cavanagh referred to the letting of contracts. I am not quite certain, but I think that the figures he quoted are a little different to the ones I have. Before the suspension of the sitting I quoted certain figures. I shall quote them again. The basic tender price of D. G. Madin Pty Ltd was $480,960, to which has to be added a figure of $43,525 to meet certain prime costs which were not covered in the basic tender, bringing the figure for that company up to $524,485. The contract price of Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd, which included the $43,525 to meet certain prime costs, was $538,450. The basic tender price of J. Haughton Evins Construction Co. Pty Ltd was $498,000, to which must be added $43,525 for prime costs, bringing that total up to $541,525. The basic tender price for T. T. Sheldrick Pty Ltd was $498,650, to which must be added the $43,525 for prime costs, bringing the total to $542,175. Therefore, there was only one tender lower than the tender of Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd. I think that corrects the misunderstanding between Senator Cavanagh and myself.
– That is so. If the Minister gives me the items of prime cost I will be happy.
– If I had those details I would inform Senator Cavanagh accordingly, but unfortunately I do not have them. I have spoken to my advisers about those figures. I am told that that figure relates to certain technical details but my advisers cannot tell me what they are. I am told that the information could be obtained from the Overseas Telecommunication Commission or the Department of Works. Unfortunately, I do not have the details in front of me. If I can obtain that information, I will supply it to Senator Cavanagh. I regret that I am unable to give him that information tonight.
– I again rise on the matter to which I adverted earlier and to which my colleague Senator Cant also drew the attention of the Senate. I rise merely to put the record straight. It appeared to everyone that there was - for the want of a better expression - a slight altercation between Senator Cant and the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) over the meaning of the phrase ‘more recently established television stations’. Once again I draw the attention of the Minister and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to the facts. I think it was in August 1966 that the Board issued a requirement to all metropolitan commercial stations that as from 3rd July 1967 they should telecast not less than 2 hours of Australian dramatic programmes between 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. over a 28- day statistical period. I repeat that the direction or requirement stated by the Board in its ultimatum to all metropolitan commercial television stations in August 1966 was that the stations had to comply with this requirement by 3rd July 1967.
– But they do noi all have equal capabilities.
– 1 am stating the Board’s requirement. Indeed, at page 82 of its annual report for the year ended 30th lune 1968, the Board stated:
Briefly stated, these requirements provide that the licensee of each station which has completed three years of operation-
And I stress that period - shall present for at least 50% of the stations’ hours of transmission, programmes which are credited as being Australian in origin; and that between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. each month (hey should present at least 12 hours of Australian programmes including 2 hours of Australian drama.
That edict, which applied to all metropolitan commercial television stations, was issued in August 1966, to commence from 3rd July 1967. In reply to Senator Cant, the Minister said that the four stations mentioned on page 84 of the Board’s annual report in fact commenced operations no later than August 1965, which means that they commenced operations over 3 years ago. Channel 10 in Sydney commenced on 5th August 1965; ATV commenced on 1st August 1964; TVQ commenced on 1st July 1965 and SAS commenced on 26th July 1965. The fact is that although the Board issued a direction to all stations which had been operating for a period of 3 years thai as from 3rd July 1967 they must show 2 hours of Australian drama per month in the peak viewing time of 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m., by 30th June Channel 10 had shown a mere 51 minutes, ATV had shown a mere 35 minutes, TVQ had shown a mere 31 minutes and SAS had shown a mere 1 hour 17 minutes. Notwithstanding the edict issued by the Board, of which the stations had nearly 12 months notice, in February 1968 these four stations applied for dispensation from the Board’s requirement. The Board granted that dispensation until June. In August of this year the Minister representing the Postmaster-General told me that the matter was being reviewed. On 1 7th October I received another reply from the Minister advising me that the Board, after further reviewing the matter, had extended the dispensation until February 1969. Although the Minister says that four of the most recently established metropolitan television stations were granted a dispensation, for want of a better term, to enable them to televise two hours of drama each month, the fact is that each of the four metropolitan stations to which the Minister refers had been in operation for longer than 3 years, the time stipulated by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I say to the Minister and to the Board that the Australian community expects the Board to ensure that these commercial stations honour strictly the requirements laid down by the Board which should be more stringent in its demands that its own requirements are adhered to, not only by some but by all to whom the requirements are intended to apply.
– Before the suspension of the sitting and since the resumption I have listened to representatives of the Australian Labor Party on the occasion of the examination of the estimates for television and broadcasting services, making the most of their opportunity. As the years go by I am more and more struck by the phrases used by the members of the Opposition about the Australian community demanding this, that and the other in relation to television.
– How many stations does the honourable senator own?
– I have no interest in any television station. I want to make it clear how much the Australian Labor Party is preoccupied with drama. Its preoccupation with drama is with the Australian Theatrical and Amusement Employees Association, that television shall be used to produce a sort of Luddite situation in which the television stations will be compelled to employ actors and actresses in order to provide them with a living. 1 am quite prepared to go along with this, but I suggest that drama is not solely contained in theatrical productions of one sort or another. I think that for a lowbrow, as I am, it is reasonable to assume that there are great dramas in the Melbourne Cup. A suitable drama would have been revealed by television cameras inside the Australian Labor Party Caucus over the last 3 or 4 years.
– The honourable senator can worry about that when he becomes Postmaster-General.
– He would never agree to the Liberal Party meetings being televised.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order!
– I admit that I was being a little ironical when I made that remark.
– The honourable senator left himself a bit open.
– I am quite prepared to put television cameras into the Liberal Party conferences.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order! I suggest that the honourable senator should confine his remarks to the items before the Chair.
– I am merely picking up the point taken by Senator Cant before the suspension of the sitting and the point made by Senator McClelland since the suspension in relation to their preoccupation with drama. I can easily imagine that if they bad lived in the reign of Edward III they would have considered that Chaucer’s folk tales and ‘Canterbury Tales’ were not drama.
– I rise to order. To which lines is the honourable senator referring in addressing these remarks?
– Before the suspension of the sitting we were dealing with television. Since then Senator McClelland has taken up the question and I have allowed him to continue. I shall allow Senator Cormack to finish what he wants to say and then I shall ask honourable senators to confine their remarks strictly to the subject before the Chair.’
– I accept your ruling, Mr Chairman. I merely go on to state that there is a pseudo-intellectualism in the Labor Party in relation to television. Members of the Labor Party want to impose their pseudo-intellectualism on the Australian viewing public. They have forgotten that the people who make up the mass of the Australian viewing public want to look at their own forms of drama and not have imposed on them the pseudo-intellectualism which is expressed by many honourable senators opposite. Despite all their complaints in relation to television, I think the Australian people are entitled to look at the television programmes that they choose to watch, rather than those that Senator Cant or Senator McClelland may want to force them to watch.
– I enter the debate to supplement what was said by Senator Greenwood in relation to rural telephone subscribers. 1 refer particularly to those people who have the responsibility for providing their own lines of communication to rural automatic exchanges. I refer also to the question of assistance in the procurement of material, whether it be insulators, wire or anything else. I base my submissions on a letter from Alderman Norman Cox of Dubbo. The point he makes is that some 2 or 3 years ago the Postmaster-General made a statement that in the first instance the Department would, in effect, retail these commodities to the subscribers who wished to purchase them. Alderman Cox says that apparently this idea was jettisoned. His basic complaint is that many rural subscribers who wish to obtain materials have to purchase them from Sydney or Newcastle. The point I make in support of Senator Greenwood’s remarks is that the Department should be more helpful by making sure that materials are available. In the central west of New South Wales many storekeepers are not very interested in stocking these commodities. I add my support to what has been said by earlier speakers about rural telephone services.
Following on what was said by Senator Cormack, I feel that what Senators Cant and McClelland had in mind was that we have badly missed the bus in regard to the infusion of Australian culture into the film industry. I believe that those honourable senators were suggesting that we do not want to miss the bus in the early stages of television. We of the Australian Labor Party believe that incentives should be provided. The film industry has only scratched the surface of Australian history. We do not regard the story of Burke and Wills or other epics as corny, especially in view of some of the horse operas that come from the United States of America. We do not deny the people the right to watch these programmes, but we believe that the Australian people should be given an even break. That has been the theme of the remarks made tonight by Senators Cant and McClelland.
– I refer first to a radio station on the outskirts of Brisbane which is extending its activities into the metropolitan area. I refer to the station by name only to distinguish it. I refer to radio station 4IP, Ipswich, which has a country licence but is now operating in the metropolitan and suburban areas of Brisbane. It may appear to some that that is no ground for complaint. However, there are already four commercial radio stations in Brisbane. In order of priority they are 4KQ, the Australian Labor Party station, 4BC, 4BK and 4BH. If an additional licence were granted for Brisbane the prospective licensee would be subjected to an exhaustive examination. There are now five commercial radio stations operating in Brisbane whereas permits have been granted for only four. The Minister would possibly be aware of the circumstances to which I refer. I can assure the Committee that this has become a real issue with the commercial radio stations in Brisbane.
I now ask the Minister why it is that the Australian Broadcasting Commission persists in referring to the first and second networks. It may sound grand, and better than ‘station 4QG’ or ‘station 4OR: but I think the people would appreciate hearing the names of the radio stations rather than hearing references to first and second networks. The names of the stations are shown on radio sets, and not ‘first network’ or second network’. I hope that the Minister will explain why this practice is persisted with in Queensland, and possibly in other States.
– Does the honourable senator want every station on a national hook-up to be named?
– The names of the stations are shown on the bands on radio sets, at least for a progressive State like Queensland. I wonder why the ABC stopped presenting the radio programme ‘Let’s Find Out’. Many people enjoyed listening to Ellis Blain in that series. I do not think it was becoming stale. In my view the programme that has been substituted is nowhere near as good as ‘Let’s Find Out’. Perhaps there is an adequate reason for the change.
– Why does the honourable senator not ask his question?
– I did not abuse our High Commissioner in London.
– 1 did not abuse him. 1 spoke the truth.
– The honourable senator spoke rather nastily about him. 1 hope some regard will be paid to my comments as they reflect what is said quite frequently in Queensland on issues of this nature. 1 also make the suggestion that popular programmes such as the one to which I have referred should be broadcast on the regional stations. I turn now to television. I ask the Minister to obtain from the Department an explanation of why no attempt has been made to take television into the country areas of Queensland. I have referred to this matter before in this chamber. I can assure honourable senators that it is really a live issue with the people in the western areas of Queensland. I trust that the Minister will be able to explain the Government’s attitude.
I know that the mail services of the Post Office handle great numbers of letters. The other day a letter sent to me by a State Government department was incorrectly addressed in that my name was correctly shown but unfortunately the department omitted to show on the envelope the name of the suburb of Brisbane in which I live. The letter was posted on 8th October. It travelled to four metropolitan areas before arriving at my address, on, I think, 21st October. No inconvenience was caused to me and I am not registering a complaint. I appreciate that these things can happen because of the great volume of work handled by the Post Office. However, I suggest that if an incorrect address is not detected at the General Post Office, after it has been found that delivery cannot be effected by a suburban post office someone should look for the name of the addressee in the telephone directory in an attempt to have the letter delivered to its destination more speedily.
I think all honourable senators would agree that it is unfortunate that industrial disputes occur in the Post Office. 1 will not now canvass their rights or wrongs. The Postal Department ran very smoothly over the years and there were no industrial disputes. Then a spate of them occurred. It seems to me that there is fear in the minds of the workers in the Post Office about the introduction of electronic devices. It also appears to me that the Department is not taking its employees into its confidence when new operating methods are to be introduced. I suggest to the Minister that the postal workers unions should be more closely consulted on such issues in order to avoid industrial disputes which nobody wants. Most certainly the postal workers d< not want them.
My final point relates to the introduction of once a day postal deliveries. 1 think it will cause industrial disputes and ultimately will be rejected by the people. Perhaps the Minister could explain whether it is intended to be a permanent method of postal deliveries or whether it is merely on a trial basis.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [8.36] - 1 would like to reply again to Senator McClelland concerning requirements in relation to the Australian content of television programmes. I remind him that one of the provisions in the list of requirements is that the Board can vary any of the requirements set out in paragraphs I, 3 and 5 if circumstances arise which would prevent a station’s adequate compliance with them under reasonable conditions. I also draw the honourable senator’s attention to page 84 of the latest annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The report states:
In response to special representations which put forward in detail the financial problems facing members of this group, the Board in February 1968 decided to waive the drama requirement for them for the remainder of the financial year and to re-examine the situation when the present rules are reviewed.
The position is clearly stated by the Board. It is known that the more recently established commercial television stations have experienced great financial difficulty. In any event, they are obliged to comply with the drama requirements by February 1969. It should be emphasised, as I think 1 have done previously in answering questions raised in this debate, that two of the four more recently established commercial television stations in the metropolitan areas are now complying with the Board’s drama requirements. I appreciate that honourable senators opposite have every right to raise these points. That is recognised, but 1 think the situation has now been fully explained.
Senator Mulvihill referred to the sale of telephone line materials to country subscribers for part privately erected services. There is no reason why the materials cannot be made available at the nearest engineering depot. If the honourable senator wishes to advise me of a specific case he has in mind, the Department is prepared to examine it. Senator Milliner referred to the use of the expressions ‘first network’ and ‘second network’. I gather that he would prefer the use of the names of the stations, such as 4QG or 4QR. After discussion with my advisers I can only assume that the terms ‘first, second and third networks’ are used collectively to avoid the necessity of naming 8 or 9 separate stations, lt is a matter of convenience, of ease of expression. Senator Milliner raised some points concerning programmes. I cannot give definite answers to those points at the moment but I will certainly ensure that they are placed before the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme).
– I refer to the subsidy paid to commercial broadcasting stations for landline services for news relays under Division 405. The majority of commercial broadcasting stations in Australia are either controlled by companies that run newspapers or connected financially and by ownership with the big newspaper companies. If they take the news service of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, they do so because they realise that it is a comprehensive, well read, up to the minute and unbiased news service. If the stations that are not controlled by the newspaper companies take the ABC news service, they do so for the same reason or because the other station in the particular city or town is controlled by a newspaper company, which will not give its opposition commercial broadcasting station a news service.
I am not kidding anyone or casting bouquets when I say that the ABC news service is the best read and most up to the minute news service on the air in Australia today. It is uninterrupted by any advertising and is readily listened to. I am confident that the great majority of listeners want to listen to the station that presents the ABC news. The point that I make is that if anybody wants to book advertising time on these commercial stations at about the time when the ABC news is presented he finds it very difficult to do so because the time is so eagerly sought after and is offered at pretty high prices. The commercial stations take the ABC news service as a service to the public and also to improve their own business. I do not blame them for that. But because of those factors I wonder why the taxpayers should subsidise these private companies, some of which are independent of the big newspaper companies, to the tune of $82,000 a year for landline services for news relays.
– 1 refer to the provision for broadcasting and television services in general and the provision for technical and other services in particular. Firstly let me say that I was pleased to hear Senator Marriott pay a compliment to the Australian Broadcasting Commission news service. In doing so, he paid a compliment to the journalists behind the news service.
– Of course. Everybody has come to appreciate not only the way the news is delivered but also the comprehensive and logical way it is prepared. I believe that it is opportune, when we are discussing these estimates, to pay a compliment to all the people who collect the news behind the scenes. In past years I have had occasion to meet many of these journalists, particularly in the industrial and sporting fields. I know that the standard of their services compares more than favourably with the general commercial standard.
I wish to refer to three matters. The first is the technical efficiency of the Australian broadcasting system, which has been shown by our ability to connect with the great international telecasts such as those of Expo 67 in Canada and those made by means of the Telstar satellite. It is strange that, while we are able to participate in these great international telecasts and to provide perfect reception in Australia, within our own country there are many areas that do not have a television service. It seems to me that the Government and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department are lacking in not pressing ahead with the provision of this service to certain country areas. I refer particularly to areas in my own State. For many years now we have been trying to obtain television services for the Port Lincoln area of South Australia and some areas in the northern part of Eyre Peninsula. The Department has made a number of surveys. The first question that I ask is: What is being done to accelerate the provision of television services to the areas of South Australia that I have mentioned? Generally, what plans are envisaged for the use of the special devices that we heard about years ago, such as translators, which might bring the advantages of television to all Australians?
The second matter to which I refer is colour television. On various occasions I have seen reports of statements by tha Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) to the effect that we will have to wait 4± years for colour television. Why do we have to wait that long for it? I believe that the technical equipment and engineering and other skilled people that we have in Australia are as good as any in the world. When Australians go overseas to the United Kingdom, Europe, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America they can see colour television. Certainly the cost is a little more; but they can see a perfect picture on colour television. When I was at Australia House in London recently I was able to watch the tennis at Wimbledon on colour television. The picture was perfectly clear.
– At Australia House?
– Senator Sim could not do that.
– He might not have seen it. Perhaps he could not get into Australia House. The fact is that the tennis at Wimbledon was shown on colour television at Australia House and many Australians looked at it there. In addition, some members of our delegation saw it in private homes. If we have the technical ability to provide colour television, why do we have to wait for 4i years to have this service throughout Australia?
– There is colour television in Bangkok.
– Yes. There is no reason why Australia, with all its proven technical know-how, should not have colour television. If the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) were here, he would say that our technical know-how has been proved in our back up work for the space flights. Australian equipment is as good as any in the world. With all our technical know-how. why do we have to wait 4i years for colour television? I would like Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin to tell me what examinations of this matter are being made by the Department. It is no good saying that the introduction of colour television will cost a lot of money. Every new device today costs money, but if a service can be made available to the people it should be made available to them. If they have to pay an extra $1 or so for the service, that is all right. There should be a plan to provide this service quickly.
The third matter that I raise also relates to technical ability. Television stations in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States of America are able to present direct telecasts of some of the space flights and other important advances about which we are now learning and about which the people of Australia, particularly the young people, should know. I would like to know whether there are any insurmountable technical reasons why we in Australia are not able to match the experiments and developments in the Soviet Union and the United States. Recently we learned with satisfaction of the conclusion of the Apollo 7 space flight. Everybody was delighted to learn that it was successful. Before that we heard about the Soviet Union presenting to the Russians in their homes direct telecasts of actual operations. I would like to know what sort of technical developments are occurring in Australia? Are there any real reasons why the Government and the Postmaster-General’s Department should not announce the developments that are taking place in Australia today, so that we may be assured of our actual operating capacity as well as of our back up capacity in the field of manufacturing? Most of us know that Australian manufacturing industry in this field is pretty well advanced. It is perhaps excelled only by the new Japanese systems and there are good reasons why Australia should be foremost in features of this sort.
– I again refer to Division 405, merely wishing to reply to Senator Cormack’s statement that some pseudo intellectuals of the Australian Labor Party were trying to ram Australian dramatic productions down the throats of Australian viewers against what he seemed to maintain were the wishes of the Australian public. As a matter of fact, his statements drew my attention to items set out on page 93 of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s report whereon is set out the result of a survey conducted by the Board. Having heard Senator Cormack for the first time this evening I can well appreciate how accurate the results of the survey taken by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board must be, because in paragraph 373, dealing with the question of advertisements for certain types of products, the Board says:
Questioned whether they found advertisements for women’s underwear embarrassing or in poor taste, when seen in company with friends or other members of the family, about 28% of the combined samples said they did.
Paragraph 374 reads:
Nearly twice as many people in Melbourne as in Sydney gave that answer.
Knowing that Senator Cormack represents Victoria, I can just picture him throwing his hands up in the air, blushing and leaving the room when a Berlei or a Lustre hosiery advertisement comes on television.
But to dispel any fear that Senator Cormack might have about pseudo intellectuals in the ALP trying to ram Australian drama down the throats of the Australian public against their wishes let me also cite to him and for his benefit paragraph 371 of the Board’s report dealing with the same survey. It states that almost 70% of people interviewed felt that the quality of Australian dramatic programmes either compared favourably with overseas programmes or were approaching that standard. About 65% of those interviewed expressed a wish for more local drama in evening programmes, and about 25% said they would prefer less. Obviously an overwhelming proportion of the viewing public supports the Australian Labour Party’s contention that there should be more Australian dramatic programmes in peak viewing times and certainly that the requirements of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should be adhered to by all commercial stations.
– I just want to remind the Minister with the greatest respect that she has not answered my question as to why five firms were invited to submit tenders for the earth station at Ceduna before it was decided to call for public tenders and why the contract for the tower base at the Ceduna earth station was given to the firm of Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd without any public tenders being called. What is the cost of the contract for the tower base at this earth station, and is the purpose of the base the fitting of the antenna?
– I want to return to the matter of the stations which have more recently been licensed and the reasons why they do not fulfil the requirements of the Board. First of all, there were five stations in this group affected by Stage 5 of development, and it seems strange to me that a station in a city with the population of Sydney can get an exemption or is not able to fulfil the requirements of the Board - this also applies to Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane - whilst station STW9 in Perth is able to fulfil the requirements of the Board with a population 25% that of Sydney or possibly less. It is not satisfactory to us, after the Minister has said that they should comply within 3 years - and they have all been on the air for more than 3 years - to find that they have now been given a further extension until February 1969.
No doubt there is some political influence in this. 1 want to refer to what Senator Cormack had to say a little while ago when he talked about drama in the Melbourne Cup. It might be a pretty dramatic scene but I do not know whether it could qualify as a dramatic subject within the guide lines of drama set down by the Control Board.
– It is so far as the people are concerned.
– As far as the people are concerned, I think it was pointed out by Senator McClelland that the survey conducted reveals that the great majority of the people in Australia want more Australian drama. I would remind the honourable senator that only a few years ago this Senate was wise enough to set up a select committee to inquire into Australian productions for television. The overwhelming evidence before that select committee was for a greater percentage of Australian drama. I remind the honourable senator also that the report of that committee was brought into this Senate and he could have taken the opportunity to criticise it. I notice from the honourable senator’s remarks that he is the mouthpiece for the opposition to drama that came before the select Committee, because when evidence was given in Sydney we were told that the people of Australia were getting from television the programmes they wanted, yet no survey of the requirements of the Australian public had been conducted by the commercial stations.
– How many workers did you call as witnesses?
– This was said by Sir Frank Packer.
– Let us talk about the workers, not about Sir Frank Packer.
– Unfortunately, the workers have no shares in television stations. Unfortunately, when the workers* organisations made applications for licences to conduct television stations their applications were refused because the licences had to go to the media of public information. The workers have been excluded altogether from this sphere of operation. The guidelines of drama as laid down by the Control Board are very wide. Practically anything will qualify as drama. Yet these stations are unable to comply with the Board’s requirements. I should have thought that Senator Cormack was enough of an Australian to want to see the development of the Australian film industry. Apparently he is not. Apparently he agrees that there should be greater investment by Australia in films about cowboys and Indians imported from America. This attitude is consistent with his statements on other subjects. I ask the Minister why the four stations in the fifth stage of the development of television are able to evade the Board’s instructions and obtain an exemption until February 1969 while the station in Western Australia, which came on the air on 12th June 1965 and has been televising for about a month longer than the Adelaide station, is able to comply with the Board’s requirements and does not claim the exemption.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.1] - Senator Marriott spoke concerning the subsidy to commercial broadcasting stations for landline services for news relays. He asked about the appropriation of $82,000. I inform Senator Marriott that the item relating to the subsidy to commercial radio stations in the Appropriation Act represents a payment to the Post Office for the difference between its normal tariff for landlines and that actually paid by the commercial stations. The subsidy is not paid to the stations. 1 have another interesting point about landline concessions. Since World War II there has been a concession to some country broadcasting stations for landlines to take news services. News services of both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial news services have been taken. The object is to provide an adequate news service to country people. I think we all would agree that that is a very important matter.
Senator Milliner raised some points about which I did not have information but I will obtain it for him. He asked why the name of the programme ‘Let’s Find Out’ had been changed. The reply I have is that with the effluxion of time the format of the programme gradually changed and finally bore little or no relation to the title. Therefore it was decided to change the title. The honourable senator also spoke concerning the value of consultations with unions on relevant subjects. He instanced the introduction of reduced letter delivery frequencies. There has been close consultation with the unions on staff conditions and implementation measures. Then he spoke about the electronic sorting equipment. I inform him that it has been introduced at the Sydney Mail Exchange and consideration has been given to the extension of the machine system to other States.
Senator Bishop raised several matters concerning coloured television. It is first necessary to determine technical standards. I refer him to paragraph 298 of the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. That deals with visits overseas by the Board’s officers to inquire into this very important matter. I also refer him to the statement by the PostmasterGeneral, which is at page 76 of the report. The statement is quite a lengthy one, but 1 think the first sentence shows that the matter is being considered. The report states:
The Postmaster-General said that the Government would make no hasty decision on the introduction of colour television.
– Why wait for 4± years?
– If I may finish reading the paragraph we may find the answer together. The report continues:
He had been prompted to indicate this because he had been disturbed by publicity accorded conflicting statements on the matter from various sources. The question of determination of a date for the introduction of colour television had not been approached by the Government, nor was this likely in the near future. The PostmasterGeneral said that the Government had a clear responsibility to protect the long term interests of Australian viewers by not rushing into colour television before the various systems of colour television could be properly investigated - both technically and from the economic viewpoint. He had asked the Board to continue its investigations into all systems now operating and those to begin operating in the future.
I do not think J need to go any further with that statement because I think it shows that the responsibility has been accepted to ensure that the long term interests of the viewers are protected and that when colour television is introduced the people will get the best possible form of colour television.
I have answered Senator Cant’s question over and over again, but I will again make this short reference. It is known that the more recently established commercial television stations in the capital cities experienced great financial difficulties, but by February 1969 they will be required to comply with the Board’s drama requirements. It should be emphasised that two of the four more recently established commercial stations in the metropolitan areas are complying with the requirements. 1 have answered the honourable senator’s question again. I think this must be about the fourth time, but I am only too glad to answer it if, by doing so, I can be of assistance to him.
– Why has Senator Cant had his question answered four times when I cannot get my question answered once? Why were invited tenders called for the erection of the satellite earth station building at Ceduna? Why was the contract for the tower base given to the firm of Hansen and Yuncken Pty Ltd? Why were no public tenders called? What was the cost of the contract for the tower base? Will this base be fitted with the antenna?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.7] - I have endeavoured to answer Senator Cavanagh to the very best of my ability. On more than one occasion I have gone over the figures and explained the details to him. He asked me the question before. I informed him that I did not have the details. I am informed that the details can be obtained only from the Department of Works or from the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia). I have informed Senator Cavanagh that as I do not have the information and as my advisers cannot obtain it immediately I will endeavour to obtain it for him. I will do this. I will approach the appropriate officials and endeavour to obtain the details for him.
– 1 refer to the appropriation of $923,000 for issuing and recording of listeners and viewers licences. When that figure is related to the number of licences as indicated in the Auditor-General’s report, I am at a loss to understand how the cost per licence issued reaches the amount that it does. I note, from paragraph 295 of the Auditor-General’s report, that as at 30th June this year 485,711 broadcast licences, 248,920 television licences, 2,092,612 combined television and radio licences and 28,161 lodging house licences had been issued. That is a total of 2,855,404 licences. I should like to know just how this amount is arrived at. Is it arrived at on a commission basis, or is it the actual amount of money that it costs the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to collect these licence fees? In my opinion, the amount is inordinately high and requires some explanation.
– There were two of my questions which the Minister did not answer. The first related to whether a survey had been made of the Eyre Peninsula at both the lower end and the top end. I have asked a number of questions about this over the years. Have technical surveys been conducted with relation to the possibility of providing good television reception in those areas?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.11] - I apologise for not giving the honourable senator the information he sought concerning the Port Lincoln-Eyre Peninsula area. The information I can give now is that the Minister, on the recommendation of the Board, has approved that a national television service will be provided by a translator station at Mount Olinthus 10 miles north-west of Cowell, using off-air pick up programmes from the national television station in the Spencer Gulf North area - ABNS - from which programmes will be relayed to a further translator in the vicinity of Pillaworta Hill, some 26 miles from Port Lincoln. The Mount Olinthus translator will serve the Cleve, Cowell, Arno Bay and Port Neill areas. A commercial service has not yet been approved, but the possibilities of commercial translator stations are under discussion with the licensee of station GTS, Spencer Gulf North area. Spencer Gulf Telecasters Ltd.
– There was one other matter about which I sought information. I asked whether consideration had been given to my suggestion that it might be possible to use the international Telstar satellite system in connection with future space flights. What consideration has been given to this proposition by the Department? What are the problems associated with it, if any? Would the Minister let me have the information later if she cannot give me an answer now?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [9.13] - This is a question which I think would be of intense interest to a great number of people. 1 cannot give the honourable senator an answer at the moment. I shall inquire into the matter and make the result of my inquiries available to the honourable senator either in the Senate or by letter.
– I rise to speak on Division 405 - Broadcasting and Television Services. I refer in particular to subdivision 1 which relates to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I rise on this occasion not for the purpose of discussing television but for the purpose of discussing radio. I can tell the Minister now that I am going to be brief and to the point. I refer to page 51 of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s annual report which sets out a diagram showing the composition of programmes for all metropolitan commercial broadcasting stations. The Minister will see there that the breakup is: light entertainment, which consists of light and popular music, 46.7%; current affairs, 6.7%; family information, the arts and education, 4.7%; and advertising 14.7%.
I mention this to raise the question of the open line talk back programming that has been engaged in particularly over the last 12 months. I note that in paragraph 192 of its report the Board says:
Observations of telephone conversation programmes during the past year confirm the importance of this aspect-
That is the aspect of having well-informed station personalities to host the programmes - though most stations were able to provide persons who, with experience in the new technique, were able to present interesting programmes. Towards the end of the period under review several metropolitan stations which had experimented extensively with the ‘open line’ type of programming were reverting to programmes which had previously brought them popularity.
In paragraph 194 of its report, the Board says that, apart from some of these talk back or open line programmes which might relate solely to information, current affairs, and so on, the bulk of the programmes appeared to be in the diagramatic section relating to incidental matter. What I am suggesting to the Minister and to the Board is that this type of programming is being over-indulged in today.
– What type of programming?
– The open line or talk back type of programme where a listener rings up the station and has a discussion with the host or compere, or whatever one might call the person employed at the station. I notice that during the year the total time occupied by metropolitan commercial stations on programmes involving telephone conversations increased from 105 to 184 hours a week and that in Sydney the increase was from 30 to 81 hours a week. I suggest to the Minister and to the Board that this type of thing is being overindulged in, and it is being over-indulged in at the expense of more informative educational and entertainment programmes. Whilst this type of programme is on its way out, apparently, according to paragraph 192 of the Board’s report, I do suggest to the Minister and to the Board that they keep a close eye on this particular aspect.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Immigration
Proposed provision, $7,602,000.
– I wish to draw attention to Division 330 in which the appropriation sought for salaries and payments in the nature of salary is $4,815,000, which represents an increase over the expenditure of $4,568,347 last year. I wish to refer to items 01, 02 and 07 of sub-division 4 which relate to proposed increases in the amounts to be expended on United Kingdom-Australia assisted passages, general and special assisted passage schemes and the TurkeyAustralia Assisted Passage Agreement. Increases in all these items are sought. The increase proposed under the United Kingdom-Australia Assisted Passage Agreement is from $19,120,000 to $24,658,000. Although there have been increases in all three items, I submit that the figure involved is comparatively small when one takes into account the tremendous importance that immigration has been, is and will continue to be to Australia.
I am emboldened to make one or two inquiries with relation to these matters because I, with other honourable senators, am concerned that the immigration programme should continue with increasing rapidity and ever widening connections for the benefit of this country. My interest arises in part from my connection with the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council, but in this discussion tonight it arises rather more out of my recent experience and inquiry in various centres in other countries. As honourable senators know, I had the opportunity, along with others, to be present at the Inter-parliamentary Union Conference and on the way back I visited a number of European centres. I made contact with our officers of the Department of Immigration in Rome, Madrid, Frankfurt, Cologne, Stockholm and Oslo.
There is an increase in the allocation. But in the light of the work that is going on, and of the work that remains to be done, I repeat the question: Is it sufficient? I express the hope that the Department of Immigration - I ask the Minister to furnish me with some assurance in this regard - will look at the services and facilities it provides for officers with a view to improving and increasing them in as many places as possible. The last thing we want to see is over-staffed offices; the last thing we want to see is a department with people in it who have little to do and are not making much contribution to Australia’s welfare. From my experience and observations of our immigration officers at close quarters in a number of countries on more than one visit abroad, I believe that they are doing a very good job, in some cases under pressure and in other cases under difficulty.
We have heard in many places in recent weeks and months about the strong need for a greater intake of migrants. If this is to be achieved I suggest that there must be more intensive activity in all avenues of immigration, in interviewing, in processing applications and, very clearly, in follow up inquiries. I also direct attention to the necessity of operating actively in the field of promotion and of maintaining constant flexibility. That is easy to say but we must bear in mind that there are certain kinds of resistance, particularly in European countries. This springs from the well known factor of good conditions, higher standards of living and greater inducements to remain in Europe.
It is also necessary for us as people, as officers and as a Government to observe conditions in various countries in relation to promotion. No country likes to lose its own people, and therefore there is some resistance by overseas governments to what I will call open promotion and open encouragement for people to migrate to Australia. So often our promotion activities have to be conducted in association with other Australian representation. For all that, when overseas I noted with interest the series of film programmes and trade and information displays which attracted attention towards Australia and which brought considerable interest, considerable inquiry and, in many cases, a considerable number of applications.
I mention this because at a time when we need people interviews should not be unduly hurried. There should be opportunity for follow up inquiries so that people who are interested at least will be furnished with all the information they desire. I had the opportunity to talk to people in many parts of the world who were interested in Australia. I am happy to say that I referred their names and circumstances to our officers in the nearest post and they followed them up immediately. Since I have been back in Canberra officers have written personally to say that they were following up individual cases in which I interested myself during a short visit.
I ask for additional attention to be given to increasing our migration officer service in many countries. I support my request by the emphasis given this aspect in a recent report of the Commonwealth Immigration Planning Council which already has been tabled in the Parliament. The Council emphasised, amongst other things, the fact that migrants are hard to get and that there is a greater international movement of people. The Council points out that in its opinion the Australian economy will expand in the next 5 years and the need for migrants will grow. This highlights the stepping up of our operations in many countries so that we can build on our present activities.
We should be reminded of the duties of immigration officers and the work that they have done towards achieving the target of 160,000 new settlers this year, 105,000 of whom will come to Australia on assisted passages. That is the highest number ever. Last year there were some 55,000 arrivals from the United Kingdom, of whom 2,800 came during the July-August period. It is significant to observe that in the same period for this year the number has increased from 2,800 to about 10,000. There are many reasons for this, not the least being the work of our immigration officers in London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and Leeds. I have an interest in the office at Leeds because not so long ago I spent a day there and heard at first hand both informal and formal inquiries. In many ways I was able to help by answering questions and speaking to people, one or two of whom had returned to the United Kingdom and had called at the office in Leeds largely as a matter of interest. I was able to see something of the work that the Department is undertaking at Oslo, in Norway, where a new office has been opened. 1 refer finally to the matter of departures with which the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council has concerned itself in recent times. Honourable senators will recall that the Council in its report pointed out that the departure movement was springing more from emotional than from economic causes. Those phrases are general and have been repeated often but I emphasise them tonight because of my own inquiry and experience. I suppose that as long as we have a migration programme we will have a movement of people. The Minister may confirm or correct my belief that Australia has a higher percentage of people born outside Australia than has any other country in the world with the exception of Israel which, after all, is an exception.
When you have that kind of circumstance in a nation, together with the fact that movement across the world has been made so easy, it stands to reason that people will be on the move. I put to the Committee and to the Minister that we have moved into the era of what might be described as intercontinental migration. As a result of the availability of more aircraft, lower fares and the provision of facilities such as the Government has provided already in the matter of passages home and visits of relatives, there will be not so much a problem as a situation in which more people will have the opportunity, and will tend, to move about more often. Suffice it to say that those who have taken the opportunity to return to their own country for some reason have very quickly tried to come back to Australia.
In my privileged movements in recent weeks I was interested in the situation relating to inquiries in North and South America. In New York we have a counsellor who handles a great number of inquiries. For financial reasons not many of them emerge into applications and arrivals in Australia, but there is a steady stream. We maintain only one officer in the continent of South America; he is at Buenos Aires. He is guide, counsellor and friend to all other posts in South America. I observed a considerable number of inquiries relating to migration to Australia and suitable aplicants were being processed constantly. All this leads me to emphasise the plea that I made when I first rose, which was for a strengthening of our services in the near future and the provision of more facilities.
– I wish to direct my remarks to Division 330 - Administrative. However, I feel that I should first say that on behalf of Opposition senators, and for that matter honourable senators opposite, I pay tribute to our migration officers in each of the capital cities for the very good job they do. One of the most pleasing features of our duties as parliamentarians is to attend functions with families which, with the aid of departmental officers, we have been able to unite. This makes one feel that one is doing something really worth while. Having said that, I wish to point out that the criticism 1 am about to voice is based on bad Cabinet decisions or ministerial decisions and not on the services provided by the Department’s officers in Australia and Europe.
Like Senator Davidson, 1 am fortified by a very fine document entitled ‘Australia’s Immigration Programmes for the Period 1968 to 1973’. Having read that document and particularly page 27, I appreciate the magnitude of the problem that confronts the Government. The document shows that whereas Australia was seeking 147,700 migrants in 1967-68, it hopes to receive 180,000 in 1972-73. Page 31 of the same document indicates that this year and possibly next year we may have a short fall of 9,000 settlers. That an illustration of the problem facing the Government. It is for that reason my initial criticism is based on the ‘Good Neighbour’ journal of August 1968, which lists the countries that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) visited during his recent trip to Europe. It appears that he visited Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, Italy, Britain and the United States. I have no quarrel with his choice of nations, but I do want to refer - and I think that the Minister will appreciate my point - to eastern Europe. To my way of thinking a lot of shilly-shallying is occurring in connection with the immigration agreement with Yugoslavia. When one looks at a map of central Europe one sees that Yugoslavia is bounded by Hungary and Rumania. I do not have to go into dissertation on central European politics to show that with a certain rigidity of thinking in the Cominform countries, quite a lot of quiet workers will seek to come to Australia.
In reply to a question I asked of the Minister recently I was told that a document is being circulated between the Yugoslavian and Australian governments. That is fair enough up to a point. I took a gallup poll amongst a cross-section of post-war Yugoslav migrants, including a rigger in Berrima, a ready-mixed concrete owner-driver in Guildford, a Crown Street Women’s Hospital interpreter, a small businessman in Enfield, a storekeeper in Yagoona and a member of the Australian Railways Union at Everleigh. By mail I also contacted a miner in British Columbia and another chap in Manapuri in New Zealand. All had Australian citizenship and all said to me: If it is good enough for Mr Snedden to visit Europe, why does he not visit Yugoslavia?’ I was in eastern Europe 2 years ago and I say with all sincerity that had the Minister visited Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana and other places and met not merely the equivalent of our migration officers but also the equivalent of members our Good Neighbour councils he would have been able to short circuit a lot of the delay because these people have contacts with their former countrymen in Canada and the United States.
I do not say this in a petty political manner. After all, we have reached the stage of sophistication at which our Ministers are making frequent contact with the people of other countries. Not so long ago the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) visited the Soviet Union and had his photograph taken at a collective farm. I was visiting the Cowper and Richmond electorates at the time and I know that the Minister’s visit did not cause a ripple. When Yugoslav migrants say to me: ‘Are we second class citizens? Why does the Minister not visit our homeland?’, I do not have an answer for them. I do not blame the Minister for Housing for this. But I do say quite sincerely that these people regard it as a studied insult and I do, too. I know that it can be argued that Mr Hasluck, the Minister for External Affairs, will visit Yugoslavia in the near future. But what hurts the pride of these people - and I agree with them - is that they are not given parity with Italians, Greeks and British migrants. They are classified as unassisted migrants. They say to me: ‘We have a pre-war tradition in this country, both in the mining industry in Western Australia and at Broken Hill, and in other industries’. I cannot emphasise that point too strongly.
I am heartened by the fact that the Functional Summary’ on page 98 of the Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure’ indicates that the staff in the Yugoslavia office has increased from 18 to 32. I have a high respect for our immigration officers but I do not think that the Government should rely on the generosity of the kinfolk of Yugoslav migrants or. to take it a little further, on the Australian Council of Churches or the Catholic authorities in this country. We should be going after prospective migrants. Trade union delegations have been over there and know the high quality of workmanship that obtains. It is obvious that with the indirect sanctions that the Soviet Union is applying, Yugoslavia will go through a period of economic tightness.
We should accelerate finalisation of the immigration agreement between the two countries. A lot of the people who are making a very positive contribution to the wellbeing of Australia feel a little disappointed that unanimity has not been reached so far. 1 sincerely hope that agreement can be reached in the not too distant future. The Minister for External Affairs may be able to smooth over some of the misunderstandings that have occurred because Mr Snedden did not visit Yugoslavia. I believe it is quite possible that there will be an exodus of guest workers over the Hungarian border and even through Rumania. Not all of these will be Yugoslavs. Other countries are involved. I recall Bruno Pitterman, who is one of the Social Democrat leaders in Austria, saying to me that if the Soviet Union reverts to a hard attitude quite a lot of people coming into Austria will want to go to Australia and Canada. I do not think it is necessary for me to point that out to the migration officers; I think they are well aware of it. But I do feel that the Government has not moved swiftly enough at the Cabinet level.
I am reminded of the time when Senator Poyser, Senator Ormonde and I were critical of conditions in Commonwealth hostels. We repeatedly said that social services standards in Australia were deteriorating compared with standards in not only Western Europe but Europe generally. Sir Leslie Melville, in his economic record of June 1967, made similar comments. I think the Government should be criticised for not improving social services. It would be a help if hospital and medical benefits were improved. I feel also that Yugoslavs in the 20 to 30 age groups, who are competent linguists, should be sent from here to our immigration office in Yugoslavia. I know that in the Australian Embassy in Yugoslavia there are English girls who are married to Yugoslavs. I am not for one moment questioning their linguistic ability -I have seen them at close quarters - but I believe that we could employ some of our postwar migrants with advantage.
There is another problem in Yugoslavia for which I do not blame the Government. I know of one girl who sought employment with the Australian Embassy. She would have been employed but she would have become a victim of dual taxation. Perhaps the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) could take up the taxation problem with the Yugoslav Government. If we are going to staff our Embassy and other offices with competent linguists, as we should, we should remove the impediment of dual taxation. On the subject of the increased staff in Belgrade the Minister may perhaps be able to tell me how many of the staff are Australian born, how many are of British stock or of Yugoslav stock and where the others came from. Among the staff are there any English girls who are married to Yugoslavs? I believe that in
Yugoslavia there is much to be done, but I believe also that we can take advantage of the number of people in Belgrade who speak English.
I propose to refer also to a matter of an internal nature. During the debate last year on the Estimates for the Department of Immigration I raised the question of bilingual teachers for education purposes. I raised this subject at the request of a number of trade unions, including the Federated Iron Workers Association of Australia and the Building Workers Industrial Union of Australia. Probably others in this place are more competent to talk about education up to a certain level, but I am trying to bridge a gap so that it will perhaps be easier for the wife of a Greek member of the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia who is employed with the Sunbeam Corporation Ltd in Sydney, or a similar company in another State, to learn the English language, even if it is only of a colloquial nature. Such people could be taught by migrants with bi-lingual qualifications in the same way as new arrivals in New York and other places are taught. I realise that this is not definitely a responsibility of the Minister for Immigration, but it is a subject that has been ventilated at Australian Citizenship Conventions. For some reason State Ministers have not been very helpful to the Commonwealth in this regard.
I should like to refer also to the acceptance in Australia of professional qualifications obtained overseas. In fairness to the Minister I should state that I am aware that in the case of recent arrivals from Prague some States did not make concessions. However, I want to pinpoint the slowness of the New South Wales State Government in relation to the acceptance of qualifications for veterinary surgeons. I understand that legislation enacted in New South Wales in the early 1950s when Mr Sheahan was Minister for Health dealt with veterinary surgeons. However, that legislation terminated 2 years ago. I understand that South Australia has rectified the position. I spoke to a number of veterinary surgeons in Slovenia and in Austria about 18 months ago. Their concern was that in New South Wales veterinary surgeons from their countries have virtually to repeat the whole course instead of being required to undertake a short 12 months qualifying course or a refresher course. What progress has been made in this regard? Has any attempt been made to call together the State Ministers so that they may get cracking?
[9.44] - I reL. first to the points raised by Senator Davidson who spoke about additional staff for overseas posts. I inform the honourable senator that the review of the staffing of overseas posts is a continuous process. In the last 12 months or so the staffs of a number of posts have been reinforced and several new posts have been established. A senior officer has just completed an inspection of migration offices in Great Britain and Europe for the purpose of examining methods and procedures, staffing and accommodation requirements. Senator Davidson can be assured that the requirements to which he has directed his attention will not be overlooked. We are very glad to have the points that he has raised. The honourable senator asked also about increasing various assisted passage schemes. The increases are due in the main to the increased assisted programme from an intake of 84,635 in 1967-68 to 105,000 in 1968-69. The main increases were as follows: In the British programme the intake in 1967-68 was 55,877 and the programme for 1968-69 is for 70,000. Under the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration schemes the intake for 1967-68 was 15,487 and the programme for 1968-69 calls for 18,750.
Senator Mulvihill raised two or three points. One matter referred to by him has been raised on more than one occasion with me and I have endeavoured to give him up-to-date information each time he has asked the question. I refer to assisted migration from Yugoslavia. I remind the honourable senator again that proposals for assisted migration from Yugoslavia were submitted by the Australian Government to the Government of Yugoslavia some time ago. Last week a draft agreement prepared by the Yugoslav authorities was received in Canberra from Belgrade. The English text of the draft is now being studied by the Commonwealth departments concerned. It can be assumed that this will be followed by detailed negotiations between the two Governments. The honourable senator said that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) had not visited Yugoslavia. I cannot give any details on this point, but I am quite certain that when the appropriate time arrives the Minister will visit the area, if it is possible for him to do so.
asked also about the staffing in Belgrade. I inform him that the Embassy employs 14 Australian based officers and 18 who have been locally engaged. He spoke also of professional qualifications. This is a subject on which a question was asked in the Senate today. The Minister for Immigration is about to send to the State Ministers for Immigration for their attention a proposal which he hopes will make a big impact on the whole area of recognition of professional qualifications obtained overseas. In essence it seeks their co-operation in the establishment of a high calibre committee which will examine the qualifications granted by overseas universities and assess their relativity to qualifications granted by Australian universities. When this is done, registration authorities and professional bodies will be able to compare one qualification with another. But the work of the proposed committee must first be done. That action will be put in train with the co-operation of State Ministers for Immigration and their colleagues. I repeat that this is a matter which the Minister for Immigration is about to put before the State Ministers. I believe that that information will be of interest to Senator Mulvihill.
– I am happy to take part in this discussion, particularly as the proposed expenditure is approximately $63m. First I should like to pay tribute to the staff and to the organisation of the Department of Immigration. Since the formation of this Department in 1945 it has had good officers who have been generally very co-operative. The Department could enhance its reputation by exercising discretion in borderline cases to unite families in this country. I think honourable senators would be appreciative if more information were set out in details of receipts and expenditure. This year it seems that material has been omitted which in previous years was available to the Senate. I am sure that reasons can be given for the omission of that material but I believe that unless a protest is made the amount of information supplied to us will dwindle from year to year. Honourable senators like to probe the estimates of a department, item by item. 1 am aware of the advantages to Australia of our immigration policy. In 1945 our population was about 7i million; today we have a population of almost 12 million. The immigration policy that has been pursued over many years has contributed greatly to the wealth of this country. For this reason it is most important that it should be assisted. Officers of the Department of Immigration are dedicated to the cause. I am ako aware of the part played by the Labor movement in the implementation of our immigration programme. I recall listening with great interest to a speech on immigration by the first Minister for Immigration, the Rt Hon. Arthur Calwell, who played a major role in the development of our immigration programme. Changes have been made in that programme over a period of 23 years since its inception, but the original formula has been basically retained. 1 wish to pay a tribute to the great Australians who have assisted considerably in the field of immigration. I refer particularly to members of the Australian Workers Union who have assisted new settlers in this country since our immigration programme began. I have in mind men like Ted Grayndler and W. G. Spence, who helped in the early struggles. I have also in mind the men who fought against the system of Kanaka labour which operated in northern Australia. Such men have helped Australia to develop along lines of which we can be very proud today. The name of Harry Delaney, a former president of the Australian Workers Union comes readily to mind. He was a very good shearer in his own right. I think also of Tom Dougherty, Charlie Oliver and Edgar Williams, who each assisted greatly in the early days.
The leaders of the Labor movement in 1945 when the foundation of our immigration policy was laid were men like John Curtin and Ben Chifley, and as I have already said, the Right Honourable Arthur Calwell. I do not think it would do any harm to place on record the attitude of the Australian Labor Party to immigration. Our platform states:
Convinced that increased population is vital to the future development of Australia, the Australian Labor Party will support and uphold a vigorous and expanding immigration programme administered with sympathy,” understanding and tolerance. The basis of such policy will be:
Australia’s national and economic security.
The welfare and integration of all its citizens.
The preservation of our democratic system and balanced development of our nation.
The avoidance of the difficult social and economic problems which may follow from an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions and cultures.
I am pleased to say that I was associated with the drafting of that policy. A great deal has been said about the establishment of a migration quota system in this country. The ALP has made its position quite clear in that respect. I believe in a policy of assimilation. If we are really concerned with integration, our first move should be to help the integration of our Aboriginals. We should be doing more in that direction than we are doing. We could create bad international relations by our failure to act. However, I think the policy which has been enunciated and carried out by the Department of Immigration is quite a good one. I know that our people are well aware of our immigration policy. Migrants are bringing special skills and qualifications to this country. Our need of such skills should be advertised far and wide. In recent years we have changed our immigration laws and, I believe, have acted constructively.
Until 1957 non-Europeans born abroad could not as a rule become Australian citizens in the full sense. They may do so now after 5 year’s residence, the period normally required for citizenship. To June 1968 about 9,000 became citizens, 3,200 of them after the March 1966 review of policy. At 30th June 1968 about 40,900 nonEuropeans were in Australia, including 19,800 who have Australian citizenship, 10,800 by birth and 9,000 by naturalisation or registration; 5,000 who have resident status but not citizenship; and 3,300 who have temporary resident status. The majority of those people with temporary resident status will be able to remain as residents, and many will qualify to introduce their wives and children. The number of nonEuropeans at 30th June 1968 also included 12,000 overseas students, mainly from Asia and the Pacific, of whom 2,000 are government sponsored and 10,000 are private students; and about 800 visitors.
Persons of mixed descent may be admitted under a policy which takes account of close family relationships and other compassionate circumstances. Over 21,500 have come to Australia in this way during the post-war period from Asia and other countries. We must seek to avoid in Australia the problems that have arisen in other parts of the world, particularly in the United States of America. Within the last 2 years 1 visited Malaysia where I was asked to explain our immigration policy to the people there. I found that they raised no objection to our policy. They have their own immigration problems associated with Singapore. It is unfortunate that at times our immigration policy receives adverse publicity.
I would like the Minister, who has some of the top immigration officers alongside her, to answer some of my questions on matters that concern me very much. Over the past few months I have raised in this Parliament the question of Maltese migration. In March of this year Mr Dom Mintoff, the leader of the Maltese Labour Party, came to Australia and was invited to come to Canberra for talks with the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) on a reciprocal agreement between Malta and Australia on social services - an agreement similar to those with other British countries, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand. I understand that Mr Mintoff travelled to Canberra by VIP aircraft. I would like to know from the Minister what has happened in regard to this matter. It affects Maltese people in this country and also migration from Malta to this country . Mr Mintoff was given an assurance by the responsible Minister that the matter would be considered. I have raised the question several times in this Parliament. I would like to be given some information in regard to it.
I refer now to another problem which has been a vital issue for migrants to this country in past years. I would like to know what is happening about it at this moment. Senator Mulvihill talks about Yugoslavs. It is important to Australia that migrants be taught the English language as early as possible. On the 17th of this month I directed a question to Senator Wright, who is the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. I said:
No doubt the Minister Ls aware that the Commonwealth’s migration scheme has produced a serious language problem in schools throughout Australia, particularly those in industrial areas. I ask: In view of the importance that migrant students learn English, has he any information of the advantages of language laboratories in schools, such as that which operates at Northmead High School in New South Wales, where listening posts are provided with headphones to receive programmed lessons from radio or from tape or disc recordings for the teaching of English and other subjects to migrants? Will the Minister investigate the new teaching device with a view to its introduction wherever possible in areas which have a large migrant population?
This matter is important not only to students but also to people who are going into industry. They are eager to learn the English language. These new devices, which are in operation today in this advanced field of education, are important. It is very necessary that not only in the field of education but also in the field of migration this matter be considered very carefully. I hope that after I sit down the Minister, on behalf of the Government, will be able to give us information on these matters. I notice that one of my colleagues in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr Alf Grassby, has raised the matter of the skills of migrants. He has referred to an Egyptian scientist who accepted a position with a large pest control agency which employs agricultural scientists and does work in Sydney-
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.4] - Senator Fitzgerald spoke about the total appropriation of nearly $63m. I think he was referring to the amalgamation of the appropriations for overseas posts into one division, namely, Division 332. This was done to streamline accounting and is consistent with the presentation of Australian office costs in Division 330. However, appropriations for each overseas post are shown under subdivisions in Table 10 on page 46 of the document ‘Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure*.
He also expressed his belief that more sympathy was needed in borderline cases to assist family reunion. He can rest assured that where family reunion is involved a great deal of flexibility is exercised. Only the most serious objections are allowed to stand in the way of the admission of people with family members in Australia. If he has in mind any particular case in this field, about which he is concerned, I suggest that he submit it either direct to the Minister for Immigration or through me to the Minister, so that it can be considered.
Senator Fitzgerald also referred to the language problem. He said that migrants should be taught the English language as soon as possible and that there was a serious language problem in schools. A statement has been made on this matter. I believe that it would be of interest to him as well as to other honourable senators. There has been a certain amount of publicity on this topic in recent times. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has taken a special interest in the matter and many discussions have taken place between the Department of Immigration and other authorities. Until last year there were no reported problems of any magnitude being encountered by State education departments. Since early 1967 there have been reports of difficulties in primary and secondary schools in Sydney and Melbourne. These problems have been reported in the main from schools in inner suburbs.
The handicap which migrant children face in the State schools system because of lack of English is of particular concern to both Commonwealth and State authorities. AH States have introduced some special provisions to cope with the language problems of the migrant children. These include special classes for non-English speakers and training and teaching aids for teachers who have migrant pupils.
The solutions to the problems are many and varied. In Australia these may range from specially structured ‘crash’ courses in English to additional classes within the local school environment. Pre-embarkation and shipboard instruction can assist to reduce the problems encountered on initial settlement: The type of solution used depends on the numbers, compared with Australian born, and the location of the migrant children. Also important are the urgency or depth of the problem and the age and scholastic level of the children involved.
The Department of Immigration, in collaboration with the Department of Educa tion and Science and the New South Wales Education Department, in the course of a full scale review of migrant education, is looking closely at these and other problems of migrant school children. It is hoped that the findings will enable swift co-operative remedial action to be taken benefiting the children and Australia.
Senator Fitzgerald spoke about the question of a reciprocal agreement on social services between Malta and Australia. I am informed that Mr Don Mintoff visited Australia as Leader of the Opposition in the Maltese Parliament. He did raise with the Minister for Immigration the position of Maltese migrants in relation to the receipt of social service benefits. The Minister undertook to bring to the notice of his colleague, the then Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair), the points raised by Mr Mintoff. This has been done.
– I refer to the appropriation for the repatriation and deportation of migrants under Division 330. The sum appropriated for this purpose this year is $220,000. What does that represent? My study of the migration programme suggests that very few of the migrants who come to Australia are deported and very few of them are repatriated. This seems to me to be quite a considerable sum to appropriate for this purpose. I realise that $203,447 was spent out of an appropriation of $210,000 last year. It seems to me that we are starting to work in reverse if we spend in excess of $30m on assisted passages in order to bring people here and then appropriate money in order to send them back home. I can appreciate that some are deported because of crimes they have committed and for like reasons. They are not welcome citizens in this country, but my reading of the news does not indicate that there would be enough to account for this amount of money.
Provision is also made in that division for the education of migrants in the English language. I want to attract to the Minister’s attention the fact that in Western Australia every Sunday at about 12 o’clock there is a television programme for migrants wherein people speak correct English to encourage the migrants to speak English. There are programmes on the driving laws which operate in the State, the value of money and that sort of thing. Australia changed over to decimal currency in 1965. I have not seen the programme since I came home from overesas but until last June instruction relating to money was being given in pounds, shillings and pence. Surely the Department of Immigration or whoever prepares these films for distribution to television stations in order to assist migrants to understand the currency that operates in Australia would have been able to update their programme in 2± years. It seems quite wrong to me to be instructing people in the use of pounds, shillings and pence when they go out in public and have to deal in dollars and cents.
This is a serious criticism as far as I am concerned because it is completely confusing to have people who come here understanding little English, who just manage to get by in many cases, look at an educational programme on Sunday, find that it is expressed in pounds, shillings and pence and then go out in to the world and have to deal in dollars and cents. This programme is televised at that time because they have the leisure time to look at it then. I would like some explanation as to why this programme has not been brought up to date and the instruction given in dollars and cents.
– This would not be a Department of Immigration matter.
– It is.
– It would come under the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– The honourable senator should find out something about it before he starts interrupting. I looked at the notices that came before and after the programme. The honourable senator should speak on a matter he knows something about, and that will be very little. Also in the same division I notice that last year there was an appropriation of $32,200 and an expenditure of $36,070 for the citizenship convention. This year there is no appropriation at all. Does this mean that the holiday for the good servants of supporters of the Government is off this year?
This Citizenship Convention has continually been lauded by the Government as being a useful exercise in getting representatives of the Australian community from the various States gathered together in
Canberra and giving members of Parliament an opportunity to address themselves to the problems of immigration. Yet here without any warning at all we find that unless the Government has some spare money from other years there is to bc no Citizenship Convention this year. I would like some explanation of that. It may have outlived its usefulness. I do not know. In any case there should be some information as to why, although the Convention has been so good in other years and Ministers have stood in their places in this Senate and in another place and talked about the great value of the citizenship convention, we find that at this point of time there is not to be one.
I listened to what Senator Mulvihill had to say and he did express the opinion that this year there could be a fall off of some 9,000 in the number of migrants. I do net have the figures with me and I do not know what they represent, but they are a projection by Senator Mulvihill and I am prepared to accept them. Provision is made in Division 330 for passage and associated costs under the United Kingdom-Australia Assisted Passage Agreement. The expenditure last year was $19,105,050, and the appropriation this year is $24,658,000. If there is to be a shortfall in immigration this year as compared with last year then there should be some explanation as to why there is an increase of $5. 5m in the amount appropriated for assisted passages from the United Kingdom. There should be some inquiry about this. It may be that the 9,000 shortfall that Senator Mulvihill talks about is not in immigrants from the United Kingdom, but nevertheless when there is an increase of $5. 5m in this appropriation over what was spent on assisted passages from the United Kingdom last year I would like some information in connection with it.
In Division 850 there is an appropriation for buildings, works, plant and equipment for Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. I notice that the expenditure last year was $3,667,000 .and there is an appropriation this year of $6,630,000. In round figures there is expected to be an increase of $3m in the proposed expenditure for this year. I was always under the impression that Commonwealth Hostels Ltd came under the administration of the Department of Labour and National Service, not under the Department of Immigration. I think this requires some explanation.
Provision is made in Division 853 for second passage assistance and assistance to Australians in respect of passage and associated costs. There was no expenditure under this heading last year and no appropriation, but there is an appropriation this year of $510,000. Does it mean that the Commonwealth Government is now adopting a policy of second assistance to migrants coming back to Australia? In what way does the Department of Immigration become involved in Australians returning to Australia? Those are the items upon which $500,000 is proposed to be spent in 1968- 69. The term ‘associated costs’ requires some explanation. Obviously it is for passages, but what are the associated costs in respect of second passages and what assistance is given to Australians? I think the Committee is entitled to an explanation of that item.
– I present the fifth report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 5 November, at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 10.23 p.m. till Tuesday, 5 November, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681024_senate_26_s39/>.