26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MURPHY - My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister for Supply. If the Government is incapable of finding a way out of the Fill fiasco, is it not time for this Parliament to have a full discussion on the subject in order to get Australia out of what appears to be an impossible situation? Does the Government agree that it is high time Australia’s defence planning was placed on a proper fooling by giving our Air Force a reliable and effective aircraft, free of recurring faults and at a reasonable cost? Leaving party politics aside, is Australia’s national defence not much too important to be jeopardised by the purchase of such a risky machine? I ask the Minister why the Government docs not emulate the United States Senate and institute a full parliamentary inquiry in order to get Australia out of this high priced mess.
Senator ANDERSON- The Leader of the Opposition purported to ask a question, but in fact he made a speech. I suppose that on the occasion of the first question in this sessional period that is understandable. I do not concede the points that he made in his short speech. I think he would know as well as I do that the forms of the Senate are open to him at any time in relation to any matter that he wants to pursue, such as the acquisition by Australia of the Fill. It is true that a number of problems have arisen in relation to that aircraft. It is equally true that more recently there has been another circumstance. Oddly enough, the Leader of the Opposition did not ask me about that, but no doubt I will be asked about it before question time is finished. So I will reserve my reply until that question is asked.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware that Mr Healey, the Defence Secretary in the United Kingdom, has announced that the United Kingdom Government, the British Aircraft Corporation and the German aircraft building complex are proceeding forthwith to develop a swing-wing aircraft?
– I accept the statement made by Senator Cormack. The fact is that in an industry which must always be looking for progress and development swing-wing aircraft are not necessarily confined to the Fill, either in concept or design. I think it is rather significant that the United Kingdom, with its record in relation to the aircraft industry and the aircraft that it set out to build and then abandoned, is now considering a swing-wing aircraft. I am sure the Senate takes the point made by the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. To date how much has Australia paid under the Fill contract and what is the present date for delivery of the first of these aircraft?
– In the welter of papers that I have here I have some figures on cost payments that had been made to January. Before the end of question time I will produce the answer to the honourable senator’s question.
– It would be better lo produce the money. It has gone forever.
– We are dealing with the taxpayers’ money and there should be no flippancy with regard to the matter. The honourable senator asked a responsible question and I will obtain a detailed answer for him during question time today.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Can the Minister say whether investigation of the salinity aspect associated with the river systems flowing into the River Murray will continue? Will the Minister give an assurance that measures will be taken to improve the quality of water which flows into the tower reaches of the Murray so that in future years South Australia can expect further improvements in the quality of the water it receives?
– We all are conscious of the need for pure water for South Australia. That is the reason the honourable senator has asked this very important question. I advise him that the consultants appointed by the Snowy Mountains Authority will have a report available for the River Murray Commission in May or June of this year. As that report is not available at present I cannot offer conjecture as to what will happen. The River Murray Commission and the Snowy Mountains Authority have established two projects on the River Murray. Those projects have been financed by the Commonwealth and have reduced considerably the salinity in the River Murray waters.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I draw his attention to the growing concern by many Australians about the dangers to this country implicit in multinational corporations exercising economic and political influence in their large scale takeovers of many of our most important industries. It is thought that this could lead to erosion of Australian sovereignty and diminution of our national independence. Will the Treasurer make an early report to the Parliament on overseas investment in order to allay the concern felt by many people that this trend will deprive future generations of Australians of the fruits of the abundant resources of this country in both minerals and industries?
– The Senate will be aware that the question of overseas investment in Australia is currently under examination by the Government. I have no doubt that at the appropriate time the Treasurer will make a statement to the Parliament about it. When and if he does so, the statement will be made in this place also. It will be open for discussion, using the normal forms of the House. The question is not a precise one. I think it must be obvious to everybody that Australia, as a young country, is limited in terms of its capability for capital investment. In a continent as vast as Australia, with a population of only 12 million people the capacity to generate capital within that country, to put it mildly, has its limitations. It is for that reason that we have always looked for overseas investment in Australia, and the success of Australia’s development has been due in no small measure to that overseas investment. But that is not to say that there are not some circumstances in which overseas investment is not appropriate. I take that to be the point of the honourable senator’s question. Yes,. I believe the Treasurer will make a statement in the fullness of time. I also believe that when he does it will make for very interesting and worthwhile debate in this chamber.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate give any indication as to whether the Government proposes to implement the unanimous recommendations contained in the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures which was presented to the Senate at the end of May, last year? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an item of news emanating from New Zealand in today’s Australian Press that a government committee there has reported that New Zealand should make an early start in adopting the metric system of weights and measures and that the Minister of Industry and Commerce in New Zealand said that the Government has accepted the fact that New Zealand would sooner or later adopt the system?
– It is true that, after a most intensive study of the metric system of weights and measures the Senate Select Committee to which the honourable senator has referred submitted a magnificent report which contained certain recommendations. It is also true that there is a world wide tendency to move towards the adoption of the metric system in those countries where it does not now apply. The honourable senator referred to the discussions which are going on in New Zealand. All I can say at this particular Lime is that the report of the Senate Select Committee is currently under examination by the Government in the portfolio of the Minister for Education and Science.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the continued history of industrial problems associated with Trans-Australia Airlines, can the Minister inform the Parliament whether his Department or any other Government department is interfering unduly in industrial matters associated with the Australian National Airlines Commission with a longterm view to having the assets of TAA disposed of to private enterprise?
– I have noticed with horror the number of holdups due to industrial strife which have affected the working of Trans-Australia Airlines and precluded that airline from making the just amount of profit which it is entitled to make. I can assure the honourable senator that neither the Commonwealth Government nor the Minister for Civil Aviation has had any part in any move such as that suggested by the honourable senator.
– Following the recent visit of the Minister for Trade and Industry to New Zealand, can the Minister representing him in this chamber point to any significant statement which relates to likely trading conditions between Australia and New Zealand in connection with New Zealand lamb? As this matter is one of considerable importance to fat lamb producers, particularly those of New South Wales and Victoria, will the Minister encourage the Minister for Trade and Industry to indicate what arrangements he might have made whilst in New Zealand? More particularly, will he encourage the Minister to express a view as to the volume of lamb which he envisages may be imported into Australia during the coming season and the effect of these imports on the local industry?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry did visit New Zealand. It is true that the primary purpose of his visit was to have discussions with relation to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. My understanding of the position is that he has issued a Press statement dealing with that visit in which he pointed out that it was thought that there was a risk - not that there was a risk but that it was thought there was a potential risk - to certain Australian primary industries. I have included the importation of peas as well as lamb in that category. The fact is that in 1968 a total of 972 tons of lamb was imported from New Zealand, which was less than one half of 1% of the Australian production. I understand that it was announced in January of this year that a panel of producers and officials had been set up to gather information about any trends that might appear to cut across the Australian industry and to advise the Government accordingly. I am informed that at the present time the importation of lamb from New Zealand is not a threat to the Australian industry.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Will he consider refusing visas for the visit to Australia of the Red Army Choir for Adelaide’s next Festival of Arts, particularly in view of the decision of the British Labour Government not to receive the Red Army Choir while the Red Army is grossly suppressing the liberty of the people of Czechoslovakia? Will the Minister also examine the possibility that a visit by a Red Army organisation under present circumstances would be a serious provocation to those migrants who have come to Australia from countries whose liberties have been subverted by the Red Army?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN
I have listened to the honourable senators question and shall place the details of it before my colleague the Minister for Immigration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Can the Minister elaborate on a recent statement that the Commonwealth Government proposed to release 33 acres of land at South Head for public recreation purposes? In particular, can the Minister advise whether the land will be released direct to the New South Wales Government or leased at a peppercorn rental to the appropriate municipal council? If the land is to be sold to the New South Wales Government will the same valuation formula apply as applied in previous land releases? Finally, does the Government contemplate further releases of land on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour that is occupied by the Commonwealth Government?
– The honourable senator has asked a series of questions. I cannot answer them all precisely but 1 will give a general answer. If there is any particular information required in relation to the leasing arrangements it will have to be given at a later stage. A Press release by the Minister for Defence on 19th February stated that details of the conditions of release of Commonwealth-owned land at South Head were still being worked out. So, some of the questions posed by the honourable senator cannot be answered at this stage. When the exact boundaries and other details are known the offer will be communicated officially to the New South Wales Government. I should mention that the Minister for Defence indicated in his Press release that the Commonwealth will reserve the right to resume possession for defence purposes if that should be necessary. The balance of the honourable senator’s question related not only to land held for defence purposes but to all Commonwealth land holdings on the foreshores of Sydney Harbour. Therefore this is a matter for the Minister for the Interior as well as the Minister for Defence and” I understand that the Minister for the Interior will be writing to the honourable senator giving him some information in this regard.
– My question is directed to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Can the Minister give any indication of the number of overseas tourists who visited Australia during the last financial year? Can he also indicate the number expected during this financial year? In view of the fact that until now most tourists from overseas have visited only the eastern States or Canberra, will he encourage them to go further afield? Will he investigate the possibility of having the Australian Tourist commission open up an On safari’ type of tour through central Australia and if possible having people stay at cattle and sheep stations en route?
– In answer to the question of the honourable senator, my recollection is that at the end of the 1967 calendar year the number of international tourists who came to Australia was of the order of 260,000 and at the end of last year it was nearly 300,000. With regard to the suggestion made by the honourable senator about increasing the interest of international tourists in the centre of Australia, I would like to give one illustration of which I learned on a visit to Alice Springs a fortnight ago. When visiting one centre, I was informed that there alone the number of bookings by American tourists had increased from 600 last year to 1,000 this year. Regarding the honourable senator’s reference to the interest in pastoral and other typically Australian pursuits, I would inform her that the position is being carefully watched by the Australian Tourist Commission.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In the light of the economic dislocation, increased morbidity and increased mortality which would occur if an epidemic of influenza occurred in Australia this year will the Cabinet request the Minister for Health to make the protective vaccine available free to those who desire it?
– I will direct the question to the Prime Minister. My understanding is that this matter has been put in train, but nevertheless I will direct the question as the honourable senator asks me to do. I will also send it to the Minister for Health for his information.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen an article attributed to a lecturer in political science at the Australian National University, Mr J. Cooksey, stating amongst other things that the American installation at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs, was designed to help the nuclear strategy of the United States, and that the Australian Government had in advance signed away all rights to control the establishment? Is the Minister aware that there is considerable concern amongst a great number of Australians, especially in view of the continued Government silence on the subject? Will the Minister tell the Parliament and the Australian public the real purpose of the Pine Gap station and what arrangements, if any, the Australian Government has entered into with the American Government for the control of the establishment?
– As I recall it, this matter was raised in the Senate last year. Indeed, I also recall the late Prime Minister making a reference to it in answer to a question. The Minister for Defence also answered a question on the same subject. I will direct the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Defence. As I recall it, my answer was to the effect that the arrangement with the United States at Pine Gap was related to the study of outer space. However, I will direct the question to the Minister for his reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I preface my question by saying that I have sent a telegram informing the Prime Minister of my intention to seek a statement today from him on an article by the journalist, Mr Eric Walsh, in the Adelaide ‘News’, of 13th February. Will the Prime Minister now make a statement on the allegation in the article that by Government arrangement a theft from the embassy of a friendly power was committed? Was the stolen document unrelated to security? As stated in the article, was the thief able, on the threat of exposure, to blackmail the Government into overriding a decision of the Appeals Board appointed under the Public Service Act?
– I have not been informed of the substance of the telegram to the extent that the honourable senator links it to his question. I therefore would - very properly as I am sure he will appreciate - refer the matter to the Prime Minister’s Department. As I understood his question, it referred to some foreign power.
– The theft from the embassy of a foreign power.
– In that case, I think I should also direct the question to the Minister for External Affairs to gather what information I can for the honourable senator.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to the lamb industry panel which has been appointed to inquire info the effect of the importation of
New Zealand lamb into Australia. Has the panel1 sat and, if so, when is it likely to make its report? Will it continue to meet as a panel to ascertain any effects that may result during the current season? Will these reports be made currently and will they be available to the 1’amb industry?
– As I mentioned in answer to a previous question, it is within my knowledge that a panel has been formed. The formation of the panel was announced in January, although I cannot say at what date in January. As the answers to so many of the questions asked by the honourable senator are not within my personal knowledge I shall get the information and make it available to the Senate.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In view of the many warnings by experts, such as that 2 days ago by Dr Kalkstein, Associate Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the State University of New York, of radioactive danger involved, will the Minister ensure that adequate and exhaustive research is carried out at Cape Keraudren before permission is granted to use nuclear explosives in a harbour deepening project?
– 1 understand that it. is proposed to use this method to deepen the port at Cape Keraudren to enable the export of iron ore and other minerals from north western Australia. This experiment will be carried out in conjunction with the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission will be advising the Government on dangers that may be involved in this sort of port construction. 1 can assure the honourable senator that the Atomic Energy Commission will advise the Government of the dangers involved and he can rest assured that if the dangers are excessive the Government will take whatever steps are necessary to protect Australia.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, follows on from that asked by Senator Wilkinson. Can the Minister assure the
Senate that the proposed nuclear detonation at Cape Keraudren in no way constitutes a breach, either in letter or in spirit, of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?
– I have mentioned that a complete study of this type of explosion for deepening ports was being carried out. At this stage it is a study only. Therefore the honourable senator is making conjectures in advance of the study being completed and a decision being made by the Government.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is political asylum to be granted to the West Irians who drifted by raft to Australia? If so, will the Government continue to grant asylum to the increasing number of these people who seek to escape from a situation in West New Guinea which this Government helped to create?
– I think it is proper that this question should be put on the notice paper. I shall certainly be in a position to give an answer tomorrow in relation to the question of political asylum.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development follows on from a question asked earlier by Senator Young about the control of salt in the River Murray water flowing into South Australia. I. understood the Minister to say that the Commonwealth, at ils own expense, had instituted two projects to control salinity in the River Murray. Can the Minister be a little more specific about the effect on the quality of water reaching South Australia to be achieved by the expenditure of this money?
– The two projects referred to by the honourable senator were financed by the Commonwealth Government at the request of the Victorian Government and are included in the amounts which have been provided for water conservation. In an election speech S50m was promised for this purpose. From memory the amounts involved in the two projects were in excess of S2m. but to enable me to obtain a detailed answer from the Minister I ask the honourable senator to put the question on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that the Government has granted legal aid to certain Australian Aboriginals who are seeking, by court action, to claim and enforce land rights in the Gove Peninsula? If so, what is the extent and the amount of the legal aid to be made available? Is it true that this grant is of a wholly ex gratia character?
– The answer to the first part of the question is yes. I am not in a position to state the amount of the legal aid that has been made available. I have no doubt that will, depend upon developments in the litigation. I understand that the legal aid would be completely ex gratia.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it true that diplomatic immunity is enjoyed by diplomats and their car drivers who ignore and offend against traffic rules? If this is so, will the Leader of the Government ask the Prime Minister to consider withdrawing this immunity?
– As everyone knows, diplomatic immunity is a very delicate matter because it relates to nations and involves a high degree of reciprocity. As I understand it, as a general rule diplomatic immunity is prescribed for diplomats so classified. Of course a degree of diplomatic immunity is extended to the staff of the diplomatic corps. Having regard to the circumstances, I think that the honourable senator’s question rates a considered reply from the Prime Minister and I will attempt to get one for him.
– Does the Minister for Customs and Excise recall the steep increases, in some cases ranging as high as $25 a ton, which occurred in the price of urea last year? Did the Minister announce recently that there was to be a reduction of $10 a ton in the price of imported urea? Will the Minister inform the Senate what led up to this decision and with whom the discussions were held?
– Following many questions asked of me in the Senate by my colleagues from Western Australia and from other States I had inquiries made into the price of urea to the farmer. I inform the Senate now that the subsidy of $80 a ton on contained nitrogen is to be passed on to the consumer. There has been a very high degree of fluctuation in the price of urea ranging last year from $49 a ton landed to more than $70 a ton. The information I received indicated that the whole of the subsidy was not being passed on by the importers. I have now obtained from the importers a reduction of $10 a ton in the price of urea to the consumer.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation: How many national servicemen who have served in Vietnam have applied for re-establishment courses? How many applications have been accepted for such courses on, firstly, a part time basis and. secondly, a full time basis?
– I am not sure that I can answer at this moment all the questions asked by the honourable senator. I can tell him that 2,704 applications for post-discharge vocational training were received up to 31st December 1968. Of that number 562 applications were awaiting processing and 217 had been withdrawn. Of the remainder, 1,699 or 88% had been approved, and 226 or 12% declined. The breakup of approved applications showed that 387 full1 time training courses and 1,312 part time training courses had been authorised. I think the honourable senator will be interested to learn also that the latest available figures, which cover the period to 20th November 1968, show that 57 applications from national servicemen for business loans have been determined. Of those applications, 20 have been approved and 37 disallowed. A further 53 applications were awaiting decision at that date. If I have not answered fully all the queries raised by the honourable senator and he places them in a question on the notice paper, 1. will1 see whether I can get further information for him.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science seen a news report that the Chicago Tribune’ recently carried out a 24-hour boycott of all news of student protesters on university campuses around the world, to signify its own protest against their actions? Has the Minister considered the possibility of recommending to Australian newspaper proprietors a similar course of action, especially since the reason prompting the action by the Chicago Tribune’ appears to be present in Australia: that is, that student protesters have generated news out of all proportion to their own numbers and importance?
– I have not seen the article relating to the Chicago ‘Tribune’ referred to by the honourable senator. Insofar as the question is directed to me, I wish to say that I am well aware of what I consider a disproportionate prominence tha* is given to protests by university students. However, I suggest that we still live in an atmosphere in which discretion as to the way in which news is presented belongs peculiarly to the free generation of communication by the Press. I do not mean to indicate by that statement any difference with the viewpoint put forward by the honourable senator as to the ultimate judgment; but as to curtailing news generation because one disagrees with the proportion of prominence given to a particular item, for my part 1 wish to say no.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Supply, refers to his announcement that two Australian deep space tracking stations will play an important part in the current ‘Mariner’ Mars fly-by mission. As the tracking station located at Woomera has been described by the Minister as the prime Australian station for the 1969 mission, 1 ask him to say whether this indicates intensified activity at Woomera, and whether it means a consequent increase of employment and servicing opportunities.
– It is true that a Mariner’ deep space mission is to take place this week, and also that there is to be an Apollo firing, I think on Friday of this week. They are very significant in the sense that Australia plays quite an important part in tracking station operations. It is not for me to enlarge upon that statement at question time. Because I think this is a matter of profound interest, I may take an opportunity to make a considered statement on the subject which will be of interest to all honourable senators. I would not be prepared to say that the activities that are about to take place in the immediate context mean an added operation at Woomera. On the contrary, because the European Launcher Development Organisation programme is in some difficulty there are problems in relation to the work load at Woomera. These firings in themselves will not involve any significant increase in the number of personnel. We are well equipped, consistent with our Joint Agreement, to do the work at Woomera. I do not believe that these firings mean any significant increase in work for technological people at this time.
– My question, which is directed to. the Minister representing the Minister for Health, is supplementary to the one asked by Senator Dittmer. Can the Minister advise what precautions are to be taken by the Commonwealth authorities to offset the threat of Hong Kong or Asian flu to Australia this coming winter? Will the Commonwealth be able to meet all the needs of people requiring vaccine? Will a charge be made for this vaccine or will the Commonwealth accept the financial responsibility, as it should?
– In reply to some of the points raised by the honourable senator I can advise him that the Minister for Health, Dr Forbes, has issued a statement in which he said that the Epidemiology Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council had forwarded recommendations to him and that one of the recommendations was that if the availability of vaccine was limited, medical practitioners should make it available to patients in the following order of priority: (i) persons with rheumatic heart disease and/or congestive cardiac failure, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, chronic asthma, chronic hypostatic pulmonary congestion, chronic insterstitial pulmonary fibrosis, or mucoviscidosis; (ii) persons with other serious chronic debilitating diseases; (iii) all other persons aged 65 years and over; (iv) pregnant women; and (v) all other children over 1 and under 5 years of age. Dr Forbes also said that the Government was giving consideration to whether action was called for in the light of the report of the Committee and that the question whether the vaccine should be made a pharmaceutical benefit had been referred to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which would meet on 28th February.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. Has any pressure been brought to bear on the Australian Government by the Government of the United States to ratify the nonproliferation treaty before nuclear energy is used to develop a harbour at Cape Keraudren? Has the Government of the United States ratified the non-proliferation treaty?
– Australia has indicated support for the non-proliferation treaty but has said, in effect, that before it could ratify the treaty it would require decisions and information in relation to certain aspects of it. That is the pattern that has been followed by many other countries. Looking at the treaty in broad perspective, they have indicated support for it, but at the same time, in their own national interests, they have to satisfy themselves that the treaty meets certain requirements. I am not aware of any pressure that would be put on Australia in relation to this matter. In fact, it would not be valid. The decision of any country, whether it is big or small, is essentially the decision of that country and the responsibility of the people and government of that country. I would not countenance the proposition that overt pressure be put on a country to sign a treaty. I may well want to give a supplementary answer to the honourable senator in relation to the present signatories to the treaty.
– The United States has signed it,
– The honourable senator says that the United States has signed it, but many countries have not.
Many countries, like Australia, still have questions that they want resolved before they will ratify.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and relates to the Australian aircraft manufacturing industry. What is the current position in relation to employment in the industry? Are current retrenchments and/ or demotions likely to increase? What is being done to have the armed Services pl’ace increased orders with Australian factories rather than go to overseas sources?
– I think the honourable senator will appreciate that he has asked a question in very wide terms. I say to him and to the Senate that the first thing that has to be understood is that the defence requirements of any country are. matters which are determined by the defence advisers and the judgment of the government. Therefore we cannot say that because we have an aircraft industry we should in terms of research, development and technology, set about producing more aircraft for the Army, the Navy or the Air Force simply because we have a capability to build aircraft.
– Do we wait until we are engaged in a war before we do anything?
– If the honour.able senator wants a fair answer I think he had better listen to me. As everybody knows, towards the end of the year we came to the conclusion of our Mirage programme and we are well advanced with our Macchi trainer aircraft programme. It is regrettably true that at present, whilst we have a capability, the order book is not sufficiently filled to cope with the capability. As a result, regrettably again, there have been some retrenchments. My object in life as Minister for Supply is to try to find additional work for the Australian aircraft industry, and that was one of the prime objectives of my recent overseas visit.
I and the Government do not want to fly under false colours. The fact that we have been able to negotiate an agreement whereby, under certain conditions, we will have let a contract for approximately $13m to buil’d wing frames in Australia does not mean that that in itself will solve the problems of our aircraft industry. Until such time as we have a requirement either for defence aircraft or for civilian aircraft there will be a downturn in the employment position in the aircraft industry.
I am quite will’ing to use the forms of the House to make time available for a discussion in depth on this subject; I do not shrink from that at all. I think that perhaps next week or at some other time we could initiate such a discussion if the Opposition wanted it, because the matter is a quite serious one. I think that we have made some progress in the last couple of months with the negotiation of an agreement, but more still remains to be done. The Opposition can count on it that I and the Government are as conscious as anybody in Australia of the need to do more.
– I won I’d like the Minister to arrange that discussion if he will.
– Yes, I will do that.
– I address a further question to the Minister for Repatriation. Is it a fact that appeals by ex-national servicemen who have been refused full time re-establishment courses are considered by the Central Training Committee without the appellant being given the opportunity to present his case personally to the Committee? If so, will the Minister make it possible for an appellant who desires to do so to appear personally before the Committee to present his case?
– As the honourable senator has suggested, a central committee has been set up. Regional committees have also been established. Applications are considered first by the Central Training Committee on which are representatives from five or six departments. The Chairman of the Committee is an officer of the Repatriation Department. Applications are first forwarded in writing to the Central Committee which considers them thoroughly. 1 do not know of any occasion on which an applicant has been called before that Committee in furtherance of his application. I do not think there is any provision for him to appear in person, but I shall inquire and let the honourable senator know.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, seen a report of the Science and Industry Forum of the Australian Academy of Science urging the setting up of a committee to advise the Government on a national science policy? Is the Minister aware that the working group which produced this report believes that the present application of science and technology by Australian industry is unsatisfactory and calls for examination? In view of the fact that most advanced countries have well developed national science policies, can we expect some recognition by the Government, however belated, of its responsibility to take similar action in Australia as has long been advocated by the Australian Labor Party and many people distinguished in the world of science?
– I shall answer the honourable senator’s questions but shall disregard at question time his imputations against the Government and engage with him in debate on them on an appropriate occasion. I shall refer his request for information as to a specific report to my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science. With regard to the national science policy that the Minister has announced, that will be indicated to the Senate at the appropriate time.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Complementary to increased joint Commonwealth-State activity in drug smuggling detection, does the Minister contemplate further external activity in Asian countries where the United States of America has agents working with the local authorities to smash these world wide drug rings?
– I am sure that everyone in Australia is conscious of the effect of the drug problem on our young people. The Government is very conscious of it. A conference on this subject was recently held in Canberra between Commonwealth and State Ministers and it was decided that a committee should be set up to inquire into the problem. In regard to the other part of the honourable senator’s question
I wish to say that the Commonwealth Government is looking forward to the cooperation and assistance of the United States and South East Asian countries to stop drug trafficking into Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. I remind him that the Viscount aircraft which crashed in Western Australia recently was the third Viscount disaster in recent years in which the aircraft has either been owned or chartered by Ansett Airlines of Australia. The previous disasters were the crashes in Botany Bay and at Winton. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether it is the intention of the Department of Civil Aviation to allow Viscount aircraft to be flown in Australia by Ansett Airlines or any other airline? If the answer is in the affirmative, how long will this type of aircraft be used for the carriage of passengers?
– The type of aircraft that crashed at Port Hedland recently was known as the 700 series. This type of aircraft has been grounded by the Department of Civil Aviation. At present, four of these aircraft are owned by TransAustralia Airlines and one by Ansett Airlines. I do not think that the honourable senator should cast reflections upon a particular company which is operating in Australia.
– Who said that I was?
– The honourable senator was doing so by inference. Those who operate airlines in Australia do so under the surveillance of the Department of Civil Aviation. The Department’s rules are probably stricter than those in force in any other country.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I refer to the ban on trade with North Vietnam. Is the Minister aware that according to published figures Japan’s trade with North Vietnam included wool tops to the value of 131 million yen, wool yarn to the value of 102 million yen and iron and steel to the value of 150 million yen? As these items are obviously of Australian origin, will the Minister ask the
Prime Minister to extend his ban to those countries which trade with North Vietnam in goods of Australian origin?
– It is perfectly true that the Commonwealth Government has placed a ban on trade with North Vietnam. The honourable senator has made an assumption in relation to items going to an intermediate country and then being processed or manufactured before finding their way to North Vietnam. I am not aware of this. With great respect to the honourable senator, I suggest that he has made a purely hypothetical assumption; it could not be otherwise. It is Government policy that Australia shall not trade with North Vietnam. I believe - and this is certainly the view of the Government - that whilst the present circumstances prevail in North Vietnam this policy should continue.
– My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise is supplementary to the question asked by Senator Mulvihill. Can the Minister say whether or not an instruction has been issued by the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Customs and Excise to cut down on overtime so far as customs inspection officers are concerned? If so, how does this square with the statement by the Minister that everything possible is being done to eliminate the drug traffic in Australia? If this instruction has been issued, will the Minister give a direction forthwith that everything possible is to be done, including the working of reasonable overtime by his departmental officers, to stamp out drug trafficking in Australia?
– This is a complicated question and I would like to answer it by stating that I know of no instruction from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Customs and Excise to cut down overtime. Because of the increase in the number of people coming to Australia and being screened by customs officers we are certainly rationalising the situation by starting at 6.30 a.m. and going through to 1 1 p.m. If necessary, we are prepared to pay overtime after that time. I would like to state that the companies importing goods, overseas airlines and shipping companies are not always charged for this overtime. If necessary, we pay it ourselves.
– I direct a ques tion to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Has the Minister seen an article by Mr Eric Walsh in the Adelaide News’ of 13th February? If so, is the Australian security agent referred to in the article who poses as an employee of the Attorney-General’s Department and appears to make a full time job of penetrating the Australian Labor Party and mixing regularly with a fixed group of Labor men who are unaware of his true occupation, paid a salary out of the amount allocated to the Attorney-General’s Department or out of the special security allocation?
– The answer to the first part of the honourable senator’s question is no. Strictly speaking, therefore, as he phrased the question, an answer to the second part of it is not called for. However, I shall take the opportunity to refer that part of the question to the Attorney-General and provide as much information to the honourable senator as is proper.
– I now direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. This is a most serious allegation. I have asked a question of which the Prime Minister has been warned and to which he has not replied. I ask that this question be added to the list of questions to which I have been told I can expect replies at some time in the future: Is it true, as stated in that article, that the headquarters in Melbourne of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is fitted with poison gas to prevent unauthorised entry? If so, where is such gas manufactured and does its presence or would its use create any danger to innocent citizens?
– I am under great temptation but any questions in relation to the security service should be put on the notice paper.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. As a means of diminishing the salt content of River Murray waters, will consideration be given to installing sluices at the base of each lock to enable the saline waters - which are of heavier density than fresh water - to proceed along the bottom of the river with a consequent overall improvement in water quality?
– There are some fourteen locks in the River Murray. I ask the honourable senator to place his question on notice in order that I may get a detailed reply.
(Question No. 416)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 548)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answer:
The television bulletin has been broadcast at this time for the past 12 years. The consistently high audience rating for both these bulletins indicates that they are presented at a convenient time for the majority of people and are meeting a widespread public demand. As an experiment, the ABC changed the time of its television news bulletins in South Australia from 7 to 6.30 p.m. in July1965. However, there was such a strong and sustained public reaction against the earlier transmission time that after a trial period of 6 months it was decided to revert to the original time of 7 p.m. Audience reaction following this experiment indicated that 7 p.m. was clearly the most popular time.
(Question No. 687)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
Cartier Island, Indian Ocean.
Darwin, Northern Territory.
Devil’s Tower, Bass Strait.
Dutson, East Sale.
Flat Rock, Western Australia.
Holmes Reef, Pacific Ocean.
N NE Rock, Spencer Gulf, South Australia.
Pearce, Western Australia.
Pyramid Rock, Tasmania.
Quail Island, Indian Ocean.
Rattlesnake Island, Queensland.
Saumarez Reef, Pacific Ocean.
Williamtown, New South Wales.
(Question No. 770)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
In view of the fact that some three years ago a Government spokesman claimed that landing strips of 6,000 feet were sufficient for the F111 aircraft, is the runway at Amberley being increased to 10,000 feet, at a cost of almost $3m, and does this indicate a further weakness in the F111 in that, apart from some capital city aerodromes and the proposed new strip at Amberley, it will not be possible to land the F111 on any other aerodromes in Australia?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Yes, approval has been given to extend the runway at Amberley at a total estimated cost of $2.730m. This does not mean that it will not be possible to land the F111 on any other aerodromes in Australia apart from some capital city aerodromes. The F111 can operate with all up weight, full bombload and full fuel requirements, under hot weather conditions, from a runway less than 8,000 feet in length. However, a runway length of 10,000 feet at Amberley will provide the necessary additional margin of safety required in training crews in operating the aircraft in such all up operational weight conditions.
(Question No. 818)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
- Mr Barnes has now supplied the following answer:
The scale of rations prescribed is the minimum required by law for free issue to indigenous employees. The scale has been drawn up by nutritional experts in collaboration with the Department of Public Health. Alternatives are prescribed to fit available supplies of local produce in different localities and in different seasons of the year. The monetary value varies from place to place and time to time. In addition to free issues of food the employer provides cooking and eating utensils, tobacco, matches, soap and towels, clothing and blankets.
Police dogs are imported and require food which normally has to be imported and is therefore costly. The building which houses the police dogs includes the barracks of police dog handlers. The dogs and handlers are still under training but have already effected fourteen arrests, assisted in the recovery of a missing person, the recovery of the body of a child and the recovery of stolen property.
(Question No. 547)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
What was the cost to Australia of each satellite television programme during the 12 months between January 1967 and January 1968?
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information:
Three television programmes were brought to Australia from overseas by satellite during the 12 months between January 1967 and January 1968.
Expo ‘67: This programme was transmitted from Montreal in June 1967 and was shown in Australia by the A. B.C. and the Australian Commercial Television Stations.
‘Our World’: This programme was produced by the European Broadcasting Union with the assistance of broadcasting organisations in several countries, including the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The A.B.C. contributed several items to the programme which was shown in Australia by the A.B.C. only.
The America’s Cup: This programme was shown by the A.B.C. and the Australian Commercial Television Stations in September 1967.
For each of the above three programmes, NASA - the National Aeronautical and Space Administration of the United States of America - made a satellite available free of charge.
(Question No. 816)
asked the Prime Minis ter, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A significant component of the rales levied by marine underwriters is determined by the extent of pillage and damage to cargo. A reduction in cargo damage and loss should result from the use of unit loads and container services and this should lead to a reduction in marine insurance charges. The Government does not intend to promote the establishment of an insurance company for the purpose of insuring overseas freight.
(Question No. 801)
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Has the Australian Council for the Arts yet made recommendations on how the$1.5m appropriated to the Council will be allocated to the various sections of the performing arts? If so, can the Prime Minister slate the recommended allocations?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Yes. I referred to the report by the Council in a statement on 1 1th December1968 in the following terms: I have received from the Chairman of the Australian Council for the Arts the Council’s recommendations for grants to be made by the Commonwealth Government in support of the performing arts in the current financial year. This is the first year of the Council’s existence and it has given considerable thought to the proper function for Commonwealth support for the arts in relation to other forms of support. The Commonwealth contribution is only one among many. The arts belong to the whole community, and support for them should come from many sources - from State governments, from local councils, from public organisations and private individuals, It is therefore to be hoped that the lead given by the Commonwealth in sponsoring the arts will encourage support at all levels throughout the Australian community. In this respect it is heartening to perceive a growing interest by many States in artistic matters. Splendid buildings are being erected in many State capitals and considerable help is being given to provide conditions in which the arts can flourish and Australians can take due pride in their increasing achievements in this Geld.
The Council is of the opinion that its main concern as a Federal body should be to establish and develop high national standards which will benefit activity in the arts throughout Australia and stimulate interest abroad in Australia’s cultural achievements. Its concern with quality is fundamental. To this end the Council has adopted a principle widely accepted by similar bodies in other countries that high standards can best be achieved by a concentration of available funds rather than by a thin spread over a wide area.
Much of the Council’s work in these early stages is exploratory in nature. It has established working committees to seek expert opinion on its various areas of interest with a view to formulating in the near future long range policies for Government support for the arts in Australia. The Government understands that a report will shortly be forthcoming from the Council on the work of its film committee which has begun inquiries into means by which film making for television may be supported. The Council has received requests for assistance in many categories other than the theatre arts to which its grants for this year have been restricted. It will begin inquiries as soon as possible into the need for assistance in some of these fields and will advise the Government of its conclusions.
In announcing the Council’s recommendations for 1968-69 may 1 express the Government’s pleasure at being associated with activities in the arts which contribute so significantly to the enrichment of Australia’s national life and to her reputation in other countries.
The grants for 1968-69 are as follows:
GRANTS RECOMMENDED BY THE AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS FOR THE YEAR 1968-69
(Question No. 782)
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What was the volume (stated in tons weight and in carton numbers) of imports of New Zealand-grown strawberries in each month since 1st July 1967?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth Statistician has provided the following table setting out the imports of fresh strawberries from New Zealand from July 1967 to October 1968. He has advised that details of carton numbers are not recorded.
(Question No. 769)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In view of the fact that the high tar content of cigarettes has a direct relationship tolung cancer -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 605)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following information:
(Question No. 532)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister has provided the following information:
Investigations into the possibilities of Australian participation in overseas shipping have been recently made in London.
As a result, the following statement was made in the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister on 26th November 1968:
I recently informed the Parliament that the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) during his visit overseas would be making inquiries in London concerning the possibilities of Australian participation in overseas shipping and the carriage of some Australian produce in Australian vessels.
On his return, Mr McEwen reported to me the results of these investigations and conversations.
The Government, after carrying the original investigations a stage further by sending Sir Alan Westerman and Sir John Williams to London, has now fully considered the results and implications of these discussions which have reached the stage where they are subject only to the elucidation of some further fine points.
In the result, the Government has now decided, subject to the satisfactory conclusion of those final stages of negotiation, to enter overseas shipping by operating Australian crewed vessels in its own right in both the Australia-United KingdomContinent trade and the Australia-North America shipping trade.
In the Australia-United Kingdom-Continent trade the Government will operate a container vessel which is now under construction, and in the North America trade it will operate a vessel which is partly a container vessel and partly a vehicle deck vessel. The plans of this ship have already been drawn and have been examined by and have the approval of Sir John Williams of the Australian National Line.
The Australian National Line will manage both these ships operationally, thus bringing the experience and skills of the line into the operation.
The method by which this will be done is as follows:
An Australian company owned by the Australian Government will enter into a partnership with Associated Container Transportation Ltd which is a consortium of British shipping lines within the frame work of the established shipping conferences. The Australian Government will also acquire a share of the Australian land facilities owned by the consortium which are ancillary to the operation of container services, and will participate in their management.
The Australian Government will charter one of the three modern container ships which this consortium now has under construction and will operate it for at least S years as one of the ships of the partnership. It will also charter and operate for at least 5 years one of the ships to be built for the Australia-North America trade. The Government expects these vessels to obtain an adequate share of the total conference cargo carried to and from Australia in each trade. The financial implications of these decisions will be released in more detail by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) but 1 can inform the House that the initial outlay is estimated to be between $6m and $7m with very little further significant outlay to come, if any, until there is a further outlay when the ship for the North America trade enters into the trade.
In respect of the Far East trade a decision has already been taken, as is known, for the Australian National Line to operate a vessel. These new decisions mean that Australia will now be operating a vessel not only in the Far East trade but also in the Australia-United Kingdom trade and the Australia-North America trade. We shall be inside all these conferences. We shall participate in the management, and the information so gained will be of great value to us and to Australia.
Great changes are taking place in international shipping generally, and my Government feels that the time has come for Australia not only to enter the trade but also to gain a full understanding in the operation of these new developments in order to ensure that the national interests are best served in the changing times ahead.
Further, the importance of overseas shipping to a great trading nation such as ours is to be measured not only in terms of profitability of operating a ship - though all the investigations suggest there will be this profitability- but it is measured also by the savings in foreign exchange, in terms of freight expenditure on imports and exports, and measured in terms of the security and stability of shipping services necessary for our national welfare.
These decisions to charter and to operate Australian crewed ships inside these conferences are far-reaching steps which we believe will bring great benefits to Australia as a nation.
The consortium with which we propose to enter into partnership is in close co-operation with Overseas Containers Ltd, another powerful group of British shipping lines. That group has the use of a network of facilities in Britain and elsewhere and is in the course of itself establishing facilities in Australia. At present the members of the A.C.T. Consortium with which we intend to enter into partnership, carry some 20% of the total Australia-British-Continental trade and 50% of the Australian trade with North America. I emphasise that it is not our intention to buy any equity shareholding in the A.C.T. or in any of the member lines which compose it. Instead we propose to charter and operate our own ship in each trade.
There are a few outstanding matters to be settled, as I said, in the final stages of negotiation, and these negotiations will be the responsibility of the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair). When these negotiations are concluded I am confident that Australia will have taken a greatly advantageous step forward. We will be in the business of moving Australian goods in Australian ships. We will be in the field of shipping. We will be doing what a trading nation of our importance ought to be doing.’
(Question No. 599)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answers:
(Question No. 597)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
With reference to the new draft of censorship regulations in Vietnam, has the Government made it clear to all Armed Services Public Relations Officers and other officers in Vietnam that no censorship should apply in respect to matters other than those directly related to military security? If not, what is the extent of any discretion or instructions in respect to other than military security matters upon which the Services Public Relations Officers approve or prevent Press releases?
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer:
There are no censorship regulations as such applying to the armed Services in Vietnam. However, individual Service regulations of long standing restrict the information which may be given, or matters which may be discussed, by servicemen. These regulations are the counterparts of the regulations under the Public Service Act.
(Question No. 553)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
With reference to Press reports of the claims of Northern Territory pastoralists about action to be taken in relation to their beef output and to the reply given by the Minister for Repatriation, on 24th September, to a question without notice asked by Senator Lawrie, will the Minister provide a breakup of the figures mentioned in the reply, in order to indicate what constitutes the export of beef and to distinguish between manufacturing beef and other forms of beef?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer:
The figures provided by the Minister for Repatriation in his answer of 24th September are relevant to the United States Meat Import Law (Public Law 88.482) by which the United States Administration is able to regulate the import of certain meats into the United States. Under the law the United States Secretary for Agriculture is required to estimate, before the beginning of each quarter, the expected annual level of imports of fresh, chilled or frozen beef, veal, mutton and goat meat.In his estimate the Secretary only provides a total figure and does not distinguish between the various types of meat or the grades within each type. However, virtually all Australian beef exported to the United States is used for manufacturing purposes.
(Question No. 811)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
SenatorDame ANNABELLE RANKIN - The Postmaster-General has furnished the following information:
The Australian Broadcasting Commission has not sought provision by the Post Office of television relay facilities between Melbourne and Sydney for its exclusive use.
(Question No. 805)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
How much was received from the Commonwealth Bank by the Postmaster-General’s Department for these services during the same period? 3. (a) What was the combined cash tola! of postal notes and money orders throughout Australia handled by thePostmasterGeneral’s Department for the period 1st January to 30th June 1968?
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following information: 1 (a), 1 (b) and 2. The information requested about Commonwealth Savings Bank transactions and the amount received by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department from the Bank is not published. However, I should point out that the commission paid by the Commonwealth Savings Bank to the Department is designed to cover the full cost of the Agency services provided for the bank by the Post Office. The cost of these services comprises an appropriate proportion of management and administrative overheads, superannuations, accommodation costs, interest, depreciation, etc., together with a small profit margin. 3 (a). The combined cash total of postal orders and money orders throughout Australia handled by the Postmaster-General’s Department for the period 1st January to 30th June 1968, was $226,598,740. 3 (b). The revenue received from this business was $1,610,227.
(Question No. 799)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
Did the Postmaster-General, on 16th April 1968, approve of the transfer of shares in Canberra Television Ltd as follows:
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following information:
The Staff Pension Fund of John Fairfax & Sons Ltd:
Sir Warwick Fairfax ;
Director, John Fairfax & Sons Ltd.
Director, John Fairfax Ltd.
Director, Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd.
Director, John Fairfax Ltd.
Director, John Fairfax’ and Sons Ltd.
Managing Director, John Fairfax Ltd.
Director, John Fairfax & Sons Ltd.
Director, Fairfax Corporation Pty Ltd.
Director, Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd.
Secretary and Alternate Director, John Fairfax Ltd and John Fairfax & Sons Ltd,
Secretary and Director, Fairfax Corp. Pty Ltd and Fairfax Publications Pty Ltd.
Employee, John Fairfax Ltd.
The Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund
Sir Warwick Fairfax (see above).
H. Palmer (see above).
One trustee is appointed by members of the mechanical staffs of the company. One trustee is appointed by members of the reporting and clerical staffs of the company. The remaining trustee or trustees are appointed by the company. Sydney Morning Herald Centenary Fund
Trustees are appointed by John Fairfax & Sons Ltd.
(Question No. 763)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following information:
(Question No. 745)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following information:
The resolution of the dispute at that time carried into the future, undertakings of no victimisation by the Department or the union and indeed applied to any action that could or might be taken against either regular employees or volunteers. The Department strictly adhered to its undertaking.
(Question No. 722)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
Broadcasting Control Board’s report, which failed to broadcast the prescribed percentage of Australian musical compositions during 1967-68?
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following information:
(Question No. 715)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following replies:
(Question No. 721)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following replies:
(Question No. 828)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 810)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 822)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
In relation to question No. 736, standing in my name on the Notice Paper, can the Minister inform me why it has taken 3 weeks and 1 day to obtain information on such an urgent matter as poaching by foreign fishing vessels off the north Queensland coast?
– The following information has been supplied by the Minister for Primary Industry in answer to the honourable senator’s question.
The delay in replying to the honourable senator’s question was unavoidable and was caused simply by the pressure of urgent work in the Fisheries Branch of my Department.
(Question No. 808)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 823)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 567)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answers are as follows: 1 and 2. There are some 170,000 companies registered in Australia, the majority under State law. Even if their Articles of Association were available to me, I doubt if an examination of them would be justified. However, I refer the honourable senator to section 92a of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1967, which requires the Articles of Association of all companies holding licences for commercial television stations to contain provisions to ensure compliance with sections 92 and 92d of the Act. The purpose of those sections is to limit the permissible shareholdings of non-residents.
(Question No. 670)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
Has the Government received any requests from scientific organisations for funds to promote the scientific study of the Barrier Reef; if so, what organisations have requested funds, what were the amounts involved and what was the response of the Government to each request?
– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government has received numerous requests from the Great Barrier Reef Committee for financial as-.:.;: . cc ! *r research work at the station on Heron Island. The Government has refused these requests on the grounds that it already supports research on Heron Island through grants to the University of Queensland on the recommendations of the Australian Universities Com.mission and ll.e Australian Research Grants Committee. The grants made under the Australian Universities Commission programme in support of the work on Heron Island are:
These have been shared equally between the Commonwealth and State Governments. The grants made by the Commonwealth on the recommendation of the Australian Research Grants Committee which are relevant to the scientific study of the Reef are set out below:
The Australian Museum, in July 1966, made an application to the Trustees of the Science and Industry Endowment Fund for a grant in connection with a research project on tropical marine inter-tidal and sub-tidal populations. An amount of $1,731 was requested. This was refused principally on the ground that the Fund is used to assist individual workers (and not institutions) undertaking independent research.
The Science and Industry Research Fund made available a grant of $200 in August 1967 and another of $952 in August 1968 to Mr D. W. Kinsey of Mauri Brothers and Thompson Research Laboratories, to assist him in research at Heron Island and One Tree Island.
In July 1968 the University of Townsville sent to the Australian Universities Commission a format request for the establishment of a centre for Marine Science in the triennium 1970-72. The proposed centre would be very largely concerned with research on biological and physical problems of the Great Barrier Reef. The Commission is now considering the proposal and will in due course make a recommendation to the Commonwealth.
(Question No. 756)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
What is the total number of helicopters possessed by the Royal Australian Air Force?
– The Minister has supplied the following answer:
The Royal Australian Air Force possesses fortyseven helicopters.
(Question No. 785)
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice:
– The answers are as follows:
In relation to its own employees the Department’s safety administration is carried out by specialist Industrial Sections in each branch comprising safety officers and industrial inspectors. Safety observance is also a function of all supervisory staff.
Safety committees comprising representatives of employees and management, function within the Department to review and advise in safety practices.
Safety codes prescribed by local State or Federal legislation are the minimum standards observed by the Department. In addition the Department issues comprehensive instructions on safety procedures on building and construction operations together with special directions on specific hazards. Separate manuals have been issued for safety in mechanical workshops, and electricity supply activities.
The Department has a continuing programme of safety training and promotion for its own employees including the use of films, lectures and display of posters and other educational techniques. Its staff training programme includes a course on safety practices.
Records are not available to enable the cost of the lost production to be calculated.
(Question No. 786)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: 1 (a) (b) (c) and (d). On 13th December 1968, the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission announced that applications for equal pay by a number of Public Service Associations and by the Australasian Meat Industry Employees’ Union would be listed for hearing on 25th February 1969. A date for the hearing of the claim for the Australian Bank Officials’ Association or the appeal by Commonwealth Hostels Limited against a decision by Mr Commissioner Clarkson has not yet been set, but in his announcement on 13th December, the President said that applications for intervention from those concerned in cases not yet listed will be considered at the hearing of 25th February. 2, 3 and 5. The Government has intervened in the equal pay case currently before the Commission. The Government has repeatedly made it clear that it is not opposed to the principle of equal pay, and that it considers the appropriate body to make an objective examination of the complex issues involved is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
(Question No. 797)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
– On 17th September 1968, Senator Poke asked me the following question:
I address a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Did the Minister see a statement in today’s Press attributed to Mr David Hay, Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, suggesting that wages should be frozen and that if an employee wanted more wages he should work for promotion rather than an increase in this wage rate? Can the Minister state whether or not Mr David Hay, as an administrator, has the right and authority to suggest a wage freeze for a period of 5 years? If Mr Hay has such authority, by whom was it granted? If such authority is not reposed in Mr Hay, will the Government take action to prevent such statements being made by Administrators and thereby allow wage fixing authorities to use their own discretion on wage fixation without prior suggestions from people holding responsible positions, such as administrators?
The following answer is now provided:
Reports that Mr Hay had advocated a wage freeze in the Territory were a gross misinterpretation of what he actually said. Mr Hay was talking about the new 5-year development plan covering all aspects of economic development in the Territory and observed that for the plan to succeed increases in wages must be matched by increases in productivity. It has always been clear that the Government’s policy on wages for local people in New Guinea was based on the economic capacity of the Territory to sustain such levels. This position is basically the same as in Australia where general wage levels are fixed taking into account the capacity of industry to pay.
It can be seen therefore that the Administrator was not suggesting that wages should be frozen, and the other point made by Senator Poke as to the Administrator’s interference with wage fixing authorities is not correct.
(Question No. 791)
asked the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, upon notice:
– The answers are as follows:
– On 26th November 1968 in reply to a question by Senator Keeffe, I undertook to make inquiries concerning a telegram which was sent to the Prime Minister from the Secretary of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation which suggested that Parliament might approve an extra payment to all pensioners at Christmas. The Prime Minister has provided the following in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I should first explain that the telegram referred to was dated 22nd November and not 22nd February 1968. I replied to the telegram on 9th December 1968.
The question of whether the Government should approve an extra payment for pensioners at Christmas has been considered by various governments in thepast, but it has generally been agreed that it is better to spread any additional payments over the whole year rather than to provide a supplementary lump sum payment on a special occasion.
I should further explain that it is the Government’s policy to review the field of social welfare with the object of assisting those in most need while at the same time not discouraging thrift, selfhelp and self-reliance. To this end, the Welfare Committee of Cabinet has been established to make a comprehensive examination of existing health and social welfare schemes and to suggest new approaches where desirable.
The measures elaborated in the Budget for 1968-69 flow from these deliberations. While they do not provide final solutions they do represent significant steps along the road the Government is determined to follow.
I believe it will be clearly seen that the Government has placed the objective of helping the aged, the sick and the needy in the forefront of its domestic programmes.
In the light of these considerations, the Government is unable to agree to an extra pension payment at Christmas.
– On 26th November 1968 Senator Lawrie asked me the following question:
I direct a question to the Leader of the Government. Did the Minister hear a report on this morning’s radio news that three Japanese businessmen representing the cotton textile industry in Japan are in Australia endeavouring to purchase large quantities of Australian raw cotton? Does the Minister know whether the Australian Government is actively interested in this arrangement or whether it is a deal between the Australian cotton interests and Japan? Will the Government do all that it can to bring about a deal with the Japanese textile industry to find a market for a large part of Australia’s raw cotton?
The following answer is now provided:
The Government was aware of the recent visit to Australia by a Japanese cotton textile mission. The purpose of the mission was to visit the major cotton producing areas in Australia and to assess the potential of Australia as a possible future source of supply for Japanese imports of cotton. I understand that while the mission was in Australia a contract was concluded between representatives of the Ord River growers and a major Japanese cotton spinning company for the sale of some 6,500 bales of Ord cotton. During its visit the mission had discussions with both the Minister for Primary Industry and officials.
The Government welcomes the interestof Japanese cotton importers in Australian cotton. Consistent with its record in the case of other industries, the Government will extend every appropriate assistance to the Australian cotton industry to find such export outlets as may be required in the future.
– On 14th November, Senator Rae asked a question regarding the future operation of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement in view of the concern being expressed by the timber, potato, pea, bean, and strawberry growing and processing industries and the fat lamb producers of Australia. The Minister for Trade and Industry has furnished me with the following reply:
One of the key objectives of the Free Trade Agreement is to strengthen economic ties between the two countries by encouraging a mutually beneficial expansion of trade, lt was made clear at the time the agreement was negotiated - and this has been re-affirmed on a number of occasions since then - that increased imports resulting from the Agreement will not be allowed to harm domestic industries in either country.
The Agreement contains a number of provisions designed to safeguard any industry threatened with damaging import competition and the Government will give prompt consideration to any case presented by an industry to show that imports are causing or threatening damage.
With regard to strawberries the effect of the Agreement was to remove the duty on imports of fresh strawberries from New Zealand of 22 cents per cental (approximately i cent per lb) which was regarded as having only minor protective significance. However if the industry considers [hat it is being harmed by imports, it should present a detailed case to the Department of Trade and Industry for consideration.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that Her Majesty The Queen has graciously approved the appointment of the Right Honourable Sir Paul Hasluck, G.C.M.G., to be her GovernorGeneral of, and representative in, Australia. Sir Paul will take up the appointment when Lord Casey relinquishes his appointment and will be sworn in on Wednesday, 30th April 1969.
– by leave - I desire to inform the Senate of certain Ministerial changes and arrangements. Following the resignation of the Right Honourable Sir Paul Hasluck, G.C.M.G., the Honourable Gordon Freeth has been appointed Minister for External Affairs. The Minister for Civil Aviation, the Honourable R. W. C. Swartz, will assume Mr Freeth’s previous responsibilities as Minister assisting the Treasurer. The Honourable Dudley Erwin has been appointed Minister for Air and will also carry out the responsibilities of Leader of the House of Representatives. The honour able member for Henty (Mr Fox) has been appointed Government Whip. Senator Anderson will continue to represent the Minister for External Affairs in the Senate and Senator McKellar will continue to represent the Minister for Air.
– by leave - In accordance with the provisions of paragraph 10a of the resolution appointing the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, I inform the Senate that, at the request of the then Minister for External Affairs, the Committee reported to him upon the Middle East situation.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) - by leave - agreed to:
That the Senate take note of the statement by Senator Mccormack relating to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs.
– I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales - Minister for Supply - 1 am sure that the Senate would want me to mention that on 24th January this year, during the Parliamentary recess, the death occurred of former Senator George Cole who was the Federal parliamentary representative of the Australian Democratic Labor Party from 1956 to 1965. Senator Cole was elected as a senator for his home State of Tasmania in the general elections in 1949 and 1951, in the Senate election in 1953, and in the general election in 1958. During his period as a senator he was a member of the Library Committee from June 1951 to November 1955 and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs from February 1956 to June 1965. He was leader of the Democratic Labor Party from August 1957 until his retirement from the Senate in June 1965, and was a member of the Australian delegation to the 51st annual conference of the Interparliamentary Union at Brasilia in 1962. George Cole was an ex-serviceman. He enlisted in the Second AIF on 1st October 1941 and served in the 12/50 Infantry Battalion. He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant in September 1944.
I am sure that some of the more recently elected senators would not know him but to the vast number of us he was a man for whom we all had a warm regard. It is a fact that we put our political disputation aside when we meet men and women as human beings. George Cole had a very warm heart. He was a man who was very easy to get along with, friendly and strong in conviction. He was a strong advocate for his political philosophy and persuasion but nevertheless we had a very warm and high regard for him as a man. I know that we follow a certain procedure in relation to the death of sitting senators and members but, as every honourable senator will appreciate, this is not a case which comes within the framework of that procedure. However I am sure that all honourable senators would want me to express to the family and relatives of the late George Cole our very deep sympathy and appreciation of the service he gave to the Commonwealth of Australia as a senator.
I should like to mention also the death during the recess of Bruce McDonald Wight, who would have been very well known to many honourable senators. He was elected as the Liberal member for the House of Representatives seat of Lilley in Queensland in the general elections in 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955 and 1958. He was defeated in 1961. He was a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs from May 1956 to October 1958 and was a temporary chairman of committees from 18th February 1959 until his departure from the House. He also was a member of the Second AIF which he joined in May 1940. He served as a sergeant in the 2/17 Infantry Battalion in the Middle East until 1943 and was discharged in Australia in 1944. He died in rather tragic circumstances. He was diagnosed as having a terminal disease and he died very quickly. We express our sincere sympathy to his wife and daughters.
If I may be permitted - perhaps it is a presumption on my part but I want to do it and I am sure the Senate will agree with me - I should like to refer to the fact that during the recess Senator McClelland’s father passed away. I am sure we all would wish to convey to Senator McClelland our very sincere sympathy to him and his family on the passing of his father. It is an odd circumstance that the late Mr McClelland was a member of the New South Wales Parliament. I can remember him although he was a member of Parliament many years ago. My father was a member of the same Parliament at the same time and although they were in different political camps I suspect that there was a bit of, shall I say, Scotch Presbyterianism in the contact that they had. The late Mr McClelland was the member for the Northern Tablelands in the State House from 1920 to 1927 and the member for Dubbo from 1929 to 1932. To you personally, Senator McClelland, and to your family we extend our very sincere sympathy on the passing of your father.
– I should like to join in the remarks made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson). The late George Cole played a significant role in this chamber between 1950 and 1965 as a senator for Tasmania. From the mid-1950s he led the newly formed Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate. Although this change of party placed him in political opposition to the Australian Labor Party he was a dedicated parliamentarian who found himself in the delicate position of leading a minority party through many difficult years. Perhaps his experience as a headmaster in numerous Tasmanian schools proved to be of great assistance in meeting the rigorous demands of this chamber and of his position. I believe he once won an award as the best and fairest rugby league footballer in Tasmania.
– Not rugby league; it was Australian rules.
– I accept the correction. Despite the differences that existed - sometimes they were bitter, but those things pass with death - we of the Opposition join with the Leader of Government in expressing sympathy to the family of the late George Cole.
We also express our sympathy to the family of the late Mr Wight. I was not personally acquainted with him but there are others here who were.
We of the Opposition thank the Leader of the Government for his remarks about the late Mr McClelland. He did have a distinguished career in the State Parliament and died at the age of 92 years well respected and loved by all who knew him. He had a full life. I was able to represent the Opposition at the funeral of the late Mr McClelland. On behalf of Senator McClelland let me say that we appreciate very much the remarks made by the Leader of the Government.
– I had the privilege of serving in this Parliament for 6 or 7 years with the late ex-Senator Cole. He was a man I respected. One could not help but respect him. He always had the courage of his convictions, was very straightforward, and the sense of fairness that helped him to win the award referred to by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) was evidenced in this chamber. At any time that ex-Senator Cole gave me his word on any matter at all I was quite prepared to accept it without question. I looked upon him as a friend and a good Australian. On behalf of the Australian Country Party 1 wish to express our sincere sympathy to the members of his family.
I did not know Mr Bruce Wight very well as he was a member of the other House, but I did know him. I was very pleased to learn that when he left the parliamentary sphere he prospered in civil life. A friend of Mr Wight rang my Department, mentioning that he was in hospital and making inquiries about a repatriation matter on behalf of Mr Wight. It seemed to be only about a week after that that I learned of his death. I received that news with great sorrow. Again on behalf of my Party 1 extend our sincere sympathy to his family. 1 was not previously aware of the death of Senator McClelland’s father. I would like to express sympathy on behalf of my Party to Senator McClelland. I join with previous speakers who have said that they did not know Senator McClelland’s father but knew of his record.
– I desire to associate myself with the condolences that have been expressed to the families of ex-Senator Cole and Mr Bruce Wight and to Senator McClelland. I am particularly concerned with the passing of George Cole because I served with him in my first 6 years in the Senate. He was a good friend and colleague and I shall always remember him with affection. I think the keynote of his character was his strong personal courage. He was a most conscientious man who firmly adhered to his principles. I do not think it is generally known that when he lost his seat in the Senate in 1965 he was gravely ill, almost from the beginning of the election campaign. He was able to make only a policy speech for his Party and shortly afterwards entered hospital. As I know from visiting him at the time, he was very seriously ill, almost close to death. However, with his usual courage he fought his way to his feet.
George Cole did not enjoy good health in recent years, particularly over the last 12 months when he was very seriously ill. I heard of his passing with deep regret. I appreciate the kind sentiments that have been expressed by members of all parties on this occasion. He was the first Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and fulfilled the duties of that position with credit to himself and advantage to his Party. My Party will always remember with gratitude what he did for it. I offer my sincere condolences and those of my Party to the members of his family. I have been asked by Senator Gair lo say that he desired to speak on this matter but was called away to a meeting in connection with the National Heart Foundation. He wishes to associate himself with the expressions of regret at ex-Senator Cole’s death.
I knew Bruce Wight. He was a very friendly man who was well liked on all sides of the Parliament. When he lost his seat in the Parliament he engaged in the business world with considerable success. He was such a young man that it came as a tremendous shock to all of us to hear that he had gone. He served the Parliament well while he was here and I join in the expressions of regret to his family. I did not know the late Mr McClelland personally but I had heard of him because he enjoyed a considerable reputation in the Australian Labor Party. I deeply regret to hear of his passing and I offer my sincere sympathy to Senator McClelland and the other members of his family.
– I wish to associate myself with the condolences that have been expressed to the families of the late ex-Senator Cole, the late Mr Bruce Wight and the late Mr McClelland, but I wish to speak particularly about Bruce Wight who was a very close personal friend of mine. I wish to make two points that were not mentioned by previous speakers. People who knew Bruce well will always respect his memory for the fierce way in which in his 12 years in this Parliament he defended the rights, privileges and needs of ex-service personnel. He worked hard during the time he was in this Parliament and his work in that direction I believe to be one of his achievements. Another of his achievements during his 12 years in Parliament was his continuing fight against the spread of Communism, not only in Australia but throughout the world. He was dedicated in his fight against Communism. Bruce did quite a lot for Australia after he left Parliament. He built up a magnificent export trade for Standard Telephones and Cables Pty Ltd, particularly to South East Asia. T express my sincere sympathy to his family.
– For the first time since I have been a member of the Senate I wish to refer on an occasion such as this to the passing of one of our colleagues, following the quite adequate statements made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson). I do so partly because ex-Senator George Cole was a fellow scholar of mine at Devonport High School and entered the Senate in 1949, at the same time as 1 did. But that is the preface to my remarks. The main reason I have risen to speak is my stern admiration for the courage with which he accepted an atmosphere of political crisis and the responsibilities that he felt he could not evade. He took the challenge of expounding principles of policy that were to him most important. It is because he discharged those responsibilities firstly as Leader of the Party that was formed with his aid in the Senate and later as the Leader of that Party in the Parliament, that I have risen to express the spirit that is traditional in Parliament of admiration for a courageous parliamentarian.
It is quite obvious that when a man differs from his Party io the degree to which cx-Senator George Cole did, the
J 1543/69 - S - (21
tensions within the soul are tremendous. I place on record my recognition of the fact that his soul found the necessary resolution and resilience to discharge his duties. I offer to his widow, children and grandchildren my very sincere sympathy.
Previous speakers have said about Mr Bruce Wight that they knew him little. I wish to say only, and to emphasise what Senator Branson has said, that he was foremost in his defence of the interests of exservicemen. His indomitability in debate in the other chamber and his spirit of cheerfulness at all times, especially after being defeated for his seat in this Parliament, were most noteworthy characteristics. I associate myself with what the Leader of the Government has said in extending sympathy to Senator McClelland.
– I join in expressing my own personal sorrow and condolences to the family of the late George Cole, although perhaps unnecessarily in view of the expressions that have preceded the few words that I now offer. However, I was one of George Cole’s earliest friends in this place. When I came here in 1951 I was allocated a seat which was next to that of a gentleman whom I then did not know but who turned out to be George Cole. We were parliamentary colleagues for many years. That situation was interrupted only by the vicissitudes of politics. We became close personal friends. That relationship was completely uninterrupted until his death.
As Senator Wright has said, George Cole was a man of simple and direct character and a man who had such regard for moral integrity that he faced challenges which were perhaps somewhat alien to his nature, assumed responsibilities which in other times he might have disavowed and discharged them to the very best of his character and ability. I believe that the nation is indebted to him for the significant role he played during a critical period in Australia’s political history. I am gratified by the comments of Senator Murphy. We realise that the face of political conflict and differences is averted before the gaze of death. That, of course, is as it should be. We shall remember the late George Cole as a man of courage and integrity. I think I should say that his position necessarily engendered enmities and created friendships and bitterness; but he was incapable of personal resentment or bitterness. He often discussed with me individuals with whom he had been in conflict and who might have been regarded as being bitterly opposed to him. He would say: ‘I cannot dislike soandso’ or’I cannot help liking so-and-so’. That was the measure of the man. He fought always on principles and never on personalities. I convey to his widow and family my deep personal sympathy. I join in the expressions of sympathy by this chamber.
Mr Bruce Wight, apart from being personally known to me, was my parliamentary representative. During all his parliamentary life I lived in the electorate of Lilley which he represented in the Federal Parliament. He was a man of very enthusiastically avowed principles. In these days when the development of new, better and closer relations with South East Asia is taken for granted as a mark of parliamentary activity, we should remember that he was one of the pioneers in this field. He always demonstrated a keen interest in South East Asia, which he visited on many occasions and where he had many friends. I have no doubt that when his commercial activities subsequently took him into that area he also used that opportunity to further the tics between those countries and this country which he had helped to create while he was a member of the Parliament. On behalf of myself and other members of my Party, I convey to Senator McClelland our personal sympathy in the loss that he has sustained.
– Speaking on behalf of myself and all members of my family, may I say that I appreciate very much the sincere sentiments that have been expressed by those honourable senators who have spoken this afternoon and extended their sympathy to my sisters and me in the loss of our father. The messages that we have received, coming as they have from a very wide cross-section of the community, have been a great source of comfort to all members of the family. I greatly appreciate the references that have been made to my father’s service to the Labor movement and to the State of New South Wales in the course of a very long and wonderful lifetime.
-I ask honourable senators to stand in silence as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased. (Honourable senators stood in their places.)
– by leave -I now wish to make a short statement on the conduct of the sittings. It is my intention to move tomorrow, after conferring with other leaders, for the removal of certain items on the notice paper under the heading of Government Business, in respect of which the view may well be held that the subject matters have now been disposed of.I propose to do that tomorrow, after conferring with Senator Murphy and Senator Gair, so that the notice paper, as far as Government Business is concerned, will be more realistic.
After 8 o’clock tonight General Business would normally take precedence of Government Business; but I intimate to the Senate, after conferring with the other leaders, that I propose to make a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). When that statement is concluded, we will proceed with General Business. I understand that Senator Murphy proposes to use the forms of the Senate to indicate what item of General Business is likely to be dealt with. I make this statement now because I do not want there to be any misunderstanding of what we will do at 8 o’clock tonight. I also suggest that after Senator Murphy’s motion has been dealt with the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 o’clock.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Parliamentary Allowances Bill 1968.
Ministers of State Bill 1968.
Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1968.
Customs Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Excise Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Distillation Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Beer Excise Act Repeal Bill 1968.
Canned Fruit Excise Act Repeal Bill 1968.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1968.
Spirits Bill 1968.
Extradition (Commonwealth Countries) Bill 1968.
Extradition (Foreign States) Bill 1968.
Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1968.
Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1968: States Grants (Pre- school Teachers Colleges) Bill 1968.
Northern Territory Supreme Court Bill 1968.
Apple and Pear Export Charges Bill 1968.
Raw Cotton Bounty Bill 1968.
Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1963.
Salaries Bill 1968.
Bankruptcy Bill 1968.
Loan (Housing) Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Commonwealth Employees Compensation Bill 1968.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1968.
States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill 1968.
Railway Agreement (New South Wales and South Australia) Bill 1968.
States Grants Bill 1968.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill (No. 3) 1968.
Australian Universities Commission Bill 1968.
International Monetary Agreements Bill 1968.
Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1968.
Loan (Qantas Airways Limited)Bill 1968.
Loan (Defence) Bill 1968.
Judiciary Bill 1968.
Loan Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Lands Acquisition (Defence) Bill 1968.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1968.
States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1968.
Overseas Telecommunications Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill 1968.
Live-stock Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1968.
Meat Research Bill 1968.
Meat Legislation Repeal Bill 1968.
Commonwealth Banks Bill 1968.
Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Bill 1968.
Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1968.
Service and Execution of Process Bill 1968.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 5) 1968.
Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill 1968.
Fisheries Bill 1968.
Judges’ Pensions Bill 1968.
Law Officers Bill 1968.
Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1968.
Aboriginal Enterprises (Assistance) Bill 1968.
States Grants (Aboriginal Advancement) Bill 1968.
Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill 1968.
Papua and New Guinea Bill (No. 2) 1968.
Motion (by Senator Murphy ) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Murphy moving a motion relating to the order of General Business after 8 p.m.
Senator MURPHY (New South Wales-
Leader of the Opposition) [4.46] - I move:
Notice of motion No. 9 relates to the Chowilla Dam. I concur in what has been stated by the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson). He intends to present a statement on defence at 8 o’clock tonight. We have agreed to facilitate that, if leave is necessary or if some motion has to be moved. So the understanding is that the statement on defence will be made by the Leader of the Government and then, if the Senate agrees to this motion, we will proceed to General Business notice of motion No. 9 which is on the notice paper in the names of Senators Bishop, Cavanagh, Ridley, Drury and Toohey and which concerns the Chowilla Dam.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 4.38 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - I make the following defence statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). The pronoun’I’, wherever it appears, refers to him.
The purpose of this statement is to inform the House of what the Australian Government is prepared to do militarily in Malaysia-Singapore after the British withdrawal from those areas and to set this in the context of our general interest in, involvement in, and thinking concerning the region. It is not to be thought that we look on our activities in that region as being purely, or mainly, military. Any examination of our policy in relation to our neighbours of the north will show that we have encouraged them to develop policies promoting political stability and economic growth, promoting their own defence capabilities in association with our own forces and those of our allies, and in promoting regional co-operation.
Indeed the stability and security of the area rests on many things. It rests on the avoidance of territorial or other disputes between the countries in the region. It rests on the economic progress of those countries and on the capacity and willingness of rulers there to see that economic progress is reflected in the raising of the standards of living of the ordinary people.It rests on peaceful co-operation between those countries in many fields. And these are the bases without which there will not be enduring stability.
Therefore these are the goals which Australia, through diplomatic effort, through economic assistance, through assistance in the field of trade, will strive to help these countries attain. For this is fundamental to the Australian Government’s approach - a positive, co-operative effort to encourage and assist peaceful change and progress. Yet just as ultimate stability depends on progress and rising standards of living, so does the possibility of progress depend on maintaining immediate stability. And provision for defence is necessary to help provide that immediate stability. Indeed helping in conditions of stability to accelerate progress and helping by military means to preserve conditions of stability are two sides of the one coin. And the military action we propose to take in the area to our immediate north is the side of the coin that concerns us in this statement.
Just a little over a year ago Great Britain announced a considerable acceleration in the pace and scale of the withdrawal of British forces from Malaysia-Singapore. Those forces are to be totally withdrawn. The withdrawal is to be completed by the end of the calendar year 1971 - and the circumstances under which they may return to assist in an emergency are unknown. For Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand and ourselves this latest announcement underlined the fact that an era had ended. During the lifetime of any one of us sitting in this House British forces have been stationed in Malaysia-Singapore to keep, or try to keep, peace and stability in that region.
During the Second World War and since, Australian and New Zealand forces have assisted in that task and Malaysian and Singaporean troops have contributed also. For our part we contributed to the long drawn out military measures which defeated the Communist subversion campaign in Malaya, externally inspired and sustained, which became known as the Emergency. We contributed to the military measures which repelled the raids and infiltrations during the sad days of Confrontation. We contributed, with New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore to a force the backbone of which was provided by British forces - seen to be there and known to be backed by all the resources and reinforcements which Great Britain could, if necessary, send them. Now all that has changed. The major power will be withdrawn. It is no longer a contribution to the efforts of a major power which we will all be called upon to make. It is a substitution for the efforts of a major power. And such a substitution must fall far short of what previously existed, and be of a different character.
Faced with this basic change, we and the other nations concerned have had to re-assess our position and then discuss with one another what each of us should do in the light of such re-assessment. There have been almost continuous consultations at all levels - military and civilian, political and technical - on steps to be taken to meet the changing situation. Over a period of time the plans of each of us have been influenced and shaped by what has been thought and suggested by the others and by the contributions each has felt itself able to make, or to be prepared to make in the future. Our own starting point was and is that we are a part of and are situated in the region. Hence security, stability and progress for the other nations in the region must also contribute to the security of Australia. We cannot fail to be affected by what happens in our neighbour countries. What affects their security affects our security. Again, if economic development in the region is to occur at the pace required, and if the stability needed for this is to be maintained, the immediate economic support of great nations outside the region, and the potential military support of great nations outside the region, will be needed.
Australia, the most industrially and technically advanced nation in the region surely would not wish, in these circumstances, to refrain from helping the region in all ways. We could not turn our backs on our neighbours, refuse to help provide forces for their security, and wash our hands of the possible consequences to them and to ourselves. Yet there were obviously several courses for us. One theoretical course was to withdraw all our forces from MalaysiaSingapore at the time that Britain’s withdrawal is completed; to withdraw into Australia behind a sea frontier as was I believe advocated by a leading spokesman for the
Opposition and turn our backs completely on the region, as regards providing military assistance, except for a willingness to assist in United Nations action. We reject this utterly. It is contrary to our historical actions in Korea and Vietnam and in the region of which I speak, and it is contrary to our future interests. Were we, with our potential, to do this we could scarcely expect smaller countries in the region to be encouraged to protect themselves or larger countries outside the region not to be affected in any future decision they might have to make, should the region he endangered. For us the question has never been whether we should play a part militarily but how we should play it.
A second possible course was to decide to withdraw ali our military forces, of all arms, at the same time as Britain withdrew but to assure Malaysia-Singapore that we retained an interest in their military security, that we had not withdrawn to our island Australia from which we would never make a sally to assist them, but that we would, if and when we judged it necessary, be prepared to dispatch military forces to their shores to help them. This course could well cast doubt on our sincerity of purpose as far as Malaysia-Singapore and other countries of the region were concerned; and it had also obvious military drawbacks. It is much easier to dispatch aircraft from Australia to assist in another area of the region if Australian aircraft are already situated on a base in that area, and operating from it, and in possession of or provided with all the complicated equipment needed to service and maintain and guide such aircraft.
It is much easier to dispatch ground forces to an area if, in that area, there is a securely held base and the headquarters and command and signals and supply complex is already set up and operating and needing only expansion instead of construction de novo. And of course it is much easier for a country which is to be assisted to believe that it will be assisted if forces from the country which may provide such help are there and are visible. We therefore took the view that, while a capacity for swift additional assistance should be maintained within Australia, yet it was essential for some forces to be stationed within Malaysia-Singapore itself. In so stationing them we are doing not only what we believe right but also what these countries want us to do. Accordingly we are prepared to maintain, and are planning to maintain, forces of all arms in that area after the British withdrawal - without setting any specific terminal date.
The forces planned to be retained will consist of two squadrons of Mirages, totalling in all 42 aircraft, and stationed at Butterworth in Malaya, except for one section of 8 aircraft which will be stationed at Tengah in Singapore. In addition both ourselves and the New Zealanders will each maintain a naval ship in the area at all times, for purposes of protection and not merely for purposes of training. Further, we are planning to maintain, in conjunction with New Zealand, a two-battalion organisation of ground troops of which the Australian component excluding personnel required for headquarters, communications and the Jungle Warfare Training School in Malaya - to which we shall contribute - will be approximately 1,200 men. These troops, in accordance with the advice tendered to us by our military advisers on military grounds, and because of the considerable financial savings involved, will be based at Singapore, although one company will be detached on rotation to Butterworth except on occasions when the whole force is training either at the Jungle Warfare School or elsewhere in Malaysia. It has, of course, already been accepted by all concerned that for purposes of defence Malaysia and Singapore are indivisible. Consequently, no matter in what part of the Peninsula including Singapore our forces are stationed we regard them as being there in order to assist the security and the stability of the whole of that Peninsula.
Now, Sir, having specified the Australian forces which we are prepared to dispose in this way I wish to indicate the conditions under which they will be there and the role which we envisage they will fulfil. They will be stationed in the area under existing arrangements, the terms of which are governed by our association with the AngloMalayan Defence Agreement. Should that Agreement in the future cease to be operative we would wish general understandings rather than specific treaty obligations to be worked out with the countries concerned and ourselves. Our forces will not, of course, be there or remain there unless their presence continues to be actively desired by the governments of the countries in which they are stationed. While there they are not intended for use, and will not be used, for the maintenance of internal civil law and order which is the responsibility of the government concerned. Their presence, and their military co-operation with Malaysia and Singapore, are not directed against any other country in the region, and this we believe is well understood and accepted. Indeed by helping to strengthen the defences of one part of the region it is hoped that they will indirectly contribute to the stability of the whole.
Their presence in Malaya and Singapore, and their participation in training and military exercises with Malaysian and Singaporean troops, will we believe have value in helping to build the indigenous defence capacity of both Malaysia and Singapore, will provide additional security while that indigenous defence capacity is built up, and will make it more possible for Malaysian troops to be assigned to other parts of Malaysia should the Malaysian Government so desire. They will be available - our troops - subject to the usual requirement for the Australian Government’s prior consent, for use against externally promoted and inspired Communist infiltration and subversion of the kind which became familiar during the Emergency and which is judged by our military advisers to be the most likely form of aggression in the area.
Our advice is that the greatest threat to stability and security arises from the possibility of insurgency in South East Asian countries which could ultimately expose us to threat by the spread of Communism in an insecure and unstable Asia. We have seen insurgency associated with direct military action in Vietnam and whilst the decision to employ our forces is, as it always has been, a matter to be determined by the Australian Government at the time, and in the circumstances of the time, these forces will be available to oppose any insurgency which is externally promoted, which is a threat to the security of the region and which is beyond the capacity of the forces of Malaysia and Singapore to handle.
It is clear however that at some time in the future it could be possible that a situation might arise when the scale of such subversion and infiltration from outside - or some other organised threat to the region at present unforeseen - could be such that Australian resources alone would be insufficient to support successfully the forces of Malaysia and Singapore. If such a situation should arise we would have to look to the support of allies outside the region and the scale of Australia’s continued effort would in that case have to be decided in the light of all the circumstances that then prevail. What they would be we cannot now know and we cannot therefore now make precise decisions. But we can decide, and have decided, that we are prepared to dispose part of our forces in the manner J have described. At the same time we shall continue our efforts to help with the training of local Malaysian and Singaporean forces which we expect will be increased in size and capacity, and to provide financial assistance for defence aid aimed at assisting Malaysia and Singapore to build up their own defence capacity.
We have, to date, allotted some S41m for the supply of equipment to the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Royal Malaysian Police, and the Singapore Armed Forces - and we have allotted $4m for the provision of specialist training courses in Australia and for meeting part of the cost of Australian servicemen seconded to the Malaysian Armed Forces. This programme has been and is continuing in close consultation with the Malaysian and Singapore defence authorities.
Side by side with military measures to promote regional defence and co-operation, the Government: has pursued and will pursue active measures in other fields - diplomatic, and economic. The Australian Government is itself in regular contact with all the governments of the region of South East Asia and with other governments with a direct interest in the region, either through bil’ateral dealings or by participating in the work of international organisations. It has been our endeavour to play a constructive role in helping to ease tensions and to reduce or eliminate causes of friction. We have seen it as a positive task to help promote political and economic conditions which will allow the independent countries of the region to proceed with their programmes of national development in an atmosphere of confidence.
The basis of security for the region is weakened when there are divisions within the region - divisions that threaten to get out of hand and to lead to serious clashes. Of course, there will be differences of opinion between countries and interests will not coincide on all matters but it is not an impractical aim to try to have some assurance that differences will not lead to armed clash and that no country in the region need fear for the security of its own borders.
Where differences exist within the region, their settlement should be sought by peaceful means, and by peaceful means only, and various ways of achieving this exist. Some of them are directed at the removal of the causes of disagreement, others are directed at creating an atmosphere in which solutions can be sought. One possibility that has appealed to us as an aim is the attainment of a non-aggression pact or pacts whereby the countries of the region would declare their intention of never resorting to force against one another - and of respect for existing territorial boundaries. I do not regard this as being the total answer to the problems of regional security and regional development, but it could be a most useful1 and stabilising element in a total approach. It is not capable of immediate achievement. As in so many matters, we shall have to feel our way forward, making progress as conditions permit. The countries of the region, including Australia, cannot force anything on one another, but by trying to understand one another’s interests and aims and broadening our co-operation with one another, the conditions for still closer co-operation will be created.
One of the difficulties at present disturbing the region is the dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia over Sabah. For our part we respect the territorial integrity of all the countries in the region within their existing boundaries. And we believe all governments in the region should do the same. We recognise Malaysia as the rightful successor to Britain in Sabah and we believe that the people of Sabah have already exercised the right of selfdetermination. We believe, too, that the Philippines would not wish to prosecute its claim by armed attack and indeed tha former Minister of External Affairs was assured of this by the Government of the Philippines.
Bearing in mind that the use of Australian Forces is always a matter for decision by the Australian Government - and that that decision will be made in the light of our judgment of all the circumstances at any given time - we believe that the best contribution we can make to the peaceful settlement of that dispute is by diplomatic means.
This statement has confined itself, as I said it would, to the question of what we are prepared to do in Malaysia-Singapore after the end of 1971. It has touched on the disposition of part of our forces. Our military advisers have for some time, knowing that we wished to provide for the possibility of such disposition, and in the context of their new strategic assessment, been working on plans for the future composition and equipment of Australian forces which will give us flexibility - a capacity for home defence which will’ also allow us to contribute in accordance with our treaty agreements of SEATO and ANZUS. This study is still proceeding.
But I commend to the House the decisions here announced: That we are prepared to provide to the region in which we live military assistance for which Malaysia and Singapore have asked - military assistance visible to them - and an assurance that both we and they share a common purpose in being prepared to combat that Communist inspired military subversion which our advisers consider to pose the major threat to the region. I present the following paper:
Defence - ‘Ministerial statement, 25 February 1969- and move:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned. (General Business taking precedence of Government Business.)
– I move:
As honourable senators will know, notice of. intention to move this motion was given on 27th November 1968, shortly after the South Australian Parliament had unanimously carried a resolution reading:
This House considers that South Australia has a fundamental and legal right to the construction of the Chowilla Dam without further delay and calls upon all South Australian members of the Commonwealth Parliament to give the utmost support to this request.
This was about the third resolution of this type carried by the South Australian Parliament, under both Labor and Liberal Governments, and I do not think 1 need to canvass at any length the issues connected with the deferment of the project. Honourable senators will remember that a motion similar to this was moved, again by the Opposition, in 1967. On that occasion, we stressed the need to face up to the construction of the dam despite what had been recommended by the technical committee of the River Murray Commission. At that time, the River Murray Commission posed what it considered to be two outstanding problems. One was the problem of salinity. The other, of course, was the financial problem which had developed as a result of the escalation of the cost of construction from $43m to about S67m.
Let me trace the history of the matter. When this pronouncement was made by the River Murray Commission, the then Labor Government of South Australia asked that the Commonwealth Minister for National Development convene a meeting of all State Ministers concerned with himself and Mt Dunstan. At the time, this seemed to us to be a commonplace and sensible suggestion, but it was refused. We deemed it to be only sensible in view of the fact that by their acceptance of the original agreement all parties recognised the need to build the dam.
I remind the Senate that at the time when the original legislation was being discussed in this place it was pointed out that the River Murray Commission had recommended the construction of the dam in its 1961 technical report. In fact, in that report it gave all its reasons for making the recommendation. Admittedly the original estimate of the cost of construction was some $28m.
Negotiations have been under way continuously since 1961, due mainly to the persistence of the then Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, who encountered problems arising from the agreement relating to waters from the Snowy Mountains scheme. Many strong arguments were put forward both in this place and another place. Many of the senators who supported the scheme at that time are now in this chamber. Senator Toohey is one who took part in the debate. The late Senator O’Flaherty and the late Senator Pearson also took part in the debate supporting the proposal and stressing the need for the construction of the Chowilla Dam. When the legislation came before the Senate in 1963 the then Minister for National Development, the late Senator Sir William Spooner, applauded the work of the River Murray Commission. He was chairman of that Commission and made a great contribution to it. He gave great credit to what had been devised and said that all the necessary technical investigations had been carried out and proved satisfactory. Of course, those studies were carried out manually whereas in more recent times they are done by a computer. The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has been consistently against the project. He was against it even when the technical studies were being undertaken. But in 1963 he said that the report was a most comprehensive one and recommended its adoption. He applauded the scheme at that stage, although he has criticised it since. Since 1967 the Minister for National Development has consistently made public statements criticising the Chowilla scheme. In my opinion New South Wales and Victoria have put pressure on him to assess the scheme generally and not to have proper regard to the position in South Australia. Briefly, that is the history of the scheme.
Senator Cormack, who I see is now in the chair, took part in the debate on this subject and will remember it well. A lot of interest was shown in the matter, particularly by honourable senators from South Australia. What has happened since that time is that the present Liberal Premier of South Australia has apparently been conned - and I say ‘conned’ advisedly - by the Minister for National Development. He has been persuaded quietly that he should accept the report which recommends the construction of a dam at Dartmouth because certain guarantees can be given regarding the availability of water to South Australia. I instance this because up till the time that recommendation was made it was evident that both parties in the South Australian Parliament in fact supported the Chowilla project.
– Keep an open mind.
– I use almost the same words as South Australia’s great former leader, Sir Thomas Playford, used. He has been one of the most outstanding supporters of South Australia’s rights and of the Chowilla Dam.
– ls that the only issue on which the honourable senator supports him or does the honourable senator always support him?
– 1 am putting to the Senate the names of a number of eminent people - not only Sir Thomas Playford - who support the Chowilla scheme. Perhaps Senator Buttfield has read the article on this subject which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser’. The Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ reported Sir Thomas Playford as having said that the computer was fed information that was politically biased. A case can be made out to support this statement. No doubt, Sir Thomas Playford is one of the people in South Australia who to some extent frighten many of the present Liberal members of Parliament.
– Of course. Honourable senators opposite should not laugh. I am on the Chowilla Promotion Committee in South Australia. As recently as last Friday week I was present together with Mr Dridan, who was the engineer in charge when this proposition was recommended, the Minister of Works in the State Parliament, Mr Coumbe, the Federal member for Angas. Mr Giles, and Senator Laucke, when the Chowilla Promotion Committee, at the suggestion of Sir Thomas Playford, affirmed its support for Chowilla Dam. So, obviously Sir Thomas Playford still plays a very important role in the Liberal machine.
When he went onto the Committee he said that the Premier of South Australia raised no objection to his attendance. Sir Thomas Playford had apparently asked him whether it would politically embarrass him. In a few moments I will read to the Senate what Sir Thomas Playford had to say on this matter. He has made a number of public statements in South Australia on it. In addition, Mr Dridan, who is now employed by the State Government, has consistently argued that Chowilla is the best proposition for South Australia. Mr Warren Bonython, who is also an authority on the subject, has supported the Chowilla project at meetings organised by the South Australian Chamber of Commerce and the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures - not the South Australian Trades and Labour Council - which are very important organisations in the community. 1 will read some of their comments later.
In my opinion what Sir Thomas Playford said is correct. He said that the whole report - and [ will make some references to it shortly - was designed to establish a case for the growing demands of New South Wales and Victoria. These growing demands are based upon irrigation development that was untrammelled by the River Murray Commission, lt was not stopped by the Commission and cannot be stopped. The demands will meet the requirements of the other states but will leave unsolved the issue of the great dependence of South Australia on River Murray water. There is no question about this. A proposition was put up in the State Parliament by Mr Hall. He said that because the South Australian Government supported Dartmouth at this stage did not mean that it had given Chowilla away, lt is obvious that if the conclusions contained in this report - which most of us have - are not checked, are not criticised, are not found to be wanting and are not the subject of further investigation as they ought to be, they will be accepted by default. Surely the first task of the State Government should have been to examine the report to determine where it is defective and where it make assumptions that ought to be further tested.
– Has the honourable senator not heard the Premier’s remarks to the effect that further investigations and studies have been made?
– I shall make further comments Pater. I am sure that Senator Young, as a fair minded senator from South Australia and a new one who has given quite an amount of support to the Chowilla scheme in the past, will listen to them. Perhaps he has been persuaded by the Minister for National Development that the Chowilla scheme is done. I am sure that Senator Laucke does not believe this. It has been a pleasure to sit in this chamber and listen to the great support that Senator Laucke has given to South Australia’s claim. I am not kidding him on this. The night before last in Renmark a meeting of 400 people passed a resolution requesting Labor supporters - and Senator Laucke - to promote exactly what I am asking for tonight. I am hopeful that before this debate is over Senator Laucke and other honourable senators opposite will do exactly this.
There is a complete moral and legal claim by South Australia. If the South Australian Government wanted to do so at this stage it could take the matter before an arbitrator and test the position legally. It should do so now. lt should not rest upon the spurious argument that maybe Chowilla will come later. I am told that as late as this afternoon, in answer to questions from two Government supporters in the other place, the Minister for National1 Development made it quite clear that if Dartmouth were accepted one should not have any confidence in Chowilla being also accepted. There are two reasons for this. The cost of the dam to be constructed at Dartmouth is something like S57m. And that is only an estimate. The cost could rise to $80m.
– The honourable senator is only guessing.
– I am not guessing. I am giving the facts.
– Where are the facts?
– Senator Greenwood is a smart man and he shoul’d listen to what I am saying. I will be very interested in what he has to say after I sit down. I would like him to take part in the debate. No doubt he will not be much concerned about South Australia, but nevertheless he will concede that it has basic rights. There is no doubt that at the time the River Murray Commission agreed in 1967 to a deferment in order to have further studies made it accepted that a dam could be completed at Chowilla for $43m if the contract price did not go up. There is nothing strange about contract prices going up these days. Everyone in this Parliament is aware of this. For example, by how much did the cost of the standardisation of railway gauges increase? If 1 remember correctly? it increased by something 1’ike SI 00m. One can take any big project that is being undertaken at present and one will find that there are long delays before the job is completed. The result is escalating prices. That is undisputable. There is no question that if Dartmouth is proceeded with not only will1 there be a long delay in its construction but also it will not bc constructed at a price below $80m. Of course it is only an estimate and no doubt it will increase because we have to allow for extensions and additions to Lake Victoria on top of that. So that is the position upon which the State Government, for every reason that 1 can think of, shoul’d have argued for Chowilla because if it did not believe in Chowilla it would have a better negotiating position by saying: ‘Let us maintain what we have until we get further figures from the Government’. If Don Dunstan in 1967 could have got a conference of ministers he would have put up a case for some reconsideration because of any disability which Victoria and New South Wales felt about the increased cost of Chowilla. In fact it could be argued, as we are arguing, that Chowilla is mainly an asset for South Australia.
– What did he say?
– We do not disagree. The fact was that it was refused. Dunstan came over to Canberra. He had to wait to see the Federal Minister. The Prime Minister in answer to a question said that the Government was most sympathetic. What was wrong with a conference at the time to resolve the outstanding differences? lt was not held. So we reach a situation where a report comes along. It is not properly checked, time is not given for it to be studied by competent people and the result is almost that Chowilla is sold out. This is quite wrong. The Senate obviously has been a chamber where the rights of the nation and the States have been balanced. There have been contests, as there should be. There have been some party politics, but I will say about Labor representatives that we are more concerned in this particular case than we have been in the past with the rights of South Australia because we have gone beyond political contests. Our Party allowed me and Mr Birrell to go on the committee to promote Chowilla. At no time did we resign our job. We regarded it as an urgent necessity to promote Chowilla.
I have mentioned this long fight about which honourable senators know something and which has been supported by very eminent people and by very substantial evidence to which I shall refer later and of which notice ought to be taken. Deferment should never have taken place on the question of cost. There should have been financial accommodation. I have noticed that a Liberal member in another place proposed something like this in an effort to secure Chowilla but I understand that the matter has since been dropped. The population of South Australia is dependent upon the River Murray not merely for sustenance but also for the complete development of the State. The present Liberal Minister for Works in South Australia has issued figures showing that the population served by the MannumAdelaide pipeline as at 30th June 1968 was 821,000. The population served by River Murray water was estimated to be 995,000 out of a total population of 1.25 million. Everybody knows this, lt is not new. I have heard Government supporters talk about the dependency of South Australia on River Murray waters and at the same time do nothing to support the claim of South Australia, whilst making sure, of course, that the claims of Queensland and Western Australia got great support. During my term in Parliament we have seen great concessions to these States on the eve of elections - for example, on the eve of the last Senate election.
What is the reason for the neglect of South Australia? Is it, as was said in the Adelaide ‘Advertiser’, that at one time South Australia was an affluent State with a great deal of force and prestige but now it has no force or prestige, despite the fact that prior to the election campaign in South Australia the Liberal Leader of the Opposition said that if his Party got control it would build the Chowilla Dam and relationships with the Federal Government would be better and would help the State. What has happened? The dam has been given away by the State Liberal Government. I do not want to make a lot of this. Our main purpose in ventilating this matter is to seek support. I hope the South Australian Government takes a turn about and decides at this stage, after listening to some of the people I have mentioned, to change its mind and to take legal action to obtain the construction of the Chowilla Dam. It is not too late to do that and that is what it should do. If it did that, I think the people of South Australia would support it in the future. Everybody knows - it is no secret - that in South Australia Chowilla is a great and lively subject and its construction is supported by a majority of the people. If the State Government went to an election at the present time it would not stand a chance. There is no question that some Liberal members would be turfed out and Labor members elected because of the attitude of the Labor Party in the State.
At Renmark 400 people supported the position that the Labor Party adopts. A motion was proposed not by a member of the Labor Party but by a notable citizen of the area. One hundred people at Berri listened to the report. The Mayor of Renmark said that the people there would be in the vanguard of the fight for Chowilla In view of all of these things, obviously there are strong forces in favour of it. There is every reason to believe that for some reason the State Liberal Government has been hypnotised and persuaded. I am mindful of the statements that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has made. I have referred to some of them previously. As a matter of fact, the State Government itself complained about his making such statements. The Adelaide Advertiser’ on 8th November 1968 published the following report:
Sorry, says Minister
The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) had sent an apology for his published statement ‘prejudging’ the investigation into the Dartmouth site as an alternative to the Chowilla Dam, the Premier (Mr Hall) said in the Assembly yesterday in a reply to Mr Hudson (ALP).
The Premier recalled that he had written to Mr Fairbairn after his commendation of the Dartmouth site soon after visiting South Australia. Mr Fairbairn had written back and apologised for his statement, saying that he would not do this again.
The South Australian committee for promoting Chowilla made the same complaint to the Minister. This is not good enough. The Minister should not do this. As chairman of an important and responsible Commission he should at least show impartiality publicly even if he is not impartial. He has a duty to carry out the aims of the Commission, one of which is to fulfil the guarantees to South Australia which are written into the legislation. Let me refer to what has been said in the report, because it has not been read by everybody. The salinity consultants made it clear that Chowilla would produce an average salinity content some 20 parts per million lower than Dartmouth would. Secondly, Chowilla had a smoothing effect on the peaks of salinity which occurred during each irrigation season. Obviously on this count the Chowilla project must be in front of Dartmouth. The Dartmouth proposal is estimated to cost about $57. 5m, together with a further sum estimated in the report to be from $4.7m to $7.2m for improvements to Lake Victoria. On the other hand, the completion of Chowilla with a 2 million acre feet capacity and with the lake originally provided would cost S56m. As 1 said to Senator Scott earlier, the cost of Chowilla is firm. Nearly $6m has already been spent on the project. Because of construction disabilities, the need for certain consolidating materials and so on, the cost went up.
The Committee made a number of assumptions which were unfavourable to Chowilla. If those assumptions were not challenged it would mean that the construction of Chowilla would never take place, despite the fact that some people think that if we get Dartmouth we will get Chowilla later. Once we build a dam on the head waters of the Murray and provide the assistance which has been promised and canvassed for the other States, with the expenditure of S60m, that will be the end of the story. One of the assumptions made by the Technical Committee was about the yield of any dam. The first of these assumptions was to calculate the yield in terms of maximising the yield to New South Wales and Victoria while South Australia got its entitlement. This is what was done in the report. At no stage did the Technical Committee suggest that it wanted to maximise the yield for New South Wales. Victoria, and South Australia; it simply said that there was a demand for water in the other two States, that the demand had grown beyond what could be produced. It said that it had grown because there had been no controls on irrigation, for which reason it was necessary to get more water for these two States.
– That is only half the truth.
– That is one of the stories.
– Why not tell the whole story?
– That was one of the reasons why this method was adopted. The calculation was based on a proposition for the whole river system whereas Chowilla would supply a need for South Australia only. This was the original intention of the River Murray Commission as expressed in its 1961 report. Let us consider the second assumption made by the Technical Committee. The Committee talked about the need for a flow of 900 cusecs at Mildura, yet when the River Murray Commission issued its J 96 1 report no mention was made of a demand for a flow such as this at Mildura. In fact no figures were stated. Since that time, as Sir Thomas Playford pointed out, the River Murray Commissioners had demanded that a leak at Lock 10 be repaired. Measures have been taken to correct that leak. How can anybody justify this action? If a flow of 900 cusecs was needed at Mildura before the 1968 report was published, why was it not mentioned in the earlier report and why was it necessary to repair a leak in Lock 10? It would be very interesting to learn why this was necessary.
I refer now to evaporation. In 196.1 the average annual loss from evaporation at Chowilla was estimated at 600,000 acre feet, whereas in 1969 the evaporation loss is estimated to be 820,000 acre feet. As is stated in the report, it may grow to as much as 900,000 acre feet. The 1961 studies which were based on the information then available were, we believe, properly based. However, two comments should be made about them on points which have not been answered. An attempt to answer these points was made in the State House of Parliament, but no explanation was given for estimating the evaporation of lakes lying between Mildura and the sea at Portland rather than estimating the loss from Lake Victoria which eventually will be submerged by Chowilla. No-one asked why it was necessary to take these readings when it had not been considered necessary to do so in 1961. Secondly, most of the comparisons of the Technical Committee of the River Murray Commission were between Dartmouth and a storage at Chowilla, not of 5 million acre feet but of 3 to 3i million acre feet. Why was this done? There must be some explanation. The proposition for Chowilla was a dam of 5 million acre feet, but for some reason of its own the Committee selected a dam of 3 to 3i million acre feet. There must be a reason for this, but nobody has yet explained the situation. Probably nobody is able to explain. This is probably what prompted Sir Thomas Playford to say that the computer had been fed information which was politically biased.
The flow of the Mitta Mitta River at Dartmouth is obviously an important factor in determining the yield of Dartmouth as against that of Chowilla. The Minister of Works in the South Australian Parliament said in answer to a question:
A gauging station was established in August 1885 at Tallangatta on the Mitta Mitta River and flow data is available from that dam to December 1935 when the station was moved to Tallandoon. Data from the latter station from January 1936 to the present time is available. Tallangatta and Tallandoon are approximately 50 miles and 32 miles respectively downstream of the Dartmouth dam site. Inflow data used for computer evaluation was established from the flow data on a monthly basis which took account of all variable conditions which could be anticipated for the period of the study.
I come now to the important conclusion which states:
The average annual flow at Dartmouth dam site after making allowance for diversion to Kiewa hydro-electric scheme is 580,000 acre feet with a maximum annual discharge of 2.6 million acre feet recorded in 1956-57 and a minimum of 316,000 acre feet recorded in 1944-45.
In answer to a further question as to whether the Technical Committee had studied the effects of the flow of the Mitta Mitta being less than estimated, the Minister said:
As there was no reason to doubt the correctness of the flow records of the Mitta Mitta River the studies were confined to the available data and there was no point in carrying out further studies using hypothetical figures.
The point remains that the estimated flow at Dartmouth could be exaggerated, in which case the yield from Dartmouth could be less than has been stated. If that is the situation, we want to know about it. I have mentioned already that the yield from Chowilla is a firm figure on which we can go ahead. Chowilla could be built and it would supply South Australia, lt could guarantee the future development of South Australia, but without it South Australia’s development could be in a critical situation. Everybody knows that in South Australia there is a great demand for water throughout the whole State. The demand for water is not only to satisfy the needs of the people and to enable them to live but is also to satisfy the needs of industry. What sort of senators would we be and what sort of State representatives would we be if we did not use our utmost endeavours to ensure that South Australia gets water? I put it to the Senate that the action of any government which on the basis of this report decides to suspend what is in fact a legal obligation is quite wrong. Its action is untenable and cannot be justified. We should be doing something about it. I have mentioned what Mr Warren Bonython has said about this. On 25th November 1968, in an address arranged by the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce Incorporated and the South Australian Chamber of Manufactures Incorporated, organisations which are very much concerned with the industrial and commercial future of South Australia-
– Which of the two schemes would give South Australia the greatest supply of water?
– The Chowilla dam would give South Australia a guaranteed supply at all times, according to the 1961 report. Water would always be available, except perhaps in 1 or 2 dry years in each 50 years. No-one challenges this. B.ut now it is said that the yield from the dam at Dartmouth, which will be upstream of the Hume Weir-
– That will be 1,200 miles away.
– Yes, 1,200 miles away - so far that it will take the water 6 weeks to flow to Chowilla. The Hume dam has been filled only three times in 10 years.
There is no question about that. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) can confirm that by looking at the reply that he gave to a question on the subject last year. Over a period of 10 years Hume dam has been filled only three times, yet South Australia is expected to accept this as a satisfactory arrangement. But, of course, the Mitta Mitta is near the Minister’s electorate. Perhaps that is part of the reason for his being interested in the construction of the dam at Dartmouth. But let us consider what was said by Mr Warren Bonython. He said:
It was for minimising seasonal fluctuations like this in the flow of the Murray that the Chowilla Dam was proposed, and only Chowilla, or an alternative providing adequate stabilisation of the river flow, will remove this intolerable and growing threat to the regular supply of water to South Australia.
– Mention the alternative.
– 1 ask the honourable senator to listen to what I have to say. If she has a case in reply to what i have said I shall be interested to hear it.
– I have one.
– Yes, and the honourable senator would have it despite what Sir Thomas Playford said yesterday and what was reported in the ‘Advertiser’. Mr Warren Bonython is a man who knows his business. If anyone wants a hydrologist, an expert in his field, an important man in his field, Mr Warren Bonython is that man. He continued:
Chowilla will adequately safeguard South Australia against seasonal water shortages like that just experienced. Chowilla will, by storing low salinity water from the seasonal flood flows that normally run largely into the sea to waste, reduce the mean level of salinity in water reaching South Australia.
This is one of the reasons why the job was stopped. Even the experts, the consultants to the Committee, came out and said that Chowilla would improve the water reaching South Australia from the aspect of salinity. He went on to say:
Perhaps a dam at Dartmouth will do some of these things, but it cannot do all of them. In the long run it is not a matter of whether a dam like that proposed for the Mitta Mitta at Dartmouth or one at Chowilla should be built. Dams in both places will be necessary for the proper development of the Murray system. But Chowilla has advantages that are most important to South Australia in the near future.
I hope that Chowilla Dam will be built because, owing to its proximity to South Australia, it will give that State control over the kind of water it receives. South Australia cannot do so now because neither the Stale nor the Commission has any control over the tributaries. I mentioned earlier the committee which has been set up at Renmark. It has advanced what appears to me to be a very good suggestion, namely, that the Commonwealth Government should set up a salinity control commission because salt has been allowed to come down the river. That salt affects South Australia more than it does the other States and we think that measures should be taken to offset it. I have spoken for longer than I intended to speak so I shall conclude by saying that i consider that there is an unquestionable case for the Chowilla Dam to be constructed. I ask the Government and Liberal senators, particularly those from South Australia, to support what I regard as a very reasonable argument.
– This is a State matter, is it not?
– 1 have stated already - the honourable senator would have heard it if he had been listening - that South Australia is dependent upon River Murray water. South Australia is part of Australia. South Australians have to provide their quota of taxation; South Australians have to provide their quota of national servicemen; South Australians have to provide their quota of manufactured goods, a field in which we South Australians are very efficient. Ours is a very important State. If we are required to do all of those things we want the Chowilla Dam. I hope that Liberal senators will use their best endeavours to influence a decision on those lines. There has been a problem in relation to cost and I know that some States have bleated about it. The Chowilla project was stopped because Victoria and New South Wales said: ‘We will not pay for this’. Sir Henry Bolte has said some worse things since then. Obviously a problem that affects South Australia is a problem that must be solved by South Australia. The whole history of South Australia and the River Murray waters illustrates that the State has had to fight for every drop of water that it gets.
– What would happen if we got more water from Dartmouth?
– You will get a promise of more water. The honourable senator has read the reports and knows the guarantees that have been given - that water will be available in all conditions except in one or two lean years in 50 years. No-one disputes that, but the honourable senator still talks this nonsense of getting more water. You will get the water when you do not want it. I hope that Liberal senators will support South Australia rather than sit on the fence.
– I have listened for half an hour to a debate on why the Commonwealth Government should use its best endeavours to persuade the River Murray Commission to build a dam at Chowilla. I do not think I heard one reference to the reports of the technical committee. Despite a few interjections from this side of the chamber, Senator Bishop was not prepared to give credence to the fact that the River Murray Commission and its technical advisers are completely unbiased. Therefore, let me say at the outset, that 1 do not believe that this challenge by Senator Bishop against the integrity of the Premier of South Australia, of the Commonwealth Government or of the State governments of Victoria and New South Wales, should influence one’s outlook on this matter. The proposition that T will outline tonight will stand up to the severest scrutiny and criticism. Let us look at the facts. The honourable senator did not reply to Senator Buttfield who asked: ‘Will Chowilla give South Australia more water than Dartmouth will?’
– From where do you get it?
– According to the technical officers who are completely unbiased and non-political, Chowilla, after securing for South Australia 1.254 acre feet of waiter, will provide about .18 million acre feet of additional water a year to the upper States whereas Dartmouth, at approximately the same cost within $lm, will provide an additional 1.04 million acre feet.
– To whom?
– To the upper States. I have no intention of talking politics to you tonight but I will give you the facts. Senator Cavanagh asked: ‘To whom?’
– We are talking about South Australia’s supplies, not the other States.
– And I am saying to you that an additional amount of 1.04 million acre feet of water will go to the upper States after South Australia has drawn its entitlement of 1.254 million acre feet.
– Is that in a drought year?
– No. In a drought year there is an equal division. I am referring to a normal year. This is terribly important to South Australia and I say to honourable senators that politics should not enter into it. The technical officers who have made these estimates have stated in their report, if the honourable senator opposite cares to read it, that the advantage to the people of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales if the dam is built at Dartmouth is a matter of .86 million acre feet over and above what would be available to the upper States, and South Australia, if you like, if a dam of 5 million acre feet costing about the same amount of money were built at Chowilla. I point out that the additional water would be provided after allowing for South Australia’s entitlement under the original agreement of 1.254 million acre feet. Therefore, it is evident that the River Murray Commission will recommend to the various States that if more water is required, the dam should be built at Dartmouth.
– You do not believe it yourself.
– Yes I do. At the beginning of his speech Senator Bishop said that the scheme commenced in 1960- 61. He told us about the Premier of South Australia coming to Canberra and talking to the Prime Minister about additional water being made available to South Australia. It was agreed to refer the proposition of the Premier to the River Murray Commission. That was the beginning of the proposal for the construction of a dam at Chowilla. On 20th February 1961 the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia held a conference, attended on occasions by the Chairman of the Commission, and resolved that the Commission should examine the possibility of constructing the proposed dam. Shortly afterwards it was estimated that the total cost of the proposed dam would be about $28m. In 1963 it was to be listed as one of the works to be constructed, and it was decidedthat the costs were to be shared equally between the Commonwealth Government and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. That is why I cannot quite understand why senators from South Australia have criticised the Commonwealth Government in the Senate on this issue. The Commonwealth Government has only a 25% interest in the proposed project. All the propositions that are putto the River Murray Commission have to be decided on, not by an absolute majority, but by unanimous approval.
In the early 1960s everybody went along with the proposed building of the dam at Chowilla. but in 1963 the South Australian Government prepared a new estimated cost showing a rise from$28m to$43m. When tenders were called for and received in 1967. (he lowest tender was about$68m. Because of the great increase in the estimated cost of construction it was decided to explore whether more economic sites holding a greater quantity of fresher water are available, and to investigate further the problems of salinity and evaporation. The River Murray Commission decided to postpone the building of Chowilla Dam until further evidence was obtained as to those matters. It is very interesting to note that at that time the South Australian Commissioner was working under the authority of Mr Dunstan, who was then the Premier of a Labor Government in South Australia. If South Australia had objected to the postponement, probably it could have forced the other States to agree to go ahead with the project.
– The Minister is talking rubbish and he knows it.
– I am talking rubbish?
– Of course you are.
– I am trying to tell the honourable senator of the facts of the situation. 1 am not talking politics. 1 believe that the approach of Mr Dunstan to this problem, in his capacity as Premier of South Australia, was sincere in asking the South Australian Commissioner to agree to the postponement. I do not believe that any State Premier has acted against the interests of his State in this matter. Mr Thomas Playford, as he was when he first advocated the construction of a clam at Chowilla. was thoroughly convinced in 1960 and 1961 that a dam should be built at that site. When the estimated cost rose from $28m to$68m and it was found that problems of salinity and evaporation were involved, I believe that Mr Dunstan. then Premier of South Australia, was acting in the interests of his State in instructing the South Australian Commissioner to agree at a meeting of the River Murray Commission to defer the construction of a dam at Chowilla until further evidence was available regarding alternative dam sites, salinity and evaporation. In 1968 there was achangeof government in South Australia. Mr Steele Hall, who is now Premier of South Australia, is going along with the procedure advocated by his predecessor inan endeavour to find a better site than Chowilla for the provision of more and better quality water for South Australia.
The River Murray Commission in seeking to provide increased water for South Australia and to solve the problems, of salinity and evaporation sought advice from a firm of consultants. The Commission also asked the Snowy Mountains Authority to survey the Dartmouth site and report upon it. Throughout last year questions on this subject were addressed to me in the Senate as representative of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). The report made in September 1968 is available for perusal by honourable senators, as is a later report made in January of this year. In the latest report the Commissioners strongly advise that the various governments should give serious consideration to the construction of a dam at Dartmouth. This advice has followed a study of the problems associated with the construction of a dam at Chowilla, including salinity and evaporation. Senator Bishop mentions a figure of 900 cusecs and asks why that rauch water has to pass Mildura. The answer is that 900 cusecs of water is required at Mildura to keep the water in a suitable state for irrigation. That is the reason why Dartmouth becomes much more important.
– To Victoria.
– To South Australia. That is why Dartmouth becomes much more important to South Australia than Chowilla would be. If honourable senators opposite looked at me facts of the situation, if they believed what they read from the independent authorities and if they were prepared to throw away their opportunities to play party politics, they would be prepared to support the Dartmouth scheme.
– Why do you not build both of them?
– Honourable senators will note the use of the word ‘you’ in the honourable senators interjection.
– Meaning the Government, of course.
– He means the Government. I have spent 10 minutes trying to explain to him and other honourable senators that this is not a Commonwealth matter. Surely that must have sunk in by now. Lel me repeat it to the honourable senator. He is a new senator. I think it should be explained to him so that when it sinks in we will not have this type of interjection again. The members of the River Murray Commission are the people who control and organise the distribution of River Murray waters. The Commonwealth has a one-quarter interest in it and the three Stales concerned have a one-quarter interest each.
I know that honourable senators opposite like lo play this party political game; but the fact is that they have hardly referred to this report which has been brought down by an independent committee and which recommends the Dartmouth site. The amazing fact is that, on what we have heard from the Opposition so far tonight and if we arc to believe the recommendation of the independent committee and the technical advisers, members of the Opposition are actually asking that the Commonwealth Government use its best endeavours to reduce the amount of water that will flow down the Murray for use in South Australia.
I agree entirely with Senator Bishop when he says in all sincerity that the River Murray water is absolutely essential to South Australia and is the lifeblood of the people and industries of that State. I also agree with him when he says that in future the South Australian people will be placing ever-increasing reliance on water supplies coming from the River Murray. As far as 1 can see, the Dartmouth scheme will give South Australia extra water. Instead of receiving only its entitlement of 1,254,000 acre feet, as it would if Chowilla were built, it will have a case for receiving an additional amount of water.
– How much more, and when will South Australia receive it?
– lt can receive more water only when the dam is built. It cannot expect to receive any more than its entitlement of 1,254,000 acre feet if Chowilla is constructed. If we believe the technical advisers and the independent authorities, very little extra water will be available from Chowilla if the dam is built there.
– Who recommended Chowilla? Were they not the people who are now recommending the other site?
– I have already gone through this.
– You have not.
– I have told the Senate that the first thought of Chowilla was brought to the Federal Government in 1960 by the then Premier of South Australia. I do not want lo repeat this, but I will do so for the benefit of Senator Hendrickson, because I like him. The proposal was brought to the then Prime Minister by Sir Thomas Playford. They agreed that the matter of the construction of a dam on the lower reaches of the Murray should be referred to the River Murray Commission for its consideration.
– That is right.
– So we are both right. I told the Senate this before and I did not want to repeat this side of the argument. Let me return to what I was saying when
I was interrupted. I do not want to play party politics, and I have not done so on this occasion. I want to see South Australia get the maximum amount of the purest water that is available. I am absolutely convinced that if the River Murray Com mission wishes to go ahead with Chowilla the South Australian people will have to rely on their entitlement of 1,254,000 acre feet. The reason for that is that if the dam is built at Chowilla it will provide only 180.000 acre feet of additional water a year for the upstream States. That amount will not allow South Australia to get any more than its entitlement.
But if the dam is built at Dartmouth the story will be completely different. Not only will South Australia get its entitlement of 1.254.000 acre feet, but there will be available to the upstream States 860,000 acre feet instead of 180,000 acre feet. If South Australia wishes to negotiate for something more than its entitlement, it will be able to do so. I understand that the Premier of South Australia, Mr Steele Hall, is at present negotiating with the River Murray Commission and/ or the other State Premiers to see whether they will give South Australia something in addition to its present entitlement. T ask honourable senators opposite, when they stand up to make their speeches in this debate, to explain to me how, if Chowilla is built, the South Australian Premier can expect to get anything more than South Australia’s present entitlement.
– Because only .18 million acre feet is to be split up between the two eastern States. There would be very little left for South Australia. It would not get anything extra if Chowilla were built. There is a great opportunity for the South Australian Premier, when he approaches the Premiers of the upstream States, to obtain additional supplies for South Australia because if the dam is built at Dartmouth an extra .86 million acre feet can be allotted. Therefore he will have a bargaining point, but he has absolutely no bargaining point at all if the dam is built at Chowilla.
This evening Senator Bishop said that the Hume Dam has overflowed only three times In the last 10 years and he asked: ‘Why build a dam on the Mitta Mitta River knowing full well that all the wafer in the Mitta Mitta River flows into the Hume Reservoir?’ I say to the honourable senator that the reason why the Hume Reservoir has overflowed on only three occasions is that when it is approaching full each year the gates are lifted and the water is released from the sluices instead of the reservoir filling and the water being allowed to overflow. It is only during sudden gushes, when the releasing of the gates is not enough to allow the water to get away, that it has overflowed. That is in times of excessive flow. We, as the Government, are quite aware of South Australia’s need for more water and we are prepared to help the Premier of South Australia. We will support his State’s claims and the claims of the other State Premiers because we think that Chowilla is not the dam which will suit the South Australian people. I am firmly convinced that, having the .86 million acre feet in excess of requirements for the upstream States - if the dam is constructed at Dartmouth - if the right approaches are made by the South Australian Government, supported by the Commonwealth Government, to the two Premiers concerned, they will agree to South Australia getting something more than its present equity of 1 .25 million acre feet if the dam is built, at Chowilla. I believe that this is very important for South Australia.
Senator Bishop raised the question of evaporation and why has it risen from 600,000 acre feet to something over 900,000 acre feet in the present estimates. I suppose that, with the aid of computers, one can get a much more exact answer than one could have obtained a few years ago. Honourable senators opposite do not believe the experts when they give us the benefits of a simple sum in arithmetic. A different sum will produce to honourable senators opposite the results, but I think it would be something in excess of 900,000 acre feet in a normal year. I say this because the catchment area is 500 square miles, which is a large area, lt has an average depth of about 15 feet. The normal evaporation in that area, if my memory serves me correctly, is between 3 feet and 4 feet per year. It is something substantial. If it is 3 feet it is one-fifth of the total, which would be about 1 million acre feet, but 1 will use the figures supplied.
– The evaporation is from the top part of the dam only.
– It is from the top part of the dam. I will not argue about the figures being a little too low. I will use the estimated figure of 900,000 acre feet per year. That is another reason why we should not support Chowilla. I think I have covered all the aspects raised by the honourable senator. I and the Government are thoroughly convinced that on this occasion the right place for building a dam to give South Australia increased quantities of water - much more than it would get from the Chowilla scheme - is the site at Dartmouth.
– I have listened very carefully to the remarks made by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). I can agree with only one statement that he made and that is that this matter is of prime importance to South Australia. He talked about the opinion of experts. We have the opinions of experts on this matter, but how do we treat them? It becomes largely a matter of interpretation, of what interpretation we place on them, of what interpretation the Minister places upon them and of what interpretation other people place on them. In these circumstances 1 think the most reliable guide is to ask whether people have a vested interest in saying this scheme is a bad or a good scheme. Let somebody who has not a vested interest in it and who has some knowledge of the matter make his determination. That might be nearer the truth than perhaps anything we could secure from either of the two contending sides.
Senator Bishop quoted Mr Warren Bonython as an expert. He is a person of considerable knowledge and of considerable integrity and one not likely to be swayed by political considerations. He does not support what the Minister representing the Minister for National Development said. Whilst we are on the question of what the experts have said about Chowilla, I refer the Minister representing the Minister for National Development to a statement made in the House of Representatives in 1963. ft is recorded in Hansard of 23rd October 1 963. The author of the statement was the present
Minister for National Development. He said:
The commission carried out a comprehensive and complex investigation which I do not propose to describe here.
He went on to say:
The commission examined possibilities of other storages and a number of ways in which the water might bc shared. It came to the conclusion that a major storage at Chowilla constructed and operated as a River Murray Commission work was the best solution.
He concluded by saying:
The construction of Chowilla Reservoir will be a major undertaking which will be of great importance to millions of Australians in the future.
How very true was the statement by that expert in 1963. I think that Senator Bishop has covered very adequately the history of the Chowilla Dam, but perhaps I could recount some of the earlier circumstances associated with the discussions in the Senate. I remember how Sir William Spooner, the then Minister for National Development, spoke with considerable pride and claimed that it was a major achievement when the agreement was ratified in this chamber in 1963. What I want to know - I think this is a reasonable request - is where the experts were then. That question has got to be answered at some time. It is all very well to talk about computers today being much more accurate than the assessments of experts in 1963 05 1961, but nobody will convince me that the people who made the investigation into the original concept of Chowilla were not competent. Nobody will ever convince me that they made such a tragic error as to expend $6m of the taxpayers’ money on site preparation and the building of a railway on incomplete evidence. It is of no use trying to talk about the opinions of experts with respect to Chowilla to honourable members on this side of the House.
The Minister representing the Minister for National Development (Senator Scott) did little credit to himself when he tried to mislead the Senate into believing that Mr Dunstan, the then Premier of South Australia and present Leader of the Opposition there had virtually agreed to the type of situation that exists there today simply because Mr Dunstan did not object to the arbitrator at the time when it was decided that another investigation would be made into the feasibility of Chowilla. The Minister representing the Minister for National development knows as well as I do, and as well as any member of the Government knows, that Mr Dunstan, the then Premier of South Australia, had no alternative but to hold his horses with respect to this matter because it was impossible for him to go to arbitration.
– That is exactly what I said he did.
– That is the impression the Minister tried to give, and he cannot escape from that. He knows as well as I know and as well as any member on the Government side knows that Mr Dunstan could not possibly have gone to arbitration while an investigation was taking place with respect to the feasibility of continuing with Chowilla. If he had sought to go to arbitration, the first thing that would have been thrown at him would have been: ‘This matter is under investigation and nobody who has to arbitrate on this matter can give you a decision until the decision with respect to the other investigation is at hand’. It is of no use trying to mislead the Senate on these issues. I think this attempt merely exposes the poverty of the arguments put forward by the Minister representing the Minister for National Development.
I come now to the question of costs. When Senator Bishop mentioned this matter he admitted that the original concept was that Chowilla would cost $28m. By 1967, this figure had been increased to some $43m, and at that time the parties to the River Murray agreement again ratified a proposal that work on the dam should proceed. It was not until the lowest tender received disclosed that the cost was going to be $68m that the skids were placed under Chowilla. I remember all this very vividly. I could see the trend of things. I could see the red herrings that were going to be drawn across the trail as far back as 1 8 months ago when it was suggested that one of the reasons why perhaps the Chowilla project should be halted was that it would increase salinity in South Australia. Honourable senators will recall just as vividly as I do that this was one of the red herrings drawn across the trail. That red herring has been obliterated now by the very experts whom the Minister representing the Minister for National Development in this chamber was so fond of quoting tonight. It has been proved beyond any shadow of doubt in their minds at least - not mine because I do not claim to be an expert on these matters - that salinity in South Australia in the River Murray will be reduced as a result of the building of the Chowilla Dam as against the construction of the Dartmouth project.
Let me make one point quite clearly at this stage. We who are arguing that the Chowilla Dam should be built in South Australia are not suggesting that a dam should not be built in Victoria. We do not want to preach to the people of Victoria. We do not want to say to them: ‘We do not think you are entitled to a dam’. If the Victorians feel that they want a dam at Dartmouth, then more power to their elbow. But. in the face of the solemn undertaking given to South Australia, I refuse to accept the proposition that we should have Dartmouth instead of Chowilla. This is the thing that is getting under the skins of the people of South Australia. As to cost. I think Senator Bishop validly pointed out that Dartmouth will cost just as much as, if not more than, Chowilla.
– It will provide more water.
– It will not provide more water for the people of South Australia. I heard the Minister representing the Minister for National Development talk about so many million acre feet of water for South Australia, and I have heard the suggestions by the committee examining the proposition as to how much more water South Australia is going to get; but, so far as the people of South Australia are concerned. I think the practical result of it all will be that in normal years the water will be there and we will get it but, in abnormal years, despite all the talk about how many additional acre feet of water there will be. if the water is not there we cannot get it.
– The same applies to Chowilla. If it is not full of water, you cannot get it.
– I refuse to accept the proposition that the same argument applies to Chowilla. I do not want to be taken down blind trails by falling for this type of spurious reasoning. The fact is that you cannot sell that type of proposition to the people of South Australia. You can talk until you are black in the face about what the experts will tell them, but they will not fall for it. The salinity argument was tried out on them and, as I have said, the salinity argument has now been proved to be without foundation.
Then there was talk about evaporation. Then came the argument about cost, lt was said: ‘This proposition will now cost $68m. Therefore, it is not practicable to proceed with it.’ I remind the Senate that the original estimate which was made, T think, somewhere about 1961, was $28m. By 1967 it had increased to $43. In 1967, too, when the lowest tender was received, the cost was found to be $68m. If the same pattern exists so far as Dartmouth is concerned, then there is no way in the world by which the Senate can be guaranteed that Dartmouth will cost less than $70m, especially when we take into consideration the additional amount of money that is to be spent in doing work in Lake Victoria in connection with the Dartmouth proposal. Therefore I say that the argument as to cost also falls into the category of spurious arguments.
I come now to the question that I think is of paramount importance to South Australia. 1 refer to the solemn undertaking which was given to the State of South Australia by this Parliament and by the governments of New South Wales and Victoria. This was an undertaking contained in an agreement which was arrived at and ratified. If the order of the day is going to be that we can revoke agreements at will - if, because of some extraneous or extra information that we might receive from time to time we can say that we have a reason for repudiation - who can say that, after the expenditure again of millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money on the Dartmouth project, it will not be decided that this national project will not be proceeded with?
– The agreement was to spend $2Sm.
– The agreement was to construct a dam at Chowilla on the upper Murray. The honourable senator knows as well as I do that this project was agreed to because, under the River Murray Waters Act, South Australia had ceded its legal right to certain waters which were to be diverted by the Snowy Mountains scheme. The most important aspect of the Chowilla project is not the cost but the fact that South Australians are entitled to a dam. There was no question of cost involved in the original decision. The basic point was South Australia’s entitlement.
A lot has been said about the attitude of the Premier of South Australia, Mr Hall, to this matter. I am not here tonight to denigrate people and I am not here tonight to reflect on the motives of people. But I think that Mr Hall has made a tragic mistake as far as South Australia is concerned in yielding its right to the construction of the Chowilla dam. Perhaps a lot of undue pressure has been placed upon him. 1 think that he has yielded to that pressure. In saying that I do not reflect in any way upon his integrity or upon his faith in the progress of South Australia, but in my opinion he has made a tragic mistake. There is one point that I want to make quite clear. 1 feel’ that in submitting to the pressure placed upon him on the one hand by the Minister for National Development and on the other by Sir Henry Bolte, who had much to gain in this matter, that Mr Hall has been unwise. He has given away a basic right that belongs to South Australia. I feel that I am entitled to say that I, Senator Bishop and any other honourable senator on this side of the chamber who contributes to the debate speak on behalf of a far greater number of people in South Australia than did the Premier, Mr Hall, when he arrived at his decision to capitulate on Chowilla.
– Does the honourable senator agree that this may bc due to a lack of understanding by the people?
– I do not think so. no. I think that if this Parliament saw the validity of the scheme in 1963, if the governments of New South Wales and Victoria saw the validity of it in 1963, and if the present Minister for National Development saw the validity of it in 1963, the people of South Australia who support Chowilla are entitled to believe that they are not mislead.
– Is the honourable senator arguing that once a decision has been made it is irrevocable?
– No. I am arguing that once a contract has been entered into it should be honoured and once a solemn undertaking is given to a State it should be honoured. I think that the people of South Australia are entitled to expect nothing less than that. A moral1 question is involved here. It is not only a question of how vital the water is to South Australia - and it is vital because South Australia is the driest State in the driest continent - but also of the moral right which belongs to South Australia. I have been a member of this chamber for 15 years. If I see my present term out I will have been here for 18 years. I hope that at no time, will 1 ever stand up in this chamber and defend an action which takes away from a State something to which it is entitled as a result of a solemn agreement in which this Government took part.
– South Australia is morally entitled to water.
– The basic thing is that South Australia is morally entitled to have the contract honoured. It may be of interest to the Senate to know that not only do members of the Australian Labor Party in South Australia feel strongly about this matter. As Senator Bishop has informed the Senate, people living in the region of the Upper Murray feel strongly about it. Recently I went on a tour of the Upper Murray region. During that time I had the pleasure of meeting up with Senator Laucke. I do not know whether Senator Laucke is on my side, but I hope he is. I am not suggesting that he should be. That is a decision for him to make. However, I feel that he will agree with me when I say that the people of South Australia in general and the people of the Upper Murray region in particular are up in arms about the fact that a decision has been taken to build a dam at Dartmouth instead of Chowilla. I think it is true to say that that is their general attitude. This is supported by the statement Senator Bishop made tonight to the effect that 400 people attended a protest meeting at Renmark that was addressed by the Leader of the Opposition. They demonstrated their attitude to the loss of something that they consider to be vital to South Australia. So, it is not true to say that when we get up in the Senate tonight and debate this matter we do not represent the views of the majority of the people of South Australia. I would feel much less fortified than I do if I felt that we represented the minority. If any honourable senator opposite thinks he is voicing the beliefs of the majority of South Australians by defending what is being done by the South Australian Liberal Government and the other governments concerned in breaching the undertaking that has been given to South Australia, I can assure him that he is quite wrong. It might be of interest if I were to inform the Senate of the attitude taken by a responsible body of people, the National Farmers Union of South Australia, on this subject. Certainly it is a non-political body. A letter was sent to all South Australian members of Federal Parliament on this matter in the following terms:
At a recent executive meeting of the above Union, I was asked to particularly draw your attention to the urgency and necessity for the early completion of the Chowilla dam project.
We are convinced there is no other alternative which can afford SA the protection we require for adequate reticulated water; and that required for irrigation purposes, other than the Chowilla proposal.
Although Dartmouth on the Mitta Mitta River in Victoria has been suggested as an alternative, my executive are convinced this will not have the potential advantages to SA which Chowilla offers.
– What is the date of that letter?
– It is dated 24th December 1968.
– That is before the report came out.
– No, it is not.
– The report is dated January 1969.
– It was published before then.
– The report was made long before the date shown on the document. The letter goes on to say:
Secondary industry too, experienced difficulties with the high salt content of the River Murray water at times - but possibly one of the biggest single worries of the manufacturer, is not only good water, but continuous water. Chowilla alone, is the only guarantee South Australia has of sufficient water being available up to the year 2000 AD.
I wish to introduce a note of warning into the debate. During my visit along the River Murray I spoke to experienced fruit growers lower down the river - for example, at Waikerie - and they were extremely disturbed about the high salinity content of the river at present. They are convinced that Dartmouth will do nothing to minimise the salinity content of the Murray. In Waikerie the growers feel that salinity constitutes a very great threat to the future of the industry and of their prosperous and thriving town. In fact, one experienced fruit grower went so far as to say that if the present situation went unchecked his orchard would be destroyed within a period of 10 years because of the effect of salt on the trees. This sort of thing is of real concern to the people of South Australia. We cannot allow the matter to go by without a fight.
I have dealt with the attitude of the people residing in the Upper Murray region and 1. have dealt with the situation as it applies to the people of South Australia generally. I know that there are other people who want to participate in this debate but before 1 sit down I want to make one final appeal. It has been suggested tonight that there is politics in this business. There is politics, 1 suppose, in everything one can bring before the Senate, the other place or any other Parliament in Austrafia, but on this issue we feel that the interests of our State are predominant. Senator Bishop, I think, indicated that there has been a merging of political opinion as far as the question of Chowilla is concerned. He mentioned the Chowilla promotion committee. I know some of the citizens who belong to it and I think Senator Laucke would agree with me that they are a mixture of people of all shades of political thought. But they have unanimity of purpose, that is, they believe unreservedly that Chowilla is the only choice as far as South Australia is concerned. They believe that until this dam is built no safety line exists for the State of South Australia. Without saying to the people of Victoria that they should not have Dartmouth - if the circumstances support it they should have it by all means - I say again that to build Dartmouth before Chowilla is an act against the State of South Australia which I believe represents the breaking of a solemn covenant - a solemn undertaking - that was given to that State. Even though this action is sup ported by the present State Liberal Government it does not have the support of the great majority of the South Australian people.
– I am firmly of the opinion that the resources of the River Murray will not be adequately or satisfactorily developed or harnessed without the Chowilla Dam. The Chowilla site is below the confluence of the Darling and Murray systems and is the only place along the whole of the systems which can take any of the surplus waters which come down these rivers in times of plenty. I do not care very much about what flows go through the various States to the Murray when there is no need for restriction, lt is in the time of crunch, in the time of shortage, that we really take note. If we cast our minds back some 8 or 9 years to when Chowilla was first contemplated we recall that it was because we in South Australia realised our dependence on Murray waters for our growth and development - it has been well said that it is the life blood of South Australia - that the government of the day decided that it was vital to have water stored at Chowilla, the point finally decided upon after very extensive investigation. 1 do believe that South Australia is th: most water conscious State in Australia. Only 9% or 10% of our land surface enjoys 10 inches of rainfall or more.
– And we have exercised more restraint with our water than any other State.
– And expended more State money to ensure the catchment of water wherever water could be conserved. We have used, too, practically every catchment area in the Adelaide Hills.
– Only about half of its potential, according to Bonython.
– No. We have, for instance, three reservoirs on a small river, the Para. We have the Warren, the South Para and the Barossa on one system of what are actually only glorified creeks. This is how we have applied ourselves to obtaining water when we can. When Chowilla was agreed to it was in the realisation of South Australia’s assessment of what was necessary to its welfare. At the time there was no discussion about another dam higher up the river. But the South Australian Government was very cognisant of the urgency of ensuring a water supply and this led to investigation by most competent authorities who were not then making a comparison between two dam sites and bringing in parameters which have since been brought in.
The point I wish to stress at the moment is that the agreement to build Chowilla was in no small measure due to certain concurrence by the government of South Australia with respect to the Snowy Mountains Authority and other co-operative action. I do hope that we in South Australia are not a parochial people but are national in our points of view and give weight, I trust, to other States’ interests, but we also do feel that there should be a quid pro quo. We do feel that we are entitled to certain things as we ourselves see the need. When it was agreed to build Chowilla - and the parties voted unanimously for it - .there was only one thing that halted its construction and that was in those days pounds, shillings and pence - now dollars and cents. Had there been at the time an adherence to the legalities and had the State said that it would itself guarantee the remaining payments ar.d sought assistance from the central Government to achieve the final financing of the dam work on it would not have stopped. From the point at which the project was halted new attitudes and new comparisons were brought in, with the result that we are now faced with a situation where fear is being expressed as to whether Chowilla is to be ours or not.
The motion reads:
That the Senate considers that the construction of Chowilla Dam should proceed without delay and that pending its completion parties to the River Murray Waters Agreement should ensure that adequate water is available to the State of South Australia; further that the Commonwealth Government in discussions with the States concerned accept a greater share of the cost of constructing the dam.
I believe that that is a very reasonable approach which seeks to obtain for South Australia an asset which will be also an asset to the other two participating States When we note that we have at the present time an entitlement of 1,254,000 acre feet of water, out of which we take 690,000 acre feet - 390,000 acre feet for irrigation and 300,000 acre feet for urban and industrial use - allowing 564,000 acre feet for evaporation and so on we see that every gallon of water is accounted for.
– What about the southeastern subterranean water?
– Reference has been made to the possibility of obtaining water from the subterranean supplies in the southeast. This is being investigated but I have not heard anything further in respect of it. But fears have been expressed about a diminution of underground supplies as in the Virginia district north of Adelaide, where the take of water from the subterranean basins has led to a drop in the water table to a point where restriction is now being placed on any further boring in that area. Whether the south-east of South Australia is the answer is a big question. In any case it would involve a very costly pumping system to bring water from the south-east.
– I mentioned it only because it is a water resource which has not been admitted by South Australian Senators.
– We concede that we have a water resource for that part of South Australia and that possibly it has not been tapped to its fullest extent, but it would not be a means of supplying the metropolitan area. I have referred to my concern at the supply of water in time of restriction or in time of shortage. This is where the fears of the State are so well founded. I propose to quote from an article by the gentleman who has been quoted by Senators Bishop and Toohey. I refer to Mr Warren Bonython who published an article on water availability in South Australia. He refers to the difficult situations which arise in the times to which I have referred, times of water shortage and restriction. He said:
Take the situation in 1967-68. For 9 months South Australia was rationed to some 23% below its minimum quota under the Murray River Waters Agreement. It will be remembered that, out of the total quota, 150 units (564,000 ac.-ft) of water per annum are allowed for evaporation and other losses. In fact, in that year evaporation losses were over 160 units (600,000 ac.-ft), and this amount had to be subtracted from an already reduced volume for irrigation and export.
I presume that in this context ‘export’ refers to water piped to Whyalla, Woomera, Port Pirie, Adelaide and other places. The article continues:
In the critical 9 months of September 67-May 68 the total river flow in South Australia was down 23%, but the amount available for irrigation and export was down more than 40%. Since at this time the Adelaide reservoir yield was very low, a critical situation was produced when supply and demand only just balanced. If the seasonal conditions were to be repeated some years hence when Adelaide’s requirements had grown according to expectation, a really serious water crisis could result.
– It resulted in Victoria. There was no water rationing in South Australia during that period, but the whole of Victoria was rationed.
– Thanks to South Australia’s outlay for its reservoir systems we were able to get through without restrictions other than in one area of South Australia. The article continues:
The drought of 1967-68 was a bad. although isolated one, but there have been worse seasons on the Murray. Consider the 6-month period November to April inclusive in any season, when the minimum quota flow into South Australia under the River Murray Waters Agreement is 202 units (740,000 ac.-ft). In 1967-68 it was 152 units (560,000 ac.-£t) but in 1944-45 it was only 79 units (290,000 ac.-ft). . . .
That 290,000 acre feet is .100.000 acre feet less than our present requirements and our committal for irrigation alone in South Australia. Because of the allocations for us from Dartmouth, in critical periods of drought in the catchment area we could be faced in South Australia, despite the best intentions of the parties to the River Murray Commission, with a situation in which we would not receive enough water to keep our plantings alive or our industry functioning.
– That is the great fear in South Australia.
– Yes. I have no desire to adopt a dog in the manger attitude to the requirements of Victoria and New South Wales; my attitude is the very contrary of that. I. believe that in the development of the River Murray resources we need many more storages and many more controlling media to enable us to make full use of whatever water is available. We must achieve a condition wherein there is storage at Chowilla 5 million acre feet of water, which is only half the volume of water which in the last 20 years has passed through the Chowilla site-
– On its way to the sea.
– On its way to the sea, to the Goolwa barrages and out to the salt water to be irretrievably lost, lt has been estimated that in the next 10 or 15 years, with the greatly increased use of water along the Murray and the Darling, 6 million acre feet of water will proceed down the river and pass through Chowilla. So there is a physical supply of water. Whilst I would not be presumptuous enough to question the findings of engineers on some matters, I have been able to see water at Chowilla in times of plenty. It is water that could have been stored there to meet the requirements of times of shortage. The word ‘comparison’ has been introduced into this issue. Initially we had one objective to determine, that is. whether the site at Chowilla was a goer. The question was whether it would be accepted by governments and engineers. It was accepted. But now there is a situation of comparisons which have no direct relation to either Chowilla or Dartmouth. These are matters to which I shall now refer. The Technical Committee proposed that the basis of comparison to determine the relative merits of Chowilla and Dartmouth at first yield would bc as follows. First there would be the inflow conditions and then the sharing ratio of 5, 5 and 5. That was the original agreement for Chowilla, that we would have five-fifteenths, not the three-thirteenths which we are now to receive.
Another parameter proposed for the comparison is a minimum flow at Mildura of 900 cusecs, which is a very high rate. It has been stated that 600 cusecs is a sufficient flow at Mildura, but we are now told that 900 cusecs is one of the basic determinants on which a particular storage should be accepted. Another assumption is that no major storage would be built on the Ovens River. The Ovens is not under the control of the River Murray Commission.
– Who will decide that?
– The Victorian Government will decide that, very definitely.
The Committee stated:
One and a quarter million acre feet for South Australia in all years.
The expression ‘in all years’ would not be a reference to those years when restrictions are applied as a crutch, as I shall describe it.
The Menindee Lakes are the property of New South Wales and, so far as I can ascertain, New South Wales has always jealously guarded its rights to them. New South Wales has been very generous on occasions in allowing water lo come down when required and to assist in times of difficulty, but to regard Menindee as a River Murray Commission work is an assumption which might not be borne out in reality. It is doubtful whether this is a correct basis from which to work because, at the moment, the supply of water from Menindee remains as only a possibility. According to the report the flow of the Mitta Mitta has been estimated at 580,000 acre feet and the dam proposed to be built at Dartmouth will be of 3 million acre feet capacity. Therefore, 5 years would elapse before the dam filled and any water flowed from it. How can a dam with an intake of 580,000 acre feet give a yield of 850,000 acre feet? In my layman’s mind I cannot follow that.
I regard the Chowilla dam as an absolute necessity for South Australia. The future of the State is at stake. Without a guarantee of water at that point confidence in the State will not be at the optimum. In this dry continent of ours we cannot afford to allow water to flow out to sea when it could be held at Chowilla to meet the increasing demands that will be made. I agree that water could be coming to us from the higher reaches of the Murray through other storages and so on but with a dam at Chowilla we would have the best guarantee of a prosperous and confident South Australia.
– A savings bank.
– It would be money in the bank for the whole State in many ways. I. do not oppose the construction of dams by other States. In fact I will do everything I can to assist them to harness the River Murray properly but 1 say most emphatically that Chowilla is as much a must for South Australia today as it was when it was conceived over 10 years ago. I shall continue striving to ensure that Chowilla becomes a reality and not something that we sought and lost because there was not a clear enough appreciation of Its value to the State and the welfare of the people of South Australia.
Senator DRURY (South Australia) (10.23] - The case put by my colleagues Senator Bishop and Senator Toohey, and by Senator Laucke, has been irrefutable. It has remained unanswered by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who participated in the debate. The story of the Chowilla dam is summed up in a painting of the site of the dam hanging in the Renmark Hotel. Above the painting is a wreath and beneath the wreath is the caption: ‘Here lies South Australia’s hopes’. That expresses the general feeling of the people of South Australia.
As Senator Laucke pointed out, in the original proposal it was not intended that Chowilla would provide more water for South Australia. Instead the dam was designed to conserve the water that at present is running to waste in what we call the wet years and when the snow on the highlands turns to water. When the dry years come along or the use of water was restricted the water stored in the dam would be released to keep the river at Renmark at a height which would prevent salinity rising to a dangerous level.
It has been said that if the Chowilla dam is built South Australia will not get any additional water. In fact, if I remember correctly, the Minister said that South Australia would receive less water. The Advertiser’ of Thursday, 6th February 1969, carries a report of a statement by Sir Thomas Playford in relation to this matter. The report states:
During the past 20 years on average approximately 9 million acre feet of water flowed through SA into the sea. In the next 20 years this amount, through diversions in the upper river, wilt be reduced and possibly not more than 6 or 7 million acre feet on average will be wasted.
So what is proposed from a national viewpoint is the abandonment of a project designed to prevent bringing into use an enormous volume of water now wasted and to substitute for it the control of a very insignificant part of the Murray system - a part already virtually controlled by the Hume Dam.
It is true that Chowilla is a must for South Australia. Senator Bishop, Senator Toohey and Senator Laucke have made that clear.
In 1963 when the Bill for the ratification of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for the construction of the dam was before the House it was loudly applauded on both sides. All honourable senators could see the virtue of constructing a dam at Chowilla which, as everyone probably knows, is 27 miles up river from Renmark and almost in South Australia. We do not oppose the building of a dam at Dartmouth but we believe that the Chowilla dam should be built in preference to it. Dartmouth is 1,000 miles away and, as has been pointed out, it would lake almost 6 weeks for the water to reach us. That could mean a great deal to the people on the lower reaches of the Murray in a dry year when their vines and trees need water urgently.
When the dam was first suggested the authorities said what a wonderful proposal it was. lt was praised by Senator Spooner, the then Minister for National Development: it was praised by honourable senators on the Government side, particularly those from South Australia; and it was praised by honourable senators on this side of the chamber, particularly those from South Australia, who took part in the debate. Now we see this agreement being repudiated because the Government has refused to go along with the proposal. The Minister seems to think that it is far preferable to have the dam at Dartmouth than at Chowilla.
For many months past the Premier of South Australia has been saying that he would ensure that the dam was constructed at Chowilla. He used it as a plank of his platform, if you could call it that, during the 1968 State election. He told the people that the Government would build the Chowilla dam. However, recently when he presented the report to the House of Assembly in South Australia the Opposition moved a motion of lack of confidence in the Government intimating that the Premier had repudiated the agreement and had been practically brainwashed not only by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) but also by the other parties to the scheme.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I take this opportunity to raise a matter which, to my mind, involves a very grave accusation against a responsible government, ft is so grave that I think the earliest available opportunity should be taken to place this matter before the Parliament and the public of Australia, and to demand at least a satisfactory reply or a thorough inquiry into the allegations thai I will detail during the course of my address. Honourable senators will be aware thai at question time this afternoon I referred to an article on Colonel Sir Charles Spry, head of our Security Service, which appeared in the Adelaide ‘News’ on Thursday, 1 3th February. I have since discovered that the same article was published in the Sydney Daily Mirror’, which boasts of having the biggest circulation of any newspaper in New South Wales, and in the Brisbane Truth’. The article was published in three States. As honourable senators may have gathered from my questions this afternoon, it charges that the Commonwealth Government has been responsible for th.e removal of documents from the embassy of a friendly power, and nol in relation to security.
– Which friendly power?
– A foreign power.
– Which one?
– If the honourable senator will be patient I will give him chapter and verse. It is not one of the pet hate countries of Senator McManus. I said that it is a friendly power. We shall now turn to examine whether there was justification for the action.
– Who wrote the article?
– Eric Walsh, a journalist employed in the parliamentary lobbies of Canberra. Can any honourable senator imagine a more serious allegation to be made against the Government than to claim that it arranged for the theft of documents from the embassy of a friendly power located in Canberra? The article containing the allegation has been widely circulated in newspapers in three capital cities of the Commonwealth but no reply has come from Government sources. On 14th February 1 sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) stating that when Parliament resumed I would ask for an explanation of the allegations in the article. A fortnight has elapsed. Today, on the first day of the session, I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), who represents the Prime Minister in the Senate, a question about the published allegations. Despite the fact that I had advised the Prime Minister that I intended to ask questions about the matter, it was considered by him to be so unimportant that his representative in the Senate was not supplied with any information on the subject. The article states, referring to Sir Charles Spry:
As, year by year, his secrecy has been eroded, has he perhaps managed to preserve one big secret - the existence, either within his organisation, or closely allied to it, of a group with no parliamentary light on the scope of its activities and engaged in the same type of espionage as the spy rings of other countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain?
If such an organisation exists, it is one of Australia’s best kept secrets.
– The writer of the article states ‘if.
– All right. I suggest lo the honourable senator that he should not defend the Government before he knows the allegation. It may be that even he will find it embarrassing to defend the Government on such a matter. I wish to know whether such an organisation exists, and whether the Security Service is going outside its power in creating an organisation other than for security purposes. Whether we like it or not we have agreed as a Parliament that certain power should be given to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation for security reasons. In South Australia there is in operation a spy ring unconnected with Security. If one looks at the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1956 one finds that the definition of ‘security’ states:
Security’ means the protection of the Commonwealth and the Territories of the Commonwealth from acts of espionage, sabotage or subversion, whether directed from, or intended to be committed, within the Commonwealth or not;
That is the security that this organisation was formed to protect. The functions of the organisation are set out in section 5, which states in part: (1.) The functions of the Organisation are -
Therefore it is not a question of security within the department; it is a question of security of the country. The article from which I am reading concerns a friendly power with an embassy in Canberra. For the information of honourable senators. I refer to the Japanese Embassy. The article goes on:
Economic intelligence on the country concerned was at a premium, and at hand was the convenient tool of Sir Charles Spry’s organisation to meet the task of penetrating its embassy.
The job was handled by a cautious approach to an Australian woman employed at the embassy. Copies of documents were to be obtained by her and passed to ASIO for use by the Federal Government.
These were documents on the economic policy of this power. There was some suggestion that I may have misinformed the Senate earlier today by the use of the word theft’. This woman was a typist employed at the embassy, and the procedure was that when she typed documents she would type an additional copy which she would bring away with her from the embassy and hand to her Security Service.
– Is the woman still there or has she been sacked?
– The woman has not been sacked but she is not still there. I will give some information on that shortly. Obviously the Government has two answers to this. One is: ‘We do not disclose what Security does’. The Government’s power not to disclose what Security does relates only to security matters, and it cannot refuse to disclose what Security does in obtaining information about the economic policies of another country and for whom the information is obtained. Alternatively, the Government could deny this allegation. I think we can put matters beyond the possibility that the Government will deny it. When this woman was approached she thought she was doing her patriotic duty for her Government. Her husband is a senior officer in the Department of Customs and Excise.
– Is this in the newspaper?
– Yes, it is in the newspaper. Possibly I am extending the newspaper report with further information which I have over and above what the newspaper story gave, insofar as I will bring it close enough to home for the Minister to identify the individual. If he wants the name of the individual it can be supplied. The woman’s husband was in the Department of Customs and Excise. He was accused in December of last year of falsifying documents to permit prohibited imports to come into Australia. Just think of the gravity of the charge. He was suspended from his job and dismissed under Section 55 of the Act. He had a right of appeal, which he exercised, to his senior officer and to the appeal board established under the Act, which consisted of a chairman, who must be a stipendiary or police magistrate, an officer of the department and an officer of the board appointed under the Act. The appeal board dismissed the appeal and the man was dismissed from the service. The wife approached her contact and said: ‘Is this the treatment that I should receive after what I have done for the Australian Government?’ She threatened to make public her past activities. It is stated in this report that the exposure would be so great-
– What is the honourable senator reading from?
– The ‘News’ of 13lh February. It said:
Such a disclosure would have been disastrous not only to the relations between the two countries but to Sir Charles Spry and his organisation. So,
Sir Charles simply stepped into the picture to nip this source of acute embarrassment in the bud.
– What is the honourable senator quoting from?
– The Adelaide News’ of 13th February. The honourable senator is not conversant with the better class of newspaper. Although two appeals had been dismissed, Sir Charles Spry thought seriously enough of the threat of exposure by the woman to step in so that the man could be reinstated and then could resign with all his entitlements and without any black mark on his character.
– How does the honourable senator know that?
– Obviously my critics simply want to condemn. They are not prepared to investigate serious allegations. They want to ridicule someone who is making allegations and asking for an investigation. Why can this not be looked into? Let me suggest what should be done. Senator Scott, as the Minister for Customs and Excise, approved of the dismissal. He received notification of it. Ask him why this individual was reinstated after the Minister had approved of his dismissal. Ask him why he was reinstated so that he could resign. After his resignation he went the way in which most security servants go who can no longer be used by the Security Service. He was given a job at $9,000 a year in the Woolworth organisation in Sydney. That is where he is employed today.
– How does the honourable senator know that Sir Charles Spry stepped in?
– I am saying, firstly -
– The honourable senator is making up something.
– 1 am making up nothing. If I am making anything up I can be exposed by any inquiry that is instituted. Why not ask Senator Scott to say that there is no truth in the statement that the man was dismissed and then reinstated. Will Senator Scott say that? Do not make accusations against me when you have the facts available within your own government department but will not refer to them. I am saying that Sir Charles Spry intervened. Who else intervened? The husband of the woman intervened. The woman is available to give evidence before any inquiry that is instituted. She was approached to take a similar job at another embassy but, having a sick child, she declined’ it.
This is what is happening in the Security Service in Australia today. What 1 have spoken about does not involve security. This is a matter of information involving an organisation with espionage as widespread, as filthy and as corrupt as that in any of the countries that we would condemn.
Also reported in this newspaper article is the shadowing of a foreign visitor attending a conference in Canberra. Again his name can be supplied. Two agents were reported by Security to shadow him wherever he went. Only when they contacted someone else, who previously had done Public Service work in the visitor’s country, did they discover that they were shadowing the wrong man. Everyone whom that man contacted could have been suspected of doing whatever the Security Service suspected this individual of doing, but for the fortunate accident of the security agents discovering that they were shadowing the wrong man. This statement in the article is very important:
From his new brick headquarters in St Kilda Road. Melbourne, (ASIO has resisted the general move of Commonwealth head offices from that city to Canberra Sir Charles can ruin a reputation or wreck a career - often without the victim knowing that ASIO has interfered.
In the Public Service, every appointment, every sensitive promotion, every overseas appointment is made only after scrutiny by ASIO agents.
So, but for the agents finding out that they were shadowing the wrong man, there was no hope of promotion for anyone he contacted in Canberra. I am informed by an officer of the South Australian Police Force that the State police forces also have sections to carry out certain duties for ASIO. The Organisation may call for a report on an individual who lives in a country area where a constable is stationed. That local constable is asked for a report. He is often not capable of reporting on the individual. He has no knowledge of the individual’s politics and so on. On many occasions he is liable to submit a report that is influenced either by his liking or dislike for the individual or possibly by what he thinks his superior officer might like to hear about the individual. Thus an innocent victim can be branded for life as being subversive and not fit to occupy a public position.
– ls this in the article or is it the honourable senator’s own statement?
– What I have said was told to me by a responsible officer of the South Australian Police Force. The other matter to which 1 am referring is a serious allegation about the use of the Security Service within political parties, particularly the Australian Labor Party. Part of this allegation was mentioned in a question this afternoon. The article by Eric Walsh states:
One ASIO agent, going under the cover of an Attorney-General’s employee, appears to make a full time job of penetrating the Labor Party in Canberra - to what end is uncertain.
He mixes regularly with a fixed group of Labor men unaware of his true occupation. He even went so far as to offer himself for preselection as a candidate for a Sydney electorate.
– The only thing that surprises me is that he did not win preselection.
– Some irresponsible senators cannot see the serious nature of the charges that are made. The Government is not prepared to reply to the charges. The matter becomes a joke to some honourable senators opposite because they are part of this corrupt setup which the decent elements of society want to see rectified, ls the Security Service mixing with members of the ALP for security reasons? Does anybody think that a member of the Labor Party would supply information of a security nature to a foreign agent? fs the Labor Party really under suspicion or is this simply a device to supply the Government or the Democratic Labor Party with political information to be used in vital election campaigns?
Honourable senators opposite have asked whether my allegations are true. Everybody in the Labor Party knows the identity of the security agent concerned. If he is innocent, as he claims he is, should his name not be cleared? No more serious allegations have ever been made against the Government than have been made in the article to which I have referred. As I have said, proof of the allegations can be provided. Senator Scott can verify the allegations. Why is there no inquiry?
– What are you talking about?
– Why is Senator McManus trying to interrupt me? Does he wish to avoid an inquiry. Why does he condone the continuation of these things?
– I do not know what you are talking about.
McManus could not understand because he has been mixed up in activities of this kind all of his life.
– What are you afraid of?
– A serious allegation has been made against the Government. If the Government can ignore the charge that it has been party to the theft from the embassy of a friendly power of material relating to economic and trade matters and can refuse an inquiry into those charges, then in my opinion it has lost all sense of decency. I ask for a full inquiry into this matter.
– I want to raise another matter which is related to the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh. Will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs say whether a security check is being made of the private mail of members of Parliament? Let me explain the background to the case that I have in mind. Early in February I wrote to a number of embassies in Canberra seeking information for schools in the city area in which I live. One of my letters was addressed to the Officer in Charge, Public Relations Section, Embassy of Bulgaria, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600. It read:
Representations have been made to me to obtain from your Embassy details of your country which would be useful for children attending local schools. If maps are available one or more copies would be greatly appreciated and this also applies to any literature that you may have published concerning exports and other relevant matters associated with your country.
I was amazed and appalled to receive today a letter from the Department of External Affairs, dated 19 th February 1969, addressed to me with an incorrect spelling of my name, which read:
I enclose a letter written by you to the Bulgarian Embassy. As there is no Embassy in Canberra this letter was forwarded to the Department. Bulgaria is represented in Australia by a ConsulGeneral who is stationed in Sydney. Following is the name and address: Mr B. Z. Andreev, ConsulGeneral of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. 130 Victoria Road, Bellevue Hill, NSW.
That letter is signed by an officer of the Department of External Affairs for the Secretary of the Department. Matters have reached a serious stage when letters addressed to an embassy can be opened by an official of a government department. 1 was under the impression that when mail was not able to be delivered the PostmasterGeneral’s Department had a responsibility to ensure that it was either sent to the Dead Letter Office or, if an alternate address was available, was readdressed. I have never heard of private correspondence being opened by a government department and then included with a letter signed by an officer of that department.
I had a previous complaint when a registered article was inadvertently delivered to the office of a member of the Liberal Party and was opened in his office, but at least on that occasion through Senator Anderson, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I received an apology from the Postmaster-General. I want more than an apology on this occasion. I want to know whether, when letters are addressed to embassies or private individuals, the normal practice is to subject them to the scrutiny of the Department of External Affairs if it is suspected that there is some ulterior motive in the sending of that letter. My letter carried the crest of the Senate of Australia. Was there a suspicion that I was indulging in some subversive correspondence with this embassy? I wrote also to the Ambassador representing Spain, to the people representing Yugoslavia - I think this is quite a respectable country because the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) is busy negotiating immigration quotas from this country - to representatives of Indonesia and a number of other countries. In all cases where replies have been received they have been courteous, and most of the embassies have made available information for the school children in my area.
My complaint goes further than this because for a period of some years now letters going to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and carrying on the envelope any kind of indication that they come from a member of the Labor Party either are not delivered or are opened in transit. I have reached the stage where, when I want to write to somebody in New Guinea, particularly a person fairly high in the administration, for the safety of my correspondence I am compelled to send it in plain envelopes.
– That is a stupid interjection made by a Liberal Party senator who knows that this is going on and who is trying to suppress it and cover it up. The matter is much more serious than this. If the holders of senior administrative posts in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea want to contact members of the Labor Party they have to do so through a third person. This is a very poor state of affairs. If the Government, of which the honourable senator is a member, is responsible for this kind of security then the honourable senator should be investigated along with the people indulging in this kind of deception. I suggest that my complaint is deserving of a full measure of investigation by the Department of External Affairs. I will not be happy until I receive the appropriate apology and a full explanation as to why this kind of intervention in correspondence is taking place by what ought to be a responsible department but which apparently is a quite irresponsible department.
– I also wish to raise a question relating to the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Last week in Sydney two members of the community came to see me in my office in the Commonwealth Parliament Offices. One was a conscientious objector who objects to serving in the armed forces and to fighting in Vietnam. The other, a lady, was a member of a pacifist organisation. They had come to see the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin), within whose electorate the young man lived. The honourable member was not available because at this stage - last Monday week - he was interviewing at Maroubra in bis own electorate. They sought to interview a Labor senator and thus they were shown to my office. They came in to see me and were in my office with me for about 10 minutes, after which time the three of us left my office together. They went wherever they were going and I went to keep another appointment. I was amazed - indeed I was shocked and horrified - when I opened my office door and saw two members of the Security Service standing practically outside it. When I was walking down the corridor with my two constituents, the two Security officers were within about two steps behind us. They stayed within whispering distance from us at the lift, listening to the innocuous, non-political conversation that was going on between us. They got into the lift, again listening to the conversation that was going on. When I said goodbye to my constituents in Martin Place, these Security officers were within inches of us.
Frankly, 1 object when constituents who come to see a Federal member, a member of this Parliament, on official matters connected with the duties of a parliamentarian are hounded in this manner. It is a disgrace that the precincts of the Commonwealth Parliament Offices are invaded in this way. If there was a threat to the security of this country or to the security of the Commonwealth Bunk premises, there were uniformed Commonwealth police within the precincts of the building on that day. 1 ask this Government to give an instruction to the Security Police not to encroach upon the rights of citizens of Australia, people who come to see their Federal member of Parliament, in the manner in which this encroachment took place last Monday week.
Senator WHEELDON (Western Australia) [ll.2 - I also wish to raise a matter regarding the operation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, or Security Service, in particular the relationship between the Department of Immigration and certain overseas security organisations. The matter 1 wish to refer to is not based on the production of concrete evidence, but nonetheless I believe that what I am about to say would lead any person to draw the conclusions which I drew myself. Early in 1965 I was to travel to the Republic of South Africa to visit some relatives of mine. At that time 1 was not a member of the Federal Parliament and my passport had expired. It was therefore necessary tor me to obtain a fresh passport. One of the matters which has to be disclosed to the Department of Immigration upon applying for a fresh passport, according to the questionnaire which is put to applicants, is a list of those countries which one intends to visit. The only country that I intended to visit was South Africa, and I stated that in my application. Within a week of my having made my application to the Department of Immigration in Perth, a relative of mine who lives in Cape Town was approached by Lieutenant van Dyk of the South African Police Special Branch.
– In what year was that?
– The beginning of 1965.
– Why bring it up now? Why did you not bring it up before?
– You will have had much longer to prepare an answer, possibly. 1 was rather flattered to learn later that Lieutenant van Dyk’s duties are directed particularly towards the activities of intellectuals. In fact, he subsequently found himself in the position of having damages awarded against him for torturing a Miss Stephanie Kemp in one of the Capetown police stations. He was also responsible for a police assault on Mr de Keller, the then Assistant Lecturer in African Studies at the University of Capetown. Lieutenant van Dyk apparently had received from somewhere the information that I was due to arrive in Capetown very shortly. To the best of my knowledge, the only official information at that time that I intended to visit South Africa was possessed by the Department of Immigration in Perth. It was very curious that it was only approximately as long as it would lake for an airmail letter to be sent from Australia to South Africa before Lieutenant van Dyk visited the address which I had given to them as the address at which I would be in South Africa and asked when I was due to arrive. In fact, he paid two visits to this house asking when I was expected to arrive in South Africa. I realise that it is an extremely amusing matter to members of the Government when Australian citizens are placed in a position where it seems to me to be highly probable, to say the least, that information about their movements is provided to the secret police of another country, and especially the secret police of another country such as South Africa which is notorious for its repressive actions against its citizens. In fact, the very police officer who was inquiring about me was found even by a South African court to have engaged in an unprovoked assault on a young woman whom he was interrogating. I cannot prove that the information given to the secret police of South Africa was provided as a result of the information which 1 had given to the Department of Immigration in Australia about my arrival in South Africa: 1 merely say that 1 am firmly of the opinion that the information which was obtained by the South African Government concerning the date of my arrival in South Africa was obtained from no other source than some officer in the Australian government service. I believe this is an outrageous state of affairs. I believe that incidents similar to this have occurred on a number of other occasions-
– Give specific instances. You are making wild allegations.
– I am confining myself to a matter of which I have personal experience. The Government can deal with that one. I think that is enough for it to go on with for the time being. My complaint concerns the fact that within 1 week of the information being provided to this Government’s Department of Immigration in Perth the South African Police Special Branch in Capetown knew of the estimated date of my arrival and where I would be staying. I believe that speaks for itself.
– I also would like to raise a matter relating to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. In Brisbane, the door of a Commonwealth building was out of order. Certain slogans such as ‘Out of Order until the National Service Act is repealed’ began to appear on it. Two young employees of the Department of Air placed on this door, among the other slogans, a small sticker measuring about 2 in long by 1 in wide, bearing the words: ‘Oppose Conscription”. As a result, they were visited at their place of work, were searched at their place of work in front of other employees and were threatened with dismissal and with action under the Crimes Act.
– How long ago was that?
– It was in January of this year. I can supply the names of the lads concerned. I can supply the name of the building and I can tell what action I took to see that these lads were not intimidated.
– Can you supply the door?
– 1 can also supply the door. 1 mention this instance which, added to the examples already given tonight, provides ample evidence that the methods adopted by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should be investigated. I mention it also to emphasise the fact that information should not be denied us by the Minister every time we ask questions about matters such as this.
1.11.10]- I should like to deal separately with the matter raised by Senator Keeffe. He spoke of writing a letter and getting a reply from the Department of External Affairs. Therefore, I take it that in the context references have not been made to the Security Service but rather to a matter within the responsibility of the Department of External Affairs. All 1 can say to the honourable senator is that I do not know the circumstances of the matter which he has raised. I think the honourable senator made the point that in fact there was not a Bulgarian embassy in Canberra. Therefore I rather suggest that because of that the letter may have been sent to the Department of External Affairs.
– Why was it opened?
- Senator Keeffe gets so worked up about these matters that he does not listen to what I am saying. I shall repeat what I said. I did not say anything about opening the letter. I said that on the face of it it seemed to me that as the letter was addressed to the Bulgarian embassy in Canberra and as there is no such embassy in Canberra, that is the way in which the letter was sent to the Department of External Affairs. As to what happened from then on, I will have to refer that matter to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth). 1 shall also draw attention to the comments which the honourable senator has made.
I was extraordinarily intrigued by the comments concerning correspondence sent to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Senator Keeffe said that he sent a letter to Papua and New Guinea, that it was on parliamentary stationery and that it was interfered with because it was from a Labor senator.
– It was on Australian Labor Party stationery.
– The honourable senator did not say that previously. He is saying it now. We listened to Senator Keeffe make his point and I want to get the matter clear because I have some responsibility in the matter. Am 1 to understand that the complaint he is making is that a letter which he sent to Papua and New Guinea and which was on Australian Labor Party stationery was interfered wilh?
– It should not have been touched in either case.
– That is not the point. The honourable senator said, in the first place, that a parliamentary letter was sent and that it was interfered wilh because it was from a Labor senator. I raise the valid point that the letter could have been from the Minister for Supply in his ordinary capacity as a senator.
– The letter had a Townsville postmark on it.
– The story is getting a little extenuated. I think I will pass that matter by. I will make representations for the honourable senator to the Department of External Affairs in relation to a letter which was addressed to the Bulgarian embassy in Canberra. As to the matters raised by Senators Cavanagh, Senator McClelland, Senator Georges and, to some extent. Senator Wheeldon - he referred to something that happened back in 1965 - I remind them that it is not normal, and it has never been done, for a Minister representing another Minister to reply to statements made by honourable senators concerning the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, other than to refer them to the responsible Minister. This has been the practice which, as I understand it, was introduced by the Chifley Government.
– Senator Cavanagh addressed the question to Senator Scott.
– I am glad that the honourable senator has made that point. What Senator Cavanagh did was to tie up what might well be a departmental disciplinary matter with a matter concerning ASIO.
– It is tied in.
– That is the allegation. Because of that, the only thing I can do is to refer the matters which the honourable senator has raised to the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) who is responsible for the Security Service. I wish to make one comment in conclusion. I hope that it will not be considered too uncharitable of me. I well recall the story of a man who saw a Communist under his bed every night. I am quite convinced that there are a number of honourable senators in this chamber who see ASIO agents under their beds every night.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 February 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690225_senate_26_s40/>.