27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MULVIHILL presented from 30 electors of the Divisions of Warringah and Parramatta a petition showing that in the national interest it is essential that there be an effective and respected Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration system; that the decision given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the professional engineers’ case on 3rd December 1969, which has followed to the letter in both magnitude and date of operation the salary increases for engineers employed in the Commonwealth Public Service which were announced before the arbitration hearing had concluded, has given rise to utter dismay and has indicated a lack of independent assessment; that recent statements made at the Australian Workers Union conference and by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have indicated disillusionment with the federal arbitration system and have particularly referred to the professional engineers’ case; and that an unacceptable arbitration system must inevitably lead to industrial unrest throughout Australia.
The petitioners pray that the Australian Government take positive action as soon as possible to re-establish confidence in the Commonwealth arbitration system.
Petition received and read.
-I give notice that on 14th May next I shall move:
That sub-paragraph (i) of paragraph (c) of subsection (2.), and sub-section (4.), of proposed new section 24 of the Norfolk Island Health Ordinance as contained in section (4.) of the Health Ordinance 1969 and made under the Norfolk Island Act 1957-1969, be disallowed.
I give notice further that on 21st May next I shall move:
That the amendments of the Conciliation and Arbitration Regulations contained in Statutory Rules 1970, No. 1, and made under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1969, be disallowed.
That the amendments of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations contained in Statutory Rules No. 8 of 1970 and made under the Customs Act 1901-1969, be disallowed.
That the following Ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1965, be disallowed, viz:
Ordinance No. 7 of 1970, being amendments to the Surveyors Ordinance 1967.
Ordinance No. 8 of 1970, being amendments to the Agents Ordinance 1968.
Ordinance No. 9 of 1970, being amendments to the Architects Ordinance 1959-1967.
Ordinance No. 10 of 1970, being amendments to the Building Ordinance 1964-1969.
Ordinance No. 11 of 1970, being amendments to the Buildings (Design and Siting) Ordinance 1964-1969.
Ordinance No. 12 of 1970, being amendments to the Enquiry Ordinance 1938-1967.
Ordinance No. 13 of 1970, being amendments to the Land Valuation Ordinance 1936-1967.
Mr President, I ask for leave to make a statement in relation to the notices of motion I have just given.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The first notice of motion relates to the disallowance of portions of the Norfolk Island Health Ordinance No. 8 of 1969. This matter has been considered by the Committee and at a recent meeting it was resolved that a report be tabled. In accordance with the recommendation contained in that report, I have this day given notice of motion for the disallowance of portions of the Ordinance, and at the appropriate time todayI will table the Committee’s report. Since this action was decided upon the Minister has written to the Committee and has agreed to take the necessary action to bring the Ordinance into line with the Committee’s wishes. Accordingly, I have set the date for consideration of the Committee’s report far enough ahead to enable the Minister to take the necessary action.
The second notice of motion relates to the disallowance of certain amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Regulations. A report detailing the opinions of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee on these regulations will be tabled at an early date. The third and fourth notices of motion relate to matters which the Committee is presently considering. The Committee is concerned with certain aspects of these regulations and ordinances and would like time to pursue its investigations further before deciding on which matters it should report to the Senate. As today is the last day to give notice for the disallowance of these regulations and ordinances, notices are tabled to give the Committee the desired time-
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the broadcast today by President Nixon in which he announced that 150,000 United States troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam in the next 12 months, and to his statement that the United States of America intends to withdraw all its troops from Vietnam. Will the Minister give the Senate an assurance that there will be no alteration in the Government’s promise that Australian troops will be withdrawn and our commitment scaled down as the United States scales down the number of its troops in Vietnam? Will he also assure us that there has been no change in the Government’s promise, made 6 weeks after the last federal election, that it would be a case of one out all out and that we would withdraw all our troops rather than withdraw one battalion? hi the light of that promise, can honourable senators expect, as the majority of people in this country are hoping, that all Australian troops will be withdrawn from Vietnam as soon as it is convenient, meaning as soon as it can be done? In any event, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate request that whatever statement is to be made to the nation by the Government be made in clear, explicit and unmistakable terms so that everyone will know exactly what is being said?
– lt is true that at about midday today, Australian Eastern Standard Time, President Nixon of the United States of America made a statement to the effect that the United States will withdraw troops from Vietnam within the next 12 monhs. f understand that he referred to 150,000 troops. Ft is also my understanding - in answer to the remainder of the questions asked by the honourable senator and indeed to many of the statements that have been made - that the Prime Minister of Australia will make a statement in relation to this matter. J believe that he will make that statement tomorrow night. In saying that, 1 am relying on the response to a question in another place a short time ago by the Acting Prime - Minister. As to the statement that the Prime Minister will make, I am quite convinced that it will be completely consistent with statements that he has made on this subject already.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. In view of the public disquiet which has been aroused by the sighting of foreign ships within approximately 6 miles of the Tasmanian coast in the vicinity of North West Point near Stanley on Thursday of last week, will the Minister provide the Senate with complete details of the sequence of events which ensued from the first reports of the presence of this shipping to the eventual official identification and precise location at approximately 20 miles off-shore the day after?
– Last week, in response to a question asked of me by, I think, Senator Lillico, I said thai there had been a sighting of ships in the Bass Strait area and also in the Great Australian Bight area. At that time I gave particulars of the information available. As 1 understand the honourable senator’s question, he wants an answer with more precision in terms of area. I shall refer the matter to the Department and, if the information is available, 1 shall certainly make it available to the Senate.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the report of the firm of consultants, Messrs Maunsell and Partners, on the proposed Port Pirie to Adelaide rail conversion scheme linking Adelaide with the trans-continental standard gauge scheme yet been submitted to the Government? If not, in view of the urgent need for Adelaide to be linked to the scheme, will every effort be made to expedite the receipt and consideration of the report?
– It is my understanding, from what I have been told, that the report has been received by the responsible Minister who is currently studying it. From that I think we can expect a fairly early consideration of the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. What are the current developments in connection with the entry rights into Australia of the two American airlines, Pan American Airways and American Airlines? Is it a fact that both these airline operators will be allowed entry into Australia at the same time? Is it a fact also that Pan American Airways is likely to operate Boeing 747s on this service many months before Qantas Airways Ltd is equipped with this new aircraft?
– It would be useful for the Senate to know that the negotiations between the Australian Government, represented by the Department of Civil Aviation, and the American airlines, represented by the United States State Department, were officially concluded about 6 weeks ago. It is fair to say that the request from the Americans for increased ability to come into Australia represented a very great magnification of existing services. Counter proposals were put to the Americans who have taken the proposals back to the United States to consider them. We have not yet received any reply from American authorities in response to the Australian defined position. 1 cannot say at present how the Americans will finally resolve their own position, whether they will permit American Airlines to operate, whether they will permit Pan American Airways to increase its capacity for the time being or, equally, at what point of time, if Pan American does decide or is allowed to have increased flying facilities into this country, it will bring the 747 into operation. I. shall try to find out more for the honourable senator as soon as I can, but at present that is all the information that I have.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Whilst giving generous and sincere praise to the many efficient and courteous departmental officers who do their utmost to be co-operative and helpful, I ask: Is the Prime Minister conscious of the number of frustrations, delays, red tape procedures and unnecessary inconveniences suffered by the general public at the hands of some government departmental officers? Is he also aware of the fact that as representatives of the people, honourable senators are frequently asked to inquire into or to iron out or to endeavour to speed up bureaucratic processes which would not be tolerated in private enterprises? Does the Minister also know how often the blame for such delay is shuffled between State and Commonwealth departments, with resultant additional annoyance to the public? Will the Prime Minister take steps to ensure that all Commonwealth departments at all levels are alerted to the need to speed up processing and make sure that at least the Commonwealth Government’s housekeeping is in order?
– It is true, as. the honourable senator said at the commencement of her series of questions, that there is a high degree of dedication and cooperation in the Commonwealth Public Service. Of course, it is equally true that we live under a system in which we have State instrumentalities and Commonwealth instrumentalities, and sometimes it emerges that the boundary between the Commonwealth and State spheres is difficult to define. But I want to make it abundantly clear that the Prime Minister, above all people, has been most dedicated in his effort to make certain that representations made by members and senators are dealt with as expeditiously as possible. I do not make any secret of the fact that from time to time the signal has gone out from the Prime Minister on this very issue, that wherever possible there is to be expedition of the type of information which members and senators are seeking.
In fairness I must point out that some honourable senators ask questions which involve a tremendous amount of work in order to obtain the answers, and whatever else a public servant may do he has to ensure that the answer which is given in this place is not inaccurate, because if it is inaccurate, he and the Minister are taken to task. So there must be. a high degree of accuracy in answers. Finally, honourable senators must realise that government is the biggest business in Australia. It is a tremendous business. There are certain limitations and restrictions that must be imposed at all times to ensure that complete accuracy and, in the ultimate, complete efficiency are achieved.
– I ask the Leader ofthe Government in the Senate: In view of statements of Government supporters who say they believe in the people’s right to dissent and protest in our democracy, but who claim to he very concerned at the possibility of violence on the day of the forthcoming Vietnam Moratorium pro- test, will the Leader of the Government in the Senate request State governments to close off for 30 minutes traffic from certain streets in capital cities where these protests are to he held, as is frequently done for marches and like events, and thereby show that the Government is sincere in its endeavour to see peaceful protest demonstrations? Does not the Minister agree that such a decision to control and divert the free flow of traffic should be made in these circumstances, and that failure to give this direction could result in chaotic conditions as a result of which people could honestly accuse the Government of creating violence to further its own political future?
– All I can say is that if chaotic conditions prevail, it will be the responsibility of the people who set about organising this proposed Moratorium. The second point is that Australia is a live and vital country with a tremendous economy, and it is completely unreal to suggest that because some people want to exercise their right to protest - within the law if you like - that right should take precedence of the management and conduct of the affairs of the nation. The suggestion that there shall be chaos and that there shall be a complete cessation of Australian industry is it seems to me, in keeping with the objectives of the Moratorium.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport received a report on the disastrous fire at the Whyalla shipyards at the weekend? Will he ascertain whether, as a result of the fire, there is likely to be any loss of employment? More particularly, in view of the great loss that has been suffered and in view of the statement made by Sir Roderick Miller, will the Minister have investigations made to ensure that the Whyalla shipyard has an adequate fire protection system?
– I have with me only a certain amount of information, not all of which would answer fully the honourable senator’s questions. The information that I have been given in regard to the ‘Amanda Miller’ fire is that the ship was to be a 62,000-ton tanker. The keel was laid on 15th January 1970. The fire was observed at 9.40 p.m. on Saturday. Early attempts to extinguish it were unsuccessful. A general alarm was given to the shipyard fire fighting system of local volunteers, but by that time the fire already had a strong hold. The lire engulfed the entire ship, except the last 50 feet aft. The building blocks were burnt. The keel subsided and moved 5 feet. Today in Whyalla a meeting is being held to examine the cause of the fire and the effectiveness of the fire fighting methods. The keel was insured with Lloyds of London. Rebuilding depends upon the assessment of the damage by Lloyds and, I imagine, upon acceptance of this assessment by the other parties. South Australian laws require the holding of a coroner’s inquiry.I think that is all thatI can say at the moment. I will have the balance of the question directed to the responsible Minister so that I can obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– On 12th March, during question time, Senator Keeffe asked certain questions relating to accommodation improvements in Parliament House and to salary increases of Parliament House employees. I have the answers to Senator Keeffe’s questions. As they are of a detailed nature I propose, with Senator Keeffe’s concurrence, to incorporate them in Hansard.
– I agree to that procedure being adopted.
– The detailed questions were as follows:
I have obtained the relevant information from the 5 parliamentary departments and the answers to Senator Keeffe’s questions are as follows:
The following improvements have been carried out during the period referred to by Senator Keeffe:
The following variations in wages and salaries have been granted.
No restriction is placed on any officer in any parliamentary department in relation to his joining any union or association, in fact, every facility is made available for staff to be interviewed by union representatives and no attempt is made to discourage staff membership of unions.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether action can be taken to expedite an answer to question 101 whichI asked 6 or 7 weeks ago - on 10th March.I noticed that, during an answer today, the Minister said that sometimes answers to questions required research. Three parts of the question could be answered yes or no. The other part required practically no research.
– I will look at the question to see whether I can do something to obtain an expeditious reply for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it correct, as reported, that the Government has announced a proposed $2m extension to the building complex of this Parliament House? As the Government has sought to relieve general public pressure on demand for available finance and available labour and materials, will the Government reconsider the decision to proceed with this extension? Also, as the Government has decided that the new Parliament House will be built on Camp Hill and that the structure now housing the Parliament will be demolished, would it not appear wise to suggest that the $2m which it is proposed to spend might well be spent on establishing a more permanent asset?
– My understanding of the matter is that consideration has been given and is being given to proposed alterations to the existing Parliament House. At present I am not in a position to say what will be the final result of those considerations. For that reason I suggest that the honourable senator put the question on the notice paper. There is no shadow of doubt that the present conditions under which honourable members and honourable senators operate and the present conditions of those who give service to senators and members, make for a very tight situation. There is no doubt that many members and senators find it difficult to fulfil their functions to their optimum capacity because of the lack of facilities. That is my answer to the generality of the question. As to matters of when and where, I understand that at present there is a good deal of Press speculation on the subject. My understanding is that the matter is still under consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. On Tuesday. 7th April, in reply to several questions asked from this side of the chamber she indicated that there were no restrictions or delays on the availability of finance for war service homes being constructed by approved applicants. Does that position still prevail, or are any approved applicants who are building homes or who have completed the construction of homes now being advised that no finance is available before July 1970?
– It is quite true that on certain dates in the past I replied to a number of questions concerning war service homes finance which were directed to me by honourable senators. 1 informed them then that there was one area in which there was a period of waiting time. I do not know whether the honourable. senator is referring lo an individual case in which there may be some particular difficulty. If he is, and if he will let me know of the individual case, I will certainly find out what the situation is. But my answer on the overall position is the same as the one I gave in reply to the questions recently.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will the Minister inform the Senate of the quantity of peas landed in Australia during the past 12 months under the terms of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement?
– The honourable senator asks for some statistical information in relation to the volume of peas imported into Australia from New Zealand within the framework of the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. I will seek the information and make it available to him. I have not the precise information available at the moment.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Can the Minister tell me where was the centre of the earthquake or earth tremor which occurred in Canberra last night and which gave a reading of 3 on the Richter scale? Have there been any reports of any damage caused?
– I am indebted lo the honourable senator for telling me that there was an earthquake last night. Ali I know so far is from my reading of the early newspapers this morning, which said that there was a loud noise. I do not know any more about it than that. 1 shall endeavour to find out about it for the honourable senator and lei him know. Whatever it was, it does not appear to have caused any great hole in the earth around Parliament House although one never knows.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware of the importance of upgrading the general accounting and financial budgeting procedures used by rural primary producers? is he aware of the very significant financial aid that the Department of Primary Industry gave to a body at the University of New England in orderto assist in determining better and more up to date procedures for presenting financial accounts of farm businesses? Is he aware of the progress made by the committee known as the Australian Committee for Coding Rural Accounts and the final recommendations of that Committee which eventually will lead to an accounting system which will be allied to computerisation and will be of great value to rural businesses? Will the Minister evaluate the results obtained to date and give urgent consideration to making a further cash grant to assist this Committee’s work?
– This is obviously a question that I must take up with the Minister for Primary Industry. I shall do so and let the honourable senator have the answer at a later date.
– I would like to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories. When will the Senate receive details of the insurrection on Bougainville? Will the Minister explain why it was necessary for such drastic physical action to be taken by the police?
– I have yet to learn that the incident at Bougainville could be classified as an insurrection.
– Well, they threw grenades. What is that?
– There were minor squabbles due to local causes. In the present state of events a further report is not deemed necessary.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. As the Minister for Defence is now back in Australia can the Minister for Air officially advise the Senate what arrangements if any have been made to obtain a strike reconnaissance aircraft for Australia pending the delivery, if ever, of the F111?
– Last Thursday in answer to a similar question I went into some detail as to why I could not, at that time, make any announcement as to what had taken place during the discussion that the Minister for Defence had with the United States Secretary of Defence. Today all I can add is that I have had discussions with the Minister for Defence, with the Secretary of the Department of Air and with the Chief of the Air Staff. I have been informed of some discussions that took place during their visit to the United States, but as the Cabinet has not been informed of these discussions I think it would be unfair of me to make any further comment at this stage.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. What action is contemplated by the Minister in the anomalous situation that confronts certain employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department in the Australian Capital Territory who are to be denied a holiday on 29th April, on which day a public holiday has been proclaimed in New South Wales? As these employees, who work in the Canberra Engineering Division of the Postmaster-General’s Department, are refused the proclaimed holidays obtained by the Canberra Trades and Labour Council, being classed as New South Wales employees, why should they be denied a holiday on 29th April when a holiday on this day has been proclaimed in New South Wales?
– I have had some inquiries concerning this matter and I have received some information from the Postmaster-General’s Department. As Senator Mulvihill has said, the New South Wales Government has proclaimed a public holiday on 29th April. There will be no such public holiday in the Australian Capital Territory. The Public Service Board in accordance with usual practice has authorised a holiday on this day to be observed by Commonwealth Public Servants in areas in which such a holiday has been proclaimed. The holidays to which Senator Mulvihill refers as having been obtained by the Canberra Trades and Labour Council are presumably local trade holidays prescribed by awards and determinations and there is no provision for any such holidays in the lines staff determination.
– 1 would like to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Government protested ro General Lon Nol of Cambodia concerning the massacre of Vietnamese? If not. does the Government intend to lodge such a protest? Will the Minister assure the Senate that until such massacres cease no appeal by Cambodia for arms or other assistance will be considered?
– 1 am not aware of what the honourable gentleman refers to as a massacre nor arn 1 aware of what action, if any. has been taken about it from the point of view of representations from the Australian Government. As 1 understand it, the Minister for External Affairs returned to Australia today and, therefore my direct responsibilities as Acting Minister for External Affairs will revert to him. 1 suggest that the honourable senator put the question on notice and 1 will get an answer for him as quickly as 1 can.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. In the light of lengthy submissions made by me in the adjournment debates of 7th and 15th April, interspersed with a question on the 9th April, dealing with land policies in the Australian Capital Territory relating to Black Mountain. Jervis Bay and the Mount Kelly region, when may I expect a positive ministerial response?
– J have been watching for the replies. As I told the honourable senator earlier. I made inquiries when I came to Canberra yesterday evening. I have been informed today by officers of the Department of the Interior that a letter will be made available to me. for passing on to the honourable senator tomorrow, which contains answers to the queries the honourable senator raised on the occasions he has mentioned.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate is further to the first question 1 asked of him. Did the Minister for External Affairs indicate in Saigon that Australia may send a goodwill delegation to Cambodia? is it the Government’s intention to send a goodwill mission even if such an act might give the impression here and overseas that Australia supports the actions of the Lon Nol regime?
– I think the honourable senator and the Senate will recognise that it would be singularly inappropriate for me to give answers to questions about the situation in Cambodia at a time when there is a somewhat changing scene in that area.
– Has not the Government a policy on it?
– I remind the honourable senator that at question time one does not give answers to questions relating to policy. I do not want to be crossexamined at question time either. The short answer is that one does not give answers to questions relating to policy matters at question time. After the honourable senator has been here a little longer he will realise that in the field of foreign affairs it would be disastrous to deal with the affairs of one’s own country and of another country by way of question and answer at question time. The honourable senator is entitled to pose his question in the proper way to the Minister. Judgment can then be made on whether any information can be provided to him. But certainly there should not be an off the cuff approach to such matters al question time.
– May I try again? I should like to direct a question without notice to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has his attention been directed to the trial of 21 students in Saigon and their apparent torture? Is he aware of the details of the case and of the students’ protests which led to their arrest? Does the Minister still insist that the Thieu Government is and should be representative of the people of South Vietnam?
– The answer is yes. to the first question; no, to the second question. The third question relates to a matter of policy.
– I should like to ask a further question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Government been aware that the American Embassy in Laos has been used as the headquarters for directing the bombing of northern Laos? If not, how has it happened that the United States has carried on a secret operation for 4 years without the knowledge of the Australian Government and the Australian Parliament?
– I have not had the advantage of access to the information which the honourable senator presumably has in his mind. 1 do not acknowledge as facts what he has put as the basis of his question. All I can say is that if the honourable senator places his question on the notice paper I shall obtain the facts for him.
(Question No. 47)
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 48)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 79)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 87)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has providedthe following answers to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 176)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Since the Accounts of the Post Office were reconstructed in 1959-60, the following funds have been provided by Treasury and interest payments at the rates shown have been made to Treasury on such funds:
(Question No. 184)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
With reference to the statement made by the Minister on5th March 1970, concerning the Agreement between Australia and Yugoslavia on the residence and employment of Yugoslav citizens in Australia, would a Yugoslav migrant in this country, aged 19 years and 9 months, and who has served a year or15 months in the Yugoslav Army, have that amount of service credited to him when he becomes 20 years of age and is compelled under the law of this country to register for national service.
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A Yugoslav or any other migrant who arrives in Australia prior to the date proclaimed for his age-group to register is required to register for national service. If, following the relevant ballot, he is called up for national service, he will be required to serve for two years less any period of continuous full-time service he has rendered in the naval, military, or air force of Yugoslavia or any other country.
This also affords the answer to the question which the honourable senator addressed to my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, on the same subject without notice on11th March 1970.
(Question No. 192)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
Is any discussion proceeding between the Government of Australia and the Government of Malta to enable Maltese migrants in Australia to receive social services under the reciprocal agreement similar to that now operating between Britain and Australia.
– The Minister for Social Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Consideration is being given to the question of a reciprocal social security agreement with Malta. In the course of this consideration discussions have taken place with representatives of the Government of Malta.
(Question No. 193)
asked the Minister for
Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Australians have been passengers on these airlines since 1st January 1965.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 221)
asked the Minis ter for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Does the Minister know of any New South Wales Country Aerodrome previously under joint Civil Aviation and Council control, that has now reverted to complete Local Council control.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I assume that the honourable senator is referring to Council owned aerodromes which are participating in the Aerodrome Local Ownership Plan under which the Commonwealth contributes, on a 50/50 basis, towards approved development and maintenance works. Since the inception of the Plan fifty-four Council owned aerodromes in New South Wales have been approved for inclusion in this Plan and all of these are still eligible for assistance. That is, none of these New South Wales aerodromes has reverted to complete Council responsibility.
(Question No. 130)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will the Government give consideration to reversing its previous decision to deny taxation concessions for donations to reputable organisations seeking funds from Australians for overseas relief and development as an inducement to increasing aid 10 developing countries.
– The Acting
Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The gift provisions of the income tax law are reviewed from time to time. I have therefore arranged for the representation by the honourable member to be noted for consideration when they are next reviewed.
(Question No. 132)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
What additional inducements does or can the Government offer to ensure a continuing supply of migrants from countries which have been traditional sources of migrants over past years, to offset the problem which has arisen through the greatly improved conditions in those countries, which are now comparable with our own, and as a consequence of which the former inducements to migrate are no longer dominant considerations.
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The continually improving socio-economic conditions in Australia’s traditional migrant source countries have undoubtedly influenced our ability to attract migrants.
The Government is keenly aware of this and has taken measures, both at home and abroad, designed to make Australia more attractive to migrants and to facilitate migration.
In Australia,for example, there have been developments in the fields of social services and migrant education.
In the broad context of social welfare:
all nationality requirements for social services have been abolished;
the residential qualifying period has been removed for payment of widow’s pension to women widowed in Australia where husband and wife are permanently resident in Australia at the time of the husband’s death;
unemployment and sickness benefits payable to unmarried minors, who have no parent living in Australia, have been increased to the adult rate;
the period for which a pensioner making a temporary visit overseas may receive payment of pension on return to Australia has been increased from 12 to 30 weeks.
the waiting time for eligibility for benefits under the Hospital and Medical Benefit funds has been abolished for migrants who join the funds within 2 months of arrival in Australia. In addition, the Government will pay health insurance benefits for medical or hospital expenses incurred in the first 2 months following arrival in Australia, provided the migrant joins a Fund at the time of making a claim.
In the field of migrant education steps have been taken to provide for:
The expansion of existing facilities for the instruction of adult migrants.
The provision of intensive full-time English language courses for those who must know English in order to follow occupations for which they have been trained.
Special classes in existing schools for migrant children of all ages to ensure that they achieve the education to which their intelligence and natural skills entitle them.
In regard to housing, migrants now have equal rights with Australians in relation to eligibility to apply for State Housing Commission Homes in all States of the Commonwealth.
Overseas, procedures are constantly under review in order to reduce wastage between applications to migrate and actual departures for Australia.
Greater emphasis is now being placed on counselling procedures generally, with concentration on the wife as a key factor in the migration decision.
We have immigration offices operating in 28 countries, and in addition, the Department of External Affairs acts for the Department of Immigration in a number of other countries. In our major migrant source countries we have established a number of regional offices; for example, there are six in Germany, three in Italy and seven in the United Kingdom. Recently, new offices have been opened in Salonica in Greece and Oslo in Norway. Consideration is currently being given to opening a number of additional sub-offices in the United Kingdom, with some to be located in the London periphery to provide information and interviewing points in the Home Counties area.
Within the past 12 months the following measures have been introduced:
Since July 1969, assisted passage programmes from Europe have been extended to the wives and dependent children of breadwinners now residing in Australia who did not themselves receive any form of passage assistance.
As from 1st January 1970, a uniform personal contribution of $25 towards the cost of passage for assisted migrants 19 years of age or over applies under all our assisted passage programmes from Europe. Assisted migrants under the age of 19 make no contribution at all. The only exceptions are the British programme which was at the level of £10 stg for migrants 19 years of age or over before devaluation and which has not been changed, and the Greek programme where application of the new rate will commence from 1st July 1970.
An agreement between the Australian and Yugoslav Governments has been signed. This agreement extends to Yugoslavia the benefits of passage assistance to breadwinners and their families on the same financial basis as all other assisted migrants. The agreement is expected to place the movement of settlers from Yugoslavia on a stable and continuing basis, eliminate a major reason for separation of families and speed up the movement of desirable applicants whose movement has been delayed through lack of funds.
Notwithstanding the strong competition of a prosperous Europe, assisted migration from all sources continuesto run at a high level. Actual arrivals in the eight months ended February, 1970 totalled8 1,505 which is almost 9,000 more than for the corresponding period in 1968-69. lt is expected that the programme of 175.000 settler arrivals established al the beginning of the current financial year will be exceeded.
(Question No. 239)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice: (1)Is ita fact that several fuel tanks on HMAS ‘Swan’ were found to be leaking after her commissioning.
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
(Question No. 240)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
-BROCK M AN- The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
HMAS’Huon’ comprises atimber drill hall and associated buildings erected in 1916 and minor buildings of masonry construction erected over the period 1936 to1958. Whilst not modern the existing buildings will continue to meet the limited requirements subject to minor improvements called for from time to time and accordingly there are no current plans for re-building at the Establishment
(Question No. 242)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
– On 12th March 1970 Senator Brown asked me, as Minister representing the Prime Minister, whether
I was aware of rising unemployment in the manufacturing and servicing industries in the country towns of Victoria and what action would be taken in this regard. The Prime Minister has now provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The availahle statistics do nol land support lo the suggestion of the honourable senator that unemployment in manufacturing and servicing industries in country towns in Victoria has been rising. In fact, official statistics of the total number of persons registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service in country areas suggest that unemployment in Victorian country towns has been falling in recent years. For example, al the end of March1970 there were 4,604 persons registered for employment outside the metropolitan area in Victoria, representing 1.2% of the estimated labour force, whereas at end-March 1969 there were 5,253 persons registered (or 1.4% of the labour force) and at end-March 1968 7,350 persons (or 2.0% of the labour force). At the same time, the number of unfilled vacancies in non-metropolitan districts in Victoria increased from 2,023 at end-March 1968 to 2.144 a year later and . 2,823 at end-March 1970.
The Commonwealth Government appreciates the problems which can arisethrough lack of sufficient employment opportunities in country areas and takes account of these problems, and of the need to promote employment opportunities in country areas. In forming its economic and general policies.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - I have received from Senator O’Byrne an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, namely:
The desirability of maintaining an embargo on the export of merino rams until a majority of those persons affected shall decide by referendum or other fair means in favour of removing or relaxing the embargo.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
Our purpose in moving this motion is to stress again the desirability of maintaining an embargo on the export of merino rams until a majority of those persons affected shall decide by referendum or other fair means in favour of removing or relaxing the embargo. Over the last 12 months we have been drawing this matter to the attention of the Senate and, after succeeding in having a majority of the Senate decide that the embargo should not be lifted until a referendum was held among wool growers throughout Australia, we feel not only that the Senate has been held in contempt but also that the majority of merino wool growers in Australia and the majority of the electors in Australia are being held in contempt. Perhaps it is a bit egotistical to quote one’s own words, but in the light of circumstances that have developed in the last 12 months I think it would be of interest to the Senate if I were to quote what I said on 22nd April last year - a year ago tomorrow. At that time I said:
Generally the Australian wool industry is facing the most serious crisis in its history. The crisis can be averted only if we, responsible members of this Parliament, accept our responsibility to try to help the industry resolve its major problems. The wool industry is perilously close to an economic crisis caused by this very cost price squeeze.
There were some interjections, after which 1 said:
It does not matter how much honourable senators opposite snigger and try lo pull the wool over other people’s eyes, they cannot escape the fact that the wool industry has become one of the worst fields of investment in this nation. The return that the grower gets from his investment in his property is down as low as 1% or li% if he is lucky enough to be outside the drought area. Other people can invest in oil companies and in the mineral industries and other profitable business ventures, but the grazier cannot share in that wealth. He has to ask his bank manager for a loan to erect some extra fencing or to buy a new car. He cannot invest in the same way that other people do. His return on his initial investment is very poor indeed, lt will get worse because of the increasing cost factor all the time that this inflation is continuing.
I would challenge any honourable senator on the Government side of the chamber to refute at present not only the truth of that statement but also the grounds on which the prediction was made. Throughout Australia today on all sides we see meetings of graziers and wool growers, and we have seen even dramatic demonstrations in the streets of Melbourne where 10,000 people associated with the various primary industries gathered. A great number of them were wool growers who were trying to attract the attention of the Government. The Government has become complacent about their difficulties and arrogant with the power that it wields in Australia. There is more and more government by the Executive, which is completely out of touch with the hopes, feelings and wishes of the people of the electorate, lt has come to the stage where the farmers are prepared to take direct action. That is only a taste of what this Government will have to expect unless something more constructive is done on its behalf.
As I have said, the wool industry is not facing only an economic crisis. The cost squeeze is having a bad effect on the whole of its economy. We must bear in mind the fact that the wool industry is still one of the greatest contributors towards our foreign exchange earnings. Despite the fact that soaring results are being achieved from the discovery of new mineral fields and that the export overseas of our basic ores is bridging temporarily a gap that would have been most serious to the nation’s economy, nevertheless, we will overlook at our peril the importance which the wool industry generally has for Australia today. There should be no need to stress the fact that the wool industry is earning 30% of our export revenue, although only in the last few days it has been announced that revenue from the export of our minerals is equalling the revenue earned from the export of wool. Nevertheless, as I have said previously, Australia is still largely riding on the sheep’s back.
Tt also should be unnecessary to keep reminding honourable senators of the fact that the wool which is produced in Australia is of a unique quality. There are people who have a vested interest in wanting to exploit the present situation. I believe that the Australian Wool Industry Conference has been giving the wrong impression to the Government on this very important issue because of interests within the Conference. I believe that the stud breeders themselves are. weilding undue influence and that this advice has been given to the Government as a result of their pressures. Because of Australia’s ability to produce merino wool of a unique quality, I ask the most important question whether we are morally entitled to place at. a disadvantage those growers throughout the Commonwealth who produce the bulk of this wool, by exporting to overseas countries the basis of their good quality wool, which is the merino ram.
We know that a sale was held in Sydney at which 50 merino rams were sold to overseas buyers. 1 read in one report that 48 rams were sold, but in another report 1 read that 50 rams were sold. Of course, these rams were sold against the wishes of many wool growing organisations throughout Australia. The buyers who were present at this sale of 50 rams came from South Africa, the Argentine, China, Haly and Rumania. The sale took place despite the Senate’s resolution, despite the opposition of the Governments of Victoria and Western Australia, and despite the opposition of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the Victorian Farmers Union, and the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association of New South Wales. This brings roe to the question: Who was in favour of lifting the ban? When the whole situation is examined, it seems that there has been a determination on the part of a selected few stud growers throughout Australia, who saw the opportunity to cash in on a demand throughout the world and, of course-
– Who owns the sheep - the stud breeders or you? ,
– The ownership of many things could be questioned. We could question whether any of the things that people use are owned exclusively by certain people.
– Whose money is involved?
– One might ask: Who owns the land in Australia? 1 know that titles are given, but one might ask that question. Who owns the Australian transport system?
– Just answer the question 1 asked.
– The sheep are owned by all the Australian stud breeders and by all the Australian wool growers. Three or four studs had the advantage of selling sheep at a sale which attracted buyers from all parts of the world. Some of the sheep sold there are to be dispersed throughout the world. Wherever there is a market for the sheep, they will be sold.
I have no doubt that there is a ready market for them. Later I will produce figures showing the prices paid for the sheep. That will prove my point. Compared with Ihe large number of people who will be disadvantaged by the sale of these sheep, very few people will gain from the sale of these sheep. That is one matter to which the Parliament should pay very close attention.
– The honourable senator is begging the question entirely.
– (. am not begging the question at all. The ban was imposed in the first place because 5,000 rams were exported to Russia’.
– They were ewes.
– I meant to say that merino sheep were exported when the ban was imposed. From those sheep the bulk of the Russian merino flock was formed. The progeny of those sheep that were exported have formed the nucleus of Russia’s fine wool industry.
– How do you know that?
– We know it from statistics. I have the proof here. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. The proposition that we put is that when the ban was imposed there was a very good reason for its imposition. Those who favour the lifting of this ban have never advanced an argument to counter the one advanced when it was imposed. The sale of’ these rams was against very strong public opinion and against the wish of the Senate and the organisations that 1 have mentioned. I think that the advice given to the Government by the Australian Wool Industry Conference should be examined very closely. Similarly, the Wool Industry Conference itself should be examined very closely. Perhaps it would be of interest to the Senate to know that the man who advised the Government, Mr Vines, the Chairman of the Conference, for some reason or other found it necessary to retire from the Conference. Perhaps Mr Vines has realised his great mistake in tendering to the Australian Government the advice that was tendered. By a vote of 37 to 16 the Wool Industry Conference advised on the floor scheme for wool selling, yet when a referendum was held the Conference’s advice was defeated overwhelmingly. The same thing would apply to the advice that Mr Vines gave to the Government about the lifting of the ban on the export of merino rams, if ever a referendum were held.
Government senators advance the argument - and it is a very weak argument, in my view - that it would be difficult to classify a merino sheep breeder or wool grower. A classification can be made at various levels. A man who runs a certain number of sheep could be classified as a merino wool grower. A man who produces a certain number of bales of merino wool could be classified similarly. I do not think it is terribly important how the classification of a merino wool grower is made so long as the bulk of the growers participate in the proceedings that decide the destiny of their industry. I believe that their industry is vitally concerned as to whether the ban should be lifted.
The argument is advanced that wool is fighting fierce competition from artificial fibres. Of course it is fighting competition. But most natural products with man made competitors meet the same competition. The challenge is to the industry to improve its product, to reduce its costs and to meet the competition. If the wool growers do not do that they will just go out of business altogether. The argument that we can export our best quality sheep and help to improve the quality of the product of our competitors so that, in turn, the sales of our wool on the world market can be increased is one of the most specious arguments one could possibly hear.
If people intend to follow that line of argument, why is it that we can sell all our merino wool on the world market? We have ready markets for it. There is no carryover of merino wool or any other type of wool, such as there is of wheat.
– We do not sell our wool; we give it away.
– That is the point 1 am making. We are giving our wool away. Yet honourable senators, such as the one who has just interjected, will stand up and say: ‘Let us send our best quality merino rams overseas. Let us sell them at the best prices wc can get for them. That, in turn, will improve the quality of wool which will compete with ours, and then that will improve the demand for wool’. Within 12 months their words have come back and struck in their throats, because the price of wool has never in the last 20 years been as low as it is now.
– We still have not got any rams out of the country. Our argument-
– The argument put forward by honourable senators opposite is that we should send our rams overseas so that the quality of merino sheep in other parts of the world can be improved and in 10 or 15 years wool from those countries will come on to the market and supply a demand for medium to fine wools - the equivalent of merino wool - and that, in turn, will keep the demand for the natural fibre, the merino wool, going. Despite the fact that we are producing wool under our environmental conditions, with the genetic and other favourable factors that go to make up our merino breed, the price of wool on the world market is dropping.
We should have a government with the intestinal fortitude to go into the matter that has been mentioned in the last few days, namely, that the majority of Australia’s wool is sold on - futures before it is auctioned. That proves to me that undoubtedly the whole of the merino wool selling system is a racket which should be examined right through to the very end by the Australian Government and those responsible for this very important industry. Another factor that has been advanced by the Government as an argument in favour of the lifting of the ban is that merino stud breeders would be given an incentive to improve their breeds if they had this extra market. But, as events have turned out, the merino industry has become so depressed that the breeders will not even maintain their Australian market.
Many people have decided that there is no future in growing wool, and they are looking for alternative industries. This is a very serious matter. The people who have been producing our best wool - the medium to fine quality wools which have found ready markets throughout the world down the long years - are deciding to turn to beef production or wheat production. They are finding that the gates are closed against them in many of these alternative industries. At the same time this means the breaking up of some of the very fine breeding lines that have been giving the quantity and the quality to our wool, which has been playing such an important part in our balance of payments.
We come back again to the policy of the Government in supporting an unknown section of the Wool Industry Conference. It is unknown for the simple reason that many knowledgeable people will give their view that this Conference is stacked in favour of a certain section of the wool growing industry.
– You have changed your tune since the marketing issue.
– Ah, but it is very hard to obtain information because of the various vested interests involved in the wool industry. It is a very old established interest. It is around the Sydney waterfront that one can see the big rake-off from wool. It goes to the people involved in the auction system for the selling of wool. The big profits are not made by the men who undergo all the hazards associated with wool growing. The big shipping interests, the top makers and other people along the line before the wool gets to the manufacturer - they are the ones who are getting a cosy little cut.
– You are not raising an argument.
– I can sustain my argument on this one. Our own merino wool industry will have to be given every possible protection necessary. We must start at the base of the industry. Firstly, the economy has been allowed to become inflated. This has to be paid for somewhere along the line. The cost of wool production has now reached the stage at which the wool growers are losing faith in the economic policy of the Government, they are losing faith in the Government, and they are showing this by their open demonstrations against the Government. That is the No. 1 issue. The inability of the Government to face up to the problems of primary producers is being shown more and more graphically in the returns received by primary producers. The wheat grower is in a critical situation with the imposition of quotas and with over production. The inability of the Government to dispose of the wheat surplus is a grave reflection on the Government’s capacity. Then we come to the dairy industry. I suppose there is a no more unsettled industry than the dairy industry. The Government has failed the people in that industry. Then there are the fresh fruit growers and the dried fruit growers. In all branches of primary industries crises are arising. The Australian Labor Party believes that the Government is condoning an added burden by allowing a small and interested section of the Wool Industry Conference to influence Government policy with something which does not carry the full accord of the people concerned. The Australian Labor Party believes in this respect the Government has evaded and avoided its responsibility for the sake of expediency. We on this side of the chamber are still of the opinion that the Senate is being held in contempt by the policy of not continuing the ban, despite the fact that the majority of honourable senators carried a resolution which said in effect that this ban should not be lifted until a referendum was held amongst merino wool growers. How is the Government going to face up to its claim that it is democratic government mindful of the importance of the Senate as a House of review of legislation? It has been the very proud claim of the rump Party, which has kept the Government in power over so many years, that it represents the primary producers of this country. How is that Party going to face the primary producers honestly in this critical time and say that it is carrying out its job in this Parliament as it promised when it knows very well that the majority of honourable senators voted against the lifting of this ban? Some honourable senators may have friends or pressure groups behind them and helping them, but that does not relieve them of their responsibility to the whole of the wool industry. lt is on those grounds that the Australian Labor Party believes that the Australian wool grower has been let down in so many directions. The final and crushing blow is that this Government, by its policy of lifting this merino ban, is aiding and abetting Australian competitors overseas. There is no shadow of doubt about that, lt is shown by the very fact that on (he first sale such a keen interest was shown by buyers from the various countries I have named to obtain the Australian merino strain. These buyers were prepared to pay such high prices for the Australian merino strain because they know the great advantages they will gain for their own wool industries, ft is a specious argument to say that these sales are going to help the world-wide wool industry 10 produce more wool, so creating a greater demand. This is some of the most muddled thinking I have ever heard presented in support of the case. We have reached the unfortunate situation where the final responsibility has come down on the industrial workers of this country. They have decided that if the Government is going to be so recreant to its trust they are going to take direct action similar to that taken by the farmers in Victoria the other day. They are going to show their disappointment and disapproval of the Government’s policy. They have issued an ultimatum to the Government that until a referendum is held and the wishes of the wool growers are carried out the rams are not going to get out of the country. I understand that by some nefarious means 2 rams were smuggled out of Australia. But what a Pyrrhic victory that was. The airline which carried the rams ran the grave risk of having its airliners throughout the world grounded. That airline wants to be very careful in future not to take a similar attitude to that which it took in allowing these rams to be exported after the Senate had insisted that a referendum should be held among the woolgrowers before rams were allowed to be exported.
The Australian Labor Parly stands firm. The embargo on the export of merino rams must be maintained. The imposition of a ban on the export of rams by one section of the community, the Transport Workers Union, is only the first of many actions that could be taken if the Government is going lo persist in its attitude of defying the Senate and defying what the Australian Labor Party believes is the wish of the majority of woolgrowers in this country. The only fair means of deciding this is to proceed as rapidly as possible to organise a referendum. This could be done on a basis which is quite fair. If voting in the referendum is to be limited to producers of a reasonable amount we could set the lower production limit at 10 bales, which is quite a reasonable clip for a small wool grower. Those producing 10 bales or more would be eligible to vote in such a referendum. Whichever way the result went it would clear this matter up. A decision would be obtained. There will be no decision and. no finality in this matter, and no continuity of policy for the wool growers, and particularly for stud breeders, unless such a decision is made by referendum. If the Government tries to find ways and means of getting around the export ban it will find itself in serious trouble. To relieve the breeders of that, responsibility I believe that the Government should move in and have the matter decided. Not only would that bring a lot more peace to the industry, it would also allow the wool growers to direct their energies and their minds towards the solution of a great problem which faces them - the imminent bankruptcy of their industry. 1 commend this to the Senate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The only point in Senator O’Byrne’s speech with which one can agree is that at present wool growers, and indeed all rural industries, are going through difficult times. This, 1 think, is brought about mainly by the cost-price squeeze in which producers are producing in a very high cost of production area and are selling the great bulk of their products 12,000 miles away in countries where the buyers are noi one scrap interested in the cost of production of the product.
Senator O’Byrne mentioned a number of things which he thought should be done to bring some stability to the wool industry. He mentioned marketing. 1 say to the honourable senator that on a number of occasions this Government has endeavoured to do something about marketing at the request of the leaders of primary industries but on each occasion the rank and file wool growers, by referendum, have knocked back the suggestions of their leaders. Senator O’Byrne made great play of the need for a referendum. Despite the fact that the New South Wales Graziers Association was one of the bodies which originally was opposed to the partial lifting of the ban, we notice that at its conference held on 14th April in Sydney when the subject of the export of merino rams was being discussed the conference confirmed that the Association was still opposed to the export of merino rams, and a resolution was passed calling for the re-introduction of the embargo. However the conference voted against the matter being put to a referendum of growers. So how the honourable senator can base his case on the claim that the wool growers as a whole want a referendum on this matter, I do not know.
He then said that the Australian Wool Industry Conference was not the voice of the wool growers. I ask the honourable senator: What is the voice of the wool growers if the Wool Industry Conference is not their voice? The Wool Industry Conference, contrary to what he said, is made up of 25 representatives from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and 25 representatives from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. At this stage there are no representatives from the Australian Primary Producers Union. The representatives are elected to their State organisations from which they are then elected to the federal bodies of the organisations.
– Has anyone been appointed to take the place of the 5 representatives from the Australian Primary Producers Union?
– Not to this stage. Tracing the process further back, the growers in the States are elected to the various executive bodies in the States. The executive bodies in the States are made up of representatives from the various branch councils or conferences, if you like to put it in that way. I do not agree that there is not a democratic vote. If the honourable senator applied his line of reasoning to the vote of the federal executive of the Party to which he belongs, it could be claimed that that is not a democratic vote.
In his opening remarks the honourable senator said that we must do something for the wool growers because of the financial plight in which they find themselves. Surely allowing the men who make the wool industry - the merino breeders - to sell their product overseas gives them some incentive to do the work that they have been doing over the years. I remind the honourable senator that the merino breeding industry is perhaps one of the few industries in which the breeders of this country are unable to sell their stock to overseas buyers. Breeders of racehorses, stud cattle, stud pigs and so on sell their animals to producers in countries overseas yet for some years now we have said to breeders in the wool industry: ‘You are not allowed to sell your stud animals on overseas markets’. I remind the honourable senator that this prohibition was introduced back in the 1930s overnight, without any referendum, without any legislation.
– And without any reference to the Parliament.
– It was brought in by the then Minister for Trade and Customs and there was no mention of it until the announcement was made in the Parliament.
– Were there any grower organisations in Australia at that time?
– Of course there were.
– And the Government at that time did not go to the organisations?
– This prohibition was brought in overnight without any reference to grower organisations in the Commonwealth. Now the honourable senator who is a member of the Party which introduced that prohibition says: ‘Let us have a referendum’. What are we really talking about? Let us look at the matter. On 20th March 1969 the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) made a statement in the House of Representatives in which he said:
The Government has decided that the embargo on the export of merino breeding sheep from Australia, which was imposed some 40 years ago, should he partially relaxed. . . . The decision taken by the Government is for a limited relaxation of the prohibition on the export of merino breeding sheep, subject to several stringent conditions, and it accords wilh the recommendation of the Wool Industry Conference. The terms of the decision are as follows:
J should like this to be recorded so that honourable senators can have a look at it -
– What aboutt he second 12 months?
– The terms of the decision continue:
I hope that Senator O’Byrne is listeningto whatI am saying. Those were the terms of the decision. Following the announcement of the Government’s decision a large number of petitions were presented in both Houses of the Parliament by members of the Opposition. Many of the signatories to these petitions gave Sydney suburbs as their addresses.
– And farmers marched.
– No doubt the names of some farmers appeared on these petitions, but some persons who were not members of rural organisations were expressing their views through these petitions. Following the presentation of these petitions a debate was held on the subject in the Senate on 22nd April 1969. Supporters of all parties in the Senate took part in the debate. The debate was initiated by the Australian Labor Party, which moved that a partial lifting of the ban should not be implemented. No doubt the debate in the Senate was partly responsible for the postponement of the ram sales which were to be held in Sydney in May. It was hoped that some overseas buyers would participate in the ram sales in Sydney, but the sales were postponed. The Minister for Primary Industry allowed the next 10 months as a period during which representations could be made by organisations and individuals opposing the relaxation of the ban. I do not know of any representations being madeto the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The AWIC then wrote to the Minister and said that it was not prepared to alter its previous decision. On 1st February 1970 the Minister implemented the partial embargo.
– Without parliamentary permission.
-Is the honourable senator suggesting that the Senate should tell the Government what policies it should implement? Ram sales were held in Sydney on 5th February of this year. Senator O’Byrne referred to these sales, but he told us only the details which sttited him. I want to refer to the sale in detail. A total of 392 merino rams were offered at the Sydney stud sheep sales on 5th February 1970. Of the 392 rams offered for sale 243 were sold. In other words, 149 rams were not sold.
– Were the 243 rams which were sold in fact sold to overseas buyers?
– No. I am just coming to that aspect. Of the 243 rams which were sold 47 were purchased by overseas countries. Senator O’Byrne referred to the countries from which buyers came.I shall give the details of the purchases made so that honourable senators will appreciate the actual position. Argentina purchased 10 rams; Brazil purchased 10 rams; mainland China purchased 1 1 rams; India purchased 3 rams; Italy purchased1 ram; Rumania purchased 9 rams; and South Africa purchased 3 rams. It has been said that if the embargo on the export of merino rams is lifted the growers in Australia will not be able to purchase rams without having to pay a higher price for their purchases. I wish to give an illustration which is quite separate from the Sydney sheep sales to prove that this will not be the case. I wish to quote some figures to prove my point. I am afraid that I do not have the up to date figures. The figures I have show the position as at 31st December 1968, which is the latest date for which statistics are available. According to the Australian stud merino flock register there are 1,682 registered merino studs in Australia. During 1968 these studs sold 227,000 rams. At the end of December 1968 they still had 276.000 rams on hand. In other words, only about 45% of the rams available for sale in 1968 were sold.
– That is why they want the ban lifted.
- Senator O’Byrne was complaining about the difficulties which the sheep breeders are facing in Australia. The men who are breeding rams go to a great deal of trouble and heavily commit themselves financially to build up their flocks, but honourable senators opposite wish to leave them with about one-half of the progeny on their hands. Surely we should allow them to accept an outlet which is available?
– Provided it does not affect others.
– Then apply that proviso. Only 47 rams have been sold of which only one or two have left the country so far. Honourable senators opposite are not willing to give the partial lifting of the embargo the 12 months trial which the AWIC wants to give it. Let us look at the potential of our merino studs and how they could further expand their output if the incentive to do so were provided. On 31st December 1968 the studs had 1,540,000 breeding ewes on hand. In addition they had 417,000 ram lambs and 478,000 ewe lambs. With numbers of this sort involved surely there is terrific potential for the breeding of more rams if the incentive to do so is provided. All the Government is trying to do is to give the breeders of rams which the ordinary flock holders are not interested in purchasing an incentive to go on and build up bigger and better sheep.
– What effect would the export of 300 rams have on that surplus?
– I should think that it would be infinitesimal.
– So that it is not an outlet for the surplus that we have?
– Surely it is some encouragement. We have the potential to go on and build up further. I have outlined some of the points which were before the Conference when it made its decision. It is said that Australia has a commodity which no other country has and that we should hang on to it. The argument sounds good, but let me speak as a practical sheep breeder. Anybody who has had anything to do with sheep knows that if one runs them on virgin country somewhere out in the bush they will produce wool of as fine a quality as possible but in small quantities and that the heavier or greater the pasture on which the sheep are run the greater the bulk or the amount of wool and the stronger the quality. I recall year after year having to go through the sheep on my property culling them out because, despite the fact that I had mated a ram that I had purchased at the Royal Agricultural Show in Perth to the best ewes on the property, I was not getting the progeny [ required. So out they had to go. This is normal practice on any farm. Let me refer to the Tasmanian wools. Honourable senators have all heard about them and their fine qualities. There are many breeders in Western Australia - and my two colleagues across the chamber from Western Australia will know this - who would like to breed this type of wool. We know of many instances where they have gone to Tasmania and bought rams and consignments of ewes hoping to produce a wool that has been produced on that particular farm in Tasmania. What happens? They get them home and they produce a much stronger type of wool than they anticipated due to the environment.
– You breed them into peppin. They are of Spanish descent in Tasmania.
– I do not know what type they get in Tasmania but in Western Australia they get a different type of wool from the same sheep. Surely if that happens in Australia where we have our fine merino wools all over the place there will be the same result in South Africa, America, Uruguay, mainland China or wherever else they go.
– That is a risk they take, is it not?
– That is a risk they take. Honourable senators opposite are not going to give them the opportunity of even knowing whether it is a risk. There is a lot more to it than saying that we have a certain type of wool in this country and we are not going to let anyone have it. The wool industry and those of its leaders who have looked at this question very carefully say, as Senator O’Byrne said, that we are producing a type of wool for which there is a ready demand. But is it a demand that will always remain? For some years now we have had the battle of the fibres, with synthetics cutting into the sales of wool. One of the ways of overcoming this problem is to produce more wool.I believe that we are reaching the stage where, through wool promotion and wool research, we are able to interest people in wool and wool fabrics. But will we have the production of wool to enable us to continue to interest more and more people in wool and wool fabrics?I believe that in the years that lie ahead we will not unless we continue to bump up the production of wool. One way of doing this is lo see that other countries have the type of wool that is being sought.
I have told honourable senators that 1 do not believe that the type of wool that we have in Australia will necessarily be produced in overseas countries because of the effect that environment has on the product. I want to go back and mention the referendum that Senator O’Byrne referred to. 1 recall that no referendum was held when this matter was first brought up. Ali that we had was a notice in the Commonwealth Gazette - I have a copy of it here - which was produced overnight. A statement was made in the House without any consultation with the wool industry, members of Parliament or anyone else. Let me refer now to the arguments referred to by Opposition supporters. It is proposed that the relaxation and the conditions attached to it will be reviewed annually. I made that point and no doubt Senator Wilkinson will draw to my attention, as he did during question time the other day, the fact that the Farmers Union in Western Australia at its recent conference passed a motion reversing the decision that it made 12 months ago. That is quite proper and the prerogative of the wool section of the Farmers Union.
– I was not complaining.
– No. Twelve months ago, or even before that, this organisation had to take this decision to the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and when the Minister announced that there would be a partial relaxation of this embargo he said that it would be reviewed annually. I believe that the wool section of the Farmers Union is now making its decision to be taken to the conference of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and eventually to the Australian Wool Industry Conference.I believe that it will say: ‘We the representatives of the Farmers Union do not want to continue the partial relaxation of this ban.’
– Has the Farmers Union of Western Australia representation on the Wool Industry Conference?
– Through whom?
– Through the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation.
– Mr Sewell says that he does not represent the Farmers Union.
– What about Mr Chance, Mr Bungey and Mr Pat Moore? There are 3 of them.I came over with those 3 from Western Australia yesterday. There are 5 of them altogether. The relaxation and the conditions attached to it will be reviewed annually, which means that modifications or even a reversion to a complete ban could be sought by the Wool Industry Conference after the first 12 months. In the circumstances there would bc little merit in holding a referendum on proposals that are open to subsequent modification or withdrawal. As I told honourable senators, the Australian Wool Industry Conference is made up of representatives from 2 wool grower organisations in Australia which have 25 representatives each. I refer to the decision which was carried by a clear majority of 37 to 16, 12 months ago. Before the AWIC voted on the embargo it went to considerable pains to secure authoritative information and views on all aspects of the embargo. This material was circulated to wool grower organisations throughout Australia for consideration and subsequently the views and suggestions of these organisations were considered by the Conference. In the circumstances it is fair to say that the AWIC vote reflects the considered opinion of an adequate crosssection of growers. I will be the first to admit that during the debate in this place last time we did see a number of growers here who, to my mind, were not represented by any organisation at all. They showed their interest in the debate and where they stood by speaking to representatives from both sides of the Senate.
– They were interested individuals, though, were they not?
– Yes, I will acknowledge that. Now, with any referendum the question of voting qualifications must be determined. This could be very difficult to determine for any referendum on the merino embargo. For instance, the question arises whether all wool growers should be entitled to vote - irrespective of the breed of sheep they raise - or whether entitlement be confined to those who produce only or principally merino wool. Some wool growers produce merino wool exclusively, others merino wool as well as crossbred wool, while still others produce wool exclusively from nonmerino breeds such as Border Leicester, southdowns, corriedales and so on. There is also the case of producers for whom wool is a secondary consideration. I refer to fat lamb breeders.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– In this debate the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) is representing the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). While I watched the Minister in all his stark loneliness on the front bench discussing this subject he reminded me of a famous character in literature whose name was Casablanca. He was the hero in a famous poem which began as follows:
The boy stood on the burning deck whence all but he had fled
I am pleased to see that the Minister is now supported by a representative of one of the Government parties. Until a few seconds ago one of the Government parties had left him completely without support. The Democratic Labor Party supports the motion. We supported a similar motion when it was put forward about 12 months ago. Nothing has happened to alter our previous attitude since the decision of the Senate was arrived at on that occasion to oppose the lifting of the ban on the export of merino rams. In fact, earlier this year when the Government announced that it proposed to lift the ban the Democratic Labor Party, through its Leader Senator Gair, protested publicly and said that the ban should not be lifted.
I do not propose to argue this issue very extensively because the arguments I advanced 12 months ago, which appear in Hansard, are still valid. A further reason why I may not argue too extensively about this urgency motion is that it was sprung upon my Party completely by surprise. We would have expected the courtesy of an advance copy of the motion, which apparently was supplied to the leaders of other parties. No copy was supplied to me as Acting Leader of the DLP. I would not even have known that this matter was to be brought on for debate had I not in the dining room casually asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) about the business to be conducted this afternoon, and he was able to inform me. On all occasions that we propose to move urgency motions we will see that the leaders of all the other parties receive the courtesy of advance copies of those motions.
My main objection to the lifting of the embargo, apart from the arguments I advanced 12 months ago, is to the manner in which it is being done. The Senate made a decision which clearly indicated that if legislation to authorise the lifting of the ban were presented to Parliament it would be defeated. The will of Parliament was clearly expressed that it would not consent to legislation if it were brought forward to lift the embargo on the export of merino rams. If the Government realises that there is a strong division of opinion in the community, why does it not present legislation on an issue such as this? Parliament clearly indicated that it would not pass such legislation.
– Not Parliament, the Senate.
– The Senate is an integral part of the Parliament and what the Senate decides is part of the decision of Parliament. Senator Prowse is attempting to confuse Ihe issue. If legislation to lift the ban were presented to Parliament, it would be defeated. When the Senate made its decision the Government announced, obviously with one eye on the forthcoming House of Representatives election, that consideration of the matter would be postponed.
– That is an unfair statement.
– If it is an unfair statement, why was it that when I and others before the election last year repeatedly asked the Government about its intentions so that the question of the embargo could be considered in the course of the election campaign, we were met with evasive action on every occasion? The Government made it clear that wild horses would not drag from it prior lo the election a declaration of its intention on this issue. After the election was over the Government announced its intention, but that announcement was made prior to the sittings of the Parliament. Why did the Government not wait until Parliament had met so that Parliament could have taken action? Instead, having evaded the issue before the election, the Government took action before Parliament met and indicated that in this particular case the Executive proposed to arrogate to itself a power which 1 believe it has no right to possess.
An extremely dangerous tendency has arisen for Cabinet to use Executive powers to override the will of Parliament. There have been 3 examples of this tendency. Firstly, Parliament would not have consented to lift the ban on the export of merino rams. The ban was lifted by executive action. Secondly, the Senate took certain action in regard to the Canberra Abattoir. The Government by executive action once again overrode the will of the Senate. Thirdly, on the question of the site of the new and permanent Parliament House, the
Government again arrogated lo itself executive power to override a parliamentary decision. What does this mean? lt means that if this tendency is permitted to continue the Government at a future date on a new issue on which there is a division of opinion in the community can say to the House of Representatives, where it has superior numbers: ‘What is your opinion?’ lt can then say to the Senate, where it does not have greater numbers: ‘What is your opinion?’ If there is a division of opinion between the two Houses it can say, as it has said on 3 occasions: ‘Because there is a division of opinion we have the right to make the decision’. Honourable senators can see for themselves the dangers which such an attitude on the part of the Government can open up for the future.
I am completely unconvinced that the ban should have been lifted by anything that has happened since the decision of the Senate was reached 12 months ago. In Victoria some people believe thai the ban should be lifted, but the overwhelming majority of people engaged in the wool industry - and I have talked to many of them - is entirely and irrevocably opposed to the lifting of the ban. I believe that the Australian Wool Industry Conference was entirely wrong in the attitude it adopted. After opposition to the lifting of the embargo had been manifested and the AWIC was asked to reconsider the matter, it was entirely wrong for the Conference to adopt the discourteous attitude that it would refuse even to consider it.
– It did consider it. It gave them about 6 months to put any proposition and they did not.
– I understand from what 1 have read and from what Senator Webster has said that the Conference announced that it would not reconsider the matter. What did it mean if it did noi mean that it would not reconsider the matter?
– No federal organisations approached the Conference and it therefore considered it unnecessary to reconsider the matter.
– I understood that the Government informed the Conference that it was holding the matter up and that in those circumstances it would like the AWIC to reconsider the matter. I also understood that the Conference said no. 1 think that that was a discourteous attitude to adopt and it reflects no credit upon that body. Knowing there was a strong feeling in the community the Conference was entitled at least to give some consideration to that feeling, rather than to brush it off. I have never been impressed by the argument that we must try to promote the breeding of fine wools abroad because it is necessary for the future of the industry. 1 think it is a very questionable argument that attempts should be made to increase production of primary products when so much difficulty is experienced in getting a reasonable price for them. I think that people who say that are not taking into consideration one of the biggest factors against wool at present and one which will be against wool in future. I refer to the increase in the use of central heating. If one goes into figures and discusses with economists what might be the prospects in regard to central heating I think one will have to reconsider many ideas regarding the future of our woo! industry.
– Will they ban the export of our central hearing apparatus?
– I shall continue with my remarks, despite the attempt by Senator Prowse lo put me off the track. I have examined the conditions on which the Government authorised the relaxation of the ban and I am nol very impressed. Great emphasis has been given to the fact that not more than 300 merino rams can be exported, but it has been stated quite clearly that that figure will be reviewed annually. If the Government is in a position to examine this matter every 12 months, obviously it will be guided by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. But nobody knows exactly how far action of this type will continue. The Government has indicated that it will noi take any notice of parliamentary control; it has said simply that Parliament is out and that this is a matter which will be determined by executive power. My view has always been opposed to the excessive use of executive power. Years ago in England a motion was successfully moved in the House of Commons to Ihe effect that the power of the Crown had increased, was increasing and ought to be diminished. If action by the Executive is to continue in this way in Australia as it has in the case of the merino rams, the Canberra Abattoir, the new and permanent parliament house and other matters, the day will surely come when we will be debating the question that the power of Cabinet or of the Executive has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.
Senator MAUNSELL (Queensland) 15.7] - I oppose the resolution and, in doing so, in the limited time that I have I should like to recount the history of this ban on the export of merino rams and what has happened as a result. As the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) has said, the ban was imposed by regulation. The issue was nol submitted to the industry or lo Parliament and the ban applied to all sheep. Naturally there was a hullabaloo after that among breeders of British breeds, so eventually the ban was relaxed to include merino stud rams only. About 5 years later it was decided that some of the flock rams might be just as important as some of the stud rams and it was a bit hard to tell the difference, so another regulation was brought in - still without consulting the industry or the Parliament - that it should now apply to all merino rams.
– Except tn respect of New Zealand.
– Yes, except in respect of exports to New Zealand. Then we came to 1950 and suddenly it was decided that perhaps merino semen could be exported and used to good effect, so it was not until L9S0 that it was decided that a ban should be placed on the export of merino semen, lt would be interesting to know whether the experts on the other side of the chamber could tell the difference between merino semen, corriedale semen or any other semen which it was sought to export. Another interesting factor is that science has developed to the extent that today the fertilised ova or foetus of a sheep can be transferred to another ewe - perhaps one of the British breeds - but still retain the genetics of the mated animal. When it came to export, 1 wonder who could tell ihe difference between a corriedale ewe which is in lamb through being mated and one which is in lamb because the foetus has been transferred. Then we have the PO.warths which are about seven-eighths merino. Most stud breeders cannot tell the difference between polwarths and merinos, yet polwarths can be exported. It is quite amazing that in 1956 in New South Wales there were only 250,000 polwarths and last year that figure had risen to about 550,000. In Victoria the number of polwarths increased, and in Tasmania the number increased from 718,000 to 1,218,000.
– What is the difference between a comeback and a polwarth?
– Inasmuch as they can both be exported there is no difference. I wonder whether stud breeders could tell the difference between sheep which are fifteen-sixteenths merino and those which are pure merino. I wonder whether customs officials, members of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia or the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia, or anyone else could tell the difference. Last year when the lifting of the ban was first announced many breeders came to Australia hoping to buy merinos, but then the ban was not lifted so the breeders bought polwarths. Who are you or I to know whether they were actually polwarths that went out of Australia? We would like to know what has been the result of this ban. When the ban was first applied I believe it was in order to save for the Australian sheep breeder that unique fine wool that he had been able to produce in Australia because of our environmental conditions. It was believed that if we could retain a monopoly of these fine wools and restrict the market there would be a demand for our wool, that the price would go up, we would all be happy and everyone in the grazing industry would be prosperous.
It is interesting to note the breakup of the Australian wool clip as shown in the first figures which are available, that is, in 1940-41 which was the first year of the Joint Organisation during the war. We do not have a complete breakup of the Australian wool clip prior to that. In 1940-41 our fine wools, which were the 64/ 70s, 64s and 70s, represented 53.7% of the Australian wool clip. That was quite a sizable amount of the Australian wool clip. Today those grades of fine wool represent 13.7% of our wool clip. So while the merino ban has been in existence with the purpose of protecting our fine wool so that we could have a monopoly of this grade of wool, the Australian wool grower has reduced his production of fine wool from 53% to 13%. I wonder why that happened? The argument advanced by those who are in favour of the ban being lifted is that it has been detrimental to the Australian wool industry. The reason they give is that unfortunately we are not able to produce enough fine wool for the world and, consequently, the manufacturers who are setting up factories decide that as they cannot get this product they will turn to something else which is available. It is suggested that this is why they have turned to synthetics and why the production of fine wools has been reduced. I am a wool grower who lives in an area where fine wool can be produced, and we have all switched to the production of medium and strong wool.
– Because the price for the medium and strong wools has been almost the same as for fine wools and we can put 50% more into the bales, because the sheep produce 50% more per head. So the return is far more lucrative for medium and strong wools than it is for fine wool. The argument that we should maintain the ban in order to retain the monopoly of fine wools for Australia, as a result of which the prices would go up, has been completetly refuted. I come now to the third line of argument which I believe is the most important line that the growers are taking, that is, that if we allow the export of merino rams and if we allow overseas breeders to compete with our own flock breeders the price will go up. This is what they are afraid of. These growers think: ‘We have been buying rams for $50 or $100 and the price will go up to SI 50*. But the law of supply and demand applies, and I think everyone would agree that you cannot expect to buy a Rolls Royce at a Holden price. If you want to buy a Rolls Royce you have to pay for it. If you want to buy a top merino ram, you have to pay for it. If there are a number of other people who are prepared to pay top money for top rams, the incentive will be there for stud merino breeders to concentrate on breeding more of these animals, on putting more money into their production. What is happening today? In the last 15 years at least half of our major parent studs have gone out of business simply because they cannot sell their sheep; the business is not a lucrative one. They are not getting sufficient money for their top rams.
I am a wool grower in an area where we cannot diversify. We cannot turn to wheat, although possibly we could turn to cattle. We are very interested in anything that happens in the wool industry. It is amazing that in western Queensland over the last 10 years the policy of the wool growers has always been to relax the ban, and that policy has not altered. These are the people who would be affected more than anybody else by the lifting of the ban. From where are all the screams coming? How do we know that they are not coming from the polwarth breeders and the breeders of other British sheep who can export their rams? These breeders might fear that the merino breeders could be coming into a lucrative market over which they have a hold at the present time. 1 do not blame them for adopting that attitude, but why should they have a say as to whether merinos should be exported or not? I believe that this is entirely a matter for the merino breeders, not a matter for people who have a vested interest in saying that the merinos should remain in Australia, as, I believe, have the breeders of British sheep and of polwarths.
It is very interesting to note the figures relating to the world’s wool consumption. The estimated world production of wool last year was 6,139 million lb, of which Australia produced 2,023 million lb. or 33% of the world’s total production of wool. The world’s production of merino wool was 2,348 million lb. of which Australia’s production was 1,093 million lb. or 46.6% of the world’s total production. Unfortunately, I have not the final percentages for all countries, but of Australia’s total merino clip 3% was represented by 70s and finer; South Africa’s figure was 0.2%; New Zealand did not produce any 70s or finer. Of Australia’stotal merino clip 50.8% was in 60/ 64s and liner; the New Zealand figure was 0.3%, while for South Africa the proportion was 18.3%. So far as British countries are concerned, anyway, we have had complete predominance in the production of medium and fine wools. But in the whole of the time that the embargo has been in operation, prices have come down to such an extent that in 1940-41 the fine wool clip - 60/64s and better - represented 53.7% of the total Australian wool clip, while today it represents only 13%. So for years we have been protecting the great Australian fine wools. If we continue on that basis for another 10 years, we will not be growing any of these wools at all.
– Mr Deputy President, may I take a moment, through you, to apologise to the Acting Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, Senator McManus, for not supplying him with a copy of the terms of this matter of urgency at the beginning of today’s sitting. I understand that when it was decided to proceed with this matter today instead of waiting until a discussion of a notice of motion, which would have occurred some weeks from now, I, who possibly would have led for the Opposition in that debate, was not available -I did not arrive at Parliament House until 10 minutes past 2 today - and Senator O’Byrne had to sign the motion and proceed with this matter of urgency. That is why a copy of the terms of it was not available to the Acting Leader of the DLP, and I apologise for it. lt seems to me a great pity that we have to raise, as a matter of urgency, something which the Senate dealt with some 12 months ago. The terms of the motion to which we agreed on 29th April 1969 have not been mentioned as yet, so I will read them to the Senate. They are as follows:
That the Senate is of opinion that the embargo on the export of merinos should nol be removed at this time and that the embargo should remain in force until a majority of those persons affected shall decide by referendum or other fair means in favour of removing or relaxing the embargo.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) took note of the Senate’s motion and for some time he delayed any further action. As honourable senator’s are aware, it was intended that merino rams would be offered for sale at the October saleslast year. That was the original intention. However, following on the Senate’s decision the Minister decided that he would wait for an expression of opinion by the industry, and he hoped that this would be made through the Australian Wool Industry Conference, because it was the Conference which at the beginning of this whole exercise asked for a relaxation of the ban. The Minister waited for some considerable time, until towards the end of last year, and then he claimed - and I accept his statement - that no objections were raised by the industry, acting through the Australian Wool Industry Conference. So he decided to lift the ban on 1st February of this year. In an address which the Minister gave to the Traralgon branch of the Young Australian Country Party on 20th February, some 19 days after the lifting of the ban, in dealing with this point he said:
The opposition built up- that is, to the lifting of the ban: and about June last year- and honourable senators will notice that he did not mention the Senate:
I decided that we would not proceed until the opponents had had time to resubmit their case to the various constituent organisations of the AWIC and to see whether the AWIC would reconsider the matter. Seven months was allowed for these people to put their case. I saw the AWIC, and they said they had no intention of changing their original decision and wouldn’t reconsider it.
Those are the Minister’s words. He did not say that the Conference was asking for opinions. He said that the Conference just would not reconsider the question.
During the last 12 months Australian sheep breeders and the wool industry generally have expressed opinions opposing the lifting of the ban. I have a copy of a letter written by a person in Richmond, north Queensland. I do not propose to read the letter. Expressions of opinion opposing the lifting of the ban have come from as far afield as Richmond and have extended from there to my home State of Western Australia, where the situation is extremely serious according to the farmers. In Western Australia, through letters to the Press and particularly to the farmers’ paper the ‘Countryman’, considerable opposition to the lifting of the ban has been expressed. Quite a number of writers have expressed their opposition. Nobody supporting the lifting of the ban has refuted the opposition to the lifting of the ban, as one might have expected had the desirability of lifting the ban been the general opinion of the industry. People like Mr Carmichael Smith from Arthur River have written to the Countryman’. Most of the people who write object lo the fact that they do not have representation on the AWIC. The Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), in his speech, mentioned that 5 members of the AWIC were members of the Farmers Union. He said they would express the point of view of the Farmers Union. Does that mean that because I am a member of the Farmers Union and am also a member of the Australian Labor Party, I express the point of view of the Farmers Union in this chamber?
– You were not elected or appointed by that organisation.
– Neither were these 5. They were not appointed by the Farmers Union. They were not voted to the AWIC by the Farmers Union. I was voted here.
– That is a distortion of the facts.
- Senator Young will have his chance afterwards. If people are appointed to the AWIC contrary to the Act,. I think we could take this matter further. According to the Act, the AWIC has 25 members appointed by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and 25 members appointed by the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. In neither case are they appointed by the Farmers Union of Western Australia. If the Farmers Union appointed members of the AWIC, something would need to be looked into. I referred to Mr Carmichael Smith of ‘Bundaleer’, Arthur River. I do not propose to read all of his letter, but I intend to refer to one point because it seems to express quite a general feeling on the part of wool growers in Western Australia. He wrote:
The proposal that a referendum of wool growers’ opinions should be held would give those members of the industry who do form the majority the opportunity of refuting the incredible claims made by the ‘export our merinos’ faction.
This section seems to base its arguments mainly on the pronouncements of the AWIC which they also claim, is the voice of the wool growing industry but which, in fact, it is not.
The reason is that this body has so discredited itself in the eyes of the wool growers that it has been completedly discounted by them as being anything other than a stooge organisation and a danger to the industry.
– Who said that?
– Mr H.
Carmichael Smith of ‘Bundaleer’, Arthur River. Senator Prowse should ask him how he came to that opinion. That seems to be the general opinion of a large number of wool growers with whom I have been in touch and who have come to me. Another person wrote on the same subject. I will not read ail the letter, but it is worth reading. Mr C. B. Ball of ‘Glenalbyn’, Katanning, who is also a wool grower, wrote:
The Federal Government later helped to engineer the AWIC - a gerrymandered setup giving 50% representation to the 15% minority organisation - the graziers - and called this ‘the voice of the industry”.
That feeling is quite general. A little over 12 months ago, when the matter was first presented to the Farmers Union of Western Australia, at ils conference, if agreed lo the lifting of the ban. From the presentation of the case that was made in favour of the lifting of the ban it appeared that that would be a good thing. The minutes of this conference of the Farmers Union indicate a bit of a stampede in the way the decision was carried. I invite honourable senators from Western Australia to look at the minutes of the conference of the Farmers Union on that occasion. After 12 months, when the members had had time to think over the matter they overwhelmingly rejected their previous decision and came out in favour of the retention of the ban. lt is very interesting to note that a conference in Perth of the Young Liberals of Western Australia earlier this year carried a resolution opposing the lifting of the ban on merino rams. I know the Parliamentary Liberal Party is not bound by decisions of the various branches of the Party or by decisions of its conferences. That is written into its constitution. But it is interesting to note that the Young Liberals realised the importance of retaining the ban.
The Minister mentioned the number of rams sold. I agree entirely with the figures that he gave. They are well known. I am astounded to learn that there is so much agitation to get this small number of rams exported when approximately 500,000 rams were offered for sale in the year that the Minister cited, 1968. That figure is a generally accepted one. Why does the Government want to lift the ban? 1 think it is obvious lo most people that if a high standard is set - and standard is determined by prices - for some of the rams, obviously all the prices for rams will rise. Although the 270,000 rams that were not sold in 1968 would not be sold if the ban were lifted, the lifting of the ban means that the price for those sold wilt be higher than it would have been otherwise. Obviously this is the main reason why the Government wants to lift the ban on the export of some of the rams. The number sold will nol be considerable, but the prices recieved will affect the price of flock rams and costs throughout the whole of the industry.
If the Government’s claim that the lifting of the ban on the export of rams overseas will improve the quality of the merino wool available on the world market, thereby creating a greater demand for wool and leading to a higher price for our wool, had any substance, the argument advanced by the Minister knocks that claim on the head. He said that in Western Australia rams imported from Tasmania will not produce (he same high quality wool. He said that we need not bother about the rams exported overseas. We do not know. At ‘ this stage how do we know what will happen to the flocks in South Africa under conditions that would be suitable for the growing of high grade and quality wool? That is what we have to study. The Senate made a decision, after consideration, 12 months ago opposing the lifting of the ban on merino rams, lt seems lo me quite logical that we should repeat the decision that was -made. We should carry it with greater numbers than last rime. Other people have had 12 months in which to think the situation over. They are now prepared to support us in raising this matter of urgency.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– In listening to this debate one point that has concerned me greatly has been the criticism and condemnation of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which was set up as a non-statutory body by the wool industry of Australia. The wording of the Labor Party’s matter of urgency is as follows:
The desirability of maintaining an embargo on the export of merino rams until a majority of those persons affected shall decide by referendum or other fair means in favour of removing or relaxing the embargo.
I will deal firstly with the phrase ‘other fair means’. This relates directly to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I repeat that it concerns me greatly to see this responsible body being denigrated and its image being completely killed because of the crude application of politics by some politicians in this place. .
Since the beginning o£ the wool industry the growers have made every endeavour to get together as a single, united body and to speak with one voice. They succeeded in doing this a few years ago. They having succeeded in doing this and the Australian Wool Industry Conference having accepted responsibility and being recognised by the Government as a responsible body, we find that the Opposition is now prepared, to suit its own cheap political purposes, to denigrate the Conference. This afternoon Senator O’Byrne made many mis-statements. He also has a very short memory. A long time ago he condemned the Government over the wool selling proposal. It went to a referendum, which was lost because a majority of the growers in this country voted against a change in our marketing system.
I remind Senator O’Byrne and other members of the Opposition that on that occasion the Opposition saw fit - I presume because of political ambition and not because of responsibility - to support right down the line the decisions and recommendations of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. But because of a belief that circumstances and political climates have changed, today we find that same Opposition turning around and criticising and condemning the Conference. If the Conference is destroyed or if its effectiveness is impaired because of the politics that have been brought into this matter by members of the Opposition, they will stand condemned by the wool industry whose virtues and policies they are supposedly standing up for and propounding today. I suggest that if they want to assist the woori industry they should get behind the very organisation that the industry itself has created, supported and given the recognition it deserves, and let it get on with the job that it wants to do for its industry.
This afternoon Senator O’Byrne went so far as to condemn the influence of Mr Bill Vines as a member of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Let me say that his statement was entirely incorrect. Mr Vines has never been a member of the Conference. He was the Managing Director of the International Wool Secretariat. He is a man who today is recognised and thanked by the Conference and wool growers for what he did and is still doing for the wool industry, particularly by his efforts in the International Wool Secretariat. So I correct that mis-statement by Senator O’Byrne.
Senator O’Byrne also said that the wool industry was facing a crisis, that grower meetings were being held everywhere and that more and more meetings would be held because of the problems facing the industry. I remind both him and the Opposition generally that today members of the 2 Federal organisations concerned are meeting in Sydney and dealing with wool matters and that this week they will be meeting as members of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I presume from remarks made by members of the Opposition that they regard these people as irresponsible men and men not worthy of being recognised as being associated in any way with the Conference.
When members of the Opposition denigrate the Australian Wool Industry Conference they denigrate the members of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Let me go a little further in referring to the structure of the Conference. Criticisms have been made by the Opposition with regard to the Conference itself and its very structure. This afternoon Senator Wilkinson said that members of the Farmers Union of Western Australia are not members of the Australian Wool Industry Conference because members of the Conference are appointed by the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. I remind him that 5 Western Australians are elected as representatives of the Farmers Union of Western Australia.
– They are not elected by the Farmers Union.
– They are elected as members of the Farmers Union of Western Australia. They then go to the Federal Conference of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and there they are automatically made members of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. If any of those West Australians are not accepted by their fellow members of the Farmers Union, those members have the right, every year at the annual meeting, to elect somebody else for appointment to the Australian Wool Industry Conference by the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Any member of a branch in Western Australia or any other Stale, if he is good enough, is able to go through as a branch or zone representative to the State Conference. If he is good enough and is accepted by the delegates for the whole of the State at the State Conference, he is appointed as a member of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. As a representative of his State, he goes to the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation where, because he has been elected by his State, he almost automatically becomes a member of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. So members of the Opposition can split hairs if they want to; but in splitting hairs they are distorting facts and not giving facts.
I was a foundation member of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I am proud to have been a member of that Conference. I will be prouder still in the future because of what it will contribute to and do for Ihe wool industry. 1 only hope that it will survive the politics that are- being thrown into its midst al the present time by members of the Opposition. I will rue the day if ever we, as a wool industry, do not have a single spokesman, as we have in the Australian Wool Industry Conference. lt has accepted its responsibilities and is continuing lo accept them. As 1 said, it is meeting at the present time and is dealing with the wool industry in a responsible manner. I shall not deal with the referendum because Senator Drake- Brockman dealt very fully with it. There are many points there in respect of which complications and problems could arise.
I turn now to a couple of criticisms which were made by Senator McManus this afternoon and in regard to which I believe he may not be quite clear on the facts. It is unusual to see him condemning or criticising unfairly. I say that in fairness to him. He was critical of the Government for, as he put it. deferring any lifting of the ban until after the election. That is not true. It may have appeared that way; but when voices in certain sections of the community were raised against the lifting of the ban the Government said: ‘We will hold this until these people have had an opportunity to go to the Australian Wool Industry Conference and raise their objections’.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting this evening I was dealing with some of the criticisms which had been levelled at the Government for deferring the lifting of the ban on the export of merino rams. I want to refute the statement that the Government asked the Australian Wool Industry Conference to reconsider the whole matter of the lifting of the embargo. This is not correct. The story is that when some objections were raised the Government delayed the lifting of the ban to give those people who objected the chance to air their objections with the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I think it is very interesting to note that after 10 months the Executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference received no approaches from the federal wool grower bodies, which composed the Australian Wool Industry Conference itself, about altering the previous decision taken by the Australian Wool Industry Conference. One group came to the executive of the Conference with certain comments. This group was invited to bring forward written submissions and give these to the Executive. But this group did not report with a written report to the Australian Wool Industry Conference. 1 want to repeat again that the Australian Wool Industry. Conference is a very responsible body. Here again I think it is shown very clearly that it has acted responsibly.
– Surely that has meaning to the Opposition.
– I doubt very much that it has because the Opposition wishes to refer to the decisions of the AWIC only when it suits its own political needs.
– Would you spell that out for Senator McManus, because it must mean something to him.
– No. I think, in fairness to Senator McManus, he was not armed with the full facts of the case. I want to repeat that 10 months elapsed from the time of the original decision of the AWIC. During that time there was plenty of opportunity for any persons or any organisations to come to that body and put their facts before the Executive if they were opposed to the decision. Nothing was done.
The Senate has heard a lot about cert air organisations opposed to the lifting of the ban. I want to make it clear to this place that I was present at the United Farmers and Graziers Wool Section Conference of South Australia this year. Two resolutions were passed dealing with the embargo on merino rams. Both of these resolutions condemned the trade union movement of Australia for refusing to ship the merino rams. They were the only 2 resolutions on the embargo that were debated by a very responsible body at this State conference. I think this shows clearly that logic and responsibility are still being applied by the wool grower organisations.
Fears have been expressed about the great number of merino rams that would be sold by Australia to overseas countries if those countries had the opportunity to buy. This afternoon the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), who in this chamber represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), dealt with various measures and restrictions that would apply to the embargo. But at the Sydney sales which took place in February this year 287 stud merino rams were offered for sale, of which 196 were sold. Of the 196 sold only 47 were sold to overseas buyers. Of the 30 poll merino rams offered for sale 9 were sold, but none was sold to overseas buyers. The stud merino rams grossed $304,950, with an average price of $1,556. The top price paid by an Australian stud for a ram was $16,000. In respect of the overseas purchases the gross receipts were in the vicinity of $116,000 with an average price of $2,480. The top price paid was $12,500. Firstly, where were the great numbers of rams which were going to be sold from this country? The overseas buyers bought only a few. Secondly, where were these fictitious prices which the Opposition has been talking about for so long?
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– In the first place let me say I am disappointed that no member of the Government has attempted to defend the action of the Executive in overriding a decision of the Senate. Honourable Senators will recall a quite lengthy debate on this issue when the Senate resolved that there should be no lifting of the embargo on the export of merino rams until such time as a plebiscite was taken of wool growers. The Executive of the Government completely overrode that Senate decision. I well recall another occasion when the Executive adopted a similar attitude and overrode the express wishes of the Senate and the House of Representatives. On that occasion honourable senators on the Government side were quite irate, and rightly so. But on this occasion we find them very silent indeed. I hope that during the course of the debate tonight honourable senators opposite will attempt to justify the action of the Executive in overriding the decision of the Senate.
To my way of thinking it is indeed a most serious situation when the Executive can take away from Parliament its rights. I believe it is wrong for the Executive to have adopted such a high-handed attitude. If this course of events continues I suppose we might as well pack up Parliament and leave government entirely in the hands of the Executive. Of course the people of Australia will not allow that state of affairs to exist. I believe the Executive must take stock of the whole situation. If it is going to continue to act in this way then I believe honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives must revolt against such high-handed action. We have recently been acquainted with the views of the Government when honourable senators on the Government side have said that the Australian Labor Party was trying to take out of the hands of Parliament the work of Parliament. On this occasion the charge can be levelled seriously at the Executive. It has taken the control of the Senate away from the Senate. That attitude is to be strongly deplored. Let me remind you, Mr Deputy President, and honourable senators, that on at least 3 occasions during the short period I have been associated with the Senate, similar attempts have been made.
I shall deal with some aspects of what has been said by government members. Let me refer to Senator Maunsell who said that the wool growers in western areas of Queensland were satisfied that the ban should be lifted. If Senator Maunsell, who is part of the Government team, is so confident I suggest he should give effect to the decision of the Senate to take a plebiscite of wool growers. If honourable senators opposite are satisfied that the wool growers of Australia are quite content that the ban should be lifted then they have no reason to fear a plebiscite and the decision of the Senate. But apparently they do not feel so confident when they dodge the issue in that direction. I do not wish to quote the Minister out of context, but I do believe he said that one of the reasons which should justify this lifting of the ban was that we in Australia should grow more wool. I suggest that we should set about growing more wool.
The other night in a debate I referred to the Walgett Shire Council which made representations, which went unheeded, for the provision of a water supply. Let me read some figures which have been supplied by the Walgett Water Users Association. They refer to the direct losses from drought in 1965-66. Their estimate is based on a typical count of sheep. They have worked on a total of 6 million ewes. With an average yield of 8 lb per head the total wool clip would be 48 million lb, so over 5 years the total wool clip would amount to 240 million lb. The Association, working on a basis of a loss of 40c per lb as a result of drought, estimated that there was a loss of $96m. Estimating the initial cost of ewes at S6 each, the ewes were worth $36m. On the basis of 24 million lambs at 80% over 5 years valued at $4 a head there was a loss in money values of S96m. Some 144 million lb of wool was cut a year and at 30c per lb there was a loss of S43.2m, making a total loss of $271.2m. If the Government would investigate water conservation in a workmanlike manner I believe that not only would we have more wool, we would have also a far more productive and a far more profitable industry. It is useless for the Minister to say that if we do not export the rams we will not have more wool. We can have more wool; we can have more production; we can have more mea,; we can have more of everything in Australia. All that is required is for the problem of water conservation to be tackled properly.
In coming to its decision on a previous occasion the Senate said that there should be a plebiscite of wool growers. The Government said: ‘Where will we get the statistics for a plebiscite of wool growers?’ Let me remind my friends on the Government side that on two occasions to my knowledge there have been plebiscites of wool growers on certain issues and there was no difficulty in determining who among the wool growers should exercise a vote. It is futile for the Government to hide behind that lame excuse. Neither did the Government have difficulty when it wanted to take a plebiscite of dried fruit growers recently. If it was able to take a plebiscite of dried fruit growers I suggest that it would be equally simple to take a plebiscite of wool growers.
– Would wool growers have a say about merino rams?
– That to be determined by regulation; that to be determined by decision of the Senate. The situation is that the Government has not tried to determine in which v/ay a plebiscite should be taken. I repeat that it has disregarded completely the decision of the Senate and has held the Senate in contempt by its actions.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) recently issued a Press release in relation to the lifting of the ban. I believe that the Press release was full of contradictions which can be shown if it is analysed critically. The Press release stated that the Minister drew attention to the competition to wool by synthetics. I remind honourable senators that to meet the challenge the wool industry produced a lighter, better quality cloth. In many instances the wool industry has received a very fine return by the inclusion of wool with many of the synthetic fibres. The Minister appeared to draw some relief to his mind by referring to the export of polwarths, which he claims are 75% merino, and of zeniths which he claims are 85% merino. This is possibly true, but the Minister failed to state that it would take perhaps generations of cross breeding to take away the heavy meat grain and the coarse wool fibre of those breeds to get them back to the fine wool aspects of pure breed merinos. The same can be said for Lincolns and Border Leicesters. So it can be seen that the Minister’s statement does not stand up to close analysis.
There are many other contradictions in the statement. For instance, the Minister said that the original decision was purely political. I remind honourable senators that even if it were political it met with the approval of everyone in Australia, and surely that is most important. The decision continued to remain political, if we care to describe it, at the express wish of the people because the people’ did not move against the decision of the Government. I know that shearers and even wool growers applauded the Government’s decision at that time to place an embargo on the export of merino rams.
– And the honourable senator wants to perpetuate the mistake.
– Senator Prowse says that it is a mistake but there are many peop!e in Australia who say that it is not a mistake. Let me quote from an article which appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 14th April 1970, only last Friday, under the heading ‘Graziers stirred to anger over merino ram ban’.
– Who wrote it?
– Mr Peter Diegutis. For the information of the honourable senator the text of the article is as follows:
Australian trade unions, the Federal Government and the Committee for the Retention of the Merino Ram Embargo were denounced this week for their part in the merino export debacle.
The three-pronged criticism was made during an emotional debate at the NSW Graziers Association annual conference in Sydney.
In an unusual chain of resolutions, the meeting first reiterated its traditional opposition towards exporting merinos from Australia. lt then reproached the retention committee and the trade unions for the way in which they prevented the rams from going overseas.
Finally, the meeting chided the Federal Government for not backing up its decision to permit export sales by enforcing delivery.
Debate on the question of re-introducing the embargo on merino exports revealed some difference of opinion among delegates.
A resolution, moved by Mr M. M. Clark, of Warialda, called on the Association to seek re-introduction of the embargo, lt was carried by a majority of 62 to 32.
Senator Prowse asks, in effect: Who is opposed to the lifting of the embargo? That surely is the answer. The article goes much further but I will not weary the Senate by reading all of it. However I will say that it criticised the unions, it criticised the Government and it criticised a lot of other people. There is one section that perhaps is worth reading. It states:
Another councillor, Mr A. P. Connell, felt resentment that the Committee’s action had lumped graziers together with unions, the DLP and the Communist Party.
So, according to the graziers of Australia, the Australian Democratic Labor Party has found some new friends in the Communist Party. There are other aspects of this matter which I believe require ventilation. However time does not permit me to examine them, in the most serious mood in which I can possibly approach a question let me say that the Executive - the Government - rr* overridden the decision of the Senate, i.i those circumstances I believe that it has held the Senate in contempt. This is not the first occasion on which it has taken such a course of action. I trust that it will correct the error of its ways, let the Parliament make a decision and then abide by that decision until such time as the matter is brought back to the Parliament for further consideration. My time has almost expired. I close on that note. The Executive has been rather foolish about the whole situation, lt has treated members of the Senate as though they were school children unable to make a decision on the merits of the case. I repeat that I have not yet heard one member of the Government endeavour to defend the decision of the Executive.
– Senator O’Byrne and Senator McM anus have charged the Government with arrogance, contempt and a lot of other extravagant expressions because it disregarded a motion which slated that in the opinion of the Senate the embargo on the export of merino rams should not be removed. 1 do not know whether they are putting forward at this point of time the suggestion that the Government’s administration of the laws of the country should be dependent upon a majority of I in a vole which was taken in the Senate.
– What sort of a majority would the honourable senator require?
– I am referring to a decision which was taken in the Senate. Senator McManus has equated the Senate with the Parliament. I am a great enthusiast about the Senate. I believe in the Senate. But 1 have never said that the Senate is the Parliament. There are 2 Houses of the Parliament. It is a ridiculous statement to make. Senator McManus knows full well that the proposition is completely insupporable in this instance and it would not be supported by the Opposition in other circumstances.
– Does the honourable senator believe in the bicameral system of Government?
– I believe in a little bit of common sense in the administration of the functions of the Senate. Let us have a look at the history of the ban, which was imposed 40 years ago. lt was introduced under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations. I have a copy of the regulations, which set out the types of products upon which there is a ban on exportation without ministerial permission. I find in the document no mention whatever of rams, merinos or merino rams. It simply refers to sheep. It refers also to barley, grain, bone dust, bran, cattle and wheat. A ban is imposed on the export of virtually all of our main commodities without ministerial consent. The export of the merino breed was banned under this law. The question of the export of merino rams was introduced into the Parliament for discussion, but no vote was taken. The embargo was imposed by an administrative act and it has been removed in the same way. The Opposition argues that the Government should consult the growers. Did the political party which was in office at the time the embargo was imposed consult the growers? No, it did not consult the growers. Did it conduct a referendum? No, it did not conduct a referendum. Did it pass legislation? No, it did not pass legislation.
– Did it proclaim the embargo?
– It implemented ministerial judgment on the matter, as governments continually do with regard to other commodities.
– It was not a regulation which was subject to parliamentary disallowance, was it?
– No. Nor are any of the other things I have enumerated. The Senate has had some wonderful opportunities to disallow the regulations, but the Opposition has never moved for their disallowance. The regulations are continuing to operate. The action which has been taken was taken within the framework of procedures which are well known to the Opposition and to the Australian Democratic Labor Party. It is another matter altogether to raise the question of the introduction of a parliamentary vote for every action under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations. No valid argument has been ever adduced in favour of the ban. lt was imposed at a time of hysteria and panic and it has been continued in ignorance and superstition.
– The Liberal-Country Party coalition ran the country for 19 years without lifting it. It must be its fault.
– I am not excluding the present Government because it failed to act earlier. But the Government acted when the accepted representatives of the industry came to it and asked it to act.
– After 19 years.
– Yes, after 19 years.
– What consent does the honourable senator say is necessary to prevent the export?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! There is far too much noise in the chamber.
– The ban was introduced in 1929 because the price of wool was falling. The price of wool did fall, too. It fell from 13.7d per lb to 8.57d per lb and then to 7d per lb.
– It is still falling.
– The price is lower today in terms of purchasing power than it was then. But the ban did not prevent the price of wool falling. It has not kept the price of wool up. Anybody who believes that the lifting of the ban at this stage will result in the price of wool falling lower than the present price will also believe that nothing will be received for wool in the near future. I cannot agree with that preposition at all. The export ban has to be considered in terms of morality. At present in Australia we are trying to do with our breeds of cattle what we did with our breeds of sheep. We are introducing into Australia exotic breeds of cattle, such as Brahman, Charolais, Santa Gertrudis and other breeds from around the world. We are introducing new blood into our own cattle breeds to try to develop a breed of cattle which is suitable for the Australian environment. Other countries are not adopting the miserable, mean, pettifogging attitude which Australians have shown over the years in regard to the merino breed of sheep. We would not have had the merino breed but for the free admission into this country of certain strains of sheep, such as the Saxon-German strains, the Spanish, the French Rambouillet strain, the American Vermont strain and the various other strains which were imported. As a result, we have a breed which is suitable to our environment. If we had been faced in the early days with other countries adopting the sort of attitude which Australia has adopted towards the merino breed we would have never had the merino breed. If other countries were as miserable in regard to their breeds of cattle as we are in regard to the merino breed of sheep we would not have any hope of improving the cattle breeds in Australia. The whole structure of Australia’s breeding industry has been and is dependent upon the importation of various strains. Al present we are adopting the same attitude which the South Africans adopted in regard to ostrich farming at a time when feathers were in demand. The South Africans had a monopoly over the production of ostrich feathers and thought they would keep the industry to themselves. Where is the ostrich farming industry today? It has gone into the limbo of the lost. If we adopt this attitude we are in danger of destroying our wool industry in much the same was as the South Africans destroyed the ostrich farming industry.
I am interested in the argument that if there is an increase in the amount of fine wool there must be a depression in the price, but if one looks al the publication of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics dated September 1969 titled ‘Fibres other than Wool’ and reads a table on world production of non-cellulosic fibres and the estimated capacity one sees that there is in total an increase in estimated capacity of 29% in the various ranges and there has been in fact over the last 5 years a tremendous increase. The non-cellulosic fibres have increased from 9% to 18.5% and the manufacturers are planning greatly increased production. Are they afraid of falling prices? In fact, they are increasing their prices. On 1st August 1969 Du Pont raised by 54% the price of Dacron. The Allied Chemical Corporation announced an increase of 5i% to 7% in the prices of nylon carpet staple and the British Prices and Incomes Board has recommended a price increase of 5% for unprocessed viscose rayon filament, and so it goes on. The fundamental difference is that the synthetic fibre manufacturers sell their products and we give ours away. The Labor Party should be more concerned with marketing and we as a government should do away with the antiquated horse and buggy style of marketing from which we have suffered. The auction method is not selling; nobody could describe it as a method of selling. When the artificial fibre manufacturers put their product up for auction I will confess that there must be some merit in the auction system. When General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd auction their motor cars I will believe there is some merit in an auction system. But today on a ground of urgency th Opposition is raising a pettifogging business that is an administrative function of this Government when there are far belter things and more serious things in connection with the wool industry to which they should be devoting their attention.
– For a start I- want to join issue with Senator Prowse, who commenced by saying: ‘I believe in the Senate’ but then went on to say that the Opposition wants to equate the Senate with the Parliament. I do not know whether Senator Prowse believes in the bicameral system of government or not or whether this Senate is part of the Government, but to me it is part of the Government.
– But die other House did not vote against the ban.
– The honourable senator would be better off having a look al peas and beans in Tasmania than talking here about government because I du not think he understands what it is all about. Senator Prowse went on to say that because the ban on the export of merino rams was imposed by a ministerial statement there is a right for the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) to lift that ban partially by ministerial action and I do not deny the Minister the right to do that. But I do say that whatever action the Minister takes within his portfolio he is responsible to the Parliament for it. There is such a thing in this Parliament as ministerial responsibility and if this Senate supports a motion that is contrary *to the actions of the Minister, then the Minister must pay due regard to the motion that is passed here because otherwise there is no justification for the existence of this chamber. One cannot have it both ways. Either this chamber demands the respect that is its due or it does not. It is part of the system of government or it is not. If the Government wants to bypass it in the way it has been doing over the past 18 months or 2 years it is time that this chamber did not exist. It is of no use for Government supporters to come here and support motions which instruct Ministers and are designed to ensure that Ministers carry out their responsibilities if the Ministers are allowed completely to ignore the decisions we make.
– They are doing what we want them to do.
– They are not doing what the honourable senator wants them to do at all because the motion carried in this place in regard to the embargo was carried by a majority. The honourable senator has been party to a government that has been a great believer in numbers. It has railroaded things through this chamber and the Other chamber with the force of numbers for the past 20 years but the boot is getting to be on the other foot at the present ime. Within the next 12 months there will be a majority on this side of the Senate. Honourable senators opposite should not forget that. They have played on their arrogant majority for just about the last time. This year will be the last time, anyhow. I do not want to argue that with the honourable snator, but I want to say that this Government is completely arrogant. The Minister is responsible to this chamber for the action that has been taken to lift partially the ban on the export of merino rams. What the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman), who represents the Minister for Primary Industry, had to say was very interesting. He cited figures to show that of 393 rams offered for sale, 243 were sold and only 43 were purchased by overseas buyers. He went on to say that there would be approximately 500,000 rams available for sale in Australia and that the partial lifting of the embargo to sell 300 rams overseas would have little effect on the wool industry. This is the first time that a responsible Minister has stood in his place in this chamber and indicated that next year there will be not 300 rams but 3,000 rams exported. This is the inference to be drawn from what the Minister has said, that the number of rams to be exported each year will increase. It is all very well to talk about there being only 300 rams exported today. If we let them get away with 300 rams today there will be 3,000 next year and 10,000 the year after.
– They have to buy them. How many have they bought?
– They have not bought them because they cannot get them out of the country while the ban is on. If there was no embargo there would be more rams shipped overseas. I do not think that the Minister understood this problem when he talked about the Australian Wool Industry Conference. He stated that Western Australia had 5 representatives from the Farmers Union on the AWIC. I contest that with him. I say that it has not. I know that one of his colleagues in the person of Mr Reg Sewell has been taken to task by the Farmers Union in Western Australia for not supporting the decisions of the Farmers Union oh the AWIC and he has told them straight out: T do not represent you on the AWIC. I represent the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation.’ The Minister completely misleads this chamber when he makes statements of that nature. I want to impress on the chamber that this is only the thin edge of the wedge and that very many more rams will be exported in the near future if the Minister is allowed to get away with it on this occasion. Why does the Minister want to export rams? He said he wants to build up the quality of wool throughout the world in order that wool will be able to maintain its place in the market against synthetics.
– What utter hogwash.
– The Minister tonight said that it is utter hogwash because he talked about the importation of fine wool rams into Western Australia from Tasmania and said that the fine wool sheep could not be reproduced in Western Australia because of the environment. He went on to say that it followed therefore that this pattern would be reproduced in other countries and therefore exports represented no threat to the Australian wool industry. In an issue of ‘Muster’ dated Wednesday, 21st January, the Minister had this to say:
But the Government says geneticists and wool experts are convinced that other nations like South Africa and Argentina will not be able to build up flocks as good as the Australian flocks with the new blood.
So that seems to explode the theory that the Minister put forward to justify the export of merino rams - that it would build up the quality of wool so that it could compete with other textile fibres.
– Then what are you worrying about?
– I do not agree with the Minister. That is what the Minister said in one statement, but in another statement he completely contradicted his first statement. His argument does not add up. It does not hold water.
– Not in the way that you are applying your interpretation.
– I am entitled to any interpretation that 1 wish to apply, just as the Minister has that entitlement. But he is supporting the Minister for Primary Industry and letting down the people who sent him here, the members of the Farmers Union in Western Australia. They are the greatest supporters of the Country Party in Western Australia and they are opposed to the lifting of the embargo on the export of merino rams, just as the members of the Victorian Farmers Union and of the Graziers Council of New South Wales are opposed to it. It is of no use for any honourable senator to say that the action of the Minister is supported by wool growers throughout Australia, lt is not.
– It is supported by the Australian Wool Industry Conference, the federal body.
– It is supported by the AWIC, which is not representative of the industry.
– Thank you, Senator. Keep on destroying it, if you can. The industry will thank you one day for those remarks.
– I suppose that a lot of people will thank me for a lot of things when I pass on. lt is interesting to note that another reason the Minister gives in support of the export of merino rams is that he gave a cooling off period’ to allow organisations and individuals opposed to the lifting of the embargo an opportunity to convey their thinking to the AWIC. But what does Mr Coventry say?
– Who is he?
– He is Chairman of the Committee for the Retention of the Embargo on the Export of Merino Rams. In Muster’ of 4th February. 1970 Mr Coventry is reported to have said:
This Committeeis particularly incensed over the sudden decision to allow merino rams lo leave the country in view of an assurance given to its members by Mr McEwen at Dubbo last June. Urging that the embargo question should not be allowed to become an election issue, Mr McEwen promised that the Government would not act to remove the embargo until an adequate opportunity was given to opponents of the move to place their views before the Australian Wool Industry Conference. Although we have tried to arrange to meet the AWIC we have not yet succeeded in doing so.
The AWIC will not consult these people because it wishes to stand on its previous attitude. Growers of merino wool who want to protect their vested interest are not given a voice to say whether the embargo should be lifted, despite what the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) has said. I remember what Mr McEwen said after the Gwydir by-election last year. He got such a terrible fright when the Country Party candidate was almost defeated that he said: ‘We will have to reconsider our decision on the export of merino rams’. He waited until the general election was over. Then Mr Anthony, his Deputy Leader and the Minister for Primary Industry, decided that the time was ripe to lift the embargo as another 3 years would elapse before the next general election would be held.
I believe that a vote should be taken on this issue tonight. The Government should not be permitted to display the contempt for the Senate that it has shown on this issue. Last week a meeting of the New South Wales Graziers Association was held. Senator Bull attended part of that meeting. A motion by Mr M. M. Clark, calling on the Association to seek reintroduction of the embargo on the export of merino rams, was carried by a majority of 62 to 32.
– What happened to the rest of the motions?
– There are more motions, but that is the important one which concerns the lifting of the embargo. Senator Milliner read most of the article to which I am referring. He certainly referred to what Mr A. P. Connell had to say about the DLP, the Communists and the unions. They make strange bedfellows for farmers, but I have seen such strange groupings before when farmers have sought something to which they have thought they were entitled. 1 have in mind the farmers and graziers of Western Australia who have had conferences with the Trades and Labour Council on the difficulties within primary industries. I appreciate that I am referring to an offshoot of the Farmers Union, the organisation to which the Minister for Air belongs. Nevertheless, it is a body that is uniting the farmers and graziers. It has over 1,000 members in Western Australia and will have many more if the primary industries keep going the way they are going now.
I have read cut the only important motion carried at the meeting that is relevant to the matter we are debating at the moment; that is the motion supporting the continuance of the embargo on the export of merino rams.
– All I wanted you to quote was the part about the referendum.
– I have not marked it and I do not have time to go through the article and pick it up now. I do not have time to read all the article. This motion should be voted on tonight. The Minister for Air should appreciate that he is responsible not only to the other place but also to the Senate. If that is not so it might be as well to abandon the Senate and say that you do not believe in the bicameral system of Government.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I oppose the motion now before the Senate. I will not waste a great deal of time in referring to arguments put forward by honourable senators on this side of the chamber when we debated this issue last year. The reasons were given then as to why the Government felt it was in the best interests of the wool industry to ease the ban on the export of merino rams. I wish to refer briefly to the events of the previous 2 or 3 years in order to illustrate the responsible manner in which the Government has viewed this matter, and the attitudes adopted by various wool industry organisations in Australia. After the matter had been discussed for quite a few years it was brought before the Australian Agricultural Council in 1964 or 1965. The Council decided to refer it to the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which in turn referred it to the Australian Wool Board. The matter then went to the International Wool Secretariat and was referred to prominent scientists experienced in genetics.
All those people and organisations believed that it was in the best interests to at least ease the embargo on the export of merino rams, having in mind that it could be reviewed from time to time. The matter was referred back to the AWIC, which voted by 38 to 15 in favour of easing the ban. In other words, 70% of the delegates to the Australian Wool Industry Conference voted to ease the ban. It was put that qualifications as to the number to be exported should be reviewed annually and that the rams should be sold at recognised auction sales in this country. Honourable senators opposite have referred to certain organisations which opposed the easing of the ban. Although I do not necessarily disagree with it, it is well to remember that of the 14 State organisations represented on the Australian Wool Industry Conference, 11 organisations supported the easing of the ban. I might come back to this point in a few moments.
Honourable senators opposite have attempted to ridicule the wool grower organisation. Senator O’Byrne mentioned that the AWIC had vested interests in that among its members were stud breeders. To the best of my knowledge there is not a merino stud breeder on the AWIC - there certainly was not when I was on it. That refutes the claim that it has vested interests on behalf of the stud breeders throughout the Commonwealth. It certainly does not have vested interests. There would be few if any stud breeders among the representatives on that body and I do not believe that there are any.
Next it was suggested that the AWIC does not represent the wool growers throughout the Commonwealth. I refute this suggestion also. The AWIC formation is similar to that of any other organisation which has been set up to look after the interests of a particular industry. First there are the members of an organisation - whether it is the Graziers Association or the Wool and Meat Producers Federation it does not matter. They have their branches and from their branches they have State councils from which they form their Federal bodies. That is the procedure adopted in nil organisations and 1 believe that it is the system adopted in trade unions also. To the best of my belief 70% or more of wool growers belong to one of these organisations. So 1 do not think it can be claimed that the AWIC does not represent the wool growers of Australia. Do members of the Australian Labor Party believe that if they were in power they should take notice of the arguments of these fragmented organisations or individuals or do they believe that they would look to the industry organisations for advice on questions such as this? 1 believe fully in the concept al least of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I admit that perhaps its composition could be improved to a degree in order to improve its efficiency, but I am sure that the concept of having a federal body, representative of members who can speak through their branches to the federal body, is a concept which, if we are fair minded, we approve.
Tomorrow in Sydney the Australian Wool industry Conference will be meeting probably to consider the marketing question. lt is quite possible, and perhaps even probable, that ihe Conference will arrive at a decision on this question which vitally affects the wool industry. At this stage I am not speaking for or against the proposal for a marketing authority which is now being considered by the industry, but the point I make is this: If the vote at the Conference is 70% in favour of a change in the wool marketing system - just as there was a 70% vote in favour of easing the ban on the export of merino rams - will the Labor Party oppose that decision? I challenge honourable senators opposite to say now whether they will oppose it. Will they go out to branch meetings throughout Australia and state their opposition to the decision? This is a question which will put honourable senators opposite on their mettle because they will have to decide whether they believe in ihe AWIC. 1 believe that the Wool Industry Conference will come up with a decision soon. Opposition senators have committed themselves by attacking the AWIC and they will be put on their mettle in regard to a decision on marketing.
In the situation in which the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) found himself last year it was necessary for him to act responsibly. This he did by deciding in February to ease the ban. He said on that occasion that he proposed to ease the ban, but in view of some opposition lo his decision he did not take action for a considerable time. As has been mentioned here tonight, he suggested that those organisations and individuals who were opposed to an easing of the ban might contact the AWIC to express their views. So far as I am aware no representations were made to the AWIC by the retention committee. Why? There does not seem to be any answer to this question. Yet this was lbc organisation to approach if anyone was opposed to the scheme. As a consequence, the executive of the AWIC wrote to the Minister telling him that in its view it was not necessary to change its recommendation on this question. Reference has been made to a decision of the Graziers Association in New South Wales last week. Great emphasis was put by the Opposition on the fact that the vote in favour of retaining the ban was 62 to 32. But it must be remembered that that is the smallest margin in voting that we have seen for a long time. Last year I think the vote was about 70 to 17 in favour of retaining the ban, which is quite different from a vote of 62 to 32. This year the vote is about 2 to I in favour of retaining the ban whereas last year it was 4 or 5 to 1. So it can be seen that that organisation is changing its thoughts on this matter, despite all the opposition to a lifting of the ban.
Included in the matter of urgency outlined was the question of a referendum. I believe that a referendum would be completely impracticable. Who would be given a vote? The Labor Party has not suggested who should vote. Would the fat lamb breeder be given a vote? Would the corriedale or polwarth breeder be given a vote? At present they are allowed to export their rams, so would they be given a vote on this vexed question? Would the man with 10 merino sheep be entitled to a vote? lt must be remembered also that in some cases it is hard to determine whether sheep are merinos. Perhaps be would be given a qualified vote. I think there is no doubt that it would be quite impracticable to hold a referendum.
Some emphasis has been given to the suggestion that the Government has acted without consulting organisations which are interested in this question. I should like to mention that when a decision was announced by the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr Whitlam, the Leader of the Labor Party, was reported as having said that this action by the Government was reprehensible’, that it was ‘discreditable’ and the ‘greatest abuse of procedures in the Australian Federal Parliament’. Do honourable senators opposite believe that? If so, let us consider what happened when the Australian Labor Party applied a ban. The Senate will be aware that on this occasion the ban was applied by a notice in the Government ‘Gazette’.
– I thought honourable senators opposite said it did not go before the Parliament.
– It did not go before Parliament. Parliament never voted on it.
– No, it was gazetted first and debated later. 1 propose to read from page 356 of the Hansard report of 29th November 1929. It states:
Mr Parker Moloney ; i consulted the Farmers and Settlers Association, whose secretary told me that that organisation, at a recent conference, had carried a motion, by a majority of five to one, in favour of the action taken by the Government. The soldier settlers are another body that I have consulted. i have had their representatives here for a month.
Dr EARLE PAGE ; Those men represent only one State; but i point out that there are federal organisations of farmers, graziers, and stockowners, who are willing to come to Canberra and discuss the matter with the Minister. They would be able to give him practical advice that would bc of real value. The late Government was always prepared to, and always did, consult the unions in regard to industrial matters; but i am informed tonight that the leaders of the organisations interested in sheep-grazing have not been consulted. i hope that, before taking further action, the Minister will get into touch with them.
It can be seen that they conferred with the soldier settlers who at that stage might have been fruit growers or anything else. They were not necessarily wool growers. If they were wool growers they would have been in a very small way because they were not settled on the land until after the war. The Farmers and Settlers Association which was mentioned was mainly a wheat growers organisation. This is the sort of thing that the Labor Party throws at the Government. They did not consult any of the federal organisations but instead took it upon themselves to take action on their own. So I think it is almost contemptible for the Labor Party to come forward with this story now.
Finally, 1 want to deal very briefly with what has taken place more recently. I refer to the unions’ ban on the export of merino rams. If anything is reprehensible and discreditable, it is the unions’ attempt to take the law into their own hands, almost to the point of anarchy. 1 believe that this defiance of law and order, particularly since the Labor Party supports the unions in this regard, is an attempt to take the law out of the hands of the Government of the day. I think that Australian wool growers ars very concerned at this action, and this is the reason why perhaps those who originally were prepared to support the ban are now prepared to vote the other way. New South Wales graziers and the United Farmers and Wool Growers Association recently have unanimously condemned the unions for taking this action. Only the week before last Riverina graziers not only reconsidered the question of the embargo and their continued support for the easing of the embargo, but also condemned the unions’ ban on the export of merino rams and the Labor Parly’s support of the unions in this regard. I hope that ways and means will be found by which the unions will ease the ban in order that the people with whom we trade will think more of Australia and give greater consideration to trading with Australia in the future than they have done in the past, because of the imposition of this ban. As honourable senators know, the whole question is to be reviewed at the end of the first 12 months after the easing of the embargo on the export of merino rams. At that time perhaps representations, if they are considered necessary, could be made for a review of the whole situation. I oppose the motion.
Motion (by Senator Willesee) put:
That the question be now put.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority- . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– When speaking in support of the matter of urgency that he moved, Senator O’Byrne said that a handful of stud breeders were responsible for the decision partially to remove the embargo on the export of merino rams. This is not so. The industry made a recommendation to the Government, through the Australian Wool Industry Conference, and asked the Government to implement that recommendation. Is the Conference comprised of a handful of stud breeders? Certainly not. It is representative of the industry in general. When the Conference was formed in 1963 it asked the Australian Wool Board to prepare a paper setting out all the advantages and disadvantages of the easing of the embargo. This paper was circulated to all members of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and of the constituent organisations across Australia, and the matter was debated by these organisations. Of the 16 organisations, 13 expressed a wish that a partial lifting of the embargo be made. The Wool Industry Conference made a decision-
– Order! The time allotted for the debate on this motion having expired, the business of the day will be proceeded with.
– I present the Thirtieth Report from the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, being a report on the Norfolk Island Health Ordinance of 1969.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to abolish capital punishment under the laws of the Commonwealth.
– I move:
I ask for leave to speak in explanation of this motion.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The notices of motion read:
That the amendments of the Public Health (Medical and Dental Inspection of School Children) Regulations, as contained in the Australian Capital Territory Regulations 1970, No. 2, and made under the Public Health Ordinance 1928-1966, be disallowed.
That the Dentists Registration Ordinance 1970, as contained in Australian Capital Territory Ordinance No. 1 of 1970, and made under the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1965, be disallowed.
These are connected Regulations. They deal with the provision for dental therapists to perform certain duties in the Australian Capital Territory. The motions were due to come on today, but in the period since the notices were given certain events have happened in the Australian Capital Territory. Last night, according to a report in the ‘Canberra Times’ and according to information given to me, the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council held certain discussions on these motions. Certain representations have been made to me by a member of the Council. Apparently further representations will be made to honourable senators as well as to members of the House of Representatives. It seems that certain communications will be made by the Advisory Council to members of both chambers. Incidentally, the communications will be contraryto the proposition that I put.I think that in the circumstances the Senate should have the opportunity to consider these representations and any counter proposals or views which might be put. Therefore 1 suggest, consistent with what I have put before, that these motions be stood over.
– Are the regulations operative already?
– They are operative, but not in the same sense as the Naval Financial Regulations and the Naval, Military and Air Force Financial Regulations that we considered on 16th April were operative. The Regulations that were to be discussed today allow certain things to be done but do not provide for the payment of money and so forth. I do not think any harm will be done by the Regulations being in operation for another couple of weeks.
– Otherwise we would violate the principle we determined recently.
– That is so. We should be consistent with the principle laid down or acted upon by the Senate. The reason for the postponement of these Regulations is a reason connected with the Senate itself in that representations are to be made to us by interested people. I think that opportunity should be given for these matters to be considered. That is the reason I have moved the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[9.16] -I move:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
The purpose of this. Bill is to amend the Homes Savings Grant Act 1964-1967 in a number of ways. As was promised by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in his policy speech last October, the limit on the value of a home that may attract a grant will be raised from $15,000 to $17,500. Other amendments will widen the forms of savings that are acceptable for purposes of the scheme, and extend the classes of persons who may become eligible for a grant.
The major purpose of the scheme is to encourage young people to save steadily for a period of years for the first home they own after marriage. Since the inception of the scheme in 1964, some 168,000 homes savings grants totalling about. $72m have been paid to assist young couples, and widowed persons with dependent children, to own and establish their homes. The amendments now proposed will permit more young people to qualify for a grant, and allow others to receive larger grants by making some presently excluded savings acceptable for purposes of the scheme.I propose now to draw to the attention of honourable senators the significant proposed changes in the scope and application of the scheme, and to give the reasons for these changes. Notes explaining the purpose of each clause and sub-clause of the amending Bill are being made available to honourable senators. The value of a home, including the value of the land, in respect of which a grant may be paid will be raised from $15,000 to $17,500. As we all know, the cost of many homes has been rising. The most significant reason for this has been the widespread upward movement in the value of developed residential land in many cities and towns. Another reason is that the average cottage being erected today for young families is much belter equipped, and is therefore a better home than it was a few years ago. The increase in the limit on the value of a home by $2,500 approximates the rise that has occurred in the cost of the average home acquired in Australia since the limit was last raised. The cost of some homes has, of course, risen by more than this amount, but the cost of many others has risen by much less.
Another amendment will extend the forms of saving acceptable for purposes of the scheme to include moneys held in savings bank accounts and on fixed deposit with trading banks that have not been designated as home savings accounts. The great majority of young people who apply for a grant have held their savings in a designated bank account or in one of the other acceptable forms for the required period of 3 years. But there are some who, even though they have been deliberately saving to obtain their own homes and have been depositing their savings in a bank account, have either not requested the bank to designate their accounts as home savings accounts, or have failed to have had this done for the minimum period of 3 years before taking steps to acquire their homes. Under the existing provisions these young people, who have been saving for home ownership for the minimum 3-year period and have deposited their savings with a lending institution that makes sizeable and long term loans for housing, are ineligible to receive a grant. Amongst their number are many newcomers to Australia who, possibly because of language difficulties, have been unaware of the acceptable forms of saving until it was too late for them to become eligible for a grant.
Our decision to abolish the statutory requirement that acceptable savings with banks must be in accounts that have been designated as home savings accounts does not mean that we no longer wish young people to put their savings into a home savings account. In our future publicity about the scheme we will continue to urge young people to open home savings accounts, because a passbook so designated is a continuing reminder to them of the desirability of saving to own a home. On average, applicants who designated their accounts when they commenced to save have saved more than those who failed to designate, or delayed designating, their accounts.
A further amendment will extend eligibility for a grant to divorced persons aged less than 36 years with 1 or more dependent children. The eligibility and other provisions relating to these persons will be broadly similar to those applying to young widowed persons with dependent children who were admitted to the scheme in November 1966. There will also be a transition period, in this case up to 31st December 1970, during which the acceptable savings of eligible divorced persons may be held in a wide variety of forms.
One difference concerns the treatment of savings held at times prior to the dissolution of the marriage. In the case of a widowed person, savings held at times before the death of the spouse are acceptable where those savings were held in the name of the widowed person or the deceased spouse, or in their joint names. However, both parties to a divorce may later become applicants for grants either in respect of a home acquired on remarriage, or of a home for the accommodation of the divorced person and the dependent children. In the case of divorced persons, the treatment of savings held before the dissolution of the marriage will be the same as that which applies in the cases of married applicants, that is to say, savings that were held in the name of the divorced husband will be regarded as his savings, those held in the name of the divorced wife will be regarded as her savings and those held in their joint names will be regarded as having been held in equal shares by the then husband and wife.
Under the existing provisions, where savings were held jointly with a person other than the present spouse, no part of these joint savings is acceptable. It is proposed that this provision be amended to permit the acceptance of one-half of savings that were held by a person jointly with a former spouse. This amendment will have effect whether the person is applying for a grant as a divorced person caring for dependent children, or as a remarried person with or without dependent children. All the amendments so far referred to will apply to young people whose prescribed dates were on or after 27th October 1969, the first day of business after the recent general election. An applicant’s prescribed date is the date on which he or she entered into a contract to buy or build a home or, as an owner-builder, commenced its construction, lt marks the close of a person’s savings period for purposes of the scheme.
Another amendment will permit the Secretary, in exceptional circumstances, to determine that an applicant’s prescribed date was a date other than that on which construction of the dwelling was commenced. In some cases, an applicant obtains approval from the local government authority to build a small section of the dwelling, such as a single room or the garage, for use as a temporary home until he is in a position, some time later, to proceed with construction of the remainder of the dwelling. At present the applicant’s savings period ends on the date on which construction of the room or garage commenced. The proposed amendment will permit the Secretary to determine that the date on which meaningful construction of the dwelling commenced bc regarded as the applicant’s prescribed date in these cases.
The Australian Federation of Credit Union Leagues has recently renewed its request that savings with credit unions be acceptable for purposes ot the home savings grant scheme. Lending by credit unions is still predominantly by way of loans of less than $1,000 for such purposes as the purchase of furniture, household equipment and motor vehicles and meeting the cost of medical and educational expenses and home repairs. However, a few credit unions are making loans of $4,000 or more over periods of up to 10 years or even longer to their members to assist them to acquire a home of their own.
Our offer of a home savings grant has always been regarded as being made for two main purposes. These are to encourage young people to save to acquire their own homes after marriage and to hold their savings with the major institutions that make relatively high ratio and long term loans for the acquisition of a home, and thus increase the volume of savings available for lending for home ownership. And we see no reason to alter these purposes. Acceptable savings for purposes of the scheme should be savings deposited with institutions that make large and long term loans at a reasonable rate of interest in connection with the acquisition of a home. Consistent with this, we have so far made no provision - other than in respect of the initial transitional period that ended on 31st December 1964 - to accept savings with a credit union, because no credit union was close to being able to do this. included in the Bill now before the Senate are a number of amendments that will permit savings with a credit union to become acceptable, provided the union can satisfy a number of conditions. These conditions are set out in clause 5 of the Bil). Broadly, they are that a credit unio.i regularly makes a significant number of loans for the construction or purchase of bornes, and that these loans are comparable in size, interest terms and repayment periods wilh loans made for these purposes by banks and building societies. The Bill will permit a credit union to be ‘approved for purposes of the home savings grant scheme. The conditions of approval include that at least 20% of ils total lending in its most recent financial year was Icnt to assist its members to own their own homes, that a minimum of $50,000 was lent for these purposes and that these loans were made at an effective interest rale of nol more than 71% per annum on a reducing balance basis.
As applicants for the grant are required to hold their savings .with institutions that make relatively large and long term loans for the acquisition of a home, it is reasonable that a credit union, wishing to have savings with it accepted, should have made in its most recent financial year a significant number of such loans. One condition of approval of a credit union will therefore be that at least 15% of its total lending in its most recent financial year, that is to say, about three-quarters of the 20% of its lending that must be in loans for the construction or purchase of a home, shall be loans of nol less than $7,000 and be repayable over a period of not less than 12 years. Needless to say, a credit union seeking approval will be asked lo give an undertaking that it will continue to meet these conditions during each subsequent financial year. Failure to meet these continuing conditions will make a credit union liable to have its approval withdrawn. The Bill permits approval to be withdrawn, but only after 6 months notice.
The Bill also provides that savings held by an eligible applicant .for a home savings grant with an approved credit union shall be acceptable for purposes of the scheme where his prescribed date was not earlier than the first day of the financial year during which the credit union met the conditions necessary for approval. To assist honourable senators let me give an example. Suppose a credit union meets the necessary conditions during the financial year which ends on 30th June 1970 and that the Secretary of the Department of Housing is satisfied shortly after the end of the year that it has met those conditions in its 1969-70 financial year. Savings held with this credit union by an eligible applicant for a grant where the applicant’s prescribed date was as far back as 1st July 1969, that is to say, the beginning of the financial year in which the credit union met the conditions for approval, would be acceptable not only at his prescribed date but also at his earlier savings dates.
These are the conditions on which the Government is willing to accept savings with credit unions for purposes of the home savings grant scheme. It is appreciated that very few, if any, credit unions are as yet in a position to meet these conditions. But, once these amendments are approved by Parliament, the door will be open for savings with a credit union to become acceptable if it wishes to make a reasonable effort in lending to its members for the acquisition of homes. The amendments proposed in this Bill will, 1 am sure, be welcomed by the many thousands of young people who are acquiring their first matrimonial homes or who are saving for that purpose. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 15 April (vide page 809), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator Drury had moved by way of amendment:
Leave out all words after ‘That’, insert ‘the Senate is of opinion that the Bill should not be proceeded with until the Commonwealth has negotiated with the States for the establishment of a national water conservation and constructing authority, embracing the Snowy Mountains
Authority, to carry out a systematic and efficient development of soundly based water storages in the major river basins including the Murray and Darling systems’.
– When this debate was adjourned last week I was expressing my support of the Bill before the Senate, the purpose of which is to ratify and approve an agreement for a further variation of the agreement entered into between the Premiers of the three States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for further alterations to the River Murray Waters Agreement. To my mind this is a very great and important issue for the whole of Australia, and certainly for South Australia. Under this Agreement more water will be stored in the River Murray, and as so many of the States are dependent on the River Murray this obviously must be a most important issue. It certainly has been proved from computer studies that the times of water restriction in South Australia will be reduced after the construction of the Dartmouth Dam. The studies have shown that if the Dartmouth Dam had been in operation during previous years, on only one occasion would South Australia not have received its entitlement of H million acre feet. Even in that year the shortage would have been only 75,000 acre feet which is a comparatively small quantity. If the Chowilla Dam had been in operation over those years, and not the Dartmouth Dam, the computer studies show that South Australia would have been short of water in a greater number of years, and certainly there would have been other problems.
The important point Is that the estimated possible cost of Chowilla has increased from S28m, which was the figure given in the early stages of investigation, to a later estimate of $43m, and in recent years to $68m. lt has now been proved that for the same cost the bigger, more efficient and more effective dam at Dartmouth can be built and will be built. In support of the building of the Dartmouth Dam I point out that South Australiaw will receive 250,000 acre feet more than it would have received if only the Chowilla Dam had been built. It will receive certainly more than it has ever been able to get previously. South Australia’s allocation under the River Murray Waters Agreement has not been altered since 1915. The building of the
Dartmouth Dam provides the first opportunity since that time for an increase of South Australia’s allocation.
One of the problems that has been exercising the minds of members of the River Murray Commission is that of salinity. Studies that have been undertaken since the Chowilla Dam was first mooted have shown that salinity is not the problem that it was first expected to be. It has been shown that if the Chowilla Dam were built some of the peaks of salinity would be ironed out. lt has also been shown that the building of the Dartmouth Dam will not increase salinity further down the river. One thing that must always be remembered is that there must be a flow of water through South Australia via the River Murray so that the salt content can be kept down. This is sometimes forgotten by people who point out that a great deal of water comes down the river and flows to the sea. We should keep in mind that there must always be a certain amount of water in the river for flushing purposes. Certainly with more water available in the Dartmouth Dam there will be more available for all States for development, and it is important to remember that although it is sometimes said that if South Australia had the Chowilla Dam within its own borders it would be able to get its entitlement out of the dam in time of shortage, and so not be reliant on the other States, this is, to my mind, a very short-sighted view. If we were to ignore the other States in a year of shortage, then certainly in other years those States would not allow the required amount of water to come down the river into the Chowilla Dam. The water would be used further upstream. This is something we must always remember. South Australia is one of the 4 parties making up the River Murray Commission, and we must abide by any decision that that Commission makes.
With the building of the Dartmouth Dam there will be 4 main benefits to South Australia. I have mentioned the increase of 250,000 acre feet in the amount of water available each year for South Australia. There is also the fact that the Commonwealth has agreed to give further financial assistance to the States for the building of this dam. The third benefit is in the fact that whereas previously South Australia was allowed to take water from the Menindee Lakes as a temporary measure only, until the Chowilla Dam was built, now that the agreement has been made for the building of Dartmouth New South Wales has agreed to the proposition that the water in the Menindee Lakes should be a permanent supply for South Australia. This would be of enormous advantage to that State. The fourth advantage to our State will become apparent in years of drought. Severe curtailment of deliveries to the two upstream States can be expected in the event of a recurrence of some of the earlier severe droughts, and therefore it is important that we have the most possible water available in order to offset the effects of ‘these severe drought periods. lt has been said, too, and sometimes in South Australia, that it is not practicable to build a dam within a dam. It is contended that the Dartmouth Dam on ihe Mitta Mitta River would be within the boundaries of the Hume Dam. However, in 18 of the last 20 years since the Hume Dam rilled that dam has overflowed. This shows that we could store more water further upstream and still not interfere with the overflowing of the Hume Dam. It is from the Hume, of course, that water is released in the time of restriction. Yet another advantage from the construction of the Dartmouth Dam is the power generation facilities which will be operated and paid for by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, lt is important to realise that the Snowy Mountains Authority will be retained as consultant for this dam. . The Authority has already undertaken many of the studies to show that the Dartmouth Dam is the best proposition for the next dam on the river. I say that advisedly because there are some people in South Australia who think 2 dams should be built at once, Dartmouth and Chowilla. To my mind this is not practicable. This is proved by the fact that the River Murray Commission has not seen fit to recommend construction of both. I hope that some time in the very near future the River Murray Commission will agree that Chowilla should be built. We must accept the propositions put forward by the experts in i ncsc fields, whether they be the Snowy Mountains Authority engineers or other engineers, that we must conserve water right down the river wherever it is most practicable, and at the lowest cost. There has sometimes been some doubt as to whether it is possible to supply 1 million acre feet more water to the whole river system. We need to remember that the annual discharge at the dam site is 700,000 acre feet and water is released from the Hume only when there is insufficient water downstream to meet requirements. The 3 million acre feet storage in the Dartmouth will be available for release in periods in which shortages would otherwise have occurred. The net result is that water inflow to the system, including the inflow from tributaries below the Hume, can be used more efficiently. I am pleased to note, too, that studies have been made which will result in more efficient use of Lake Victoria. This will assist South Australia. Lake Victoria is just beyond the border of South Australia, but certainly the storage in that lake helps control salinity in South Australia. Water can be released very quickly when needed in that State. A further advantage to South Australia is that the inlets and outlets to an from Lake Victoria will be enlarged.
I do not want to go any further into this discussion because I think it has all been said. I am disappointed that Mr Dunstan has refused the challenge of the Premier of South Australia to debate with him on television the importance of Dartmouth dam to South Australia. Mr Dunstan seems to me to have realised that he lost a similar debate once before on television and he is not prepared to repeat the performance. The Premier of South Australia has shown his willingness to debate the question at any time, and if only Mr Dunstan-
– Not at any time, but one specific time.
– If he had shown that he would meet the Premier-
– Don Dunstan has offered to debate election issues with him before an election.
– He is not willing to debate on television the issue of Dartmouth versus Chowilla which, to me, shows the weakness of his argument in saying that Chowilla is a better dam for South Australia. If he were to enter into a debate I think we all would have more confidence in believing that Mr Dunstan is sincere in the arguments he is putting up. I am unable to support the amendments which have been proposed by the Opposition. The first seeks to delay ratification of this Bill so that there can be a computer evaluation of the storages. As I have said, this has been done already and it is quite clear from the computer evaluations that Dartmouth will give all the States concerned with the River Murray waters a better deal. The second amendment which I am unable to support seeks the establishment of a national water conservation and construction authority embracing the Snowy Mountains Authority. That too has been done in effect. The Snowy Mountains Authority has been called in and has given its opinion. It would bc drastic if the eastern States, including South Australia, had to wait for the establishment of a conservation authority to conduct further research and examination, lt has all been done and it has been proved that the Dartmouth Dam is a good dam for us all. Therefore I support- the ratification of the agreement.
– I enter this debate on the motion for the second reading of the Bill only because of the contributions that have been made by honourable senators opposite from South Australia who, with the exception of one, have failed completely to appreciate the implications behind the ratification of the agreement. They have shown also their complete lack of recognition of the true reason for the deferment of the building of the Chowilla Dam.
– The honourable senator could not have been listening the other night. I explained it.
- Senator Young falls within that category perhaps to only a lesser extent than does Senator Buttfield. The one speaker in isolation who did show a recognition of the problems associated with this matter and the reason for the deferment of the building of the Chowilla Dam was Senator Laucke. I am pleased to see that he has just entered the chamber. I propose to elaborate on some of the arguments that were put forward by Senator Laucke earlier in the debate to prove conclusively that the only reason why Senator Laucke will vote for the ratification of the agreement and against the Labor Party’s proposed amendments, especially those which will be put forward in the Committee stage, is because of a sense of party loyalty and most certainly not because of his beliefs as he expressed them in his contribution to the debate.
– Not out of party discipline?
– No, out of party loyalty. I can appreciate that. It touches a little on the matter mentioned by Senator Buttfield.
– It ls a matter at this stage of getting the Dartmouth Dam on the way as quickly as possible.
– In his speech the honourable senator quoted from Mr Beaney. Those quotations indicated quite clearly that that is a pious hope, and a pious hope only. It would have been well had Senator Buttfield accepted as a fact, particularly in the latter part of her contribution tonight, what Senator Laucke had to say. He is reported at page 797 of Hansard of 15th April 1970 in this way:
Much has been said about yield, and yield alone when comparing the Dartmouth and Chowilla projects. But it is obvious-
I might say that it was not obvious to the honourable senator’s own colleagues - that each dam has a somewhat different function. The one in the mountains - the Dartmouth Dam - is predominantly to produce. The other - the Chowilla Dam - by reason of its situation is to conserve and regulate the flow. It will relieve considerably the stresses on reserves in the headwater storage in dry years and enable both reserves to maintain the desired How through the river in its entirety. I am greatly concerened that in stress times flows will have to be reduced dangerously with only 1 dam. A shortage of water in the River Murray system finds South Australia particularly vulnerable when drought conditions occur . . .
We all appreciate that. Before Senator Laucke made that contribution I had made the following note:
There were two different concepts. Dartmouth is not an alternative to the concept behind the original agreement to build Chowilla. The intent of the Chowilla primarily was to supply South Australia in time of restrictions with some of its entitlement, and its secondary intention was to benefit Victoria and New South Wales by lessening the amount that South Australia would take from the main river stream.
Let us take a realistic look at the true reason why the Chowilla agreement was vetoed in favour of Dartmouth. Previous debates on this matter centred on price and salinity. Senator Buttfield has agreed already that on the last occasion that this was the subject of debate she was wrong when she said she believed that because of salinity the Chowilla Dam was not a viable proposition. She now accepts the fact that the Chowilla Dam would not increase salinity. In the words of Mr Beaney, from whom I shall quote later, as did Senator Laucke, it would be of little significance one way or the other in ordinary years.
– That is quite right. We have learned a lot more about salinity since the studies have been carried out.
– But many people knew about it before. I do not think it required any computer study to illustrate that one dam was better than the other in the original concept of Chowilla.
– That is what is suggested in the Opposition’s proposed amendment.
– I am saying that I do not believe it because it was as plain as the nose on the face to anyone who made a study of it, and it certainly was as plain as the nose on the face to the people of Victoria. According to the number of people who have expressed opinions on it since Chowilla ceased, there was no doubt that the cessation of the Chowilla Dam was brought about because the secondary effect which was expected to benefit New South Wales and Victoria was proved in 1957 would not eventuate. We were told that X cusecs of water must flow through Mil.drua to keep the water at Mildura in a usable state for the irrigators in the lower areas of the system in New South Wales and Victoria. I can see readily that that is true. It need not necessarily be the 900 cusecs which was landed upon as being the amount, but once the 900 cusecs was a proposition and had to be measured against Chowilla, it was as obvious as the nose on your face that if Chowilla was built, if South Australia took its entitlement from Chowilla and if the rest of the water v/as used upstream, it probably would be burnt out, as one person expressed it to me, by the time it reached the Sunraysia area. In other words, Victoria would have had to use its own salt slugs instead of sending them to South Australia as it has done in past years.
I do not argue for one minute that the people of Victoria; and perhaps those who represent them, did not have the right to have that aspect brought into a consideration of matters associated with the building of Chowilla Dam. To show that the statement 1 have just made also has the support of Senator Laucke 1 refer to the speech which he made on 15th April 1970, which is reported in Hansard beginning at page 796. Senator Laucke quoted from an article written by Mr H. L. Beaney, the Director and Engineer-in-Chief of the South Australian Engineering and Water Supply Department, which suites:
There is no doubt that the Chowilla proposal would achieve its design aims for South Australia. Hie project was also accepted by New South Wales and Victoria as conferring considerable benefits to them. It was expected to allow each of these upper river States to increase their water diversion from the River Murray. This benefit would derive from the ability of Chowilla to supply South Australia during the irrigation season leaving available to them water that would otherwise be required to meet South Australia’s allotment.
Senator Laucke went on to make a comment of his own. He said:
Now, to present both sides of the picture so far as Mr Beaney is concerned, and to quote him impartially, I must also refer to another section of his statement, in which he says-
And this is the part which clearly demonstrates the real reason and, to my way of thinking, a valid reason for having another look at whether there should be another dam to work in conjunction with Chowilla. Senator Laucke quoted Mr Beaney as also saying:
Apart from the high cost of Chowilla the New South Wales and Victorian authorities had seen some of the early promises of benefit from it disappear. The original assumptions as to the operation of Chowilla had not fully recognised some of the problems of river regulation under continued low flow conditions and attendant decline in water quality. Providing for these reduced the water benefit likely to be available to the upstream States and at the same time would give no added benefit to South Australia. lt was in this situation that the River Murray Commission reported that a dam built in the Mitta Mitta River in Victoria could substantially provide for satisfactory river regulation and make available an increase in yield of 860,000 acre feel per annum from the system.
– Does the honourable senator not agree with that?
– I am quoting from the article because Senator Laucke used it. I have just said that the increase is in excess of the benefits that could be conferred by Chowilla. Senator Laucke quoted the same sentence in a sense of fairness. He referred also to the reason for the deferment of the construction of a dam at Chowilla. As I said earlier, I have no argument with the right of the people of Victoria to put it forward as a reason, and I accept it as a valid reason, but for the life of me J cannot understand why it was not put forward by anybody else from Victoria, which is crying crocodile tears over the benefit to South Australia. I will continue with Senator Laucke’s remarks to show that he does not agree with this idea. He said:
I quote that in order to give a round picture of the opinions of this highly qualified engineer.
He was referring to Mr Beaney. Senator Laucke went on to say:
I have given this matter- that is, the Dartmouth proposal and the Chowilla proposal - much consideration and I am fearful for the future wellbeing of my State if we do not have access to water supply beyond the benefits which we would receive from Dartmouth alone
Such a statement could not have been better put by any of the honourable senators on this side of the chamber who are in favour of construction of 2 dams nor could it be better put by anyone engaged in the argument which is currently taking place in South Australia. This is the real reason for the opposition to the Dartmouth proposal. I shall quote further at a later stage to show that Senator Laucke and the Australian Labor Party are in agreement on the same considerations. I know that Senator Laucke has given the matter much consideration because 1 have discussed it with him outside of the chamber during the course of our travels around Australia. I indicate that the general opposition is not so much against the construction of a dam at Dartmouth as to the construction of a dam at Dartmonth to the exclusion of one at Chowilla. The River Murray Waters Agreement is so framed that until the amending agreement is ratified by the 4 parties to the original agreement the Chowilla proposal is legally binding. Once the amending agreement is ratified by the 4 States Chowilla as a proposition will revert to the state that it was in prior to the original agreement.
– It has been postponed.
– It has been postponed for years.
– The honourable senator should not think that Victoria will be talked into accepting it.
– Of course it will not. I am glad lo soe that Senator Little agrees with me. Evidently he has not listened to much of the debate to date. He has most certainly not kept himself conversant with the position in South Australia, because Mr Hall had this to say in an article-
– The honourable senator has been telling me for weeks what a bad judge Mr Hall is and how he always says the wrong thing
– Listen to what he had to say. Premier Hail said:
We need to accept Dartmouth now and then continue studies to determine where the next one will be.
– The Opposition’s amendment violates that proposition.
– Will honourable senators let me finish. Mr Hall went on to say:
I hope it will be Chowilla which will remain in the River Murray Waters Agreement.
Some honourable senators opposite who represent South Australia have said that they are confident that Chowilla will be again included in the. agreement.
– The honourable senator is saying that this is the law.
– The original agreement is legally binding until such time as the amending agreement supplants it.
– But none of the parties to the agreement propose to go on with it. They have all agreed to a postponement.
– They have not. Why are we debating the subject tonight if agreement has already been reached? Two of the 4 parliaments have not ratified the amending agreement. One is the Parliament in which we are sitting at present. As I said earlier, the intention of the amendment which the Australian Labor Party proposes to move at the Committee stage is simply this: The Australian Labor Party accepts the fact that the amendment it proposes to move is only a reiteration of something which anyone who has spoken to anybody associated with the River Murray Commission will appreciate. I am referring to the fact that the Commission is acting from within an ambit of power which gives it no real control over the quality or quantity of water used from the River Murray or its tributaries. The amendment we are seeking to the motion for the second reading of the Bill was moved only to attempt to get acceptance of the fact that the Commonwealth should be negotiating for a different sort of River Murray basin authority which embraces the very things which have been referred to. I should have thought lhat some honourable senators opposite would have accepted the validity of this argument.
Has there ever been anything more contradictory between the years 1963 and 1967 than the great heralding of the wonderful benefits which were to flow from the Chowilla proposal, even after consideration had been given to the Dartmouth proposal. Some people were proclaiming it as a monument to the then Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford. We have a situation at present where its apologists are now calling it ‘Playford’s Folly’. Surely the events in this 7-year period must have indicated that there was something wrong with the workings of the River Murray Commission. Do not give me the part about computer studies, because I will not swallow it. Nobody can tell me that once it was decided that 900 cusecs of water had to flow through Mildura information had to be fed into a computer before it could be determined that the Chowilla proposal was unacceptable without an upstream dam. A dam had to be built upstream to satisfy that need. Any 7-year-old child would know that if a certain amount of water is required to flow past a given point, a dam constructed there will have the effect of stopping the flow of water past that point. One does not need a computer to know that.
– But the computers told us what will happen in years of shortage.
– The computer, according to the then Minister in control of the Bill was put into operation to give 6 months breathing space to allow Mr Hall in South Australia to try to bring the people of South Australia round to his way of thinking. I do not think it kidded anybody. I do not say that one does not get some information out of the computer, but most certainly one would not get information to indicate quite clearly that we wanted X amount of water to flow through Mildura to get usable water in Mildura. One does not need a computer to tell oneself that Chowilla could not give us that.
– Are you doubting the integrity of the research mcn and the River Murray Commission?
– I said we might get some useful information from it but we do not need a computer to show that Chowilla was damned as a dam project at the time when they realised in Victoria and New South Wales that they had to give South Australia their sludge, that they could not keep it in their own area.
– That seems lo me to support the fact that Chowilla would not be of any use.
– I am supporting the fact that we must have Dartmouth but I am not supporting the fact that we had to give away Chowilla to get it. I accept the fact that we may have to build Dartmouth and have it operating before Chowilla comes into operation.
– You want the two.
– I do not want the Dartmouth agreement to supersede the Chowilla agreement and then depend on the pious hopes of Ihe Premier of South Australia and the confidence of honourable senators opposite that Chowilla will come into being at some time in Ihe future. How could we have any confidence in anybody who could stand in this place heralding Chowilla and even fight an election on this great issue and the great benefits to South Australia to result from the building of Chowilla and who could now 7 years later say that Chowilla is no good at all unless we have a dam upstream and that when we do we will consider the rest.
– Do you not think it is a good thing to have people admitting that they can do better than they thought they could?
– No, I do not think so. ls it not rather remarkable that no-one from Victoria and no-one from anywhere other than South Australia has spoken in this debate?
– Senator Little spoke.
– ] mean from the opposite side. Senator Little spoke because the Democratic Labor Party expects to get more votes from Victoria than it will get from South Australia.
– We cannot accept that presumption.
– It is true.
– It is not true, lt is a product of your mind.
– lt is a political fact of life.
– 1 hope you are right.
– The honourable senator should hope that I am right. If I am noi he can kiss his seat goodbye. But the point I was making was that honourable senators opposite who spoke on behalf of the Government come from South Australia.
– We are the ones who are getting the biggest benefit. We are getting ihe extra water.
– -We are getting extra water, but does the honourable senator share the fear of Senator Laucke of what will result if we have only one dam? Does the honourable senator accept the view that we will get more water for certain in a time of drought?
– I do.
– Well. I will read from Mr Beaneys” statement as cited by Senator Laucke. He said this:
The additional water promised out of Dartmouth is not, unfortunately, available for large scale expansion. In fact it is necessary to South Australia to maintain commitments which have already been made on the River Murray. As the last user of the river it is impossible for South Australia to exploit’’ the full flow, as provision has to be sustained for Josses and for some continuing flow to remove the build-up of saline water. it is admitted that the increase that we will get from Dartmouth will not come to South Australia in sufficient quantities for expansion, but the same inhibition does not apply to Victoria, as indicated by the Victorian Minister of Water Supply when introducing the River Murray Waters Bill in the Victorian Parliament on 4th March 1970. Mr Borthwick had this to say, as recorded on page 2987 of the Victorian Hansard:
Finally - and this perhaps is the core of the matter in Victoria - it gives me much pleasure to announce that the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission has resolved that it will make additional water rights available in the vast Goulbum-Murray Irrigation District when this further amending River Murray agreement authorising the construction of Dartmouth dam has been ratified by the four Governments concerned.
Mr Borthwick does not say that he will wait until the benefit starts to accrue from Dartmouth. South Australia will get its entitlement, unless I am misinformed, only when Dartmouth becomes operative, and that will be some years in the future.
– South Australia is one of the 4 powers conducting the River Murray flow.
– But, as I said by way of interjection the other night, we have been sold a pup. Mr Borthwick says that immediately the agreement is ratified and there is authorisation for the construction of the Dartmouth Dam the Victorian Government will make available additional water rights in the vast Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District. Now, is it not obvious that if expansion is to be carried out on that scale and South Australia is left without Chowilla this is a different concept. Dartmouth is required to supply extra water for the system as a whole. Now, Victoria for one has stated categorically that immediately the agreement is signed it will make new rights available.
– They are effecting their share of the agreement. What is wrong with that?
– Chowilla could have been finished by now. But the point is that 900 cusecs of water is the minimum amount that the authority now accepts has to flow through Mildura. If extensions are made into new areas we will have all their sludge drifting back because at the lower end of the river we obtain not only Murray water but also the sludge that has been drawn back both from the River Murray and its tributaries in Victoria. That was proved by the expenditure at Bar Creek and at another place the name of which I forget to try to stop it. The opinion was given to me that this represents a small portion of the salt that seeps back into the river. So if this expansion is to go on who can say with any confidence that in the future to get rid of saline water in South Australia the flow through Mildura will be not 900 cusecs but 1,000 cusecs or 1,200 cusecs. So the very reason why Chowilla Dam was killed as a project by Victoria and New South Wales was the need to get water to flow through Mildura. If this is allowed Chowilla will never be built because the only water that South Australia will get in time of restriction will be the amount required to flush out the river to give water of an acceptable quality to the people in the eastern States. South Australia will not have a dam that will give it the right to dilute its saline water to bring it up to a standard approaching that which the other States demand as their right.
– in reply - As a person of South Australian descent I have listened with great interest to this debate. As it has proceeded it has seemed to me that what the speakers in the debate have intended to say has become more confused than would have at first been thought possible. So far as I can judge for myself from facts I have read and heard the technical evidence is all in favour of construction of a dam at Dartmouth. That dam will have a yield 3 to 5 times greater than would be produced from virtually the same expenditure on construction of a dam at Chowilla. The Commonwealth Government and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, joined together in the River Murray Commission, are agreed upon the construction of a dam at Dartmouth. By that means South Australia will receive more water of a quality at least equivalent to that it would receive from a dam at Chowilla. It will be the first increase in water supply received by South Australia since 1915.
A former Labor Premier of South Australia, Mr Don Dunstan, was in office when it was decided to suspend operations at Chowilla. So far as one can judge, that decision was reached because of the tremendous cost escalation, some doubtful factors in respect of evaporation and some concern about construction problems. Mr Don Dunstan is now Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Parliament. When this proposal was discussed in the New South Wales Parliament Labor did not oppose it. In Victoria no opposition was offered by Labor to the proposed construction of a dam at Dartmouth. In fact, the Labor spokesman in Victoria was heard to say: ‘Chowilla is a fake.’ In South Australia Labor appears to disagree with decisions it reached formerly on this matter.
Labor in the Senate disagrees. It is rather hard to know with which voice Labor is speaking and to whom we should listen in trying to learn.
I am conscious, naturally, of the importance of water to South Australia. The proposed dam at Dartmouth seems to me to make the water supply of South Australia more secure and greater in quantity. In those circumstances one would find it very hard indeed to accept the proposed amendment. It seems to be too sweeping and quite unnecessary. It would delay essential work at Dartmouth and without any doubt at all it is a political device. Anybody who has listened to the debate could detect that that is so. Surely the River Murray Commission does all the things that the proposed amendment seeks to accomplish. It does them now without delay, quite properly, and has done them in the past. It has been doing these things for quite a long time. The River Murray Commission is a first class example of Commonwealth and State cooperation. I think I should repeat that the Commonwealth Government and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have all agreed on the suspension of activities at Chowilla and the early commencement of construction at Dartmouth. Are we to assume that all those governments do not know what they are doing?
I think the Commonwealth Government and the conjoined State governments, both today and in the past, in harnessing the waters of the Murray and associated streams and in the process of generating a greater volume of power have acted in the interests of the Australian people in a highly commendable way. For that reason this proposal ought to be viewed in a constructive way and not in a politically destructive sense. Except for an honourable senator speaking this evening nobody in this debate has cast any doubts on the River Murray Commission. Honourable senators should note the escalation in the estimated cost of a dam at Chowilla from its conception to the calling of the last tender; that is an expected rise in costs of 250%. We would not think much of ourselves as a body of responsible parliamentarians if we did not have some regard to that sort of cost rise and to the wise use of the resources of the Australian people. I believe that the River Murray Commission has behaved completely properly and I do not think that anybody really has any great complaint against it.
– Nobody has established a complaint by argument.
– Not to me. In concluding my own observations before answering in some detail the. observations made in earlier speeches in this debate, J pose this question: Does South Australia want more water or not? The Premier and Government of South Australia say that it wants more water. Mr Steele Hall, Premier of South Australia, appears to me to have been a very tough negotiator for his State. He obtained what will be a 37% increase in usable water. Perhaps we might leave to the Premier of South’ Australia the determination of his own destiny and that of his State. We might also agree that his predecessor, a Labor Premier, was equally responsible in his time for suspension of construction at Chowilla. It seems to me to be rather hard to disagree with that description of the situation.
– lt is all rubbish.
– It appears on the record. I believe that some specific comments made by honourable senators in this debate have raised questions which call for replies. I have tried to obtain replies in the period that has elapsed since those comments were made. Senator Drury raised questions as to the quality and security of South Australia’s water supply and referred to the repudiation of South Australia’s rights. In the second reading speech that I delivered on behalf of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) 1 said that the dam at Dartmouth will give South Australia li million acre feet of water per annum, whereas Chowilla would have provided 1,254,000 acre feet per annum. Dartmouth will give South Australia the increased supply with greater security and with less restrictions than had been expected had a dam been constructed at Chowilla. Does South Australia want a dam in South Australia that will give it no more water, or a dam elsewhere at similar cost which will give it a large increase in its water allocation?
It is of interest to compare the recent South Australian use of water from the Murray with present and proposed entitlements. Annual reports of the River Murray
Commission show that the highest recent use, in the drought year 1967-68, was about 500,000 acre feet. After allowing for dilution flows and losses the divertible component of the present South Australian entitlement is 690,000 acre feet per annum. When the dam at Dartmouth becomes effective the divertible component will be over 930,000 acre feet per annum. Again I compare this result with the use of 500,000 acre feet in the recent drought year, and less than 400,000 acre feet in other years.
As to water quality, the interim report of the consultants, published by the River Murray Commission in January 1969, showed that there would be no great difference in the effects of a dam at Dartmouth and a storage at Chowilla on water quality in the lower reaches of the river. Senator Drury said that the provision in clause 13 (a) of the Agreement would spell the end of Chowilla as any of the 4 contracting governments could veto the proposal. The following comment is offered in reply to that statement: Clause 13 (a) is necessary as otherwise work would have to proceed on Chowilla in terms of clause 24 of the Agreement. This is a deferment and not an abandonment. The River Murray Commission will be keeping under review the demands on the resources of the Murray in relation to available supplies. There is no doubt that in this review the Chowilla project will be compared with any other proposals being considered for augmenting supplies as the need arises. Of course, I cannot say whether Chowilla will prove to be the best proposal when the time comes for the next development, but I have no doubt that in due course we will reach the stage when Chowilla will be clearly the best move. At that time it will be in the interests of all 4 governments to proceed with that project.
Senator Donald Cameron said that the cost of Chowilla in the 1963 Agreement was $72m. The figure in clause 32 of the Agreement is the cost of all the River Murray works built at that time, plus the Chowilla project, which at that time was estimated to cost S28m. He also referred to the deferment of Chowilla and suggested that in effect Chowilla would be a South Australian dam and Dartmouth would be a Victorian dam. He referred also to the growing demand for water from the River Murray in South
Australia. All these matters have been referred to in reply to Senator Drury, but the following additional comments may be of some help. All storages built for the River Murray Commission are operated to meet the requirements of all 3 States as set down in the Agreement. Thus the 1963 Agreement to build Chowilla did not involve any increase in South Australia’s entitlement, although it would have added considerably to supplies available to the 2 upstream States. With regard to South Australia’s increasing requirements, it is interesting that the increased divertible supply available at Dartmouth - but not from Chowilla - would meet present irrigation demands plus the estimated requirements for the year 2000 for Adelaide and still have more than 200,000 acre feet per year to spare.
Senator Donald Cameron said also that Chowilla would fill every year. The computer studies have shown that there would have been a period of about 9 years, from 1939 to 1948, in which Chowilla would not have filled. This emphasises the error of estimating the water on the basis of average flows rather than on actual flow sequences. Senator Donald Cameron suggested also that the Snowy River was of no value to South Australia. In fact, the diversions from the Snowy River to the Murray were a vital factor in enabling South Australia’s entitlement to be increased for the first time in 55 years, this increase taking place under the present Bill and the amendments.
Senator Bishop suggested that the cost escalation of Chowilla was not excessive and he referred to the money that has been spent already. Surely an increase of 250% in 4 years is excessive. I would point out also that in a comparison between Dartmouth and Chowilla, the money already spent on the latter was allowed for. Senator Bishop and others have referred to Chowilla being the law of the land and to the repudiation of a solemn agreement. The Parliaments of New South Wales and Victoria have already legislated to proceed with Dartmouth. It is not a repudiation but a change in the means whereby a real objective - additional water supplies - will be achieved. There have been repeated statements that the amendments before us will, in effect, kill Chowilla. I have already explained that this is not so. Chowilla, like any other proposal for additional storage, wi I require the endorsement of the 4 governments. 1 repeat: This is just the same a>- any proposal for any new work. Similarly, with regard to works that may he required at Lake Victoria, requirements are now under investigation only by South Australian authorities in conjunction with River Murray Commission staff and until these studies have been completed and examined by the Commission no reliable estimate of costs can be given. However, in order to avoid the necessity for a further amendment to provide for the works which the Commission may recommend, the present amendment to the description of Lake Victoria works requiring approval of governments but no further amendment to the Bill is proposed.
Repeated references have been made to alleged insecurity in regard to South Australia’s water supply in dry years. The Agreement does not only require the upstream Stales to provide South Australia with its entitlement in normal years but also it prescribes in periods of restriction an equal sharing of available water with the Dartmouth storage as would have applied with Chowilla. Studies of operations as laid down in the Agreement showed, as I have said before, that the increased entitlement post-Dartmouth would have been provided in all years but one since 190S and in that year 95% of the full entitlement would have been available. There have been frequent references to water quality, it is true, as stated in the published reports, that Chowilla would have a smoothing effect on the peaks that occur from time to time, but as also stated in the report in time of drought when salinity conditions are likely to be critical Chowilla would produce worse salinity conditions in the lower Murray than Dartmouth. Hence it is submitted that neither proposal has a clear advantage over the other in terms of quality. So the issue comes back to quantity, for which Dartmouth is several times better than Chowilla.
Senator Bishop and others have asked about the benefits of Chowilla and Dartmouth together: As indicated in my second reading speech, Chowilla added to Dartmouth is estimated to add about 250,000 acre feet per annum to the yield of the system; that is, it would add about 25% to the benefits from Dartmouth with an increase of nearly 100% in expenditure.
The cost per acre foot of additional yield from the 2 storages together is thus very much higher than from Dartmouth alone. As was pointed out in the second reading speech, this is true of any combination of storages at these 2 sites.
Senator Laucke expressed his concern at the situation in times of stress due to drought. This, I think, has been dealt with in previous comments, but at the risk of repetition I point out again that whereas in 1961 it was estimated that Chowilla would ensure delivery of 1,254,000 acre feet - South Australia’s entitlement restrictions in 3 years since 1905 - later studies have shown that the proposed Dartmouth storage would provide the increased entitlement of li million acre feet with the restriction in 1 year only. This restriction would involve a reduction of only 76,000 acre feet in the year; that is, South Australia would receive 95% of its full entitlement. On the other hand, the 2 upstream States would be involved in restrictions on a number of occasions involving a reduction to as little as 70% of normal supplies. This was described in detail by Senator Young in his speech.
Senator Laucke, I believe quite rightly, emphasised the increasing dependence of South Australia on River Murray waters. As 1 mentioned earlier, Dartmouth - not Chowilla - will give South Australia a greatly increased supply which will meet estimated requirements for many years to come. Senator Toohey, like a number of others before him, referred again to the Chowilla and Dartmouth storages as if they were South Australian and Victorian respectively. He referred also to depriving South Australia of its entitlement and to the breaking of solemn agreements. He referred to the concept that with the proposed amendments Chowilla would be gone forever. I have replied already to all these points, most of which were dealt with effectively by my colleagues also. I shall not delay matters by covering the same ground again. However, I think one should stress once more that all River Murray Commission storages are operated in accordance with the Agreement for the benefit of the 3 States jointly and not for the particular advantage of any single State.
Senator Toohey commented that it would be 1981 before South Australia received any water from Dartmouth, but if undesirable delays could be avoided Dartmouth could be completed in 5 years and, in normal circumstances, could be expected to start providing additional water a year or two later.It does not have to fill before benefits start to flow from it. He suggested that the adoption of 900 cusecs dilution flow was a vital factor in preferment of Chowilla. In fact studies were also done with dilution flows of 300 and 600 cusecs, the results of thelatter being published in the January 1969 reports. Whilst the smaller dilution flows showed Chowilla to somewhat greater advantage, they would not bring it anywhere near Dartmouth in terms of water yield.
Reference was made once again to water wasted in normal years. The average surplus flow was quoted at 8 million acre feet per annum.I stress once again that averages are of no value in determining the yield of a river system. The only satisfactory basis for planned benefits is the assured supply, and this is determined by conditions in dry periods. As I have mentioned, there would have been one period in 9 years in which Chowilla would not have filled.It is of no particular value that in some other years very large volumes of water run to waste. Not even Chowilla could prevent that.
I do not think Senator Ridley added anything particularly new to the argument that calls for me to reply in any more detail than I have to the comments of previous speakers. So I am at the point now where we are dealing with a proposal by the Opposition to move an amendment to the River Murray Waters Bill. The amendment reads as follows: . . the Senate is of opinion that the Bill should not be proceeded with until the Commonwealth has negotiated wilh the Slates for the establishment of a national water conservation and construction authority, embracing the Snowy Mountains Authority, to carry out a systematic and efficient development of soundly based water storages in the major river basins including the Murray and Darling systems.
This proposal really has no relationship to the Dartmouth proposal. A systematic study of development of the River Murray has in fact been carried out by the River Murray Commission and it is on the basis of that study, the results of which are so clear, that the four governments have agreed to proceed with the Dartmouth project as the most efficient way of providing the water requirements of the Murray Valley from Albury to the sea for some years to come. Any proposal to adopt the amendment moved by the Opposition would equally take away from the constituent States involved the present influence they have in determining their own fate in this matter.It would, I believe, destroy the River Murray Commission. Therefore. the Government is not able to accept the amendment proposed to the River Murray Waters Bill.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Unity’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Aves . . . . 26
Noes . . . . . . 28
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– As indicated in my speech during the second reading debate I wish to move an amendment to clause 4 which reads:
The sixthfurther amending Agreement, a copy of which is set out in section 7 of this Act, is hereby ratified and approved.
I will not canvass what I said during the second reading debate, but 1 believe that some explanation should be given of the reason why this amendment is proposed by the Opposition. We have not been told whether a complete computer investigation has been made of the building of the 2 dams together. We have been told that there has been a computer estimate on Dartmouth and its consequences and also on Chowilla and its consequences, but we have not been told what is the result and what would be the benefits to the River Murray scheme if both dams were built together. I, in com mon with other honourable senators on this side of the chamber, am fearful that if Dartmouth is completed and if no firm indication is given that Chowilla will be built in the future - and the Minister has not given us any such firm indication; he has said that Chowilla will be considered along with other storages on the Murray - the future of Chowilla will remain uncertain. I believe that this is not sufficient. Clause 10 of the Eighth Schedule to the Bill states:
Clause 20 of the Agreement is amended -
by deleting in paragraph (ii) all words after the words ‘Lake Victoria’ and inserting in their stead the words ‘with inlet and outlet works that are of a size that will, in the opinion of the Contracting Governments, ensure the effectiveness of the system of storage in the regulation of the River Murray (including operations after the Dartmouth Reservoir has become effective for the purpose of this Agreement)’
Let us analyse this. It is estimated that approximately$7m will be spent on altering the inlet and outlet flow of Lake Victoria. Paragraph 13 of the Eighth Schedule, which amends clause 24 of the Agreement, states:
Chowilla Reservoir shall be deferred until the Contracting Governments agree that the work shall proceed. Furthermore, in the case of any work for which the estimated cost at the time of approval exceeds $500,000 . . .
I shall not read any further, but that clause indicates that if the estimated amount is spent on Lake Victoria improvements and if in future consideration is given to the building of Chowilla the money spent on the Lake Victoria improvements would be wasted because the building of the Chowilla dam would mean that the Lake Victoria improvements would be inundated. That would mean that another $7m, on top of the $6m spent already on Chowilla, making a total of$1 3m, would be wasted. We were told that one of the reasons why Chowilla was not a reasonable proposition was the escalation of costs from the initial estimate to the present estimate. So an additional $13m, or about one-fifth of the amount that it would have cost originally to build Chowilla will be wasted if Chowilla is constructed in the future.
The Agreement also states that the future construction of Chowilla, if this should be brought about, must be agreed to by the 4 contracting parties. By interjection tonight it was said that Victoria would not support the construction of Chowilla. The people of South Australia are very worried indeed that the wording in relation to the construction of Chowilla has not been clarified and that no definite intimation that this dam will be built has been given. If the dam is not built, I feel that in future there will be no guarantee that the amount of water promised from Dartmouth will be forthcoming to South Australia in the quality and quantity that is desired to keep the South Australian industries, irrigation schemes and commercial enterprises working at top level. I have moved the amendment. I hope that the Senate will carry it.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator Drury. I shall deal with the matters raised by the Minister. I noticed that what the Minister said was something like what Government senators had said. He said that Chowilla was not dead or that the time may come when the commitment to build Chowilla will be surveyed positively. We have argued that, to us, the alterations proposed to the Agreement give very clear indications that Chowilla is dead.
We have argued that with the adoption of this legislation - with the carriage of the Bill tonight - the possibility of building Chowilla will have gone for all time. It will have gone for all time because the Federal Government, in our opinion, has brain washed the States, particularly South Australia, into accepting a review of the Chowilla construction because the estimated costs had increased. As Senator Ridley said, the Commonwealth Government devised a formula which would maximise the water available to the larger States and which would minimise the water available to South Australia at a stage when $6m had been spent on the Chowilla project.
It is true that the Chowilla reservoir, when built, would not be a South Australian reservoir. We have pointed out that most of the money spent on the project has been spent on works awarded to South Australian contractors or on works carried out by the South Australian Commissioner for Railways. The money was spent at a time when South Australia was in need of a substantial public works programme. In the State Parliament at the time constant criticism of the scheme was levelled at the Commonwealth Government. The continued construction of Chowilla in South Australia would have been a great asset. While we do not deny that the Chowilla reservoir would be administered not by the State Government, but by the River Murray Commission, we say that its construction would provide something for the State. As Senator Ridley said, the alarming thing about all the tests devised by the Commission is that all of a sudden, out of the air, came the proposition that there had to be a flow of 900 cusecs past Mildura and as a result a number of computer evaluations would have to be carried out. lt was said that the evaluations were necessary because the cost of the dam rose from $23m to $43m and then to $57m because of some alterations to the site.
When faced with the rising costs of the dam, I put the proposition to the Senate that the escalation of costs was not too great. The consolidation of the dam had been raised. The real position about costs was not the main reason for the suggestion to carry out further studies. At the time I referred to the railway standardisation costs having risen by about the same amount. Nobody quibbled about these works being necessary. The debate at that time gave rise to a suggestion by the then South Australian Labor Premier, Mr Dunstan, that consideration ought to be given to evaluating the possibility of getting the 2 dams constructed concurrently and to getting finance from the Commonwealth Government to build the 2 dams concurrently. That suggestion has been raised since not only by the Labor Party but also, as the Liberal senators from South Australia know, by the Liberal Minister and the Liberal Premier of South Australia who have changed their minds about the scheme. In Parliament and also at meetings of organisations the State Premier and the then Minister for Works and Marine, Mr Coumbe, supported the proposition that I have mentioned. Some other members of the Liberal Party, including Senator Laucke, supported a proposition that we should put to the Federal Government 4 points. This was at the time when the South Australian legislature had carried a unanimous resolution to support the Chowilla project. The strange thing about all the propositions is that they completely supported Chowilla. At the time nobody said that Dartmouth was not necessary. Right through everybody has said that mere and more dams would be required. The propositions that Liberal members, now Ministers of the Liberal Government in South Australia, and Liberal Senator Laucke and myself agreed to were these:
That was the capacity upon which the computer evaluations were made. The propositions continued:
Those were the 4 points which everybody in the South Australian Parliament and everybody on this side of the Senate supported. In addition, Senator Laucke supported them. We had this continual campaign to ensure that Chowilla was not forgotten. In our opinion, the present legislation finished Chowilla. Mr Beaney’s name has been mentioned in the debate. I do not want to say very much about the head of a South Australian Government department. I make my comments only because recently the State Premier used his name to make various statements in support of what the present -Government proposes to do. It proposes to give away Chowilla and to support the Dartmouth proposal. Mr Beaney, on radio and by other public statements, has supported what the State Premier wants. But on 23rd March 1968, when the matter was under examination and the then Minister for National Development was critical of Chowilla even before the studies had been completed, a statement by Mr Beaney was reported in the ‘Advertiser’ in these terms:
It was not accepted that the Chowilla Dam project was ‘overdesigned and uneconomical’, the Engineer-in-Chief of the Engineering and Water Supply Department (Mr H. L. Beaney) said yesterday.
He was replying to criticism of the project in Adelaide, on Friday, by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn).
The Minister, as well as describing the project as ‘overdesigned and uneconomical’, had said the SA site did not have the highest priority for the River Murray Commission’s new major water storage area.
Sites further up the river were preferable.
Mr Beaney said Mr Fairbairn’s view was not shared by the River Murray Commission, the SA Government or himself.
He described the Minister’s views as assumptions’.
We do not accept that the upper river sites will provide sufficient protection against salinity,’ Mr Beaney said.
They may even worsen it.
The problems of the upper river sites have by no means been resolved, and it is too early to give a definite answer’.
Mr Beaney said Mr Fairbairn had suggested that the problem could be simply resolved, but it was a very difficult situation.
Three Stales with diverse interests were involved, and the commission was looking for the maximum amount of benefit for all.
The Chowilla project would be discussed by the River Murray Commission at its next meeting . . .
That statement was made by Mr Beaney at that time. Now Mr Beaney, serving under a Liberal Premier, is advocating the viewpoint of the present Government, it seems to me, to an extent not normally required by the Premier of a State.
– He is a responsible public servant. He is supporting the findings that have been made by responsible engineers.
– Mr Beaney has made public statements. He has accompanied the Premier. In addition, recently on radio and television programmes he has put points of view which are quite different from those he put when the Chowilla Dam was a positive construction project. In addition, Mr Dridan, the former Engineer-in-Chief of the Engineering and Water Supply Department, has referred to the superiority of Chowilla over Dartmouth. He is an authority and a very important man. I quote the following extract from a report of a statement by him:
In referring to the superiority of Chowilla as compared with Dartmouth, Mr Dridan pointed out that the Mitta Mitta River has only oneseventh the flow of the Murray-Darling system, whereas Chowilla controls the whole flow of the system.
With Chowilla virtually being at our back door, it would only take as little as 2 days to rectify any saline problems, whereas if Dartmouth were the controlling influence this could take at least 7 weeks.
We cannot see any reason why at this stage we should not be attempting to obtain from the Federal Government agreement to an arrangement under which the 2 dams would be built. As I have said before and affirm now, we are not against Dartmouth, but we are against a proposition which, in our opinion, destroys any possibility of Chowilla being constructed. I challenge anybody who goes through the reports on the studies and the alterations to the Agreement to say that that is not the end result.
In regard to estimates of the amounts of money required, we have not the same situation with Dartmouth as we had with Chowilla, but we have a growing situation. We have the Ministers in this place and in the other place saying that studies are being made of what is required at Lake Victoria and making the off-handed statement that the Dartmouth Dam will take only 5 years to build. But it is agreed that when the works are carried out at Lake Victoria the money could be wasted. The amount involved has been estimated at between $7m and Si Om. That is in addition to the S6m which has already been spent on the project.
For these reasons we members of the Opposition do not see any reason at ali not to affirm our position as it was in the past. We believe that the South Australian people will do exactly as we are doing here, namely, attempt to prevent the end of Chowilla and endeavour to obtain from the Federal Government agreement to an arrangement under which Chowilla will be built. The Federal Government has the power to initiate action for an arrangement to ensure that Chowilla will be built. For these reasons 1 support the amendment moved by Senator Drury.
– I have listened to Senator Drury and Senator Bishop speaking on this further amendment. The first amendment was designed to take away all the control and power of the River Murray Commission because it was proposed, basically, to vest all the powers in a national water conservation and constructing authority. I remind members of the Opposition that that amendment would have taken away much of the power of South Australia.
In the second amendment the Opposition proposes to take away the time factor. We are all very conscious of the fact that South Australia not only needs more water but also needs it as soon as it can get it. This second amendment is purely a delaying tactic, lt states: . . the Senate is of opinion that the Agreement should not be approved until an immediate computer evaluation of the construction of storages of various capacities at both Dartmouth and Chowilla has been completed.
Ft is necessary lo go back and look al what the attitude of the Opposition has been during this controversy over the 2 dams and further water storages on the River Murray itself. Ever since the presentation of the report of the River Murray Commission, in which the Commission came down in favour of Dartmouth, we have seen a great shifting of ground by members of the Opposition. Firstly they said that we must have Chowilla and nothing else: that it must be Chowilla at all costs. They were not prepared to accept the report of responsible men. Later on, for reasons best known to themselves, they adopted a second attitude. They said: ‘We are now quite happy; we will go along with the proposal that we have a 2-dam concept. Let us build both Chowilla and Dartmouth’. Then they shifted ground again. They said: ‘Perhaps we should support a proposal for further computer studies on a combination of both Chowilla and Dartmouth’. That is the proposal that we have before us now. 1 ask members of the Opposition why all this shifting of ground is taking place. I mentioned the other night, when I spoke on this issue, that they had the opportunity, through the man who was Premier of South Australia al the time, to oppose any investigations of any alternative storages on the River Murray in October 1967 if they were so sure that Chowilla was the best and only dam they were prepared to support in the interests of South Australia. 1 repeat - I ask members of the Opposition to tell me so if I am wrong - that I cannot find any record of their objecting either to the investigations of the alternatives or to the assumptions that were to be used in those investigations. 1 ask members of the Opposition at this moment, if they did oppose the investigation at any time or if they can recall Mr Dunstan opposing it at any time, to please fell me. I am very interested to find out whether they did object. I cannot find any record of any objection.
Let me go further than that. The nian who advised Mr Dunstan at that time was the Engineer-in-Chief of the Engineering and Water Supply Department. He was advising Mr Dunstan and working under Mr Dunstan’s instructions. He is still the Engineer-in-Chief today. He, with his responsible officers, has given advice to the present Premier, Mr Hall, who is prepared to accept their advice. Why do members of the Opposition now suddenly question the ability of this man who is the EngineerinChief? I say that they are questioning his ability. Why are they placing him in such an invidious position? He is a responsible man and has acted very responsibly in his position.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bull)Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of ihe Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Chairman do now leave the Chai, and report lo ihe. Senate. 1
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - 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 welcome this opportunity of speaking on the adjournment debate this evening because today is the day on which President Nixon has announced a further withdrawal of troops from South Vietnam. He has said that over the ensuing 12-month period about 150,000 American personnel would be withdrawn from South Vietnam. I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), following on the statement he made on 16th December 1969, will shortly say something which will be in line with the announcement which he made then. I welcome this statement because it does recognise the significant achievements which have already been made as a result of the United Stales presence in Vietnam. It has established the achievements of United Slates intervention. It has established the growing capacity of the South Vietnamese to defend themselves and it has verified the expressed intentions, hopes, and ultimate objectives which President Nixon has stated. Because the United States’ aims and objectives have often been misquoted I refer to what President Nixon said in his State of the Union message this year. He reiterated then what he said in May last year and what he also said subsequently in July. He said:
A just peace in Vietnam has been, and remains, our goal. The real issues are the nature of that peace and how to achieve it.
To seek a just peace, we pursued two distinct but mutually supporting courses of action: Negotiations and Vietnamisation. We want to achieve an early and fair settlement through negotiations. But if the other side refuses, we shall proceed to strengthen the South Vietnamese forces. This will allow us to replace our troops on an orderly timetable. We hope that as Vietnamisation proceeds the Government of North Vietnam will realise that it has more to gain in negotiations than in continued fighting. 1 say that the pattern which the President of the United States announced in June 1969 has been recognised in what amounts now to 3 statements on withdrawals of troops. Those withdrawals are taking place along with the growing capacity of the South Vietnamese to prove to the world that the aggression which occurred from North Vietnam has been resisted and is continuing to be resisted. What the objective of the current Vietnam Moratorium Campaign ignores and gives no credence to is the success of the United States efforts in resisting aggression. [Quorum formed] Hansard will record that a quorum was formed while I was discussing the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign.
– Say who called it because Hansard docs not record that unless you state it.
– I wish to say that while I was talking in the Parliament of the nation about the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign which Labor Party senators have been sponsoring, promoting and supporting, those senators left this House. At the time when Senator O’Byrne called for a quorum of the Senate he and the Leader of the Australian Labor Party, Senator Murphy, were the only two persons from the Opposition who were present in this chamber. All members of the Democratic Labour Party currently in Canberra were present, and there were a significant number of Government senators here. The Australian Labor Party with the exception of Senator O’Byrne and Senator Murphy obviously deliberately vacated their seats in this chamber in order to give some support to a quorum call.
– For the sake of the record, please state that only the Leader of the Australian Labor Party is here now.
– I am again indebted to Senator Branson who points out that at this present time while this issue - which for the first 5 weeks of this session was said to be the great important issue of this period - is being debated the Labor Party empties its places in the Senate. Senator Murphy is the only member of the Australian Labor Party now present.
– You are talking on the adjournment debate.
– I am talking on the adjournment debate as is the right of every honourable senator.
– Of course it is.
– It is a right which has been exercised by Labor senators on this issue time and time again. Mr Deputy President. I feel it is high time that some person on this side of the chamber put our point of view and took up the issues which have been raised so many times by members of the Opposition. Having interpolated those remarks because of the call for a quorum I return to what I was saying. What the supporters of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign have consistently ignored and failed to give any credence to has been the success of the United States Government’s efforts in resisting aggression. They have ignored and failed to give credence to the success of the South Vietnamese Government in building jp its ability to defend itself. They have ignored, they have negated, the overall achievement of thwarting the aggressive intent, the aggressive take-over of a small nation and they have ignored the growth in the abilities of the South Vietnamese to provide their own means of governing themselves.
This is the third night on which 1 have spoken on this issue. In speaking 1 am using the forms of Parliament. This is the appropriate place for an expression of view by a member of Parliament. 1 am not concerned if the Press does not communicate to the public at large what I have said. That is nothing new. I suppose what I say constitutes nothing new in the eyes of the Press. I am concerned that the Press has publicised many times the claims of those who have something to announce about the objects of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. But that should be an issue for a future occasion. What I do assert is that these issues should be appropriately discussed in Parliament and not in the streets and public places of the nation. Certainly they may be discussed in those places but this is the arena of decision. Decisions which are sought to be made outside Parliament are decisions which democrats ought to regard as having no validity.
– If you want it decided here, why do you not bring it up in the ordinary hours of Parliament by a proper motion?
– In response lo Senator Murphy who says I should raise this in the proper hours of Parliament I say that I have asked questions about the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign and 1 have raised the matter on the adjournment debate. We have heard much from the Australian Labor Party about the importance of this issue. Members of the Australian Labor Party have the forms of this House by which they can raise this matter if they regard it as a matter of importance. We have had urgency motion after urgency motion but not one of these urgency motions this year has been concerned with this issue which, on other occasions, members of the Australian Labor Party have called a great and important issue. There has been a certain hollow hypocrisy in the claim that this is a matter which ought to be raised by me in the ordinary hours of the House when I record my obligation as to support Government measures throughout the day. I use this opportunity because it is the opportunity given to an individual senator to express what be feels about issues of importance.
As I have said, I have spoken on this matter on two previous occasions. What reaction have 1 received? It has been said that I. by what I have been saying, have been inciting violence. That is an absurd proposition. Words can never incite violence unless the people to whom the words are spoken are prone to violence. 1 must say that in this context 1 am not at one with the people who will be participating in this Moratorium and I fail to see how any words thai. I use can incite violence. Yet thai is the consistent argument which is raised by members of the Opposition. It is a hollow argument. Its absurdity speaks for itself. Then we have ihe traditional argument which is used constantly against anyone who speaks about the matters about which I am speaking. I am said to be accusing people of Communism, of treachery and of lack of patriotism. Not once have I used those allegations or made those accusations, but thai is irrelevant to members of the Opposition because it is the hackneyed cry they always use and it comes back at me irrespective of whether those words have been used.
Let me turn to the purposes of the Moratorium. What will it achieve? What do those who participate in it expect it to achieve? Its objectives are stated to be the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Vietnam and the abolition of the National Service Act. Those are matters which are the decisions of government. No-one can expect that the Government will be influenced to give effect to those objectives if there are demonstrations in the streets of the capital cities. No government worthy of the respect of the Australian people can be expected to give recognition and to alter its decisions to accord with the decisions or the expressions of opinion of people in the streets. If a government attempted to do that it would be legitimately and properly thrown out of office by the people of Australia. No-one should expect, or be encouraged to expect, that policy objectives can be achieved by mass demonstrations or by mass disruptions of the character projected for Victoria, at least, in this Moratorium Campaign. After all, we all appreciate that government is the carrying out of policies which are determined by the elected representatives of the people. Such elected representatives of the people are accountable to the electors every 3 years at free elections. There are few countries in the world which can say that. We have a democratic process, and the democratic process which we uphold is one which is accepted by the vast majority of the people of Australia and they do not want it changed.
– Unrepresentative government. The Government has rigged the electorates.
– I hear Senator Murphy saying that it is unrepresentative government.
– The Government has rigged the electorates.
– I say that the Government has the support of the majority of the people of Australia by a system of voting, and 1 further say that we have the support of the majority of the people of Australia on the issues which this Moratorium Campaign is espousing.
– Nonsense. The majority are against the Government.
– If Senator Murphy cares to look at the gallup polls, which can be the only basis on which he sustains his belief, he will find that in relation to immediate withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam, which is one of the objectives that the Moratorium is seeking, the latest gallup poll showed that 29% of the community favoured it. Yet Senator Murphy has made one of those glib statements which claims that a majority of the people support it.
– The people are against the Government’s policies, and the honourable senator knows it.
– I again repeat to Senator Murphy that at the last 2 federal elections the policies which his Party espoused on this issue were not supported by the majority of the Australian people, and that is the time honoured practice by which policies in this country are determined. No-one should believe that by promoting or participating in a Moratorium Campaign of this nature they will be achieving the objectives expressed for the Campaign. Yet that is what the Campaign objectives would appear to be claiming, namely, that by participating in this Campaign in some way there will be an immediate withdrawal of the troops in Vietnam and an immediate repeal of the National Service Act. As I see it, it is an appeal for a process of government, a process of decision making, with nothing to commend it and everything to condemn it.
Of course, it is part of the philosophy of the honourable member for Lalor (Dr Cairns) who has accepted the responsibility of running this Campaign. He has said - herein, I think, lies much of the menace of his philosophy - that Parliament is not democratic. He has said that Parliament is but a manifestation of democracy. If by that he meant that government by the people is government by the mass of the people, then I would give him credence but government by the mass of the people means adopting something like the Greek city-state idea of democracy-
– I think ochlocracy is the term for that.
– I accept Senator Byrne’s greater learning and wisdom. If you were to contemplate 6 million electors or 12 million people attempting to govern in the mass in that way you would be looking for an impracticable ideal. If there were to be a referendum on every single issue you would be looking again for an impracticable ideal. Yet that is the only way in which it can be said that we are not a democracy. But Dr Cairns is not putting forward that philosophy. What he is urging in saying that it is not government by the people - this is what his words indicate - is that government by the people is action by the people. What he is seeking are ways of expressing issues about which people are concerned in decisions which are not made in the Parliament. That is what he is looking for in this type of activity which he is now sponsoring. As he has said, and the record bears it out, in every part of the community he is looking for decisions to be made which determine or influence the lives of the people.
Bringing it down to the particular, he says that what is being done in the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign is an example of government by the people. I use his words. That is inconsistent with everything which we regard as an integral part of the democratic system to which we adhere. What Dr Cairns is putting forward, what the Moratorium Campaign appears to be based on and what the members of the Labor Party are giving credence to is not democracy and cannot be democracy. It strikes at that which is fundamental to our system of government. If it is claimed that it is government by the people it is demagogic double talk. Some 100,000 people, 110,000 people, 120,000 people are an infinitesimal proportion of the people of Australia and they have no right to claim to determine the view of the people of Australia. Yet that is the kind of decision making which Dr Cairns is claiming.
His statement is the antithesis of democracy. lt is contrary to the policy of his own Party. It is an unmeritorious emotional appeal which is not only dangerous but also involves the security and permanence of all our institutions.
– The Opposition agrees with that because it has left the Leader of the Opposition to carry the can.
– Again I am indebted to Senator Branson. If the plea is that this Campaign will be influential on Government thinking, it is doomed to failure. In 1966 when the Labor Party left wing groups and others sought to influence public opinion on the issue of the Vietnam campaign they did it by means of the teach-in. That was an earlier adaptation of something which America had inaugurated. The teach-in was an ideal way of promoting debate. People with one point of view argued against people with another point of view. Out of this disputation people got an assessment of the issues. At the end of 1966 the Government’s policy was strikingly vindicated. Between 1966 and 1969 we did not hear anything more about these teach-ins. Instead we had mass demonstration.
Mass demonstrations are essentially onesided appeals which are designed to pressure other people. A mass demonstration is the congregating of people with closed minds; of people who have made up their minds and have no receptiveness to other ideas, but who simply want to congregate and emphasise the view which they have formed. It is the antithesis of everything which we ought to regard as democratic. There is no debate or discussion, just a high pressure one-way sell. This is just what the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign is. If the people who participate in the Campaign have a right to congregate in the streets, as is claimed by the promoters, there must be an equal right for people who hold differing views to meet in the same way. In that type of confrontation are sown the seeds of democracy’s destruction. What is recognised and yielded to one group must be recognised and yielded to another, and therein lies the danger.
May 1 conclude by referring to what I feel is an appropriate indication of the general view on this Campaign. I opened by saying that President Nixon had made an important announcement on the occasion of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign in the United States. He set out his views in a well publicised letter to a student. I wish to quote a paragraph of the letter, which states:
First, there is a clear distinction between public opinion and public demonstrations. To listen to public opinion is one thing; to be swayed by public demonstrations is another. A demonstration - in whatever cause - is an organised expression of one particular set of opinions, which may or may not be shared by the majority of the people. If a president - any president-
And I interpolate to say that the same could be said of a government - any government - allowed his course to be set by those who demonstrate, he would betray the trust of all the rest. Whatever the issue, to allow governmental policy to be made in the streets would destroy the democratic process. It would give the decision not to the majority, and not to those with the strongest arguments, but to those with the loudest voices. It would reduce statecraft to slogans. It would invite anarchy, lt would allow every group to test its strength not at the ballot box but through confrontation in the streets.
I feel that the people of Australia should recognise, and should be given every opportunity to acknowledge, that the Australian Labor Party, in what it is openly doing in regard to the Moratorium Campaign, is espousing a form of decision making which strikes at the very heart of the parliamentary process. I think it is regrettable, in the light of everything which the Labor Party has said, that ils supporters should vacate this chamber tonight. But as far as I am concerned, Parliament is the appropriate place for decisions to be made and Parliament is the appropriate place for discussion on this issue.
– The Australian Labor Party has shown its contempt for the remarks of Senator Greenwood by the fact that most of its supporters left the chamber when he rose to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. There are good reasons for this. His remarks tonight are a repetition of the remarks he has made on previous occasions. There is no motion before the Senate to debate the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. The Government has not taken any stand by bringing the matter before the Senate for a proper debate. The Opposition considers that the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign is a serious matter which should be discussed in the regular way in the national Parliament. The regular way of debating the issue should not be replaced by the method which Senator Greenwood has chosen, which is to get up on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate and provoke a debate. He has done so on several occasions and the debate has gone on until the early hours of the morning. As many honourable senators have been in the Parliament building since about 9 o’clock this morning attending Party meetings or going about their other duties, it is quite unreasonable to discuss any issue, let alone an issue as important as this one, until 3 o’clock in the morning, as we did on one occasion last week.
– But the supporters of the Government did not do that.
– The debate was provoked in that manner. There is no reason al all why this issue should not be debated in the proper manner. If the Government wants to debate the issue of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign 1 challenge it to initiate a debate during the regular sitting hours of the Senate. Why should Opposition senators be compelled to sit here in the late hours of the night and the early hours of the morning listening to what is put forward regardless of whether it is sense or drivel - and a great deal of what has come from Senator Greenwood is drivel - without any substantive motion being before the Senate. I think this is sufficient reason to show why a debate of this kind should not be continued at this stage.
The Opposition takes the view that the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign should not be debated now, which is why 1 have risen. I have not risen to answer Senator Greenwood, because it is not sensible to deal with the matter at this stage. If Government supporters wish to provoke the Opposition into debating this issue they should initiate a debate during the regular silting hours. The time is 11.25 p.m. and wc have been in the Parliament all day long. Some honourable senators were here very early this morning. If honourable senators opposite wish to press this stupid idea of exhausting everybody by discussing such a serious matter at this absurd hour the Opposition will oblige them. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber will remain here until 3, 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning if necessary. But I do not think that this is an intelligent approach to discussing the affairs of the nation.
Senator Greenwood has abused the processes of the Senate in relation to the motion for the adjournment of the Senate in raising this subect in this manner night after night. Surely the appropriate forms of the Senate can be used and the matter can be brought on for discussion during the regular sitting hours. It seems to me that such a course could be followed. The motion for the adjournment of the Senate enables honourable senators to raise individual matters which are not of great national importance, but the matter which Senator Greenwood has raised is of very great national importance. The nation is divided on it. If a debate is to be held on the subject it should be a debate in which the Ministers of the Government participate as well as honourable senators on this and the other side of the chamber. The Opposition is quite ready to debate this issue, but it considers that it should be debated in the regular manner. The Opposition hopes that this course will be followed. In fact, we on this side of the chamber challenge the Government to initiate a debate. But we do not think that the time of the Senate should be taken up in this way at this hour when there is an opportunity to debate the issue during the regular sitting hours. In fact, it is desirable to discuss this matter in the regular sitting hours of the Senate. By all means let us have a debate on this great issue either during this week or at an opportune time later in the sitting, but let us not be drawn into discussing into the late hours of the morning the rantings of an individual senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.28 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 April 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700421_senate_27_s43/>.