22nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of representations made to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by the Australian Council of Trade Unions concerning certain measures that should be taken by the Government to assist the Australian shipbuilding industry, will the Prime Minister authorize an investigation of the phosphate-carrying vessels plying between Christmas Island and Western Australian ports, with particular reference to the following matters: First, the vessels at present in use, “ Triadic “, “ Fernplant “ and “ Booloongeena “, are foreign-owned and believed to be manned by Asian crews; secondly, Christmas Island has now become Australian territory?
– Order! The honorable member is giving information. He is entitled only to seek it. He will not give any further information. He will ask his question.
– This is the question: Ships of the Australian National Line of suitable tonnage for employment in this trade are laid up and out of commission through lack of available cargo. I want to know, if what I have said proves to be substantially true, whether the Prime Minister will take all available action to ensure the employment of Australian ships in this trade.
– The question, if any, should be put on the notice-paper.
– Is the Prime Minister yet in a position to tell the House the result of representations I have made in connexion with an increase in the Commonwealth grant to the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia?
– The Commonwealth Government has, for some years now, paid an annual grant of £5,000 to the association.
– And Dan Curtin got it!
– No one denies that many people are interested in this matter.
I thought Opposition members might be sufficiently interested to want to hear the answer. (Opposition members interjecting) -
– Order! Honorable members must come to order. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith is distinctly out of order for interjecting from a seat other than his own.
– During the lull, let me say that the £5,000 will be increased to £8,000.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Will future trade negotiations with Communist China be on a governmenttogovernment level or have the support of the Government? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that, between 15th October and 30th November next, an export commodities fair will be held in Canton? Will he consider the advisability of requesting the Minister for Trade to visit Canton, for the purpose of attending the fair, so as to see what commodities China has to offer the world as export goods?
– My colleague, the acting Minister for Trade, being, I hope, in full possession of his faculties, has heard the suggestion.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister in his capacity as acting Treasurer. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the Government has considered increasing the grant to the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, having regard to that organization’s growing responsibilities.
– The answer is “ Yes “. I have already mentioned the case of the Surf Life Saving Association of Australia. The circumstances of the two organizations are not dissimilar. We have decided also to increase the grant to the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia from £5,000 to £8,000.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Has the Government made a direct approach, apart from any made by the
Minister for Trade, to the United States Government protesting against the American decision to restrict imports of lead and zinc, and pointing out the drastic effects that this decision may have on Australia’s economy?
– This matter has been brought to the attention of the United States Administration by every possible means. I hope, later to-day, to be in a position to convey to the House an observation on the matter by the United States President himself.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question about unemployment on the northern coal-fields of New South Wales. Since I refer to my previous question on this matter, and also to the remarks made by the Minister for Labour and National Service, I content myself with asking the Prime Minister: Has he yet received a request from the New South Wales Premier that the Commonwealth join with the New South Wales Government in providing funds for special works in the area in order to offset unemployment caused by the large-scale dismissal of coal-miners?
– This matter has been before us in various ways. I have, in particular, had a letter from the New South Wales Premier asking the Commonwealth to co-operate with the New South Wales Government in this matter, the importance of which we realize. I had a discussion about it this morning with my colleagues in the Cabinet. I do not need to make a long statement about what were the proposals of the New South Wales Government, because I think they are perhaps fairly well known. In the result, we have decided, first of all, to concur in the lending of up to £150,000 to the Hunter District Water Board by the Joint Coal Board for the purposes outlined by the New South Wales Premier in his letter to me, and, of course, on financial terms which will no doubt be settled without much difficulty.
We have decided, in the second place, to authorize the Joint Coal Board - this authorization will no doubt be contingent upon a similar authorization by the New South Wales Government, because the organization concerned is, after all, the Joint Coal Board - to make available as a grant from the Coal Industry Fund another £150,000 on a £l-for-£l basis with the State for road works which will be calculated to improve communications between Cessnock and the Newcastle area. As honorable members know, a great point is made - very properly - that substantial improvement of the means of transport between Cessnock and Newcastle would help the development of a new kind of existence for Cessnock in relation to Newcastle, where, of course, there is great industrial expansion. In those circumstances, we think that improvement of the means of transport would have material advantages from the stand-point of all the people of Cessnock. Therefore, we visualize the provision of two amounts - the first, of £150,000, to be lent by the Joint Coal Board to the Hunter District Water Board, and the second, also of £150,000, to be provided as a grant on a £l-for-£l basis by the Joint Coal Board out of the Coal Industry Fund, for the purpose that I have mentioned.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. As whaling is such a lucrative enterprise - the Nor’ West Whaling Company having earned a profit of 114 per cent, in the year ended 31st March last and having declared a dividend of 30 per cent, for the second year in succession - does the right honorable gentleman have any pangs of remorse at having disposed of the whaling interests of the Australian people?
– None whatever. All this wailing is usually out-balanced by the gnashing of teeth.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Prime Minister to an advertisement which appeared in the Melbourne “Sun” on Thursday, 11th September, and to ask him whether he is in a position to explain any of the circumstances that make such a public announcement possible. The advertisement reads -
AGENTS REQUIRED FOR SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
A leading finance institution at present considering the establishment of State-wide savings account facilities invites preliminary applications from firms with suitable premises and staff.
Duties involve the acceptance of money from depositors in a manner similar to a savings bani agency. . . .
An address for replies is given at the foot of the advertisement. Does the Prime Minister agree that this clearly foreshadows a new turn of the screw in the pressure on citizens to divert their money away from the traditional savings channels? The question at once raised is, “ When is a bank not a bank? “ Can the Prime Minister say whether an activity of this type would be considered as a banking activity within the meaning of the banking legislation? Is it the case that, should an attempt be made to carry on a pseudo-savings bank business of this type in one State, the Federal Government would have grounds for control? Will the Prime Minister consider whether, in view of the serious problems-
– Order! The honorable member should ask his question.
– The question is: In view of the serious problems of loan redemptions facing the Commonwealth, would it be desirable for federal control of direct approaches to the savings of the public to be strengthened?
– My attention has been directed to the advertisement referred to by the honorable member. The question as to whether a business conducted in this way falls within the provisions of the Banking Act 1945 is not a simple one. I arn having the matter that is raised in the advertisement, and one or two other cases that have cropped up, investigated both in the Treasury and by the Crown Law authorities.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. Was it formerly the policy of his department that immigrants who were found guilty by our courts and sentenced to terms of imprisonment of twelve months or more were also liable to deportation? Is the report correct that an immigrant who was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment by a court is now being deported on the order of the Minister? If this report is true, does it represent a change of policy on these matters by the Department of Immigration? If so, will the Minister inform the House of the reasons for the change, or is there in this case a story behind a story?
– There has been no change of policy on the part of the department so far as deportation is concerned. The immigration law is perfectly explicit. That law is preserved in the legislation to which this House gave its assent oni) recently.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has been approached by an association requesting that consideration be given to holding some meetings of the Cabinet in Hobart. On the modest assumption that the Government W1 remain in office for some time to come, will the Prime Minister give favorable consideration to the proposal that the Cabinet meet in Tasmania and other States from time to time?
– I do not think that I have heard of this proposal officially, but the idea of having a meeting of the Cabinet in Tasmania is most attractive. I will give it very favorable consideration.
– I direct a question without notice to the Prime Minister. Last week I asked the right honorable gentleman whether the Minister for Trade could return to Australia and report to the Parliament before the end of this parliamentary session. The Prime Minister said that the Minister could do a better job on the spot overseas. Is the Prime Minister aware that next day it was reported that the Minister for Trade was on his way home? Is it too late to re-direct the Minister to return via Japan and China, so that he may add strength to the mission that is going to those countries from Australia in a week or two to build up our trade in lead and zinc?
– I do not propose to make any hasty or impromptu changes i»» the time-table of my colleague, which has been very carefully worked out and which, I trust, will be performed.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to the growth of mushroom companies which apparently promise hospital and medical benefits to people who join their schemes, but the supposed beneficiaries never receive any benefits and are unable to obtain a refund of their contributions. Is this state of affairs due to a weakness in the company laws, which do not give the Commonwealth power to protect contributors? If so, would it be possible to arrange with the States for them to introduce legislation concurrent with Commonwealth legislation in order to protect contributors to such schemes? Alternatively, has the Government considered introducing legislation to enable the Commonwealth to prevent exploitation of this type from growing?
– No case of the kind referred to by the honorable member has actually come before me and, therefore, I am not aware of the basic facts. I would gather, however, that some aspects of this matter would concern my colleague, the Minister for Health. If that is so, I shall be very glad to discuss the matter with him.
– I ask the Minister for Supply a question. In view of the announcement last week, in reply to a question, that lead, zinc, and steel were not regarded by the Government as strategic materials, and that trade in those commodities with Communist China was not banned, will the Minister state what are the principal commodities the export of which to Communist China is prohibited on the basis that they are strategic materials?
– The simple answer to the honorable member’s question is that it was never said that lead and zinc were strategic materials.
– My question to the acting Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is prompted by the results of a current drilling programme in the tin-bearing areas of Renison Bell, on the west coast of Tasmania, where substantial reserves of highgrade ore have been disclosed. Does the Minister know whether any research work is being carried out by the C.S.I.R.O. minerals division on the possibility of increasing the percentage of tin recovered from this deposit, or similar deposits elsewhere?
– The problems involved in the recovery of tin from the tin-bearing sulphide ores of Tasmania, of which the Renison Bell ore is an example, have been considered several times, over the past fifteen years, by the Division of Industrial Chemistry of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In the last few months it has been suggested that recent experience gained in the division in other parts of its programme might be applied to finding a solution of these problems, and it is proposed shortly to commence some preliminary work. Initially, the aim of this work will be to gain basic data on which to make a decision as to which, if any, of three possible processes might be worthy of detailed investigation. This preliminary work will be also on the recovery of tin from other ores and other metallurgical processes of importance in Australia. If and when it is decided that one of the processes merits detailed investigation of this ore, the C.S.I.R.O. will discuss with the Renison Bell company the terms under which this investigation might proceed.
– I ask the acting Minister for Trade whether urgent action is being taken by the Department of Trade with the object of encouraging the sale of steel and coal to China. If such action is being taken, what is the nature of it? Will the Minister seek to ensure that the selling of increasing quantities of steel and coal to China and other countries is actively pursued by the department?
– There is no intention on the part of the Government to proceed with the sale of iron or coal to Communist China. However, the Government has always said that it would neither encourage nor discourage trade with Communist China.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the recent experiment to send beef to the United
Kingdom in nitrogen? Can he say how successful this experiment was and what future there is for it?
– Some time ago I think the honorable member for Darling Downs asked me a question about the experiment of sending Australian beef to the United Kingdom in 100 per cent, nitrogen. I am glad to be able to say that it has been highly successful. The beef was sent in steel containers. Each package was rather small, containing, I think, only eight hind-quarters. However, the meat arrived in first-class condition and the colour was perfect. It is thought that the experiment has been highly successful. Certain other tests will have to be carried out to prove the effectiveness of this method of carriage; however, it appears to offer distinct possibilities. Large-scale tests may subsequently be made for this purpose. The honorable member may rest assured that this experiment was a very promising beginning.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Will he consider taking some immediate action to have re-erected on the major roads entering Canberra signs drawing the attention of motorists to the fact that in this Territory the law requiring motorists to give way to traffic on their right is enforced? Will the Minister consider the possibility that the increasing number of accidents at intersections here is contributed to by the fact that there are literally thousands of motorists coming to this city from States in which this law is not enforced, whereas in this city motorists have, over the years, been schooled in both the belief and the practice that traffic on the left will give way to vehicles approaching on the right? Further, will the Minister do whatever is possible to halt what I believe is becoming an almost universal disregard of both speed limits and traffic laws in this city?
– I think it goes without saying that anything which can be done to reduce the growing number of accidents on our roads here in the Australian Capital Territory will be glady done by my department. I shall give attention to the honorable gentleman’s suggestion.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to the fact that, following correspondence between the Boilermakers Society of Australia and some of its subbranches, one sub-branch resolved that all of the members employed on a particular project should donate 2s. a week towards what was described as a peace programme? Further, has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been drawn to the fact that the funds so raised are to be divided equally among the Australian Labour party, the Communist party of Australia, and the New South Wales Peace Assembly? Is there any legislative protection at all for those members of the trade union movement who do not wish to provide funds for such treasonable organizations as the Communist party of Australia?
– I have not given particular attention nor, so far as I am aware, has my notice been directed, to the details contained in the honorable gentleman’s question. However, I may say that action of the kind mentioned would not be inconsistent with some of the policies adopted in certain trade unions of the Commonwealth, in which there has been an alliance, for various purposes, between some members of the Australian Labour party and some members of the Communist party. As to the legislative protection that exists, the legal position varies from State to State. It is obscure as to certain aspects. We hope that this obscurity will be relieved, to some degree at any rate, by the outcome of a case recently concluded in Hobart. Until we have the decision of the judge in that case, I would not care to speculate upon the legal position. We may have a clearer view when we know what the judge finds in that matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the reply from the acting Minister for Trade to the effect that the Government proposes to take no concrete steps to expand our trade with countries which could be regarded as the logical destination for some of our products, and in view of the threat of an extension of unemployment, will the Minister outline the positive and concrete steps that his department is taking to remove the threat of unemployment which faces so many Australians at the moment?
– In the first place, the assumption that the honorable gentleman makes from the reply of my colleague is not correctly founded. This Government has pursued a very active and positive programme of trade expansion, and even in relation to the countries mentioned there has been a significant increase in trade over recent years.
– He said that the Government would take no positive steps.
– He did not say that, as I understood his reply. He pointed briefly to the Government’s general attitude in this matter. As to our policy generally in relation to employment-
– You are making a liar of him.
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. He is not making a liar of him.
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes will withdraw.
– I withdraw the statement that he is not making a liar of him.
-Order! The honorable member for Parkes will withdraw that remark, or I shall deal with him.
– I withdraw it.
– The overall employment policy of the Government has been stated more than once in this place. It is to maintain an economic situation in Australia which will provide employment opportunities for Australian citizens, with an objective of full employment. That objective has been very successfully pursued during the term of office of this Government. I know that it is a matter of acute disappointment to honorable gentlemen opposite that not only has the recorded level of persons registered for work not risen above 2 per cent, at any stage in the course of this year, but also the trend over recent months has been a steady reduction in the numbers of those so registered.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is his intention to announce shortly the names of the persons to constitute the permanent universities committee under the States Grants (Universities) Act?
– I shall do that just as soon as I can, but at present I cannot.
– My question is directed to the acting Minister for Trade. Will the Minister cause to be published a list of the strategic materials the export of which to Communist China and other iron curtain countries is prohibited by the Government? Will he see to it that such items as iron, steel, zinc and lead are listed as either strategic, or non-strategic?
– The answer is, “ No “.
– Has the acting Minister for Trade considered the effects on costs of production in the rural industries of adoption of the Opposition’s suggestion, put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber last week, that the tariff on tractors be increased?
– Yes, we shall consider that point when the Tariff Board’s report has been received and is under examination.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has the right honorable gentleman received a request from the Premier of Western Australia asking that the Commonwealth Government consider the standardization of the railway between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle? If such a request has been received, will the right honorable gentleman please explain the attitude of the Government to it?
– I shall find out whether there is such a request, and I shall advise the honorable member.
– My question is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Gwydir. I ask the acting Minister for Trade: Is it a fact that adoption of the suggestions made by prominent members of the Labour party that the bounty on tractors be abolished and a tariff barrier be put in its place would cause the price of tractors to primary producers to increase?
– Yes, undoubtedly what the honorable member says is completely correct.
– I ask a question without notice of the Prime Minister, supplementary to the question just asked of him by the honorable member for Stirling. Does the Prime Minister’s recollection accord with the reply with which the Minister for Shipping and Transport furnished me on 28th August last through the Minister for Supply, and which stated that the Premier of South Australia wrote to the Prime Minister on 12th June last requesting that standardization should commence on the Broken Hill-Port Pirie line, and that the right honorable gentleman replied to him on 11th July last? I also ask whether, as the Minister also told me in his reply, the Premier of Western Australia wrote to the Prime Minister on 23rd June last asking that work on standardizing the PerthKalgoorlie line be put in hand during this year. Has the right honorable gentleman yet replied to the Premier of Western Australia in the fourteen weeks which have since elapsed?
– As the honorable member appears to be well informed on the date I shall accept his statement, of course, that there was a letter on 23rd June. I myself do not remember the date or the circumstances. As to whether there has been an answer, I should think that there has been no answer, in point of substance at any rate, as yet.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. A fortnight ago the honorable member for East Sydney proposed the socialization of land, industry and banks. Last week the honorable member for Melbourne, in a television interview, completely denied the existence of any proposal in the Labour party for socialization. Can the right honorable gentleman advise the House whether this is Labour’s preelection unity?
– Well, Mr. Speaker, I have not followed all these matters as closely as 1 should have perhaps, but long since, on this problem I came to the conclusion that it reminded me of the passage -
Read o’er this; And, after, this: and then to breakfast, with What appetite you have.
-I direct a question to the acting Minister for Trade. To restrict the movements of the red Chinese army, will the acting Minister for Trade consider putting Dr. Morse’s Indian Root pills on the list of strategic materials?
– I think that the honorable member will have a greater need for them than the red Chinese army.
– I direct a question to the acting Minister for Trade. A few minutes ago, he was requested to give details of the strategic and non-strategic materials. In reply, the Minister gave an emphatic “ No.” Will the Minister inform the House on what authority he refuses to disclose to honorable members what is after all a very important public matter?
– I do so on the adequate authority that I hold.
– I ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Minister for the Navy, whether any action can be taken to secure a reply to question No. 5 on the notice-paper, which has been there since 6th August. May I say, Mr. Speaker, that the question is one of considerable detail, and I realize that it was put on the noticepaper during the absence through ill-health of the Minister for the Navy, butI regard it as important, and as the House is shortly to rise, I would appreciate an answer.
– If this matter relates to Jervis Bay, I understand that the question is being answered to-day. So the honorable gentleman will get an answer soon.
– 1 direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the Prime Minister’s statement in reply to a question on the Formosa situation that there should be, so far as possible, a settlement of all these matters by peaceful negotiation, how does he justify his Government’s opposition at the recent meeting of the United Nations to a proposal to discuss the question of the recognition of the Chinese Government? Will the right honorable gentleman state upon what basis he considers that there can be peaceful negotiations with a government which other nations, parties to the proposed negotiations, refuse to recognize?
– This is, if I may say so, with great respect, obviously not a proper question for question time. This relates to policy. It invites argument and, in particular, it relates to a matter of Government policy which has been well known and stoutly maintained for a long time.
– The Minister for Immigration is undoubtedly aware that the week ending 25th October is United Nations week. I ask the Minister whether he will consider suggesting to the various branches of his department that that week would be very appropriate for naturalization ceremonies as these ceremonies would have a decided attachment to that particular celebration.
– I shall certainly consider the request of the honorable member for Moore. If at all possible, we shall endeavour to arrange naturalization ceremonies in Western Australia during that week and, if we can have one in his own electorate, I hope he will grace it by his presence.
– Is the acting Minister for Trade able to confirm reports that large-scale retrenchments are contemplated in the Sydney office of the Department of Trade? Since more than twenty Commonwealth temporary clerks are already said to be involved in such retrenchments, including men with over twenty years’ service, I ask the Minister whether he can indicate the reason for and the extent of the proposed staff reduction. Are these retrenchments associated with plans further to curtail import quotas or, alternatively, does the Minister consider that a stimulated trade with China will require less staff engaged in the business of rejecting import licence applications?
– The honorable member for Hughes can scarcely expect me to know offhand the staff position in the Sydney office. I shall examine the position and give him a full reply.
– Can the Minister for Health state what has been the response by adults to the Salk vaccination campaign? Has there been disappointment at the number of adults offering themselves for vaccination? Has there been any shortage of this vaccine which might have prevented a larger number of adults from being vaccinated?
– There has been no shortage of the vaccine. I am sorry that I cannot give the honorable gentleman, from memory, the actual number of adults who have been vaccinated. It is a little early to say whether the response has been satisfactory or not. I understand that in one State, New South Wales, the authorities have expressed some disappointment at the number of adults offering themselves for vaccination but that in other States, especially Western Australia and Queensland, the result has been quite good. I hope that it will not be long before it is equally satisfactory in all States.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he has received any suggestions from the honorable members for Macarthur, Mackellar, Wentworth and Lyne, for defeating the move of wool buyers to boycott Goulburn as a wool auction centre, since the attendance of those honorable members at a protest meeting held in Goulburn on Thursday, 18th September, at which they declared that any boycott of the Goulburn sales would strike at the principle of free trade and at which they promised to do everything in their power to promote decentralization of wool sales. If so, will the Minister state what proposals were submitted by these members to meet the situation and what decision with respect to the proposals has been made by the Government?
– As usual, on such matters as this, the honorable member for East Sydney is singularly misinformed. The matter has been placed by the relevant New South Wales Minister before the Industrial Commission and is therefore sub judice. As the matter is sub judice, I think it would be imprudent for me or anyone else to comment on it.
– When does the Prime Minister expect the Minister for Trade to be back in Australia? Has the right honorable gentleman any statement to make as to the Minister’s whereabouts?
– I am not speaking by the book, but I think he is due back on or about the 7th or 8th of next month. I am not sure. It will be after the House rises and before the election campaign begins.
– I have received a letter from the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The injury to the nation’s economy caused by the Government’s failure to take the necessary steps to secure adequate markets and reasonable prices overseas for Australia’s exported products; and the necessity for taking immediate positive steps for remedying the present position.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– This proposal, Mr. Speaker, has arisen out of discussions that took place in the House the other day with relation to the attendance of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) at the Montreal conference. It was obvious, from questions asked and answers given at question time, that considerable confusion existed amongst honorable members supporting the Government, from one part of the House or an- other, and it seemed absolutely imperative that the matter should be clarified.
The first point I want to make - and I do not think it will be contradicted now - is that despite the violently expressed protests of the Minister for Trade, the fact is that the recently announced import cuts imposed by the United States Government were pending, and known to be pending, for quite a considerable time. I think that fact emerged, to some extent at least, from the remarks of the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley), and it is very important that the House should be informed, first, as to what knowledge the Australian Government had of the impending restrictions proposed by the United States authorities on imports of lead and zinc from Australia, especially as the industry concerned is very important to Australia and to the problem of employment in Australia. When was information obtained regarding these proposed cuts? What steps were taken by the Government to put Australia’s position before the United States Government? What alternative steps might be taken? I understand - and again this is based largely on newspaper accounts - that the actual cut in our exports of lead and zinc to the United States is not only based upon a quota but has been made more severe because of the fact that in the last few years our exports have been at a high level. It is not only a pro rata or a percentage quota, I understand, and therefore the danger is all the greater.
It was said once by Canning that in matters of commerce the fault of the Dutch was in giving too little and asking too much. That is a comment, I think, that to-day would not be limited to any particular country. Although in matters of trade one’s own government is not supposed to look after the other party to the transaction, nevertheless there must be mutual give and take. It seems extraordinary to me - and I think this must be said - that some arrangement was not made concerning this proposed restriction which was obviously going to affect adversely our Australian industries. The Minister for Trade stated that Australia would feel anger at the ruthless character of the restriction. Was that a proper remark to make, in view of the knowledge that the Minister had had?
This, of course, is simply one aspect of the matter. What we want to debate is not merely the matter of zinc or lead or some other export commodity, but the problem as a whole. We should try to throw some light on the subject and find out what the Government proposes to do to meet the present position. I noticed that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in one of his comments outside, referred by way of criticism to the trade position left by the Chifley Government. What a pity he did not tell the people the facts! He should have told them that more than £800,000,000 was left by the Chifley Government in overseas credits in sterling - the very basis of our operations with relation to overseas trade and commerce. He said not a word about that. The fact is that our position with relation to overseas trade has been prejudiced by the inflation of prices, which has reached enormous dimensions under the present Government. In many respects our exports have been out-priced because of this development.
It also emerged, Mr. Speaker, from statements in this House, that a delegation of representatives of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Mount Isa Mines Limited was to go to the Far East. I understand that the Minister claimed that this delegation had government authority or backing. Subsequent newspaper reports gave quite a different version, suggesting that the enterprise involving the ship “ Delos “ was arranged by these bodies without reference to the Government at all.
Having referred to the restrictions on lead and zinc exports to the United States, Mr. Speaker, I now wish to refer to Australia’s position with relation to Eastern countries. The relevant figures are set out in the report of the Bureau of Census and Statistics recently issued. They indicate a very serious position. They show, for instance, a decline in Australia’s exports to Ceylon in the year 1957-58, as compared with the previous year. They show a similar position with regard to India, Pakistan, and pretty well all the Eastern countries with which our trade figures are significant. With regard to Indonesia, of course, the difference is enormously against us. It is extraordinary that we cannot improve trade with Indonesia. What has the Government done to promote trade in these countries? It has some sort of an organization. It has appointed trade commissioners, some of whom are experts. I think the main point is that the Government has been taking the position for granted, despite statements made from time to time by Ministers by way of comfort to those most concerned about the position - the producers.
Take the position with regard to Ceylon. Our total exports to that country in 1956-57 amounted to £10.000.000, and they have declined to £5,000.000. This leads me to the important point that there is a trade agreement in existence between Ceylon and China under which the Chinese have bought a good deal of rubber from Ceylon. This has given China certain rights in return. What is forgotten in connexion with trade with China - I am referring to mainland China - is that if trade between mainland China and Australia occurs, and is encouraged, it will enable Australia to get the benefit of China’s relationships with other countries.
Apparently, the Government has completely failed to meet the needs of the situation. One Minister said, earlier to-day, that the Government, neither encourages nor discourages trade with China. What an attitude to take towards trade - the lifeblood of this country! The Government is either for it or against it. The truth, in my opinion, is that the Government, without appearing to be against it, does everything it can against it. I do not say that that applies to all the Ministers of this Government. One could see, in this House the other day, the differing points of view that Ministers held. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), for instance, who was asked whether zinc and lead were on the list of exports to China that were banned, did not know. What is the list? In Britain and the United States of America, lists of banned exports are published for the information of traders. Are not the people and the traders of Australia entitled to know what’ exports are banned? Apparently not, in the eyes of this Government! The whole situation is confused. The Government is making no real effort to promote overseas trade, especially to countries like mainland China.
Some one asked the other day why we call mainland China by that name. Thai is the description used in order to describe the country correctly in all United Nations documents and in the official statistics of the Bureau of Census and Statistics from which I am quoting.
The trade pattern developing between Asia and Australia, and the refusal of the United States to trade with China, do not lead to the strengthening of the West. They lead rather to the strengthening of China. If one looks at the situation in that light, the matter is serious. This Government’s refusal to help trade with China in every possible way is especially serious, because China’s main purchases would be made in Australian wool, in either raw form or in wool tops. China is one of the few countries in the Far East with which our trade is increasing. In 1956-57, nearly all the £6,000,000 worth of trade with China was in wool, and in 1957-58, the figure increased to £9,000,000. It is very important that that trade should be encouraged. But the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), instead of encouraging it, asked a question the other day in the course of which he insulted representatives of the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, apparently because they had been associated with the financing of some of the transactions that led to our wool being bought by China. It is a well-known fact that the Commonwealth Trading Bank does its job as a banker in such transactions. Why should it be attacked by the honorable member for Chisholm on that account? We jokingly say here that he belongs to the Formosan lobby, but the truth about it is undoubtedly that he does not want us to trade with China at all. That is his view, and if the Government wishes neither to encourage nor to discourage such trade, it is quite clear that the honorable member does not put the Government’s point of view.
What is the position of the Australian Labour party? Let me state it frankly, Mr. Speaker. The position that the Labourparty has taken for years now, since it was decided by the authoritative conference of the party, in relation to mainland China is that it is absolutely wrong to fail to recognize the Chinese Government, which has now been in existence for nearly ten years. It should be recognized. It represents the main body of the Chinese people - a population of probably well over 600,000,000 - and ali the Chinese who were opposed (o it are now confined to Formosa. 1 am not dealing with the future of Formosa or the future of mainland China, but I say that recognition of mainland China is essential. Proper arrangements could be made, of course - and would be made - by the United Nations for the protection of the people of Formosa, and it would ultimately decide their future destiny. Broadly, that is the view of the Australian Labour party. But, in the meantime, thi> trade about which 1 have been speaking is vital to Australia.
If we traded with China, we should be in a better position in our trade with Ceylon. The statistics illustrate thai. Apparently, China’s industries are growing. There is an enormous market to be obtained there, and what rhyme or reason is there for closing our eyes to the benefits of a trade to the people and the producers of this country? What sense is there in such an attitude? China is one example of a country with which we should trade - and it is a very important example. The matter is linked to some extent, of course, with international affairs. I do not wish to debate them now, except to say that, regardless of international policy towards China, trade between Australia and that country is necessary for the welfare of Australian industry and for the improvement of the employment situation here.
China offers the most favorable signs among the Far Eastern countries with regard to trade, and I believe that the whole of the trade at present taking place between Australia and that country is due entirely to the desire of the Australian people to trade with China without government assistance at all, for there has been no real government backing for that trade. If the Government has done anything to help that trade, it has never said so. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon) certainly has hesitated to say so. He said, in effect, “ If people want to trade with mainland China, they can “. That is not the attitude towards trade that this Government should take at the present time. It should be prompt and eager to get on with the job of increasing our export trade. It knows that, in that respect, we are now in a desperate position.
This attack by the United States on one of Australia’s important exports is one feature of the present situation. The prospects of trade with China are typical of the prospects of trade with many of the eastern countries. I believe that, in future, European markets will become increasingly difficult for us, and that Australia’s hopes lie in closer relations with the people of Asia - in trading with them, helping them so far as we can, and treating them as we should - as people with whom we are not at war. Why does the Government not take that attitude? That is the attitude of the Australian Labour party, from a human point of view. I believe that, from a business and trade point of view, the overwhelming majority of the people of Australia are in favour of full-scale trade with China, especially in the present economic slump. To-day, the Government undoubtedly should be behind trade with China, and it should send representatives there to assist those who want to sell our wool tops . and other commodities to the people of China. This applies not only to China.
– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has, I fear, got himself into a rather complicated state of mind on this matter, as clearly appeared in the last five minutes of his speech. It turns out that what is vexing him is not trade in lead and zinc, but the recognition of red China.
– Australian export trade.
– The right honorable gentleman should not run away from it. He has already showed his concern about the recognition of red China. The most powerful and expressive passage in his speech was about the recognition of red China - and, of course, in conjunction with that recognition, exports to red China. It is a great mistake to say that the right honorable gentleman was contemplating trade with red China. He kept his eyes on exports to red China, and said not a word about what we were to import from red China. Is he so simple as to believe that trade runs all one way? If, indeed, we managed, or were disposed, to make an arrangement with red China in the form of a trade treaty or trade agreement which included imports into Australia as well as exports from Australia, would the Australian Labour party, which, to a man, opposed such an agreement with non-Communist Japan, support such an agreement with Communist China?
This is a great complexity in which the right honorable gentleman has involved himself. I invite everybody to recall - as I hope the people will recall - that, when this Government negotiated an agreement with Japan which protected over £100,000,000 worth of the business of this country with Japan, and that agreement was presented to the Parliament for approval, every Labour member, from the Leader of the Opposition down, supported an amendment and voted against the agreement. In other words, they said, “ We will have no trade treaty with Japan “. If that meant anything, it meant, “ We do not want to have trade with Japan “. We were criticized then for wanting it and to-day, because red China is a Communist country, we are criticized for not pushing on with the making of a trade treaty with a country which at this very moment is pumping shells on to civilians in Quemoy.
Members of the Opposition show by their interjections that they do not care for this, but I am enjoying it myself. As a monument of timing, I commend this to the attention of the public. At the very moment when’ we have this problem of naked aggression being used by Communist China against Quemoy in alleged enforcement of legal claims, we have the right honorable gentleman, apparently with the backing of his party, saying that this is the time to recognize them and to push out and make trade bargains with them, so long, of course, as the trade bargains involve only exports from us and no imports from them.
I should like to remind any one who is interested in the export trade of Australia that this Government has devoted more attention to that problem than has any other government in the history of Australia. This Government, through trade commissioners, through many trade missions, through its export payments insurance scheme, through the encouragement of production, by the great loans that we have raised in the United States for capital purposes - loans which Labour was not even game to try to get - through vastly increased expenditure on the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, through extension services, through special research into special industries and by very notable tax concessions to primary producers, has done more than has any other government in our history to encourage production and exports from Australia.
– Tell us what the trade balances are!
– If the honorable member for Herbert, who is from Queensland, is unaware of the fall in the price of wool, to take a simple example, I am sorry but I will not expect to see him in this House after the next election.
All this flim-flam about red China disposes of itself; let Opposition members mumble in their corners about their attitude as between Japan, which is not Communist, and red China, which is Communist; it will be a superb illustration for the people to have in their minds. Before I sit down - we have only fifteen minutes, as my right honorable friend realized - I just want to say a word about lead and zinc, because the right honorable gentleman’s enthusiasm on this subject is newly born. I cannot remember him saying” anything about lead arid zinc or, indeed, about any of these other problems except the recognition of red China, until the last few days. Therefore, perhaps I should tell him something that I thought was well known. The tariff commission in the United States - I forget its precise name - investigated the question of lead and zinc and brought in a report months ago. The very moment it appeared that some action was likely to be taken, we made our representations. We made it quite clear, through diplomatic and other channels, that this was something that seriously concerned us because it affected a not unimportant export industry. The Administration of the United States of America, being a little reluctant to go in for some steep tariff accommodation, then began to investigate and to discuss what became known as the Seaton plan, which was designed, as I recall it, to include some stabilization on a basis of limited production.
All this, I thought, was very well known. It was freely discussed around this place. The right honorable gentleman had not heard of it, but other people had. The matter finally went before the President, and the President himself came down, within his powers, in favour of a quota. We instantly made our representations on that, first against the imposition of a quota and, secondly, pointing out that the year which was the basis of the quota was a very unfavorable and unrepresentative year as far as Australia was concerned. All those representations have been made and, of course, they have been considered. We are not in command of American policy, nor do we need to become too passionate about this matter. After all, the basis of the whole argument about lead and zinc is that for some time there has been a world over-production and this has had a depressing effect on prices. One of the great things that my distinguished colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), has been hammering at the Montreal conference is the necessity for having multilateral commodity arrangements which will tend to give stability to the prices of these base metals. All that he has been pursuing with his usual vigour, while other people have just been waking up for the first time to these simple facts of life.
It may be said - and this is the last thing I will have time to say - that we have not put our representations in the right quarter. In those circumstances, I hope that the House will bear with me if I say that the Australian Ambassador has cabled me the full text of a personal letter, which will be formally delivered to me later to-day, from the President of the United States on this very matter. He says this -
My Dear Prime Minister: -
T have given careful consideration to the strong representations of the Australian Government through your Ambassador concerning the recent import quotas on lead and zinc. From the beginning of our common study of this whole problem I have tried to avoid any solution thai would bear too heavily upon any of our valued friends.
The cause of the current industry crisis is world overproduction of lead and zinc. No one country is responsible for this. The imbalance between production and consumption became so acute in 1938 that the United States mining industry reduced its production by about 25 per cent. In addition, the domestic industry, in an attempt to stabilize the market, accumulated very large inventories. Imports nevertheless continued at very high levels. The result was a steady decline in price.
It was to avoid chaotic conditions in the world industry that my Government and yours made strenuous efforts to agree with other lead and zinc exporting nations on a course of action for restoring order and stability in the industry throughout the world.
This is good proof of the activities that have been going on. The letter continues -
These consultations, while promising, revealed that there was no early prospect of obtaining unanimous agreement to deal with the emergency. It was only then that I reluctantly decided that prompt action by the United States was necessary.
There is apparently some feeling on the part of the Australians that the quota is designed to transfer the burden of readjustment to other countries. - This is not so. According to our estimates, the quota represents an equitable approach to the burdens of readjustment upon both domestic and foreign producers.
I recognize that the base period of the last 5 years happens to operate with particular severity against the Australian economy. This is a matter of concern to me. My Government stands willing to discuss with your Government and other interested Governments possible alternative arrangements. In this connection, I am hopeful that the multilateral discussions, which we expect to continue, will result in agreement of all on a > formula for equitably sharing the burden of readjustment and at the same time lay the basis for enduring stability in the world industry. If, contrary to our expectations, it should not be possible promptly to reach a multilateral agreement, the United States also stands ready to review with Australia and other interested Governments on a bilateral basis, the most equitable way of dealing with the problem.
I appreciate very much your Government’s cooperation in endeavouring to work out this problem on an orderly basis and look to a continuance of that co-operation in the future consistent with our intimate relations generally.
With warm personal regards, I am,
Dwight Eisenhower President, United States of America.
.- Ten minutes does not allow much time for discussion of what is, after all, a matter of paramount importance to the people of Australia. Lest it be thought by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and members of the Government parties that this debate has been initiated for the purpose of attacking American policy regarding the importation of zinc and lead, I hasten to say that this matter has been brought to a head only because the American restriction on the importation of Australian lead and zinc is part of a situation that has been agitating the minds of Australians for a long time. Ever since it took office this Government has proceeded to do serious injury to the Australian economy. The plain truth is that if the Prime Minister had honoured his 1 949 election promise to put value back into the £1 - in other words, to stabilize costs in this country - the problems of international trade would not be as serious for us as they now are.
There can be no doubt that cartels operate to keep down the price of Australian wool. The Government’s friends in other countries are indulging in all sorts of skulduggery. Because of the stupid international policy pursued by this Government, we find ourselves priced out of world markets because of high costs. Australia has been priced out of the wool market because of the operations of a few buyers who control it. Australia is so unpopular in many countries that they prefer to trade with other nations and people of other religious beliefs. That is the crux of the situation. To cap it all, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), undoubtedly a man of boundless energy and plenty of competence, is repeatedly touring the world breathing threats to people in other countries. He has done this ever since he took over his portfolio. He has been breathing threats to the United Kingdom. He has made threats to the United States in an endeavour to ease trade restrictions. In this matter of trade restrictions Australia herself has not been entirely guiltless. Indeed, she is guilty of indulging in the same practices for which she blames other countries. It is all very well for the Government to tell other countries that it does not approve of their actions, but when Ministers and responsible governments get the idea that they can threaten and bluff other countries, they have another think coming.
Let us look at the situation that confronted the Minister for Trade when he arrived at the recent Commonwealth Trade and Economic Conference at Montreal. First he was confronted with a statement by Sir David Eccles that the United Kingdom would eliminate dollar restrictions against America on the importation of agricultural, industrial and office equipment. It was further stated that the United Kingdom would extend that policy to cover the supply of food and other commodities. Just imagine the Minister’s reactions! He said that if the United Kingdom did that, Australia would get busy and enlist the cooperation of Russia, red China, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland in an endeavour to stabilize world prices and make a new arrangement amongst the peoples of the world about commodities. That is not a policy with which I disagree. In fact, it is a policy that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) enunciated in his 1955 policy speech. No country can afford to continue a policy of barring from trade people of other philosophies and religious beliefs. The Labour party does not stand for that. The outcome of the Minister’s attitude was that the press and various organizations - people of the most reactionary and conservative views - came out of their hiding places and said that they wanted to trade with red China. Those same people had been associated with the Government in its condemnation of the Labour party over unity tickets. They were the same people who, like the Prime Minister, have been accusing the Labour party over the last ten years of defending Communists. The president of the dairymen’s organization in Victoria said, “ We want to trade with red China. We want markets for our primary products “. When lt came to a question of a few pence in their pockets those people forgot all about unity tickets. They lined themselves up with the Government and the Minister at Montreal, who said, “ Let us get together with the Communists. Let us trade as much as possible so that money will flow into Australia “.
Do I disagree with that policy? Certainly not. But this position highlights the hypocrisy of the people opposed to Labour in this country. The president of the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association revealed in Melbourne last week that in June last year the Australian Wheat Board, consisting of representatives of Australian wheat-growers, the people who produce the major part of our export income, had exported to red China - politely called mainland China- a £220,000 cargo of wheat for the Communist Chinese to fatten on. Recently, when it was revealed in the House that Australian wool and other goods to the value of £10,000,000 had gone to China in the last twelve months, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) said that every pound of wool and every pound of butter sent to mainland China was a silver bullet to be fired back at our own people. He was voicing the attitude and philosophy that has been repeatedly expressed by Government supporters over the last ten years. But now, for the sake of pelf, the great industrial magnates of this country who, to give them their due, want to keep men in employment, realize, all too late as far as the people of this country are concerned, that the right thing for the Government to do is to endeavour to make profitable trade arrangements with other countries. The primary producers, because of the inevitability of the evolutionary process that is going on in the world to-day, have also realized this fact. Last week, I heard from a traveller who had been through a woollen mill in Peking. He told me that 75 per cent, of the wool used in that mill was Australian wool, the major portion of which was labelled “ Product of Australia “ and came from Bradford, England. It was wool exported to England, spun into wool tops there and then exported to red China. The British are realists in this sort of thing, and when the Prime Minister taunts the Leader of the Opposition with being unrealistic and suggests that he does not realize that imports must follow exports, let me tell him that to-day the British are standing behind the policy of exporting to red China. Over the last few years they also have been receiving imports from red China directly, and. indirectly, through Hong Kong and Japan.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First of all, I take this opportunity to correct some misunderstandings and misconceptions which have arisen over two separate matters. The first concerns the proposal of the Australian Exporters Federation to send a trade mission to the Far East. This has been represented in many quarters as an act of retaliation on the part of Australia because of the restrictions imposed by the United States of America on the imports to that country of lead and zinc. Secondly, for some extraordinary reason, this mission to the Far East has been interpreted as a mission to Communist China.
The charge of retaliation against the United States can be disposed of in just one sentence. The Australian Exporters Federation arranged last January to send a delegation to the Far East, and to suggest at this stage that that arrangement, made at that time, should be regarded as retaliation against the United States for imposing import cuts on zinc and lead, is nothing short of ludicrous.
The second point is the assumption -which has been expressed in many quarters, and implied to-day in this House, that this mission to the Far East is a mission to Communist China. A simple recital of the facts is the most effective way of dealing with that suggestion. The Australian Exporters Federation, on behalf of its members, decided, last January, to send a trade mission to the Far East. About a dozen members were chosen, representing 70 or 80 Australian firms. It has not been apparent, aor has it been made obvious by what the Opposition has said to-day, that under this Government, Australia’s trade with the Far East has increased to more than 23 per cent, of its total exports. This is a dramatic and amazing increase over the last few years, and shows how well aware this Government is of the potential and possibilities of extending trade in the Far East.
Quite understandably, the members of the Australian Exporters Federation said, “While the business is there we are interested in following it up “. Naturally, they decided to go and see what they could do in the Far East. Just as naturally, they sought a ship which would take them to as many ports in the Far East as possible. For this reason they selected a vessel called “Delos”, a ship which trades regularly to the Far East and which calls at more Far Eastern ports than most other vessels that run there.
I might interpolate that this ship is not a trade mission ship as other ships are sometimes regarded, for example, when a country charters a whole vessel, fills it with goods and sends it on a selling mission around the world or to some particular area. This was an ordinary ship on which the Australian Exporters Federation booked a dozen berths and sufficient space in which the exporters could display some of their goods.
As I have said already, the reason that “ Delos “ was chosen was that she calls at more ports in the Far East than does any other suitable vessel. It calls at ports in New Guinea, Borneo, Manila, Hong Kong, five different ports in Japan and at Shanghai. The voyage which these men will make is not a special voyage, but one of the regular voyages of this ship. It calls at Shanghai on every one of its voyages, but not specifically to take an Australian trade mission there or to provide an opportunity for trade with red China. It calls there in its normal course of taking up or setting down cargo, as any other similar ship would do.
Because the Australian Government is so keen on developing trade with the Far East it said that it would co-operate, and it has maintained that attitude. The Government believes that the private exporters, the private industrialists and commercial interests of Australia should get out themselves and sell their goods. The Government does the best it can in the matter with trade agreements and trade fairs and, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, has its trade commissioner service and trading posts abroad. But basically, the Government considers that it is the job of commerce and industry to get out and do their own job. It is convinced that these interests will do this job far better than any government could.
In conformity with this policy, the Government said that it would co-operate with this mission to the Far East and that it would send a publicity agent in advance. Accordingly, a very highly skilled publicity officer from the Department of Trade was to go a month ahead of the ship. He was to arrange commercial advertising and those other matters which a public relations expert attends to, and he was to visit all those places in the Far East where “Delos” would call.
Returning to the proposition that has been put forward that the Australian Government is making an all-out attempt to woo Communists into trading, I point out that the very fact that the trade publicity officer is not going to Shanghai should be sufficient answer.
The second misconception or misunderstanding which I wish to correct is in relation to the action of the United States in restricting imports of zinc and lead. Undeniably, this has been a blow to certain sections of Australian industry, but there is one thing which is essential, and that is that we should see the matter in the proper perspective and above all have the facts straight. The Prime Minister has detailed what has happened in this matter. He pointed out that, months ago, the United States Tariff Board brought down a report, and subsequently the Seaton plan was evolved, to which Congress refused to agree. He stated what our ambassador our trade commissioners and our Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) have done, and said that we in Australia have been informed about all these things.
A suggestion that this trade mission is an act of retaliation is the sort of illadvised comment which will prejudice negotiations which are still going on. I, for one, believe that the United States will treat us fairly in this matter and that the outcome will be as just as it can be. Do not let us forget that the United States knows, as we know, that in the world to-day there is over-production of zinc and lead to the extent of some 200,000 or 300,000 tons. Right from the start the United States said, “ You other exporting countries should get together and try to rationalize your exports to the rest of the world. We, the United States, are doing what we can. We are stockpiling, but the day will come when there will be a limit to our stockpiling because we are over-producing, as the rest of the world is.”
– Why did not the Government do that?
– On 11th September last, as the result of discussions which had been going on for some months in a special committee appointed under the auspices of the United Nations, in which our representative, the Deputy High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Sir Edward McCarthy, took part, the matter was discussed along the lines which the United States had indicated would be desirable.
– What results did he get?
– The honorable member for East Sydney is getting anxious. On 14th September this special committee made certain recommendations which were sent to the twenty or more governments concerned with zinc and lead production. These governments will discuss those recommendations, and that special committee is expected to meet again in London on 14th or 15th October.
So much for lead and zinc. Now I come to the general charge that the Australian Government has not done enough to promote our exports. When we compare the performance of honorable members opposite when they were in government with what is happening to-day, we see just how hollow are the charges and criticism levelled against the Government.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I support the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in his condemnation of the Government for its inaction in failing to find adequate markets and reasonable prices for Australian exports. The responsibility resting on the Government is very great. We live in a world wherein the governments of various countries are interfering with trade by subsidizing the sale of commodities overseas. It is impossible for the private entrepreneur to-day to find adequate markets for his products in the face of such opposition. Therefore there is a responsibility on the Australian Government to endeavour to meet the competition from other countries by finding markets for our products.
Australia has been very seriously affected by the restriction placed recently on the sale of our lead and zinc to the United States of America. The Government stands condemned, because by allowing inflation to take control, it has contributed to the high cost of production in Australia. When Labour left office, we could produce some goods more cheaply than could most countries. To-day we are in very great difficulty in exporting those goods profitably in competition with other countries. We have experienced falling markets because of the Government’s inaction. The Government tries to arrange our trading operations on a trader-to-trader basis. We of the Labour party established markets on a governmenttogovernment basis, and until this Government takes more interest in this course we cannot hope to improve our trading position. We have representatives of Australia all over the world, from ambassadors and trade commissioners down to their huge staffs, but the Government appeared to be entirely uninformed about the policy to be adopted by the United States of America until the bubble actually burst. Then we had the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) coming forward and endeavouring to “ square off “ for his inaction.
One has only to look at our trade position with a few of the countries in the East to find out how the Government has failed. Australia’s trade with Eastern countries deteriorated sharply during 1957-58, in comparison with the previous year. Exports to Japan fell by £36,000,000, to Indonesia by £2,800,000, to India by £17,000,000, to Hong Kong by £11,000,000, and to Ceylon by £6,600,000. The total loss in trade with Eastern countries was £67,000,000. Our exports to the United States fell last year by about £29,000,000. Exports to the United Kingdom have also fallen. I point out these facts, because I feel that not only has the Government failed in regard to the sale of lead and zinc, but it has also failed generally in establishing markets for our various primary products.
Following the announcement of the restrictions imposed by the United States of America, headlines in the press read, “ Tough Minister will act over lead-zinc “. One newspaper stated -
When the Acting Trade Minister (Mr. Townley) answered a question on the cuts, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) asked him to stand up again and tell the House that Australia had been making representations to America on the issue for months.
Yet, in the “ Sun-Herald “ of 28th September, the following appeared: -
In Washington, U.S. State Department and Australian Embassy officials said no Australian protest had been lodged against the U.S. lead and zinc quotas, which would cut Australian exports by about £8,000,000. … In Washington, when questioned about Australia’s protest over the cut in lead and zinc imports, a U.S. State Department official replied “ What protest? “
The point is that the Government did not protest sufficiently before the act was committed. All it has done is to squeal after action has been taken to reduce the exports of lead, which is a very vital matter to Australia. Our average annual export of lead over the last five years was 232,000 tons, of which 109,400 tons went to the United States. Last year the total value of our lead exports was £21,600,000, of which £10,286,000 worth went to the
United States. Honorable members can see how important to Australia was the American market. Broken Hill, which is in the area I represent, is very gravely affected indeed, because it is the chief producer of lead in this country. About 80 per cent, of lead exported is produced in Broken Hill. If there is to be a restriction of lead exports, the industry in Broken Hill will be hit hardest.
Broken Hill will not only feel the effect in the future; already it has- felt the pinch. The number of employees has been substantially reduced. At the end of last year 5,921 people were employed at Broken Hill, but I am informed that this week the number totals only 5,459, or 462 fewer than were employed at Christmas. Those 5,459 employees are working only nine weeks out of ten at the present time. They are all having one week off in ten, which means that they are 10 per cent, unemployed. The effective number of unemployed at Broken Hill, taking into account part-time workers and those dismissed, is about 1,000 persons. I am told, further, that if there are further restrictions on exports from the district, it will be impossible for the mines to finance the huge stocks of concentrates or refined ore. Consequently, there will be some further reduction in the number of employees. Nothing could be more disastrous to the people who live in that area.
Because Broken Hill has done so much for the industry and contributed so much to the country’s wealth, it should be given some consideration by this Government. The Broken Hill mines have produced 11,000,000 tons of lead, 8,300.000 tons of zinc, and 510.000,000 ounces of silver, total value of these being over £500,000,000. So the mines have contributed considerably to the welfare and progress of this country. Many industries which have been established, such as the steel industry of the Broken Hill Company Proprietary Limited, have been established from profits made at Broken Hill, and they can justly claim that they are entitled to special consideration from this Government. As a matter of fact, sales of lead obtained from Broken Hill alone in 1957 totalled 184,000 tons, of which 39,000 tons was sold locally, 67,000 tons in the United States of America, and 78,000 tons in other countries.
I quote those figures to show the House how the people there will be affected by these restrictions. I have an extract from the local newspaper, dated 27th September. It states that the council offered land for sale, and only £60 was bid for a block of land which would have brought £600 a few months ago. No bids at all were received for other blocks that were offered. The point I want to make is that if the result of what is happening is additional unemployment in the Broken Hill area, many people will have to leave Broken Hill, sacrificing the homes and the life-savings they have built up, because Broken Hill is a city in which no employment, other than that provided by the mining industry, is available to mine workers. The Government should have some regard for the welfare of these people. I say there is a demand on the Government - indeed, I call on the Government - to create employment for the people of these towns.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I thought that when the Labour party announced that it intended to raise this matter as one of urgency there was going to be some sting in the debate, some attack on the Government. After listening to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) it was perfectly obvious, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) pointed out, that the right honorable ‘ gentleman was merely taking advantage of the provision in the Standing Orders for raising his proposal, in order to support the leader of the Labour party in Great Britain on the weird foreign policy which that gentleman enunciated at the British Labour party’s conference about two days ago. The right honorable gentleman did not really attack the trade policy of this Government; but he did announce, as the Prime Minister said, first, that the Labour party believes we could get more trade if we recognized red China. May I tell the right honorable gentleman that after we had recognized red China we would get less trade with that country than we had before. This has been proved by events, because every time Great Britain has appeased red China she has been given far less trade than she had before the appeasement.
The second point enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition was that Formosa should be placed under a United Nations trusteeship. The third point was that our trade with Asia in general has been falling off. Well, the answer to the last one is that trade all over the world has been falling off.
Then the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) spoke, and disagreed with his leader on practically everything. He agreed with him on one point, however. They both claimed that the loss of our export trade had been due to inflation. In fact, that is the only point on which all three of the Opposition speakers so far have agreed. Yet here we find the Labour party going to the next election offering the electors all sorts of baits at a cost of extra inflation, which would be produced by the printing of extra currency. This has already been announced in the press.
– That is not so.
– You have said that you will increase social service benefits and everything else. Thereby you must necessarily increase inflation. You must also increase taxes to pay for the increased benefits you promise the electors. I am not criticizing honorable gentlemen opposite on that at the moment. I shall criticize them on it at the right time. All I am saying, to them now, is: Do not accuse this Government on the score that inflation has upset the export trade, because that is not true. The fact, as everybody who has examined the position knows, is that we are now in a somewhat similar period to that which followed World War I. As in the early ‘thirties, a large measure of the backlog of shortages due to the war has been caught up in every country of the world and when the defeated nations have come back into the world markets and must be given a reasonable share of them. We are now in a period of re-adjustment which is going to be a little difficult, because the halcyon holiday of the post-war period is over. But, instead of what happened last time - a very serious economic depression - we have this uneasy period of what might be called re-adjustment and stabilization, showing that the policy of this Government and of other governments is much more effective than were the policies of Labour governments at the time of the depression. The facts show that the Government knows what to do in order to cope with the situation, and the Government therefore should be congratulated, and not criticized, for its achievement.
So I cannot understand why the Labour party has raised this matter although, when the last speaker had the floor, it seemed that the reason was to allow the honorable member for Darling to get a little pre-election kudos. We all are human, and we know that he represents a constituency which is directly affected by this particular matter of lead and zinc quotas. Let me remind the honorable member for Darling that the richest city in the whole of Australia, if not the world, has been Broken Hill ever since the war. In that city there still operates the lead bonus of £8 10s. a week, and the minimum wage is about £23 a week. It is still a very rich city. Although everybody wants to try to correct anomalies that might occur in a situation of this nature, I feel that we have to do far more for some of the miners who will be more affected in other areas, and who will be not as well off as the miners in the electorate of the honorable member for Darling.
Last week we had the Labour party slandering America right and left because the American Government has imposed quotas on lead and zinc imports. Thank heavens honorable members opposite seem to have learned a lesson since last week. Although the Leader of the Opposition continued, in a small degree, in last week’s strain, it was only in a small degree compared with last week, when a wave of hysteria hit the Labour party, whose members thought, “ Here is good election propaganda “. May I remind the Opposition that, as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has often said in this chamber recently, the dairying industry has been much worse hit because Great Britain has subsidized her farmers, and other nations have taken action similar to that which we have taken ourselves. But the plight of the dairying industry, as shown by the honorable member for Richmond, did not rouse one mite of interest in the Labour party. Indeed, members of the Opposition actually scoffed at the honorable member for Richmond when he mentioned the matter. There are far more people engaged in other primary industries than there are engaged in the mineralproducing industries. We want to help anybody who is affected by falling trade in any of the industries concerned.
After the Leader of the Opposition had spoken for some minutes he came to his real theme - the recognition of red China. May I remind the right honorable gentleman again of what he said in 1949 when he declared the Communist Government of China could not be recognized - and now I quote verbatim -
That was the Leader of the Opposition in 1949. I ask him now whether he considers that red China is discharging all international obligations by attempting to settle the question of the off-shore islands by force. I think that the right honorable gentleman has been led away by his Labour counterparts in England. Both Mr. Gaitskell and Mr. Driberg were among the angry young men of the 1920’s, who thought that fate had dealt them a cruel blow because they were too young to go to World War I. So they had to espouse all kinds of extreme policies afterwards in order to obtain the recognition that they had formerly been deprived of. Mr. Attlee advocated the same kind of policy with regard to Formosa. He was going to give away Formosa as well as the off-shore islands, but now apparently somebody has got a little bit of sense. These are the people who are now criticizing America, and they are the same people who at the time of World War I. criticized America, not over Quemoy, but over a small country called Belgium. They said to America then, “ You are too proud to fight “.
– What did McEwen say about it?
– You would not remember this. You were too young. The criticism of America then was that she was too proud to fight. Now, because she is standing up to red China and saying she will not allow aggression to succeed, she is criticized again, and this time the Leader of the Opposition, in spite of what he said in 1949, comes straight out for recognition of red China and for putting Formosa under a United Nations trusteeship. Perhaps I may remind the right honorable gentleman of Mao Tse-tung’s memorandum on the new programme of world revolution carried to Moscow by Chou En-lai in March, 1953 -
Formosa must be incorporated into the People’s Republic of China because of the Government’s commitment to the people. If seizure by force is to be avoided for the time being, the entry of the Chinese People’s Government into the United Nations may help solve this problem. If there should be serious obstacles to the immediate transfer of Formosa to the control of the People’s Government, a United Nations trusteeship over Formosa as an intermediary step could be taken into consideration.
I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition should follow the Mao Tse-tung programme.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- One would imagine, in view of the importance of this matter and its nature, that there would be a galaxy of government talent to answer the charges of the Opposition, but there is only one Minister in the House, and the serried ranks on the Government side are sadly broken. Not one representative of the Australian Country party is listed to speak in this debate, and the speeches that have been made from the Government side, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) down, have been pathetic in the extreme. There is no interest on the Government side in this problem, but there is a great deal of fear because figures can be produced to prove that Australia is broke overseas and that the Government’s trade policy has fallen to pieces both in regard to our exports and our internal position.
There has never been anything so pathetic as the speeches that have been made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) in the United States of America. He has referred to “ a mere £8,000,000 of adjustment “ and, in order to soothe the country, the Prime Minister reads a message from President Eisenhower. His own Minister said, however, that the cuts were brutal, savage, and unnecessary. Everybody can see that he is seeking an alibi for the fact that we are broke overseas.
Our overseas balance totals £300,000,000 whereas once, as the Leader of the Opposi tion (Dr. Evatt) has pointed out, it was £800,000,000 sterling. The balance has been slipping at the rate of £37,000,000 since 30th June last. The picture is so black that the Minister for Trade is grabbing at straws and seeking an alibi in the decline of lead and zinc purchases, grievous as it was. He has suggested that he knew what was behind it. The total collapse of our overseas trade is threatened because of bad management and too much nonsense and rhetoric in this House.
One dared not ask the Minister for Trade, who is now absent, an ordinary question on trade because he would burst into volcanic flames and talk for ten minutes on the subject, leaving the questioner more in the dark than ever. Anybody who goes to William-street or across the road to the bureau of bureaucracy in Barton will find that he cannot get an answer to the question, “ Can I get a permit to trade “ or any understanding of his inquiries, particularly in relation to trade with China. The whole thing is a mass of bureaucratic and ministerial chaos.
The Government stands charged with that very thing, and Ministers reply by deserting the chamber and leaving it to a diversion such as the trifling, niggling and insignificant speech of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who spoke as the protagonist for the Formosa lobby. This is a matter of great moment to Australia. It is not a matter of whether you are pro-Formosa or otherwise. This is not a debate on foreign affairs. It is a question of survival.
I should like to quote some figures regarding trade and in relation to the cuts that have been made in our lead and zinc exports. There are some grievous figures to be given. Wool is down 33 per cent.; that cannot be denied. The price is down roughly 8d. per lb., and is £53 a bale compared with £96 in recent years. So we have a net loss of £130,000,000 in the wool trade, and wool is our greatest export. China would buy more wool if we had some common sense and took up the challenge of the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “, which said, “ Get out and sell where people want our goods and restore stability to this country. Do not talk nonsense about restricted markets.”
There is a great glut of wheat overseas, and a big local yield is likely this season. Canada, France and Germany report that their granaries are full or running over. What is our stupid and futile trade organization going to do about it? Nothing except let the trade go by default, and talk about the inadvisability of trade with China! If every Chinese child had some breakfast food, the glut would be cut out within two or three days of the decision to trade with China. Our flour mills are working half time, and some have been closed altogether. If honorable members want the full story, I refer them to the speech of Senator Wade in the Senate. He denounced his own Government for its attitude to wheat and the breakdown of wheat sales inside and outside Australia. Butter overseas is down by 28 per cent. It is a drug on the market. The prices of metals are down 35 per cent. Meat is down 16 per cent, and eggs are down by 25 per cent. Ten Commonwealth steamers are laid up in Sydney without any cargo.
England and the Continent are building up a free market in which seventeen countries are prepared to incorporate 170,000,000 people. Our markets overseas, which were regarded as our great home markets, are dwindling. Warnings have been given year in and year out that customs unions, from the formation of Benelux onwards, have been geared to protect the primary section of overseas production, and we will be on the thin end of that argument when the whole thing is organized. Our only future lies in the East.
Trade with China is a logical thing. It is not a political matter. Flour sales have been very bad in the East because our traditional markets have been lost to heavily subsidized French and German wheat. The only market to-day - and the businessmen realize it - is the market of continental China, a vast market provided by 600,000,000 people who are emerging from feudalism. The Chinese are planning to give everybody a square meal and a job. Everybody there is a potential spender. What a stupid and unnatural thing it would be if we missed the great potential market having regard to distance, availability and requirements.
The Prime Minister himself said that the market overseas has grown. While the Government protests that it will have nothing to do with red China and piously looks through the slats and between its fingers to see where the ships are going, it still bans trade with China. One futile Minister does not know what are and are not strategic materials, and another Minister says he does not care whether we trade with China or not, yet in the past twelve months, we have lifted trade with China to £10,000,000. We have earned £8,000,000 more, which cancels out the loss of our market in the United States of America of lead and zinc, stockpiling of which has ceased.
There is no reason for these things. The Leader of the Opposition was assailed by the Prime Minister in the weakest speech that the right honorable gentleman has made in this House for a long time. He said, “ You are only talking about recognition of China “. Certainly recognition follows trade and the British people have set us an example, in that respect, in common sense and complete understanding. They have an arrangement with China. They recognize China. Their charge d’affaires is in Peking and they are daily reaping the advantages of new trade coming to China. This is not only a matter of today; we are looking to the advantage that will accrue later from our trade with this great resurgent giant of China when it sends its traders throughout the world. We are thinking of the things that China will produce and need.
How can we be so blind as to make this a political issue? How can the Government be so completely recreant to its trust as to put the question of trade with Communist countries before the Australian people as a matter of politics? The British, who are always much more logical and less passionate than we are, more sensible and naturally more libertarian than we are, have decided - as was decided at the conference which our Minister for Trade attended - that general support should be given to trade with various Communist countries. The world is divided into two great camps but, for the purposes of trade, there should be no camps. As Shakespeare says, “ Venture trade abroad “. Wherever trade is possible, it should be pursued. The speech of the Prime Minister was sheer evasion. It was nonsensical. He did not grapple with the problem and he will not gain any credit from the Australian people by talking glibly about the Leader of the Opposition wishing to recognize red China. That is our policy. Recognition of red China would mean a sweep of trade to this country. We are practically broke and we need it.
The Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley), who spoke after the Prime Minister, was full of apologies and fell back on reading some badly written notes which nobody understood. The honorable member for Chisholm decided, frankly, that he was not going to have any arguments about trade. He could not stand up to the figures which have been quoted. He merely traced the cause of the Formosan problem.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think it becomes increasingly obvious, as the days go by, that the description of the Opposition as “ a crazy lot of mixed up kids “ is probably true. For the benefit of those who are listening and who are interested in future politics, I repeat that phrase - a crazy lot of mixed up kids. Some of them, it is true, have talked about trade. For a brief time the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) referred to trade. But on the whole, it became obvious that what the Opposition was interested in was, first of all, recognition of Communist China and, secondly, trade with Communist China. The general problem of Australian trade with the rest of the world was practically forgotten.
As I have said, the gentleman from Parkes did refer to the fact that we had trade in wool and wheat. I hope to deal with those two subjects a little later. But, as proof that members of the Opposition may be likened to mixed up kids, I mention that at this moment, when Communist China is attempting to achieve its political objectives by force of arms against a small group of independent people, they are showing their political ineptness to an extraordinary degree.
I think it should be highlighted that it was not trade that some people opposite were thinking about; it was the recognition of red China. Other illustrations of the Opposition’s attitude could be mentioned, such as the intervention by certain members of the Labour party in the Petrov case. Those members found it impossible to keep their fingers out of the pie. Then there are the opposition of the Labour party to the Democratic Labour party, which is strongly anti-Communist, and the failure of the Labour party to oppose unity tickets with the Communists in various ballots. All these things are indicative of a frame of mind which should be apparent and which should become known to the Australian people.
The second question that has emerged from this debate concerns the question of trade with Communist China. Leaving out the subject of strategic goods, so far as primary industries, for which I have some responsibility, are concerned, our policy is clear. It has been consistent and it has been in existence for a long period. My colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), stated the principle quite clearly. The policy is not to discourage trade with Communist countries except with respect to particular export commodities of strategic importance. The Minister for Trade said -
On other goods such as foodstuffs, wool and wools tops and some manufactured goods, Australian exporters were given free opportunity to follow and develop all markets, free of restrictions.
That is a clear statement of policy. If honorable members care to look at the facts they will see that they bear out the policy statement of my colleague. But there are two questions that the Opposition did not look at and probably did not even think about. The first is whether, even if there was some other kind of sales drive, rather than leaving it to private industry to carry out, would there in fact be an increase of trade with this country? That is very doubtful because, according to the latest figures available, in 1957 Communist China had a trade deficit of £300,000,000. Does that deficit indicate a country that has a capacity to buy very much from any one? Therefore, the second part of the Opposition’s argument - that something nebulous and unstated should be done to increase trade with Communist China - turns out to be completely unsound. So the two arguments that have been put forward by the Opposition cannot be sustained.
What do I think is the true position? First of all, I look at the problem from the point of view that we, as a primary producing country, are selling everything that we produce. We have little or no stocks of any commodity. Our main consideration at the moment therefore is riot whether we are selling enough, but whether we are getting the best possible prices. If we look at the position from that point of view which, after all, is the critical one, then we have to ask why it is that prices are not as good as we want them to be. The simple reason is that in some of the great industrial countries there has been a fall in what is called “ effective demand “, and that those countries have not taken quick enough remedial measures to see that internal consumption and investment are kept high. But that phase will not continue for a long period, and we can be reasonably certain that when it ends Australia will participate in the benefits.
Effective demand must be kept high. The second point is this: The Minister for Trade is now overseas trying to ensure that the principles of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, insofar as they apply to secondary industries, also apply to the primary industries. In other words, he is trying to ensure that Australian goods are not discriminated against. We want to make sure that people do not discriminate against us, and we want fair trading practices. If the Minister’s objectives are achieved - and there is good reason to believe that in the long run they will be - he will have made a major contribution to the solution of our trading problem. Then the second step of endeavouring to ensure that non-competitive, or non-commercial, trade is reduced as far as may be practicable will become a reality, and again we will be the beneficiaries.
Two gentlemen opposite have said that we are nearly broke and that our trade has severely declined. At the present moment, our overseas balances total about £500,000,000. Does that indicate a country that is suffering grave vicissitudes in international trade? Of course it does not. We know that trade moves in cycles. At some times, we will sell everything at high prices; at other times it will be difficult to sell at the prices that we want. During the latter periods, we will use our foreign balances to finance the big range of imports that is necessary to Australian industry. But those overseas balances themselves are the true reflection of the efficiency and success of the Menzies Government’s trading and financial policies. They have been successful, and will permit us to sustain a high rate of imports despite the temporary fall in the price of wool and other primary products.
Let us test the success of this Government against fact. In the first full fiscal year of trading after this Government came to office, the value of Australian exports rose to an all-time record high of £993,000,000, exceeding even the export returns of 1950-51, the boom year for wool. In 1957-58 export values fell, it is true, to £187,000,000. But if one compares that figure with the figure for the last year of the Labour government, which was £545,000,000, one sees the tremendous improvement that has taken place during the period that this Government has been in office. The high level of exports which was attained under this Government can be repeated as soon as international trade once again gets on to the right footing and the great industrial countries take action to improve their internal demand.
Now I shall mention only two other subjects, because they have been touched on here. The first one is wool. We have an auction system of selling wool, and I doubt whether any person in this country or in this House would wish to change it. Countries, whether Communist or antiCommunist, are free to come to Australia and buy our wool. In addition, with the consent of the industry, the Government has established a wool bureau which has carried on wool use promotion activities. An amount of 4s. a bale is contributed by the industry to promote the sales promotion activities to be carried out through the International Wool Secretariat. Each year that secretariat spends more than £2,000,000 on promoting the use of wool and wool textiles.
With regard to wheat, I can go no further than to mention what I have already said in my second-reading speech. If honorable members read that speech they will see that the Government has been consistent in its approach to trade agreements, and in its efforts to further the interests of Australian wheat producers. It has negotiated agreements which provide markets in the United Kingdom for 28,000,000 bushels a year, and in Japan for 7,500,000 bushels.
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired. As there are no further speakers the business of the day will be called on.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to a request from the dairy industry for legislation to provide for a sales promotion campaign for butter and cheese in Australia, and also for research into the many problems of this industry.
It is hardly necessary for me to mention the importance of the dairy industry to the Australian economy. Honorable members are already familiar with the place of this industry in our economic and social structure. I would like to quote some vital statistics mentioned in an address delivered recently by the chairman of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. The chairman said that the size of the industry is shown by the fact that current estimates of capital investment in land, farm buildings, machinery, plant and live-stock total £700,000,000. In addition, on the basis of progress made during the past few years in the erection of new premises and the installation of the most modern plant and machinery, it is estimated that £50,000,000 would be a conservative assessment of the capital value of land, buildings, plant and machinery used in the manufacture and handling of dairy products.
On the farms and in the factories the dairy industry supports probably more than 600,000 persons, and, in addition, it contributes substantially to the welfare of many thousands of Australia’s population engaged in the production of farm and factory requisites, and in the transport, handling, storage and, sale of milk and manufactured dairy products.
Australia’s annual milk output for 1956-57 was over 1,356,000,000 gallons, of which 66 per cent, was allocated to butter production and over 7 per cent, to cheese production. It is estimated that the net value to factories of butter, cheese and processed milk production, and the returns to dairy-farmers for milk sold in liquid form from the 1956-57 milk output, totalled £140,000,000. In terms of wholesale sales within the Commonwealth and f.o.b. export values the total would, of course, be much higher than this figure.
It should also be remembered that the dairy industry has a far greater value to the Commonwealth than can be expressed in figures. It provides a major avenue of decentralization of Australia’s population. It is not an exaggeration to say that, excepting for the capital cities and a few other cities and towns in industrial areas and sugar regions in the north, the great bulk of Australian cities and towns in the coastal belt and some further inland are largely dependent on this industry for their existence.
The decision of the dairy industry to develop an expanded programme of research and promotion is welcome evidence of the determination of this industry to meet the challenge of problems which to-day are facing dairy farmers all over the world. It is a decision which reflects a growing belief within all sections of the industry that science can help unlock the door to future progress, and that scientific methods can provide a more satisfactory basis than opinions and intuition for making those important judgments which affect industry production and marketing policies.
The close association of promotion and research and the scope and nature of the proposed programme are a clear enough indication that the industry realizes that there is no simple solution to the problems it faces to-day - problems which range from production and manufacture right through to distribution and marketing. There is a recognition, too, in the administrative framework which it has devised for allocating its funds, that the industry itself has a key role to play in co-ordinating its research and promotion activities into a comprehensive industry-wide policy.
We are all aware of the spectacular technical advances now taking place in secondary industry, and also in some avenues of primary production. It is quite clear that the dairy industry also needs a “ shot in the arm “, and it is gratifying that the industry is well aware of this fact. During the last decade, some dairying regions have not shown the advancement recorded in other areas. This, of course, has had a reaction on the business and social life of the community in those regions where townships are so dependent on the efficiency and prosperity of the surrounding farms.
Ways and means must be found in order that the industry may be better informed of the basic problems of production. This can only be done by means of more intensive research into matters relating to farm management, crops, pastures, &c. It is most important that these problems be fully recognized, for we all know that in times of prosperity, we tend to disregard basic fundamentals which will improve efficiency and decrease costs. In the first place, therefore, it is necessary for research to be conducted into problems for which some early and generally beneficial solution will be found. The division of resources between long-term and short-term research will depend not only on the amount of finance available but also on the availability of personnel to carry out the research.
It is worth mentioning here that the Australian Dairy Produce Board has not overlooked the importance of co-ordinating work which will be carried out by Commonwealth authorities or by the States and universities or any other organization concerned with the welfare of the industry.
To be successful, the dairy industry in Australia must make every effort in its endeavour to promote sales on the local market. It might do well to have a look at the set of principles governing the work of the American Dairy Association in this field.
This plan covers intensive work in four main directions: A research programme, providing a continuing study of the effort to get better markets and of consumer buying habits and product improvement; a public relations programme using magazines, articles and television and providing material to sections of the community able to influence others on the wisdom, economy and pleasure afforded by dairy foods in the diet; an advertising programme, to give in ducement to the public to take action to buy the products of the industry, as supplied to the retailer; and, finally, a merchandizing programme, to get greater buying and selling action where the product is sold. This is to give merchandizing aids to the retailer which ensure his interest in the selling effort and help to attract custom to his shop. These, then, are the four media which have been used with some success in the United States.
Referring back to the problems of research, the purposes for which funds paid to the research account may be used are described in broad terms in the bill.
In order to permit the investigation of problems occurring in any aspect of the dairy industry from the farm to the consumer, it will be noted that the scope of activities mentioned in the bill is almost as wide as it can be.
The general problems which have confronted dairy-farmers in most parts of the world at some time or other are intensified in Australia by reason of the size of the continent and the variation in climatic conditions obtaining because of our position on the world map. There is the basic problem of suitable grasses and legumes to meet the requirements of a particular climate; there is the problem of breeding and infertility. Water conservation, farm management and farm layout, quality, transport and product diversification are but some of the factors calling for research. Over and above the technical problems affecting the dairy industry is the need to provide training for skilled personnel for the farm and for manufacturing and research.
In keeping with the modern trend in both primary and secondary industry towards continual improvement in merchandizing and production methods, the dairy industry, by taking this step, is moving apace with the times. Some months ago, the Australian Dairy Industry Council, which comprises the major dairying bodies of the Commonwealth, that is, the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited and the Australian Dairy Produce Board, informed me that the council had approved the principle of a levy on the production of butter and cheese for the purposes of financing plans for sales promotion in Australia and for research. I was glad to receive a recommendation for such a scheme, as this is the fourth major primary industry which has agreed to a plan to finance research into its problems. The other industries that have already taken this important step are wool, wheat and tobacco.
The bill which is now before the House is the outcome of negotiations that have been going on for some time. Dairy industry organizations, through the Australian Dairy Industry Council, and the Commonwealth and the States, through the Australian Agricultural Council, have all been involved. The proposals that have received the approval of all interested parties have been provided for in the bill. A statutory levy will be imposed on all butter and cheese manufactured in Australia. The maximum rates of levy will be -hd. per lb. on butter and 8/32d. per lb. on cheese. The operative rates will be prescribed by regulation on the recommendation of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, but for the first year the rates will be id. and *d. per lb. on butter and cheese respectively. On an annual production of 200,000 tons of butter and 40,000 tons of cheese, a levy at these rates would yield about £250,000 per year. The board will recommend the proportions of these rates that are to be prescribed for the purposes of research and promotion respectively.
A promotion and research scheme will be administered by a special committee of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. A special member with suitable qualifications will be appointed to the board for the purpose of co-ordinating all aspects of the sales promotion and research programmes. The board will have authority to co-opt persons outside the board to form ad hoc advisory sub-committees. As a result of a request from the Australian Agricultural Council, the industry agreed to increase the membership of the special committee by including one representative of the Australian Agricultural Council and one representative of the Department of Primary Industry. One representative of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization also was added to the special committee. I consider this decision a wise one, as it will undoubtedly achieve greater coordination and broaden the outlook of the com mittee, and yet not enlarge the committee to the extent where it will become unwieldy or ineffective.
The Australian Dairy Industry Council has not made its proposals in respect of research conditional upon a contribution by the Commonwealth. However, the council stated that it anticipated similar assistance would be given as in the case of other industries. In the circumstances, the Commonwealth has agreed to contribute onehalf of the costs incurred on projects included in the programme of research that are endorsed by the board and approved by the Minister, with a maximum contribution of £1 for £1 against funds raised by way of levy that are allocated to and used for research. The sales promotion proposals will be financed by the industry itself without any assistance from the Government.
The administrative aspects of the proposals are worthy of some special attention. As mentioned previously, the scheme will be administered by a special committee of the Australian Dairy Produce Board. This committee will comprise nine members, including the chairman of the board, three producers’ representatives on the board, a special member to be appointed to the board, and one representative on the board of co-operative and proprietary butter and cheese factories who will be appointed by the Minister on the nomination of the board. Also on the special committee will be one representative each “ of the Australian Agricultural Council, the Department of Primary Industry and the C.S.I.R.O., who will have full voting rights in the committee in relation to matters associated with the research programme, including the apportionment of the levy between promotion and research. It is considered essential that production, research, extension, marketing and promotion should be integrated. All of these fields will be adequately represented, but it will be the job of the special member, who will be responsible directly to the board, to undertake the detailed administration of the research promotion programmes and the integration with them of existing work in these fields.
At this stage, I should like to record my appreciation of the good work done by the Australian Dairy Produce Board over many years. The dairy industry to-day is facing many difficult problems. The traditional export market - the United Kingdom - is over-supplied with butter, and current export prices return much less than cost of production. In addition, the long-term export outlook is anything but bright. In the circumstances, it is evident that the industry’s willingness to provide finance for research and promotion activities strongly reflects the dairy-farmer’s anxiety for the future and the earnest desire to increase efficiency, reduce costs and increase the sale of dairy produce on the domestic market.
I should like to remind honorable members of the assistance afforded the dairy industry by the Commonwealth. In the way of subsidy alone, the butter and cheese industry has received something over £138,000,000 since this Government assumed office in 1949. Our policy of stabilizing this industry is continuing, and for the 1958-59 season we have again made provision for £13,500,000 in subsidy. The dairy industry, has also obtained considerable benefit from the Commonwealth Dairy Industry Extension Grant of £250,000 per annum which is used to strengthen the State extension services to the industry. This grant, which is now in its eleventh year of operation, is intended to promote improved methods on dairy farms with the aims of increasing production efficiency and reducing costs. Grant money is allotted to the States for approved projects subknitted each year and is intended to enable the States to undertake schemes additional to those provided for in their own Budgets. The Government recently decided to continue this extension grant for a further five years to 30th June, 1963.
Whilst on the subject of finance, the Commonwealth Bank guarantee to the Australian Dairy Produce Board is important in giving the farmer almost immediate payment for his butter and cheese exported. This point, I would say, is generally accepted by dairy-farmers throughout Australia without fully recognizing its importance. If the Government was not prepared to guarantee to the Commonwealth Bank an advance to the industry, it could well be that the farmer would have to wait many months for payment on at least part of his production, depending on the time taken for the sale of his product on the overseas market. In recent years, this bank guarantee has been to the value of approximately £40,000,000 annually.
Other services provided by the Government which give direct assistance to the dairying industry might also be mentioned. There is the inspection service provided by fully qualified Commonwealth butter and cheese graders, which ensures at the point of export a consistency and uniformity in quality within each grade which is highly regarded in overseas countries. There is the Trade Commissioner Service operating from 28 posts throughout the world, which is continually examining every possibility for extending market opportunities overseas for our dairy products. Government trade delegations also are active in the export promotion field.
Trade publicity is conducted through the Overseas Trade Publicity Committee, which is now in its fourth post-war year of operation. The Overseas Trade Publicity Committee is composed of the chairmen of the statutory marketing boards and representatives of the departments of Trade and Primary Industry. Finance provided by the marketing, boards is augmented by a considerably more than proportionate amount provided by the Government. During the 1957-58 season, for instance, the Government provided £330,000, against £123,000 contributed by the boards. The major points of the 1957-58 programme which indicate the size and nature of the Australian effort were increased press advertising, point-of-sale material, outdoor advertising, factory campaigns and commercial or assisted brand advertising. These efforts represented the development of a promotion campaign to a stage where it has been accepted and fully supported by all trade channels, including importers, wholesalers and retailers.
The Australian Dairy Produce Board has been a keen contributor to overseas publicity funds, and much work has gone into the sales promotion of Australian butter and cheese in the United Kingdom. In addition, the Australian Dairy Produce Board contributes to the Butter Information Council £1 sterling on every ton of butter exported to the United Kingdom. The other traditional exporting countries and the United Kingdom Milk Marketing Board also contribute on a similar scale to this council for the sole purpose of promoting the sale of butter in the United Kingdom.
Margarine, a very contentious subject to the Australian dairy-farmer, has been the subject of much deliberation at meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council. After carefully considering various proposals and looking at all the facts affecting the issue, it was decided by the Australian Agricultural Council in 1940 that the only practical method of preventing margarine from competing unfairly with butter was the imposition of State quotas on production. Since November, 1956, the overall quota has remained unaltered at 16,072 tons. At a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in February, 1958, State Ministers for Agriculture unanimously resolved to re-affirm their policy of not increasing table margarine production quotas without first submitting their proposal to a meeting of the council. The position will again be examined by the council in the near future.
Finally, I would like to say a word concerning contributions for research and extension work by the industry itself to the C.S.I.R.O., universities and other authorities. The Australian Dairy Produce Board in the last decade has contributed nearly £250,000 towards the cost of this work. Recognizing that the expansion and increased efficiency of animal production are objectives of prime importance to Australia in ensuring a continued position in world markets, the dairying, meat and wool interests each contributed £50,000 towards the purchase and establishment of a property at Camden, near Sydney. The property was handed over to the University of Sydney in 1954 as a national veterinary education centre and also for research into farming and animal husbandry. It can be seen that the industry, with Government assistance, has made considerable progress already in fostering research into industry problems. That the intensification of sales promotion and the expansion of research are considered worth while by the industry is reflected in the dairy industry’s most recent request which is being given effect in the bill before the House. I consider that this is one of the most important steps ever taken by the dairy industry towards its own advancement. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and read a first time.
Second Reading. Mr. McMAHON (Lowe - Minister for Primary Industry) [5.9]. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make certain amendments to the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924-1954 which are consequential upon the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill 1958. In my second-reading speech on that bill, I explained the role which the Australian Dairy Produce Board will play in the new research and promotion scheme for dairy produce.
The amendment of the principal act under which the board is constituted is necessary to enable it to engage in these activities and also to make provision for the appointment to the board of a special member who will be responsible to that authority for the general administration of the scheme. Opportunity has also been taken to make certain other amendments of an administrative nature only to the principal act. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to -
That, in this Resolution -
” dairy produce “ mean butter and cheese;
” levy “ mean levy imposed by the Act;
“notional weight”, in relation to cheese, mean a weight equal to the weight of the butter fat in the milk used in the manufacture of the cheese multiplied by two and eleven-twentieths;
“the Act” mean the Act passed to give effect to this Resolution;
“the Board” mean the Australian Dairy
ProduceBoard constituted under the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1925-1954 as proposed to be amended by the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1958; and
” the Minister “ mean the Minister of State administering the Act.
That the Act bind the Crown in right of a State.
That a levy be imposed on all dairy produce manufactured in Australia on or after a date to he fixed by the Minister, upon the recommendation of the Board, by notice published in the “ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette “.
– (1.) That, subject to the next succeeding sub-paragraph, the amount of levy in respect of any butter consist of the sum of -
such amount for each pound of the butter as is from time to time prescribed by regulations for the purposes of the provision of the Act which gives effect to this clause; and
such amount for each pound of the butter as is from time to time prescribed by regulations for the purposes of the provision of the Act which gives effect to this clause. (2.) That the amounts referred to in the last preceding sub-paragraph be such that the sum of those amounts does not exceed three-sixteenths of a penny.
– (1.) That, subject to the next succeeding sub-paragraph, the amount of levy in respect of any cheese consist of the sum of -
such amount for each pound of the notional weight of the cheese as is from time to time prescribed by regulations for the purposes of the provision of the Act which gives effect to this clause; and
such amount for each pound of the notional weight of the cheese as is from time to time prescribed by regulations for the purposes of the provision of the Act which gives effect to this clause. (2.) That the amounts referred to in the last preceding sub-paragraph be such that the sum of those amounts does not exceed threethirtyseconds of a penny.
That the amount of levy in respect of any dairy produce be payable by the manufacturer ot the dairy produce.
– (1.) That the Minister be empowered, from time to time, by notice published in the “ Commonwealth of Australia Gazette”, after report to the Minister by the Board, to exempt any dairy produce from the levy. (2.) That an exemption referred to in the last preceding sub-paragraph may be unconditional of subject to such conditions as are specified in the notice.
That the amount of levy in respect of any dairy produce manufactured during a month of tha year be due and payable upon the expiration of twenty-eight days after the last day of that month.
– (1.) That an amount of levy be deemed, when it becomes due and payable, to be a debt due to the Commonwealth and payable to the Secretary to the Department of Primary Industry in the manner and at the place prescribed by regulations. (2.) That, in proceedings for the recovery of an amount of levy, a statement or averment in the complaint, claim or declaration of the plaintiff be evidence of the matter so stated or averred.
– (1.) That the Governor-General be empowered to make regulations, not inconsistent with the Act, prescribing all matters which by the Act are required or permitted to be prescribed, or which are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the Act, and, in particular -
requiring persons to furnish returns for the purposes of the Act; and
prescribing penalties not exceeding Fifty pounds for offences against tha regulations. (2.) That, before making regulations prescribing an amount referred to in paragraph four or five of this Resolution, the Governor-General be required to take into consideration any recommendations with respect to the amount made to the Minister by the Board. (3.) That, before making a recommendation to the Minister with respect to an amount referred to in clause (a) of sub-paragraph (1.) of paragraph four, or clause (a) of sub-paragraph (1.) of paragraph five, of this Resolution, the Board be required to take into consideration any recommendation with respect to the amount submitted to the Board by the Dairy Produce Research Committee proposed to be established by the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion. Bill 1958.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. McMahon and Mr. Harold Holt do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. McMahon, and read a first time.
Mr. McMAHON (Lowe - Minister for
Primary Industry) [5.12]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to impose a levy on the production of butter and cheese and to provide for the administrative machinery for the collection of the levy by the Department of Primary Industry. As I mentioned in my second-reading speech on the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Bill, the Government has been requested by the Australian Dairy Industry Council to impose a levy on the manufacture of butter and cheese for the purpose of financing a research and sales promotion scheme for the dairy industry.
Honorable members will note that the actual rates of levy to be imposed will be prescribed by regulation after recommendation to the Minister by the Australian Dairy Produce Board but there is provision in the legislation that the prescribed rates must not exceed three-sixteenths of a penny per pound on butter and three-thirty-seconds of a penny per pound on cheese. I commend the bill for the favorable consideration of the House as a necessary supplement to the Dairy Research and Sales Promotion Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 1639), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition offers no objection to, or even any criticism of, this measure. It is a pity that the example of Tasmania in making arrangements with the Commonwealth 30 years ago for the joint collection of statistics under legislation of this sort was not followed sooner by other States. Only recently, New South Wales came into line. Now Victoria comes into line with the plan by which the head of the State department - I think he is generally called the Government Statist - becomes the Deputy Commonwealth Statistician for the State in which he resides, and all the figures collected by him for the State become the property of the Commonwealth. Provision is made for Commonwealth machinery to furnish additional information to the States where possible. The rights and privileges of officers of the State department are protected. They serve both the Commonwealth Government and the State government concerned, and nothing but good can come from the arrangement. In some States the present duplication of effort is to continue. It is to be hoped that the co-operation we hear about so much from time to time between the Commonwealth and the States in many things will at least become a reality in the field of collection and utilization of the statistical information that is available in this country. Therefore, the Opposition wishes the measure a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve an agreement relating to Christmas Island entered into between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to approve the execution of an agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand in relation to the rights which are jointly held by them in respect of the phosphate deposits on Christmas Island. The text of the agreement is given as a schedule to the bill.
The new agreement replaces one made in 1949, when the Australian and New Zealand governments first acquired exclusive rights to phosphate and other minerals on Christmas Island. The need for a new agreement arises from the transfer of sovereignty over Christmas Island from the United Kingdom to Australia. The new agreement comes into effect on the date of transfer, which is 1st October, 1958.
The Christmas Island Phosphate Commission was established to work the phosphate deposits of Christmas Island, and its members represent Australia and New Zealand. The commission, which was established’ under the original agreement, will function under the new agreement without change, and the production and distribution of the phosphate will continue as in the past. Onenew feature of the agreement is a provision for a payment to the commission of 8s. sterling per ton of phosphate exported. The proceeds will be used first to reimburse thetwo governments for the cost incurred in connexion with the transfer of the island toAustralian control. The principal item in this connexion is the ex gratia payment of approximately £2,800,000 to the Singapore Government to compensate it for the loss- of revenue from royalties and rent, which were applied to Singapore when the island was a British colony. After this charge has been met the payments under this section of the agreement will be used to build up a fund to help meet the responsibilities of the Australian Government in respect of the inhabitants of the island who may remain on the island after the phosphate deposits have been exhausted in some 40 years time. In other words, we will be building up a fund which will be applied to meet those special responsibilities which will be incurred about 40 years from now when the phosphate deposits are worked out. Details of this proposal are given in Article VI. of the agreement.
May I also direct attention to Article IX. of the agreement, which provides that the cost of administration of Christmas Island will be met from the proceeds of the sale of phosphate. This provision follows the pattern that has long operated at Nauru, where the British Phosphate Commissioners make payments to meet the cost of administration of Nauru by Australia under the trusteeship agreement. It is also in keeping with the arrangements followed during the interim period of United Kingdom control from 1st January to 30th September, 1958. One point worth noting is that the agreement makes it clear that while the cost of administration will be borne by this levy on phosphate, any constructional works which go beyond the reasonable requirements of the administration of Christmas Island - for example, an aerodrome which may be required for purposes other than purposes of administration - will not be financed in this way as a charge on phosphate, but will be financed by other means.
The effect of these provisions is expected to mean an increase on each ton of phosphate exported from Christmas Island of not more than ls. 6d. f.o.b. compared with the cost before the transfer. The effect on the price of superphosphate paid by the Australian or New Zealand user is expected to be not more than 3d. a ton, for phosphate from different sources is pooled for the purposes of manufacture in Australia. Christmas Island rock goes in with rock from other places for the purpose of calculating the price of superphosphate to the user. Also, phosphate is only one element in superphosphate. So I repeat: The charges incorporated in this agreement are not expected to result in an increase of more than about 3d. a ton on superphosphate to the user in Australia or New Zealand. I think that is a small price to pay for the security of supplies and the assurance of rock from Christmas Island which is obtained as a result of the transfer.
In conclusion, I should like to express on behalf of the Australian Government our appreciation of the co-operation of the New Zealand Government in the negotiation of this agreement. We believe, as they do, that the transfer of sovereignty is in the best interests of both countries and that the agreement concluded between us regarding future operations on the island protects the interests of both countries and will contribute to the good government of this new Australian territory and the advancement of its welfare.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 1716), on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Last Thursday night, the Parliament heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) say that this bill was a very simple measure. The Minister then forgot the bill and honorable members listened for 30 minutes to a flow of abuse and invective from the mouth of the right honorable gentleman as he made a most vitriolic attack on the miners’ federation. Of course, members on this side of the Parliament are becoming used to such speeches from some of the members of the Government. I do not intend to remain idly by without endeavouring to defend the miners in some way, especially in this period of record coal production in which the Government has accumulated millions of tons of coal at grass which it cannot sell.
No one in this Parliament knows better than the Minister himself that the miners’ federation has given this Government a far better run with production than it ever gave any Labour government, yet the Minister continues to abuse these workers. They have given the nation a record coal production. If anything is wrong with the coalmining industry, I suggest that the Government is completely responsible for it. In 1949, when seeking election, the Government promised the miners full employment, but it has repudiated out-of-hand the promises it then made. I say that the Minister has shown a complete ignorance of the industry and of its requirements.
At the week-end I re-read the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in 1949 on full employment. Apparently it was made after a full consideration of the facts and with a knowledge of the effect on the community of employment and inflation alike. I have come to the conclusion that had the right honorable gentleman passed away shortly after delivering that speech, no doubt some misguided citizens would have sponsored the erection of an edifice to his memory, dedicated to a great humanitarian. Just how wrong and misguided they would have been I shall show the Parliament by quoting a few extracts from the right honorable gentleman’s statement. He said -
The -aspiration for full employment is no monopoly of the Socialists. We are all human beings. Yet it is clear that full employment is to be the socialists’ election slogan. This is a false issue. We shall confidently devote ourselves to full employment and the avoidance of depression.
Further, he said -
If -you are tempted to believe that Socialism is the answer, remember that the last depression satisfied the great majority of voters that it was not!
But let us take the matter further. Thanks to the -war, the money it circulated, the ‘wartime restrictions on spending, the shortages caused, not only of houses but of all kinds of civil goods, and the unprecedented demand for the product of our farms and fields, there is at present full employment. -We must not be content to gamble on these .circumstances continuing, or boast about them as if we created them.
The real task is in the future. How do we ensure full employment of a productive kind in the future? The Government relies on great public works programmes as the answer. Let us make it clear that we also, knowing the vital importance of full employment, will use public works to the full.
Later he said - >We believe that these obsolete ideas must be /rooted out of -our -minds. The days when labour -Was a .commodity to be bought and sold ‘have gone forever. We shall either get to realize that the industrial problem is a human problem requiring immense ‘human understanding and -a genuinely co-operative spirit, or our civilization will crash to ruins, its production down, its living standards broken, its civil life marred by bitterness and hatred.
Twice in this century men have died by the millions largely because in what might have been the golden age of history men have learned to live with machines and have forgotten how to live with one another.
– Who said that?
– The Prime Minister said it in 1949, and he and his henchmen have since forgotten all about it. I believe that some of us can be forgiven if we have the impression that the Prime Minister copied from some of the works of Marx. If it were not for the tragedy of unemployment with all its awful consequences, we could afford to laugh at the hollowness of his promises.
The Minister for Labour and National Service, during the whole of his explosive speech, did not offer one constructive suggestion on how to overcome unemployment, whether it occurs in the mining industry or any other industry; and the question of unemployment is red hot just now.
For weeks, the Minister has been saying that re-organization is taking place in the coal-mining industry to provide for a greater production of coal through mechanization and that some changes in staff must be expected. But he says nothing about the re-employment of the men who have been thrown out of industry through mechanization. Unemployment in the coal industry has been occurring for about four years, and the Government has no plan to absorb the workless. It has done absolutely nothing to put displaced miners back into permanent employment. The miners were promised full employment, and they are entitled to expect it.
Years ago, when the miners expressed fear as to the effects that mechanization would have on employment in the industry, both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service said the fear was unfounded and that the miners would have employment for as long as they were prepared to work. It is apparent that the Minister has shown his complete ignorance of the effect that mechanization has had on the mining industry, and the same. can be said about the Prime Minister. This is clearly revealed in the Minister’s attack on the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) who said on Thursday that dismissals from the industry through unplanned mechanization had caused great distress.
The Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service were warned, as far back as 1950, by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and myself how the miners felt about the possible effect mechanization would have on their future employment. Of course, Mr. Big and his lieutenant, as usual, ridiculed the fears that the miners had expressed. On 21st November, 1950, I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he had seen a report that the chairman of the Joint Coal Board, when speaking at Wallsend, had drawn attention to the shortage of labour in the coalmining industry, and had promised to provide continuous employment for miners for at least ten years. I asked the Minister, further, whether he would, by introducing legislation, guarantee continuity of employment to miners for at least twenty years, in order to ensure continuous supplies of coal. The Minister replied -
On previous occasions in this House I have intimated that the Government was endeavouring to meet that problem by establishing hostels in appropriate areas and allocating migrants to the industry in order to meet its labour needs. I remind the House that the Prime Minister made an important statement in the joint policy speech of the present Government parties in which he indicated their attitude in relation to the production of coal. I cannot recall the precise words that the right honorable gentleman used but, so far as I can recollect, the substance of his statement was that in the event of there being some assurance of continuity of production the Government would guarantee to purchase all coal produced over a period so that there would be no possibility that coal miners would work themselves out of a job by producing great quantities of coal.
In the next question, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) asked -
Has the Prime Minister seen the report in to-days press of an announcement by the executive of the miners’ federation to the effect that it will resist in every way, shape and form the introduction of mechanization into the coal mines? . . I point out that a fear complex exists among the miners that the introduction of such machinery will reduce the number of employees in the coal mining industry. . . . Can the Government give a guarantee that if mechanization is introduced into the coal mines, it will not cause a shortage of labour and a reduction of employees, and that it will not in any way jeopardize the safety of employees in that industry or reduce their earnings below the present level?
The Prime Minister replied -
I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred, but I cannot imagine that the development of coal production in Australia, by increased mechanization or otherwise, could impair employment or continuity of work. On the contrary, the Government believes that there is ample scope for a much greater production of coal in Australia and has indicated from time to time that it is quite prepared, by various ways and means, to take steps necessary to see that employment is maintained under such circumstances and that safety precautions are also observed.
It will be seen that both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service have repudiated those statements. The events of the past few years are proof that the miners have cause to fear, and although they have been maligned and abused by the Minister for not producing more coal, the Government now refuses to provide work either in their own industry or anywhere else. The Minister chided the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) for suggesting that a new approach should be made to the problems of the industry, and claimed that the miners had received more attention than had workers in any other industry. I remind the House that it was the Prime Minister who said that there would have to be a new approach to the industry, and that employer and employee should understand the problems of one another, even more now than was the case in earlier years. Yet, on 25th September, when coal industry legislation was last before the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service rushed to the defence of the coal owners who, he said, had conducted the industry with great courage and enterprise during the war years, when it appeared to be unprofitable and unrewarding. I challenge the Minister to name a colliery owner who has gone bankrupt as a result of failure as a colliery owner. Mine owners have in the past made huge profits out of coal-miners, and they are making bigger profits now than they ever made before.
– That is not true.
– It is true, and the honorable member knows that it is true. For years and years, colliery owners worked their pits uneconomically. They took the easy way of getting coal, and as a result they left more coal in the pits than they took out. Millions of tons of coal have been lost for ever because of the inefficient manner in which the mine owners worked their pits. The Minister praised the manager of the J. & A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited for his work in the reorganisation of the coal industry. I suggest that Mr. Warren’s main interest is in profits and more profits. That gentleman has never been known to give anything away. He gave nothing away when he recently gave the Abermain miners one week’s notice of dismissal, instead of the usual notice of one month. Can we blame the miners who, knowing that many of them would be dismissed within a week or two weeks of mechanization, stayed away from work in order to seek other employment? Which of us would ask men who were ill to come to work? Time and again members of this Parliament stay away from here for no reason at all. How then can we criticize the action of others?
– Only some of us.
– Quite a number. I suggest that staggering profits have been made out of the industry by colliery owners during the past nine years. I know that at one time, colliery owners were supposed to be allowed 6s. a ton profit, but when the sale of coal became difficult, some companies, in order to capture trade, reduced the price of coal by more than 10s. a ton. [ wonder how the Minister justifies that!
Recently an age pensioner couple complained to me that they had been charged £5 lis. 8d. for a ton of coal from A. V. Toll and Company. Does that not sound as though huge profits are being made by the coal owners and their associates? Information given to me on 21st July by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) revealed that a coal company was negotiating with the Government for the purchase of a quantity of coal which was lying at grass in the north. I heard on the bush telegraph that the purchasing price was to be 15s. a ton. Of course, the Minister refused to divulge the price, or the name of the company, but he admitted that negotiations were taking place for the purchase of a small quantity of coal. I have a shrewd suspicion that Mr. Warren, the gentleman whom the Minister applauds for his untiring work in the re organization involved in mechanizing the coal industry, is associated with the purchase of the coal to which I refer.
I suggest that details of this transaction should be placed before the Parliament, so that every one will know what is taking place. I understand that the coal company is purchasing the coal at grass, to see whether it can be blended for export purposes with other coal produced by the company. Of course, I do not suppose that the company would be seeking increased profits in this transaction! I challenge the Minister to table all the papers in the negotiations, so that there will not be any room for recrimination on this matter in the future. The coal to which I refer is lying at Cardiff, and forms part of the 2,000,000 tons which the Government has stockpiled. Why some of it cannot be sold cheaply to pensioners, I do not know, but if the rich coal companies get any of it at give-away prices while pensioners go cold because they cannot afford to pay £5 lis. 8d. a ton for it, I will want to know more about the matter.
The Minister for Labour and National Service also said that when his Government came into office at the end of 1949 the state of the coal industry was a disgrace to Australia. That I deny, and I challenge the Minister to trot out the facts. I remind the Minister, and the Parliament, that in the years following 1945 the Chifley Government was charged with the responsibility for post-war reconstruction, and never in our history was the responsibility of government so great, or the demands on it so important. Defence personnel numbering more than 1,500,000 had to be assimilated into private employment. Defence establishments and their staff had to be transferred from war production to civil industry, and factories were transferred to provide for new industries. Coal production in that period was most vital to the nation’s economy, and in the absence of mechanization, the miners were unable to cope with demand, although coal was hewn out of any hole in the ground. It is true that some miners’ leaders and their Communist supporters in the mines did not want to see coal production exceed to any marked degree industry’s demands for it. Mechanization was beginning to show its real value, and the Communists in the coal industry commenced to stand over the
Chifley. Labour. Government with most un- 1 reasonable demands, because they were afraid of the effects of mechanization on their cause. The Chifley Government resisted the overtures, with the result that the 1949 coal strike took place - and do not forget, Mr. Speaker, that strike was one of the causes of the defeat of the Chifley Government.
What I want to know is this: If the coal industry was a disgrace when the present Government took office, what action did the Minister for Labour and National Service, who now condemns the miners so much, and what action did his colleagues take, to help to suppress that strike and to get the miners back to work? The truth is that not one of them lifted a finger to help to defeat the strike. The Prime Minister, the Leader of the House, the right honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Casey), the then Vice-President of the Executive Council, Sir Eric Harrison, the right honorable member for McPherson (Sir Arthur Fadden), the then Minister for Supply, Mr. Howard Beale, and a host of other honorable members now on the Government side were all conspicuous by their absence when it came to doing something about getting the miners back’ to work. In fact, I think that the then Opposition encouraged the continuance of the struggle. I was one who at least was on the coal-fields trying to justify the Labour government’s action in outlawing the strike. I was not at ‘that time a member of the Parliament. I thought then; and I still think, that the present Minister for External Affairs was sent north to encourage the intensification of the struggle by the Communists against the Labour government.
It will be remembered that during the strike Mr. Casey visited the home of’ a noted Communist by- the- name of Frazer, at Newcastle. I think that the Minister claimed that Frazer was- a friend of thefamily. So far as I am concerned there was no justification for a leading, member of the then Opposition; who was certain to become a-. Minister: in the event of the defeat- ob the* Labour government; visitingav Communist- official, during, the currency of : ar strike; in- the area where- the’ strikeoperated. do’ not think* any. government’ has> pandered: to: the* miners* more, than- the present Government has despite all’ the’ abuse from the Minister for Labour and National Service. I do not think the miners have given any government better production than they have given this Government. Production figures prove that to be the case. The Minister, by continuing his attack on the miners for the loss of production, does not improve the position. He certainly will not help the miner who is standing for the electorate of Hunter against the Leader of the Opposition, nor will he increase the majority of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean).
The fact that 117,000 working days have been lost in the first six months of this year is attributed by the Minister to the refusal of the miners to work; but the Minister neglects to tell the House that much of the time lost was due to shipping tie-ups, bad management, mechanical break-downs, transport deficiencies, fatal accidents in mines and a host of other reasons. Nor does the Minister reveal that had the miners worked those 117,000 man-days another 1,000,000 tons of coal would have been won, which could not have been sold and which would. have caused more unemployment.
It is apparent that the Minister feels that he must blame the miners. I wonder whether the right honorable gentleman wants to see miners return to the old conditions, with all their insecurity. I wonder whether the right honorable gentleman has any conception of how the industry worked twenty years ago, and whether he desires a return to those conditions. Has he ever seen miners who suffer from silicosis, coughing their hearts almost out of their bodies, or miners suffering from stigmitis, a dreaded disease of the eyes which affects the whole, physical, being? If the Minister is aware of these things, why has he - and. the Government - failed to direct the Joint Coal Board to prepare alternative industries and markets for the use- of coal? Why did it not direct the board to do so as far back as 1950, when the board was developing coal-mining, and. when- hundreds of new men were brought from overseas to work in. the industry?
Now let me turn to the Minister’s latest discovery, which’ is a real gem. On his: own admission; strangely enough, he is. never able to quote, correctly Labour’s’ policy and constitution. The other night: the Minister dug up an old copy of “ Common Cause “, a Communist-edited miners’ journal which I thought he would not worry about reading. The Minister actually learnt from “ Common Cause “ that the Leader of the Opposition favoured the nationalization of the mining industry, something which, he said, was not included in Labour’s nationalization objectives. What a discovery! What an opportunity to drive another nail in the old man’s political coffin! That was what the Minister thought. Well, I am sorry, for the Minister’s sake, to say the Minister merely produced another furphy. The old comrade, the socialist tiger, has bitten the Minister again. Nationalization of the coal industry is very much the policy of the Labour party and of my Leader, and the rest of us support it to the limit. When the people wake up to themselves and realize how important the coal industry is to their survival, and give Labour a mandate to nationalize the industry, the New South Wales Government, I believe, will proceed with nationalization of its mines.
For the Minister’s information - and this is something he should know - State governments have sovereign powers, and Labour’s objective of nationalization of the coal mines appears on page 70 of the New South Wales A.L.P.’s State Rules and Constitution. Having said that, I now wish to deal with how I view the future of the coal industry.
It has often been said that the miners, through strikes and stoppages, have brought about the downfall of the coal industry and have been responsible for lost markets and for forcing industries to use oil instead of coal. Time and again the loss of New South Wales coal markets in South Australia and Victoria has been cited. I sometimes think that the loss of those markets has been a good thing for Australia, because it has shown that colossal deposits of low-grade soft coal in those States have great and growing value to this nation. I believe that the development of the soft coal industry throws a still greater responsibility on to the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government alike to develop the much superior black coal deposits of New South Wales for new uses. Alternative industries, using coal as a basis, are the answer to the problem of the great coal cities and towns, I suggest. If coal-fields towns, with their huge populations and their cultural, educational and business centres, are not to become ghost towns, immediate consideration must be given to the coal industry and its requirements. Improvement in transport services and the building of new and faster roads between Newcastle and the coal-fields are only secondary to the establishment of alternative industries which would lead to the re-employment of mine workers whom mechanization has displaced from the coal industry.
Sites are a major factor in any plan to establish alternative industries. The islands of the Hunter basin can play a major and important part in any plan that is adopted. At present dredging operations are in progress, but only in a minor way. I believe that dredging must be increased and that large fleets of dredges should be employed on this work. Possibly 7,000 or 8,000 acres of good industrial land can be brought into operation if the New South Wales Government will only use its imagination in accordance with the magnitude of the project, and this will be possible if the Commonwealth will assist with the provision of funds. Whether or not additional alternative industries become an established fact in the north in the next few years will depend on how much of this valuable land becomes available within a reasonable time and to what extent the governments are prepared to foster the production of coal-based commodities that we now import.
I suggest that it is now up to both the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government to do something tangible for the coal industry. I consider that the Commonwealth Government could, without fear, create new funds from the central bank for that purpose. I believe that £10,000,000 or £20,000,000 could be ear-marked for the work over a period of about five years. After all, if the Government can create £110,000,000 to balance its Budget, deliberately to produce a deficit because of the Government’s bad management, and if a fund so created can be used to feed the defence forces - because roughly £78,000,000 of it was appropriated for that purpose - then the Government can create funds for the purpose of establishing oil-based industries and reclaiming land on which to house the industries in the most suitable areas available to them.
The nation has the unemployed labour to cope with this development. We have the food and the clothing and all the raw materials to fabricate steel. We have to build dredges, bridges, railways and highways. No foreign equipment or capital goods are involved in the work of development of the Hunter Basin and many similar projects. I therefore challenge the Government to make available, either in treasurybills or from trust funds, the finance necessary to enable the development of Australian industry based on coal or otherwise. 1 believe that ultimately an enormous saving of overseas funds and exchange can be effected by the establishment of oil-based industries which now cost us over £1,000,000 a year for imported oil that they use. The chairman of the Joint Coal Board admitted in a recent review that a market does not exist for oil produced from coal. Above all, it must be remembered that the production of coal is just as important to the defence of Australia as is the training of troops, for without either we are doomed to destruction.
Debate (on motion of Mr. Opperman) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 1560). on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition is opposed to the provisions of . this bill and will vote against its second reading. The Government is attempting to bolster up Ansett-A.N.A., which is a failing enterprise, at the expense of TransAustralia Airlines.
– It is not failing now.
– I think it is. I would not accept the honorable gentleman as an authority on airlines or anything else. In his policy speech in 1949, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was then Leader of the Opposition, stated -
As for the Government airlines … we shall put them on to a true competitive basis, with no preferences either in cheap capital or dollar expenditure.
Though the future of their operative staff is assured, because Australia needs them, the form of their future management and control will be considered in the light of results and circumstances. After all, the test is a common-sense one. How can we maintain skilled employment? How can we give the best services to the people, the customers?
Then, in a supplementary speech issued soon afterwards, the then Leader of the Opposition promised that a LiberalAustralian Country party government would eliminate all forms of preference for government airlines. It will be recollected by honorable members that the airline industry was set up in Australia by the Holyman Brothers many years ago. After the second world war, the Chifley Government attempted to nationalize the airlines of Australia because it believed that air traffic, like rail traffic, should be government owned and controlled. The High Court of Australia invalidated that legislation and there the position remains. It cannot be altered unless a referendum of the people is taken which will give the Commonwealth Parliament the power to nationalize airlines.
We settled down after the High Court had handed down its ruling to an era of competition between T.A.A., the government airline, and Australian National Airways, but A.N.A. was not long getting into difficulties. T.A.A. had paid its airport charges and A.N.A. had paid none. A.N.A. claimed that it had lost £1,000,000 because of increased operational costs through the action of the Commonwealth Government in giving the carriage of mails to T.A.A. and in providing that government warrants were to be issued only to those who were prepared to travel by T.A.A. Ultimately, an agreement was reached under which the private airline was enabled to avoid its obligations to the Commonwealth in respect of airport charges. The amount which T.A.A. had paid was also taken into consideration in fixing the terms of the agreement of 1952.
I am sure honorable members will realize that when we set up T.A.A. and created the Australian National Airlines Commission, we had in view the necessity for giving the people of Australia the best possible services obtainable. Whatever its virtues, A.N.A. had gone about as far as it could go. It had no capital or equipment. lt just simply could not have gone on providing all the services which T.A.A. was prepared to offer, and which it did provide to the best of its ability.
After the defeat of the Chifley Government, certain action was taken by the incoming government with the result that members of Parliament and public servants travelling by air were given the right of choice as between T.A.A. and A.N. A. A.N.A. was also given what was regarded as an equal share of the carriage of airmail. It is interesting to observe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that although for years members of Parliament have had the choice of travelling by T.A.A. or A.N.A. - and now by Ansett-A.N.A. - almost exclusively honorable members and honorable senators have travelled T.A.A.
– Honorable members can go to the airport and see for themselves what happens. The honorable member for Forrest travels to Melbourne by T.A.A. and to Western Australia by Ansett-A.N.A. because he prefers to travel by a DC6. I have no criticism to offer in respect of Ansett-A.N.A. I. sometimes travel by Ansett-A.N.A. when it suits my convenience. I have complete confidence in the ability of the pilots of Ansett-A.N.A. and the hostesses are just as charming, courteous and helpful as are the hostesses of T.A.A., and I hope they all vote for the Australian Labour party on 22nd November. But honorable members opposite do prefer to travel by T.A.A. I can remember one honorable member - no longer with us - who was the only passenger to Melbourne on an A.N.A. aircraft. He travelled by that airline because it provided him with parking facilities for his motor car.
Honorable members can still make their choice. They can travel by T.A.A. or by Ansett-A.N.A. I think’ there is a psychological reason why members of the Parliament travel by T.A.A. It is simply this: Ansett-A.N.A. is run for profit. T.A.A. is run for the benefit of the people. Both airlines conform to the requirements of the Department of Civil Aviation, but T.A.A. does spend more on maintenance and is more careful. It goes further than A.N.A. can afford to go as a private enterprise, profit-making organization. That is the point we make.
When the present Government came to power, Sir Ivan Holyman, who was a good friend of members on both sides of the House, put forward suggestions that the two lines should be amalgamated. As a matter of fact, the same suggestion was made to the Chifley Government when it was in power.
– lt was agreed to, too.
– It was not agreed to. The Minister for Supply was not in the Parliament then. I was a Minister at that time, and I know what happened. The real reason why the proposal did not go as far as some people wanted it to go was that the chairman of T.A.A. was Mr. A. W. Coles and the chairman and managing director of A.N.A. was Captain later Sir Ivan Holyman, and you could not have two such strong personalities in one company. That was one of the reasons why the proposal broke down. However, the present Government, which seemed to favour the adoption of that proposal when in opposition, was faced in government with a suggestion of that sort. It was put forward, I think, by Harry Graham Alderman, K.C.. of South Australia. But this Government turned it down. An agreement was negotiated in 1952, and there was subsequently another agreement in 1957, after Mr. Ansett had taken over the A.N.A. interests.
– We opposed both of them.
– Legislation was brought forward to give effect to the agreements and, as the honorable member for Wilmot has said, anticipating my statement, the Labour party opposed both agreements and voted against the two bills which were introduced in those two years to give effect to them. The present legislation, in our view, is even more objectionable than was the legislation that validated those two agreements. Our objections to the earlier legislation were directed more at the Government than at the company concerned.
As I said earlier, we realized what great work the Holyman brothers had done. In this House and in another place in 1952, tributes were paid to the Holyman brothers for their work of pioneering the airline industry. We also paid tributes to KingsfordSmith, Ulm, Keith Smith, Ross Smith,
Macintosh, and Parer and all the other airline pioneers. We were, and are, veryproud of what all of them had done.
As I have also said, we believed that our 1945 legislation was in the best interests of the people because we held that air transport was a matter for a government enterprise company rather than for a private enterprise company. We still think that our action in setting up Trans-Australia Airlines did improve the quality of the service which was being given to the Australian people. We believe that, with increased public patronage, standards have risen, and T.A.A. has become even more popular.
In my view, the reason why T.A.A. outclassed A.N.A. was that Sir Ivan Holyman made a mistake in sticking to Douglas airliners whereas Mr. Coles, who for five years had been the honorable member for Henty, and who had become the chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, decided that the Convair aircraft were the best, the most economical, and the ones that would give the best results.
– You refused to give Sir Ivan Holyman the dollars to buy them.
– That is true enough. We did. I do not deny the fact. I also know that under the 1952 agreement the late Sir Ivan Holyman agreed to purchase Viscounts in order that we could have a standard airlines system which would be useful, not merely in time of peace, but in time of war. Ultimately, however, he decided to stand by Douglas aircraft. Quite a number of people sitting in Opposition in the Parliament in 1945 did their utmost to destroy the possibility of Convairs being accepted by the Australian people. I remember one honorable gentleman who is now dead, and who was a very distinguished Air Force officer in two world wars, saying that no aircraft had yet been designed that could carry 40 people on two engines. But the Convairs were a great success, and T.A.A. became more popular.
I think that this Parliament and the Australian people owe a very great debt of gratitude to Mr. A. W. Coles for the work he did as chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission. He did not want to buy only five Convairs. He wanted to buy ten. As the honorable mem ber for Bonython (Mr. Makin) knows full well, because of his great experience as a war-time Minister from 1940 to 1946, we were faced with such tremendous opposition as a Labour government in everything we did that we felt that public opinion could be made too hostile to us if we bought ten Convairs. We would have had to keep five at grass and they would have been like the government cars that wait for honorable members at the air port. There would have been a lot of press comment at the time and it would have been continuous and misleading. However, I am sorry that Australia did not buy ten Convairs then. As time passed, newer and better aircraft were introduced throughout the world and the management of T.A.A., always being efficient and competent, decided to bring in better planes as opportunity afforded.
We say of this legislation, as we said of the 1952 and 1957 legislation, that no good, and only harm, can come from it. I am sure that if A.N.A. had been left to its own devices, and T.A.A. had been allowed to compete on equal terms, the national airline would have flown A.N.A. out of the air long before now. If it were not for the props which are being put under Ansett-A.N.A. at the present time, AnsettA.N.A. would not last very long. I am not reflecting at all on the management of the company and certainly not on the group of first-class brains that are associated with the control of that organization. Least of all, am I reflecting on the ability or competence of the pilots.
We have been told that T.A.A. has consented to this legislation. We were told that T.A.A. had consented to the 1952 legislation and to the 1957 agreement, which also became the subject of a bill. The Opposition is certain that T.A.A. has been forced by the Government to accept this legislation. The 1952 agreement was not signed by the chairman of T.A.A. but by the Prime Minister and the representatives of A.N.A. That shows that the Government’s decision having been made, T.A.A., because it was a Government instrumentality, had no say in the matter at all. We believe that the agreement was made in the Cabinet room, not in the management offices of T.A.A. We say that the Australian National Airlines Commission, which is charged with the care and management of T.A.A., should not have been obliged to accept either the 1952 agreement or the 1957 agreement.
In 1952, the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) led the case for the Labour party against the legislation of that time. He said that the assessment of fares and freight charges between A.N.A. and T.A.A. - the life blood of such an organization - would be governed, not by the spirit of competition and rivalry, but by a procedure deliberately designed to prevent competition under which the available market would be divided arbitrarily.
The right honorable gentleman described the measure as one to enrich A.N.A. at the expense of T.A.A., other civil airline operators, and the taxpayers of Australia. At that time, one of the other airline operators was Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited. To-day, Ansett has gobbled up A.N.A., has squelched out Butler Air Transport Limited, which was another competitor and, extraordinarily enough and with tremendous audacity, has claimed that it is the policy of the Government that there shall be only one private enterprise airline competing with the Government enterprise airline. I know that the Minister for Transport (Senator Paltridge) has denied that accusation. But Mr. R. M. Ansett made the statement at the annual meeting of his company in 1957. He obliged me by sending me a copy of his report.
– You must be a big shareholder.
– I am not a shareholder at all. I have never had a penny in a company in my life and I never intend to have one. I do not live on interest, profits, or dividends. I live on my salary, in accordance with my principles. Mr. Ansett, in his report to his shareholders which is headed, “ Managing Director’s report - 1957 “, said this -
Your directors are absolutely convinced that if private enterprise is to prosper and effectively compete with the privileged Government-owned airline, it must eliminate competition between the privately-owned airlines . . .
In other words, if Ansett-A.N.A. is to exist, if private enterprise is to exist, then all the private enterprise airlines are. to be controlled by Mr. R. M. Ansett.
– In other words, no private enterprise.
– Of course no private enterprise. In any case, there is no such thing as private enterprise in the airlines industry. There is, if I may use the jargon employed by members of the Government parties from time to time, a socialized enterprise which is government-owned, and there is a semi-socialized enterprise which is ostensibly owned by private enterprise but which is kept in the skies with government loans and government guarantees.
It is of no use for anybody to say that this is a case of a private enterprise airline competing with a government airline. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has made that point very clear. In the course of his speech in 1952 he said that the provisions of the agreement were typical of the internal arrangements made by commercial trusts which combined to divide the available market for their goods and services. He said that the agreement reproduced the features of the typical international cartel, such as the oil cartel which was discussed in the Parliament about that time, when the House of Representatives considered a bill to deal with the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. Later on, the Leader of the Opposition said the agreement was heavily weighed in favour of one profitmaking element in the air services of Australia, and I think that was true.
But the position of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited began to deteriorate even from the time of the 1952 agreement. Whether it was because of the company’s mistake in the choice of the machines it used or whether it was through some other fault of management, it came to the Government again and again for assistance, and it put forward suggestions. Ultimately, Mr. Ansett bought out A.N.A., and again I stress the fact that when he bought out the company Mr. Ansett argued that it was only by developing effective competition that his company could prevent the establishment of a completely nationalized air monopoly. I am not advocating to-night a completely nationalized air monopoly, but I am satisfied that even with the help that this Government is giving to Mr. Ansett and his friends, it will ultimately have to face the fact that only T.A.A. can operate profit ably in Australia.
– That is what you want, is it?
– That is what we did want until the High Court decided we could not get it.
– Don’t you want it now?
– I did not say we do not want it, but I do say that we are prepared to leave the position as it is, so that we may test whether private enterprise, without any government assistance, can survive against a well-managed government enterprise, or even whether private enterprise heavily subsidized can effectively compete against the government instrumentality.
In his statement of January last, threatening Mr. Butler with extinction, Mr. Ansett said that he had to bring Butler into line so that he could face the government airline squarely without the constant nibble of another smaller competitor at his flank.
– Shades of free enterprise!
– That is how private enterprise always functions. You have to destroy all your competitors in the private enterprise field, and then appeal for support in the name of free enterprise. Honorable members will recall that Mr. Ansett became an airline operator only by buying Viscounts and other aircraft and putting them on the Melbourne-Sydney run, where the best profits could be made. In other words, it was only by buying certain aircraft and skimming the cream of the airline traffic that Mr. Ansett was able to send Sir Ivan Holyman broke and take over the Holyman enterprise. Now, in order that Mr. Butler shall not be allowed to do to him what he did to the late Sir Ivan Holyman, Mr. Ansett pleads the cause of private enterprise.
– Ansett Airways never bought Viscounts.
– I know it did not, but it operated Viscounts.
– You just said it did buy Viscounts.
– The Minister can recollect just what the Ansett company had at the time of the take-over. At any rate, Mr. Butler has applied to this Government for the right to introduce Caravelles.
– No, he has not.
– My word he has.
– He has not.
– I am advised that there is an application before the Government. It has not been refused as yet, but if I know this Government and its socalled desocialization policy as well as I think I do, Mr. Butler will not be given the funds with which to buy Caravelles or any other such aircraft.
I do know that when Mr. Ansett came into the field he said he was going to get Electras. At that time T.A.A. wanted Caravelles, and the present Minister for Shipping and Transport said in Perth that he was not going to do what Mr. Ansett wanted him to do. Mr. Ansett then flew to Perth. I will say this for the present Minister for Transport: I do not think he was too happy about the whole business, but he said he would take the matter back to Cabinet. Then, extraordinarily enough, Mr. Ansett gets his way. He is now to be allowed to purchase Electras. T.A.A., which wanted Caravelles, is told that it must purchase Electras, and Electras are obtained from a dollar country, whereas Caravelles could have been purchased from the sterling area. We are in a bad way with regard to dollars. We have lost £30,000,000 in two months because of the drop in the price of our wool, and a good deal of that amount represents dollars. We are going to lose another £7,000,000 worth of dollars because of the establishment of an American quota with regard to imports of lead and zinc. This Government knew that these things were likely to happen, yet it allowed Mr. Ansett to have his way in regard to the introduction of Electras. We think that is all wrong.
– It is all right for T.A.A., but not for A.N.A.!
– I do not know about that. T.A.A. has been handicapped ever since this Government came into power. The 1952 agreement put shackles on T.A.A. The 1957 agreement put more shackles on T.A.A., and this agreement proposes to put on even more again.
The present agreement provides that there is to be an equal distribution of the traffic on the airlines in the matter of freights and of passengers. If the agreement is implemented, I suppose the Minister will tell members of this Parliament, “ Half of you have to travel by T.A.A., or may travel by T.A.A., but whether you like it or not, half of you have to travel by AnsettA.N.A. “. That is what the position has come to. That position already obtains with regard to the carriage of delegates to the immigration conference each year. Those who are invited are issued with tickets, and some have to travel by Ansett- A.N.A., whether they like it or not, because the Government has decided that half of its patronage must be given to that airline.
As I have said, I travel Ansett-A.N.A. when it suits my convenience, but I demand the right to say what airline I will travel by, particularly as my own safety is involved. I think that should be the right of every member of this Parliament and of every public servant. Whilst we have the finest flying country in the world, and whilst the record of our airlines companies is among the best in the world, flying is still an uncertain thing and there are grave risks involved in it.
– Not at all.
– The Minister for Supply, of course, has travelled quite a lot. I suppose I have half a million flying hours to my credit, and I was flying long before the days of DC3’s. I flew in DC2’s, and I flew even before the introduction of those aircraft.
– He is the greatest pilot since Pontius.
– The Minister has mentioned Pontius Pilate, and his remark indicates the manner in which the Government washes its hands of responsibility by proclaiming itself in favour of a private enterprise and, at the same time, making sure that a lot of government money is used to keep the private enterprise going.
– Under this bill, £2,700,000 will go into T.A.A. That is a lot of money.
– Of course, it is a lot of money. Ansett-A.N.A. is capitalized to the extent of only about £2,000,000.
– Yes, but it has to find its own money.
– Of course, and it has no difficulty in getting it from the American banks and from all these other people overseas who find, in the present Government, in respect of every private enterprise, a willing tool for them to use in the cause of international finance at the expense of the Australian people.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) made the Australian Labour party’s position in this matter very clear when he said, only last year, that “ the fight by Ansett-A.N.A. to take over Butler Air Transport Limited illustrated the need for anti-monopoly legislation “. He said also that “ the fight to acquire Butler Airways highlighted the terrific pressure which can be brought to bear on a small, efficient pioneering company by those who appear to have huge resources of capital behind them “. I am sure that Mr. Ansett has a lot of American money behind him. The Leader of the Opposition said also that Butler Air Transport “ has a long and meritorious record of public service to the people of Australia, particularly in the country districts, for the way it pioneered air routes and made possible the benefits of rapid air transportation between city and country “. If this Government remains in office, and continues on the line that it is taking at present, there will soon be no small private airline operators in existence in Australia. They all will be gobbled up eventually by AnsettA.N.A. Connellan Airways, in central Australia and the Northern Territory. Guinea Airways Limited, and the northern Queensland airlines all will become part of the Ansett empire.
I remind honorable members that, when we are considering a measure of this sort, we know what T.A.A. is doing. We know what the obligations of that organization are. But we never learn anything about the profits, the balance-sheets, or anything else, of the private enterprise operators. When the Parliament is asked to approve arrangements such as these, why should it not be told the essential facts about the financial stability or otherwise of the private enterprise operators? Mr. Ansett has not produced any figures for his airline operations since he took over Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, with the Government’s support, and assumed the obligations of the late Sir Ivan Holyman. The last balance-sheet of Ansett Transport Industries Limited contained consolidated figures for airline, road transport and hotel operations, and it was almost impossible to get a clear picture of any one of these fields of his operations. The same thing will probably happen again this year, unless the Government insists on a breakdown of the figures into the separate fields of operation. We have been given no indication mat such a breakdown is intended.
Ansett-A.N.A. is known to have a greater debt burden than that of T.A.A. I know that it has to negotiate its own loans, and that it cannot get money at the same rate as is provided for in this bill in. respect of T.A.A. - 4i per cent. It is currently rumoured that Ansett-A.N.A. has to pay twice ;as much in :interest .as is paid by T.A.A. Of course, if it cannot keep going on that basis, .further shackles will be placed on the operations of T.A.A. by this Government, if it unfortunately survives the election. It is well known, Mr. Speaker, that Ansett-A.N.A. is paying interest on its loans at rates up to 10 per cent. It has obtained its Convair Metropolitan aircraft on a terms plan. It has not bought them, but has made some other arrangement in order to obtain them. If it cannot survive, the Government will be ‘faced, in the next twelve months, with the obligation to make T.A.A. the only airline operating in Australia.
The Commonwealth proposes to. guarantee Ansett-A.N.A. the millions .of pounds it will borrow, at 5i per cent., without, as far as any member df this House knows, any investigation of the financial position of the company. .1 suppose -that the Government’s -advisers, in whom T have every confidence^ think the Labour government appointed many of them - =will have satisfied themselves that -the company’s financial position is reasonably sound. But the House is entitled to know all about it. The loan, which the Government is guaranteeing, and in respect of which it may have to meet its obligations under the guarantee, will be floated in the dollar area. T.A.A. wanted to give the Australian public the advantages of travel by pure jet aircraft by purchasing Caravelles from France. They can be operated more economically, I am told, than Electras can, although I am not so sure about that. But at least the Caravelles could have been bought in a soft-currency country that has a large adverse balance of trade with Australia. Instead of buying aircraft in the sterling area, and helping France, we have decided, under pressure from Mr. Ansett, to buy Electras from the United States of America. I think that the decision to force T.A.A. to buy Electras from the United States was made against the better judgment of T.A.A. ‘s experts - and I invite the Government to contradict that suggestion.
T.A.A.’s supremacy has been established by a wise choice of aircraft and efficient operations, and the Government now intends to pull this national airline back to the standards of the less efficient private airlines. Even if Mr. Ansett were the genius that he believes himself to be, the chequered history of A.N.A. and Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited over the years does not inspire as much confidence as the smooth and efficient operation of T.A.A. has inspired from the very beginning.
Sir, on this subject of private enterprise and the airline business, is it not a fact that, in the guise of assisting private enterprise, the Government has actually established a second socialist airline - a semi-socialist airline, as I remarked earlier? The term “ free enterprise “ is a euphemism when applied to a company that is completely dependent upon a government ‘for its continued existence. Ansett-A.N.A. .would not exist at present if it had not received an the support that it is getting -from the expenditure of the Australian taxpayers’ money.
– The honorable member would* have .only one airline.
– We have only one. post office organization. We have only govern.mentowned .railways. Does the honorable member suggest that there is. something very wicked ..and wrong with a governmentowned airline enterprise? I remind him that, although six butchers may serve householders in his street, only one postman delivers the letters. It may be an advantage to have only one airline. It is certainly a disadvantage to keep propping up with Government help a private enterprise airline which, under the terms of the arrangements provided for in this bill, has to give a lien over all its aircraft. In the event of the company failing, the Government will be able to recoup all its investments, and the shareholders in AnsettA.N.A. will probably get nothing.
– Is it known who finances Ansett-A.N.A.?
– Nobody in this Parliament, except Ministers, knows, and they will -not tell.
– It is said to be the Shell oil company.
– I think that the Shell oil company is very much in favour of that enterprise.
– What is Labour’s policy on nationalization? Will the honorable member tell us that?
– I should like to tell the honorable ‘member that the policy df the Australian Labour party is to ensure the return of a Labour member for the Phillip seat at the next election.
It is an accepted principle of airline operation that fleets should be ‘standardized on an efficient type of plane. This principle is observed the world over. When the 1952 agreement set out to lay down that condition, A.N.A. broke away from it, and the Government was weak enough to allow it <to do so. Qantas has standardized on Constellations and operated profitably, and that is a government enterprise. T.A.A. “has standardized on Viscounts with outstanding success. Ansett-A.N.A., is losing money. I defy any honorable member of the Liberal party to contradict that assertion. I know that the Australian Country party is all for T.A.A. Ansett-A.N.A. has a fleet of DC6’s, Viscounts, DC4’s and Convairs, and now the Government is advancing this company millions more with which to buy Electras.
– Talk some sense!
– That is a fact. The honorable member knows that AnsettA.’N.A. has DC6 aircraft.
– DC4’s until last week?
– And Convairs?
– That is what I said, and the honorable member denied it.
Ansett-A.N.A. is losing money on airline operations at a greater rate than when the fleet was under A.N.A. I do not think that can be denied. The balance-sheet, unless the Government steps in, will hide this loss by off-setting it against revenue from coach services, hotels, road freight services and all the other activities in which the company engages. It would be interesting to know what happened to the money recently subscribed by the public in Ansett debentures. Does anybody know? Where was it invested? How was it used? Is it being used to subsidize airline operating losses? Will the Government advances be used only for the procurement of Electras, or could they find their way into other of Ansett’s activities? I do not suppose that the Auditor-General would allow that to happen. If it did, he would draw attention to it. I do not think that the Department of Civil Aviation would allow it to happen; but we are entitled to very specific assurances on the point, and I hope the Government will give them.
It .is useless for the Government to protest that it is not trying to prop up AnsettA.N.A. at the .expense of T.A.A. As 1 said earlier, every honorable member has a choice of the airline on which he travels, and those who travel with T.A.A. know that, in order that A.N.A. would not lose as much money as it was losing previously, the free newspapers that were supplied were cut out and the meals that were supplied were cut down. Everything possible was done to cause discomfort to T.A.A. passengers so that A.N.A. would be able to balance its budget.
– You have only two minutes in which to make one point, you know!
– The honorable member is wrong again; I have four and a half minutes. Since Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited came into the field, the 1952 agreement has been stretched in all sorts of ways to protect this company and hold back the government line. Ansett has been permitted by this Government to operate in western Queensland and should not have been allowed to do so. Ansett has submitted an application for a licence to operate in New Guinea, and should not be allowed to do so, because New Giunea cannot afford two airlines to-day. If
Ansett-A.N.A. is allowed on the New Guinea run, both Ansett-A.N.A. and Qantas will lose.
The Government, in pursuit of its desocialization policy, is not desocializing anything. It is building up more and more losses. It is robbing the Australian people of their money to an ever-increasing extent in order that it may have the satisfaction of saying, “ We have two airlines in the sky, one a private enterprise line and the other a government enterprise line “. As far as the Labour party is concerned, the two airlines can run together, but they ought to run on fair terms. T.A.A. should not be hobbled, restricted and prevented from giving its full services to the Australian people in order to keep the other airline from collapsing.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise this evening to support the bill. I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), and tried to make a note of some of the points that he put before the House to encourage honorable members to vote against this measure. During a rather rambling speech, he made a number of interesting comments. One, of course, was of a personal nature and I can make only a very brief reference to it. He said that he had half a million flying hours. To those of us here who have somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 hours, that is a remarkable statement. I can point out only that half a million flying hours is 57 years. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition may have been up in the air for all that time, but surely not in an aeroplane! The year 1901 was a little before the days of Orville and Wilbur Wright.
– It was a slip of the tongue. I meant to say “ half a million miles “.
– In examining the rather rambling speech of the honorable gentleman, one can detect one salient point. Throughout the entire speech is a constant attack upon the free enterprise airline, Ansett-A.N.A. The theme of the honorable gentleman’s speech was to destroy public confidence in the free enterprise airline and to attack its management so that ultimately, as this effect accumulates, the company will find it impossible to maintain itself profitably. It will be subjected at all times - investors will no doubt we aware of this - to the threat that, if a Labour government were returned to the treasury-bench, it would only be a matter of time before free enterprise would vanish from the air transport industry. It is true, as the honorable gentleman said, that the High Court ruled that certain legislation introduced by a Labour government was invalid. However, he made it clear subsequently in a comment to the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) that it was true that the Labour Government had refused dollars to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited to enable it to purchase Convair aircraft.
By the time that had occurred, honorable gentlemen opposite were overcoming the arrogance that had led them into the direct, open and clear legislation seeking to nationalize the air transport industry. The arrogance of the leaders of the Australian Labour party, having been tempered by the decision of the High Court, began to express itself in the more subtle, snide method of attack upon free enterprise. This is the method that will be used by any future socialist government to destroy free enterprise in the Australian community. There is not one reason why a single piece of lesiglation should ever be brought into this Parliament to enable a socialist government to destroy free enterprise and to put in its place government-owned and directed enterprise. AH that one needs is the ability to say one thing and do another, and the duplicity and the capacity to connive and conspire to create circumstances in which free enterprise cannot survive. That is what honorable gentlemen opposite were seeking to do after their open nationalization plan had been defeated by the judgment of the High Court. At that time they refused dollars to A.N.A. and were creating the set of circumstances which has existed almost until the present time.
The honorable gentleman began his speech by saying that the Government was bolstering a failing A.N.A. That was careful propaganda aimed at the people who have supported Ansett-A.N.A. with finance, the hundreds of small Australian shareholders in addition to those larger investors, some of whom, as the honorable gentleman indicated, may have come from overseas. 1 am in a position to make a statement to the honorable gentleman and to the House which represents the Government’s viewpoint and which I believe, in relation to this particular matter, to be a statement of fact. In the eleven months in which Mr. R. M. Ansett has been the principal figure in the private enterprise section of civil aviation, he has merged A.N.A. and Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited into a single efficient airline with greatly improved staff morale. By 30th June, 1958, he had converted what was formerly a large monthly operating loss into a profit. He has not only met all payments on governmentguaranteed loans, but he has actually paid some of them in advance of the due dates. He has paid the second instalment of £1,000,000 to the A.N.A. vendors and he has laid concrete plans to make the final payment in October, 1959. He has placed early orders for Electras, Viscount 800’s and Fokker Friendships, which will greatly improve his competitive position vis-a-vis Trans-Australia Airlines.
Those facts could have been produced quite easily by the honorable gentleman, but it is not his desire to create a situation in which the House will look at the position and seek the facts. What he endeavours to do is to create an atmosphere in which public confidence in free enterprise will be gradually undermined and reduced.
A comment that the honorable gentleman made with relation to Butler Air Transport Limited must not be allowed to pass because what he said was, in fact - and I say this with respect to the honorable gentleman - inaccurate. He said that Butler Air Transport Limited had been squelched out. I do not have any affection for the phraseology, but I gather what the honorable gentleman meant. I would say that at the time of the take-over it is quite true that a number of people were extremely sorry to see that very distinguished Australian pioneer of aviation, Mr. Arthur Butler, in the position where his company was taken over by AnsettA.N.A. But the fact remains that Mr. Ansett made the positive public statement that he would guarantee that Butler Air Transport Limited as an institution would prevail, progress, expand and develop. At this present time it is a gross misrepresentation of the truth and a gross distortion of the fact to imply that the Butler air transport organization is on the verge oi liquidation or whatever else is implied by the term “ squelched out “.
There was a certain rambling by the honorable gentleman in relation to members’ rights of travel. It must be of great interest to honorable members to know how sympathetic the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is for our rights of travel. It is only since this Government came to power that there has been any choice in this matter. If Labour had remained in power and the late honorable member for Macquarie had continued his leadership of this country, not only would there have been no choice as to mode of travel, but also insurance and every other available form of free enterprise would have been open to snide attacks by socialism. That is the truth of the matter. One of the real reasons why in the last nine years there has been substantial support for the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and the people who sit behind him, is that the people of Australia know that it is morally wrong to support a group which is determined to utilize the taxpayers’ money to chop piecemeal and destroy the free enterprise system which has, after all, created and developed this country in which we live.
The honorable gentleman said that free enterprise was a euphemism. He said that there was only one post office. He asked whether we wanted two. That line is subtle propaganda. Does he think that honorable members on this side of the House could be so intellectually stupid as not to see that there is no comparison between these things? What he wants is a situation where the Prime Minister of Australia will be the controller and director of the entire Australian economy. Like his former leader, the honorable gentleman wants to make it clear to all people in Australia that under Labour they will not have free right of choice of work, that no guarantee can be given by Labour that every Australian worker will be able to select his own place of employment, because the planners will reach a stage when it will be of the essence of their plan that they direct people to exeat developmental works miles from their homes in order to build up this great monolithic structure of socialism and all it stands for, surrounded by strutting members of the Labour party. That will be a time when there is no Leader of the Opposition in this place, just as there is no Leader of the Opposition in certain planned economies to which I could refer.
There is an aspect of this debate that I think should be put fairly before the House. This is an important debate because our civil aviation industry has a great role to play in the future development of this country. Civil aviation is vital to our welfare. The Department of Civil Aviation has a very illustrious record among people connected with aviation. It is regarded generally - and this was so even in the days of socialist leaders in this country - as having a record of efficiency that is unsurpassed by any other Commonwealth department. Our civil aviation industry is of paramount importance to this country. It has a reputation for safety and efficiency which is the envy of the world. I am very pleased to support this bill, which is designed to authorize the Commonwealth to give to our two major domestic airlines - T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. - such assistance as is possible under the Civil Aviation Agreement Acts of 1952 and 1957.
I pause at this point to deal with one of the arguments put forward by the honorable member for Melbourne. He said that we were bolstering a failing free enterprise airline. He made no attempt to define his Labour view of what would be a stable civil aviation industry in this country. Obviously, he admits that to be a hard task. The fact is that the Opposition wants a nationalized civil aviation industry. That is the Labour definition of a stable, proper, progressive, and well-developed civil aviation industry. All that we ask honorable members opposite to do is to come out with the frankness that has characterized some of their appearances on television. Apart from the matter of lolly shops and things like that, I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne made himself clear with that remarkable intellectual capacity that he possesses in such large measure.
An understanding of the basis of the Civil Aviation Agreement Acts of 1952 and 1957 is germane to this argument; it is vital to it. Three points are put forward. It will be recalled that the first purpose of that legislation, as set out in the- agreements, was to ensure the continued existence of AnsettA.N.A., as well as of Trans-Australia Airlines, as operators of airline services, within Australia. The second purpose qualified that and made quite clear the difference in philosophy between gentlemen who sit on this side and gentlemen who sit on the other side of the House. It was the maintenance of competition between the commission and the company. We believed that if there were an airline monopoly, were it a private monopoly or a government monopoly, the inevitable result would be the deterioration of services, and a lowering of standards. These in turn would lead to instability, which no one would desire to see in our country. The third purpose of the Civil Aviation Agreement Acts was the efficient and economic operation of air services within Australia.
Once we understand that basis, we begin to see this measure in its proper light. This action is being taken to enable the airlines to place orders for more than £18,000,000 worth of aircraft and equipment which will be delivered to them, in the main, before the end of 1959. The House has been advised that Trans-Australia Airlines will buy two Lockheed Electra aircraft, two Viscounts of the newer and bigger Series 800, and twelve Fokker Friendships. AnsettA.N.A. will buy two Lockheed Electra aircraft, four Viscounts of the series 800, and six Fokker Friendships. The House knows that other legislation is before it in relation to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, our international airline.
The decision taken by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) will assist all three airlines to select standardized equipment, while preserving the essential ingredient of competition on a practical economic basis, and to maintain the safety record, unsurpassed in the world, that Australian airlines have maintained since their inception. The newest aircraft selected, the Lockheed Electra, has recently been granted a certificate of airworthiness by the United States Government. In the exhaustive tests to which this machine was subjected, it more than met, in most of the important aspects, the performance and safety guarantees that its manufacturer had originally made to the airlines. Of further important notice is the fact that the production of the aircraft is now several weeks ahead of schedule, which gives assurance to the airlines, that the machines will be delivered on time. These are important factors, and they undoubtedly weigh heavily in favour of the Lockheed Electra. This aircraft, I might add, is being sold to fifteen of the world’s leading airlines, and to date 161 of them have been sold.
The honorable member for Melbourne raised the aspect of purchasing from Britain as opposed to purchasing from the United States of America. This, 1 believe, is the answer: The respective airlines, in their various analyses of the available aircraft, determined that the Vickers Vanguard, was- too large and not suitable for the passenger requirements of internal airlines, and that the delivery date offered was much too late for their requirements. The honorable gentlman should, in fairness, try to appreciate, that the companies have to be given some right to make their own judgments in relation to these matters. He has come into the House and misled honorable members by putting some of the facts but leaving out these essential ingredients which I am at the present time endeavouring to put to the House.
The De Havilland Comet was not suited for passenger requirements, and proved to be uneconomical when operated on the internal route structure of the domestic airlines. Qantas rejected the Vanguard on the basis of- its late delivery, and’ its economic characteristics, which proved to be inferior to those of the Electra. The De Havilland. Comet was rejected by Qantas because of certain features of its design and its uneconomical characteristics compared with those of other aircraft.
Australian airlines have made very substantial purchases from the British aircraft industry* T.A.A. already has thirteen Viscounts of the 700 Series, with two of the 800 Series to come in the near future. Ansett-A.N.A. has two Viscount 700 Series, and has four of the 800 Series on order. An interesting point, which I bring to the attention of honorable gentleman, because although it is rather technical it is of great interest, is that the Fokker Friendship, including its engines, is approximately 60 per cent. British made. Trans-Australia Airlines has twelve of these aircraft on order, and Ansett-A.N.A. has six of them on order. Therefore, an- accusation by the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition that the Australian airlines are ignoring British manufacturers is purely fiction. It is based on inaccuracies and is unworthy of further comment.
The Commonwealth Government has to guard the interests of the people of Australia in maintaining an efficient civil aviation industry. We have always believed that this can best be done by maintaining both the major domestic airlines in existence, in fair competition and functioning with the maximum degree of efficiency and economy. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) has set out the method by which the Government has solved the great financial problem which confronted the companies. It might be more accurate if I were to say that the Government has allowed the companies, with its assistance, to solve the problems. It should be noted, however, that since these arrangements were made conditions have tended to become more difficult in the United States of America, and money has tended to become dearer to purchase. It will be seen, therefore, that from this point alone it would be a great disservice to Australia if this measure were not to meet with the solid approval of the Parliament. We are fortunate to have made these financial arrangements at the time we did make them, and we should now benefit from them to the utmost of our ability to do so. If this measure does not pass through the Parliament, many millions of pounds will be wasted.
An aspect which is even worse is that the financial institutions overseas to which we have gone, for support in this matter, will understand- that there is a grave political instability in this Australia of ours. We shall then find that the sources of overseas capital investment in this country will begin to dry up, and we shall be forced to slow down our development and lower our standard of living. That will be the result of the propaganda war that is being waged by the honorable member for Melbourne and his colleagues on the other side of the Parliament. It is wrong to suggest that people in the United States who are prepared to invest in Australia’s future and to make a judgment on our capacity to go on and survive can be expected to do this if constantly they face the threat of a socialist government coming into power, grabbing their assets, and giving them nothing in return. In the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne to-night, that threat is clear for all to see and understand.
I should like to say a few words on some of the problems that face particular airlines. The problem of T.A.A. can be expressed very simply in relation to certain routes on which it is operating. For example, on the Adelaide-Perth route, T.A.A. cannot, with its present equipment, operate as efficiently as is desirable, because the present Viscount 700-series aircraft must reduce its passenger and cargo load by approximately 35 per cent, in order to operate on this route with any acceptable degree of reliability. It will be readily appreciated that this is a serious reduction in the payload of the efficiency of the aircraft and, from an economic stand-point, the whole operation becomes highly speculative and subject to many problems. This route should be one of the most lucrative routes in Australia. The Lockheed Electra will solve this problem for T.A.A. and, equally, will solve it for Ansett-A.N.A.
Fokker Friendships are, of course, to replace the DC3’s, which have given magnificent service over so many years, and which, throughout the world, are being replaced by more modern aircraft. Even so, I venture to say, without having checked the figures, that the probability to-day is that the DC3 type is the type most used by all the small airlines functioning in places like South America and Africa. That aircraft has a splendid record dating from 1934. I know that some of my distinguished and more senior colleagues in this place will remember the DC2 aircraft which was flown out here in the famous Melbourne centenary air race in 1934, which was won by Scott and Campbell-Black. The second place was taken by a Douglas aircraft of this type flown by Parmentier and Moll, two Dutch fliers. It is a remarkable thing that in 1958. 24 years later, that type of aircraft is functioning throughout the world.
I believe it is fair to say that the DC3 aircraft is probably the greatest single item of civil aviation equipment which has ever been produced by mankind, and its contribution during the last war was unsurpassed. The ubiquitous Dakota, as it was called during the war, took part in many of the operations in which many of our Army colleagues were involved. It carried, and supplied, many of the airborne divisions. There is no doubt that the DC3 made a contribution in service as great as that of any other aircraft used in the entire war.
Ansett-A.N.A.’s problems have been largely those of lack of competitive equipment, and the company has suffered because of its inacceptability to the public in comparison with T.A.A. As the honorable gentleman from Melbourne put it, it was less popular. However, I doubt whether that is a true expression of the facts. We know it to be true that the Australian civil aviation industry will suffer if this uneconomic competition of different types of airT craft is permitted to continue.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– On a point of procedure, Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sorry that I did not ask the House for permission to discuss the three civil aviation bills in this secondreading debate on the Airlines Equipment Bill 1958. I suggest that they be debated in that way as they are cognate measures, but that a vote be taken on each of them.
– The House has heard the suggestion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. There being no objection, that procedure will be followed.
.- It is astounding to hear honorable gentlemen on the Government side of the House profess to be devotees of the principle of free enterprise, because the legislation we are now considering is certainly a denial of that principle. I feel that the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham) certainly did nothing to clarify the ideas on the Government side regarding the affairs of this country’s airlines and the application of the principle of free enterprise to the operations of the airlines. Not as a result of the greatest stretch of imagination could it be said that the major private airline in Australia - Ansett-A.N.A. - desires to be faced with the competition inherent in free enterprise. The fact is that any privately owned organization which is likely to be a competitor with this particular company will ultimately be absorbed by Ansett-A.N.A.
The principle of rationalization of airline services which motivates this legislation is also a denial of the principle of free enterprise, and the antithesis of free competition. Rationalization is designed, according to the Government, to conserve aircraft and to avoid uneconomic duplication of services. So honorable gentlemen opposite cannot claim to be the supporters of free enterprise as they have sought to do to-night. 1 suppose we have not had a more important item of legislation before us than the present measure other than, possibly, the banking legislation, which was before us earlier in the session. The present legislation certainly claims the earnest attention of every member of this House who seeks to serve the interests of this country and wants to see efficiency in the vital field of air communications. The Government’s proposal is to purchase eight Lockheed Electra aircraft, manufactured by the American Lockheed company, six 800- series Viscounts and eighteen Fokker Friendships, on behalf of the government airlines, T.A.A. and Qantas, and the private airline Ansett-A.N.A. This will involve about £18,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money.
I find also that T.A.A. is to be required to accept two Electra aircraft. Two of them are to go to Ansett-A.N.A. and five will be acquired by the Qantas organization, but as Qantas will be able to take any surplus aircraft capacity from T.E.A.L., the Qantas organization may be satisfied with four Electras. I should like to have an explanation from the Minister concerning the position of T.A.A. and the other airlines in relation to these orders. We remember that Mr. Ansett of Ansett-A.N.A. was the first to suggest that Electra aircraft should be used for Australian domestic airlines. The T.A.A. experts believed that the Caravelle aircraft were better machines for their purposes. The Minister indicated in Perth that he was unwilling to agree to the proposals that had been made by both Mr. Ansett and the T.A.A. organization. Then Mr. Ansett, hustling man as he is, went post-haste to Perth with a view to straightening up the Minister. He wanted to know why the Minister had rejected the suggestion that his organization should purchase Electras. Something transpired, but the Minister did not make a public statement about the nature of the consultations or the results of them.
To-night, however, we have the legislation which, in ‘itself, is the answer to the query about the Minister’s decision in Perth. Virtually what was desired by Mr. Ansett is now contained in this legislation, and I shall explain how it will all work out. The Minister has indicated that certain consultations have taken place with the airlines concerning their obligations. That statement is in the Minister’s secondreading speech. I should like to know whether an equal opportunity was given for T.A.A. to accept or reject the Lockheed Electras in place of the Caravelles which it wanted originally. I feel that there has been no consultation concerning the willingness or unwillingness of T.A.A. to accept those aircraft. This is the first time in the history of T.A.A. that that organization has been required to accept an aircraft which was not recommended by its experts.
Two Electras desired by Mr. Ansett of Ansett-A.N.A. will be among the first delivered. Ansett-A.N.A. will have an opportunity to get in first with these aircraft. The Electras for T.A.A. will possibly be made available a good many months later and, therefore, Mr. Ansett will be given an opportunity to forestall T.A.A. with these faster aircraft. I have no doubt that when the aircraft are available for T.A.A.. ultimately it will be proposed that those two Electras should* be added to the Ansett-A.N.A. fleet. Thus, Mr. Ansett will secure the four Electras which he wanted originally and which the Minister was unwilling to give him. Time will tell, but I believe that what I have predicted will take place. T.A.A. will then be told that it can purchase the Caravelles it wanted or any other aircraft that suits its purpose. Those orders will be twelve to eighteen months behind the aircraft that are to be introduced by Ansett-A.N.A. The result of this will be well understood.
We could have advanced the British aircraft industry and kept the business in the sterling area by placing our orders there, but instead of doing so we have diverted our attention to the American aircraft industry. We must remember that attention must be given also to replacement and maintenance, and that will call for much more financial aid than has been provided in this legislation. The expenditure envisaged here will not be the last. Here we find that an amount of 3,000,000 dollars is to be secured from the Morgan banking authorities of New York and that another amount of 13,000,000 dollars is to be secured for the needs of Qantas. I think that the securing of that finance will place a serious strain upon the dollar credits which are available to this country and which are needed for other commitments.
Furthermore, I ‘feel that we have failed to give to the British aircraft industry support which we should have given to it. The Government is to guarantee or underwrite loan accommodation for the purchase of aircraft by Ansett-A.N.A. It is remarkable that we have not an opportunity of knowing the details of the financial position of this organization. We are unable to assess the ability of these people to meet their obligations. I feel that, at least, we should have had as much information about Ansett-A.N.A. as we possess about our own organization, T.A.A.
I have in my hand a brochure which has been published by T.A.A. and which provides a clear picture, of the ability of T.A.A. to add to its fleet of aircraft and meet the essential commitments involved in such action.
– Did A.N.A. not repudiate once?
– That is very true. “I believe that A.N.A. was unable to pay certain landing charges. These charges have now been included in the general loan that has been accepted by A.N.A. as a part of its obligation.
– That is not repudiation.
– No. But the company has not fulfilled its obligation, all the same. Surely we require some further information about an organization which, in the past, has been unable to meet its commitments as mentioned by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) does not deny this.
In regard to the present proposal, I feel that the Government has done all that it can to arrest the progress of T.A.A. Some months ago there was an effort to cause further .embarrassment by placing a duty of 6d. per gallon upon the kerosene fuel used by the Viscount aircraft of T.A.A. Furthermore, it was required that certain airmail business should be transferred to Ansett-A.N.A. In this legislation we find that T.A.A. is to be required to limit its aircraft to handling only half the demand for passenger or freight services. How can there be free enterprise or true competition under those conditions?
If a service can be conducted more efficiently by a government organization, surely that organization has the right to enjoy the opportunity of affording the Australian .nation the best service that it is capable of giving. I feel that to support the operations of Ansett-A.N.A. in this way is to deny the nation the , opportunity of having the most efficient service possible.
According to the ‘balance-sheet of T.A.A., 5 per cent, of its profit is paid to the Government in return for the financial accommodation afforded by the Government. The most recent amount paid to the Treasury in this connexion was the substantial sum of £218,500 - almost a quarter of a million pounds. That figure represents 5 per cent, on a capital of £4,370,000. Another £50,000 was transferred to the general reserve and £14,202 was carried forward to the profit and loss appropriation account, a total of £282,702, which is an indication of the favorable position of the government . airline known as T.A.A.
I feel that this airline has afforded the
Australian public a ‘more efficient service than rUle private airline. Only to-.day I had the advantage of recognizing how extremely careful are T.A.A. personnel in checking the airworthiness of their aircraft. After I had left Adelaide airport in a T.A.A. aircraft, ‘the pilot felt -that some check ‘should be made upon a part of the mechanism of the plane and he returned for that check to be made. We were soon airborne again and I commend the pilot and the organization of T.A.A. upon .the care in ensuring the .airworthiness of .the aircraft and the safety of the passengers that it carried. That is the kind of service provided by an organization whose first consideration is not the profit motive, but a desire to give the best service with the maximum of efficiency and safety.
I feel, therefore, that we are justified in asking the -Minister for a fuller explanation of this legislation and the reasons why it was thought necessary to bring it down at this time. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said, the history of private airlines in this country does not lead to a belief that the people are best served by that kind of enterprise. While I have no objection to private enterprise being given an opportunity to justify itself in this field, I do not believe it is desirable that an organization working on behalf of the people of Australia should have its progress arrested by being compelled to share the business available to it with another organization which, we feel, is not so competent and cannot render as good a service.
I believe that it is desirable to have all our air services under the one supervision. If this were done, fewer kinds of aircraft would need to be employed, and considerable savings could be effected thereby in maintenance costs and in the provision of spare parts and replacements. In addition, the people would be assured that they were receiving the best possible service at the least- possible expense. It seems to me very strange that the government airline, T.A.A., has to secure the agreement of Ansett-A.N.A. before it can make changes in its passenger fares .or freight rates. .If true competition were allowed to operate, there would be no such condition, and each airline would individually endeavour to give the .best service at the lowest .cost. The . result of the .present situation is that we may be paying more for . fares and freight rates than we really should pay, because we have to maintain two separate organizations.
For these reasons, I suggest to honorable members that we are justified in asking the Government to ‘establish on an even firmer basis the organization of T.A.A. that already has proved itself -so efficient, and to enable it to obtain the machines that it -requires to bring its services up to date.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. -FAILES ‘(Lawson) E9<45].- I support this Airlines Equipment Bill and the associated bills.
– They stand on ‘their own feet, that is why. They are very plain measures. They indicate the intention of the Government and how the Government proposes to ensure that the civil aviation agreements of 1952 and 1957 are to be carried out. The idea of these measures, as has been explained by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) in introducing the bill, and by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham), is to ensure the continued existence of the company, meaning Ansett-A.N.A., and of the commission, meaning the Australian National Airlines Commission, which controls TransAustralia Airlines, and to ensure that there shall be continued healthy competition between these two airline companies, so that the efficiency and economy of Australia’s airlines service shall be maintained as satisfactorily as they have been in the past. Those are the purposes of the legislation.
From the Opposition we have heard nothing constructive. Opposition members say they intend to vote against the bill, but they do not tell us why. They do not suggest any alternatives. They simply say, “ It looks like private enterprise, although we are not too sure, but we want nationalization, and so we will oppose the bill “.
– Well, honorable members opposite -may have some doubts, and I ,am not surprised if they have.
– Order! The honorable member -for Kingsford-Smith will cease interjecting.
– Even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was not too sure. He said, in effect, if not in these very words, that the Government will very soon declare that certain persons must travel by T.A.A. and others by AnsettA.N.A.
– Order! The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith will come to order.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, “ I retain to myself the right to choose how I shall travel”. Yet he is the apostle of nationalization. When it suits his purpose, however, he says, “I want the right to choose “. Well, we are giving him the right to choose. We are giving him the right to have two airline operators from which to select, and we are going to ensure the continuance of the healthy competition between those two airlines that has existed in the past. The honor-able - member will then be able to choose not simply between a good airline and a worse one, but between a good airline and a better one.
This bill will assist those operators that have done so much for aviation in Australia in the past. We have a very proud aviation record. I shall not attempt to traverse the whole of that history. Let me just say that it goes back to the days just after the First World War when our airmen flew between this country and England to prove that commercial flying is a possibility in the modern world. From those pioneer flights has been built up one of the greatest transport organizations that the world has ever known. We can recall with pride such pioneer flights as the crossing of the Tasman Sea by Smithy, Ulm, Mcwilliam and Litchfield. That flight forged the last link in the long chain starting from England. Those are four names that we can be proud of. Mcwilliam was a New Zealander, and Smithy was glad to take him on the flight, because he wanted to commemorate the fact that two New Zealanders, Moncrieff and Hood, had attempted to make the flight originally. Unfortunately, the New Zealanders’ attempt met with disaster. From those original flights, we have built up the airlines that we have in Australia to-day. From Ulm’s first flight carrying mail from Sydney to New Zealand, we have built up the services that are to-day provided by Tasman Empire Airways Limited. I am pleased to see that T.E.A.L. is to be given consideration under one of the bills that have recently been introduced.
As I said earlier, this bill provides for certain things. An important thing, which has been entirely overlooked by the Opposition, is the last of the things that the original rationalization arrangements were designed to ensure - the efficient and economical operation of air services within Australia. I emphasize the words “ within Australia “. Opposition members have given us a dissertation on the kinds of aircraft that they consider should be bought. They have posed as experts on the kinds of aircraft that should be purchased. They have posed as experts able to tell us how airlines should be run. And they have posed as experts who are able to go out and get finance. Do they not realize that the Government has the best available experts advising it in these matters? Do Opposition members not realize that the Government would not enter into arrangements of the kind envisaged here, and the guarantees involved, unless it had fully investigated the proposition and found that it was sound? Do they not realize that in the bill itself there are qualifications that will make quite sure that the Government’s intentions will be carried out?
The Minister, in his second-reading speech said -
It will be noted from the bill that very strict conditions would attach to the guarantees. In particular, the money must be borrowed on reasonable terms, ‘the lender is to take proper security over the aircraft and the loan arrangements must contain provisions transferring the benefits of the securities to the Commonwealth if the Commonwealth is called upon to make payments under the guarantees, and the Treasurer may impose any other conditions he considers necessary to protect the interests of the Commonwealth. The aircraft must be fully insured and cannot be sold, mortgaged or otherwise charged and cannot be taken outside Australian territory except after furnishing such security as the Treasurer may require.
Yet the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), prompted by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), made the assertion that one of our airline companies some time ago repudiated its obligations. When I corrected him and said that what had been done was not repudiation, he admitted that the company had had some difficulty in meeting its commitments and that, by arrangement, those commitments had been transferred to the general loan. I repeat that that is not repudiation. The honorable member also made other assertions and insinuations.
– What would the honorable member call the action that was taken?
– The honorable member may make all the assertions he likes, but he cannot deny that insinuations have been made that Trans-Australia Airlines was compounding with Ansett-A.N.A. to take over the T.A.A. Electras, and then was going to buy other aircraft for itself. How can we deal in this Parliament with honorable members who suggest that such a thing will eventuate from arrangements which, as I have said, stand on their own and are self-explanatory?
The basis behind any arrangements of this sort is that the companies that it is proposed to assist should be worthy of the assistance to be given. I want to remind the House - it has been mentioned, and it should be carefully remembered - that assistance is to be given on the one hand, to T.A.A. in hard cash, and, on the other hand, to Ansett-A.N.A. by way of a guarantee. That is the distinction. These organizations are entitled to consideration because of the grand job that they have done in succession to the pioneer work done in years gone by. Let me cite to the House some figures that are worth mentioning. The internal and overseas airlines of this country have carried 2,250,000 paying passengers in the last twelve months. That is no small figure. These airlines’ routes total some 42,000 air miles. On the calculations of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who said that he had travelled 500,000 air miles, he would have had to travel on all the internal airlines for some twelve or more years. That would be rather an impossible feat. There are to-day 160 airline aircraft registered in Australia. There are nearly 600 aerodromes, including five international airports in Australia. That is a very big number for a country with a tremendous area - I think it is almost as great that of the United States of America, but we have a population of only 10,000,000 people.
There has not been one passenger fatality on the Australian airlines for almost seven years. That is a record of which Australia and the airline companies may be proud. I say, in all sincerity, that it is a record of which the Department of Civil Aviation may be especially proud, because the department is responsible for the safety of aircraft while they are in the air and of the passengers who fly in them. Although 13,000,000 passengers have been carried in the last seven years, there has not been one passenger fatality on our commercial airlines. I exclude the other small aircraft that get into trouble from time to time. The safety record of the airlines is an amazing achievement, and it is the very basis of the present proposals to assist airline companies that can achieve such a record and that want to maintain it. Motor transport, as honorable members know, came into use before any such thing as airlines was thought of. Unfortunately, in respect of motor transport, the situation is rather adverse. No figures are available to indicate the number of passengers carried in motor vehicles, but in 1956-57, there were 109,000 accidents, in which 2,103 people were killed, and 50,450 were injured. A comparison of the safety record of motor transport and that of the airlines is very much in favour of the airlines. I repeat, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the companies that are to receive the assistance to be given under these arrangements have, by their own efforts, justified any help that the Government can give them.
We began originally by trying to establish two airline companies at least, in order, as I said earlier, to provide healthy competition and give the people the best possible air services. It has been found that these companies require additional aircraft. The cost of modern aircraft is very great, and it is perfectly reasonable that the Commonwealth Government should assist these airline companies to equip their fleets with new planes. I emphasized before - and I repeat - that the original rationalization arrangements were intended to ensure the efficient and economical operation of air services within Australia. The Labour Opposition, which has indicated that it is the farmers’ friend-
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to hear that Opposition members are the friends of the farmers. But they have not given any consideration to the needs of the internal airlines. Their aim is to maintain one airline - T.A.A. They know very well that, except in Queensland, T.A.A. does not provide intra-state services. I can speak at first hand of the position in New South Wales, where Ansett-A.N.A. is doing a remarkably good job, following in the footsteps of Butler Air Transport Limited. Ansett-A.N.A. is using on those intra-state services aircraft some of which are obsolescent although perhaps not yet altogether obsolete. The assistance to be given to that airline under the terms of this bill will enable it to buy six Fokker Friendship aircraft. I know that the people of the country districts of New South Wales are anxiously awaiting the arrival of those new aircraft. Country people, in common with city-dwellers, appreciate the benefits of modern aviation, and especially of pressurized aircraft. Why should: they not have them? Why should they be condemned to travel in the old DC3’s? Why should they not be entitled to fly in the modern aircraft that are available?
Opposition members. - Hear, hear!
– I am glad to know that Opposition members now realize that they were on the wrong foot in opposing this measure and denying country people the benefit of Fokker Friendship aircraft. This measure will enable Ansett-A.N.A. to buy modern aircraft for country air services, and I hope that Opposition members will now support it. If they refuse to support it, it can be only because they adopt a stickinthemud attitude, and because they do not want private airlines in Australia.
There is no competition between private airlines to-day. You cannot expect companies to compete with one another when they cannot afford to run their aircraft.
– There are alternative airlines.
– There are alternative airlines, but the New South Wales Government will not license more than one airline to operate on any one route, and so there is virtually no competition. These companies do not require that. They are willing to run the best aircraft they can to the country districts and, by passing this legislation, we will know that we will be assisting them to do so.
There is no occasion to take up much time on this bill. Some Opposition members have purported to tell us authoritatively the right type of aircraft to buy, the way to run the airlines and various other things that the Government, with the aid of its advisers, is fully competent to decide. Over the years we have built up the internal airlines and we have also built up Qantas, one of the best air services in the world. In addition, we have an airline service to New Zealand through Teal, which has brought our sister dominion within four and a half hours of Australia. When equipped with new aircraft, Teal will bring New Zealand within three and a half horns flying time of Australia. This has all been done by proper organization and consideration of the problems involved and by the Department of Civil Aviation tackling those problems in the right way. I do not propose to labour the matter any more. I con-: sider that continual talking about this bill is only stonewalling. It stands on its own feet. As a member representing a country district, I am particularly pleased to see that Ansett-A.N.A. will get the money to buy Fokker Friendship aircraft.
.- The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) very properly referred to the proud history of aviation in Australia and paid a tribute to aviation pioneers, going back, of course, to Kingsford-Smith and his companions on those flights we are remembering this year, the thirtieth anniversary of the first of them. It is well to point out that this legislation gives no assistance to any aviation pioneer in Australia. Only one aviation pioneer is still flying or seeking to fly in Australia, and that is Mr. C. A. Butler. He, of course, is rigorously denied any assistance under this bill or the cognate legislation.
The honorable member also pointed out how necessary it was that Australia, a country of great distances, should have adequate country air services. We completely agree with him. It is all the more remarkable, therefore, that the Government by administrative action has put an end to the negotiations between Trans-Australia Airlines and the New South Wales Government which would have provided a variety of country services in New South Wales following on the absorption by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited of Butler Air Transport. Like so many members on the Government side, the honorable member has propounded this bill as a’ safeguard of private enterprise. It is nothing of the sort. This bill is intended to bolster a proprietary company in which there is an unknown but quite small number of shareholders. There is no competition between this company and any other company. We ensure that we give no assistance to any other company and that T.A.A. is precluded from providing competition with this company within any State or with aircraft of its own choice. The way we do that is to provide money and to select aircraft for the company, and to guarantee financial accommodation on condition that it comply with governmental instruction. This is not private enterprise. This is not even corporate enterprise. This is permitting a handful of individuals to play with public money. This Government guaranteed money in 1952 and 1957 and proposes to do so again in this legislation.
Everybody knows that, if it had not been for the Commonwealth diverting freight and passengers to A.N.A., if it had not been for the Commonwealth guaranteeing the loans that A.N.A. got from insurance companies and from banks, if it had not been for the Commonwealth declaring that if A.N.A. could not get the money elsewhere it would itself lend the money, if it had not been for the Commonwealth renegotiating those loans and those guarantees with Mr. Ansett when he took over A.N.A. on its default - I like the neat quibble of the honorable member for Lawson that it was not repudiation; it was merely default - and if it had not been for the Commonwealth in this bill guaranteeing any further loans that A.N.A., which, of course, is Mr. Ansett, is able to negotiate, A.N.A. would long ago have gone out of business. I do not criticize the safety record of Ansett or of A.N.A. in the last seven years. In the last seven years the record of the airlines in Australia has been quite satisfactory. In the last seven years it has been as satisfactory as the record of T.A.A. has been for its whole twelve years. The people who man these airlines are quite devoted servants of the company; they render a courteous service and, within the limits of the aircraft provided for them, an efficient service. But do not let us seek to hoodwink the public that anybody who supports this bill is fostering private enterprise or that anybody who opposes this bill is thereby supporting nationalization or socialization of the airlines. Sir, whether we believe in socialization or nationalization of public utilities-
– Do you believe in it?
– What I am saying is that I do not believe in providing people with public money to play with. Whether we believe in socialization or nationalization, the plain fact is that nothing in Australia can be socialized or nationalized unless the people at a referendum allow it to be done. But, of course, the Government here is the prisoner of its own political theories. It knows that inevitably all utilities will come under public ownership. That is because utilities are no longer a profitable field for private investment.
Just .as all electricity companies, gas companies, ferry services and all big bus services are coming under public ownership, so inevitably, if they were left to their own resources, every coastal shipping company and every airline would also end under public ownership. The way the Government postpones that is by subsidizing this form of transport, aviation, in which public and! private enterprise started in competition and in which, by sheer efficiency, public enterprise alone would survive. This is not private enterprise. This is not corporate enterprise. It is the provision or the guaranteeing of funds by the Government for private persons to manipulate.
– It creates competition, does it not?
– If the Minister will only listen, instead of interjecting, he will see how it obviates competition. There is no competition under this bill except on terms prescribed by the Minister for Civil Aviation. There is no competition between T.A.A. and A.N.A. under this bill. Once the guarantee which this bill enables the Government to give to A.N.A. is given by the Government to A.N.A., competition between T.A.A. and A.N.A. ceases.
– That is sheer nonsense!
– I suppose the Minister is one of the crosses that we have to bear, as. he is one of the crosses his colleagues have to bear. It is just as well that the Prime Minister is not in the House and we cannot see him wincing as he does when the Minister for the Army seeks to answer any questions we put to him.
Let me analyse the bill for the benefit of the more coherent members of the House. Part III. details the financial arrangements between A.N.A. and the Government. It is quite plain that there the Government dictates the nature and the amount of A.N.A.’s finances. Clause 9 of the bill sets out how much money A.N.A. is to borrow, what the security is to be, what the conditions of the loans are to be, what undertakings are to be given, and such other conditions as the Treasurer thinks necessary. A.N.A. is bound hand and foot in those matters. It cannot receive the Commonwealth’s guarantee unless it complies, and we know perfectly well that it would not receive the loans unless the Government guaranteed them.
Part IV. of the bill is headed “ Rationalization of Aircraft Fleets “. This part provides that on any competitive route - that is, any route over which air services are operated by both T.A.A. and A.N.A. - the Minister will decide all the terms of competition. I do not think that any of them will comply with the ideas of competition and free enterprise to which such a mossback as the Minister for the Army still adheres. The terms of competition are set out in clause 13 of the bill, which provides first that once the Government has given the guarantee to A.N.A., neither A.N.A. nor T.A.A will be able to provide air services in excess of an aircraft capacity estimated and determined by the Minister. Secondly, both A.N.A. and T.A.A. must dispose of any excess aircraft, that is, any aircraft in excess of the aircraft required for the aircraft capacity so estimated and determined by the Minister. Thirdly, neither A.N.A. nor T.A.A. can purchase, lease or otherwise obtain more aircraft than are required to provide that capacity estimated and determined by the Minister. Lastly, A.N.A. and T.A.A. must each provide any information on traffic which the Minister requires.
That is not free enterprise. That is not freedom of competition. The aircraft which these companies are to acquire and operate, the routes upon which they are to compete, and the number of passengers they are permitted to carry are determined by the Minister.
– There is competition on every major route.
– The bill determines what are competitive routes and what are non-competitive routes. There is no definition of major route or otherwise. All routes are either competitive or non-competitive. It is plain that I must be very precise. The House is dealing with the Airlines Equipment Bill 1958. I see that the Minister for the Army has not even got a copy of the bill in front of him.
– I do not need a copy.
– I ask that one of the attendants bring the Minister a copy of the bill. The fifteenth line on page five of the bill defines competitive route as a route over which air services are operated both by the commission and the company. Noncompetitive route is defined as any other route. So the Minister at least knows what a route is under this bill. If both instrumentalities are in competition the Minister determines every phase of that competition. That is not freedom of competition as it is known to such doctrinaire or archaic persons as the Minister for the Army.
– They are worse than socialists.
– At least socialists develop their ideas in accordance with economic necessities, but the Minister does not belong to the air age at all. He has never got off the ground. In his portfolio he is not even mobile.
I have pointed out that this bill does not safeguard private enterprise in any respect. It precludes anybody except T.A.A. and A.N.A. from operating in the air. It does not foster competition in the air because the Minister decides the terms on which the two companies will fly.
– ls the honorable member unhappy about that?
– I am quite happy about that, but why say that it is something that it is not? Why say that it is freedom of enterprise? Why say that it is freedom of competition? It is not. Public money is provided for a private company which did not pioneer air services in Australia and which has defaulted once already. For the third time the Government is coming to the rescue of a private company, a proprietary company, in which there are a few shareholders whose identity has never, been disclosed to the House. The balance-sheets of the company have never been disclosed to the House or to the Commonwealth Auditor-General. The Government is doing this in purely doctrinaire adherence to the theory of which the Government is a prisoner. The Government set out in 1952 to save A.N.A. It has had to go to the assistance of A.N.A. on two subsequent occasions. It is having to come to the assistance of A.N.A. at increasing frequencies- 1952, 1957 and now 1958.
The Government does not make quite the bold claims that some private members of the Government parties have made for this bill to-night. The Minister states that its objectives are the same as the Civil Aviation Agreement Act 1952, namely, the continued existence of the company, as well as the commission, as an operator of airline services in Australia; the maintenance of competition between the commission and the company; and the efficient and economical operation of air services within Australia. The Opposition concedes that the first objective is being fostered by this bill. It could not be preserved in any other way because if it were not for this third subvention, the company would have had to fall. As to the second objective, competition is not being maintained in any ordinary sense. The competition that is being maintained is precisely the sort of service that would be provided by a government instrumentality where the Minister could lay down the terms of service on any route just as he do:s under this bill.
The third objective is surely an important one which nobody has referred to - the efficient and economical operation of air services within Australia. This Parliament is constantly preoccupied with air services. But they are only one means of transport in Australia. As air transport is a feature which comes largely within the province of this Parliament, particularly as regards interstate air services, honorable members are inclined to forget other forms of transport. I had hoped that some honorable members opposite, most of all the Minister, would have fitted Australia’s civil aviation requirements into the general transport picture in the country. Four years ago the Department of Shipping and Transport prepared an elaborate report on the costs of transport for the Australian Transport Advisory Council, on which all the State Ministers for Transport, as well as several Commonwealth Ministers, are represented. From that report it emerges that civil aviation is the form of transport which costs governments most. We always hear about railway deficits, but proportionately the amount which governments pay for civil aviation, per passenger or per ton, is very many times what is paid by governments for rail transport. Indeed, it is very much more than is paid for road transport and a still greater amount more than is paid for sea transport.
The. alarming feature about transport costs in Australia is that Australia spends at least three times more on its transport than does any comparable country. The departmental report which I have mentioned showed that one-third of Australia’s national income is spent on transport. United Nations reports and statistics for the same year showed that no other country spent more than one-tenth of its national income on transport. Those reports related to a great variety of countries of different economic development and of different sizes. It is sufficient to point out that not only do the United States of America and Canada, with the same area as Australia, spend only one-tenth of their national income on transport, but also that Canada is presented with very many of the same problems of sparse and difficult communications.
Accordingly, if there is one direction in which Australia’s costs should be looked at more than in any other, it is in transport. There is something wrong with an economy wherein we spend 33 per cent., instead of the normal 10 per cent., of national income on transport. Where does this fit into our economic picture? Why is it that we always spend so lavishly and so frequently on equipping our airlines with the most modern equipment, but make no comparable provision for our ports or our railways. If our ports, ships, and railways were as modern as our aircraft, the services about which we frequently complain would be vastly improved. I am not suggesting that we should cut down our standards of air travel in any respect. They are already, I believe, equal to those of any other country, in safety, speed, and services.
Why is it that we so constantly foster civil aviation and neglect the other forms of transport? We should co-ordinate them all, and I see no indication that in this bill we have directed any attention whatever to the economic necessities of Australia. Is it necessary, in any respect, for us to have these new planes, or, if we would like them, are they more important than modernizing some of our other transport equipment which carries more people and more tonnage and which could reduce and not - as I fear this bill might do - increase our costs of transport; reduce, and not increase, the proportion of our national income which is spent on transport, thus improving our standard of living, instead of burdening it with still more unnecessary charges?
The final comment I wish to make on this bill is that, not only will it be made still more difficult than it already is for any private operator to compete in the air - it is impossible now for any new person, Mr. Butler or anybody else to compete with these publicly subsidized organizations, Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A.- but T.A.A. is being precluded from giving the competition that it wants to give to A.N.A. It is being precluded in two respects. First, T.A.A. chose the Caravelle. We had quite a lengthy debate -on this matter during consideration of the Estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. No adequate explanation was given of the rejection of the Caravelle. One reason was that parts of it were manufactured in different countries.
– We would have to build new aerodromes because of the noise in the cities.
– America, the United Kingdom and France are all permitting Caravelles to use their metropolitan airports.
– And having trouble with the noise nuisance.
Mir. Curtin. - No more trouble than we are having with you.
– At least, the noise of the Caravelle gets it somewhere. The argument that the Caravelle is manufactured in different countries surely falls to the ground when we look at the Fokker Friendship, which also is manufactured in different countries. When the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley) was giving the countries in which the components of the Caravelle were manufactured, he had to be reminded that the engines are British. Not only are the engines British, but also they are made in this country. We make in Australia for the Canberra bomber the self-same engines which the Caravelle uses.
I am indebted to some of the members of the British aviation lobby on the Government benches for some valuable interjections: The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) who has just interjected is not the only one who, on economic and strategic, as. well as sentimental reasons, has advocated the use of British aircraft in Australia and in Australian-owned airlines overseas, such as T.E.A.L. and Qantas Empire Airways Limited. During the Estimates debate the honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) helpfully interjected - I mean helpfully to us but not to the Minister - that T.E.A.L. wanted to use Comets between Australia and New Zealand. Comets would have been ideally suited for such a run as that. The Caravelle is undoubtedly a more modern type of aircraft than is the Electra, which is being chosen by A.N.A. and for T.A.A. It could have been bought with currencies of which we have a handsome surplus in Australia. I feel that we can rely on the judgment of T.A.A. and, for that matter, of Mr. Butler, who also preferred the Caravelle to any other sort of aircraft.
Not only has T.A.A. been hindered in its competition with Ansett-A.N.A. by being prevented from getting the Caravelle, but also it is being prevented from competing with Ansett-A.N.A. by being kept out of New South Wales internal air services. You will remember, Sir, that the Australian National Airlines Commission Act provides that T.A.A. can operate from an aerodrome in a State to another aerodrome in the same State - that is, it can engage in intrastate air services - only if that State requests the Commonwealth to permit it to do so. A few months ago, T.A.A. representatives and the New South Wales Minister for Transport commenced negotiations for T.A.A. to operate within New South Wales, but afterwards this Government directed the T.A.A. representatives to discontinue those negotiations. I am not suggesting that intrastate services are particularly remunerative for airlines. T.A.A. may, economically, be well rid of that competition with Ansett-A.N.A. within New South Wales. But the fact is that if we are to have first-rate services to country towns, the best way to give them would be for T.A.A., with its approaching Fokker Friendships and its plentiful Viscounts, to operate services intrastate as well as between one State and another State.
When the honorable member for Lawson talks about country air services, one would expect him to express some concern for the fact that Butler is now out of the service* in New South Wales and Queensland. The Elizabethans: have gone back to the United:.
Kingdom and the two Viscounts have been taken over by Ansett-A.N.A. The people in the country towns of New South Wales are having to rely more and more on the DC3 aircraft and the Metropolitan Convairs. Sir, if T.A.A. were enabled to operate within New South Wales, as it has been enabled to operate for the last twelve years within Queensland, we would see then that the country people would have the most modern services available to them - services of a modernity equal to those between the States. Secondly, we would then see that there was real competition in one field between the two companies. As it is, however, we see in this bill a scheme for bolstering and guaranteeing one private company whose backers and finances are concealed from us. We see a scheme for precluding any other operator from going into competition with this company. We see T.A.A. prevented from being free to give effective competition, through its being forbidden to procure the most modern aircraft or to operate within the borders of the most populous State.
.- Honorable members opposite speak about competition between the airlines yet stress that they want only one airline, T.A.A. Such talk makes absolute nonsense. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), the last speaker on the Opposition side, spoke about country aerodromes, but he did not really know what he was talking about, because it is quite clear that this bill will assist in the provision of, and improvement of, aerodromes in the country. Indeed, the major part of the bill is designed to facilitate assistance in the establishment of country aerodromes, for the benefit of country people. For instance, there are now, I think, 60 DC3’s in use, some of which are to be replaced by twenty Fokker Friendships next year. The purchase of those Fokker Friendships is to be financed as a result of the measure we are now debating.
The honorable member for Werriwa tried to make out that by taking Viscounts off certain runs we will be depriving country people of proper air services. The fact is that the Viscount can use very few airstrips in the country, whereas the Fokker* Friendship can’ use practically every strip that is usable by a DC3. So I say that; instead of- depriving country” people- of’ proper airservices, the effect, of the measure will beto - bring’ air- services to- trie- country up to date. The Fokker Friendship can fly above the weather, it can fly above the turbulence, and it can fly at more than 100 miles an hour faster than the DC3. In addition, as I said a moment or two ago, it can use country aerodromes now used by DC3’s.
Under this measure the Government has set aside £600,000 for direct assistance to shires and other local authorities, to reimburse them for money that they have spent on aerodromes. Further than that, country centres which wish to establish aerodromes will receive the most generous treatment, because the Government will bear half of the cost of maintaining the aerodromes.
By financing the purchase of Fokker Friendships for use in the country the Government will be assisting local authorities because, owing to the superior performance of the Friendships, country airstrips can be reduced in size and will therefore, from the financial point of view, become more manageable. The result of all this will be that country people will be able to enjoy the same standards of comfort and luxury in aircraft as city people travelling interstate now enjoy. Practically all development in the air since 1946 has been directed to services flying between the capital cities. So, under this legislation, direct government assistance amounting to £600,000 will be pumped into municipalities and shires. This shows that country people have not been forgotten by the Government in spite of all this talk from the Opposition about the purchase of Boeing 707’s for Qantas.
There has been a. great deal of misleading talk from the other side of the House; Honorable members opposite have deliberately tried to create the impression that: the Government is- simply handing out’ money to the Ansett-A-.N.A. interests. If. honorable gentlemen opposite had read the Airlines Equipment Bill they would have seen quite clearly that clearly laid down in clause 9 are the terms and conditions of th& guarantee that the Government will give in relation to the purchase of new aircraft.. The- Government, is protected under this measure: in. that regard;, but the. Opposition: has deliberately, I repeat, tried to create the impression that money is just being handed over recklessly by the Government.
I think that the first consideration in relation to the Airlines Equipment Bill should be that of how the Australian public can best be served. That is the test, and it is the Government’s responsibility to see that the Australian public enjoys the most modern, most economical and, above all, the safest air services available. The Government has clearly demonstrated that it has this in mind and is encouraging the two airlines in this direction by the most practical means possible. It is in the public interest, first, to achieve stability in airline operations; secondly, to provide efficient airline services with healthy competition; and thirdly, to establish the airlines on a sound economic basis.
Now, how can these goals be achieved? They cannot be achieved by a monopoly, whether it be a private monopoly or a government monopoly. The public has no wish to have a monopoly foisted on it, because with a monopoly the public has no choice of service, and monopolies are notoriously careless of the public’s interests.
What is the basic problem facing the airline operators? Honorable members opposite have talked about the international airline operators. Take Qantas, for instance. I shall deal with the one route that I happen to know a bit about, the route to Papua-New Guinea. Why should the people of Papua-New Guinea and Norfolk Island have to put up with old aircraft like the DC4, a non-pressurized aircraft which runs at inconvenient times because there are no night landing facilities in Port Moresby? These people should be able to enjoy the same standard of aviation as we enjoy in Australia. Qantas, acting on the advice of its experts, decided that the Electra aircraft was most suitable for that run. It believed that it could provide an adequate service to Papua-New Guinea, and it made its choice after the most careful study. I am not going to argue about it. It was the choice of Qantas, and Qantas is a very successful airline operator, as it has proved over the years.
Then we turn to the problem of the internal airlines. What is T.A.A.’s problem? The main problem of that airline, with its present fleet, lies in the long haul between
Adelaide and Perth. With its present Viscounts, T.A.A. has to reduce passenger and freight loading in order to get across to Perth against the prevailing adverse winds. The airline wants an aircraft that is more suitable for this run, and it, too, has ordered Electras.
What has happened with Ansett-A.N.A.? That airline has operated at a serious disadvantage from the stand-point of competition in equipment, compared with the turbine-powered fleet of T.A.A. It is necessary for Ansett-A.N.A. to meet the competition - and it has to be fair competition. Ansett-A.N.A. must have modern planes. The 1952 Civil Aviation Agreement has provided assistance for these two airline companies to purchase modern aircraft. If we are to have only one airline we must face this fact: At present, the two airlines - T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. - employ practically 8,000 persons. The majority of them are highly skilled and many of them are semi-skilled. All of them are trained. If thi airlines are reduced to only one, men will be put out of work and we will lose a most valuable source of supply of skilled manpower for defence.
I turn now to the advantages of the Electra aircraft because they have come under severe criticism from the Opposition side. I shall refer to the defence aspect. As honorable members know, the Government has purchased a fleet of Hercules transport aircraft. These are large military aircraft and form a very important part of our defence set-up for the transport of troops and equipment. I understand that the Electras are complementary to the Hercules transport aircraft. Therefore, in time of national emergency, there would be an immediate advantage from possession of these two planes as the Electra and the Hercules have similar engines and are similar in type. The skilled men who maintain both aircraft could immediately be used by the R.A.A.F. and other defence services on both types of aircraft.
We should not lose sight also of the second-hand value of the Electra aircraft. I understand that many of them are used throughout the world and,’ therefore, they have a ready sale. We should remember that fact particularly when we are considering the economic side of this matter.
Through this legislation, we are dealing with a purchase of American aircraft and we should consider the effect on the standardization of our aircraft. I will not argue the technical points because the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham) has done that very ably. I am not qualified to do so and I shall leave that side of the matter to the experts in the airline companies and to the airline operators. They know what they are doing. They have decided that the standardization of aircraft by using the Electras with Qantas, T.E.A.L., T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. could effect considerable dollar savings. Such a saving can be made also in the purchase of spare parts, tools, general equipment and ground handling equipment. It has been estimated1 that there will be a saving of approximately 6,000,000 dollars. This represents a substantial saving to the Commonwealth Treasury.
Flowing from this, we have the additional advantage that engine overhauls on all these aircraft can be done by one single authority operated by Qantas which can undertake the overhaul of the Electras as well as the Hercules aircraft. The standardization of equipment will reduce costs and make transport more efficient.
There has been a lot of loose talk about the dumping of British manufactures and buying only from the U.S.A. I believe that that matter should be put in its right perspective. The fact is that Australian airlines have made very substantial purchases from the British aircraft industry. T.A.A. already has thirteen model 700 series Viscounts with two model 800 series Viscounts on order. Ansett-A.N.A. has two model 700 Viscounts and four model 800 Viscounts on order. As to the Fokker Friendship, it has a high United Kingdom content in its manufacture totalling more than 60 per cent., including its engines. T.A.A. has twelve of the Friendship model on order and Ansett-A.N.A. has ordered six of those aircraft. Therefore, any accusation that the Australian airlines are abusing British manufacturers is purely fiction based on inaccuracies and is unworthy of further comment.
The Government has maintained the spirit of the 1952 agreement which was passed by this Parliament. Further, it has sought ways and means of maintaining two airlines within Australia and the airlines operating outside Australia at the highest efficiency. I submit that the bills now before the House represent the result of intelligent and most careful study by experts, by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of the Treasury. If the Treasury has looked over these bills and passed them, they must be very good.
The Government has made sure that the best available equipment is provided for Australian air passengers and that the most economical and proven equipment has been provided to permit profitable non-subsidized operation. It has assured the preservation of practical competition and rationalization within the spirit of the Civil Aviation Agreement of 1952. It has provided the maximum benefits from, the standardization of aircraft and substantial savings of over 6,000,000 dollars of expenditure. Above all, it has seen that the requirements of the R.A.A.F. from civil aviation in time of national emergency have been given full consideration.
Finally, I should like to say that the first consideration must be given to the Australian public. This is not a matter of a political philosophy; whether you like monopolies or believe in the nationalization of industry. The first consideration must be the Australian public so that the people have a free and unfettered choice to travel in any aircraft as they wish. They should have safe, efficiently run and economic airlines because Australia, with its great distances, is an ideal country for flying. Do not let us put on blinkers. I suggest that if any honorable member were to ask whether an airline would prefer a monopoly, any intelligent member of either airline company would reply “ No. Give us competition. We can stand on our own feet. If we cannot we will go out.” Australia expects and has been accustomed to air services second to none. These bills provide an opportunity for the encouragement of air travel of a high standard in Australia.
– It is a funny thing how, every time the Government hands out something to private enterprise after taking it from the people by taxes - and that is often - supporters of the Government can be relied upon to support the measure. They rise slavishly, one after the other, giving praise to whatever the Government does to bolster up this wonderful thing called private enterprise.
– And you can be relied upon not to support it!
– Of course! I believe if private enterprise is the wonderful thing that you say it is, it should be able to stand on its own feet. Especially should it be able to compete with a socialist undertaking which Government supporters are so fond of condemning. Here we have just another example which proves that the publicly owned and controlled airline known as T.A.A. has been ever so much more satisfactory and successful than the privately owned and controlled undertaking first known as A.N.A. and now as AnsettA.N.A. This Government has done a lot more than should ever have been done to support A.N.A. and keep it as a competitor of T.A.A.
Let me take honorable members back to the time when this Government relinquished a claim that it had against A.N.A. for landing charges. It will be recalled that, in 1949, A.N.A. refused, point blank, to pay the landing charges which the government of the day considered to be fair and reasonable. I remind the House, too, that whilst A.N.A. was refusing to pay the landing charges, T.A.A. was paying them in full. Finally, the Chifley Government was compelled to begin litigation against A.N.A. in order to recover from it the fees which it refused to pay. Those fees, incidentally, were very reasonable, having regard to world standards of such charges. Especially were they reasonable having regard to the amount of money which the taxpayers pay every year towards maintaining and constructing aerodromes and installing and maintaining safety and navigational devices. But no! A.N.A. decided it would defy the law and refused to pay those landing charges.
The case was before the High Court when this Government was elected on 10th December, 1949. But not very long after it came to power, it had the cheek to withdraw the case against A.N.A. in the High Court. Not only did it withdraw the case against A.N.A. - something which it is not so fond of doing for smaller people - tout also it relinquished its claim to about £600,000 in air charges which A.N.A. had refused to pay. Even that was not enough! The Government decided to force T.A.A. to enter into an agreement - with A.N.A. - under which T.A.A. was prohibited from competing actively with A.N.A.
The agreement provided, amongst other things, that T.A.A. was not to open up any new route without the permission of A.N.A.; it was not to alter any of its timetables without the permission of A.N.A.; it was not permitted to reduce air freight charges or air fares without the permission of its competitor; and it was not to buy new aircraft superior to those of A.N.A. without the permission of A.N.A. Have honorable members ever heard of such a proposition? Here we have a situation in which a government, pretending to believe in healthy competition, puts handcuffs or leg-irons on a socialized undertaking, T.A.A., which is owned and controlled by the people of Australia, and tells it that it cannot compete against A.N.A. without the permission of that company.
– Why did the Government do that?
– It did it because A.N.A. is known to have been one of the most liberal donors to Liberal party campaign funds.
– That is not true.
– That is true. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) would never know what is paid into Liberal party campaign funds.
– Thank God for that.
-“ Thank God for that “, says the honorable member, and I agree with him because it would be most embarrassing. But there are certain people who do know what is paid into Liberal party campaign funds. They are the people who pull the strings which result in legislation such as this being enacted. All that the honorable member knows is that somebody somewhere is able to exert sufficient influence over the Government to force it to bring in legislation such as this. The honorable member for Franklin and every other honorable member who supports the Government, ‘though they may know very little or nothing about Liberal party campaign funds, nevertheless obediently carry out the decisions of the Government consequent upon the directions which are given to the Liberal party by the people who donate to the campaign funds of that party.
One of the reasons why the Government is especially solicitous towards AnsettA.N.A. is that it is a private company and it is not possible for any public inquiry to be made into the donations that it makes to political organizations. Being a private organization, it can make donations to the Liberal party campaign funds without anybody knowing about them. All that people know is that, as a consequence of these rather sinister behindthescenes moves that go on between the directors of companies and the Liberal party, legislation of this character, giving special concessions to a company, is brought down in the dying hours of the Parliament and rushed through because the Government knows that this is the last Parliament in which it will have control of the Treasury bench for a long time to come. Gloomily, honorable members opposite show that on their faces.
Only a fortnight ago they were cockahoop. They were going to win. It was only a matter of waiting for the 22nd November. They were even saying, “ We will win more seats from the Labour party “. But that cock-suredness has now gone. The glum expressions on the faces of Government supporters to-night is a wonderful testimony to the fact that their stocks have fallen. They have gone back to their electorate since they first came here, during the Budget session, and have discovered to their dismay that the people of Australia have absolutely had this Government. The people of Australia are satisfied that it is a tired, lazy, power-drunk Government. Here it is, rushing through, in indecent haste, a bill which should have been left for the new government to introduce.
Another feature of the agreement between A.N.A. and T.A.A. was the decision that T.A.A. should not continue to carry all the air mail for the postmasterGeneral’s Department. Surely to goodness it is a perfectly sane and sensible arrangement that a government which run3 a postal service should use its own airline to carry letters and other air mail articles. But no! This Government decided to take some air mail business away from its own air fleet and to hand this portion - the most profitable portion incidentally - to A.N.A. as a further hand-out to that company.
The latest information that I have is that the Government is now contemplating carrying all first class mail by air. No doubt it will then give to Ansett-A.N.A. a further hand-out which that company did not expect.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Franklin does not know the facts.
– I do know.
– You do no. know anything of the kind. You will do as you are told, as will the rest of the members on the other side of the House. When the whip is cracked by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) you will do as you are told, just as the others will because you know that if you do not do as you are told you will not get your preselection and you will not be here in the next Parliament.
I can recall very well the action of a former honorable member, Mr. Charles Russell, who represented the seat of Maranoa in Queensland. He had the silly idea that when the Liberals said that their supporters were free to speak as they wished in the Parliament they meant what they said. So he tried it out. As a result, he remained here only for one Parliament after which he lost his seat to the honorable member who now occupies the seat of Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe). So the Government has a very good means of disciplining any of its members who fail to support any of the deals that are made between the Government and its wealthy supporters.
Now, Mr. Speaker, I wish to refer to the tax on aviation kerosene. When the last Budget was brought down the Government introduced a new tax to be imposed on aviation kerosene. I pointed out at that time that the organization which would be most affected by such a tax was T.A.A., because that company operated most of the aircraft that used avaiation kerosene. In fact, Mr. Ansett let the cat out of the bag, when he was at first refused permission to purchase the four Electras that he wanted, by saying, “ If I do not get my way on this matter the Government will be sorry. All I have got out of this Government so far is the tax on aviation kerosene.”
– What are you making up? He never said that at all.
– Yes, he did.
– Order! The honorable member for Lilley will remain silent.
– That is Mr. Loudmouth again.
-Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh will direct his remarks to the chair.
– Of course it is true that Mr. Ansett made that remark. He said, “ All I have got out of this Government, or all I have got out of this deal, is a tax on aviation kerosene.” The trouble with Mr. Ansett’s organization, as is usually the trouble with private enterprise, is that it is unable to compete with, or keep as far ahead of developments as, a properlyrun socialized undertaking.
– You know that is wrong.
– It is not wrong. The honorable member for Swan will not be here in the next Parliament, but he will be able to listen in about this time and hear Mr. Keith Dowding tell us the facts about this crooked deal.
Let us trace the history of T.A.A., of A.N.A., and finally of the Ansett organization. T.A.A. made its most rapid progress, I think, when it became the first airline to introduce into Australia Convair aircraft, which were probably eighteen months ahead of any other aircraft in operation here at that time. T.A.A. stole a march on the opposition by this move. It then went further ahead of the privately-owned undertakings by purchasing Viscounts, which were much superior aircraft to those being operated by the opposing airlines.
No one who has travelled in a Viscount would ever think of travelling in a DC6 or in any of the aircraft operated by A.N.A. In fact, I am terrified when I get into an
Ansett-A.N.A. aircraft, because there is no doubt at all that there is a lot of truth in what the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) once said, “Travel Ansett and chance it.” I would rather travel the safe and friendly way than travel by Ansett and, as the honorable member once so truly said, chance it. Many of the aircraft that the Ansett organization is now flying, particularly some of the DC3’s, should never be permitted to carry passengers. That company, however, continues to use them. It says, “ We will take a risk “. In some cases it says, “ It will cost too much to overhaul the aircraft at this place, so we will go on to Melbourne”.
– That is a lie!
– Order! The honorable member for Franklin will withdraw that remark.
– All right, I withdraw it.
– I also ask the honorable member to remain silent.
– Taking a risk of that kind is something that T.A.A. would never do.
Let me now consider the position with regard to the Caravelle aircraft. T.A.A. discovered that it could purchase these aircraft without using any dollars at all. The Caravelle has a cruising speed of 500 miles per hour at an altitude of 40,000 or 50,000 feet. It is an excellent aircraft to travel in, being a pure jet. Contrary to the claim made by the honorable member for Lilley, it can land at any of our existing aerodromes. All the air strips now in use at our main terminals can be used by the Caravelle for landing and taking off. It does not require any additional expenditure on air strips, as has been suggested by Government supporters. It may be true that it is a rowdy aircraft, but if they are concerned about noise, then honorable members opposite should not support the purchase of the Boeing aircraft, which is known to be far noisier in operation than the Caravelle - and I am glad to see that the honorable member for Franklin agrees with me in this regard. The Boeing needs a much longer air strip than does the Caravelle. This Government recently approved of the purchase of Boeings, which require longer air strips and make more noise than the Caravelle.
If this Government would subsidize State railways to the same extent as it is subsidizing the airways of Australia, every State railway department would be showing a profit.
– It does, to the extent of millions a year.
– A man with a husky voice says something about millions a year, but let me remind the House that the Government is spending millions of pounds a year in subsidizing our airways. If honorable members look at the Estimates every year they will find that millions of pounds are provided for the purpose of improving and constructing airways, installing safety devices and providing the various other expensive items required to maintain an airways system. But those who use the airways are not required to meet the full cost of providing the airways system, although those who use road and rail transport must pay the cost of maintaining those systems. The landing charges, which should substantially meet the cost of constructing and maintaining aerodromes and providing necessary safety equipment, are not as high as they should be. I believe that the Government in this way is making unnecessary concessions to private enterprise to allow it to compete with T.A.A.
This Government, which has so much to say about private enterprise, is strangely silent when mention is made of Mr. Butler. This gentleman wishes to compete in the airways field also. He says, “ If you give me permission to purchase Caravelles, and Friendships “ - I think he also wants Friendships - “ I can enter the picture as well “. If you believe in healthy competition, surely to goodness the more of it you get the better. You cannot have too much of a good thing.
– What tongue-in-cheek stuff!
– And ! believe this Mr. Butler is more capable of running an airline-
– Who is pulling your leg?
– Order! The honorable member for Franklin is interjecting too much.
– I believe that Mr. Butler is more capable of running an air fleet in competition with T.A.A. than Mr. Ansett is ever likely to be. It would be very interesting to find out who really owns the Ansett organization. I have never met an Australian citizen who has one single share in Ansett-A.N.A. The majority of the shares, I am told on fairly good authority, are owned by the Shell Oil Company. This may account for the fact that when Mr. Ansett made his threat to force this Government to do what he wanted - and he went to Western Australia and made the Minister eat his words, as it were - he knew that he could bring the necessary pressure to bear on the Government. Why was he able to predict confidently, on his way to Western Australia, that he would get what he demanded from the Government? If the rumour is correct that the Shell Oil Company is the major shareholder in Ansett-A.N.A., then he knew he could go to Mr. Anderson, the general manager of the Shell Oil Company, and who was also the federal president of the Liberal party, and that he could then bring the necessary pressure to bear.
– The honorable member is a complete rat-bag.
– Order! The honorable member for Lilley will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– The honorable member has a strange look about him this evening. He is florid, he is laughing, he walks about with his hands in his pockets, and now he makes interjections that are out of order. So I think we can disregard his remarks altogether. I think I have said enough, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to satisfy any one-
– It does not satisfy me.
– I think 1 have said enough to satisfy any one who has been listening this evening that this is a transaction that takes a lot of explaining. 1 do not think that any one can accept as satisfactory the statements made by Government supporters in favour of this strange, mysterious deal. Why, in the dying hours of this Parliament, when a new parliament is about to be elected, does the Government want to rush through in indecent haste a bill that gives to a private operator the right to borrow £5,000.000 using the taxpayers of Australia as guarantors for the transaction?
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the House has just listened to a speech by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) - one of its most dedicated and determined socialists. I can describe that speech briefly as being monstrous. It was characterized by slander, by insult to the Chair, and by a questioning of the integrity of people not only in. this Parliament but also outside it. The honorable member turned on the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) and made - I repeat the word - a monstrous accusation. But he did not have sufficient courage of his convictions to carry it through. That, Sir, was typical of the honorable member for Hindmarsh this evening. He referred to Mr. Ansett and the standard of the maintenance of Ansett -A.N.A. and he also implied-
– Does the honorable member also-
– Why does not the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith go and sail his little boat?
– I can row a boat or a canoe, anyway.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for KingsfordSmith to cease interjecting.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh implied that the standard of the maintenance of Ansett-A.N.A. was not comparable with that of Trans-Australia Airlines. I challenge the honorable gentleman to make that statement outside this Parliament, without the protection of parliamentary privilege.
– He would not have the guts to do it.
– I doubt very much whether, as my honorable and gallant friend, the honorable member for Franklin, has put it in forceful language, he would have the inside to do so. The honorable member for Hindmarsh began on a strange note by saying that T.A.A. was more successful than was Ansett-A.N.A. It is open to argument, and the first thing that must be recognized is that T.A.A. started off not taking risks in the same way that AnsettA.N.A. and other private airline entrepreneurs have taken risks. T.A.A. knew that it had the backing of the Commonwealth. I think, Sir, that that is a notable distinction, and one that should be observed by any person who is tempted to embrace the argument that T.A.A. is more successful than is Ansett-A.N.A. The honorable member for Hindmarsh moved on to say that one of the reasons why this bill has been produced is the possibility that Mr. Ansett will provide the Liberal party of Australia with funds. That is an extraordinary thing to say. Let us assume, for the purposes of argument, that there was some substance in the honorable gentleman’s contention. I should much prefer accepting funds from Mr. Ansett to accepting funds obtained by making compulsory levies on trade unionists who did not want to contribute to the party that espouses the political faith that the honorable member supports.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh then continued his slander and his insults, Sir. I thought that the Chair was in a most amiable frame of mind in not pulling the honorable member up short and bringing him to his senses. He then went on to say that it is only a government-controlled and government-owned organization that can be successful. May I remind the honorable gentleman that the whole of the basic history of aircraft and of civil aviation throughout the world has been determined by, and founded on, free enterprise. May I remind him that it was free enterprise that designed and built the Spitfire, the Hurricane, the Lancaster and the Mosquito aircraft that contributed so much to the preservation of the freedom that enables the honorable gentleman to sit in this House this evening and to speak as a member of a free parliament. We have only to turn to the United States of America to see the magnificent record of free enterprise development in the field of aviation. Yet the honorable member says that it is only when an organization is governmentcontrolled and government-run that it can be successful!
I thought that was in keeping with the extraordinary speech made earlier this evening by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who said, when he opened for the Opposition the discussion of this measure, which is an important one, that Ansett-A.N.A. was run for profit. So what! Apparently, the honorable gentleman, pursuing to the ultimate his political doctrine, believes that no organization should operate on a profit basis. So I say to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that if they believe that any organization is committing a crime because it makes a profit there are millions of people throughout Australia who do not share their views. But those statements, Sir, were in keeping with the remarkable observation made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when he said, with massive modesty, that he had 500,000 flying hours to his Credit. The honorable and gallant member for St. George (Mr. Graham) said that that represented 57 years. I have been trying to figure out how the Deputy Leader Of the Opposition could have 500,000 flying hours to his credit. I see that the honorable gentleman has just entered the chamber. May I tell him the conclusion that I have reached: The only possible way in which he could have amassed 500,000 flying hours would be for him to have attained them in the form of an anthropomorphic angel. I hope that the honorable gentleman will understand what I am getting at.
This measure, if it does nothing else, affords the House an opportunity to consider two basic approaches to the nation’s affairs. Repeatedly, from the other side of the House - although there has been, from time to time, a mild turn of disagreement - we have heard the cry, “ Of course, we can do nothing about nationalizing or socializing airlines in Australia “. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) mentioned the fact that this Parliament has no legislative power to socialize any industry in Australia. That being the case, Sir, may I take the House back to a statement made by the late John Curtin in 1943, which has some pertinency to the debate this evening. In a broadcast made in 1943, Mr. Curtin said - They talk about socialization. I have this to say: That the Commonwealth Parliament has no power to socialize any industry.
In the same year, in an election advertisement, the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) declared -
The Commonwealth Constitution gives no general power to nationalize industries. Under Labour Government there will be more room for private enterprise and business initiative after the war than ever before.
Then, Sir, in 1945, when the former member for Maribyrnong, Mr. Drakeford, who was at the time Minister for Civil Aviation, introduced the bill that provided for the creation of the Australian National Airlines Commission, his opening words approxi-mated these: “ This legislation is designed to nationalize the airlines in Australia “. Running right through that debate was the theme of nationalization and the establishment of government control over a single airline. Honorable members may ask, “ Where is the relationship between that debate and this?”
– Where is it?
– The honorable member will find it in a few moments. In another place, Senator McKenna declared - i believe air services are a public utility which should be under the control of a body set up by this Parliament and that the time is opportune for the establishment of government control of these services.
The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who was then the honorable member for Martin, and who sits in this House I believe temporarily, declared in 1945 - la the nationalization of airways, I see a very progressive step towards making Australia a great nation.
The Parliament should pay some heed to this point: Despite protestations by leading members of the Labour party in 1943, 1944 and 1945 that there would be no attempts to socialize, nationalize, destroy or hinder free enterprise, in the years immediately following there was a blatant attempt to nationalize the airlines, to snuff out the life of the trading banks and to destroy the capacity of free enterprise in the field of shipping. Sir, how much reliance can be placed upon what they say? What is the weight of the assurances that they give? By way of striking contrast to that, the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) in 1945, show* ing, I believe, a high degree of realism that is not often revealed by some of his colleagues, declared -
For national survival, we must develop the countryside, the inland, the isolated areas. That can only be done by publicly operated airways.
– A very good speech indeed.
– I am pleased to find that his, brother agrees with that sentiment expressed in 1945; but it is a little difficult to relate the sentiment expressed by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to those expressed by his deputy leader and by his present leader. I believe that this Parliament and the people of Australia can place no reliance at all on the assurances given by the Labour party and by its leaders relating to nationalization and to socialization. In 1945, the present deputy leader, using picturesque language, said, “ Capitalism is collapsing and we are taking over; we will pluck the fowl “, or words expressing that sentiment. Then in 1950, with characteristic clarity, he declared in this House -
In the course of time the Commonwealth Bank will be the only bank in Australia. By competition it will force the private banks out of existence and thus the private banking system will be nationalized without the necessity to pay compensation to the private banks.
We find exactly the same circumstances prevailing with the airlines. It would not be by way of genuine competition that private enterprise in the airlines would be destroyed; it would be destroyed by stealth and by unfair competition. That brings me to one of the clauses in the bill which I regard with some suspicion, not in the hands of this Government, but most certainly in the hands of a Labour government, even though that is well and truly in the future. I refer to clause 15, which reads -
The Minister shall not, in the exercise of his powers under this Part, unfairly discriminate in favour of the Commission or the Company as against the other.
What does the term “ unfairly discriminate “ mean? 1 do not continue with that point because the hour is late, but I ask the Parliament, particularly the Ministers present, to consider seriously the possibilities of this clause in the hands of an unsympathetic Minister, as far as free enterprise is concerned.
It has been suggested by the Deputy Leader, by the honorable member for Werriwa and certainly by the honorable member for Hindmarsh that this legislation sets out to pay public money to a private company. That is completely and utterly untrue. . Not one penny of public money is being paid to Ansett-A.N.A. I ask the honorable gentlemen opposite to exercise a little discretion; to use a little sense on this occasion, and to look at clause 9. They will find set out quite clearly there that the Government is simply guaranteeing and underwriting loans. There is no. physical exchange of funds. In point of fact, 1 believe that the Government has imposed most stringent conditions upon AnsettA.N.A. in obtaining loans and in the upkeep of the loans. Aircraft cannot be taken out of Australia and must be insured and kept insured against all risks against which it is customary to insure. In addition, the aircraft must not be sold, mortgaged or charged except by way of security to the lender in respect of the loan. Above and beyond that is the overriding power of the Treasurer. So I say that it is complete and utter nonsense for members of the Opposition to charge this Government with making available public money to Ansett-A.N.A. in order to bolster that company.
Honorable gentlemen opposite have suggested that this Parliament possesses no power to nationalize industry in Australia. The honorable member for Hindmarsh - this dedicated and determined socialist - has repeatedly told the House that.
– He is an intelligent socialist.
– The Deputy Leader says that he is intelligent. I have in my hand a copy of the official report of the proceedings of the Labour party conference held in Brisbane. In recent weeks, we have been informed repeatedly in this House that there is no legislative power to nationalize and that, before the Labour party could attempt to nationalize any industry, permission would have to be sought and gained from the Australian people. It has also been implied - in point of fact declared quite openly - that that is now part of the Labour party’s platform. I challenge the Deputy Leader of the Opposition or the honorable member for Hindmarsh to point to any place in the Labour party’s platform where it says in clear and specific terms, “ Before any industry may be nationalized, before free enterprise may be destroyed, we must first seek to the approval of the Australian people “. If the honorable gentleman can satisfy me on that point he will certainly relieve the anxious feelings of many hundreds of thousands of people throughout Australia.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. W. R.
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Question put -
That the bill be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) - by leave - put -
That the bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. W. R. Lawrence.)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 1561), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition does not oppose this measure because it helps a government enterprise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 24th September (vide page 1562), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 1760).
– This bill is a puerile approach to a problem of massive proportions and of concern to every Australian. It is a personal question, affecting the life of every mine worker, his job, his home, his family, and his friends. I deeply regret that this measure, which proposes a minor amendment to the act, does not deal with the question of the employment and the permanence of our mining communities. According to the speech circulated by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Townley), the purpose of the bill is to give effect to the proposal agreed upon between the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government that an officer of the Commonwealth Public Service should be appointed as a member of the Joint Coal Board. This board is constituted under the authority of two complementary acts. Those facts are well known to honorable members. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what is the purpose of this bill. Why the appointment? Is there to be a change of policy? If there is to be a change of policy, I think the facts should be made known. If the Minister for National Development believes that he, by virtue of his position as Minister, should have closer control of, and liaison with, the Joint Coal Board, then those facts ought to be made known, too. But it appears to me, from the history of the operations of the Joint Coal Board, that the Minister has adequate powers. He has been able to a very marked extent to dictate the policy of the Joint Coal Board. He has been able to exert considerable influence on the power of the board and its decisions with respect to policy. That being so, I charge the Government with failing the nation, with failing the mine workers, and with failing to take adequate steps to give security to people in our mining communities.
In 1949 the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Prime Minister of this country, in his noteworthy - perhaps one might describe it as extraordinary, or even as infamous - policy speech, with which we have all become familiar as a speech full of promises and pledges to the people which have since been broken or forfeited, said -
We shall encourage better production of coal (including high quality coal) by the following method: The Joint Coal Board will set a target of production for each mine, to meet current requirements and reasonable reserves. The Government will guarantee the purchase of such quota. Stability of demand thus assured, there will be full employment not only for the miner but for all industries dependent on coal. Further, we shall work out with the Board and with representatives of employers and employees in the industry a scheme of incentives under which special reward will come to the employees reaching or exceeding the quota.
That, Mr. Speaker, was a solemn promise to the mine workers that there would be stability of demand and permanence in employment - that full employment would be assured to mine workers. But what has been the position? Since the making of that promise - since this Government came into office - there has been a constant reduction in the number of people engaged in the coal-mining industry. Within the last week or two 600 men were given notice in the northern coal-fields. Six hundred men to join the already large army of unemployed in New South Wales! Six hundred people to lose their employment in an area where, there is little hope of re-employment! Six hundred people, with their wives and families, are to be removed from the community in which they live! One can visualize what will happen in that area.
On the western coal-fields, in my own electorate, at the time the Prime Minister made this promise of full employment and of no dismissals on the coal-fields, 1,700 workers were engaged in the mining industry. To-day the number of employees engaged on the western coal-fields has been reduced to 700. More than 1,000 mine workers have lost their jobs, causing hardship, suffering and bitterness in the western coal-fields. I speak about that because it is necessary to speak about it. I should have much preferred to have been able to say to the Government, “Thank you for a job well done. Thank you for preserving the employment of mine workers.”
The 1946 act was the blueprint which made it possible for this Government to obtain the coal necessary for the development of Australia. That act, under which the Joint Coal Board was established, was an achievement of the Chifley Labour Government. It was the blueprint for the development of the industry, for peace in the industry, for production in the industry, for the welfare of those engaged in the industry. I deeply regret that it is necessary for me, in the closing and dying days of this Twenty-second Parliament, to address myself to a question upon which, had there been honesty in regard to election pledges and promises, it would be unnecessary for me to speak now.
I wonder, Mr. Speaker, what is the need for the amending legislation now before us. The 1946 act, as it stands, clothes the Joint Coal Board with the power necessary to do the things needed to protect the coalfields, to establish new industries, to bring about a state of affairs desirable in this country. I have referred on other occasions to the vast sums of money being spent by this nation on the importation of oil and petroleum products, which are costing us at present some £100,000,000 a year. If the Joint Coal Board were to play its part in the development of this country, as envisaged in the 1946 legislation, that state of affairs would not exist, and quite a lot of the panic thinking of the present time might well be dispensed with.
The Coal Industry Act of 1946 - Act No. 40 of 1946 - which, as I have said, is the blueprint for the efficient working of the coal-mining industry, contains provision for doing the things which I think ought to be done to stabilize the coal industry, to create permanency in our mining communities, and to provide an assured future for those engaged in the industry. Subsection (2.) of section 22 reads -
There shall be payable to the State, on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit, by way of financial assistance, such amounts as are, from time to time, appropriated by the Parliament, to be applied by the State towards enabling any authority-
I emphasize, “ any authority “ - constituted under this Act to exercise the powers and functions vested in it by the State Act.
The State referred to is, of course, New South Wales, which passed complementary legislation for the establishment of the Joint Coal Board.
There is the opportunity for this Government to deal with the problems facing this nation at present with respect to our balance of payments. There is also the opportunity for the Government to deal with the human question - the question of providing employment for those who are losing their jobs on the minefields. The need for the development of our coalmining industry must be apparent to all. Now and again we see most interesting statements on the development of the coal industry in other countries. We have news, for instance, of the Sasol oil-from-coal project in South Africa. We have news of developments in the United States in this field in a statement published in February, 1957, in the “ Oil and Gas Journal “. The “ United States News and World Report “, of July, 1957, gives further details of American development, as does a publication entitled “ Coal and Oil Demonstration Plants”. South African work in this field is dealt with in a publication dated June, 1957, entitled “ South Africa’s Coal Preparation and Pilot Plant “.
Let it be remembered that many of those countries in which the oil-from-coal industry is being developed have flow oil. Yet they are proceeding with the necessary steps to make themselves independent of oil from uncertain sources of supply. These things could, and should, be done by Australia. As I have pointed out, the Joint Coal Board has the authority to do them. Yet no action is being taken. Nor has the Minister for National Development, with that misnomer of a title, indicated in any way whether the Commonwealth Government proposes to take any such action.
The production of oil from coal has been undertaken successfully in other parts of the world. It can be done by the low temperature carbonization method, by hydrogenation or other methods. The need for the production of petroleum products within our borders goes without saying. We all must appreciate the urgency of this need. The Sydney “Sun”, of 21st August, 1958, points out that industries in Australia worth £520.000.000 depend on oil. Yet we, as a nation, are dependent on oil that comes to us from the trouble spots of the world, from centres which could deny us the important petroleum products essential to Australian industries with capital aggregating £520,000,000. Surely there is some constructive thinking on the Government side. Surely there is some realization among honorable members opposite of the urgency of the need to do the things I have outlined.
Another problem that might be approached, as I have pointed out before, is the utilization of the new methods for extracting oil from our rich shales. Something could be done to provide permanence in the mining areas.
There is also a need to produce more coke for metallurgical purposes. That need is pressing and real, and reports indicate that it could be done. One reference to this was made in a recent issue of the publication “ Harbour “ which referred to a new means of producing coke for the utilization of low-grade coal in coke production. This process could be employed for the use of the lower-grade coals. We could then retain the rich coals for steaming and other purposes. But no action is being taken by this Government.
I think of the great human problem that is facing the people of Australia. Unfortunately, the Government does not seem to appreciate the urgency of the need to meet the problems of the people in the mining community. I look at the need for industries in the mining towns. We hear a lot about the need to build satellite towns for the expansion of industry. What do we find in the mining towns? They are compact. They have community services such as water, sewerage, gas and electricity. They have recreation areas, churches and shops. All they need are industries to enable the people to continue to live there. We should think of the heart-break that is caused when people are compelled compulsorily to leave the town in which they have reared their families. That must be apparent to every honorable member.
I think of the miner - the noble person who goes into the bowels of the earth to win coal so that we may have light, heat, gas and electricity. What sort of person is the coal-miner? He is outstanding when it comes to performing his duty as an individual in an honest way. Nobody can say a word to the contrary. He is a builder of co-operative societies and a keen churchman. He engages in community activities and is a keen sportsman. When it comes to cultural activities, the miner has no peer. Above everything else, he will play his part in these things. He is essentially a person of the community. His occupation makes him associate with his fellows, and the matter of mutual aid and protection becomes his credo, his life. As to giving to good causes, I am reminded by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) that whether there is a flood in some part of Australia, a bushfire or a disaster of any kind, the first to give are the miners, both as individuals and as members of miners’ lodges. That is the person for whom I am speaking.
I call on the Government to take some action to meet the crisis that is affecting these people. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has said repeatedly that there is no crisis in the coalmining industry. Of course there is no crisis in the coal-mining industry as it affects those who operate the industry and have mechanized it so that they have been able to do without great numbers of men in this important industry! But surely that is not going to be the pattern of development in Australia in relation to mechanization and automation! When a person can be done without, is he to be thrown over board and forgotten despite his past performances? 1 say quite clearly that any action this Government or the State governments take to deal with this problem on the basis of providing relief work is not satisfactory or good enough for me. I think the governments should take steps of a permanent nature to meet this problem.
First there are the matters I have mentioned. There is the development of production of oil from coal and shale and the need to proceed with production coke required for metallurgical purposes. There is a market in Noumea and other markets are available elsewhere. Home consumption could be boosted. I am amazed that even the captains of the industry themselves seem to lack appreciation of the problem. I have noted with satisfaction that leaders in the metal industry are prepared to follow through the methods of processing to the final treatment with the object of extending their industry but not sufficient is being done by the coal owners to promote the welfare of the coal-mining industry. There is need for the coal owners to join with the Commonwealth and State governments in dealing with this problem.
I recently read a publication issued by the West German Government on 9th September last which shows that a problem exists in Germany regarding surplus coal production. But in Germany, people have at least tried to meet the problem. Coal owners are prepared to give a discount of 10 per cent, on coal to any large industrial concern which buys over its usual quantity. That does not mean that German coal as a whole has become cheaper but at least the coal owners in Germany have tried to meet the problem and to stimulate the demand for coal in West Germany. Nothing of that sort seems to be taking place in Australia.
Another important matter that might well be approached is that of freight As a representative of the miners of western New South Wales, I think there is need for the Commonwealth Government and the State governments to look at charges for the transport of coal from the western and other coal-fields to the seaboard in an attempt to stimulate the home market for coal and to win markets overseas. The need for us to sell more as a nation has become apparent to everybody. Here is an opportunity for the Commonwealth Government to stimulate the export of coal and to win currency which will help Australia to deal with the balance of payments problem.
The freight problem is not one for the New South Wales Government alone. The New South Wales Government has a problem in trying to meet an interest charge of £12,000,000 a year on moneys borrowed for the railway system. It must be difficult for that Government to consider extra concessions. I feel confident that if the Commonwealth Government were to join with the State government, a proposition of that kind could be undertaken. There should also be a reduction in taxation for those who are prepared to decentralize industries. The idea of giving taxation rebates to people who are prepared to establish decentralized industries, whether on the coal-fields or anywhere else, provided they benefit our people and extend existing towns and communities, is well worthy of the support of this Government. But again, I want to say that the idea of merely handing out a sum of money, as this Government proposes to do, for the relief of individuals, however useful and laudable that may be, is not the solution to the. problem. The need is for this matter to be dealt with on a permanent basis. The problem should be tackled in a manner that will leave nothing in doubt.
I have referred to the need for the resumption of the extraction of oil from coal and from shale. I direct attention to the fact that up to the present time something like £50,000,000 has been expended on the search for flow oil in this country. It may be that another £50,000,000 could be spent on the search, and the result would be the same. Perhaps some day, somewhere, oil will be found in commercial quantity. This Government is providing £500,000 a year to aid the search for flow oil. I put it to the Government that if it is good enough to spend £500,000 a year to stimulate the search for flow oil in this country, it ought to be good enough to spend at least £1,000,000 a year to guarantee and support something that is certain to win - the extraction of oil from coal and shale - and which would stand this country in good stead in an extremity. The need to do this is so patent that I am tired and weary of referring to it in this House. To me, and to most people outside the Parliament, the need to do this is obvious.
In the field of coal utilization, Australia is lagging behind all the other nations of the world. I have dealt with most of them. Surely the Government, even in the closing hours of this Parliament, will make amends and offer some hope to the miners who are losing their jobs by providing funds for the development of this nation, which should not be compelled to face the future on a chance basis, a risk that some day we may not be able to get oil from overseas. The Government would then be pleased to get back on to the mine-fields the workers who are now being displaced, in order to meet a national disaster or an emergency. I urge the Government to initiate a comprehensive review of the coal industry to see whether, by the scientific use of coal, new industries can be established on a permanent basis and so stabilize the coal-mining industry. If this plea goes unheeded by this Government, I am sure that the electors, aware of Australia’s needs, will take up this challenge and see that the needs that are acknowledged by all patriotic Australians will be met in the interests of the future of this land. I make this plea on behalf of the nation, and specifically on behalf of the good people who have rendered magnificent service to this country.
Wednesday, 1st October 1958.
– I believe it is an indictable deficiency on the part of the Government that I am the third successive Opposition speaker to rise to deal with the obvious crisis in the coal industry. The fact that Government supporters can sit silently for so long is a clear indication of their lack of concern, that is, the lack of concern on the part of the Liberal party and the Country party, which together comprise the parliamentary Government in this place. No one can deny that there is indeed a very serious crisis on the coal-fields, and one would feel that a responsible government would take the opportunity to announce for the benefit of the people of Australia the manner in which the crisis may be overcome. It cannot be disputed that the coal industry is of very great importance to this country. In itself, this bill is not a highly controversial measure. It is designed to protect the rights of the public servant who is to be appointed to the Joint Coal Board.
– That is all it does.
– That is so. It seems to be the extent of the interest of members of the Australian Country party to make such interjections. The proposed appointee is a second division officer. It will not be a top level appointment. Nevertheless, the principle involved in, the bill is a vital one. The appointee’s rights and privileges are to be preserved and applied to his service with the Joint Coal Board, because, in joining this instrumentality, he will remain in the honorable service of his country.
It is important to protect the rights of those who serve with the Joint Coal Board, because of the retrenchments that have taken place. I understand that the number of staff employed at 30th June, 1957, was 306, but that, as a result of retrenchment, the number now employed is only 130. Those whose services have been dispensed with did not have the privilege and the opportunity to transfer to another instrumentality, which is the right of employees under the Public Service Act. The calibre of the employees concerned cannot be questioned when we have regard to the outstanding ability of a gentleman named Ormonde, who has brought a freshness of approach in another place to the problem of the coal industry. His ability indicates the standard of ability of those who comprise the Joint Coal Board. When we consider the sterling service that has been rendered over the years by Mr. Cochran, the president of the Joint Coal Board, the value of people of this calibre is apparent.
The board was established in 1946. This great enterprise which was established by Labour is, I contend, another edifice to mark our efforts to stabilize a great national industry. In the days to come, it will not be the pleasure of supporters of the Government to be able to point to such an edifice to mark their efforts. The fact of the matter is that this board, like other worth-while government instrumentalities, is a monument to the initiative and imagination of the parliamentary Labour party in this place. To-day, the Joint Coal Board has an annual turnover of £250,000 and it owns assets to the value of almost £2,500,000. The board has contributed in a very large measure and in many ways to the stabilization of this vital national industry. The board has borne the responsibility of handling grave national crises, and it has discharged in a very large degree the important obligations that were imposed on it under the terms of the 1946 legislation.
It has rallied the coal industry at a time of great national peril. I refer to the time when there was a serious deficiency in the supply of coal. In those dark and desperate days, the Minister for the Army earned for himself the nickname “ Calamity Cramer “. In the true Liberal tradition, he did nothing constructive. Ultimately, the Labour party set out to overhaul this industry, which had been deficient in many respects. The purposes of the board have already been outlined adequately by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Basically, the board is required to provide for the stable production of coal, to conserve the nation’s resources of coal, to ensure the proper and adequate distribution of coal, and to promote and safeguard the best interests and welfare of the men engaged in the industry. The board has accomplished a great deal in this respect.
Mr. Speaker, until the Leader of the Opposition concluded his speech on this measure, the debate had proceeded in a temperate manner. He referred to the plight of the coal industry. He said that the greatest tragedy in an industry such as this, and indeed, in all industries, was that of unemployment. He said -
Unemployment can be avoided by carefully planning ahead. In the case of this particular industry it is obvious, from the widespread unemployment existing, particularly in some of the areas that I have mentioned, that there has noi been sufficient planning. The matter can bp remedied, and even at this stage the effects of unemployment can be mitigated to a very great extent.
Those seem to be rational contentions. Bui the effect of those statements, coming from the Leader of the Opposition, was to sting the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) into a state of fury. He made his following speech in a most irate fashion. He launched a bitter attack on the miners and spoke disparagingly and inaccurately of the time that had been lost in the industry.
I wish to refer to the facts as they are presented in the last annual report of the Joint Coal Board, especially with regard to the losses through stoppages at coal mines. The Joint Coal Board was, of course, set up under an arrangement between New South Wales and the Commonwealth. As a consequence, the figures in this report pertain exclusively to the State of New South Wales. Without going through all the figures in regard to losses because of the lateness of the hour, I point out that the peak period for losses was in the financial year 1949-50. We know the disastrous state of affairs which existed at that time. The loss during this peak period was 3,015,000 tons of coal. From that year, the figures start to fall, and the last figure was not 3,015,000 tons, but 1,031,000 tons. That is a fairly worthy accomplishment by the coal-mining industry. I do not know to whom the Minister for Labour and National Service is prepared to attribute this remarkable achievement. Perhaps he is prepared to say that it is due to the Communist leadership of the unions. I do not know. But at least he should be prepared to concede that the miners have responded well to the appeal to produce more coal. Instead of saying that, he let loose a wild tirade of recrimination, and condoned, in the manner of his speech, the retrenchment which is taking place despite the remarkable response to the appeal to produce more coal.
Retrenchment has been the only reward of the coal-miners. It is not fair for the Minister to say that the mining industry has been irresponsible. Table 29 in the report of the Joint Coal Board shows that the percentage of man shifts lost has also been reduced to a considerable extent. The man shifts shown as lost in this table have been lost due to all causes including a large number of breakdowns, accidents, and transport breakdowns. These figures refer to underground coal mines and they are no more expressive for my purposes than the figures with respect to open-cut mines.
Here, again, there has been a progressive diminution. The peak period occurred in the year 1950 when the man shifts lost represented 23.51 per cent, of total time worked. In the last year for which figures are available the figure fell to 12.50 per cent. In other words, this is the best record that has ever been achieved. But the Minister gave no recognition to this great achievement. He went on with abuse and vilification and a battering barrage of belittlement and belligerence towards the mining community. The mining work force has responded remarkably well to this great crisis. It has achieved a record production.
In New South Wales, the output of coal in 1939 amounted to 11,000,000 tons. In 1957, the figure had moved up to 15,500,000 tons. In underground mining, the New South Wales output has increased since 1951 by a yearly average of 5 per cent. It seems to me that the mining community has probably responded to appeals for increased production in a far more effective way than most other sections of the Australian community. This increased production has been achieved in the face of a declining work force. According to the report of the Joint Coal Board, there were 16,000 employees in the industry in June, 1957. although in 1952 there had been 20,310. Retrenchments have been solid in recent years, particularly during the last twelve months when they have increased rapidly.
The miners have had a very much improved record in relation to industrial disputes as time has moved on. The man shifts lost through industrial disputes have fallen from a peak figure of 14.28 per cent, of total shifts in 1951 to 3.93 per cent, in 1957. It seems to me that some credit is due to the industry and that the vicious attack which the Minister made on it in his speech last Thursday night was not justified.
The Minister endeavoured to justify the giving of only one week’s notice to miners. I do not believe it is possible for any one to justify the action of this man Warren, who represents the colliery proprietors, and who, in his capacity of general manager of J. & A. Brown and Abermain Seaham Collieries Limited decided it was desirable to give only a week’s notice to employees who had served in an industry which had required them to dedicate themselves to it in an exclusive ‘manner.
The Minister made great play on the fact that, on some previous occasion, when some one was contemplating the closure of a mine, he had given longer indication of the intention to do so than would ordinarily have been given, and that the employees had tended to take advantage of that situation. The Minister is completely lacking in his understanding of the situation in criticizing this tendency on the part of employees. When employment is drawing to a close and a miner who is concerned with the welfare of his family is confronted with the fact that he will not be required to work after certain things have been accomplished, does the Minister consider that he will go flat out with a view to terminating his employment with the least possible delay? The net result would be that the miner would be unable to obtain things that were tremendously important to the health and welfare of his wife and children.
What right have the mine owners who exploit the great national resources of this country to discard the work force in such a blatant fashion? I believe there is a great need to reorganize this industry to provide for planning, and, especially, to evolve a way whereby some rehabilitation training may be made available in anticipation of disemployment. If this Government is incapable of anticipating the future of an industry so as to provide for the rehabilitation of the employees concerned, it is of no worth on the treasury bench.
The industry certainly has a responsibility, but during the period that this Government has been in office, I believe that both the industry itself and the Joint Coal Board have been deficient in exercising this responsibility. This is a proud, pioneering and vital labour force which should be maintained as the vanguard of the nation’s productive effort. If it is not to be used in the coal-mining industry, there are plenty of places in the north of Australia, in the hinterland and elsewhere where such an enthusiastic, worthwhile body of men can be employed, or deployed. The Government has the ball at its feet.
The Joint Coal Board was established in 1946 as a co-operative effort between the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government. However, it has failed to fulfil its obligations in this matter of co-operation. In time of crisis, the board has suffered from an absence of co-operation on the part of the Commonwealth. There has been a denial of responsibility so far as the board’s instrumentalities are concerned. The Commonwealth, on its own initiative, has disposed of the board’s assets. It has not done so with any thought of helping to stabilize the industry. The Commonwealth has virtually said, “ There is something wrong with the industry and even though the Joint Coal Board’s instrumentalities are successful - in contrast with other coal-mining activities - we are going to dispose of them “. The Government’s attitude has been consistent with that which it adopted in respect of the Commonwealth Bank, to give only one example. It has endeavoured to undermine that institution. The Government has adopted a similar attitude to such public instrumentalities as Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and the Commonwealth Shipping Line. Unfortunately, its actions in the coal-mining industry have had a very unfortunate effect. The Joint Coal Board establishments have, because of their very success, been torpedoed.
The Government takes the view that, regardless of the importance of the industry, or of the national welfare, or of its own employees and the community which has developed around them, its investment will produce more lucrative returns elsewhere. The Government is willing to let the coal industry stew in its own juice; to let it languish in the midst of its former glories; to permit its trappings to waste away in the midst of nothing more worth while than the elements.
What has the Government done to the Joint Coal Board’s assets. Newstan Colliery Proprietary Limited had a modern, highly mechanized, underground mine on the Newcastle field. It was a successful establishment. It had a production rate of 2.500 tons a day from one eight-hour shift of 350 employees, was completely mechanized and was one of the model mines in the State of New South Wales. The Newcom colliery, which was also owned by the Joint Coal Board, is situated in the Wallerawang district, lt was equally well mechanized and successful, producing 700 tons a day from one shift working eight hours. T understand that the output has recently increased beyond even that figure. The mines were sold to the electricity commission for £1.382,000. That does not seem such a terribly bad thing to do, but the position is that the Government decided to dispose of these two establishments, caring little about what would happen to them or the purpose for which they would be used. In this matter, the Commonwealth ignored completely the view of the State of New South Wales. To that extent it has disregarded its obligation under the 1946 enabling bill.
The Commonwealth, having achieved the destruction of those two mines - so far as public ownership was concerned, at any rate - turned its destructive gaze upon the New South Wales Mining Company, and its open cut mine at Foybrook on the northern field. It was not big, but it was important in the overall set-up. The Commonwealth Government disposed of two washeries facilities for stockpiling and marketing and, in general, undermined the board’s ability to stabilize the industry. The assets of the New South Wales Mining Company have now been sold to Clutha Development Pro.prietary Limited for £250,000. More of the company’s assets are in the process of being sold.
In common with most honorable members, I believe that there are very real reasons for the decline of the labour force in the coal-mining industry. First, there was the labour shortage occasioned by six years of war and the subsequent years of peaceful reconstruction. As a consequence, the consumers of coal were obliged to look for alternative fuels. Secondly, many new fields were opened. Industry, because of the shortage of the coal that it desired, turned to imported oils and raw brown coal. The economies which could be effected by the use of diesel traction became apparent to the New South Wales Government Railways. This was a very important factor. Ocean-going vessels turned to oil-burning facilities and these virtually displaced coal. In addition, there were increased transport costs. Consumers looked for ways and means of overcoming heavy freight charges by the use of alternative fuels.
The challenge to coal is to re-establish the industry on a competitive basis along the lines I have indicated and thus bold1 traditional markets. However, this Government has taken the view that coal has little future. It has adopted a defeatist attitude. It considers that King Coal has been nudged from the throne by other forms of industrial power. This is not conceded by people who specialize in the industry. Many keen observers consider that the coal recession is only temporary, that coal will come back as a greater feature of om economy than ever before.
There are good reasons for hoping that the position of the coal industry will improve. First, more efficient operation of the mine has made coal cheaper than it was some years ago. Coal can now compete with oil. Australia’s electricity output is doubling every seven or eight years. It is generally recognized that we are deficient in hydro-electric power. This power is to be found in large measure in the Snowy region but is not generally dispersed throughout Australia. There has been great expansion of heavy industry, especially in the steel and cement sections. The influx of foreign capital could well mean that there will be a continuing and expanding market for coal. There is the possibility of developing coal gas turbine engines for locomotion. This has been successfully undertaken in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Again, there is the possibility of opening up overseas markets such as Japan, China and Asia generally. All these factors should be taken into account.
Also, I think we should look once again at the Colombo plan. We tend to send overseas material which is desperately needed in this country. We could well examine the possibility of exporting coal, under the Colombo plan, to our northern neighbours. This would indeed help to stimulate the local industry. Last, but by no means least, the Commonwealth should assist the Joint Coal Board to establish gas industries, especially in the coal-mining towns where, very often, the people do not enjoy that amenity.
There is great scope for stabilizing the coal industry. The New South Wales University of Technology has made a number of suggestions for the use of by-products from the industry. It suggests that these could include sulphanilamide drugs, antiseptics, carbolic acid, acriflavin, perfumes, flavouring materials, explosives, insecticides, weed killers and plant hormones. All these items can be manufactured from chemicals obtained from coal. If we consider closely the various materials that can be produced from coal we realize that there is a large industrial vacuum in this country to-day.
This is a matter that the Government has chosen not to talk about. In fact, as I said early in my speech, three Labour members in a row have spoken in this debate, indicating that there is little awareness on the part of the Government of this very important problem.
Let me now consider the position with regard to plastics. In 1956 Australia imported £5,000,000 worth of plastics. Many plastics could be produced through a chemical industry based on coal by-products. In the textile industry,£15,000,000 of artificial fibres came into this country in 1956, and I am told that synthetic fibres can also be produced in a coal-chemical industry. In the same year, 1956, £17,000,000 of synthetic rubber was imported. According to the experts, synthetic rubber tyres give 30 per cent. more wear than ordinary tyres. Tests indicate that the heels of shoes may last for 2,000 miles when made from synthetic rubber, whereas heels made from natural rubber will last for only about 300 miles. Synthetic rubber can be manufactured from coal.
In 1956 more than £4,000,000 was spent on the import of fertilizers, such as ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate, sodium nitrate and superphosphates. Miscellaneous chemicals accounted for about £7,000,000 worth of imports. In all, our imports could be reduced by about £50,000,000 if the Government decided to develop a coalchemical industry, but, apart from some experimentation by the University of Technology in Sydney, no positive steps have been taken towards the establishment of such an industry.
Let us now consider the matter from a defence angle. We all know how important it is to encourage the production of oil from coal, and in this field we know that the Government has fallen down on its responsibilities. It may be that oil produced from coal cannot economically compete with oil taken from the earth, but the great importance of oil and our particular need of a local oil industry should be sufficient justification for the Government to endeavour to ensure an indigenous supply.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments):
Clause 2 - (1.) Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, this Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent. (2.) Section four of this Act shall come into operation on the day on which the Post and Telegraph Act 1958 comes into operation.
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
Leave out the clause, insert the following clause: - “ 2. This Act shall come into operation on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.”.
Clause 4 -
Section eleven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - “(a) the Post and Telegraph Act 1901-1958 and the Post and Telegraph Rates Act 1902-1956 extend to the Territory; and “.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
Leave out the clause.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
These are two quite minor and relatively formal amendments which have come to us from the Senate. No question of substance is raised in them, and I commend them to the committee.
– The Opposition has had a chance to look at the amendments made by the Senate and offers no objection to them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 25th September (vide page 1639), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I regret that the Government should bring on such an important measure as this in the small hours of the morning.
– lt is a formal measure.
– The Government claims that this bill is a formal measure, but it really highlights the serious deterioration that has taken place in the Australian economy.
– It was covered in the Budget Speech.
– Whether it was covered in the Budget Speech or not is not the point. The Parliament is being asked to-night, for the first time for some years, to cover up a deficiency in expenditure as compared with anticipated revenue. The various documents that were circulated with the Budget papers camouflaged - although if you read them closely you could find the information in them - the fact that for the first year since the war the national income is less than in the previous year. Taking into account two factors, an increase of about 3 per cent, in population and an increase of 2 per cent, in price levels during the year, it appears that the average standard of living in the Australian community declined in the last year as compared with the previous year. This Government, which over the previous several years was able to rely on a normal expansion in the Australian economy to yield an increase of £100,000,000 in revenue, this year is faced with a deficiency, as between normal expenditure and anticipated revenue, of £110,000,000.
We are told to-night that this is a formal measure. It is more than a formal measure. It highlights the parlous situation into which the Australian economy has drifted as a result of the financial policy of this Government. In the Australian community at present are about 80,000 people able and willing to work but unemployed. If those people were able to find employment, the additional wage bill, and consequently the additional purchasing power in the Australian community, would amount to more than £1,000,000 a week, or over £50,000,000 a year. The multiplying effect of that, to use a term so dear to economists, is a deterioration of something like £150,000,000 a year in the circulating purchasing power of the Australia community. It is because of that fact that the Government is forced to resort to what, again using the economists’ jargon, is regarded as deficit finance. The Government is attempting glibly to camouflage the position by saying that this money is to be used for defence purposes. In other words, loan money which has to be repaid in the future is being appropriated for expendable items. Whatever we might say about defence expenditure, once the money is expended, there is nothing to show for it. It is not like money spent on capital works which will yield some revenue in the future; it is something which disappears during the twelve months in which it is spent.
In the aggregate, it does not matter very much whether the payment which the ordinary person in the community receives comes from revenue or the issuing of a piece of paper called a treasury-bill. The important factor is its effect upon the community at the time. The point I am making is that when the Government goes to the electors shortly it will tell the people that certain things cannot be done at the present time without causing serious inflation in the community. I ask the House to consider seriously whether the Government is prepared to argue now that it is levying the exact amount of taxation that ought to be raised in view of the present state of the economy and whether the Government is raising it by ideal means. Further, is every person in Australia receiving a just share of our national income? I refer to such sections of the community as pensioners and those who depend on child endowment to augment their incomes. Does this Government argue on the one hand that the Australian economy is so ideally poised at the moment that not one single £1 more can be raised from revenue or that not one single £1 more can be devoted to expenditure? Further, can the Government claim with justice that after it has been in office for nearly ten years, the Australian economy is as good as we could expect in the circumstances?
I do not want to enlarge on these matters at the moment. I regret that the Government has brought such an important measure before us at this late hour, but I suggest that if the state of the Australian economy is such that it cannot afford any redress, then it is a sign of incompetence on the part of the Government. If, on the other hand, the Government claims that the Australian economy is healthy, then great social injustices exist.
– Have you forgotten the fall in external prices?
– 1 have not forgotten anything. I am simply asking whether the Government suggests that every person in Australia is receiving his just share of Australia’s gross production of nearly £6,000,000,000. I point out to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), who has just come into the chamber, that despite an increase in population, and in prices, our national income fell last year for the first time since the war. Again, does the Government submit that there is not one section of the community that is not receiving a fair deal?
The Government will be going to the country in a few weeks, and its members will be arguing that everything is well with all the people at the moment. I submit that everything is not well with all the people. Everything may be well with the profiteers, but not with pensioners, nor with those who rely on social service payments to augment their income. The Government cannot have it both ways. On the one hand, it is indictable for incompetence, whilst on the other, if it claims that the economy is healthy, it is indictable for the injustice being done to certain sections of the community. I ask honorable members to ponder on the fact that for the first time in the post-war period the Government is budgeting for a drop of £100,000,000 in expenditure and a fall in revenue.
After all, I do not think any one who examines the Government’s accounts will refute the argument that whether a government shows a deficit or a surplus depends largely on whether it puts certain items which are regarded as annual outgoings into the one account with certain other items which are regarded as capital transactions. In the final analysis, it is the aggregate result which counts. So far as the Budget is concerned, the Government has a long column of expenditure on the one side and a long column of revenue on the other, and at the moment the revenue is short of expenditure to the tune of £110,000,000. Whether £78,000,000 of that money shall be appropriated to the defence account, or to any other account, is merely a matter of the bookkeeping device adopted; and no amount of sophistry can prove otherwise. The Government does not say that the cheques which it pays come from the treasury-bill account, from the income tax account or the excise account. The only thing that is important about those cheques is the fact that the people in whose favour they are drawn, whether they be pensioners, government contractors or anybody else, can get cash for them.
The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) says that this is a simple measure. It is by no means as simple as he would have us believe. In this measure we have an excellent example of the Government’s chickens coming home to roost. One of the most tragic results of its sins is the fact that for the year ended .Tune, 1958, the national income of the Australian people was lower than that for the year ended June, 1957. When we consider the fact that during the year our population increased by 3 per cent, and that prices rose by 2 per cent., we are justified in arguing that the national income for the year ended June, 1958, should have been greater than that of the previous year. The fact that it is not greater indicates that there has been a decline in the living standards of the people. The Government has to answer to the people for that offence. No bookkeeping device, whether it be simple or abstract, can camouflage that drop.
We on this side of the House say that sections of the Australian community are in dire straits at the present time because inflation has increased faster than their income has risen, and they have been robbed of their purchasing power. A redressing of the balance is needed, and if the Government can issue treasury-bills to finance defence, it could equally well either issue more treasury-bills or raise revenue by adjusting taxes in order to take more from those who have too much, because, when prices increase, profits rise faster than wages, and some sections in the community get too much and some get too little.
It is not a simple matter to analyse the whole Australian economy in a few words. But it is callous and indifferent for a government to expect a measure so important as this one to be disposed of in a few minutes at almost 1 a.m. It is the net effect on the people in the marginal situation that has to be considered, and the people in the marginal situation are experiencing the real problems that are evident in the Australian community at the present time. We say - I repeat it - that some people are not getting enough, and some may be getting too much. The Government has at least realized that it is necessary to stimulate economic activity by issuing treasury-bills to the amount provided for in this measure. But I point out that no increase in Government expenditure is proposed in the current financial year.
It is estimated that government revenue will fall by nearly £100,000,000, and the Government has been forced to issue £110,000,000 worth of treasury-bills merely in order to maintain economic activity at the same level as in the previous financial year. But that level means that 80,000 people will be out of work. Therefore, I suggest that more economic activity is needed in order to put those 80,000 workers back into active production. Additional economic activity is needed to support and maintain the real purchasing power of the majority of the Australian people. That stolid document, the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure, indicates, as I said’ earlier, that, for the first time in ten years, our standards, measured in real terms, per head of the population, have declined. I suggest that the real significance of this decline ought to be realized by the Government. If it is not, it will certainly be realized by the Australian people when they get the opportunity to record their verdict on this Government’s administration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on morion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a first time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate, without amendment: -
Migration Bill 1958.
Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1958.
National Health Bill 1958.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1958.
Tractor Bounty Bill 1958.
States Grants Bill 1958.
House adjourned at 1.6 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he furnish the following information regarding changes in the Australian defence structure announced bv him on 4th April, 1957: -
What progress has been made in stan dardizing Australian equipment with that of the forces of the United States of America?
What quantities of the FN rifle and its related ammunition have been produced?
What number and type of naval vessels are at present in commission and in reserve?
What is the present position in respect of the accelerated naval construction programme which he then announced, showing (i) the number of ships and types completed or commenced in the intervening period and (ii) the number and type the construction of which has been approved?
Is the average man-power strength of the
Permanent Naval Forces being maintained at about 11,000 which was announced as the objective for the three following years; if not, what is the present deficiency?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The honorable member’s attention is invited to the further statement on defence which I made in the House on 19th September, 1957, and the statement by the Minister for Defence on 10th September, 1958. As suggested by the United States authorities, following the recent report of the United States Technical Mission to Australia, the Royal Australian Air Force is now engaged in technical discussions with the United States Air Force on the most suitable and latest types of fighter aircraft now under development and which will satisfy the operational role of the Royal Australian Air Force.
d asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Royal Australian Air Force is equipped, showing the year when each type was first- produced?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Rifles, . 303-in. - This weapon has been progressively modified since its introduction by the United Kingdom in 1902. The current type is the No. 1 Mark 3, which is still largely in service in the United Kingdom. This rifle will be replaced by the FN rifle beginning’ next year.
Owen machine carbine. - Introduced in 1942 in Australia and retained by the Australian Army in preference to any other type. A number of modifications have been made to the original model.
Bren light machine gun, . 303-in. - Originally produced in Czechoslovakia in 1936. Adopted by the Australian Army in 1938, who regard it as probably the best light machine gun in service anywhere in the world.
Vickers medium machine gun, . 303-in. -
Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1914.
Important modifications have been made since that date.
Mortars, 2-in. - Introduced in the United
Kingdom in 1940 and improved since that date.
Mortars, 3-in. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1936, since when its range and performance have been improved.
Rocket launcher, 3.5-in. - Introduced in the United States in 1944 and subsequently modified. The Australian Army is using the latest pattern,
Modified gun, quickfiring, 40 mm. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1952.
Modified gun, 3.7-in., anti-aircraft. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1946 and into the Australian Army in 1950-51. This gun is still in service and no replacement is known.
Mortar, 4.2-in. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1942-43 and in current use. 5.25-in. dual-purpose coast and anti-aircraft gun. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1941, this is still the latest equipment of its type, combining the ability to engage ships or high-altitude aircraft. 5.5-in. gun. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1941 and still the current medium gun in use overseas. 155-mm. gun. - Introduced in the United States in 1938 and in current use overseas. 25-pr. gun. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1938 and modified since that dale. It is in current use by the United Kingdom. 20-pr. tank gun. - Introduced in the United Kingdom in 1950-51 with the Centurion tanks.
Flame throwers, portable. - The type used was introduced in the United States in 1942 and, with minor modifications, is still in current use there.
In addition to these weapons, I have outlined m my statement to the House on 10th September the considerable quantity of Centurion tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, ammunition and other items of equipment held by the Army.
These include clerical and typing staffs at service head-quarters and other establishments. They do not include storehouse, technical and general duties staffs.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
It appears that the honorable member is referring to a broadcast I made on 2nd July of this year.
In the context to which he refers the figures used were “ 10 or 20 per cent “, not “ 5 to 10 per cent “.
Yes, as far as was possible in a short broadcast.
Precise and up-to-date figures are readily obtainable from the Budget and Estimates papers.
This can be calculated by reference to the Budget and Estimates papers.
a asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Commonwealth Trading Bank.
s. - On 27th August, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) asked the Treasurer the following question, without notice: -
Will the right honorable gentleman consider sending representatives of the Commonwealth Trading Bank to England to study the credit system that I understand has been instituted by the Midlands Bank as a check on interest rates charged by hire-purchase companies? Does the Treasurer consider that such a visit would be more advantageous than the recent visit by Commonwealth Trading Bank representatives to Peking? Does the Treasurer know that the Peking visit was interpreted in South-East Asia as a Government sponsored visit and as an indication of Government policy?
In his reply the Treasurer undertook to see what further information he could give to the honorable member. The right honorable gentleman now provides the following information: -
The Commonwealth Trading Bank has now advised me that it does not consider any good purpose would be served by sending representatives of the bank to London to study the lending procedures and policies of the British banks. With regard to China, I am informed that a number of Australian banks have had representatives in that country in recent months. The visit of Commonwealth Trading Bank representatives to China was made in the course of a visit to a number of other countries in South-East Asia. I understand that the visit was made in the ordinary course of the bank’s overseas commercial business.
d asked the acting Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In January, 1958, licences were issued covering 1,200 tons of maize and 1,500 tons of maize grits. Imports against these licences were effected as follows: -
No import licences have been issued for maize or grits since January, 1958, and no imports have been effected since April, 1958.
Prices are from New South Wales Department of Agriculture weekly marketing reports.
ser asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Flinders to Jervis Bay in the current and subsequent financial years, under the various headings, is shown in the following table. -
As against the above costs, however, there is a saving of approximately £250,000 over a period of five years at Flinders Naval Depot in the longrange accommodation plan for that establishment due to the transfer of the college to Jervis Bay.
1957, £2,361. (Includes sum to cover a proportion of cost of naval personnel borne at Flinders Naval Depot for general depot and college duties.)
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The following cable sets out the names of the speakers and the number of broadcasts given: -
s asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has agreed to purchase a building in Lord’s-place, Orange, known as Civic Building, owned by the Orange City Council. The legal formalities relating to the taking over are at present being completed by the Department of the Interior. The General Manager’s visit to Orange was to inspect these premises, the purchase of which involved the sum of £20,000. The Australian Broadcasting Commission’s present premises, which have been occupied on a rental basis, are in a section of this building.
son asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
What has been the amount of overseas expenditure in each year since 1948-49 under the following headings: - Imports, freight, insurance, interest remittances to persons living abroad, dividends, foreign currencies made available to Australian residents travelling abroad, and miscellaneous?
And: What has been the amount of income from overseas sources in each year since 1948-49 under the following headings: - Exports, capital inflow showing investment funds and loan moneys separately, dividends, insurance, remittances to Australian residents from people living abroad, and miscellaneous?
– As the honorable member, in his two questions, has asked for details of most of the items in Australia’s balance of payments, his attention is directed to the White Paper on National Income and Expenditure 1957-58 presented on the occasion of the Budget 1958-59 and to the publication entitled “ The Australian Balance of Payments “, issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. Table V. of the former publication, which is reproduced below, gives details of the current items: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1958, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1958/19580930_reps_22_hor21/>.