23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he has seen the report of the Wool Inquiry Commission in New South Wales declaring that the boycott of the Goulburn sales by the New South Wales and Queensland Woolbuyers’ Association has been completely unjustified and detrimental to the public interests. In view of the fact that the New South Wales Government will introduce legislation, on Mr. Justice Cook’s recommendation, to nullify the ban on the Goulburn sales, will the Federal Government now act to support the decision of the New South Wales Government? Further, as the report amply demonstrates that the buyers’ organization has the power to limit competition for wool, so reducing prices, does the Federal Government intend to act on a nationwide basis to protect the direct interests of the wool-growers and to prevent injury to a vital part of our export income? As the next Goulburn sales are due on 7th and 8th October, I think, will the Minister, if necessary, introduce legislation complementing that which will be introduced in New South Wales?
– I have not seen the report presented to the New South Wales Parliament following the inquiry made by a commissioner in New South Wales, although I have seen a summarized statement in the press. Since this matter is, in the first instance, in the hands of the New South Wales Government, I shall certainly wait to hear the comments made by that Government, and naturally I shall wait until I have had an opportunity to peruse the report.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state what the course of negotiations was for the disposal of the Commonwealth flax mill buildings at
Ballarat? Is he aware that a statement by the Victorian Minister of State Development suggested that this matter was no concern of the federal member for the area?
– I am not aware of the statement made by the Victorian Minister of State Development, and therefore I should not comment on it. The Commonwealth had some Max mill buildings at Ballarat which were on land leased from the Victorian Government. Those buildings have been in course of disposal for some time, and negotiations have been going on regarding a possible purchase of them. The honorable member for Ballaarat expressed some interest in these buildings and made representations to me some time ago on behalf of the Ballarat Shire Council. Subsequently negotiations were conducted with Martin Stoneware Pipe Limited, which eventually purchased the buildings, and representations were made from time to time on the company’s behalf by the honorable member for Ballaarat. Some confusion may have arisen as to the responsibility of the Victorian Government, because of its ownership of the land, and the disposal of the buildings by the Commonwealth. The disposal of the buildings is, of course, our responsibility, and it is conditional upon the purchasers being able to make satisfactory arrangements with the Victorian Government for a lease of the land.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Was the right honorable gentleman a member of the Lyons Government which, supported by the Labour Opposition, refused to allow the export of iron ore from Yampi Sound to Japan because Australia’s supplies were limited and would be needed for the development of the steel industry in Australia? Is it a fact that Sir Arthur Fadden now represents a Japanese firm and is negotiating on its behalf for an option on certain Australian iron ore deposits with the object of exporting the ore to Japan? In view of the limited supplies of iron ore in Australia and the need for such supplies to protect and extend the steel manufacturing industry in Australia, will the Prime Minister give an assurance that his Government will not allow the exploitation and export of Australia’s iron ore? Will be also inform the House of the name of the firm that Sir Arthur Fadden is representing?
– First of all, let me point out that the decision which was made, as far back as 1938, I think, to prohibit the export of iron ore was not made by the Loan Council. It was made by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. The policy implicit in the decision has been pursued ever since.
– It was the Lyons Government.
– Yes, the Lyons Government, which was the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– The honorable member for Darling did not say the Loan Council, he said the Lyons Government.
– I am sorry if I misunderstood the honorable member; I thought he said the Loan Council. In any case the decision was taken by the Lyons Government, and it has been acted on consistently ever since. As to Sir Arthur Fadden’s activities, I know nothing. I cannot give the honorable member any information as to what company is involved in some application or proposal, or whether my former colleague is connected with that company. I just do not know.
– Would you say the iron ore had entered his soul because of your neglect to give him the Commonwealth Bank job?
– That is a very bright remark - and false, as of course we are not surprised to discover. As to the matter of the export of iron ore, we have recently received some correspondence from the Government of Western Australia - not from a private company - and I am in course of replying to it. When I have made a reply 1 will be very happy to put the House in full possession of our views.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the former owner of the Glenburnie Produce Company of Mount Gambier, South Australia, has failed to pass on a 1957 equalization payment of 6id., in respect of cheese, to his suppliers? Is he also aware that in answer to a ques tion in the South Australian Parliament last week, the Minister for Agriculture of that State said that this was - and I quote his words - “ a Commonwealth matter “? Can the Minister say whether this is correct and, if so, what the Government is doing about it?
- Mr. Speaker, I am aware that the Glenburnie Produce Company did not pass on the final equalization payment for 1957-58 of 6id. per lb. for butter fat to those suppliers, but I am not aware of the question asked and the answer given in the South Australian Parliament. The Glenburnie Produce Company ceased operations in the early part of 1958, and the suppliers thereto were transferred to another factory. So far as the equalization payment is concerned, that is a matter that is operated under an agreement between the Commonwealth Dairy Equalization Committee Limited - a limited company - and the individual factories. The matter resides between those two, and the Commonwealth Government has no jurisdiction in regard to it at all.
I deplore that the circumstance mentioned by the honorable member has come about. Actually, it is a rather rare incident. However, the Government does ensure that all bounty payments which are made available by the Commonwealth are passed on to the producers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Have butter factories received, on behalf of dairymen, the full amount of the bounty payments under the equalization scheme for 1957-58? If so, when was the final payment made?
– Bounty payments are made as soon as practicable after the financial year is over, and the final bounty payment for 1957-58 was made to the factories in August, 1958. The final bounty payment for 1958-59 was made to the factories in August of this year. The final equalization payments for 1957-58 were made to the factories in June this year. I think the amount was 1.6d. per lb., commercial butter basis.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry been drawn to statements made in New South Wales that the cactoblastis cactorum insect is no longer effective there? Has he any information in that regard, and, further, is the insect still effective in Queensland for the control of prickly pear?
– The insect cactoblastis cactorum has always been more effective in Queensland than in New South Wales, though in the northern part of New South Wales, from somewhere about Narrabri to the Queensland border, it is stated to be still quite effective. It seems that soil conditions in certain parts of New South Wales affect the plants so that the insect is not attracted to attack them. As a result, New South Wales has adopted other means of destroying the plant.
There is a species of prickly pear - the tiger pear - on which the cactoblastis cactorum has no effect, so the Queensland Government finds difficulty in destroying that species of pear. On the ordinary prickly pear, however, the insect has always been effective, and still is in Queensland.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. Did the right honorable gentleman some months ago receive a request from the Australian Council of Local Government Associations asking that the Government set up a committee of investigation to inquire into the disabilities suffered by municipalities consequent upon the Commonwealth’s refusal to pay rates on Commonwealth properties that receive local government services? If the right honorable gentleman did receive such a request, what was his reply?
– Several discussions on this matter have taken place. No doubt the honorable member is correct in saying that a request was made by the Australian Council of Local Government Associations, but there have been quite a few requests. Indeed, the latest of them is at present under examination. If there is anything fresh to say in addition to what has been said previously about Commonwealth policy, I will say it at the earliest possible moment.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he has received any reports about the recent Army manoeuvres held in the Mackay district. Were those exercises considered a success? If reports have been received, will the Minister make any qf them available to honorable members who may be interested in this phase of training of service personnel?
– Yes, I have received reports about the exercises in the Mackay district. I answered a question similar to this one some months ago. The reports are not framed in such a way that I can make them available to honorable members. The purpose of the exercises was to discover the weaknesses and strength of the field force and to see what might be done to improve it. However, I would be very glad to discuss with the honorable member any aspect of the matter in which he is interested. It may be said that the exercises were an outstanding success. They showed that the field force was in a very good state of training but they also showed up certain weaknesses, which are in the process of being rectified.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question without notice. Can the Minister indicate whether heart complaints are now the major cause of death in the adult community? If they are, does the Government propose to assist research into the problem by extending aid to the Heart Foundation?
– Diseases of the heart and circulatory system are the leading causes of death. The question of what the Government will do about the Heart Foundation has not yet arisen but, of course, it will be considered in due time when the foundation is in full operation.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has decided to contribute £50,000 to the United Nationsfund for the World Refugee Year programme. If it has, will the Government: seek to have some of that fund allocated to the 2,000,000 refugees in Hong Kong, who so far have not participated in world refugee relief funds? Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether Tibetan refugees will be included in the programme?
– It is true that the Commonwealth has undertaken to contribute £50,000 to the fund for the World Refugee Year and, as I pointed out when introducing the relevant bill, has taken steps to make donations to that fund deductible for income tax purposes.
The question as to what refugees will receive assistance will, I am perfectly certain, be dealt with in a most comprehensive fashion because the fund is administered by the United Nations Organization. When opening the appeal in Victoria, I made some particular reference to the position of refugees in Hong Kong. Wherever refugees exist, I am perfectly certain that they all will be brought into the picture when the application of the total fund is being considered.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that yesterday the honorable member for Chisholm stated that every morning the currawongs in Canberra are warbling the fact that national service training is to be abolished very shortly? Is the Minister aware also that a few days ago in this House, in answer to a question that I directed to him which stated, in effect, that the dogs were barking the same story, he replied that the scheme was to continue? In view of the statement of the honorable member for Chisholm, will the Minister either bring his colleague up to date with Government policy, or state without qualification the future of the scheme, and whether he gave false information when replying to my question?
– I can assure the honorable member that the matter has not been considered by the Government.
– My question to the Minister for Health concerns the fluoridation of public water supplies with a view to minimizing the decay of teeth, particularly in children. Is the Minister aware that a considerable number of very large cities in the United States already add fluorine to the public water supply for this purpose? Is he aware also that the research advisory committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council, at its 36th- session in December, 1953, resolved that having considered published reports of the claims for and against artificial fluoridation of public water supplies, it recommended that, when the optimal intake is not obtained from natural sources, fluorine should be added to the public water supply? Have any steps been taken to add fluorine to the water supply of the Australian Capital Territory. If not, will the Minister look into the matter and consider whether the Commonwealth Government should set an example to State departments of health and water supply authorities by carrying out the recommendation of the council?
– I am aware of the various factors to which the honorable member has referred. The fluoridation of the Canberra water supply is not a simple matter because, as the honorable gentleman will know, some construction works are at present in progress in relation to that water supply and it would be premature to consider the question of fluoridation at this time.
Another factor to. be considered in relation to the fluoridation of the water supply in the Australian Capital Territory is that Queanbeyan is served by the same supply and, therefore, there would need to be some co-ordination between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales.
– Queanbeyan wants to become part of the Territory.
– I do not know whether the fluoridation of the water supply will be an inducement or not. The matter will be considered in due course and in the light of the wishes of the inhabitants of the Territory.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services why the department which he administers has issued instructions that single persons residing on Cape Barren Island in the Furneaux Group are no longer entitled to receive unemployment benefit? Will the Minister have investigations made into this matter to ensure that each application for unemployment benefit is dealt with on its merits? Will the Minister advise whether similar action has been taken by his department in respect of any other island, district or locality in the Commonwealth?
– I have no personal knowledge of the question raised by the honorable member. I shall be pleased to make investigations and provide him with an appropriate reply.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Was a quantity of 1,500 tons of wheat recently made available to Pakistan under a special arrangement? If so, would it not be preferable for aid to be given by direct gifts of cash, having in mind the disastrous effect of these gifts of commodities on world commodity prices within recent years?
– Yes, a gift of 1,500 tons of wheat was made to Pakistan and paid for by the Commonwealth Government. That was the approach which the Commonwealth Government made to assist Pakistan- in its need as a result of recent disastrous floods in that country. This wheat was paid for under the Colombo- Plan, which is administered by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs. As a contribution under the Colombo Plan for 1958-59, wheat valued at about £300,000 -was given- by the Commonwealth Government to that country.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether representatives of the American, aviation industry have been recently engaged in an attempt to sell FI 04 Starfighter interceptor aircraft for service with the Royal Australian Air Force. Is it intended by these American lobbyists, including representatives of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, that the FI 04 aircraft should replace the Avon Sabre jet fighter? Is the Minister aware that the United States Government regards the FI 04 Starfighter as obsolete? Have Australian experts advised against the purchase of these aircraft on the ground that they have “been superseded and are unsuitable for Australian conditions? Will the Minister give an unqualified assurance that he will <not allow Australia to become the dumping ground for outmoded American aircraft, at: great expense and of little value to the Australian taxpayer?
– On various occasions in recent times representatives of overseas manufacturers of aircraft have visited this country. Any information they have to give about the aircraft they produce is considered by my department. I can assure the honorable member however that any advice given to the Government by my department as to the purchase of aircraft will be based upon the evaluations made by officers of the department and not by anybody else.
– Is the Minister for Social Services now in a position to say when the increased rates of age, invalid and widows’ pensions are likely to be made available to those who qualify for them? What is the position with regard to the payment of social service benefits to aboriginal natives who, prior to the recent amendment to the Social Services Act, were excluded from them?
– In spite of the excitement in the family of the honorable member, I am sure he will know that the amending legislation passed by this House last week made provision for the payment of increased age, invalid and widows’ pensions to those who qualify for them, on the first pay-day after the bill receives the royal assent. I am informed that the legislation was passed in another place at an early hour this morning and if royal assent is. granted this day, these increased pensions, will be paid on the first pay-day in October, which, I think, speaking from memory, is 8th October.
The amending legislation makes provision also, for the extension of social service benefits, on a date to be proclaimed, to aboriginal natives who have been previously excluded from’ them. This is due to the fact that at the present moment two officers of the Department of Social Services are travelling through five of the six States of the Commonwealth making arrangements for the payment of social service benefits to aboriginal natives who qualify for them. As soon as these arrangements are complete - and I am certain there will be no undue delay - the bill will be proclaimed and payments will be made forthwith. May I take this opportunity to congratulate the honorable member for Fawkner upon qualifying for child endowment for the first time?
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the republic of Pakistan has banned the “Concise Oxford Dictionary”? Will he immediately make this information available to the Minister for Customs and Excise so that this diverting field of censorship may be exercised by the Minister, and will he request the Minister to release some of the books which are growing in number under the censorship regulations?
– I read in the newspapers that the “ Concise Oxford Dictionary “ had been banned in Pakistan. So far from banning it in this country, I would make it compulsory reading.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether there is any total prohibition on the entry into Australia from the United States of America of books or publications including the types regarded in Australia as fiction. Is there any limitation on the importation of technical books from the United States of America?
– There is no limitation on the importation of technical books into Australia; nor, as the result of a recent decision, is there any import licensing restriction whatsoever on the importation of any books which are classified, I think, under Customs Item No. 339. Under that item books are classified as distinct from commercial publications such as catalogues or guide books. In short, the answer to the honorable member’s question is that there is no import licence restraint upon books at all.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the national economic importance of the report of the Auditor-General of New South Wales who, in dealing with railway finances in that State, reported that the New South Wales
Treasury’s assessment of interest debt charges for the last financial year increased by £984,272, and reached the tremendous all-time record total of £13,847,000? Will the Prime Minister study that report as early as possible with the object of endeavouring to plan a co-ordinated State and Federal economic policy that will provide for the funding of the capital debt on all railways in Australia, thereby giving this most important medium of Australian transport the opportunity of rehabilitating itself in the national interest out of the huge profits that are actually being made over and above working expenses?
– I have not actually seen the report of the Auditor-General of New South Wales, but I am very familiar with the broad figures mentioned by the honorable member. I am a little at a loss to understand why the honorable member thinks that the mysterious process known as “ funding “ the debt of the railways will produce any result except to reduce expenditure on other public works. He may be assured that this problem does not lack discussion between the Commonwealth and the States. It comes up at every Premiers’ Conference and at every Australian Loan Council meeting.
– Is the Minister for
Defence aware of the expressed uneasiness of the United States of America concerning the growing strength of Russia’s submarine fleet? In view of the comments made by Admiral Felt, CommanderinChief of the United States Pacific Area Command, upon his arrival in Sydney on Monday last, that Russia had the most powerful submarine fleet in the world, which could cripple sea commerce in the event of war, will the Minister say whether the Government is taking any steps with regard to the construction or acquisition of new submarines as a line of defence? What is our defence potential in submarine detection?
– I know that the honorable member is particularly interested in this branch of defence and I welcome his question. The Russian submarine fleet is causing not only the United States of
America but also, I think every country in the free world to become disturbed. One wonders why the Russians have such an enormous fleet of submarines. Admiral Felt - the American admiral to whom the honorable member refers - expressed his concern about it when he arrived in Sydney a couple of days ago. The steps which we are taking in Australia are these: The whole of the Australian Navy is concentrating at the present time on anti-submarine warfare, using the aircraft carrier equipped with Gannet aircraft, and anti-submarine devices which, I may say, are the most modern available in the world to-day. We are also building new frigates which are the equal of any in the world. The Government’s naval advisers keep us well informed of the trends in anti-submarine warfare, and the Government’s policy will always be determined on the advice of such professional advisers.
(Mr. Jones having directed a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service) -
– The question is not in order, because it relates to a matter which is at present before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.
– I desire to ask the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs a question without notice. What significance does the Minister attach to the recent removal from office of two of Mao Tse-tung’s proteges in China, namely Peng Teh-huai and Huang Ko-cheng, who were, until recently, Minister of Defence and Army Chief of Staff, respectively? Does the Minister consider that the appointment of Marshal Lin Piao as Minister of Defence is an event of international importance and that it probably places the marshal next in line to Mao Tse-tung? Is Lo Jui-ching, who has been appointed Army Chief of Staff, the same man who is the head of the secret police force? May not this appointment have been made in order that secret police shall be able to enforce the obedience of soldiers who are dissatisfied with the system of the communes?
– It is quite true that, recently, there have been some changes in government and Army posts at a high level in red China. The exact significance of these changes must, of course, be a matter of speculation, especially at this distance, and particularly having regard to the vital difference between our attitude of mind and that of people in Communist China. However, 1 think I can say that these changes may have some reference to the tensions which undoubtedly have developed in mainland China because of the failure of the Communists to maintain their announced targets of production, and, indeed, probably because of suspicion that the newly announced targets of production will not be reached. The change in the personnel of the Army, particularly the Chief of Staff, may indicate that Communist China, like other Communist countries, will tend to use strong measures to suppress any dissatisfaction and discontent amongst the people arising from failure to attain the promised result.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the increasing concern in the nation at the growth of government by regulation, leading to the entrenchment of bureaucratic control and the serious bypassing of the Parliament? Is this trend a deliberate facet of Government policy or is it a trend taking place in spite of the Government?
– I am not aware of any new development in this field. I have been hearing about this topic almost in those words for many years. There is no doubt that the volume of regulations, which reached its peak before we came back into office, still remains quite considerable, but I belong to the school of thought which believes that, if Parliament had to make every law in every detail, thus getting rid of regulations altogether, Parliament’s business would never end; in fact, no programme would ever be concluded. The complexity of modern legislation and of administrative rules requires that there must be a good deal of working out of detail by means of regulations and rules. The Parliament has ample power to disallow any regulations or rules, if it disapproves of them.
– I wish to direct my question to the Minister for Health. Tomorrow, the federal tick authority will meet in Sydney to discuss modifications of the system of tick eradication and control in New South Wales. These alterations are necessary because of lack of funds. I ask the Minister: Will he use his authority to ensure that the tick eradication and control methods now in operation will be left as they are until a full inquiry can be made into the effects of the modifications of the system? I ask this question because it is my view, and the view of most people who have studied this tick problem, that the proposals for the future are penny wise and pound foolish.
– The administrative arrangements for tick control in New South Wales are the prerogative of the Government of New South Wales, and it is really to that Government that the honorable gentleman should address his question.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Last week, in answer to a question on disarmament, he said -
I refer to a question standing in my name, dated 22nd August - quite some time ago - and addressed to the Minister for Defence, in which I asked some simple questions on the cost of national service training and what amounts have been spent-
– Order! The honorable member may direct attention to the question, but he cannot quote it.
– I ask the right honorable gentleman: If what democracies do in these fields is a matter of notoriety, why does not the Minister for Defence give me an answer to a simple question, or is it simply the fact that we are not democratic?
– The question is very appropriate. The honorable member has perhaps not yet discovered that some of the simplest questions to put are the most complicated to answer. Therefore, it by no means follows that because one puts a simple question-
– It was put to simple people.
– Don’t you want to hear the answer?
– The question has been on the notice-paper for five weeks without an answer being given.
– Order! The honorable member for Wills has asked his question.
– He has made a complaint about the Minister for Defence. Any complaint about the Minister for Defence falls on deaf ears, as far as I am concerned. If the honorable member has not had a reply yet, 1 have no doubt that there are very good reasons for this. But do let me remind him, Mr. Speaker, that the very fact that a question can be put by a member of the Parliament about aspects of the defence forces and that he may expect, and insist upon, a reply, sharply distinguishes this country from either the Soviet Union or Communist China.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives in this bill.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 29th September (vide page 1544).
Proposed vote, £12,140,000.
Proposed vote, £1,240,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- I believe that every honorable member will agree that Australia has a magnificent record in civil aviation, a record of which every Australian can be proud. We have most efficient aircraft, equal in design and performance to any that are now operating in any part of the world. Our pilots have proved themselves, both in conflict and in the commercial spheres. Furthermore, our passengers enjoy the utmost of service and can travel in comfort. This is done at a reasonable cost. The low prices charged by our airlines compare favorably with the prices charged in other countries. It is no wonder, therefore, that over the past few years we have seen support for our civil airlines growing. This year, it is expected that the airlines will carry some 2,500,000 passengers, who will fly, over all internal routes, a total of one billion passenger miles.
Our record of safety is one of excellence, for, over the past eight years, not a single passenger fatality has occurred in the 16,000,000 miles that have been flown. It is no wonder, therefore, that, at the International Aviation Conference held earlier this year, Australia received a great deal of approbation. Out of eight major airline countries, Australia was voted fifth. I think that this is indeed a recognition of the service and efficiency of civil aviation in Australia.
Aviation, of course, is of vital importance to us. Ours is a large continent, and because of our geographical situation we must have speedy and efficient communication with places overseas. In addition, we must cater for a huge network of internal airlines which bring the people of the outback closer to those in the more settled areas, and bring the various States closer together. These airlines provide excellent service in the carrying of urgent medicines and other supplies that are needed from time to time by people in remote areas. I believe that the Government can be proud of its efforts in the last few years. The Department of Civil Aviation particularly merits praise for its efficiency in carrying out its duties in accordance with the regulations that it so rigidly enforces.
A great deal of our experience has come from overseas airlines, and the Department of Civil Aviation has shown its readiness to learn from other countries. Officials of the department have been sent overseas on many occasions, sometimes to work with com mercial airlines in other countries. We have taken advantage of the experience of these officers and have been able to provide in Australia no less than 600 aerodromes and airstrips. The materials used in the runways and taxiways provided during the past few years would have been sufficient for 1,600 miles of first-class roadway. In the interests of safety we have installed the most modern navigational and radio aids at appropriate places throughout the 3,500,000 square miles of our continent.
This year is one of the most important in Australian civil aviation history, for we are spending no less than £40,000,000 on re-equipping our airlines with the most modern aircraft. I believe the Government should be congratulated on encouraging the purchase of the Electras, the Boeings and the Fokker Friendships that are now operating on our internal and external airlines. The use of the Boeing 707’s, of which seven have already been received by Qantas, raises the question of the suitability of our present airstrips to accommodate these aeroplanes and others which are now on the drawing boards or are in use on various intercontinental services, when they wish to operate at all-up weights. We have in Sydney, Brisbane and Darwin, airports which can accommodate the heavy planes that are now in operation, but when operating from these airports the Boeings are covering route stages that do not extend beyond about 2,000 miles. These include Sydney-Fiji, Sydney-Darwin, Brisbane-Fiji and BrisbaneDarwin. If it were necessary to operate the Boeings at their all-up weights, to cover routes of 3,000 miles, the present airstrips would not be suitable, and longer and stronger runways would be necessary. The great weight of these aircraft can be imagined when we consider the quantity of fuel that they carry. In a Boeing 707, fully loaded, there is sufficient fuel to last a motorist for 40 years; if he travelled 25 to 30 miles on a gallon of fuel, there would be enough for him to cover 100,000 miles. We can see, therefore, that it is not only length but also strength of runways that must be considered.
I urge the Government to look to the future, when other large planes will undoubtedly be operating between Australia and the other continents. Aircraft such as : the D.C.8 and Supersonic types will be available within the next eighteen months or two years, and I believe we should develop an overall plan to make our airstrips capable of accommodating these planes. The Government should give immediate consideration to the matter, so that we will not be too late and will not be found to have missed the bus when these new aircraft are available.
Let us look at the position at present. Melbourne airport has runways that are inadequate in length and in strength. Apparently no decision has yet been made in regard to Tullamarine or Avalon, which is in the electorate of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman), who has consistently advocated the use of this airport. I believe, however, that Sydney is the obvious choice for a start to be made, and that we should bring the runways at that airport up to the necessary standard in the shortest possible time. During the last few years no less than £10,000,000 has been spent on the Sydney airport. This is three times as much as has been spent on any other airport in Australia.
The aerodrome in Sydney is known as the Kingsford-Smith Airport. It is named after an illustrious Australian, and ls geographically situated on the seafront of the most important capital city in Australia. It is the city with the largest population and is also our greatest industrial city. From the point of view of airline operation, the weather conditions at Sydney are more suitable than those of the immediate alternative, which is Melbourne. We have comparatively fog-free weather in Sydney, and we have more tourist attractions than other cities - and it must be remembered that a great number of the people who will be coming to Australia on these aircraft will be tourists. They can come to Sydney and see our magnificent harbour and our other attractions, such as our beaches, many of which are in my electorate of Phillip. Furthermore, Sydney at present handles approximately 50 per cent, of our international air traffic. These are some of the reasons why Sydney should be given priority in the overall plan to make our airstrips suitable for the planes of the future.
I understand that soundings have recently been taken in Botany Bay to determine whether a runway can be extended from the Sydney Airport in that direction. If the foundations are found to be suitable, it is most desirable that the shorter of the two runways now existing at Sydney airport should be extended into the bay. This practice is by no means new, even in the Pacific area. In New Zealand there are two places where runways extend into the sea, and there is another example at Hong Kong. The cost of the Botany Bay project is estimated at about £8,000,000, and I believe that the benefits that would accrue, not only to New South Wales but also to the whole Commonwealth of Australia, would justify the outlay of this money. It would enable the new aeroplanes to operate at their all-up weights and would provide Australia with an airfield capable of accommodating the most modern aircraft. It would also obviate the necessity for such action as was taken recently, when a Boeing 707 could not land in Sydney and had to be diverted to Brisbane because of a cross-wind blowing at 23 knots at the Sydney airport. Although this was a rare occasion, and it is estimated that it would arise no more than six times a year, it nevertheless was the cause of some unpleasantness for the pilot and the passengers. It is a contingency that could affect our magnificent safety record in the field of civil aviation. It is, I believe, a national necessity for us to have at least one airport capable of catering for these aircraft. I say “ one “ in the immediate future, because the need is urgent, and if we have it in Sydney, where it would be admirably placed, there is no reason why feeder aircraft of our own domestic airlines, which are speedy, efficient and comfortable, could not be used to convey passengers on to other capitals. However. Sir, I wish to appeal to the Premier of New South Wales in this matter. He has been overseas, and he wishes to get New South Wales on to the map. He wants to attract tourists to that State. I ask him to waive the royalties that he insisted on, when previous alterations were being made to the Kingsford-Smith Airport at Mascot, for the removal of sand from Botany Bay for this project. I hope that the Premier may feel inclined to waive these royalties, in view of the benefits that the people of New South Wales will derive from this project, both in increased employment and the attraction of tourists through the provision, in the capital city of Sydney, of this airfield which would mean so much to Australia. I think that the attitude of the New South Wales Government in insisting on royalties for the sand removed from Botany Bay is short-sighted.
The extension of the Kingsford-Smith Airport will be of immeasurable benefit to New South Wales so I ask the Premier, in the interests of the people of his State, and so that the progress being made there in the provision of air facilities may continue, to make it clear, at an early stage, that the New South Wales Government will not insist on the payment of the royalties for sand needed for work on a national necessity.
This brings me to the subject of hotel accommodation. If we are to have the increased tourist traffic to Australia which is expected now that the big new aircraft are in operation between this country and overseas we must have first-class accommodation to satisfy the needs of tourists. We in Australia, unfortunately, lag in respect of the calibre of our hotels and the standard of accommodation provided by them. In fact, a survey shows that in Sydney we have only 1,760 first-class hotel rooms. So I also ask the Commonwealth Government to speed up its decision on whether Qantas itself is to build the hotel it proposed to build in order to accommodate increased tourist traffic and alleviate the strain on privatelyowned hotels, or whether private enterprise is to build the hotel. For my part, if private enterprise can build this hotel I will support that. But I do think that a decision has to be made one way or the other, and has to be made quickly.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Earlier in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) directed attention to an incident which, to use a popular phrase. smells to high heaven, in my opinion. I think that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith is to be complimented on having directed attention to this particular matter.
Operating in this country we have the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. Of recent years the commission has embarked on a policy of disposing of vessels that it regards as having become obsolete. Of course, anybody who considers the year in which some of these vessels were built. and the recognized life of the vessels, might believe - in fact, many people in the community do believe - that the vessels still had many years of usefulness ahead of them at the time they were sold. Evidently however, the commission’s view is other wise, because it sold the vessels at bargain rates.
As the honorable member for KingsfordSmith said, the last four vessels disposed of by the commission were the “ River Mitta”, the “River Hunter”, the “River Norman “ and the “ River Murray “. They were sold for a total price of £220,000, or at an average of £55,000 each. That was all that was received for those vessels, which cost us great sums of money in excess of the amount for which they were sold.
When the sale was first announced the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) told us through the press that the sale had been to an Australian company. The inference to be drawn from that statement was that these vessels were still to be available in the Australian service - at least, that was the belief of the ordinary person who read the newspaper report. The sale was made to a firm, A. G. Sims Limited, which is engaged in the buying, selling and exporting of scrap metal. The idea was then circulated that those vessels were to be used for scrap. They were to be loaded with scrap metal in Australia, sent to Japan and the cargoes sold, and the vessels themselves were to be broken up for scrap. As time went on different statements were made to the press as to the ultimate disposal of these vessels. I asked a series of questions regarding the private business interests of the members of the commission because it seems to me that an extraordinary situation exists. Now, the Minister’s reply will be that under the existing legislation the members of the commission are permitted to continue certain of their business associations or business activities. Whether or not that is the position at the moment, under the law, in my opinion it is a situation which should not be permitted to exist in this country.
These people sit on the commission and have business associations outside. I was amazed when I did some research and discovered the scope of their activities besides being members of the commission. About a month ago I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a question on this matter, and an extract from his reply makes very interesting reading. Here is what he said in answer to my question -
The legislation under which the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission was established recognizes the right of a member of the commission to be interested in a contract made by the commission provided that, except when his only interest is as a shareholder in an incorporated body of more than 25 members, he discloses his interest to the commission. This rule applies to a number of Commonwealth authorities.
The sale of these four vessels was negotiated on behalf of the commission by Westralian Farmers Transport Limited of London, and the commission accepted the offer of Albert G. Sims Limited made through J. P. Williams and Associates, brokers. This was the best offer received both as to price and other conditions.
The reply does not say whether tenders were invited, or whether certain selected people were approached as to whether they were interested in the purchase of those vessels. The reply continues -
Captain J. P. Williams, the chairman of the commission, is a member of the firm of J. P. Williams and Associates, but the commission is aware of his interests in the firm and of the fact that following his appointment to the commission, Captain Williams arranged with his partners that in future he would take no share in any business which the firm might have with the commission.
Well, now, who believes that? What do they think the general Australian public are - a group of fools or idiots? Here is the chairman of the commission, who is not only a member of this firm, but is actually the principal of it, yet on every occasion when any business comes before the commission in which his firm is directly interested he says, “ Because I am chairman of the commission I will not even discuss it with my partners “. I would take some convincing in respect of that particular matter.
Here is another interesting point. You will notice that the Prime Minister said that Captain Williams, the chairman, was associated with this company. He is actually the principal of it. The reply continued -
The deputy chairman of the commission is Mr. K. W. Edwards, an employee of and holder of a small number of shares in Westralian Farmers Co-operative Limited, Perth, of which Westralian Farmers Transport Limited, London, is a subsidiary. Mr. Edwards’s position is also known to the commission and Westralian Farmers Transport Limited has for many years acted for the commission and its predecessor and for other Commonwealth instrumentalities.
Now, here is the situation: The chairman of the commission is the principal of J. P. Williams and Associates, who act for A. G. Sims Limited, the purchasers of the vessels. Mr. Edwards, the deputy chairman, is associated - as a matter of fact he is general manager - with the firm in Western Australia that acted as brokers in negotiating the deal. Why did not the Prime Minister say that Mr. Edwards was general manager of this organization, Westralian Farmers Co-operative Limited? He said that he was an employee. Whoever described a general manager as being an employee? It is true that in the technical sense a general manager is an employee, but when referring to a general manager you do not call him an employee of the firm. This description creates the impression in the minds of the general public that he is merely an employee in the sense that he is a storeman or a cleaner, but certainly not the general manager who is dealing with the operations of the firm.
As this story develops it is rather interesting to see the firms with which the chairman is now connected. In May, 1958, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) asked a question regarding the business connexions of the chairman of the commission. Evidently those connexions have extended since that time, because J. P. Williams and Associates is not mentioned in the reply to the honorable member’s question. The honorable member received this reply -
The chairman of the commission has managerial and financial interests in United Salvage Proprietary Limited, Cambrian Salvage Proprietary Limited, and Fleetways Transport and Agency Proprietary Limited.
The chairman has interests, according to the answer given to the honorable member for Lalor, in United Stevedoring Proprietary Limited as consultant only and in Fleet Forge Proprietary Limited as managing director. My research into the activities of those firms has not been extensive enough for me to say that all of them have done business with the commission, but at least three of them are admitted to have had dealings with the commission. Everybody knows that as a rule when ships are sold what is termed a survey is carried out. This has not happened in all cases of sale by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. The reply to the honorable member for Lalor continued -
It is not always possible to call tenders for ship repairs, maintenance or survey work because the extent and nature of the work is not known until the ship is opened up and the requirements of Lloyds surveyors are known.
How is it decided who will get the work of ship repair? How is it decided who shall carry out the work of the survey, as is often required? In my opinion it is most improper for the chairman of the commission to have any business connexions outside his government position. If he is- to have any business connexions they certainly should not be in businesses that are directly connected, with the shipping industry or in businesses that have dealings with the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission.
I have been informed that negotiations were recently taking place for the sale of another vessel, but that it has now been withdrawn from sale without any reason being given. I am sure that if the papers in connexion with the negotiations for the sale of this vessel were produced in this Parliament they would make very interesting reading. Do not forget that we were told: that vessels sold were of no further use and were only to be used for scrap. But last Sunday week in the “ Sun-Herald “ a statement appeared pointing out that two of these vessels were to be kept in commission. Two of them were to be scrapped, and. as the honorable member for KingsfordSmith has said, certain essential parts are to be retained from the two vessels that are scrapped and used as replacements in the two vessels that are kept in commission. The two vessels that are to be retained in commission will operate between Japan and Australia, but they will operate with Chinese crews, not Australian crews, working under Australian articles. I am not arguing about . the right of any particular nation to man these ships, but we are seriously concerned at the introduction of cheap labour on the Australian coast, labour that is operating for payment far below that enjoyed by Australian seamen employed on Australian ships. The report to which I have referred stated -
Profits from the sales of scrap cargoes and from the sale of two of the freighters are being transferred to a Hong Kong company called the Hang Fung Shipping Company.
I am given to understand that there are certain Australian interests and investors in this Chinese company registered in Hong Kong. It would be interesting to ascertain the names of the people in Australia who are interested in that company. How does the company come into the picture at all? We were assured that the sale of these vessels was to A. G. Sims Limited and that A. G. Sims Limited was to use the vessels temporarily for the export of scrap and then the vessels themselves were to be scrapped. But now we find the situation has changed. A. G. Sims Limited was evidently acting only as agent for some other company.
We want to know more about this transaction. I think the Government is obliged to give a more satisfactory explanation than we have had up to date. I have had a number of questions on the notice-paper concerning these transactions. I have received replies to some of those questions but others are still unanswered. When the information that I am seeking is. forthcoming it will make very interesting reading. Like the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, I think there is something unsavoury about the whole transaction. I recognize the fact that the time may come when the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission will want more modern ships for the Australian service and that it may be an economical proposition to dispose of some of the ships then in its fleet, but we are not satisfied that this is the whole basis of this transaction. We want to know the facts. We want to know why these ships were sacrificed, because we do not think they had outlived their usefulness. I understand that for purposes of taxation shipping companies are allowed to claim deductions for deficiency extending over twenty years, which is regarded as the useful life of their vessels. We can therefore assume that the average useful life of a vessel is at least twenty years, but some of these vessels that are being sold are only thirteen and fourteen years old. They should have a further six or seven years of useful life. We all know that many vessels have a useful life far in excess of twenty years. I want the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), who is at the table, to see that this matter is properly investigated and that we are given an explanation more satisfactory than the one we have had.
.- Surely it is elementary that if you are to have a shipping commission it must be run by people who know something about shipping. People having the requisite qualities are to be found only in firms connected with shipping.
– I built these ships and I know how much they are worth.
– Irrespective of that, I am talking about the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission itself. Any member of the commission is almost bound to have shipping connexions. He must be a shipping expert. If members of the commission are to have no connexion with outside shipping interests it will be impossible to man such a commission or the commission will consist of quite useless people who know nothing about the trade. The fact that the commissioners, including the chairman, have other interests proves nothing in itself. If they had committed any dishonorable act, if they had obscured at any time their connexions with a firm with which the commission was dealing, and that was not known to other members of the commission or to the Government at the time a transaction was entered into, they would be guilty of some offence, but certainly not otherwise. It is widely accepted in the dealings of all boards of businesses that there should be divulgence of directors’ interests. A business could not be carried on if, in fact, no business were done with anybody with whom any director of the firm had some connexion. The fact is that Mr. Williams and the shipping commission have breathed new life into the Australian coastal shipping business. They have been extremely successful in running their line of ships and the outlook for shipping has been stimulated by their example and enterprise. But for them, and for the people who are well versed in shipping affairs who have been brought in to run the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, our coastal trade would not be in anything like the good shape that it is to-day.
As to the sale of the River class vessels, the fact is that they are obsolete and canbe run only at extremely high cost. They are probably outmoded in design-
– That is not true. They cost £400,000.
– They cost an inordinate amount of money to build and were probably largely obsolete when they were being, constructed. The fact is that they cost a. great deal more to run than do modern ships and, to avoid them being laid-up, it: is sound policy not only to get rid of them but also to build and acquire new modern tonnage. Some of our own shipyards are experiencing something of a depression, and it seems, therefore, a much sounder policy to get rid of the old vessels rather than to hold on to them. If it is at all possible to run them at a profit, this could only be done by Chinese, Japanese or other crews which, in comparison with Australian crews, work to extremely low standards. To retain a large number of obsolete vessels, tied up and unemployed, simply for the sake of not selling them would be a very grave state of affairs.
We must keep our shipbuilding industry going as much as we can. It would have been of interest if, before this debate began, we had had the report of the Tariff Board which is now investigating this industry. If we are to increase any subsidy or protection for our shipbuilding industry, I would hope that we would do so on the basis that our consideration of the matter would be divorced from the question of shipping generally because ultimately that industry will have a sound future. The shipping industry should not be loaded with high costs. If we are to subsidize the ship-building industry for a national purpose - a purpose of which all honorable members approve - we -should make the distinction clear that, on the one hand, we will subsidize the industry but, on the other hand, we will not load the shipping industry with high cost tonnage. This is in line with the Government’s policy of selling ships that otherwise would be tied up. It . is possible at the moment to obtain only low prices for ships because there is a slump in world shipping. In other parts of the world hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping are tied up, lying idle and going rusty. Therefore, whatever the details of this transaction might be, in broad outline it is certainly very sound business practice to obtain £220,000 for the sale of ships that would otherwise be tied up, thereby making available the potential for the construction of new vessels.
As honorable members will observe, the estimates for civil aviation show a quite considerable increase, including an increase of £500,000 for the maintenance and operation of civil aviation facilities which now cost £6,000,000 a year. From this very heavy cost, our charges for air navigation facilities amount to only £605,000, or about 10 per cent, of the total. The question arises as to whether the air operators themselves bear a sufficiently high proportion of these charges. The Australian Transport Advisory Council has worked out that in 1953-54 only 83 per cent, of the cost of air fares was borne by the user and 17 per cent, by the community at large, or, in other words, the taxpayer. In 1953-54 a 20 per cent, increase in fares would have been necessary to cover the difference, assuming that air traffic did not fall off. Because of the current legislation which fixes the charges that may be levied for air navigation until about 1967, it is not easy to raise them. The charges were revised in 1957 and increased slightly, but it is still true to say that the taxpayer is bearing the very heavy burden of subsidizing the cost of ordinary airline fares.
The question arises also whether, if air fares were increased, there would be a serious falling-off in traffic. It is hard to believe, Mr. Chairman, that much of the first-class traffic which now travels so very cheaply between our capital cities, that is, cheaply in relation to the cost of providing that service, would fall off to a serious extent if charges were increased. There is a very strong case for ensuring that adequate facilities are available in the country for promoting our development and there is, therefore, a very strong case for increasing the air charges for travel between capital cities, so that some of the cost of these facilities will be shifted from the taxpayer to the users of the facilities, they, by and large, being people who are reasonably able to pay the additional charges. However unpopular an increase would be, surely it should be accepted by most business firms and other organizations, whose employees make up such a large proportion of the travellers, that the increased cost is reasonable and will put our airlines on a sounder business footing.
Qantas also comes into the picture when one deals with the estimates for civil aviation. It is noteworthy that the estimated dividend of Qantas for this financial year is £400,000, on a capital of nearly £10,000,000 and shareholders funds of £13,800,000. This position standing alone would be reasonable. But it is noteworthy also that the gross operating profit for 1958 was £430,000- incidentally, a fall of £90,000 on the gross operating profit for 1957 - on assets of £45,700,000, so the cost to be borne by the taxpayer remains quite reasonable. But there is an apparent tendency for the assets of Qantas to increase and the gross operating profit to decline.
My colleague, the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) has stated that a crosswind runway at Mascot will cost about £8,000,000 and, further, that the Boeing 707 aircraft would make only about six landings a year on the proposed runway. In other words, if the honorable member’s figures are correct - I am sure that they are because he investigates the facts carefully before he makes a statement - we could be spending £8,000,000 for only six cross-wind landings a year by the Boeing 707’s. This matter must bring forcefully to the attention of all honorable members how easy it is to spend vast sums of money on international airways at the behest of enthusiasts and at the expense of other more important matters that have a call upon the public purse.
A less fortunate feature about Qantas that I should like to mention is that there are still some inefficiencies and inequities in its operations. I have a very trustworthy friend whom I have known for a long time. On 29th April he booked a first-class passage on a Qantas flight to leave Honolulu on 1st September to return to Australia. In other words, he booked four months in advance. When he got to Honolulu he was informed, just before departure, that he could not travel first class but would have to travel tourist. He protested because he had made his booking a long time previously. He was then informed that San Francisco passengers had priority, irrespective of the time at which they booked. When he got into the plane he had the annoying experience of seeing two close friends of his, who also had boarded it at Honolulu but who had booked long after he had, travelling first class while he and his wife were pushed into the tourist section. Among others for whom he had to make way were Mr. Johnnie Ray and party.
In the course of its ordinary operations, Qantas carries many V.I.P.’s, but I hope that it will be regarded as a sound operating principle by Qantas in these matters that V.I.P.’s should not be given preference over ordinary fare-paying citizens who have no strings to pull.
I join with my colleague the honorable member for Phillip in hoping that the matter of the tourist hotel in Sydney will be clarified. Whatever views one may have on government activities, there are few who would welcome a proposal that the Government should use the taxpayer’s money as capital to go into the hotel business. I hope that this matter will be clarified, because our tourist traffic is growing. I trust that before long this issue will be placed beyond doubt, that some group of private enterprise people will be induced to provide an adequate hotel in Sydney and that the Government will not be obliged to move into the hotel business.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is surprising that the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) did not refer to these aspects of the economics of air transport both between Australia and other countries and between the Australian States, on the two occasions in 1956, three in 1957 and four in 1958, when bills have come before Parliament to guarantee and subsidize the operations and equipment of Australian National Airways as against Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas. I agree with the honorable member that a great deal of economic information is made available to this Parliament in the annual reports of the instrumentalities which the Government owns, and also in the various reports which come out at different intervals from the Department of Shipping and Transport. lt is regrettable, in my view, that the Minister for Shipping and Transport in another place, Senator Paltridge, as far as I know, and certainly the Ministers representing him in this place, never refer to these annual reports or to the departmental reports when matters concerning airlines are brought before the Parliament.
The honorable member for Wentworth referred, very aptly I thought, to the Tariff Board’s pending report on the shipbuilding industry. This report well illustrates the Government’s delay in what is an increasingly important matter in the economy of this country. The question of further assistance for the shipbuilding industry was referred to the Tariff Board in December, 1957. The board held its inquiry in December, 1958 and reported to the Minister on 30th June last. But Parliament has not yet been given the report. I suppose we should not complain too much because the last time the Tariff Board reported on assistance to the shipbuilding industry was on 16th June, 1955 and the Minister did not table the report until 12th April, 1956. Therefore, Sir, we may expect that the latest report will be tabled in Parliament towards the end of the present financial year and that still another year will be lost in maintaining the shipbuilding industry which is vital in respect to the defence and commerce of our country.
Nobody would dispute that transport is as important as any other activity in this country, both economically and developmentally. To prove the first point I will refer to the department’s report entitled “ Transport Costs in Australia “ which was published last March. It is a revision of the report which the Department of Shipping and Transport prepared in January, 1955 and published in July, 1955 at the behest of the Australian Transport Advisory Council which comprises representatives of each State government as well as of the Commonwealth Government. I believe that the figures in the two reports show that our transport costs in Australia are already immense and are becoming more so. The earlier report dealt with the position in 1953-54. At that time the total real operating transport costs in Australia were £1,056,000,000 which represented 23.2 per cent, of the gross national product. The later report dealt with the year 1956-57 and showed that the total real operating cost had risen to £1,454,000,000. That was a rise of £400,000,000 in three years, and the new total represented 25.4 per cent, of the gross national product. That was an increase of 2.2 per cent, of the gross national product. This seems to be as important an economic problem as we have to face in Australia and it is getting more out of hand.
I shall now deal very briefly with some of the aspects of transport with which the Parliament should concern itself. When this Government came into office the States were still able, it was believed, to finance the construction of roads. The State road taxes had been challenged by interstate hauliers ever since 1930 and on every occasion unsuccessfully. Five years or more ago, however, the challenge was at last successful and it was then found that the States could not impose road taxes on interstate hauliers although they could continue to impose taxes on intra-state hauliers. This created some gross anomalies. As we know, hauliers in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia proceeded between different points in the same State by way of the nearest border in order to avoid State taxes.
One would think that the Commonwealth would have then realized its responsibilities. For 30 years the Commonwealth had spent money on roads from the petrol tax. This being an excise tax is an exclusive and unchallenged Commonwealth tax. Yet this year the Commonwealth Government brought down a Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill which still left an acknowledged gap in the requisite finance for the following ten years. In the departmental report of March last it was stated -
It was assessed, in consultation with State Road Authorities in September, 1956, that the finance required for decade ended 1965-66 for a reasonable and practicable roads programme would be £1,643,000,000. … At 30th June, 1958, it was estimated the shortage of funds to meet the above roads programme had been reduced to £260,000,000.
As a result of the legislation introduced last April there is still, in that decade, a deficit of £200,000,000 in the foreseeable sources of funds, State and Commonwealth, for that reasonable and practicable roads programme. The Government knew that even if the States raised their taxation, with all its anomalies, to earn the Commonwealth matching grants, there would still be a 12 per cent, deficit in the requisite funds for roads in the decade. The Commonwealth should face up to that deficit and should take steps to close it.
The amount of petrol tax which is not spent on roads would close that gap. Further, the Commonwealth has a responsibility, under the Constitution, in respect of trade and commerce between the States. I believe that the Commonwealth should seize that responsibility and make grants of petrol tax - not necessarily all the petrol tax but large amounts of it - to the States on condition that they make proper roads between the State capitals or between the points of commerce in the different States. It is utterly indefensible that on more than one occasion in the last few. years the busiest highway in the southern hemisphere, the Hume Highway, has been untrafficable in not unusual weather conditions. If the Commonwealth realized its responsibility, that would not happen because the Commonwealth could make petrol tax grants to the States conditional on the route that the roads take and the standard of the roads. In fact, the Commonwealth could probably build such roads itself, under its interstate road power.
I pass briefly to the question of air transport. This is the only field in which the Commonwealth shows any very great interest. As the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) has shown, it ls a well-pampered form of transport. The equipment, airborne and airport, is firstrate. The Commonwealth has been very solicitous in that regard because there is a private operator in the field”, a chosen operator whom we pamper by giving him a share of the mail contracts, by guaranteeing loans to him for the purchase of equipment, and by giving him a subsidy on operations. Less desired operators such as Butler are kept out of the field by being denied import licences and airport facilities. The Government’s attitude towards any private operator other than Australian National Airways - now Ansett-A.N.A. - has been restrictive in the extreme. The Government has not acted frankly but surreptitiously.
I now refer to rail transport. It is true that the Commonwealth cannot construct a railway in a State without the consent of that State, but it can make grants to the States for the construction of railways on terms which the Commonwealth lays down. Since 1949 there has been an agreement with the South Australian Government under which the Commonwealth can standardize certain railway lines in that State. With a complete lack of responsibility, the Commonwealth has now widened to broad gauge the whole of the south-eastern railway division in South Australia and is still dickering about what it will do about the line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, a line which carries more than twenty times the traffic of the section in the south-east.
At the same time as the Commonwealth has subsidized South Australia to the extent of 70 per cent, of cost to make its country lines broad gauge, and is subsidizing Victoria to standardize the gauge between Albury and Melbourne, it has resolutely refused for the last four years to make any contribution to the standardizing of the railway between Mount Isa and Townsville. We saw the fiasco of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) beseeching the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to help him out with entirely internal Australian troubles.
I have said that transport is an essential economic matter in Australia. It is also an essential developmental matter. It is absolutely disgraceful that the Commonwealth should refuse to spend any money on transport in the tropics. It is quite obvious that the railway between Mount Isa and Townsville is required, not only to promote our exports of the valuable minerals at Mount Isa, but for the settlement of the whole of the tropical area through which it goes - for the pastoral and agricultural industries in that area. Furthermore, it is quite plain, as everybody has acknowledged for years past, that the railway from Dajarra should be linked with the railway from Darwin. The Commonwealth could build the railway to the border. I do not believe that the Queensland Government would venture to reject an offer by the Commonwealth to make a grant to Queensland to build the railway from Dajarra or Mount Isa to the border and then to standardize the railway from Mount Isa to Townsville. That should be a national work. It is a work which we could finance in Australia just as easily as the broadening of the gauge of the south-eastern division of the South Australian railways, or the standardizing of the railway between Albury and Melbourne have been financed. I have referred purely to the standardization of gauges. Of course, standardization of equipment is equally essential. As the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has stated year in and year out and as the Government and Opposition committees reported to Parliament in October, 1956, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to standardize not only the gauges but also the equipment of Australian railways.
I have little time to deal with sea transport costs round our coasts and with other countries. Australia, one of the ten largest trading nations in the world, can build and operate ships to deliver our products and fetch our orders overseas just as successfully as she has built and operated the ships of the Australian National Line around the largest navigable coastline in the world. I have already referred to the two Tariff Board reports on the shipbuilding industry. Let me also recall the Basten report on port equipment, which has been pigeonholed ever since January, 1952, when it was presented; and the Tait committee’s report of March, 1957, tabled in May, 1957, dealing with our stevedoring and overseas transport costs which, again, the Government has done nothing to correct. I conclude by referring to the Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil, which the Government has taken no effective steps to implement in Australian waters since it signed the agreement five years ago.
.- I wish to draw the attention of the committee to an aspect of civil aviation - the rural development aspect. Rather strangely, to say the least, I find myself agreeing with the last speaker, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). There is very little need for me to stress to honorable members of this chamber the importance of aviation. Most of us, at some stage or other, take advantage of air travel, mainly because we all appreciate its advantages. As members of this chamber, we are concerned with the matter of speed. On journeying to my electorate or to Canberra, I find that it takes me three or four times as long to travel by State transport as it does to fly between Melbourne and Canberra, which is about twice the distance. Years ago, the privileged people in the transport field were those who drove a motor car, or even rode in one. To-day, the motor car is an essential, and the privileged are those who use the airways. That is an indication of the trend of our modern age.
I think it was the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) who said yesterday that it takes longer to travel from the city terminal to the airport than it does to make the flight and that it takes a corresponding length of time to travel from the airport to the terminal at the end of the flight. To me, that proves that ground transport is becoming slower, and it establishes the importance of air travel to-day. We live in a fast-moving age, and we must keep pace with it. I do not suppose anybody would suggest that we should consider reducing the number of air services. If we were to reduce the number of services between, say, Sydney and Melbourne, or Melbourne and Adelaide, the consequences would be chaotic for the public. The effects of a reduction of air services would be even more marked, of course, in the outback areas, particularly in Western Australia and Queensland, where alternative methods of transport are not so readily available, and where air services are perhaps of even more importance. We can imagine what would happen in those areas if the local air services were abandoned.
This brings me, Mr. Chairman, to the point that, although Victoria is looked upon as a small State, in point of size, the population is large and the passenger miles travelled on the various forms of transport are probably comparable in total with those of the States which are much larger in area. In the north-west of Victoria - the area which is of most immediate concern to me - there are five registered aerodromes. They are at Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang, Warracknabeal and Nhill. There is a regular daily service to only one of these aerodromes. Another has an occasional service; I think it may be once or twice a week. The remaining three have no scheduled services, although, at one time, each had a regular service. Most of these aerodromes were established and developed by local people with local money. What is known as the Wimmera-Mallee aerodrome, at Warracknabeal, was established at a cost of many thousands of pounds after the local people had been assured of a service if they put down a strip. When the strip had been prepared, it was licensed and a service commenced. But after about a fortnight or three weeks, the operating company, unfortunately, found that it could not get the financial help that it needed, and it had to withdraw the service that it had promised to provide.
I believe that finance could have been made available by the Department of Civil Aviation. The company concerned has now gone into liquidation, and only one company continues to operate intra-state services in Victoria. In other words, there is now a monopoly in those services. Naturally, the company with the monopoly will pick the eyes out of the opportunities offering on various routes, and it will not pioneer any new services. Therefore, we must give a lead by providing financial assistance for the establishment of new air services in outback areas, and I urge the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to consider the idea carefully and favorably.
When it comes to service to the public, cost is only a secondary consideration. We preach decentralization, Mr. Chairman, but do we practise it? I believe that, in this field, there is an opportunity for members of the Parliament, the Government and the Department of Civil Aviation to show their appreciation of the need for decentralization. We cannot expect to develop this country if we are not prepared to gamble or take a risk in developing the outback areas. Let us not run away with the idea that, just because Victoria is a small State, it is completely developed. There are many thousands of acres of virgin country that could be developed if the people were only encouraged to go ahead with various projects. I believe that we must consider subsidizing air services in outback areas on a Federal basis as well as on a State basis.
Honorable members will appreciate that air travel is as yet only in its infancy. We cannot see what lies ten or twenty years ahead, but I visualise that the transport methods that we regard as modern to-day will become antiquated in the future. I visualize the day when all our outback centres will have regular air services. But financial assistance of the kind that I have suggested will be needed in order to bring this about, Mr. Chairman. Therefore again I urge the Minister for Civil Aviation to consider the matter fully and favorably.
.- Mr. Chairman, along with other Opposition members who have already protested, I wish to protest against the Government’s action in allowing the Australian National Line to dispose of four River class ships to overseas interests. First, I believe that there was no need for the Commonwealth to dispose of these vessels. They could quite easily have been retained and used to advantage in overseas trade. At the present time, Australia is held to ransom by the overseas interests which have a monopoly of shipping between this country and other parts of the world. For many years, we have been unable to get away from the disadvantages of this monopoly because the present Government has been reluctant to face the threat presented by the monopoly shiping interests. Notwithstanding the fact that we are held to ransom, the Government has allowed Commonwealth ships to be sold to overseas interests although, in my opinion, if it had been courageous enough, it could have found another way out by allowing these ships, as I have said, to engage in overseas trade.
The price at which the Government allowed these vessels to be sold was a highly unsatisfactory feature of the transaction, although not the only bad feature. The whole transaction was completely unsatisfactory. I remember that when the announcement was made that the ships had been sold, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) stated that one of the terms of the disposal was that the price which the Government accepted for the ships was not to be announced. This created a precedent, and opposition was so great that eventually the Minister announced that the ships had been sold for £55,000 each.
The ships that were disposed of were “River Mitta”, “River Murray”, “River Hunter” and “River Norman”. “River Mitta” and “River Murray” were both due for survey, but the other two ships had fourteen months to run before they were due for another survey. Survey, of course, constitutes a considerable item of cost, and the situation in respect of “ River Mitta “ and “ River Murray “ was different from that of the other two ships. Incidentally, I remind the committee that “ River Norman “ was the last of the River class vessels to be built.
I can inform the committee also that certain Australian companies were interested in the disposal of these vessels and, for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained, .they were unable to secure them. I have been given some information with regard to previous sales of these River class vessels, and it appears that Scott Fell Shipping Proprietary Limited, which is engaged in the Australian coastal trade, some time ago bought “ River Derwent “ for £375,000. This company was interested in the sale of the four vessels that I have mentioned. I have been further informed that, before these four vessels were disposed of, this same company offered the Government £150,000 for “River Burnett”, which was of the same class as the four vessels that were disposed of overseas, for scrap, at £55,000 each.
I am aware of all the answers that have been given from time to time by the Minister with regard to this matter, but I have never been satisfied with his answers, particularly in view of the sale of “ River Derwent “ for £375,000, an amount greatly in excess of the total amount received - £220,000 - for the four vessels in question.
The maritime unions are vigorously opposed to the disposal of these ships, because it means less Australian coastal work for their members. The trend that has developed, resulting in a loss of Australian shipping and the shrinkage of coastal work, makes the attitude of the unions understandable. Let me impress upon the Government again, if it is possible to do so, the fact that Australia is a mercantile nation. We depend upon the sea to a far greater extent than most other nations. However, unlike other nations which depend on the sea, we have never acted in our own best interests in these maritime matters. It was a Labour government, led by Mr.
Chifley, that first introduced the subsidy on shipbuilding. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) has already pointed out the delay that has occurred in connexion with the inquiry into shipbuilding, and I repeat that undue delay has been caused by the action of the Government in holding up the report of this inquiry.
Let me tell the Minister that the shipbuilding industry in the Port of Sydney and, I think, in most Queensland ports, is in a parlous condition. In fact, unemployment in these ports is far more widespread than it has been for the past nineteen years. The Government offers no comfort when it announces that it has placed further shipbuilding orders at Whyalla, when the other Australian ports are allowed to go to seed. If you examine the position in shipbuilding ports in Queensland and New South Wales - with the possible exception of Newcastle, and that port has a limited output, I believe - you will find more unemployment in those ports than has prevailed at any time during the last nineteen years. This is something that calls for immediate action. I do appeal to the Government not to allow an industry which means so much to this nation to go to seed. I hope the Government will take vigorous and early action to bring about a rejuvenation of the shipbuilding industry of this country.
– I rise for a few minutes in this debate only because honorable members .of the Opposition have tried to cast doubts on the administration of the Department of Shipping and Transport in connexion with the sale of four River class vessels, and have made suggestions attacking the integrity of two members of the Australian Coastal Shaping Commission, which suggestions are entirely without foundation. .1 propose to restrict myself to a statement of the facts of the matter.
These River class ships were built during, or soon after, the war, and are becoming uneconomical - ‘some of them have already become uneconomical - in the coastal trade in which they have been employed under the control -of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. They have .been replaced by more modern ships which can be :run ‘economically in -.the trades in which they are engaged. Would the Opposition have these vessels retained indefinitely, even though they can only be run by the commission uneconomically? There was clearly a case for their disposal.
It has been suggested that these ships were sold secretly. That is quite untrue. They were offered on the Baltic Exchange in London. This is the usual and regular method of disposing of ships. It has been a well-established practice followed for many years by shipowners in all parts of the world. It is the best known way of selling a ship. When on offer in the Baltic Exchange they were also advertised in Australia, where the fact that they were being sold was known. The price accepted for them was the highest price offered.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), in particular, has raised the question of the shipping interests of two members of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. As my friend, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), has pointed out, if you want competent people to run a shipping line you must get people with shipping experience; and active people with shipping experience are usually people with shipping interests. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in a considered answer to a question asked verbally by the honorable member for East Sydney in this House on 1st September, concluded with these words -
I have looked into this transaction-
That is, the sale of the four River class ships - and I am satisfied that no member of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission has lodged a claim for brokerage on the sale of these vessels, and that no member of the commission has had a financial interest in the transaction.
I think the honorable member for East Sydney said, in the course of his remarks, “ Who would believe that? “ Well, I think the answer is that most people would believe it, because it is the truth.
It has been suggested by honorable members of the Opposition this afternoon that two of the ships will ‘be retained in commission and operated by a Hong Kong firm with Chinese .crews. I>do not know whether that is so or not, but they would not be permitted to engage >in our coastal trade in those circumstances, and there would be nothing disadvantageous to Australian shipping if they did operate in other parts of the world.
Finally, I can tell the committee that the Auditor-General has certified that the acquisition and disposal of assets by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission has been in accordance with the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act.
.- I should like to speak, first, of the privilege I had last week of sailing on “ Princess of Tasmania “ on her maiden voyage to Devonport from Melbourne. This trip, in the glamour, all-Australian vessel, built in Newcastle, is one of the highlights of my sea experiences. The ship, is, in my opinion, all that it was cracked up to be in the publicity which preceded its maiden voyage. The actual performance of the ship on that voyage showed that the publicity about its capabilities and general excellence was truthful.
The maiden voyage of “Princess of Tasmania “ was on last Wednesday and Thursday, 23rd and 24th September. As the vessel glided into the £500,000 ferry terminal at east Devonport, in my electorate, on that Thursday morning at 10.30, the first page was written in a new history of Australian sea transport and tourism. This has been emphasized by more important people than I, who are important in the shipping world and who know ships and appreciate the value of this vessel to the future of Australia and of Tasmania.
The welcome given to the ship with its 130 passengers - it can take 334 passengers - by Devonport and district, was in keeping with the arrival of a true princess. Three thousand school children lined the hanks of the Mersey River which separates east Devonport from west Devonport, and they gave the vessel a tremendous welcome, waving flags and uttering yells that could be heard right over the river. Although it was a weekday 4,000 people were gathered to welcome the ship. I would say that the children’s welcome to “ Princess of Tasmania “ was the highlight of the arrival of the vessel after her 250 miles trip. Indeed, I should like to pay a special tribute in this Parliament to the children of all the Devonport schools, and to their teachers, for the way in which they we.comed this graceful vessel, about which they had been hearing for more than three years - long before the keel was laid on 17th November, 1957, at the State Dockyard in Newcastle. This ship fired their imaginations in advance, as it has since fired the imagination of all people throughout the Commonwealth. I must commend all the people responsible for the publicity given to “ Princess of Tasmania “. It is probably the greatest publicity that any Australian-made vessel has ever received, and rightly so.
The welcome at Devonport, with Iceland poppies in extravagant array, a large sign reading “ Devonport Welcomes You “, and with flags waving and the Devonport municipal band playing appropriate music, was climaxed by three cheers for the new ship. I should like the Parliament to know that Tasmania deeply appreciates what has been done in giving it this vessel, which is the first of its kind in Australian waters, built for Australians by Australians. Tasmania’s appreciation was shown at Devonport by the welcome given to the ship by all the people there, from the warden of the municipality, the warden of the Marine Board, right down to the members of the council and the members of the public.
On the way down Port Phillip Bay we were joined by the escort vessel H.M.A.S. “ Quiberon “, which is a former destroyer converted to a minesweeper, but which still has its destroyer lines and its destroyer engines. This vessel escorted “ Princess of Tasmania “ right across to Burnie, where “ Princess of Tasmania “ made a courtesy call, and then on to Devonport down the coast. The trip took 14i hours, and I believe that when the schedule is in operation the travelling time will be 14 hours from Williamstown or Port Melbourne to Devonport. The ship will do three trips a week in the off-season and four trips a week in the top tourist season of December and January. We regard this as a colossal performance.
Now I should like to tell honorable members something of the ship itself. The excellence of its workmanship and its smoothness under way, have to be experienced to be completely appreciated. It is fitted with diesel engines delivering 8,500 horse-power. In its elegance of line, its dignified appearance and its beautiful appointments, it could be likened to a miniature ocean liner. The panelling of the ship is in cream formica throughout, so it will never have to be repainted inside or have any other attention. In every way the ship is a credit to the designers at Newcastle and to the men who built her. I feel very proud indeed of the men at the State Dockyard at Newcastle who built this ship in thirteen months - which is a fantastic performance - three months before the scheduled date of completion.
– Don’t forget to mention the boilermakers.
– Of course, as my friend from Kingsford-Smith reminds me, the boilermakers played a very important part in the construction of the ship. The stabilizers fitted to this vessel will ensure its passengers a smooth passage in the roughest of weather. We did not have a test of those on the maiden voyage although, going through the Rip, she rolled slightly for about ten minutes. However, nobody on the ship was sick. Mrs. Reece, the wife of the Tasmanian Premier, was having her very first trip in a ship, and I think it is a tribute to the vessel’s smooth sailing capabilities that Mrs. Reece came through without sickness.
The ship has a great economic advantage in that her total complement is 67 compared with the complement of 80 on “ Taroona “, which has been operating on the run since 1935. This will mean a saving of £20,000 a year in wages for the crew. Every member of the crew has a separate cabin. This is the only ship of its kind in the world which has such an amenity for the crew.
I have one regret about the welcome at Devonport, however. I refer to the omission in the welcoming speeches of any mention of the late Senator George McLeay or the Honorable Alf White, M.H.A., who is now Tasmania’s AgentGeneral in London. I deeply regret, as does my colleague the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), who was also on the ship on its maiden voyage, that mention was omitted of the work of these two men who, more than any other, were responsible for the original planning and decisions, that finally brought this great vessel into service. I deplore the way in which the top men of this country forget their colleagues so easily after they pass on.
As a matter of fact, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has often said that members of Parliament may be cocksparrows today, but feather-dusters tomorrow. How true that is! But it should not be true. We should honour the men who play the biggest part, or the original part, in any Commonwealth undertaking. Mr. White, who was Tasmania’s Chief Secretary at the time when the building of the ship was first contemplated, went overseas and examined all the overseas ferries. He came back with the designs from which this ship was planned. His work was not even mentioned at the welcome. Neither was that of the late George McLeay. The fact that there was a suggestion from Tasmania some time ago that this vessel be named the “ George McLeay “ shows what the people of Tasmania think of the part that the late senator played in the original planning. Yet, I repeat, his name was not even mentioned at the welcome. Why should men on whose shoulders the full responsibility did not rest take credit for these things? We often complete projects that were started by other people, and we should honour them in the right way.
The fares charged on this ferry are still too high. I understand that the fare one way for a single-berth cabin is £6 8s. The fare one way by air is only £7 4s. The trip by sea takes fourteen hours and the trip by air takes only one hour ten minutes. The ferry does not have fares low enough to offer by way of cabin accommodation to be able to attract many travellers away from the airlines. No special provision is made for racing cars on this ferry. At Longford in Tasmania we have a motor racing association which this year conducted the Australian Grand Prix. In two days more than 40,000 people saw those races. That is a greater number of people than hasever attended any other function in Tasmania. People came from every State of the Commonwealth. It will cost £66 return on this ferry for a racing car on itstrailer. I have taken this matter up with the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) to see whether a special rate can be fixed for racing cars, which obviously were not thought of originally when the charges were under consideration. Racing cars do not drive on to the ferry under their own power. They travel om specially built low-slung trailers which are towed by another car. If a special, attractive rate could be fixed for racing cars it would mean a lot to Tasmania. If a special rate is not fixed it will be the end of this racing event that has captured the imagination of the people in. Tasmania and on the mainland. I understand that it is hoped to stage the Australian Grand Prix every fourth year in Tasmania. “ Princess of Tasmania “ will need to concentrate on cargoes during the winter months when the tourist trade is slackening off. At the moment the vessel is concentrating on tourists but if it is to pay throughout the whole year it will have to plan to handle cargoes during the winter months. I hope that the success of “ Princess of Tasmania “’ over the next two or three years will encourage this Government to build a sister ship to be operated between Melbourne and Launceston. “ Princess of Tasmania “ will not come to Launceston. Her terminal is Devonport. My colleague, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), is very interested in this matter as any terminal for the MelbourneLaunceston ferry would be at Bell Bay in his electorate. A second ferry must be built to operate on the Melbourne to Launceston run, the Sydney to Hobart run or, on both runs. I hope that the Government will decide to build a new ferry in the near future in view of the success of “ Princess of Tasmania “. We must not be satisfied with having just one ferry in operation. The State Dockyard at Newcastle has proved that it can build a ship of world class in thirteen months. I know that “ Princess of Tasmania “ has cost about £2,500,000, but that money will be recovered’ in profits over the next ten, twelve or more years..
I want to say something about overseas shipping freights. Any day now there will be an increase in overseas shipping freights of 5 per cent, or more. That will be about the fifth increase since this Government came to office. The Australian exporters are getting sick and tired of these regular increases in shipping freights. The companies operating as the conference line have a monopoly of shipping from Australia to overseas ports and they can say what the freights are to be. There is no competition in freight charges at all at present. Those companies have a monopoly and- it is bad for Australian producers when, shipping lines can get together and fix freight rates irrespective of what the Government or the producers think. We must build ships ourselves to compete in the overseas trade.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman -
Mr. T. F. Timson.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Proposed vote, £310,000.
Proposed vote, £5,881,000.
Proposed vote, £4,191,000.
Proposed vote, £32,000.
Proposed vote, £13,142,000.
Proposed vote, £36,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I rise to speak about the Territories, other than the Australian Capital Territory, that come under my administration. The first’ point that I should like to mention is that in addition to the proposed votes that have been read to the committee by the Temporary Chairman, additional provision has been made for expenditure in the Territories under the works programme so that honorable members, when referring to the total amount provided for expenditure in the Territories, should be conscious of the fact that provision has been made for expenditure of £4,500,000 for works in the Northern Territory, and also for expenditure on works and services in other Territories. In addition, there are two Territories under my administration - the two phosphate islands of Nauru and Christmas Island - which are not a charge on the Commonwealth Budget. Expenditure on those islands is financed partly by the raising of local revenues and partly by the making of a grant, in one case by the British Phosphate Commission and, in the other case, by the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission.
The activities covered by the proposed votes now before the committee are so wide that I think that I would be entrenching unduly on the time of the committee if I were to attempt to make a general survey. I propose, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to concentrate as briefly as I can solely on certain aspects of the administration of Papua and New Guinea, particularly those aspects that have been the subject of political controversy in the Territory itself.
At the outset, however, I would emphasize - this is a point that requires emphasis - that the trust we have for Papua and New Guinea is not a trust that has been confided to any single . political party - nor to any section of the Australian people - but is a trust that belongs to the Australian nation. In this spirit I believe that there can be a common meeting ground between Government and Opposition in trying to work out those policies which will ensure that the trust is faithfully discharged while, at the same time, the enduring interests of Australia are well served.
It would not be exact to say that there is no difference between the present Government and the Opposition in the administration of Papua and New Guinea. There are, indeed, differences in emphasis and differences in method. At the same time, I believe that there can be continuity in administration so long as there is constancy in our purposes and our principles, and that those purposes and principles are shared by both sides of politics in Australia.
It has been one of the pleasures of my own term of office that it has been possible at various times to discuss in general and particular, many questions relating to New Guinea with members of the Opposition, and to benefit from their comments.
Similarly, on the Government side of the chamber there are honorable members who, by reason of past association, or as the result of their visits to the Territory, have taken a special interest in its problems and from time to time have discussed these problems with me. I would hope that this free interchange of views can continue, no matter which party may be in power, and that we may look at the problems of this Territory in the light of the trust we share and not in the darkness of political dispute.
It is true that a government cannot escape its responsibilities, nor can an opposition surrender its functions, but this is one of the subjects on which it is possible that both sides of politics would aspire to a national, humane, and Christian view and, in doing so, arrive at what is broadly the same answer to the problems of this Territory. May I express the hope that we will continue, as members of different parties, to apply to any question that arises in Papua and New Guinea the test of what will best serve that country and its people, and not the test of what can be turned to advantage in our party struggles on the mainland?
Because Territory affairs have not hitherto entered very largely into the hurlyburly of Australian politics, the post of Minister for Territories is perhaps a more lonely portfolio than any other in the whole range of government and there is a tendency over long months, which may be free of exceptional incident, for the job to go on unnoticed and without either the spur or the rein of attentive and disinterested criticism. Unfortunately, too, a great deal of the comment on Territory affairs that comes from outside parliamentary circles, is either ill-informed or prompted by self-interest. Having made that comment, however, I should hasten to make an acknowledgment of the great body of friendly, helpful and well-informed discussion that has come to me over the years from persons closely associated in one way or another with the life of the Territory.
Recently, two supporters of the Government expressed themselves in this chamber in a critical way about the present administration of the Territory. All that I would care to say about the pronouncements of the honorable member for Bowman (Mr.
McColm) is that he should recognize that any one in public office may become unpopular for a wide variety of reasons. The fact of unpopularity in itself is not a final commentary on whether the administration has been good or bad.
The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) presented a more carefully prepared argument raising the general question of private European enterprise in the Territory and the principles of the Liberal Party relating to private enterprise. This deserves attention because it touches some fundamental issues. Coming from a member of my own party, it is also a direct challenge to me as a Minister and member of the Liberal Party. Furthermore, it is of particular interest to the Opposition, because the differences between liberalism and socialism may cause a contrast in the methods by which the present Government and the present Opposition would seek to serve and reach the same objective.
I differ profoundly from what the honorable member for Mitchell said about liberalism. In my own view, the method of liberalism in the field of commerce and industry is to leave the way open for the individual to exercise his energy and initiative and to take responsibility for his own judgments, but, in my view, liberalism certainly does not mean that any one can be as greedy as he likes. Liberalism, in my view, when it emphasizes the importance of the individual, does not mean unbridled opportunity for the strong to do whatever they wish to do; it means expanding opportunity for every person, weak or strong. This means limiting the power of the state - and this is what socialism does not do - and it also means making the ambitions of the powerful subject to the interests of the whole community and the preservation of the rights of the humblest member of it. The liberal respect for property, which again is one of the ways in which liberalism differs from socialism, is a respect for a small property no less than a respect for a large property and this respect means the constant protection of the small man and not merely an encouragement to the strong. That is my view of liberalism and, applying liberal principles to Papua and New Guinea, I assert that the private enterprise of every native villager is just as sacred to liberalism as is the private enterprise of any European who may have established a business there; no more and no less.
Having said that, I should like to digress a little to correct the honorable member for Mitchell in his assumption that during my term as Minister private enterprise has been in the discard in the Territory. I will give three or four instances of changes that have happened in the Territory during my time. They did not simply happen during my time, but because, as Minister, I gave positive directions that those changes should be made. One instance is in civil aviation. As the result of my directions, as Minister, the small private operator again became an important factor in air transport within the Territory. Any limits in this field to-day have not been set by policy, but by economic factors directly related to the operation of civil air transport.
A second instance can be found in the field of Territory shipping. When I became Minister, practically the whole of the coastal shipping of the Territory was owned by the Government and operated under arrangements made by the Government. To-day it is wholly owned and operated by private enterprise and I believe is providing a far better service to the Territory than it previously did.
As a third instance, when I became Minister there was not a single private trading bank in the whole Territory and, to describe previous policy in the mildest terms, the private banks had been discouraged from entering the Territory. To-day, several of the major trading banks, as well as the Commonwealth Trading Bank, are operating in the Territory and I am glad to say are following enlightened and progressive policies and playing a significant part in the development of the Territory, including the enterprises of the indigenous people no less than those of the Europeans.
A fourth instance will be found in the reforms in lands administration, as the result of which the traditional policy of respecting native ownership has been maintained, but the method of application for and allotment of land has been regularized on the pattern of Australian lands administration, so that the newcomer and the stranger, no less than the person who “ knows his way around “, have an equal possibility of obtaining a grant of land. It is thanks to these changes that many of those persons whom the honorable member for Mitchell champions could enter in business at all.
To take a final instance, I point out that the credit scheme for ex-servicemen settlers and the beginnings of financial assistance for native enterprises arose out of my personal and persistent advocacy and recommendations.
I could also point to a number of statistics which will show that during my term as Minister the trade and production of the Territory have in fact flourished. Can the thesis be sustained that enterprise is in the discard when export trade has trebled itself in ten years; when cocoa production has increased by nearly 2,000 per cent., and copra, coffee and rubber industries are flourishing? Is the honorable member aware of the measures taken in respect of marketing Territory products?
But, having said this - and there is an element of self-justification in what I have said - I want to make plain two things. In my thinking, private enterprise means the enterprise of the indigenous people as well as of the European. Furthermore, because of the conditions in the Territory there are obvious limits to the scope of European enterprise. That limit is set by the interests of the indigenous people. European enterprise cannot go beyond the point at which it would cause the displacement of the indigenous people or place barriers in the way of their advancement.
That point is not easy to identify. We follow consistently one guide in pursuing a clear policy of preserving the ownership and access of the native to the land and we interpret that policy by an estimate not only of present needs for land but also of prospective requirements of land. Thus one limit to European enterprise is necessarily set by the availability of land. Another and less clearly discernible limit is set by the availability of labour.
I should like to pursue this question of native labour for a few minutes. Under established policy there can be no forced labour or even indentured labour but only labour by the agreement of the worker. The worker either freely engages himself or enters into a contract to work for a stated period. For the time being, a policy that preserves land for the native tends also to reduce the supply of labour, for the native can either subsist on his garden or use his land to grow cash crops on his own account. He ceases to offer his labour to the general employer. Over the years, however, as population grows and standards of living rise, there will undoubtedly be an increasing urbanization of the people and the growth of both skilled and unskilled landless people who look for wage-earning employment in order to maintain themselves at a higher standard of living. It is only as they obtain employment that they will be able to maintain a high standard of living. Where and how will they find that employment; where will they meet the employer who has capacity to direct their labour and to pay them the level of wages they require? In the short term - and by that I mean a period of, say, 30 years - most of these employers will be Europeans because they will have the technical, managerial, organizing and marketing skill and they will have the capital for investment. If there is to be continued progress for the indigenous people and their higher standard of living is to be sustained by their own efforts, there will have to be European enterprise to help provide employment for those who gradually leave the land.
Thus, on the one hand we have policies that set limits to European enterprise - and rightly so - and on the other hand we have a developing situation which requires European enterprise. This is by no means the whole of the picture but I have disclosed, in broad terms, one -of the problems we face in order to illustrate to honorable members some of the complexities of policymaking in the Territory and, by the same token, to illustrate the folly of making hard and fast pronouncements about European enterprise, either against it or for it.
It is plain that this is not a country where any European can go in and do as he pleases in disregard of the needs and interests of the rapidly advancing indigenous population, which now numbers nearly 2,000,000 and could well increase, as the result of our health measures, to 10,000,000 in a comparatively short space of time. Neither is it a place in which the needs and opportunities of that mass of indigenous people can be fully satisfied without the aid of the European and his enterprise.
Some of those who have publicly supported me in recent controversies have over-simplified the issue, and wrongly assumed that my view is that all European settlers are bad and that they are to be opposed. I hope I have made it plain that is not my view. However, in view of what has been said in earlier debate, perhaps I should pause to mention the word “ locusts “. I think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was present on the occasion on which I applied this word, in the course of a public discussion, to a particular group of people but never to all the people in New Guinea. To my mind, the characteristic of the locust is that it does not appear until someone else has grown a crop, and as soon as the crop is eaten it flies away. There are people like that in the Territory. “Locusts” may not have been a happily chosen word, but it is a fairly exact description of that comparatively small section of the people except that this particular variety does not chirp but roars out fulminations
The term was used by me in a discussion of some of the artificial and wholly fortuitous elements in the economic structure of the Territory and it was used in order to point a contrast between the majority of Europeans who are in the Territory either to serve the people or to develop its resources, and the less useful minority of Europeans who have flown in for the sake of the pickings.
This whole question, as I should like to be able to show if I had time, is bound up with the development of a sounder economic foundation for the Territory. There can never be any real and lasting advancement of the native people, and certainly no reality of self-government for the country until the country develops an economy that frees it from dependence on outside support to finance its own services. There will be no reality of self-government if the mass of the population does not share fully in the economic development and the benefits that flow from it. The special circumstances of the Territory require that the economic development should be broadly based on the efforts of the whole population. Anyone - if there is any one - who still thinks of the New Guinea people as a mass of cheap labour to work for his sole advantage and without ambition or claims of their own, not only is living in a fool’s paradise but is busily building a fool’s hell.
I am confident that, on reflection, the great majority of Europeans in the Territory will agree with this reality. But will they take the further step of recognizing that it becomes the responsibility of the Government to administer the Territory, not in response to the pressures of, or to provide comfort and nourishment for, those who fly in and out and want to make the Territory serve them, but for those, both white and coloured, who will stay and who want to serve the Territory and build there an enduring and just social order? The Territory is, for Australia, a public trust, and no government can allow it to be treated as a private estate.
There is a necessary place in Papua and New Guinea for European enterprise and, that being so, it is the obligation of the Government to provide conditions which are fair to the settler. We have to realize, however, that no government with a sense of responsibility and an awareness of the continuity of Australian policy in the Territory, could allow the growth of any situation which would create a barrier to the advancement of the people to which we have committed ourselves as a trust; and any government that did so would be inflicting an injury on the Papuans and laying up for Australia endless trouble, shame and eventual conflict.
My chief regret about any controversies that arise on questions such as this is that they cloud the calm and clear view of the task in hand. I believe that the free settler, the native leader, the Government servant and the politician, in their various capacities, in Papua and New Guinea, are engaged in what is far and away the most intricate and difficult enterprise to which Australia has committed itself in this generation. So, for the sake of the job in hand, let us keep free from ill temper and recrimination and fix our minds more calmly on the issues we have to resolve.
It would take far too much of the time of the committee if I were to attempt to discuss all aspects of the public dissatis faction that has been expressed, mainly over recent changes in the method of raising taxes in the Territory. There is undoubtedly to-day, misunderstanding and ill feeling. I recognize that as clearly as it is pressed upon me by those who have that ill feeling. I want only to ask whether this misunderstanding is all on one side. Granted that the Government may not always understand Territory viewpoints, is it not also possible that people in the Territory may have been misinformed or may be mistaken about us? One side alone cannot close the gap of misunderstanding. I most sincerely hope that on both sides, free of any misrepresentation of our points of view - and there has unfortunately been very great misrepresentation - we will try to close the gap. That is an enterprise to which I shall devote my own labours.
We have to recognize, however, that there are some points at which an Australian Government, carrying out its responsibilities, may find -itself in opposition to sections of opinion in the Territory because, fundamentally, the objectives that the Government has committed itself to seek are different from the objectives of certain sections of the population. I do not want to place blame on the European residents or to escape criticism myself if we have failed to work together; but it does seem to me that many persons in the Territory have been persuaded to think that the failure to close the gap of misunderstanding is due solely to some devilishness on my part, and consequently, whether they are right or wrong in that assumption, they are not facing up to the fact that there are fundamental and substantial differences to be overcome. No matter who is Minister for Territories these questions will remain and these questions will still have to be solved.
Without avoiding my responsibility as Minister, I would also suggest that the people in the Territory might be able to see the situation better if they stopped thinking about the present Minister as a personification of all the things they dislike and recognized that the Australian Parliament, the Australian Government and the Australian people, to whom both Government and Parliament are answerable, have some standing in this matter, and that any Minister has to have their endorsement. I know that I have the full approval of the Government of which I am a member and I believe that I have the strong support of this Parliament, on both sides of politics, for the objectives and policies I have pursued. The policies adopted and the decisions taken to apply them have been shaped after receiving information and advice from the Administration of the Territory. So, the quarrel cannot be solely with the Minis :jr for Territories as a person, although it has been my role as Minister to make recommendations and decisions and to try to give some leadership; it also concerns the responsibilities and the powers of the Australian Government and Australian Parliament.
Nor, I think, can a distinction be made between the Government and the Administration which is responsible to it. At present, the Territory does not have selfgovernment. Its Administration is the servant of the Australian Government and acts on behalf of the Australian Government; and until such time as there is a responsible government in the Territory to which the public servants can answer instead of answering through the Government to this Parliament, that position will necessarily stand.
There is in the Territory a Legislative Council created by this Parliament. I personally am in complete sympathy with the idea of increasing the representative element in the Legislative Council. The council was brought into existence under the terms of an act brought down by the previous government as a result of my own recommendations, and recently I called for a second time for a review of its functioning with the hope of obtaining some recommendations regarding modifications of its structure and membership. One obvious difficulty that confronts us is that, in a community of 2,000,000 indigenous people and 20,000 other residents, no significant change in the representation of Europeans can be made without a major change in the representation of the indigenous people, who form so vast a majority of the population. At present, there is a real limit set by the limit to the number of native people who would be able to hold a position as members on equal terms with all other members of the council, and by the other difficulty of finding a sound way of choos ing the representatives of the vast mass of the indigenous population. Although any eventual decision will rest with the Government, I should like to say that, as Minister, I am very receptive to any suggestions for reform of the council, and would welcome discussions to that end. But any proposal for more European members without corresponding suggestions for more adequate representation for the native people just will not run.
I commend these estimates to the committee and direct attention to the very considerable progress that has been made in the Territories. I suggest that, in spite of faults, Australia is doing a job of which Australians can be proud. One final word: In this task, we need humility. We have a limited power - a very limited power - to impose a new social structure or a new political system on the people. Societies have to grow and put down their own roots. We have to work in and through the social forces that are already felt, and in the conditions that inescapably exist. We should never over-rate our power to make sudden changes, or to transform these people, although that is a task to which we have dedicated ourselves.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Opposition does not intend to vote against any of the group of estimates which we are considering now. Indeed, we are happy to see the Commonwealth accepting an increasing degree of responsibility for helping financially those who are building up health and educational services and doing all the other things needed for the well-being of the peoples of Papua and New Guinea and the peoples in other Territories for whose welfare we are responsible.
Many members of this Parliament have been to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I address myself to that Territory particularly at this stage. Some members of the Parliament have been to the Territory several times. Many members of this chamber would wish to discuss these estimates, but, unfortunately, we have so little time, and so few can take part in the discussion, that I suggest to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) that at some other time - and I hope it will be in the very near future - the Parliament be afforded an opportunity to discuss the responsibilities of the Parliament and the people of Australia in respect of an area which is vital not only to its own people, but also to Australians.
– How many members of the Parliament have been to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in the last nine years?
– Quite a number. I have gone there at least three times myself, and 1 have met many other members of the Parliament there. Maybe, many should go. I hope that more will go.
– Twenty or 30 members of the Parliament have been there.
– From my observations, that would be a fairly accurate estimate of the number. We of the Australian Labour Party feel so much concerned about the future of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea that a meeting of the parliamentary party decided recently that we should suggest to the Minister that a joint parliamentary committee be established to investigate and report to the Parliament upon the Territory. I have conveyed to the Minister the terms of the resolution adopted at that meeting. Our decision was -
That a Joint Parliamentary Committee be appointed to investigate and report on the control and administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and that such Committee shall consist of equal numbers from the Government and the Opposition on the same lines as the Joint Parliamentary Committee for the Review of the Constitution with the Chairman having a casting vote on procedural matters only.
I think that, if the Minister would accept this proposal, such a committee could function. The appointment of a committee of this kind would indicate, not only to the Parliament, but also to the country generally, that we feel we have a joint responsibility to see that everything possible is done to help the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea towards a higher form of civilization and ultimately towards self-government - ultimately, towards the day when they will decide whether they wish to become a part of the Commonwealth of Australia, to be another dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations, or to be an independent state.
And whatever decision is made, it will be” made by them at the time when they havebeen advanced culturally to the stage at which they can make such a decision for themselves.
We agree with much of what the Minister said about the work that is being done in Papua and New Guinea. We of the Labour Party are proud that we started the post-war scheme. We are proud that the Minister for Territories in the Labour Government, Mr. Ward, laid the foundations of the situation which exists in the Territory to-day - foundations from which the present Government has not departed to any great extent. The Minister himself said that there are differences in emphasis and differences in methods. I remember that when we proposed that individuals chosen from among the native people of Papua and New Guinea be appointed to the Legislative Council of the Territory the proposal received hostile criticism that we were pampering the natives - the same kind of carping criticism which we now hear from some of the Government’s own supporters in relation to the Government’s conduct towards the European settlers in the Territory, who, they claim, are being denied the right to exploit every opportunity that presents itself there. To-day, it is said in criticism of the Minister that he is not being sufficiently fair to the European settlers. We have surely reached the stage at which everybody in the Parliament agrees - at least, I hope that everybody in the Parliament agrees - that, if the European settlers are to be given increased representation in the Legislative Council, the natives, too, must have increased representation.
We of the Labour Party support this suggestion, wholeheartedly. The council is a big body, and, unfortunately, it has not worked out exactly as those who devised and passed the legislation under which it functions wished it to operate. In recent times, we have seen the difficulties in respect of income tax legislation. Those difficulties prove that there are a good deal of ill feeling, a good deal of suspicion and a good deal of mistrust in the Territory with respect to this Government and, possibly, with respect to this Parliament. I have been in communication with a number of settlers, public servants and others in the
Territory and I have discussed these problems with certain ones who have visited Australia. I’ find that the people of the Territory generally speaking, have never argued against income tax as such. The claim is that the method by which it was introduced was wrong. I was very glad ito see the abolition of many export duties because I feel that they hit the native people in their co-operatives and as individuals pretty hard. I was not sorry to see the import duties reduced, because they affected all sections of the community and caused much heartburning. Generally income tax is the fairest form of taxation, but, as I said, in Papua and New Guinea the people who are paying income tax are very annoyed and resentful at the manner by which it was introduced. It is suggested that the elected representatives in the Legislative Council, who number only three, are presented with bills and asked to discuss them immediately the second-reading speeches are made. I am not sure whether that is right or not.
– No, it is not right.
– At any rate that is the allegation, and it may be that that is the point around which the discontents are rationalized. Another complaint concerns the composition of the council. If we could send a joint committee of the Parliament to Papua and New Guinea and let it stay there for a period, I am sure that it would do much to damp down the fires of indignation and discontent which exist throughout the country to-day. After all, the United Nations sends a sub-committee there every couple of years to see how we are working our trusteeship arrangement. If the United Nations can send representatives from New York to Papua and New Guinea to give world-wide publicity to what they find there, surely the Parliament could send representatives from time to time to report to this Parliament on what they find that merits comment. I think that this would be of benefit to the Minister in the administration of his department because, like him, we have never made the question of Papua and New Guinea a political issue and we have never wished to do so. We know how much anything that happens in that Territory can affect the future of our people as well as that of the dependent peoples in that region, and we do not want to play around creating differences where perhaps they should not exist.
I and some of my colleagues have heard from settlers in New Guinea who feel that we should alienate more of the land of the natives and give it to them for developmental purposes. I think that would be a suicidal policy. There is a land hunger in Papua and New Guinea, as there is in other parts of the world. Some of the troubles at Navuneram and among the Raluanas and other people are connected primarily with land. The report of the commission appointed to examine an unfortunate event last year said that the whole problem was basically a question of the scarcity of land. We should not aggravate that scarcity. We should do all that we possibly can to help the people to solve their land problems; certainly, we should not do anything to aggravate them.
The time allotted to me is running out and I cannot say very much more. As an Australian, I am proud of the fact that this year we are voting £13,000,000 to help the people of the Territory. They will themselves contribute £7,750,000. The total expenditure is £18,750,000, as against £17,000,000 last year, £15,500,000 the year before and £13,800,000 in the year before that. We are not stinting ourselves. This is probably the only country in the world with responsibilities for the protection of native peoples and their development that is not making anything out of its undertakings, but is spending more and more in the discharge of its responsibilities willingly and cheerfully.
I wished to deal with a couple of other matters. I disagree with the Minister’s interpretation of the meaning of liberalism. However, I shall leave him and the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) to argue the question as to which is more liberal in his outlook and which is the deviationist, and which of them should bring his policies into accord at least with the theory propounded by those who believe in liberalism.
I think it would be a good thing if the shipping of New Guinea were still operated by the Commonwealth. It would be better for the people of New Guinea because, if private companies must take goods long distances from Australia to New Guinea and make a profit out of the undertaking, they certainly cannot give as good a service as would be given if a Commonwealth shipping line operated with a Commonwealth subsidy, in the same way as we subsidize the Commonwealth ships operating around the coast of Australia. I do not mind the private banks going into New Guinea. I have seen them operating there, and they are functioning very well. I have met a number of people who are conducting them. I know that the Commonwealth Bank is not losing in the arena of competition. It can survive no matter what happens and I wish it luck.
I should like to pay my tribute to the missionaries, to the public servants and to the settlers generally. If it had not been for the missionaries, we would never have had any settlement there at all. If it were not for the devoted public servants who work in that rather bad climate, as it is for much of the year, we would not be able to persuade the representatives of the United Nations that we are doing good work. The school teachers also are undertaking a great job and so are all engaged in the field of private enterprise. Up to date, all that we can say is that this year we are training 40,000 school children out of 400,000 children of school age. I wish that the time was near when we could build more high schools and technical schools.
– That is Administration schools. There are also mission schools.
– Yes, but I think the Minister will find that there are only 40,000 school children - 16,000 in the Administration schools and 24,000 in the missionary schools.
– Those are schools of a certain standard. Many other children also go to school.
– Yes, there are the bush schools and so on. Great work in training the native people as teachers is being done by the Administration and by the missionaries. The work that is being done is of great value to the Commonwealth, now and in the future. I would hope that some day we will have a university college established in Port Moresby or
Rabaul and that it will not be necessary to send children out of the Territory to Australia for education. It should be possible to educate our white children - I do not use the term offensively - on the spot rather than send them to Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne. I should prefer to see the native children trained in their own country rather than sent to a foreign climate and a foreign atmosphere, where they cannot possibly gain all the benefits that they would if educated in their homeland and environment.
There is a society in Canberra, called the New Guinea Society, which functions at the Australian National University. All sorts of contentious arguments are put forward there from time to time. It is a good thing that people should express different points of view, though some of us might regard a number of the matters put forward as being not merely highly contentious, but based on false grounds. I commend the estimates for Papua and New Guinea and I hope that we will have a fuller discussion on the Opposition’s proposal for the establishment of a Joint Parliamentary Committee on these Territories, at a later date, and not too much later, at that.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to take part in this debate on the estimates for the Territories with the definite intention of restricting my remarks to the Territory for Papua and New Guinea, which the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) dealt with in his opening speech. I would have wished that the Minister had been able to assist us by releasing his speech before this debate commenced, because it was most thoughtprovoking and challenging. Hearing it at this stage rather materially restricts those of us who are early speakers in the debate on the estimates for the Territories.
A visit to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea during the last parliamentary recess has enabled me to form some opinions on this challenging area which had not been possible before, as this was my first visit to New Guinea. The tour that my colleagues and I undertook consisted of some 22 days’ intensive travelling, and consequently we feel that we do not bring idle and superficial comments to the debate.
I want to direct particular attention to what I think is the remarkable progress that has been achieved by this Government, and I shall deal particularly, before I conclude, with the leadership that has been exercised by the present Minister as the representative of the Government. I will go so far as to say that the general public in Australia is fascinated with the story of progress, post-war, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The great majority of the people of Australia do not raise any objection or criticism about the substantial amounts of money that the Government has been setting aside for development in Papua and New Guinea. However, outside pressures to speed up development and to extend quickly autonomy to local residents of the Territory are viewed by the general populace of Australia with a great deal of caution.
I was interested, Mr. Chairman, to refer back to the comments of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on his return in 1957 from a fleeting visit to New Guinea. He said then, at a press conference -
I found also that the local people were no more enthusiastic about being told what they ought to do by theoretical people 10,000 miles away than I am.
It is very important that all of us in this Parliament should remember how true is that statement. Good results have been achieved in these post-war years, and I suggest that we must not allow ourselves to fall into the error of forcing the pace when the conditions may not yet be suitable and people themselves may not be ready for additional responsibility. Throughout the world there have been instances of mistakes made in this way.
The Minister very helpfully reminded us, at the commencement of his speech, that New Guinea is held in trust by the Australian nation. I believe that the Opposition is prepared to meet the Minister in the request that he has made to-day. I believe that the spirit and the attitude of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), in his reply, confirms this. Indeed, I venture to suggest that the Opposition is quick to praise the Minister for the kind of leadership that he has exercised as the Government representative in these recent years.
Coming back to the unexpected speech of the Minister, I do want to make a few comments, if I may, in the right spirit. Apparently it is easy for some people to misunderstand or to draw a wrong inference from the words of the Minister. He himself has confessed to-day that probably he chose the word “ locusts “ inadvisedly, and it may be easy for people who do not read carefully what he has said in the debate to-day to form a wrong idea from his words regarding people being too greedy. Not all representatives of private enterprise in the Territory are greedy, and I wish that the Minister would be a little more generous in recognizing the outstanding contribution that leaders of private enterprise have made in the Territory through the years. I think there should be a better recognition of the risk attached to the investment of hard-earned savings by these people in the Territory. I make the point that the people to whom I refer are more concerned about the future than what has happened in the past. They will take on the chin what is happening in the present, but there is a feeling of instability amongst these leaders of enterprise and industry in Papua and New Guinea. I think the Government and the Minister would be well advised to take careful note of this fact, and to see that the words that they use are words carefully chosen, to convey praise where praise is due, and to restrict to those who are deserving of it the criticism that they might wish to level.
– Is the honorable member criticizing the Minister?
– I am not. I am here to pay a well-deserved tribute to the Government, of which I stand here as a representative, and to the Minister who sits at the table, and I hope to be able to do so in the few minutes that are available to me. We must all be fair in this matter. While in the Territory we met the rank and file of people who are in the group that may have come under criticism. I found that they were quick to recognize the fact that the progress, post-war, in the Territory has been brought about by the policy of this Government. When we reminded them that though they might like to criticize the present Minister, he was the Minister who got the millions from the Government to bring about this post-war development, they could produce nothing to refute this claim.
The Minister for Territories has not only followed a determined policy which has brought about an improvement in the lot of the indigenous population, but he has also, apparently, been tenacious in his claims in the Cabinet for sufficient funds to make possible a steady development year by year. More and more money has been found to establish the Territory on a better basis. We found that local residents had little evidence indeed to support their criticism of the Minister. It seemed that they were concerned not so much about the application of income tax, but rather about the procedure leading up to its application. We were able to confront the representatives of the various taxpayers’ associations and other worthy bodies with (he record of the Government. That record discloses that expenditure in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in 1951-52 was only £7,700,000, whereas in this year it is estimated that it will reach £18,700,000. The approved Commonwealth grant in 1951-52 was only £5,300,000, whereas in this year it is £13,000,000.
Considering these figures, we must realize that development has taken place and that the leadership has been sound. This leadership by the Minister is worthy of our best tributes. It is not possible to have this kind of leadership without some disturbances taking place, but the Minister is a big enough man, as we have seen to-day, to take the criticism and to try to reply to it according to his inclination and conviction. We believe that the Minister enjoys the respect of the general public because of the leadership that he has displayed and the work that he has done.
This Territory needs the best available leadership locally, and in this connexion I would point out that lack of suitable staff is a factor that is affecting the rate of expansion. The notes that have been circulated by the Minister direct attention to the fact that in 1958-59 the recruitment programme is estimated to result in a net increase of approximately 246 officers in the Territory.
I pay a tribute to the kind of men we encountered during our visit, who have been entrusted with leadership, as district commissioners, district officers and patrol officers. I believe, however, that the Minister has been more than concerned at the poor calibre of some of those who have been seeking appointment in recent years. There has not been the flow of applicants of suitable ability and status that he would have liked to see. This is a matter that must be improved by a sound recruiting programme.
There are various aspects of the development of the Territory that should be noted. Let me refer to local revenue. I do so because I believe that local revenue is a reflection of self-help. In 1952 local revenue totalled only £2,300,000 in the Territory, whereas in this year it is estimated t® reach almost £6,000,000. We would all, I am sure, wish to encourage local production, because, as local production improves, so local revenue will increase.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I have time only to make several other observations on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I should like to comment, first, on the native local government councils in the Territory. There are now 28 such councils operating, and it is the Administration’s hope that there will be many more within a short period. My recent visit, to which I referred earlier, provided some contact with the councils at Dagua and Rabaul. I should like to say, Mr. Chairman, that we were impressed by the presidential leadership and the down-to-earth practical programme which the councils are following. At Dagua my colleagues and I were welcomed at a council meeting by Simogun, one of the three elected native members on the Territory’s Legislative Council. As president, he gave a splendid address of welcome, an address which expressed loyalty to the Throne and gratitude to Australia for her sympathetic and invaluable encouragement and assistance.
These native councils follow the pattern, if I may suggest it, of local government on the mainland of Australia. I believe that they will lay a sound foundation for the wider political responsibilities which all of us, I trust, as sensible people are anxious to see the native peoples of the Territory assume in due time. But, again I would emphasize: Let there be no undue haste in extending the responsibilities before the native peoples are prepared for them.
Now, that leads me to say something about the attitude of the indigenous population to the Government and the Administration, and to the white people who are genuine in their expressions of goodwill and in their desire to assist the natives. The natives in my opinion are keen to learn, and the demand for general and technical education will become, I am sure, more acute in the years immediately ahead of us. I believe that there is ample evidence to be seen of genuine appreciation for the fair and just employer of labour, and for the planter keen to guide the native villagers in respect of their primary production and animal husbandry. Also, I believe there is a sensible recognition of the value of the Government’s policy as we see it today. Unfortunately, there have been some ill-informed people who have made public statements here in Australia to the effect that there is a growing hatred on the part of the natives of New Guinea towards the white man. I want to say emphatically to this committee to-night that I do not believe that that is true. I do not believe that we need to waste any time in taking notice of comments of that nature.
I mentioned education in passing. Unfortunately, time will permit me to say only that the main objective in the field of native education is to provide sound primary education for all children in controlled areas. The controlled areas are being extended appreciably from year to year. The immensity of this task is seen in the fact that there are 400,000 children of school age in the Territory, while only 15,538 are attending Administration schools. A further 24,500 pupils attend mission schools. Extension of all educational facilities is of paramount importance.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- There are some points in the speech made by the honorable member for Swan (Mr.
Cleaver) with which I am in full agreement. There are some points in the programme and policy of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) with which we are in full agreement. I think that it is one of the miracles of modern politics that in a Cabinet with the kind of political philosophy to which most of the members of this Government are addicted, we have a man with such humanitarian outlook and tendencies in charge of such a great humanitarian work as the administration of our overseas Territories.
– That is the result of his earlier training as a public servant under the Labour government.
– Of course, it is the result of his earlier training under a Labour government before he entered this Parliament. It is certainly a novel experience in politics to find a Minister of the Crown under attack from members of his own side. An opposition would normally make political capital out of that sort of thing - but not an opposition like this Opposition. We on this side of the chamber have given the Minister some tacit assistance to help maintain him in his office, because we know full well that almost every one of the 21 other Ministers in the Cabinet, if placed in charge of the administration of our Territories, would do a much worse job than he is doing, particularly in relation to Papua and New Guinea.
– He is a benevolent despot.
– That is right. There are some things about the Minister to which I take exception. The Minister is a very conservative man. He has indicated this in a number of ways, but none more clearly than when last week, in answer to a question on the establishment of a government newspaper, he said that a committee had recommended that the only effective way to carry on native education was to do so; but then, this was an interference in the field of private enterprise. This is classical laisser-faire conservative doctrine. I believe that one of the weaknesses in our administration of New Guinea is the fact that we have allowed the veneer of conservatism to overrule what ought to be the more dynamic points of policy there. We on this side of the chamber regard the administration of
Papua and New Guinea as a great task, a great trust, and something from which we will receive perhaps no immediate material return. But at least we may be doing something there which will set an example to the rest of the world and certainly something that will ensure that in the years to come there shall be no Kenya on our doorstep. Therefore I have no sympathy whatsoever with the. aspirations of what I may term the indigenous Europeans of Papua and New Guinea who attempt to gain control of the resources of the Territory for themselves. I say that not one inch of land, not one pint of oil, ought to be taken from the native Papuans themselves. They are the people who must have first call on all the resources of their country. Most of us here, and those outside who stop to think, appreciate the magnitude of. the task that faces us.. I agree with the honorable member for Swan that basically the native people of the Territory are friendly people, almost in a state of nature in their grass skirts, accepting the civilization offered them by our public servants there in a friendly way. There would be very little need, if any need, to show force in our handling of them. Our task is to raise the standard of living of the native peoples as soon as possible to the standard that we ourselves enjoy. You will find: scattered through- New Guinea men and women who have been trained- in schools or in trades who obviously could live the. same kind of life as we doi In: one- field alone - education”Which) is o£ course- basic, to the development pf; that, country as its is to our own, we face a- tremendous task. In Papua and New Guinea there are 400,000 children- of school age, or- 30,000 to 40,000 more,- children than there are in all” the State schools, of Victoria. This means that if we are- to- provide an- education system equal to the- system in Victoria we- will have to spend £70 or £80 a head, perhaps a total of £22,000,000 or £23,000,000, on education alone. If we are to establish schools we must have 2,000 schools and. 12,000 teachers, fifteen or twenty teachers’ training colleges and all the rest of it. So, even if we only look at it as a long-range plan to be undertaken over 40 or 50 years we are still faced with a task of the first magnitude-.
But that is only one aspect of the problem. These people have the same aspira tions as- we have. They want to live in houses like the rest of us, and wear the same kind of clothes, as we do. When they have good jobs and are well fed and well clothed they are quite a handsome and intelligent people and, moreover, they are friendly. This means that we have to establish there industries larger than those established in Queensland. If we are to- give them the same standards as we enjoy we must establish 12,000 or 15,000 factories there. If they are to have the same standards of housing something like 500,000 houses will need to be built. That is an important task that faces us. While I am prepared to congratulate the Minister for the way he has dealt with the many problems that have arisen- in the past and while I congratulate the people of Australia for so willingly footing the bill - £13,000,000? or £14,000,000 a year, which is an investment in friendship in the future - we must remember that a great task lies ahead.
In Papua- and New Guinea the first task that faces us. is with respect to education. The second is. with respect to housing and the third is with respect to employment. There is a fourth task- self-government. This is perhaps not the. time to. indulge in philosophy about government and parliamentary democracy, but I believe mat in both the Northern Territory and Papua and New Guinea the present system of government is complex. It is not parliamentary -in. fact, it is- dictatorship of sorts. We have “a complicated system by which we pass laws in this Parliament and create legislative councils, which in turn pass ordinances under which- the Minister may make regulations. So the Minister rs making regulations under ordinances that are passed “by a body which is not answerable to us, although the Minister is answerable to- this Parliament. So we must face the fundamental’ principles of government before> we can- make progress in the territories!
I want to deal particularly with education in the Territories. In the first place I want to point out that the Commonwealth is responsible for the education of more children - they are our sole constitutional responsibility - than the Victorian Department of Education. We should establish a Commonwealth education or teaching service - a full scale service with all its ancillary organizations. Let us consider for a moment what is involved. In Victoria there are about 2,000 State schools, a multitude of inspectors, curriculum research and special works branches. The Victorian department is a remarkably complex professional body that has been built up over 100 years. We must immediately take steps to see that in PaDua and New Guinea and in the Northern Territory we can prosomething similar.
One of the things that we have failed to do in those Territories and, in the Australian Capital Territory, is to accept the fact that the Commonwealth is responsible. In the Northern Territory, for example, the
Superintendent of Education is an officer of the Department of Education in South Australia and he is responsible, through his department, to the Minister in Adelaide - not to the Minister for Territories. The same thing applies to schools in the Australian Capital Territory. There has never been an attempt to establish professional attitudes towards training in Papua and New Guinea. We have some very good men there. The former Director of Education has done a remarkable job. I do not think that we have provided sufficient funds for education in the Territories. In New South Wales, Victoria and almost every other State, half of the State’s budget is devoted to education. That is something that we should try to correct. Some day we will fully accept our responsibility for education in the Territories. The quicker the sooner! I hear honorable members laughing at that phrase. It is a colloquialism that is well-known and understood around the ridges of Wills. It is an amplification of the amplification.
Do not let it be said that we cannot find people in Australia to undertake this task. This is the greatest challenge that faces the nation at the moment - what can we do for the people of Papua and New Guinea? We should be combing the secondary schools of Australia seeking people to take on jobs in the Territory to expand into the teaching service. We should be doing all these things with the same forthrightness that characterized our approach to the Snowy Mountains scheme or our entry into the field of civil aviation. That is the magnitude of the undertaking. I know that there will be no immediate financial return to the Commonwealth but our prospects will be brighter if we have to our north 2,000,000 people opposed in colour, race and background, who are friendly to us. That is something that is worth pursuing.
There are other matters to which I would like to refer. I believe that we must create opportunities for more employment. The coloured people who are employed side by side with Europeans in our public service must get the same wages as their fellow workers. We must take steps to improve the housing position so that men who have raised themselves from the village level, who have entered into the lower level of the professions and trades, who have achieved our scales and aspirations and who have some ambitions with regard to family life can live in the same type of homes as Europeans live in. They will not be able to do that unless some financial assistance is given. Perhaps Papua and New Guinea should have its own bank with its own resources and some internal financial organization in which the Territory can expand and plan for the future. We must be imaginative. When we talk about giving residents of Papua and New Guinea a standard of living as good as Victoria’s - poor enough as it is for some - we must think in terms of 12,000 or 15,000 factories. How many factories are there in Papua and New Guinea. There is a brewery and a tobacco factory at Tabourie. I do not say that the Minister should have done all these things in the last ten years, but the Government should be planning to do them in the next ten or twenty years. We should have textile factories and footwear factories in the Territory. They must not be handed over to be run by friends of the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler). This must be a government job, a job for cooperation. I know that the wolves of Sydney and the bulls and bears of the stock exchange are only too eager to get amongst the people of Papua and New Guinea to exploit their resources. The Minister can rest assured that we on this side of the House, together with the vast majority of people in Australia, will support the Government if it takes steps to prevent exploitation in the Territory, and I know that it will.
There are certain aspects of the position in the Northern Territory to which T should like to direct the attention-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I should like to say something about the Northern Territory. For quite a number of years many honorable members have been aware of the need for closer contact with our neighbours to the near north in South East Asia and we have been very gratified to see the interest that has been aroused in a number of quarters in recent years. As important as that matter is - I do not want to belittle it for a moment, because honorable members realize the importance that I attach to it - I think it is also necessary for us to realize the importance of the problems and responsibilities confronting us in relation to our own territories. It is not possible to discuss matters associated with all the territories in the time allotted in this debate and I shall, therefore, devote myself to discussing the Northern Territory. While one may not agree with all the opinions that have been expressed during this debate, one thing has been shown clearly, and that is the advantage that honorable members have obtained by being able to visit and travel through the various territories that are the responsibility of the Commonwealth. I make that comment because, as you know, Sir, there has been some unwise criticism of honorable members travelling in the territories. I believe that such travel is necessary.
One of the most important problems that confront us in relation to the Northern Territory is to encourage a greater number of people to go there. At present the Territory has a native population of about 1 6,000 persons and a non-native population of about 19,500 persons. Since this Government has been in office the Commonwealth has been expending increasing sums of money in the Northern Territory. The committee may be interested to know that while £2,488,000 was expended in the financial year 1951-52, the Estimates now before us provide for an expenditure this year of £9,084,000.
It is important also that the people should know the kind of public works that the Commonwealth is undertaking in the Territory. I make that comment because it is not easy to encourage people, whether they be tradesmen or persons engaged in commerce and the professions, to go to the Northern Territory. One would have hoped that the younger generation would have seen the challenge, the interest and the excitement of life there. Although we have some very good people in the Public Service and in private enterprise in the Northern Territory, there are not enough in either category. The Government realizes this position and has commenced public works in the Territory to encourage people to go there to develop the existing potentialities of the area. I should like to give honorable members some examples of what is being done. As you may remember, Sir, a decision was reached last year to replace the present power-house in Darwin by a new steam power-house at an estimated cost of £1,650,000. The old Darwin post office was a casualty of the war, being demolished by bombing, and another building, to all intents and purposes a temporary building, has been in use since. Contracts have been let and a new post office will be constructed at a cost of £212,000.
The Parliament has directed the Public Works Committee to consider two other major works in Darwin. As a result, a new supreme court house will be constructed at an estimated cost of £421.000 and, in association with that work, new crown law offices will be built. This Parliament has also referred to the Public Works Committee the proposal to build a new technical high school in Darwin. This proposal is of the utmost importance, and I should like to say a little more about it at a later stage. Before passing from this item, however, I should like to inform honorable members that the new technical high school, which is to be built on Vestey’s Hill, will cost approximately £400,000.
I have mentioned these public works proposals to make public the fact that the Government is doing its best to provide extra amenities in the widest sense to encourage people to go to the Northern Territory. It is necessary to do so, not only to develop the potentialities of the Territory but also because it is important to our national development and defence that we should have a strong economic unit in that part of our country.
During the last four or five years a great advancement has taken place in quite a number of industries in the Territory. I should like to refer first to mining because in the financial year 1958-59 the estimated value of mineral production - excluding uranium - was about £4,000,000, which represents an increase of about £600,000 on the figure for the preceding year. As a result of the various investigations that have been made into the copper industry, and of the increased production at several of the mines at Tennant Creek, copper again was the most valuable mineral that was produced. If the results obtained from the investigations that are now taking place are favorable, we will find a further extension of mining operations in that part of the Territory. I am glad to see from the estimates now before us that increased assistance is planned for the development of the mining industry. I believe that that is one of the ways in which we can develop the area and encourage people to go there.
We can also develop in the Territory the pastoral industry and, if I may so call it, the agricultural industry, with particular relation to rice-growing. Experiments in rice-growing are being conducted by the Commonwealth and by a private firm, Territory Rice Limited, in the Marrakai fields and in the Adelaide River basin. At the beginning of this year I had the opportunity to be in the Territory for a short time and to visit the Commonwealth experimental station and Humpty Doo, which is the area in which Territory Rice Limited is planting its crop. From information that I have obtained, I understand that about 5,000 acres were sown this season by Territory Rice Limited and that some 3,000 acres were harvested. I shall not go into the details as to why only 3,000 of the 5,000 acres that were sown were harvested, except to say that the whole scheme is in the experimental stage. Many problems are associated with it and I realize that progress will be slow because growing rice in the Northern Territory is entirely different from growing rice in, say, New South Wales. My impression was that those problems are being solved. I am reinforced in this impression by the report that has been presented to the Minister by the New South Wales Rice Marketing Board which visited the Territory a week after I was there. As I read the report, the members of the board were impressed with the extent of the work that is being done by Territory Rice Limited at Humpty Doo and the development that is going on. The board recognized some of the difficulties and problems associated with the production of rice in the Northern Territory and agreed with my views to the extent of saying that although progress is being made, it will be slow.
One of the most interesting features of the report was in reference to the possibility of conducting cattle-raising and ricegrowing together in the one area. I gained the impression, too, that this could be done. The rice stubble provides good food for the cattle and the two industries can be carried on in an economic way to the great benefit of the farmer. I recall that when the first leases were granted to the original company to carry out these experiments of ricegrowing in the Northern Territory, proposals were made by the Government that after some years had elapsed, to allow for the development and experiments being carried out by the company, a certain part of the area under the lease should be made available on a share basis to smaller holding farmers. I hope that that idea will be put into practice because with the combination of rice-growing and cattle-raising I see a great opportunity for encouraging farmers to come from the southern parts of Australia to the Northern Territory.
One of the problems which I see associated with this is obtaining suitable markets, not for cattle but for the rice. Therefore, I am glad to know that negotiations have taken place and that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea has undertaken to absorb some of the rice crop which will be produced at Humpty Doo. But that in itself is not sufficient. Further investigations must be made and we must continue our trade promotion if we are to have a successful rice industry in the Northern Territory.
The other thing I wished to say under the heading of agriculture is that along with the growth of closer settlement will be the need to produce foodstuffs. As honorable members know, experiments have been carried on in market gardening in the northern part of the Northern Territory but so far with only limited ‘success. Very few vegetable farmers have taken up land there. Indeed, there are not sufficient of them to provide vegetables for the present population of Darwin. If we are to promote these enterprises and encourage people to go there, it will be necessary for us to provide their basic foodstuffs from the Territory rather than incur the heavy extra expense of transporting them from southern parts.
I now wish to say something about the trades and professions. I know that I have omitted quite a number of important problems which need to be considered under the broad heading of the development of the Territory. I have left out entirely our responsibility for the assimilation of the native section of the population and the importance of doing so because I believe that is a subject which should be dealt with on its own.
I mention only briefly the need for providing extra housing for those people whom we are asking to go to the Northern Territory. I shall give just one brief example. I know of one family in which the father and two sons are tradesmen and wish to go to the Northern Territory and take their families. The father and two sons could go at once but they cannot take their families because of the limited amount of accommodation. It will be necessary for the men to live in a hostel and, perhaps after quite a long period, they will obtain houses for their families.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I direct my remarks to the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory. The concept of Canberra as the Australian national capital was that of a garden city. This is a term which is used a great deal but which is not understood so well as it should be. The concept was of a garden city with rather gracious suburbs set well apart, with broad avenues, treelined streets with extensive gardens and wide frontages for the houses. There was to be a central water feature to be crossed by monumental bridges and with the larger buildings and government administrative offices in general grouped about those lakes.
That was the concept right from the time of the Burley Griffin plan and right from the time that a commencement was made with the construction of Canberra. It was the plan followed for years by successive governments. We saw the development of suburb after suburb following just that plan. The home allotments had wide frontages and extensive depths to encourage home gardens. We saw the development of wide streets and thoroughfares with extensive nature strips between the footpath and the road itself. We saw the whole pattern of Canberra with hedges planted along each front alinement of every dwelling. Those hedges were planted in accordance with a plan drawn up by the parks and gardens section so that the same type of hedge was grown along one street and at the same height. Incidentally, if any plant was grown in the hedge which bore fruit it was assured that that fruit was at least edible if not palatable so that there would be no danger of harmful effects to any one eating it. That was part of the way in which the capital began to develop.
Canberra has produced a very attractive scene. We had these gracious, tree-lined streets, the evenness of well-kept hedges with no front fences or gates. That was the garden city. But in recent years since the war certain decisions have been taken which have tended to destroy the garden aspect of Canberra. I do not say that they were intended to destroy it but they have certainly tended to have that effect.
Some years ago, with the pressure on to provide housing for the increasing population of this city and to make up for the lag which had occurred during the war years, the planners varied the size of house allotments and brought them down to smaller and smaller dimensions. Instead of the spacious allotments that had been envisaged and followed, we found the crowding together of houses. The frontage of allotments came down to 50 feet and 45 feet. We saw the construction of drab, repetitivetype houses so that whole streets of houses looked exactly the same as one another. One front window looked into the next door bathroom. We saw that sort of thing.
– It is shocking.
– As the honorable member says, it is shocking. But these things were not done at the request of the citizens. It was not at the request of the people who lived here when gracious home allotments were made, when wide frontages were provided and when hedges were planted and cut by the Department of the Interior. This was to be the national capital; this was the garden city. We have seen the development of group housing in certain areas of Canberra. We have seen the development of drab, repetitive-type houses. But in addition to that, some years ago decisions were taken by the Minister for the Interior, who was a predecessor of the present Minister, and which he was quite entitled to take, that no longer was the Department of the Interior to be responsible for cutting the hedges of the people of Canberra. I suppose Australia got a laugh out of that and said, “Why should they get their hedges cut? Why don’t they cut their own hedges as we do?”
But that decision had a serious effect on the garden city aspect because we find in some places people have allowed their hedges to grow to an inordinate height, others keep theirs trimmed, but their neighbour’s is unruly. The Minister also gave permission to people who wished to remove their hedges from the front of their places to do so. They could replace them if they desired, with a low stone or brick wall of approved design. People who had grown tired of cutting their hedges took the opportunity of doing this. Some have been removed and replaced with low stone or brick walls, of a minimum height. Some, indeed do not seek approval for the design of the wall so that there has developed a great variation in the garden city appearance of this place.
We now have the National Capital Development Commission charged with the responsibility of developing and building this city. That commission is now seeking to undo some of these mistakes. It is seeking to introduce variety in housing and return to the garden city aspect. One of the minor questions it faces will be how to deal with these stone walls that have replaced hedges. What action it will take on that, I do not know.
It was always recognized that as this was a garden city and the National Capital there were avenues of expenditure which were properly .the responsibility of the nation as a whole. It was realized that the very planned nature of the city, the extensive spread of the suburbs, and the large number of government buildings meant that the people of Canberra could not be called upon to pay for the consequent increased expenditure. It meant, first of all, that all the services provided in the city must be far more expensive than they would be in any other city of comparable population. Water supply, sewerage, electricity supply, telephone services, roads, kerbs, gutterings and footpaths would all cost a great deal more in this planned city than they would cost in any other city of comparable population which had grown in a normal way - outwards from the main street. It was recognized that it would not be right to call on the population of Canberra itself to pay the cost of these services. Obviously, because it is a planned city, the cost is a national responsibility. The people who live here have not said that they would like to have a spread city. They have not said that they would like to live in Kingston and work in O’Connor, or live in Ainslie and work in Barton. This is a planned city and it is a national responsibility. But it was recognized that the people of the Territory should make an appropriate contribution to the cost of the services they received, and I believe that they should continue to make an appropriate contribution, comparable to that made by the citizens of any other provincial city of equal population. Throughout the years, there has been a charge for rates on all properties in Canberra. The committee should remember that within the city area there is no freehold land. All land is held on lease, with a 99-years tenure. The rental paid for land is 5 per cent, per annum of the unimproved capital value.
All land in the Territory, whether held directly by lease or whether rented from the Government with a dwelling has rates paid in respect of it. These rates are calculated on the assessed annual rental value of the property. As an official statement issued by the Minister for the Interior the other day indicated, the present rating has remained unchanged for over 30 years. It is made up of a general rate of 3d. in the £1, 3d. in the £1 for lighting, 3id. in the £1 for water, and 2id. in the £1 for sewerage. Of course, in addition to that, the tenant pays land rent equal to 5 per cent, of the unimproved capital value.
Recently, the Minister for the Interior announced a decision which I believe will do further harm to the garden city aspect of this National Capital. The Minister announced that the method of charging for water for domestic use was to be varied from the basis to which I have referred, namely 3±d. in the £1 on the assessed annual rental value, to a fixed charge of £5 per block, for which 100,000 gallons of water a year would be provided to the tenant or occupier who would thereafter pay at the rate of ls. per 1,000 gallons. That is to say, the tenant would pay for all the water he uses at the rate of ls. for every 1,000 gallons, with a minimum charge of £5.
There have been protests against that decision from the Canberra Horticultural Society and other organizations, and from individual members of the community. The Minister announced that the decision had been reached on the advice of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. As members will know, this is a partly elected body, which also has official members appointed by the Government. It has no executive power - only the power to advise the Minister. The Advisory Council was asked to make a recommendation to the Minister on this matter without being provided, I suggest, with all the figures that should have been made available to it. However, in the position in which it was placed, it made the recommendation which the Minister has now adopted. It is not always the practice of a Minister to adopt recommendations of the council, but this one was adopted. In announcing the decision, the Minister said -
During the financial year 1957-58 the average daily consumption in Canberra was approximately 180 gallons per person, but during February, 1959, when it was found necessary to impose restrictions, consumption had risen to an average of 450 gallons per person per day. The average daily consumption was extremely high compared with other cities - Melbourne and Sydney 75, Adelaide 80 and Perth 97.
Admittedly, consumption in February was high because we were experiencing a very rigorous drought. But I think the Minister was not doing justice to himself in using these figures, or perhaps the departmental officers were not doing justice to the Minister in providing him with them as a comparison. It will be readily realized that every allotment in this city is sewered. That is not so in the capital cities of Victoria and New South Wales - Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne and Sydney there are many square miles of houses jammed together on extremely narrow allotments, with no nature strips, as we call them, in front of them. In many cases, there are no gardens except, perhaps, of pocket-handkerchief size. So, I think that the comparison between Melbourne and Sydney on the one hand and Canberra on the other hand was hardly a valid one. In addition, the figure for the month of February of this year, which as I have said was a drought month, was hardly valid for comparison.
Part 8 of the Commonwealth Year-Book, which became available to-day, gives figures for water consumption which I consider have a bearing on this question. The annual consumption for the various cities, per house property, and per capita, are these -
Compare these figures with the proposed allowance for Canberra of 100,000 gallons per annum! I remind the committee that the figures that I have quoted are for cities which have grown outwards from the main street. They are not planned garden cities as this capital city is. They are not cities with nature strips, wide tree-lined thoroughfares, and extensive gardens. They are not cities in which the people have been given every encouragement to develop gardens and plant trees. Indeed, trees used to be provided free in Canberra.
– Do those figures include any industrial use?
– They are the water supply figures in part 8 of the Commonwealth “Year-Book” which is available to the Minister as it is to me. I think that the figures he quoted for Canberra include water used for industrial purposes, domestic purposes and gardening purposes.
I suggest that the comparison made by the Minister is not valid for other reasons if we are to maintain the garden aspect of this city which the Minister wishes to maintain and the National Capital Development Commission is trying to maintain. Rainfall is important. The average rain fall figures for the capital cities are as follows: -
Evaporation too, has to be considered and the comparative figures are as follows: -
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
- Mr. Temporary Chairman, perhaps with the indulgence of the committee, I might take my second period forthwith.
– By common consent, the honorable member will continue.
– Thank you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I thank the committee, too. I shall not take the whole of the time allotted to me in my second period.
I think that there are other comparisons in those figures to which regard should be had in the consideration of this matter. The rainfall in Melbourne and Sydney- the two cities which the Minister for the Interior used mainly for comparison - is evenly spread over the whole year, whereas Canberra’s total rainfall of nearly 25 inches a year is largely concentrated in the months from July to October, inclusive. On an average of the figures over 25 years, we have rain on only seven days in each of the months of January, February and March, on only eight days in each of the months of April and May, and on the same number of days in each of the months of November and December.
The Minister revealed subsequently, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the test meterings on which the decision to increase water charges was based were made in 1951 and 1952, and that the readings were taken at selected bouses in various suburbs* in Canberra. Unfortunately, he has not said anything about the number of houses involved, the size of the allotments on which they stood, the size of family occupying them or the amounts of water which might be expected to be used. The Minister said that, on the tests made in 1951 and 1952, it was considered that 50,000 gallons a year would be a reasonable allowance for the average household for domestic use, and he made an allowance of 50,000 gallons a year for garden purposes for each household. That is how the total of 100,000 gallons a year was arrived at.
It is true that, m the years since 1951 and 1952, the usage of water throughout Australia has increased very considerably. From 1952-53 to 1956-57- the last year for which there are records - the consumption per head m Sydney increased from 76.4 to 94.1 gallons a day; in Newcastle, from 86.3 to 95.3 gallons a day; in Melbourne, from 74.1 to 75.4 gallons a day; and in Brisbane, from 61 to 73.5 gallons a day. From 1953-54 to 1957-58, the consumption per head in Perth rose from 108 to 118.4 gallons a day. So I suggest again that it is not valid to base a decision in 1959 on figures obtained from incomplete meterings seven or eight years previously.
I agree - and I think the bulk of the people of Canberra will agree - that the people of the city should be required to pay for the services they receive, as I suggested earlier, on the same basis as the citizens of any other city of comparable population in Australia would be required to pay. But, beyond that, the expense of maintaining the garden city, wilh its spread of suburbs, is a national responsibility, and one which I believe the people of Australia are prepared to accept.
I have asked the Minister to provide me - he has not yet been able to do so - with details of the capital cost involved in this proposal to charge for water used. That includes the capital cost of purchasing meters and meter covers, and the cost of installing meters. I believe that a very considerable sum is involved in the purchase and installation of meters, and that an equivalent amount devoted’ to the reticula tion of the water available here would have ensured an increased supply to Canberra. On top of that must come the cost of maintaining meters and reading them, and the cost of the accounting that will be necessary in the Department of the Interior. I suggest to the Minister that, it being realized that we must pay to the extent which I have suggested, it would have been more reasonable to increase the present water rate. Admittedly, the rate has remained unchanged, I think the Minister said, since 1925. I do not think that any one would object if it were increased from 3id. to 4id. or even 5d. in the £1. Increasing the rate would have been a much fairer and more reasonable method of increasing the amount received in payment for the usage of water.
I have perhaps wearied the committee in dealing with this matter, Mr. Temporary Chairman. But it is a matter of importance to the people of this city. It is important, also, because it illustrates how the people of the National Capital are treated by government. They are the people who live in 4he very Seat of Government. They are the people who, in their daily lives, perform the work of government. And, in the senior brackets, as I have said before, they are the people who advise the government on .national policy. Yet they are denied the right to govern themselves in their day-by-day affairs. They are still refused the right to elect their own council to discharge the responsibilities of local government - a right enjoyed by all other citizens of the Commonwealth. Were the people of Canberra given that right, an assessment of the national proportion and the local proportion of the cost of this city having been made, the people of the National Capital would have the responsibility of administering these things themselves and would not have them administered, as at present, by ministerial decision made on departmental advice.
I hope sincerely that the Minister for the Interior will have another look at this matter, which, I believe, illustrates the need for local government in this National Capital. I believe that, if we are to maintain this capital as a garden city, the matter must be further examined, further test meterings must be made, other advice must be sought, and regard must be had for the statistics which are available, because I am quite certain that if the present proposal proceeds, many of the people who are now spending their own money on the purchase of seed, the preparation of soil, and the care of the nature strips and lawns which make this a garden city, will not be able to afford to continue to do this. I therefore hope that the Minister will have a further look at this matter.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not propose to follow the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) by discussing the needs of this Territory and the disagreements with the policy that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) has introduced - a subject on which the honorable member gave us a very able discourse. I feel that he and the Minister can very well look after that side of things. I propose in the fifteen minutes at my disposal to turn my attention mainly to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
May I say, first, that I had an opportunity in 1950, and another in 1956, to visit the Territory, and to note the progress and the problems there. My first visit was made while the impact of the war was still felt, and I was able to compare my experiences then with those that I had on my second visit about two and one-half years ago. I agree with other honorable members who have said that it is a sound investment for the Commonwealth to make it possible for members of the Parliament to visit the various Territories. I should like to point out that there is nothing original in the suggestion that such visits should be made. I remember reading, being something of a student of constitutional procedures, that it was the practice of the Swiss Parliament - I think a quarter of a century ago - to induce its members to travel throughout that comparatively small country during parliamentary recesses.
In view of the widespread responsibilities of this Parliament, it seems to me absolutely essential that every member of the Parliament who can possibly visit the Territories and the dependencies of Australia should do so in order that he may vote in this Parliament with the benefit of firsthand knowledge, and speak with the authority of his own observations made on the spot, and not just on the basis of written descriptions, when he is asked to speak to his electors or representative gatherings of citizens. My rather lengthy experience in public life has driven me to the conclusion that no impressions gained from either written or oral comments by other people can compare with personal contact with problems. From the time when one visits another country or another part of his own country, he has some standard - some criterion - by which he may judge the matters which come before him. That first-hand experience is of inestimable value.
The Territory of Papua and New Guinea has had much prominence in the public eye in the last few months, mainly for three reasons. The first is the criticism that has been levelled at the new tax proposals. The second, I suggest, is the claim of white settlers for greater representations and wider powers in the Legislative Council. There may be some who will say I am imposing too narrow a limit when I refer to the white settlers, but no matter how you camouflage the position the plain fact is that that is what is behind the move. No one realizes more than I that when the people go to a new part of the world to try to establish themselves they have a right to ask that those privileges which are the heritage of British people should be extended to them as far as it is possible to do so. But we live in a world in which mistakes have occurred in the past, and we have had some very sharp lessons concerning what may flow from those mistakes. Consequently we must regard the claim for greater representation by these white settlers - even though they are associated with a number of native councillors - in rather a critical light, even if we do not lack sympathy.
There is a third reason for the recent rise and prominence of this Territory, and I believe it has direct relevance to what I have already put before the committee. I refer to the attempts that are made in the United Nations to fix a time limit after which the native people shall be allowed to govern themselves. It may not seem, at first glance, that what we do here, how much we vote for the development of the Territory or what support we give to the
Minister’s policy has a great deal of relevance to what is said or done, or attempted to be done, in the United Nations, but those who think along such lines are in for a very rude awakening one of these days. I consider it a fantastic proposal that we should fix a time limit of two, five, ten or more years. Nevertheless, attempts have been made to limit our control of the Territory to periods as short as three years. These moves are dangerous for Australia, because when we resist them the native people may be more susceptible to the propaganda which is inspired, I think, mainly by Soviet Russia and its satellites, but which is supported also by nations which have affiliations with us. What we do and how we do it in the Territory will have an important bearing on the length of time that we shall be allowed to control this country, which is very important to us for many reasons, one of them being our own defence.
I would, then, refer briefly to a few ideas which I have in mind. I do not intend to enter into a discussion or a dissection of the various forms of taxation. I am not an expert on taxation, although at times in the past I have thought myself qualified as one who knows something about paying taxes. First let me say that I am convinced that a graduated income tax is the fairest form of taxation. I believe that a person who is properly taxed on the basis of a graduated income tax, fairly and scientifically applied, is paying in proportion to what he has. Any other form’ of tax is apt to fall unjustly on certain individuals. A land tax may be imposed on a person who has suffered a loss. Sales tax has to be paid irrespective of the circumstances of the person buying the goods. But income tax, fairly applied, is a tax on what you have, and not, as is often the case with other taxes, on what you have not.
Let me say also that in a pioneering community there are discomforts, isolation and hazards which are not met in ordinary community life. I have seen something of what is called pioneering in the outback portions of my own State, but the conditions I have seen there are a good deal better than those that the people in Central Australia, in parts of the Northern Territory and in the tar north of Western Australia have to put up with, even in these days of modern amenities, aeroplanes and other things which go to provide a civilized community life. New Guinea is a purely tropical country, and much discomfort has to be faced by the people living there, although there is some excellent country in which conditions are not so bad. However, the settlers have to live as part of a population that is predominantly primitive, and they necessarily miss many of the amenities that we accept in our ordinary lives. Consequently I believe that in our consideration of pioneers, whether in New Guinea or in our own outback, we should err on the side of generosity as a recognition of what these people have to put up with.
Now I move on to the claim of the white settlers for greater representation and wider powers in the Legislative Council. I believe that this claim cannot be considered in isolation. Let us consider the progress that has been made in the Territory, as shown by the figures I have before me for the years 1951-52 and 1959-60. These figures are impressive and should be a source of pride to Australia. In 1951-52 expenditure amounted to £7,700,000. The estimate for the current year is £18,700,000. It is obvious that the people of Australia are providing a substantial portion of the money that is being expended in the Territory, and tL income that is being received is less than one-third of the amount that is being expended.
This brings me to my third point, concerning the demand in certain sections of the United Nations for a time limit on the grant of self-government - meaning selfgovernment by the native people and not by the white settlers. This is a demand that we cannot afford to ignore. While having every sympathy with the white people who have pioneered and are pioneering the Territory, I warn them and this Parliament that the world will not tolerate an old-style colonial policy in New Guinea or anywhere else. New Guinea is a trust territory. Australia is given a great trust over the primitive peoples of Papua and New Guinea. If it betrays this trust, it does so at its peril. Apart from the claims advanced for devious reasons by Communist countries, the lessons of Africa, especially in the highlands of Kenya and in the Rhodesias, are so fresh that there is no necessity for me to speak of them. There is a singular similarity between those countries and the highlands of
New Guinea, and I say that we cannot do other than follow that broadminded, generous and practical realism which has characterized the work of the present Minister for Territories, who has brought to his task a cultured mind, a courage and a quiet determination to follow out in the modern way those policies so splendidly laid down by William McGregor and Hubert Murray. I pay a tribute to him tonight for what he has done and for what he is attempting to do, and I want to assure him that I believe that there stands behind him, in his determination to see that our trust is not betrayed, the conscience of every decent person in Australia.
.- I support the general comments of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), who said, in effect, that in relation to New Guinea there must be no Kenyas or Nyasalands in the future. For that reason, and because to a certain extent the policies and future of Trust territories - .and New Guinea in particular - are at the crossroads to-day, the remarks of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in the statement that he has circulated to us, call for support and for an answer to a challenge. The challenge is: What is the approach to New Guinea, and what has been the traditional approach?
The Minister, safe in the knowledge of his humanitarism because of his early training knows that a humane approach is the paramount need, and that it is not the white man eventually, or even temporarily, who has the ascendancy, but the native in New Guinea. We must see that the first thing that the native wants is remembered - that is, to preserve his land from the restrictions that have been imposed by trusting white men. If we say there is some irritation among the planters and white settlers in New Guinea we are not in any way reflecting on their progress or ability or their attempts to stick it out in a tropical area. The whole trust plan is devoted to the future, in which Australia shares a dream with democracy generally - that is, that in ten years, twenty years, 50 years, even 100 years - we have to present a black democracy to the north of us, which will have emerged from our trust. It will not be a question, when the trust is discharged, of having anything else but the supremacy of the natives of New Guinea themselves. So, in any development we do, we must keep paramount what is of the first importance to the native himself.
The Minister has a terrific job, as has any other man associated with New Guinea. Whether he is there as a planter, a public servant or an administrator, he has to lift: neolithic man into the atomic age. It isa strange thing - a thing which has captured’ the imagination of the Australian people. I suppose there is more unity between the various sections of the community and the various parties in this chamber on the real destiny and future of New Guinea than there is on any other problem that I can think of at the moment. Now, if we are devoted to doing this job that lies ahead of us, if we say that the Minister is right and honorable members who criticize him are wrong, we have got to see where we are going.
How do you push the ball along for the development of New Guinea? Not by the cries of the planter and the businessmen, and a very bad press as in the old days and in that genre to the effect that the natives are not allowed to have a fair go, that there is inequality in regard to elections, and all those other things. It is so incredibly easy to exploit the natives and make use of those things. In creating the conditions that we have created - and the Minister is to be congratulated on sustaining the development achieved- we have to remember our ugly past, in which there has been exploitation of the natives in New Guinea and elsewhere. We have to remember the indenture system and many other things that have been wrong. So, now we have become organized in the most democratic way for the progress of the people of New Guinea, we want to be practical about these things and realize that the trust resides in the Federal Government, in the federal parties in this House. Our slogan here should be, “Work and plan, imagination and courage, and a proper understanding of the problem “. You do not win anything by denunciation of the businessmen at Port Moresby, by the rather limited approach to this problem, as we see it from this distance, of the working planters. You have to try to bring those things together and get an estimation of them in the minds of the Australian people. We know very well it is symbolic of the attitude of the people of Australia to say that there should be a fair go for the natives of New Guinea, but so far as their knowledge goes of what the problems are, we from this chamber and elsewhere have to advise them.
New Guinea is an island of 312,000 square miles. It is in the hot, wet tropical belt. It is not fertile, like Java with its 70,000,000 people. It is leached rather than lush. It has tremendous mountains and precipitous valleys, turbulent rivers and stands of timber at great heights, and volcanic soil which allows opportunities for agriculture and for village farming that is isolated and scattered. For that reason it cannot be brought to a big agricultural plan, because of the very nature of the country itself. It has no coal. It has no oil as yet, although £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 has been spent-
– About £30,000,000 altogether.
– Recently £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 has been spent on the search for oil, and the total spent so far is £30,000,000. There is gold certainly, and there are alleged to be nickel and copper there. There are great opportunities for hydro-electricity, but beyond that there is not a great deal to be said for the potential of the area. There are 1,750,000 people scattered in 10,000 small villages, we are told, speaking 500 different languages. And here we have a paramount problem in that 80 per cent, of the requirements for proper nutrition cannot be provided by the Papuan or the native of New Guinea from his own garden. His food production has to be supplemented. He suffers from malaria, tropic ulcers, dysentery and hookworm, and has a life expectancy of 35 years. The rate of infant mortality is high. He suffers from a lack of protein in his diet, and from the other disabilities of that country. All those things present a problem in emergency as well as of progress. That is the challenge to the Australian people - not how many people can make a quick quid in New Guinea, but how we are to discharge the trust imposed on us as a young nation, how we are to measure up to our responsibilities in New Guinea. And we are measuring up to them well. I remind the Minister, who needs no reminding, that his administration is second to none in the world. The men appointed before the war, and after war as administrators, patrol officers, district officers and magistrates, are dedicated men. They are not looking for profit. They are not looking for anything but freedom to discharge their trust. They form, in my view, the greatest civil service in the world. It was one of my proudest tasks when a Labour Government was in office to be sent to New Guinea by the then Minister for External Territories, Mr. Ward, to appoint from the Australia-New Guinea Administrative Unit and from other military sources men who later became prominent and well known in the departmental service, in government, and in the field services of the Territory. So we have there the ingredients of a magnificent group of public servants who are doing all they can to help us along with this task.
When you look at the money side of it you see another problem. When we discuss the Territories here it is rather a remarkable thing that there are two schools of thought in Australia so diametrically opposed. There are romantics who talk of the Northern Territory as if they see a rose blooming out of every gibber on the plain, and there are those who see lush money pouring out of the plantations and the groves of New Guinea. Both are wrong. The situation is that with proper care and development in both of these areas there will eventually be prosperous communities.
There are only about 1,750,000 people in New Guinea. These countries are sparsely populated countries. They are beyond the lush belt. They are the tough countries that must be wrestled with to produce the things that we desire. In the Budget that has been prepared by this Government, it is estimated that this year there will be about £19,000,000 of local revenue. Private investment is small - about £5,000,000 - and there is an adverse trade balance of about £4,000,000, but the trading position is improving all the time. These things should be made known to the members of the Trusteeship Council, to those people who are taking a political slant and asking us to set a date when we can say to neolithic man or stone age man, “ This is your government; proceed with it.”
Those people do not know the fundamental problems, the almost metaphysical problems, involved in overcoming the inertia of the native peoples and making them move towards some appreciation of what their problems are and what their destiny can be. Those people have no idea of the diversity of races in New Guinea - the Motos on the coast, the Mount Hargen natives and the men of the interior, with all their differences in outlook, culture and even physical appearance. Despite all those things - the distances, the height of the mountains, the difficulties of communication and the troubles with native uprisings - in the slow process of time Australia, in the discharge of its trust, has produced 5,000 miles of roads, 4,000 schools with 171,000 pupils of all kinds, and 200 hospitals with 5,000 staff, both European and native. In addition, dotted all over the country are the beginnings of industry. There are gold mines and some timber cutting operations. There are agricultural industries, particularly coffee plantations.
This hard country, this country that has a great future, not only industrially, but also, and above all else, constitutionally and spiritually, is making slow progress. Slow progress is what we must look for. It would be foolish to imagine that development can be achieved quickly. For that reason, I feel that the Minister is entirely on safe ground in making the statements that he has made. If he sometimes becomes irritated by criticism from some of the settlers and by some of the irrational comments in the press, that is only a human reaction. I know that in the broad sense the job is being done very well. It is rarely that we on this side of the committee go to the extent of pleading the cause of a Minister, but this thing transcends politics. It give us a feeling of well being to be able to say that the job is being done well.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has to-night placed before the Minister a proposition that we should co-operate on a joint parliamentary committee, that we should work out between us, for all the Australian people, our duty to the peoples of New Guinea, to the natives of the countries to the north of us. I feel that eventually that will be one of the greatest tasks we can discharge. Over us hangs the view held by the Asians that we are white, arrogant and proud. Some of our statements about the superiority of different pigmentations of skin can be terribly hurtful to those people, who are emerging from their Asian gloom of colonialism, slavery and feudalism. It may be that in the years to come we will repay then handsomely with the things that we shall do in New Guinea. No matter what government is in power, we shall assert that the thing to do with regard to New Guinea is to help the progress of the natives. In honouring our trust, we must see that the slow emergence of the black man to our north, our brother in all things, is not achieved at his expense.
We all believe that we have made special plans for the welfare of New Guinea. We know how deep and how wide the problem is, and we know that it can be solved. It may be our finest hour if, in the course of the century, we are able to hand responsible government to the peoples of New Guinea. What a good start the native councils have made. Some people say that they are loaded in favour of the natives and others say that they have not enough power - that there is a sort of guided democracy. We admit all these things, because there does not face any other country in the world adminstering native peoples a task so intense as ours, nor so difficult, nor carrying so many problems. The stone age man exists to-day as a native race only in New Guinea. We must lift him slowly and with certainty. We rely on the common sense of the Government. We rely on the dedication and devotion of the Administration. We say to the people who are too eager to exploit New Guinea that they must wait - that the black man’s welfare is paramount. We say that our duty is to see, if we do hand this country over, that we hand it over to the natives as a trust that we have discharged over the century.
.- The attention of the Parliament has been very firmly focussed on New Guinea as the result of a series of happenings there in the last twelve months. First came the Navuneram affair, followed by the visit of the United Nations mission. Then we had the killing of a native, which was punished by a fine. Finally, we had the agitation arising out of a radical change in the taxation system in the Territory. Following on those things came the speeches of the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) and the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) in this chamber. [ think I can say that they violently attacked the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) and his administration in the Territories.
I rise principally because I wish to dissociate myself from anything that was said by those honorable members. In the absence of a plain statement it may be inferred that a number of members on this side of the committee, and for all I know on the other side of the committee, are in agreement with what those two honorable members said. I want to make it clear that those two honorable members do not speak for me, and I do not believe that they speak for any substantial number of people in this chamber. I think it is my duty to make that clear. This is not a pleasant duty because I have great respect for those two honorable members as personal friends.
– You must give us some credit for being able to make a judgment.
– I did not agree with the honorable member. That is all, and 1 have a duty to perform. What is the task of the Australian people through governmental agencies in New Guinea? As I see it, the task, above all else, is to lead a substantial population of stone age savages into the rather turbulent twentieth century. The path that was travelled for thousands of years by our progenitors is a path that the peoples of New Guinea must travel in a very short time. It is a rather awesome assignment for any people to undertake, but we must undertake it. The Minister used, I thought, the correct word when he said that it was a task to be approached with humility. I do not believe that cliches about private enterprise or shallow thinking are the answer to a problem of this magnitude, a problem that I say is awesome and, as the Minister has said, must be approached with humility.
I have always been grateful that we have had a Minister in this portfolio in whom we could so well trust. He has been called an academic. Well, I have a great respect for academic studies. There are those who think that this means simply a contrast with practical affairs. But I believe that an academic study means keen observation, a great deal of research, reading, field work, testing and ultimately the sorting out of complex facts, looking at evidence, and coming to sound conclusions based on that evidence. That is what 1 understand by an academic study, and that is what the Minister has done in the field of anthropology in his early years. He has had a great deal of practical experience in dealing with natives in latter years. Secondly, this is a Territory that is greatly concerned with the United Nations and with world opinion, and it so happens that the Minister is peculiarly qualified to deal with that aspect of the administration of New Guinea because he was in the diplomatic service of this country for a number of years and represented Australia at the United Nations. He is familiar, not only with the processes of that organization but also with the psychology of the people who meet there. Throughout he has shown great courage and wisdom in dealing with this very complex problem which I think is so little understood by most of us - I profess no special knowledge of it - and so much beyond the ordinary horizons of our daily life.
I have read the report of the recent United Nations mission to New Guinea, and on almost every page I found commendation of the work that is being done by the Administration. In some sections of the report reference is made to the need to do perhaps a little more in this direction or in that, or to hasten a little faster in this direction or in that, but by and large the report is full of commendation for the work that has been done in the administration of the Territory, and for that the Minister must receive a great proportion of the praise.
What is the heart of the discontent in New Guinea, because there is great discontent there? Is it the problems of taxation? No doubt many details of the proposals have caused a great deal of irritation. Taxation proposals are apt to have that characteristic. But having read the letter written by the distinguished Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Territories, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse), that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 4th September, I believe that any doubts that may have existed as to the wisdom of the taxation proposals should have been dispelled. I am quite serious in saying that 1 do not believe that the taxation proposals alone are the heart of the discontent in New Guinea at Present. I believe rather that it is due to what one might call anxiety neurosis on the part of the European people there regarding their future. Some evidence of this may be found in the letter by Mr. Hohnen, a very sensible and balanced man, that appeared in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 18th September. That letter contained an admission that the European population in New Guinea is concerned about the future of the Territory, and its own future there.
There have been some moves that I can only call sinister emanating from the European population in New Guinea. In the first place, there has been a violent campaign to drive the Minister from office with a view, I suggest, to replacing him with some more pliant instrument. This, of course, is a fantastic idea to most of us in this chamber, but I believe that it was born in the brains of people who are somewhat isolated and remote from the affairs of Parliament. Secondly, as has been pointed out, there has been a campaign to increase the European representation in the Legislative Council in New Guinea. It has been claimed that the white settlers are prepared to see an increased number of indigenous members in the Council as well; but they believe that those people can be made their tools. It may be that, looking in front of their noses, that is right, but they have not shown a great capacity to look further than their noses. I am sure that the real purpose is to gain greater control of the Territory by obtaining greater European representation in the Legislative Council.
Thirdly, the European population has asked for representation in this Parliament. According to the latest figures, the white population in New Guinea totals 11,000, and the native population 1,326,000. By a simple piece of arithmetic, it is obvious that if we had one white representative in this chamber, we should have 120 native representatives so that we would know quite clearly, from an ocular demonstration, what proportion of New Guinea was represented by a white man in this Parliament. As time went on, we would be confronted with the same problems as confronted South Africa. If it is argued that we should have one white representative, the time will come when it will be claimed that we should have a native representative as well. Then the natives would say that they should have two or three representatives, and we would have endless disputes as to what the proportion of white and native representation should be. I can imagine nothing that would do more to exacerbate the feeling between the European and native populations in New Guinea than having representatives in this chamber, because there could not be white representation without native representation.
– What about an aboriginal from the Northern Territory? You are defeating your own argument.
– I am not defeating my argument at all.
– I am being realistic.
– I do not think that the Europeans in New Guinea are being realistic. What is the future of New Guinea? I hope I am not speaking too bluntly or too plainly when I say I think that the honorable member for Mitchell envisages a kind of imperialistic exploitation of New Guinea. Of course, he will deny that phrase, but I think he believes that New Guinea is a country to be exploited by white capital, white capitalists and white settlers.
– That is wrong.
– That is the impression that I gained from the honorable member’s speech. Perhaps I have exaggerated it.
– Pretty viciously too.
– I am not being vicious. I am trying to be as plain as you were when you spoke about the rights of private enterprise in New Guinea, and I shall speak very plainly about what I believe to be the rights of the natives. There are those who think that there is a field for what I would call in simple terms imperialistic exploitation of the natives, but anybody who holds that opinion to-day is living in the past. No one in this modern world could possibly suppose that that is the future destiny of New Guinea. What is the alternative?
Surely the alternative is some form of association with Australia, different from the association of colonies and mother countries in the past. There are those who think that New Guinea should become a seventh State of Australia. 1 do:not have the time to go into that matter now, -but I have spoken on it on a previous occasion. If one considers that suggestion for a moment, one will realize that to make New Guinea a seventh State is out of the question. Yet the proposal ‘has been ‘advanced seriously by Europeans in the Territory.
There could be ultimately a more informal association - I am speaking of the ultimate destiny of the Territory - which might amount to independence as a Melanesian state enjoying friendly relations with Australia. Or there could be some closer association through a ;treaty link or by some other .means. We cannot foresee what form the association will take, but certainly the future of .New Guinea lies with the native people because there are 1,300,000 natives and only 11,000 Europeans. The average life of .a native in New Guinea is now 35 years, but it is obvious that with improved .hygiene the native population will increase enormously, perhaps to 3,000,000 or more, within the next 50 years. However, there is .no prospect that the white population in New Guinea will increase in the same proportion.
There is a need for some clarification of the position of the white settlers in the Territory - ;the public servants, the investors, the settlers and others. The Minister has clarified the role of the white settler as he sees it. There is no need for me -to say anything more about the matter because the Minister has given the chamber, the country and the settlers in New Guinea a very clear picture of the important role that the white population has to fulfil. I do not think any of us has any animosity towards the white settlers. We realize that if the natives are to be educated in the economic sense and if they are to learn how to increase their productivity, the white settlers who have the capital, the skills and all that is necessary to lead these people to an economic future, must play a very important part. That is the role of the white settlers in New Guinea. I am sure that they will play their part for a number of years to come.
- (Mr. Luchetti). Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) “has delivered another df the thoughtful ‘and constructive speeches which have characterized all his contributions in this Budget session. I am happy to think that nearly every honorable member in this committee would agree with what he said and compliment him on saying it.
New Guinea will soon be the last colonial territory in the world. Two-thirds of the eastern half of the island and the adjacent islands to the east are subject to a trusteeship .agreement. Therefore the scrutiny of the world will be concentrated more and more, in future, on Australia’s administration in the area and will automatically be brought to bear every year.
Australia cannot afford to be complacent at the position in New Guinea. Australians have, for three quarters of a century ruled Papua. For 40 years they have ruled northeastern New Guinea and the islands of New Britain and New Ireland. Yet there are few parts of the world which are so unfitted at this stage, politically or economically, for self-government. Only one in ten of the people of school age in the Territory attends school.
As the honorable member for Bradfield frankly acknowledged, Australia has not had a good year in New Guinea. We must not, .hereafter, allow names like Navuneram to rank with Little Rock or Ceduna. After the Sear case we must not let it seem that we are content to administer the law without dispensing justice. I regret that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) still hesitates to put beyond doubt the right of appeal from territorial judgments.
– That .matter is under consideration -at the moment.
– I thank the Minister for that assurance. The judicial standards which satisfy the Establishment in South Australia should not satisfy this Parliament. Every year, before the Budget and Estimates debates, the Minister presents notes on the Territories for the consideration of honorable -members. I believe that he is the only Minister to do so in -respect of his -department. It is a helpful practice and we are all in his debt for it. I feel, however, that honorable members and the public have not yet had a full or prompt opportunity of knowing the contents of the report of the United Nations Visiting Mission to the “Territory this year or the report of the Trusteeship Council to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
I do not propose to refer at any great length to the visiting mission’s report since, in an admirable issue of the department’s bi-monthly magazine “ South Pacific “ for May and June last, there is a fair and frank summary of the report. In an Estimates debate, however, I feel that it is appropriate to quote two passages which must give us cause for thought. The first of these is as follows: -
The Mission was not made aware of any planned and co-ordinated schemes of development at the district level.
The Mission also feels very strongly that better use could be made of the existing financial assistance if this could be made available in a lump sum for expenditure over a period of, say, five years, on the basis of an integrated plan of development.
I think the Minister would agree with that. The report further states -
During its discussions with the Administrator in Port Moresby and with the Minister of State for Territories in Canberra, the Mission was struck by the absence of any comprehensive and integrated development plan. In the absence of such -a plan the Mission does not feel that it is possible to make the best use of the available finance and it therefore urges the Administering Authority to consider formulating a plan of this kind and basing its expenditure upon it.
I should also mention that this visiting mission comprising representatives from Belgium, Burma, Formosa and Italy, made four recommendations concerning international assistance. It commended to the Australian Government that capital should be sought from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, that specialized agencies of the international community should be approached for help in surveying land resources in New Guinea, that the administration should profit from the experience and assistance of those who have already dealt with change in traditional land tenure systems and that the administration would have to intensify its efforts to obtain teachers from overseas. 1 pass now to the report of the Trusteeship Council on the Territory. I propose to quote in some detail the prodding passages of that report since I believe that it is important that honorable members and the general public should be promptly and fully aware of them. The Trusteeship Council recommended that -
In the interest of uniformity of development the Administering Authority continue the work of extending control at the fastest rate possible consistent with the good of the Territory as a whole and that it accelerate its recruitment and training programme in order to provide the additional staff required.
Under the heading of “ Political Advancement” the council -
Expresses the earnest hope that . . indigenous membership in the Legislative Council will be increased.
It also expressed the hoped that we would give careful and sympathetic consideration to the view expressed by some sections of the indigenous population -
That they would prefer to elect their representatives to the council.
The council also considered -
That the grant of suitable representation to indigenous inhabitants on town advisory councils will be a useful step. lt recommended that our efforts with regard to the cadetship system should be intensified. Further it invited us -
To consider vesting the district commissioners with broader powers, wherever appropriate, so as to bring about a greater decentralization of administration, and thereby to ensure to the Territory greater administrative autonomy.
It considered -
That the holding of some meetings of the Legislative Council in the Trust Territory itself would serve as a means of developing the population’s interest in public affairs.
Under the heading of “ Economic Advancement “ the council urged that we prepare long-term economic plans as soon as possible and that we secure the additional funds necessary for their implementation. It endorsed the views of the mission that -
In order to accelerate the rate of progress, the Administering Authority might also seek financial and expert assistance from the specialized agencies of the United Nations and other international bodies.
It believed that -
Much still remains to be done for the improvement of indigenous agriculture by the introduction of new subsistence crops .. . . and urged us -
To intensify efforts in this field, particularly in the extension of the work of the Department of Agriculture.
It further urged that we should -
Give active consideration to the establishment of small-scale, cottage and secondary industries based on the Territory’s produce, as a measure towards the diversification of the Territory’s economy.
It considered that -
Special attention needs to be given to sugarcane production and to the establishment of sugar industry in the Territory.
It recommended that in order to relieve population pressure or land shortages we should give greater urgency to the problem and attack it more vigorously. It commended the view of the visiting mission -
That although this problem may be new in the Territory it is not new in many parts of the world, and that the Administering Authority would be well advised to profit from the experience and assistance of those who have already dealt with this difficult problem.
Under the heading of “ Social Advancement” the council considered that -
Minimum wages in the Trust Territory appear to be still too low.
It recommended that we should continue our efforts -
In recruiting more medical personnel from overseas, in offering medical cadetships, and in organizing a medical training programme for indigenous persons.
It endorsed the view of the World Health Organization that the present number of seven trained assistant health inspectors is still clearly insufficient for the Territory and it urged us to train more as soon as possible.
Under the heading of “ Educational Advancement “ the council hoped that the progress achieved in the field of primary education would be further accelerated and that-
The Administration will assume a more direct and increasing responsibility in the field of the Territory’s educational advancement.
It urged us to intensify our efforts to attract a larger number of indigenous persons into the teaching profession. It endorsed the view of the visiting mission -
That the number of pupils in post-primary schools is too low to meet the growing demand for better educated New Guineans and the needs of the Territory, and hopes that there will be a further increase in the number of secondary schools in the Territory.
Finally, the council expressed the hope that we will - . . adopt without delay development plans in all fields and will indicate whenever appropriate, successive intermediate targets and approximate dates for their fulfilment in order that the necessary preconditions may be created for the attainment by the Territory of the objectives of the Trusteeship System.
I may point out that the members of the Trusteeship Council which made that unanimous report were the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, France, Italy, Belgium, Formosa, the Soviet Union, Haiti, India, Burma, Paraguay and the United Arab Republic.
– Incidentally, we do not dispute the Tightness of those recommendations. It is just a matter of capacity.
– I know that. I merely read this document for which I am indebted to the Minister so that the general public, and not least honorable members, may more fully and promptly secure information of the international body’s verdict on our administration. I hope that the Minister will see that in the next issue of “ South Pacific “ as fair and frank a summary of the Trusteeship Council’s report appears as has already appeared of the Visiting Mission’s report.
I conclude with two suggestions. With reference to the political advancement of the Territory, I believe that the Minister is in error in waiting until all the people of the Territory have secured equal political sophistication or consciousness. There are in the Gazelle Peninsula people who are as. well able to govern themselves as the people to whom Britain has given self-government in South-East Asia and West Africa. I think it is a vain hope to expect that these people will wait until the people of the highlands are equally politically sophisticated and capable.
Secondly, in regard to economic development, I would suggest to members of thischamber and the general public of Australia that they should not ignore their obligationto their wards in the trusteeship Territory. From time to time questions are asked concerning the production of various crops inthe Territory by members whose electoratesproduce the same things. There is some limitation, if not a complete limitation, on? the production in the Territory of such> crops as sugar, peanuts, tobacco, copra, rice, cocoa, tea and coffee, and of plywood. The Territory is well able to produce all these products. It is unfortunate that many electorates in Queensland and on the north coast of New South Wales produce such commodities and, one would hope, in due course the north-west of West Australia will produce them. I hope that we will resist the temptation to repress in our own interest the production of these important cash crops in New Guinea. Since the United Nations Trusteeship Council refers to this matter, I would think that the international community itself could see that Australia secures financial and specialist assistance to make the Territory economically viable as early as possible. Australia itself has an obligation - an assumed obligation - to these wards in New Guinea, but the other members of the United Nations also have some obligation. Australia should encourage crops which New Guinea can produce and the world can consume; other nations should facilitate the sale of those crops.
– Mr. Luchetti, before I proceed with my remarks, as this is the first time that I have addressed, this committee when you have been in the chair, I would like to say to you that I have great gratification in being here on this occasion and seeing you dispensing justice and wisdom as the arbiter of the proceedings of the committee.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) quoted rather freely from the report of the United Nations council which recently visited the trust Territory of New Guinea. I feel that while he quoted matters of fact which obviously would interest the committee and the people of Australia, many of the suggestions contained in or proceeding from the quotations that he made are already in progress. While we would like to see more rapid progress in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea because after all, our responsibility in that area is one of development, education and social advancement, it seems to me that progress- is necessarily limited to the capacity of the staff that we can provide.
During the course of this debate there has been; some reference to the qualities of the -Minister for Territories (Mr.
Hasluck). I want to say, without any qualification, that I, personally, have the greatest regard for his sincerity and for the work he is doing. He has been guilty in New Guinea of the crime which was so succinctly summed up by the late Mr. Ben Chifley as putting, a finger on that very sensitive nerve, the hip pocket nerve. That is the basis of what has happened subsequently because if you irritate the hip pocket nerve you irritate the whole body.
Whether we agree with his policy or not, the fact that he has been responsible, as Minister, for the introduction of company tax- and personal income tax in New Guinea, is the reason why he- has “ drawn the crabs “ - to use an army expression I feel that he is suffering- a penalty for that. You cannot always be popular. If you are to develop a country you have to arrive at some system of finance for its development. I feel that the Minister’s sincerity in regard to this matter is undoubted. If we believe that the country must be developed, and if we believe that it has some responsibility within, itself to meet some of its financial requirements, we must agree that some form of taxation generally adopted throughout the world now, should be logically introduced there. However, I did not rise with the intention of speaking on that subject.
During’ the course of his remarks on theNorthern Territory, my colleague from Robertson (Mr. Dean) who is a very eminent member of the Public Works. Committee referred to various public works that would be shortly undertaken or which are in process of construction in that area. They added up to quite a sizeable sum of money.. While I appreciate the necessity to> spend’ money, I am more interested, in how we are going to use that Territory to produce some of the requirements that must be found during, the next 30 or 40 years.
I want to refer, rather briefly, to an opportunity that I had during the winter recess, when I was in Darwin, of going down to- the area of the agricultural experimental farm run by the Department of the Interior at Beatrice Hill which is next door to Humpty Doo. Beatrice Hill, I was informed1, has been devoted mainly to the production or rice types, the examination, of irrigation- methods in the production of rice. A far more interesting experiment, to my mind, more recently, has been the study of the activity and the depredations of the wild buffalo existing in that area in relation to rice cropping. From these experiments, quite recently, have come, to my mind, some very significant lessons.
Honorable members will know, Mr. Chairman, that the water buffalo or Asian buffalo was introduced into Australia originally in about 1825 in the early settlement of the North of Australia at Melville Island. Since then, further importations have taken place. The Asian buffalo is to be distinguished from the African buffalo. They are entirely different animals although coming from a common stock. The Asian buffalo was a domestic beast when introduced into Australia and it has only gone wild because it has not been controlled. The buffalo of the Northern Territory has the capacity to become quiet and docile when re-introduced into the domestic atmosphere. In the past, it has been a distinct liability. It was suspected that when it was introduced into Australia it brought with it two of the scourges of the cattle industry - tick and buffalo fly. I believe that it is possible, with the exercise of a little intelligence, to turn into an asset this beast which has so far brought a degree of devastation in its path.
It is conservatively estimated that there are now about 100,000 buffaloes in the area south and east of Darwin. One does not require a great knowledge of mathematics’ to see that this large number could be of considerable commercial value. Several lots, of buffaloes have recently been exported. I know that one lot was sent to Hong Kong. Some of us who have eaten buffalo flesh know that good buffalo meat is the equivalent of good beef. Some of us have eaten buffalo meat in the Middle East, and some of us have probably eaten it in other parts of the world. The water buffalo also has a very great value as a beast of burden in many South-East Asian countries, where, I believe, it would find a ready market.
I heard only recently of the demand for water buffalo in countries such as Laos and Cambodia, where the buffalo population is depleted whenever a person dies, because religious practices require that on such occasions a buffalo shall be slaughtered and sacrificed. That sort, of thing is happening the whole time, and I believe that, subject to the financial limitations of those countries, there would be a definite market for our buffaloes there if we could overcome one small hurdle. And this is where science would come in. Apparently, in the middle of last century, it was suspected that the Asian buffalo was a carrier of, and was subject to, the serious cattle disease known as pleuro-pneumonia. This belief has never been substantiated, but it remains as a black mark against the buffalo. That is a problem that would have to be overcome before we could freely export live buffaloes for use as beasts of burden in the countries of which I am speaking. Buffalo meat could be exported, however.
This line of research could perhaps be taken up at the Beatrice Hill research station in addition to the other work that is undertaken there. Honorable members may recall that, some weeks ago, I asked the Minister for Territories about the future conduct of this research station, and that the Minister pointed out that as research requirements were increasing and were possibly getting beyond the capacity of the scientific resources of the responsible branch of the Northern Territory Administration, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization also was taking a hand in the activities of this research station..
– What point is the honorable member trying to make?
– If you will be patient, I shall tell you. I have already told you that I believe that the buffalo has a commercial value, although, so far, it has been an absolute liability. Have you got that, point? Would you like me to put it in writing?
– No; I have got it.
– If I have clarified that, point for the honorable member, Mr. Chairman, I have at least achieved something. But, goodness knows, it is hard work.
I return now to what I was saying. The experiments so. far conducted at Beatrice Hill have, proved that it is possible to take buffaloes from their wild state and. have them reasonably quiet for normal handling within a few months. This was amply demonstrated to me in the paddy fields at the research station when two men on foot mustered some buffalo cows and calves and drove them towards the car in which I sat. Had they been ordinary beef cattle, they would have been out of sight within about two minutes. This shows that the buffalo has a potential capacity to be re-introduced into domestic conditions.
The officers at Beatrice Hill are particularly efficient and lively in their work, and they should be encouraged in the experiments of tremendous value which they are conducting. I should like to see coupled with this work research on the more scientific side of testing for pleuropneumonia and establishing whether or not the buffalo is immune from this disease.
Perhaps I should point out that although buffaloes and ordinary cattle may appear obviously to have come from common stock, the buffalo is now a different animal altogether. Its breeding period is different from that of cattle, and it cannot be crossed with cattle.
I suggest to the Minister that the commercial possibilities of the buffalo be looked into, because I think they are worthy of serious consideration. Up to the present day, the buffalo has been a scourge in a large area. Its principal value has been for hides and for big-game hunting. But let me tell any sportsman who thinks of going to the Northern Territory to shoot buffaloes and who thinks that he will get a thrill out of it, that buffalo shooting is sheer murder. There is no sport about it at all. As I have pointed out, the buffalo, recently, has come to be valued for the production of meat for nearby Asian markets.
I want to turn briefly now to another feature of northern Australia, and particularly of the Northern Territory, which concerns me - the need for transport. We have heard a lot of talk about transport needs in the north, and, in particular, we have heard it suggested that more railways should be constructed. Frankly, I do not support that suggestion. My practical insight into what has taken place, particularly in areas like the Kimberleys, leads me to believe that road trains offer tremendous possibilities for the development of the cattle industry, which is the greatest industry in the north. But good roads are necessary if efficient road trains are to operate regularly. In my opinion, the best thing that we can do to promote the development of the north is to construct really good all-weather roads. As you, Sir, know, there is at present a marvellous road of almost 1,000 miles of good bitumen from Darwin to Alice Springs. However, that is just one lifeline through the whole area. Many other parts of the north are not so well served because, in wet weather, vehicles cannot traverse the roads at all.
There is a great need for all-weather roads throughout the north of Australia, and any effort made to provide them on a planned basis would be well repaid. They would permit great flexibility and elasticity of transport by modern road trains of the kind which, in certain areas, are working round the clock and moving great numbers of cattle. Incidentally, the movement of stock by this means saves many pounds of beef on each beast and maintains the quality much better. The walking of cattle over stock routes, especially in dry times, is highly detrimental to the quality of the beef and causes considerable loss of weight. The movement of stock by road trains is a very efficient method, and little weight is lost.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) can always be depended upon to make a well reasoned and thoughtful contribution to proceedings in this chamber. This evening, he addressed himself principally to the problems of the Northern Territory. I, also, propose to address my remarks mainly to that Territory. However, I desire to point out, at the outset, that, when the subject of the Territories is mentioned, there seems to be confusion between the Australian Capital Territory, where Canberra is situated, the Northern Territory, the various island Territories, such as Christmas Island, and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
First, I shall speak about the National Capital. The good work of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) deserves the undivided support of all honorable members, because he undoubtedly speaks for the people of this area. He is moved with the need to develop the National Capital, and I am sure that every patriotic Australian wants to see here a great capital which will do honour to Australia. 1 shall say no more on that, because the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has the competence to express himself on that subject.
The solution to the problem of the Northern Territory is easy to find. All that is required is a government with the capacity and the courage to go ahead with the development of Australia. We need a government that will accept its responsibilities and make money available for this purpose. How can any one of us say that the Northern Territory in any way differs fundamentally from any other part of Australia, whether it be Cape York in Queensland, Wilson’s Promontory, Cape Leeuwin or Gabo Island? They are all parts of Australia and all have similar problems. All that is required is a government imbued with the need for urgency in national development, a government which will come to grips with the problem. This Government is so divided on the need for development that the responsibility is spread between a Minister for the Interior, a Minister for Territories, a Minister for Labour and National Service and a Minister for National Development. The overall and pressing problem of developing Australia is neglected and forgotten in the muddle of all these administrative tangles.
– Whom would you have do it?
– I would have a Labour man with the same spirit as my illustrious predecessor, the late Ben Chifley, or perhaps a man like Nelson Lemmon, who started the Snowy Mountains scheme. I would have some one who has a wide vision of Australia, not some parochial parish-pump outlook. What is required? A lot may be required, but the job remains simple. A national pattern for the development of Australia should be devised. Mining should be put on a sound basis, geared to the advancement and development of Australia. It should not be regarded as a great storehouse of wealth to be drawn upon and exported to the detriment of Australia and the advancement of some other country whilst we languish in need.
The Northern Territory is short of conventional fuels. It has no coal and no hydro-electric scheme, but it has a supply of uranium. If there is one part of Australia that ought to be geared to atomic energy, it is the northern part. What do we find at Rum Jungle? We find that precious uranium oxide has been won from the soil and exported, and all that Australia has left is a great big yawning hole in the ground which, at the best, can be made into a lake in the distant future. The need right now is for the development of atomic energy for use in the Northern Territory. The effects of a shortage of coal and oil could be overcome by the use of power developed from atomic energy. With this power available, real development could occur.
– You do not mean that, do you?
– The members of the Liberal Party, especially the idle rich from the suburbs of Melbourne, have no sympathy for the people who are pioneering and developing the north of Australia. If there is one part of Australia that ought to be developed by the use of atomic energy, it is the north, where uranium is available to trigger off grand-scale development for the well-being of the people in this area and for the security of the whole of Australia, because Australia as a whole is dependent on the north.
The question of land settlement also arises. Not long ago, in a question on notice, I sought information from the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) as to what was happening with land settlement in the Northern Territory. The reply I received was most disheartening. I was appalled by what is happening in the Northern Territory. American companies such as Territory Rice Limited are given great tracts of land on the eastern bank of the Adelaide River for rice production, whilst ex-servicemen, who fought for this country, are unable to find an acre that they can develop. These things nauseate and sadden me. If there is one section of the Minister’s administration that is weaker than any other section, it is the lands section of the Northern Territory. Mr. Barclay and those under his control are not responsible for what is happening, and it is time that an enlightened policy was adopted for the development of the Northern Territory.
Another problem that should be solved concerns water conservation and irrigation. It is no use saying to-day that water cannot be conserved in the Northern Territory. The Peko organization, which is doing a grand job in the Northern Territory, has been able to conserve more than two and a half years supply of water not only for its own needs but also for the people in the area. If that organization can do it, the National Parliament can do it, and the challenge would be accepted by a worthy government.
The question of transportation deserves consideration. We cannot develop the north unless we have a useful and efficient system of transportation. Good transportation in the first instance means good transportation by water. Ships such as the vessel referred to by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) should be plying to the northern ports with goods needed there and bringing to the southern ports the goods produced in the north. Good roads are also essential. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), times without number, has stressed in this Parliament the need for a national roads programme which will link all parts of Australia so that the dream of Toby Barton of one nation, one flag and one destiny will become a living reality. Good roads can help to achieve this objective.
I do not believe that good transportation is possible without good rail transportation. The programme for the unification of rail gauges envisaged in the Clapp report, which was made possible by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) when he was the responsible Minister, must be put into effect if this great continent of ours is to be developed.
We spend £200,000,000 a year on defence, but if we really want to defend Australia, we must develop Australia, and we must do so now. The comments of Ministers such as the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) make it clear that the Government is living in a dream world in regard to civil defence. This is not regarded as a pressing need, and the Government tries to pass the responsibility to the various States. But if that is how the Government feels, why not go ahead with national development in order to make Australia secure? Concepts such as the Brisbane Line, which seems to have taken deep root in the minds of Ministers, will not be necessary. We should be able to see this great “ Australia Unlimited “ develop in such a way that we will be completely secure. Transportation is a must. We are developing air transport, but we must go beyond that and develop the other means of transportation as well.
– How much are we going to spend on defence?
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has asked how much we are going to spend on defence. I shall tell him that we have been spending about £200,000,000 a year on defence, and if we adopt Mr. Khrushchev’s plan of total disarmament, we will have very few arms to get rid of, because we are hopelessly and inadequately defended at the present time. Let us get on with the real job of defending Australia.
– Order! The honorable member has got right away from the Department of Territories.
– I am delighted to return to it, Mr. Chairman. It was the provocation of the Country Party that caused me to depart from it. I shall return to a discussion of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I thank the Minister for Territories for the notes that he has prepared and the assistance he has given us in our efforts to appreciate the problems of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. When I consider this great island area which is, in some respects, a dependency of Australia, I like to think that we are working towards a time in history when the people of that island, some 2,000,000 of them, will have the ability, the education and the capacity to govern themselves. I sincerely and fervently hope that we in this Parliament will on no occasion attempt to build up another Kenya or Nyasaland, with a few people governing and trying to control the area in their own interests. Many things need to be done, and the honorable member fox Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has put to the committee to-day a most important constructive proposal. He suggests that a committee should be appointed of members of this Parliament, representative of both sides, who will consider in a reasonable and practical way the problems of the Territory and try to meet the great challenge that it offers. I say to the Minister that it is a great challenge. He knows this, and he knows that the difficulties cannot be easily overcome. But we can meet this challenge if we in Australia face our responsibilities as Australians and unite in this Parliament, for this purpose, because we believe, first, that it is important to us, and also, and above all, that it is important to ‘the people who live in that Territory.
There are great numbers of sophisticated natives living on the fringes of this great island of New Guinea who have had contact with white men during the past 100 years or so, and who are rapidly reaching the stage at which they will be capable of running their own affairs. We should not tarry or delay the grant of self-government while waiting for the primitive tribesmen who live around Telefomin or in the mountains beyond Mr Hagen or elsewhere to reach an appropriate stage of sophistication and education. I have had the privilege of visiting this area.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is quite impossible in a quarter of an hour to <deal adequately with such an important Territory as that of Papua and New Guinea, il have joined in this debate because, with three colleagues, I paid an unofficial visit to New Guinea. ;Because it was unofficial, we were able to talk very freely with the natives and white settlers, and they were able to talk to us without any reservations whatsoever. I was tremendously impressed with the development of New Guinea and with its great possibilities. I must pay tribute to the district commissioners, the assistant district officers and patrol officers who are doing a magnificent job, and who are certainly dedicated to their work.
I believe that the most urgent need in New Guinea is for economic development. Tremendous strides have been made in the fields of health and education, but I believe that unless we advance the economy df the country we will reach a situation in which the natives will be educated to a certain standard, while the economy will be lagging behind and the country will be unable to feed and .employ them. I know that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) and the officers of his department are seised of the importance of this matter. Although I would not criticize the expenditure on hospitals, because I believe the health of the native is all important, I do, Sir, issue a word of caution and suggest that if there is insufficient money available at present to advance the economic development of New Guinea, it -would be better to postpone a portion of the hospitals programme in order to ensure that as the natives receive a certain standard of education employment will be available for them and the economy will be sufficiently advanced to provide adequately for them. I am quite convinced that for a period of 30 to 50 years the natives will require Australian know-how and Australian capital.
One aspect that concerns me very much is the concern and insecurity expressed both by natives and by white settlers. The natives to whom we spoke made it perfectly clear that they did not want selfgovernment. They visualized a future in which they would work in partnership with Australians. They realize that for hundreds of years, until the white man came to the Territory, little or no progress was made, but that since the Australian administration has taken over tremendous strides have been made and the welfare of the natives has been greatly advanced. The few natives who are educated to the higher standards realize that it will be many years before they can take more than a minor part in the administration of New Guinea.
The white settlers were even more alarmed. They seemed to think .that woolly-headed people in the United Nations, or perhaps in Canberra, would grant selfgovernment to the natives before they were ready for it. I told them that I believed their fears were quite unfounded. I said I believed that the policy was to advance the natives as rapidly as possible, that they would be given a bigger and bigger share of administrative duties as time went on, but that it would be at least 30 to 50 years before they could take a major part in the administration of the country. My views were questioned in many directions, and I was told that the plans of many Europeans for the provision of capital were based on a period of five years. They believed that if they were to expend their capital they would have to plan to get it back within five years, because they were not sure of being able to remain in the Territory after that period.
This feeling of insecurity, I believe, needs to be dispelled at the earliest possible moment. We must adopt a very definite policy and tell the people in New Guinea that a partnership arrangement will continue between the whites and the native people for many years to come, and, we hope, in perpetuity. I told the people in New Guinea that I thought that partnership-
– Tell us what you told them!
– 1 have been telling you, but apparently you have not been listening. I told them that partnership between the local settlers and the native people was the ultimate objective. When I returned to Australia 1 thought I had better check to see whether I was talking a lot of nonsense, to see whether the policy of this country for the future of the Territory is one of partnership, or whether there is the possibility in the near future, or perhaps in ten years, of either the United Nations forcing Australia to decide, or Australia of its own free will deciding, that New Guinea should be handed over to the native people at a time obviously before they are ready to govern themselves. I therefore read the book of addresses given at the conference of the Institute of Political Science in 1958, and I noticed that the theme that ran through the speech of the Minister for Territories, the speeches of members of the Legislative Council of the Territory, and the speeches of other distinguished leaders who attended the conference, was that the objective for New Guinea is one of partnership, and that it will be 30 to 50 years before the natives will be ready to have anything other than a minor part in the administration of the Territory. The Minister for Territories is quoted here as saying -
We Australians look forward to a partnership which will be free, close and permanent.
I believe the Minister is absolutely right in uttering those sentiments. The honorable member for Melbourne, the Honorable Arthur Calwell, referred to the natives as -
Fellow human beings who, because they are primitive, need our tutelage and help over a considerable period.
That is not a short-term policy. Later, he referred to a period of 30 or 50 years when it may be reasonable for the people of New Guinea to reach a decision on the matter of government. Further on in his address he said -
The moans of those in the United Nations who want early decisions about the grant’ of selfgovernment for Papua and New Guinea are unreal and inspired more by memories of real or imaginary grievances experienced at the hands of European colonial powers than by any concern for the interests of the indigenous people.
Mr. R. Bunting, a member of the Legislative Council of the Territory said that it might be a long time before the natives are ready to decide their future, but eventually they would choose very close relations with Australia. Mr. Ian Downs, a member of the Legislative Council said, at the same conference -
I believe that Australia and New Guinea have met at a time in history when the world has developed a conscience and in a geographical situation of close proximity which does permit some kind of partnership.
Now, Sir, I believe that the most urgent and immediate thing to do in New Guinea is to re-assure the native people and the white settlers that there is not going to be any hasty action by this Government, and that any attempt by the United Nations to force self-government on New Guinea before it is ready for it will be strongly resisted. Provided we can clear up the uncertainty in the minds of the people of New Guinea I believe that the white settlers will be prepared to invest their capital to a far greater extent than they are doing at present, and will plan, on a long-term basis, for development, including the development of secondary industry.
I believe that the Australian Government has to give additional assistance to New Guinea. Roads are an all-important factor there. I do not believe that the country can develop when it is dependent solely on air transport. Certainly air transport has done a magnificent job for New Guinea, but the Territory cannot possibly develop at the rate it should develop until the main towns are connected by road. A road from Goroka to Lae is an immediate necessity, even if the financing of its construction means restricting expenditure in other directions. That road should be proceeded with so as to provide a connecting link between the town of Lae and the highland country to which Goroka is the entrance.
Encouragement must be given to the development of secondary industry. Technical training is now being given to a number of the natives, and efforts must be made to provide employment for them. I believe there is certainly scope for a cement industry at Lae, where there is all the raw material that is required. Cement is probably the most important manufactured product required in New Guinea to-day. There are many miles of roads and many bridges and culverts to be built. Cement is heavy stuff to cart, and I believe that an industry of that nature could be established in Lae. Provided the local people felt sufficiently secure, such industries could be started at an early date. 1 saw there a brick-making industry in its infancy, and a pipe-making industry. The natives are doing almost all the work. They are proving themselves to be exceptionally adaptable to work in secondary industries. I believe the future welfare of New Guinea depends not only on primary industries but also on the establishment of secondary industries which are suitable to the Territory at the present stage of its development.
.- Once again we are discussing the Estimates, and it is worth noting that there is a further rise in the expenditure upon the Territories, particularly the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Commonwealth subvention has risen in five years from £7,500,000 in 1953 to £13,000,000 this year. In the same time the total expenditure in the Territory has risen from £7,250,000 to £18,750,000. This is, of course, as yet a relatively small total. It is small in relation to the cost of the kind of things which we are holding out to the world and the inhabitants of New Guinea as what we intend to do in the future. Our real danger in New Guinea is, of course, that we shall advance our health, social services and education there at a much faster rate than the economic foundations necessary to support them are developed, and we may well be left, therefore, with the choice of either scaling down the amount of assistance we give to New
Guinea, relative to the present in the total picture, or of spending a great deal of our resources there. At the moment it is not” easy to see where those economic foundations are to come from. Industries are being developed and the Administration is certainly doing what it can, but it is very difficult to see, unless oil is discovered in the Territory, how we shall in future years support the standard of living or the social standards which we shall certainly evoke. Expectations are aroused and ideas are spread much more easily than the means of satisfying them can be found. Our long-term danger politically is that a semieducated or elite class of natives on the fringe of city employment will eventually band together, that they will wish to establish themselves and that they will be overeager to throw off our control. They will be likely to find an echo in the often mischievous and irresponsible counsels of the United Nations and to confront us with demands that we may find it difficult to resist. There is no doubt that this pressure will steadily grow.
All this points to the wisdom of the suggestion put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that there should be a joint parliamentary committee on the Territories. One would hope that it would be a joint standing committee, consisting of members of all parties, on the lines of the Public Accounts Committee. That would mean that there would always be an expert body in this Parliament to keep details of administration constantly under supervision and to ensure that we continued to follow, as, in a sense, we undoubtedly are doing now, a bi-partisan policy. Whatever views individuals may have, there is no doubt that, broadly speaking, this Parliament supports in genera] the policy now being pursued by the Government and the Minister.
My main object in speaking in this debate is to say something about Christmas Island. I propose to mention a few facts about Christmas Island, because I have noted in the press and elsewhere that the wealth of ignorance on this subject is much greater than the wealth of knowledge. Christmas Island has even been described in one lush column as an idyll island in the Indian Ocean. It is, of course, no idyll island. It is a most interesting centre of mining operations, which I visited recently with my fellow member of the Government Members’ Mining Committee, the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson).
The committee has been talking about the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, which may well become an economic, financial and political ulcer to Australia, but in Christmas Island we have a very valuable piece of real estate. The operations on the island are on a very large scale. In the last ten years the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission has spent £6..000,000 on developing the facilities on the island, which are extraordinarily modern. The result of this development is that Christmas Island now produces and exports about 500,000 tons of phosphate rock per annum, which goes largely to Australia and New Zealand. That production is worth about £3,000,000 per annum at the current rate of £6 a ton. The island also exports 50,000 or 60,000 tons of phosphate dust to Malaya, where it is used on the rubber plantations.
The mining operation consists of a large open-cut development, apart from the pilot developments on which work is now being done. A number of * grabs pick the phosphate out from the limestone pillars. It is then crushed and. goes through a certain amount of treatment near the site. It is then, put on railway trucks. Some of the facts about that railway line are worth noting. It runs from the workings down to the treatment plant, a distance of about 14 miles. The gauge of the track is 4 ft. 8i in. The line is equipped with the latest modern diesel engines, and the rolling-stock would put most Australian mainland trains to shame. All the trucks are coupled pneumatically and the trains travel at fairly high speeds.
Near the top of a hill, the point of shipment, are a number of storage bins into which the rock is tipped. It then goes into the treatment plant, where it is treated by furnaces to remove moisture. From there, the rock proceeds on a conveyor belt and the dust through pipes. The dust is’ handled in much the same way as liquids’ would be handled; with the assistance of compressed air. At the bottom of the very long and impressive conveyor system is a, bagging plant. The dust that is- sucked off in the process is put in. bags very much like cement bags in a special bagging plant, lt then goes into lighters and is taken out to the anchorage, where it is loaded on to ships. The rock is stored in large bins and is handled by a bulkloading plant of the very latest type. There is a long cantilever which goes out into the sea.
Christmas Island is noted for the fact that it is impossible to build a wharf there, and ships must anchor at buoys which are tied up to the shore by a complicated system. A few yards from the edge the water is many hundreds of fathoms deep. This makes operations hazardous at times. The ships put into the side of the island that is sheltered from the prevailing wind, but if the wind turns the ships may have to put out to sea for several weeks at a time. Fortunately, the honorable member for Higinbotham and I were not affected by adverse winds; we were able to get in and out of the island, and so, I understand, was the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). He preceded us and we followed in his wake.
It is interesting to note that the population of the island consists of about 3,000 Malays and Chinese, some of whom were born on the island, plus about 150 Europeans, who operate the very interesting and complex plant. There are first-rate educational and hospital facilities on the island, as well as other amenities, which make it an extremely attractive place for people from neighbouring countries to work.
As Australia only acquired this Territory last year, it is interesting to note some of the problems of the Official Representative. The Phosphate Commission, of course, is well established in the place. It has been there for a long time. It is a- semigovernmental corporation owned by Australia and New Zealand jointly. It is able to do things that government departments find difficulty in doing, such as providing facilities and amenities for its staff. The Commonwealth Bank can place squash courts on its roof whilst the Treasury is down at heel. That is the usual experience when you compare governmental and semigovernmental organizations. The semigovernmental organizations do not come under the same scrutiny here as do government departments, and usually they can do things rather better. Some of the problems that confronted the Official Representative, the first appointee to the position, are interesting. The honorable member for Higinbotham and I had to use our suitcases for wardrobes, and we had no chairs in our bedrooms to sit on because some of the furniture had to come not from Singapore but from Queanbeyan. This apparently is one of the ordering points of the Department of Territories and one of those peculiar pieces of red tape at which as yet the Minister has had no time to look.
– How you must have suffered!
– 1 might point out, Mr. Bowden, that what I suffered then was nothing compared to what 1 have suffered since. According to the press, Christmas Island is not a very popular place to visit, but I commend it .as an interesting exercise for those interested in mining and .economic activity, but not particularly interested in the bright lights.
– I was very pleased to hear the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) explain to the chamber in greater .detail his ideas of the possible future, or should I say the hopeful future, of the Territory of : Papua and New Guinea. Those all too few members of Parliament who have visited the Territory in the last ten or twelve .years since the .end of the war will realize the tremendous difficulties that face the Government and the tremendous responsibilities that we in Australia have to bear.
Some months ago 1 had the honour :and the privilege ,of attending .the fourth South Pacific conference which was held in Rabaul and, at the same time, of sitting in on some of the meetings, both formal and informal, of the nineteenth session of the South Pacific Commission. I believe that the work of the South Pacific Commission is something about which honorable members must learn a lot more in the not too distant future, because the commission can play a great part in the future of Papua and New Guinea as well as in the future of other South Pacific territories.
Representatives of sixteen .different territories attended the conference and, as has been stated in the current issue of the South Pacific Commission’s quarterly bulletin, something of the meaning and the purpose of the conference and of its sponsoring body, the South Pacific Commission, is contained in the simple and moving farewell speech delivered .at the closing meeting by Kondon-Akau’undo, a member of the Papua and .New -Guinea delegation. I shall quote the brilliant translation by Mr. J,. McCarthy of the speech that was -delivered in pidgin. It reads -
I am from Kundiawa in the -Chimbu. There are many people in Chimbu - as the .white man calls the number, half a million. When I came here I did not know there .were people .living in the Pacific, such as Fiji, Samoa and all the other places, for it is only twenty-five years ago since my country, the .highlands, was found by the white man.
At that time .we -were living as primitive people and fighting one another. We have very little of the good things of ‘life - poor houses, no roads ;and sometimes very short of food. «That is only twenty-five years ago. .Now we are on the way to civilization with medical services provided and schools, until my people are greatly improved, although there are yet very few -.white men or civilization amongst the Kainantu, the Goroka .and other .places in the highlands. We have .a local council .and we .pay taxes to it and the council helps us.
Perhaps you will laugh at me ‘because I ‘speak pidgin and I cannot read or write, but soon I will die and pidgin will die with me, and my children will be able to speak English and so understand you all.
I thank you for coming to Rabaul, .Mr. Chairman and the .many friends I have made at this Conference. I wish you a happy return to your countries and may we see each other again.
That is one of the most moving speeches that I have ever heard although at the time it was delivered I could understand very little of it. But the sincerity of purpose and the intention behind the speech was perfectly obvious to those who had the privilege of listening to it. It created a great impression on the delegates from the other territories, as did the whole conference. I should like to pay a tribute to the splendid job that was done by the Administration in making the arrangements for this conference and for housing the delegates. The officers did a remarkably fine job.
My main purpose in rising to-night is to refer in a very brief way to something that the Minister for Territories said during his speech this afternoon. I had made some comments previously about what I considered ito be his future usefulness to the Territory. 1 paid very genuine compliments to his sincerity, to his approach to the job, and to some of the splendid work that he has done in the Territory. That, of course, is only just. But I feel that some people may have misunderstood what I said because one honorable member has stated that I cut the ground from under my own feet by paying those compliments to the Minister. The point I was making was that no matter how sincere a person may be; no matter how much one may agree with his objectives; no matter how much one may like him, if one believes that that person is in a position in which he is incapable of attaining those objectives, then his usefulness in the particular sphere in which he is engaged has ended. I repeat that I believe that to be the position of the Minister for Territories so far as the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is concerned. We must bear in mind that for years to come our main means of communication with the natives, whom it is our responsibility to educate along the lines that the Minister has laid down, will be, to the greatest extent through the European population of the Territory. If the European population is not working in co-operation with the Minister, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Minister to achieve his objectives. That is the whole point of my argument.
I am prepared to agree that I do not know a very great deal about the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but that lack of knowledge has little to do with my argument. I maintain that I am as competent as any other member to assess human reaction and public opinion, and my assessment of human reaction and public opinion in the Territory is that this feeling of animosity that has been aroused will not pass quickly. I hope that I am wrong, but I do not think that I am. If that feeling persists for any length of time, and if there is a continued unwillingness on the part of the European population in the Territory to co-operate with the Minister then, no matter with whom the fault lies, the repercussions that will be felt in the native mind, at a time when the formation of native thought is crucial to our relationship with the Territory, will be of the greatest importance.
There is no need to tell me that I should realize the various ways in which a person can make himself politically unpopular. In the past nine years I have found out a little about that subject. Even if I had not found out anything until the beginning of this year, the way in which the Government handled the Richardson report, the way in which it handled the proposal to levy income tax in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and the way in which it handled the Budget, particularly in relation to the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill, would have been very good lessons to me in the various ways of becoming politically unpopular. But unpopularity is unnecessary. If you believe that your cause is just and right, you will not have very great difficulty in explaining to the people of Australia, and impressing on them, the sound reasons for your actions. I say that those sound reasons, if they existed, were not impressed on the people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- It is extraordinary, in this House at the present time, to find how difficult it is to obtain a reply from any of the Ministers concerning matters raised either on the adjournment or during debates. It appears to me that the Government is so full of its own importance and power in this country that it has become completely disdainful of the elected representatives of the people who constitute the Opposition in this Parliament.
The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) was in the chamber when I raised a matter during the discussion on the estimates of his department and I am still awaiting a reply from him to the criticism which I directed to his attitude of what I consider to be a most important matter affecting the people of this country. Honorable members will recollect the extraordinary situation I then outlined which provided undisputed evidence that a group of five commercial houses in Victoria had actually combined against a sixth competitor who refused to join their association, to prevent him from obtaining supplies of materials required in the manufacture of a certain article. This was done because he refused to raise the price of that article made by the textile industry. Because the price of wool had fallen substantially at that time this particular manufacturer and wholesaler decided that there was no justification whatever for an increase in price. But these other five commercial interests joined together in an association and used their combined power to see that this man no longer got supplies to carry on his industry. They approached manufacturers of the flannel with this object in view.
There is no doubt in the world that suppliers were quite prepared, in view of their long association with this firm to continue their business transactions with it, but they were faced, no doubt, with the difficulty of these other five customers who had threatened to withdraw their custom unless the manufacturer declined to supply this sixth commercial house against whom they had combined to take action.
Let me briefly go over the facts of this matter again anal show how the AttorneyGeneral has deliberately attempted to mislead me and other honorable members as to the power and authority of the Commonwealth to do something about curbing the activities of this cartel and thus preserve the freedom of trade which this Government has always said that it belives in. These people ought to be allowed to compete one with the other and should not be prevented from doing so by having their source of supplies eliminated. I have here a letter which I received from Charles F. Hawkins Proprietary Limited, warehousemen and manufacturers, whose registered office is in Butler House, 134-136 Flinders-lane, Melbourne. It reads -
From time to time the public are informed of cartels, monopolies, etc., set up to control markets and regulate prices for various commodities.
This Company has recently had experience of action of this type being taken in respect to woollen products and we enclose a statement setting out the facts.
This statement clearly indicates that if a small operator wishes to sell goods at competitive prices against the high cost organized groups, pressure tactics are used to have supplies refused to enable the organized groups to operate the market to the disadvantage of the consumer.
When I submitted this matter to the Attorney-General, he gave me a rather interesting reply. So that there will be no doubt about who was responsible for the prevention of this firm getting supplies 1 quote the letter from the manufacturers themselves, Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Limited, Launceston. The relevant portion reads -
Several of our other shirt flannel customers have indicated their intention of closing their accounts if we supplied your firm with this flannel and we have no alternative but to accept the position. This position is not of our seeking but we feel that there is nothing we can do in the matter.
The Attorney-General tried to get out of taking any action by claiming that the supplies had been bought from an agent of Kelsall and Kemp in Victoria. In his letter to me he wrote -
The whole of the activities to which you call attention have taken place in the State of Victoria and if there is any restraint of trade involved it is a restraint of intra-State trade in respect of which the Commonwealth has no constitutional power to legislate.
In thus answering you, I have assumed that the Victorian Agents of Kelsall and Kemp Limited carry on as principals in their dealings with Charles F. Hawkins Pty. Ltd. In making this reservation, however, I do not want you to think that my answer would necessarily be any different if they were merely indent agents in any such dealings.
I took the trouble of writing to the AttorneyGeneral again seeking some further elaboration on the viewpoint that he had expressed. In his reply he said -
I did not assume that the whole of the business activities of Chas. Hawkins Pty. Ltd. were limited to the State of Victoria, i did assume that when it purchased its supplies of flannel it did so in Victoria. I also assumed that any arrangements which may have been made between the company’s competitors was made in Victoria with a view to affecting the purchase of flannel by the company in Victoria.
The Australian Industries Preservation Act covers arrangements made in relation to interstate trade. I concluded that the Victorian purchase of flannel by the company would not be part of interstate trade and that it would not become part of it merely because at a later stage the company’s products made from that flannel would be sold into other States.
There is a rather interesting point about the whole transaction. When the agent refused to supply, Charles F. Hawkins Pty. Ltd. made a direct approach to the manufacturer who is in Tasmania. So the action that has been taken by this combine to prevent the manufacturer from supplying, even if it were previously through an agent in Victoria, makes it obvious, even to an ordinary layman, that this has. been undoubtedly an interference with interstate trade. But it is quite evident that this Government never intends to do anything in regard to monopoliesor cartels in this country because these are the people who back it financially. The Government is actually the political mouthpiece of these particular interests in this country. It is rather interesting to know that afterI previously raised this matter in the chamber it. was reported in some of the Melbourne papers. This is a report taken from the Melbourne “Sun” of 17th September. It states -
A warehouse man said yesterday that restrictive practices by five other warehouse firms were costing him £6,000 direct turnover; a. year.
He said the practices followed his refusal to put up his prices for a line of men’s flannel underwear .
He said the five firms were: Sargood Gardiner Ltd., D. & W. Murray Ltd., Robert Reid & Co. Ltd., Paterson, Laing & Bruce Ltd., and Richard Allen & Sons Pty. Ltd.
Executives of all these firms yesterday declined to comment on Mr. Ward’s allegations.
That was because there is no answer to the allegations. WhatI want the Government to do now, because it is quite obvious that it is loath to do it, is to prove that it has some desire to protect the interests of the consumers in this country against the monopolies and cartels and rings of manufacturers and wholesalers in this country who are keeping up prices unnecessarily when other organizations, smaller in stature and with less influence, are prevented from operating in active competition with them. This is a most serious1 matter. Undoubtedly, the Government does not want to act because monopolies and cartels-
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I wish to raise a matter which arises from an article in the “Worker” on Monday, 21st September; 1959, under the heading “ Reports from Canberra by A. A. Calwell, Deputy Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party”. The first paragraph of this article reads -
The legislation to increase postal, telephone and telegraph charges passed the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon with every Liberal Party and Country Party- member in Canberra voting for the bill.
OP course, that is a completely untrue statement: I would like to ask the honorable gentleman whether that report was made because it was taken from a recording that was made before the vote was taken. Was it as a result of a speech that was written before the vote was taken? Did it arise from the fact that the honorable gentleman was completely ignorant of what was happening in Canberra, or was it a deliberate untruth?
– As the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) is, not here, I ask the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who is at the. table, to pass on a message to him. I direct attention to recent reductions in drugs and medicines provided for age and. invalid pensioners. I think that the. Government is perhaps unconsciously guilty of a certain amount of cruelty because of the fact that it has withheld from the pensioners tablets and drugs to which they have been accustomed. It is one thing to get. an advisory board’ of chemists who say, “This is a better drug than the one the pensioners have been using “, or”This is a better mixture than the one the pensioners have been in the Habit of using “,’ but it is another thing to convince old people that’ that is so.I am sure that every federal member will support me when’ I say that protests have been received from old people who have been in the habit of using a certain tablet’ or drug’ and’ who say that it is not now available on the medical card. They say that their health is adversely affected by their not being able to get the drug or tablet; and that they have been financially embarrassed by having to spend what meagre pension they have in buying it.
I shall mention two distinct cases. One is in relation to butazolidine, which is a biotic and a cure for rheumatism. I read the following from a letter which I have received from a constituent: -
I am a rheumatic patient and suffer intense pain on occasions. The drug butazoladine prescribed’ by my doctor is the only thing that gives me any relief. It Has now been taken off the free list. The alternative medicine is no good to me at all.It makes me feel ill. I spend 35s. a week cash in buying the tablets the Government used to give me previously:
I can’t understand why the Government has penalised the pensioner by making him accept drugs which are unsuitable: I cannot get’ used to them no matter how I try. Free medicine is a farce when the Government nominates the drugs you must have - or else.
That is the serious point. There are many cases of pensioners who have rheumatism and arthritis and things of that sort. Previously cortisone, and now this other sulfa drug, have been used and’ were acceptable to the majority- of the pensioners. There must be some reason why the drug butazolidine is so popular and why it is prescribed by the local doctors. They are not foolish. They have been handling the pensioners for years and they- know the drug that is effective. Why is there not better co-operation between the planning committee that says that this drug must now be taken off the list and those doctors? Why does not the committee go to the general practitioners in the suburbs and ask them what are the preferred and acceptable drugs?
There is a psychological problem involved in this as well as the actual drug. You upset these old people when you take a drug from them that they believe is part of their continued existence. With so many cases of rheumatism in Australia, and the popularity of this drug, I have asked the Minister before to not bother about the infallibility of the board that provides this medicine but just to use a little human common sense. If these people like this drug, and it does them good, is not that the answer to all medicine that we get from a doctor?
That is the question in relation to rheumatism. But the other case, is even more acute. A- certain heart tablet - I do not know the- name of it - is reasonably available in bottles of 25 tablets and it is universally used by pensioners to keep them going. The fact that this has been swept away has created a great deal of concern and anxiety, particularly among women patients, who have been to their doctor again and again to have it restored. Not only do they feel the loss of this heart, stimulant, and not. only have they an anxiety because of its absence; they also feel that they must have it. Whether the Government decides in its wisdom that it is not a good drug, or the advisers of the Government say that it must go, and they have an alternative, the patients are not accepting- the alternative. So they spend money. So the request I make to the
Minister is this: Please have something done. You have been the Minister for Social Services. You know the psychology of the sick, the aged persons and the invalids, and you know that, these drugs have been good or they would not have been prescribed. They have been in the regimen of free medicine and because of some whimsical decision of a panel that they should go, quite a crisis has been created in the minds of these people.
The- fact that they come along so frequently to so many members in so many different constituencies underlines the fact that there is a big problem. So I suggest to the Minister that he confer with the Minister for Health and ask him to do something to restore these drugs because of the repeated requests of the pensioners that these things that are so useful to them and make them feel better. He should do that instead of mulcting them of a proportion of their meagre pension and making them feel uneasy, unwanted and distressed. There is no need for that. It is a piece of unnecessary cruelty that could be adjusted with a bit of common-sense thinking and a bit of cooperation between the doctors who prescribe for these people and the doctors who, in their omnipotence say “ You cannot have these drugs; we have an alternative “.
.- I was pleased to hear the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) reveal to-night that there exist in the textile trade restrictive and unfair practices. He has conclusively proved their existence. Yet when he brought the matter to the attention of the Minister very recently, the Minister took no action whatsoever. However, it is not only in the textile trade that unfair and restrictive trade practices operate. In the furnishing trades of this country, manufacturers and retailers have agreements whereby goods will not be sold below a certain price. Any retailer who sells them below the price will not be supplied by the manufacturers. In order to get goods from the manufacturers a retailer must agree that he will not purchase goods from manufacturers who are not members of the organization that restricts or determines the price of furniture,, not only in Victoria, but throughout the States of the Commonwealth.
I submitted to this Parliament a number of years ago a copy of the agreement that is drawn up by the manufacturers and the retailers for the fixation of prices. Of course, that means that free enterprise has gone for ever. It means that competition does not exist. In reality, prices are determined by the absolute maximum amount that the manufacturers and retailers think they can extort from the consuming public. That is occurring in connexion with furniture sales throughout the length and breadth of Victoria and New South Wales.
In England, not so very long ago, a Royal Commission was set up by the House of Commons to inquire into unfair and restrictive trade practices which tended to create monopolies in that country. As a result of the voluminous evidence obtained and the recommendations of that commission, legislation was introduced into and passed by the House of Commons. If it is good enough for England to prevent unfair trade practices and the creation of monopolies that tend to the greater exploitation of the consuming public it should be good enough for the Government of this country to do that.
This Government pretends that there has been inflation in this country over the years. So there has. But the Government pretends that that inflation has been caused solely as the result of workers receiving the equivalent in purchasing power of what they received years ago and that it is in no way contributed to by the immense dividends declared by big business undertakings. For instance, a dividend of 20 per cent, was declared the other day by Hooker and Company Proprietary Limited which has a director who, until very recently, was a member of the present Government and who is now a Liberal member of this House. Of course, honorable members opposite will ask, “What is wrong with 20 per cent, profit? That is fair in the business of this community “. I simply state that the Government considers £4 7s. 6d. to be enough for an age pensioner. If we are going to see that the purchasing power of the age pensioner and of the average member of the community remains as high as it should remain we have to curtail profits. We have to curtail those unfair and restrictive business practices that were mentioned by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to-night, in connexion with textiles and which I have mentioned in connexion with the furnishing trade.
These are things that any government with a sense of honesty and of responsibility to every section of the community would do something about. I challenge the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick), if he is not, as I once alleged, purely the puppet of big business in this Parliament, to have some inquiry made, similar to the House of Commons’ ..inquiry, into the unfair and restrictive trade practices that are developing monopolistic business concerns in Australia.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak on two matters. The first is the matter raised by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr Haylen) tonight - the removal of the drug butazolidine from the list of drugs supplied free of charge to pensioners. I have a letter here from a doctor in my electorate- On this very important point. This matter was raised in this Parliament last week by my colleague, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) in a question to the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) from whom he got no reply of any consequence. The Minister replied that the advisory panel had decided to take this drug off the list. In a question that I asked in this House to-day, I mentioned the outside bureaucratic control of items. The Minister sits quietly by while this outside panel decides what is to be done.
The doctor concerned says that this drug is a help in arthritis. He also says that it is used for treating inflammation of soft tissue. He goes on to say that it is a specific or proven drug which has had many years’ trial. He says that nothing else has such effect. Why was it put on the free list for pensioners originally? Why was it removed on 1st August? The doctor says that his practice is being ruined. The substitute tablet has no effect whatsoever and is costing people £2. Protests on this matter have come from many members of Parliament. I am sure that Government supporters have received protests on it from pensioners. The decision of this advisory panel should be reversed immediately. Why should this outside body have a law of the Medes and the Persians, as it were? If it can be shown that a mistake has been made which is react- ing unjustly against pensioners, the decision of the panel should immediately be reviewed.
The next point that I wish to mention is in connexion with Canberra. I am glad that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) is in the chamber. I have raised this matter before. The suburbs of Canberra are named after men who played a big part in the development, not of Canberra, but of the nation. But one man who has had most to do with the establishment of Canberra is not honoured in any way in this city. I make a plea to-night that, in the naming of one of the new suburbs of Canberra, this man’s work be recognized by naming a suburb after him. 1 refer to the late King O’Malley. I am amazed, knowing this man’s story, that he has not been honoured.
He lived from 1856 to 1954 and died at the age of 98. Something is lacking when this man has not been recognized in any way in Canberra. He was Minister for Home Affairs in the Andrew Fisher Government from 1910 to 1913, a time when he did most to get this city started. The Commonwealth Parliament met in Melbourne up to 1927. The Constitution made it imperative that a new capital be established not within 100 miles of Sydney. That was how we got New South Wales into the federation. A commission was appointed not long after 1901 to search for a site. Eventually, what is now Canberra was chosen.
From the beginning, King O’Malley was opposed to Canberra most bitterly. He ridiculed the suggestion and said that Melbourne would do for him. Melbourne suited all the other Victorian members who were quite comfortable in attending the Parliament in that city. King O’Malley was human, however, in his opposition to the establishment of the Federal Capital in this far off spot. Ironically, when he became Minister for Home Affairs the responsibility of getting Canberra started fell on his shoulders. To his everlasting credit, he fought like a tiger to get the National Capital under way. Red tape, he said, almost strangled him. He was questioned unmercifully in the Parliament in Melbourne, week after week, about what was being done to get Canberra started. He organized a competition to name the capital and he helped to pick the name. He travelled to Canberra from Goulburn in a buggy with Mr. J. H. Catts, M.P., to inspect the site. He drank billy tea on the banks of the Molonglo River. He finally laid the commemoration stone on Capital Hill in March, 1913.
Some time ago honorable members had an opportunity to see, in the Senate club room, a film of the historic occasion when three stones were laid to commemorate the founding of Canberra - one by Lord Denman, the Governor-General, one by Andrew Fisher, the Prime Minister, and one by King O’Malley, who was responsible for organizing that ceremony. He had the warriors here on their horses; he had the band here; and he had a movie camera here. I was amazed at the quality of the film produced by that early effort at filming such a ceremony.
King O’Malley had to change his attitude towards the National Capital, Mr. Speaker, and when he did so, he fought for it all the way. But he has never been honoured for his great part in establishing this remarkable city. King O’Malley was an American. He became the member for Darwin, in Tasmania, in 1901. That seat is now named “ Braddon “, and my friend, the honorable member for Braddon, is the first Labour man to win it since King O’Malley was defeated in 1917.
– He will probably be the last, too.
– He will hold it for as long as, or even longer than King O’Malley did when it was named “ Darwin “.
King O’Malley was a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament. So he was a pioneer in that respect. He was a picturesque figure by any standards, with a great sense of humour, tremendous energy, and great faith in himself. He remained the member for Darwin until he was defeated on the conscription issue in 1917. He himself was against conscription, but his electorate was for it, and he was defeated. It was as simple as that. King O’Malley never stood for parliament again. He entered business as an estate agent in Melbourne. Many of his friends there are still alive, and they remember him. He died in Melbourne on 23rd December, 1954, as I have said, at the age of 98. 1 appeal to the Minister for the Interior to have something done to honour this famous Australian who was a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament and who sat in this Parliament for many years - a man who was a Minister of the Crown, and who was directly responsible for the establishment of this city. We should have due respect for his memory and in this city we should honour his work. I can think of no better way of doing this than by naming a suburb of Canberra after him. One of the newest suburbs of this city is named “ Campbell “. If it bears the name of the person whom I think it is named after, the name has some significance. But some of the other suburbs, surely, are named after men who made no greater contribution to Australian history than did King O’Malley. I urge the Minister to become the first Minister to honour the memory of King O’Malley, now that he has gone, for he was one of the first members of this Parliament and was directly responsible for the establishment of this National Capital.
.- Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the submissions made to this House this evening by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). We have in office now a government which professes to believe in competition and to do everything possible to encourage competition and to ensure that it will thrive in the economy. Under the Australian Industries Preservation Act of 1907, which was later amended, it has certain powers to prevent unfair and restrictive trading practices and to ensure competition.
The honorable member for East Sydney has pointed out clearly this evening that competition does not exist in one field. He has given details of a case in which influential and conservative concerns with head-quarters in Flinders-lane, Melbourne, have joined together to deprive a competing firm in Flinders-lane of the supply of raw material for its processes which is manufactured in Tasmania. This is clearly, therefore, a matter of interstate trade being restricted. But the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) has sat self-satisfied, on the front bench on the Government side of the House and has not deigned to reply to what the honorable member for East Sydney has said. We know that, before he entered this Parliament, the honorable gentleman was the servant of private industry, and we are now getting an indication that he still remains the servant of private industry. I think that the House deserves better treatment than it has received at the Minister’s hands.
Not only has the honorable member for East Sydney given proof of what he has said, but also a Melbourne newspaper investigated this case and interviewed the persons concerned, and it has confirmed the submissions made by the honorable member. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that, if a trade union had been involved in this matter, the Attorney-General would have had his sleuths from the Commonwealth Investigation Service on the job long before this, and some one would have taken to court.
At this stage, I want to relate the matter to some very important observations in a speech recently made to the Thirty-fourth Congress of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science by Dr. H. C. Coombs. Dr. Coombs is the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and has recently been re-appointed to that post by this Government. Dealing with the control of prices by management, he said -
Take first the pricing policies of industrialists and traders. No doubt some degree of competition prevails over a wide range of industry and commerce but there are degrees of monopoly and tacitly accepted practices which mean that prices are determined by management rather than by the market for a wide range of goods and that within significant margins producers can decide at what prices their goods shall be sold. In these circumstances the policies of the management are important.
Firstly, management appears to assume that increases in costs should and can be passed on - and so far as can be judged from the evidence available it appears to be broadly true that in Australia such increases in manufacturing and distributive industries can, in fact, be passed on.
Dr. Coombs, the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank, from his experience and knowledge, concludes that, in Australian industry at the present time, management exercises the power to determine prices.
A case in respect of one industry has been put to the House by the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Scullin put a case in respect of the furniture industry. In each case, exactly the practice mentioned by Dr. Coombs has been occurring. Here is an example of a matter in which the Government, if it were sincere, could take the lead by breaking the practice and discouraging management from adopting it. But no! Its attitude towards price increases, the passing on of costs, and unfair and restrictive trade practices is one purely of lipservice to the ideal of competition and to liberalism. It has fallen down on the job, just as it has done on every other occasion, and the Attorney-General reclines at ease, self-satisfied and complacent, on the front bench opposite. Any one would think that he was still getting a fee of 100 guineas a day - or was it 150? One finds it difficult to believe that the honorable gentleman was worth that when he was in practice, to judge by his performance in this House.
Mr. Speaker, what are the consequences of this kind of price control by industrialists with which the Government will not come to grips? The two important consequences were pointed out clearly by Dr. Coombs in the .address which I have mentioned. The first is the continuance of inflation - a problem with which this Government pretends to be concerned. The second is that it is most difficult for wageearners to obtain any increase in real wages. This .is a matter which merits emphasis. After a lengthy examination, of the problem, Dr. Coombs said -
You may feel sceptical of propositions which appear to suggest that wage-earners have gained little or nothing from increased wage rates over recent decades.
The man whom the Government has recently re-appointed to the post of Governor of the Commonwealth Bank appears to suggest that wage-earners have gained little or nothing from increased wage rates over recent decades.
The unfair and restrictive practices by management which the honorable member for East Sydney has described to the House are responsible for this situation. And this is the true situation, as we see if we refer to the Commonwealth Statistician’s index of real wages. We find that, in 1952-53, it stood at 1217. In the next year it became 1223, and in succeeding years it was 1229, 1212, 1215 and 1237, and, in 1958-59, it was 1232. Real wages, according to that index, were less in 1955-56 and 1956-57 than in 1952-53. They were less in 1958-59 than in 1957-58 and were only 1.2 per cent, higher in 1958-59 than they were six years earlier in 1952-53. What a profits picnic these years have been. What a record of unfair and restrictive practices by managements, as shown by the honorable member for East Sydney. Yet the Government ignores every aspect of these unfair and restrictive practices which have cut real wages in the unsatisfactory way that the official statistics of the Commonwealth Bank indicate.
But what has happened to .profits in this situation which the Government has permitted and encouraged? The White Paper on National Income and Expenditure shows that in 1952-53 profits were 13.4 per cent, of the national product - not 5 per cent., 10 per cent, or 12 per cent, but 13.4 per cent. The next year they were 15.3 per cent., then 16.2 per cent, 16.4 per cent., 16 per cent., 17.9 per cent, and 17.9 per cent, again. These figures do not show any fall. In real terms, profits have risen substantially from £563,000,000 to £1,105,000,000. That is the kind of economy over which this Government has presided.
Unfair and restrictive practices of the type given in detail by the honorable member for East Sydney to-night are ignored completely by the Government, although it has power under the Australian Industries Preservation Act to remedy the situation, if it -wished to do so. It should at least make an example of some of the powerful conservative firms which dominate Flinders-lane in Melbourne and which have a record of subscribing time and time again to the funds of the parties which comprise the Government. How can any objective person believe that the Government is honest when it accepts financial and other support from these concerns? I refer to such firms as Paterson, Laing and Bruce Limited. Who is the Bruce? He was once Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. Every one of these firms has had close associations with the parties that comprise the Government. How can any one who looks at those facts fail to see the obvious connexion and the reason why the AttorneyGeneral reclines on the front bench instead of using the powers that he has? This is not merely an isolated instance. If this case were dealt with properly, it would be an example to many other monopolistic managements that adopt the same practices.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am surprised that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who has been in the House during the time that the honorable members for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), Scullin (Mr. Peters) and Yarra (Mr. Cairns) have spoken, has not contributed further on this occasion. Recently, the honorable member for East Sydney described the boycott that had been placed on a manufacturer in Victoria by the Victorian agent of a Tasmanian supplier at the behest of, or in conspiracy with, other Victorian manufacurers. The Attorney-General said, quite understandably, that all the transactions had taken place within Victoria, that there was no interstate transaction involved and that therefore there was nothing that this Parliament could do about it under the Constitution. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) also spoke on this subject yesterday. The honorable member for East Sydney has made it plain that since the Attorney-General and the honorable and learned member for Balaclava spoke the Victorian manufacturer sought to secure supplies direct from the Tasmanian producer and not through the Victorian agent of the Tasmanian supplier. A Victorian manufacturer has sought supplies from a Tasmanian producer and the Tasmanian producer has answered the Victorian manufacturer that other Victorian manufacturers will cease to buy his produce if he supplies this Victorian manufacturer. That surely puts a new complexion on the matter; there is interstate trade.
The first of this Parliament’s powers under section 51 of the Constitution relates to trade and commerce between the States. Here quite plainly is an attempt by a Victorian manufacturer to establish trade and commerce with a Tasmanian supplier, and the Tasmanian supplier has been compelled to impose a boycott. That is a subject upon which this Parliament can pass laws, and upon which the Parliament in its first years passed a law - the Australian Industries Preservation Act. I would think that the Attorney-General now has facts plainly brought to his notice which call for an explanation as to whether the existing statute is adequate to deal with this problem and, if the statute is not adequate, whether he will exercise the constitutional powers of the Parliament to introduce an adequate statute.
– Has this been put in writing yet?
– No, of course I have not got it in writing. This has only recently been thought up.
– That, Sir, is a thoroughly unworthy interjection. I am surprised at the honorable and learned gentleman. It is not the first time that he has shown signs of being easily rattled in this arena which is so new to him. I would think that, if there is an answer to the facts put to him, he would give it. But he should not merely assert that these are not facts. If these are facts, we are entitled to his opinion on them. The facts as stated certainly suggest that interstate trade and commerce is involved; and that is a matter with which this Parliament can and should deal and with which a vigilant government would deal.
– Have the facts been put in writing to the Attorney-General yet?
– I know the scant respect with which the Minister who now interjects regards the facts. I am dealing with a matter that has been raised again and again on the adjournment. The responsible Minister is here to hear and deal with it, but he has remained mute except to make a few unworthy interjections, and the lackey at the table seeks to cap them. Now, Sir, I pass-
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many (a) new students were enrolled and (b) new Commonwealth scholarships were awarded at each university in 1951 and each subsequent year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I have had prepared the following two tables which set out the statistics requested by the honorable member: -
New students enrolled -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation states that the answers to parts 1, 2 and 4 of the question are contained in the table attached and the answer to parts 3 and 5’ is that all of this expenditure is found initially by the Commonwealth, but a proportion is recouped from aircraft operators by means of air navigation charges and taxes on aviation fuel, &c. The table is as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has replied as follows: - 1 and 2. No plans for major extensions to the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport have been adopted. The question of major airport development at Sydney and also at other centres in Australia is being considered by an inter-departmental committee.
m asked the Minister representing’ the Minister for Civil’ Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has furnished the following reply: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil
Aviation has replied as follows: -
y asked the Minister for the Army upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
Will he supply me, before the debate on the Estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, with a reply to the question which I placed on the notice-paper on 13th August concerning the import of ships?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question was supplied yesterday in time for the debate of the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport.
y asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the basic wage in (a) each State, and (b) Australia in each of the years from 1940 to 1959, inclusive?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The federal basic wages for adult males for each capital city, and for the average of the six capitals, are set out in the following table for the years 1940 to 1959, inclusive: -
d asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) The principal outstanding in respect of advances by the Commonwealth to the States in- creased between -30th June, 1945, and 30th June, 1959, as follows: -
Apart from these advances the Commonwealth has, in each year since 1951-52, made subscriptions to special loans or arranged other special loan assistance to support the Loan Council .borrowing programmes and to provide loan finance for various Commonwealth purposes. This special loan assistance has been provided mainly from amounts appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to a number of Trust Accounts within the Commonwealth Trust Fund, and from the Australian currency counterpart of overseas borrowings. The amount provided by the Commonwealth for these purposes between 1951-52 and 1958-59 amounted to £730,400,000 of which £139,600,000 represented the Australian currency proceeds of overseas loans.
This loan assistance has been used for a number of different purposes. An amount of £674,800,000 has been allocated during this period to State loan programmes for works expenditure and to Commonwealth loan programmes to finance the advances under the Commonweatlh and State Housing Agreements which are shown in the tables above. Some of .the proceeds have also been applied to other Commonwealth loan commitments, such as war service land settlement. Subscriptions to the special loans are not identified with any one of these purposes and, as some of the securities issued in the special loans have since matured and ‘have been .converted into new loans at rates of interest different from those for the original investments, and as others have been redeemed, it is no longer possible to identify a particular portion of the States’ outstanding debt as being held by the Commonwealth Trust Fund. It is accordingly not possible to show by what amounts the principal and annual interest payments of the States have increased .in respect of debts resulting from Commonwealth assistance to borrowing programmes approved by the Loan Council in the years 1951-52 to 1958-59. 2 and 3. As indicated above, portion of the loan finance made available since 1951-52 for the purposes referred to in 1 has been provided by way of special loan assistance which has been financed to a large extent from revenue sources. In the light of all the circumstances, the Commonwealth regards this practice as equitable.
m asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice -
What interest has been payable on dollar loans in each of the last ten financial years and what interest will be payable in this financial year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Interest on Commonwealth and State dollar debt paid during the last ten financial years, together with the amount .payable in 1959-60, is as follows: -
The amounts of interest shown above as paid or payable in the years 1956-57 to 1959-60 include amounts recoverable by the Commonwealth on loans raised on behalf of Qantas Empire Airways Limited and the Australian National Airlines Commission as follows: -
t asked the acting Treasurer, upon notice - 1- Was provision made .in the Superannuation Act for the value of units of pension which commenced prior to 14th May, 1942, to be adjusted to meet the increased cost of living?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The Superannuation Act 1957 provided, for increases in some Superannuation pensions. The increase in pensions which commenced prior to 14th May, 1942, did not meet the whole of the increase in prices. Generally, the increases did not extend to those who retired after 5th April, 1947. The nature of the adjustment is explained. in the second-reading speech, “ Hansard “, page 2655.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Is there any restriction imposed upon the export of scrap metals from Australia; if so, what are the details?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The only restrictions now imposed upon the Export of scrap metals are those in respect of Scrap iron and steel. This control is retained in order to ensure that adequate supplies are available to local industry. Sixty thousand tons, of scrap iron, and steel may be exported this year under quota. This steel may be of any type and drawn from any area. Quotas are allocated mainly to merchants in proportion to the recent deliveries to local industry. Apart from quota exports, permits are freely given for scrap in areas north of the Tropic of Capricorn and for scrap of types that cannot be used economically by local industry, such as ship scrap. In addition, special approval to export may be granted in respect of specific parcels of scrap where it is clearly established that these cannot be used economically by local industry because of their nature or location. Committees on which the scrap trade and users of scrap are represented advise the Department of Trade in the last type of case.
t asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice^ -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Chryslers are not operated by the Department of Supply. The average operating costs over the life of the vehicle of the Fords and Holdens (including actual depreciation) is 7.36d. per mile and 4.36d. per mile respectively.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. “Tyalla”, “ Ransdorp “, “River Derwent “ and “ River Burdekin “ were in class when sold, and no survey was carried out at the time of sale by the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. “ River Mitta “, “ River Murray “, “ River Hunter “ and “ River Norman “ were out of class when sold by the commission and no expenditure was incurred by the commission in respect of survey at the time of sale of these vessels.
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
What (a) territorial ordinances or regulations, (b) Commonwealth acts or regulations, (c) CommonwealthState agreements or (d) international agreements, impose embargoes, restrictions or charges on (i) the production of any commodities in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, (ii) the introduction of territorial commodities into Australia or (iii) the export of territorial commodities to other countries?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Birds Protection (Papua).
Birds and Animal Protection (New Guinea).
Mining (New Guinea).
Pearl, Pearl-Shell and Beche-de-mer (Papua).
Fisheries (New Guinea).
Land (New Guinea).
Forestry (New Guinea).
Exports (Control of Proceeds).
Copra Marketing Board.
Petroleum (Prospecting and Mining).
Bread (New Guinea).
Exports (Desiccated Coconut).
Public Health (Dairy Farm) (New Guinea).
Health (Dairy Farm) (Papua).
Australian Customs Act.
Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference).
Sales Tax Act.
Sugar Agreement Act.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 September 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19590930_reps_23_hor24/>.