24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLcay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. L. R. JOHNSON presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government remove section 127 and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Petition received and read.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he will ask the Commonwealth Bank for a full statement on the effect of the new system of bank charges. When the new system was introduced the associated banks undertook that after a period the effects of the new system would be studied. I understand that full information on this matter will become available after 31st December when the first quarterly debiting of the new charges will be made. Will the Treasurer ask the Commonwealth Bank to inform him whether the new system is providing greater profits for the banks than did the old system, whether many traders have adopted the practice of charging customers a minimum fee of 3d. on every cheque payment and whether the new system is giving a substantial advantage to big businesses over small businesses in the community in view of the fact that small businesses must pass on a bank fee of 3d. for every cheque deposited, whilst big businesses lodging more than 10,000 a quarter escape with a bank fee of as little as Id. a cheque? Finally, if a review shows that the new system is costing the public more and is increasing bank profits, will the Treasurer ask the Commonwealth Bank to break away from the associated banks and to introduce its own system providing a banking service at the lowest possible cost to the people as befits the people’s bank?
– The honorable gentleman must recognize that the answer to his lengthy question, involving as it does information on a variety of aspects of this quite important matter, will necessarily take some time to obtain. The information sought could not be supplied until some time in the new year. I shall examine the practicability of supplying information on the various points of detail that he raised. On the final point he has asked whether, if certain results appeared, we would then take action in relation to the Commonwealth Bank. I think we should first see what the results are, but, broadly, we have indicated that we regard this matter as being within the administrative province of the Commonwealth Bank and I think we would need very important and unusual considerations to depart from that practice.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. On 7th November he answered a question from the honorable member for Batman concerning subsidies to shipping lines serving South American and Caribbean ports. Is there any truth in the rumour now circulating that one of these lines has now asked for a further increase in subsidy and that the Government may find it necessary to consider this request?
– There are two lines which the Government has been instrumental in having established. One, I think, is called the Boomerang Cargo Line, which services the north and west coasts of South America, and the other is the William Heale Line, which services the east coast. The William Heale Line has asked, in the light of experience, for some variation in the conditions of payment of subsidy. The Government has agreed to some modification of conditions, but that does not involve any increase whatever in the ceiling of the subsidy payable under arrangement with the company. It is merely a modification of the arrangement and, indeed, that now puts the two shipping lines on the same terms in respect of subsidy. I understand, from the information given to me, that both services are proving valuable, as it was hoped they would be, in contributing towards opening up new markets in this area.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is he aware that a Mr.
Jordan, State Liberal member for Oxley in New South Wales, recently asked the Government of New South Wales, by way of question in the Parliament, to appoint an agent-general to Communist China with a view to promoting peaceful relations and an extension of trade with that country? Is the Prime Minister able to say whether Mr. Jordan was expounding a personal view or a decision of the Liberal Party?
– I must say I have never heard of it and therefore, presumably, the gentleman referred to was on a frolic of his own.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. It concerns the conference on apprenticeship recently held between his department, the unions and the employers concerned, as a result of which new terms of apprenticeship for the engineering and electrical trades were evolved, reducing the term from five years to four years, and to three years in certain circumstances, and particularly the enlightened provision for twenty weeks preceding technical training. In view of the important and far-reaching significance of this agreement to questions of industrial employment and unemployment, can the Minister say what the timetable is for these measures and when they can be expected to come fully into effective force?
– It is expected that an application will shortly be made - that is, within the course of the next few weeks - to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in order to vary the provisions of the metal trades and engineering awards to carry out the agreement between the trade unions and the employers. The various departments of labour and national service or departments of labour have agreed to the proposal. Subsequently, the State technical training authorities must make preparations for the twenty weeks’ continuous training in the initial period of apprenticeship. I understand that most of the State government representatives believe that they can effect the necessary changes to permit the twenty weeks’ training to commence in the early part of next year. The complete arrangement has not been finalized yet but we are hoping that at least in the early stage of next year we will be able to start implementing the scheme.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it true that there are now approximately 700 unemployed in the Cessnock coal-fields area and that this figure will be added to in the next few weeks by 250 when Elrington mine closes? Has the Government any plans to arrest this tragic situation on the eve of Christmas?
– Speaking from memory, at yesterday’s date, the number of miners registered in the Cessnock area was less than 300. As a result of the closing of the Elrington colliery we do expect the registration of an extra 200 to 250 shortly after Christmas. Yesterday a question similar to this was asked by the honorable member for Wilmot and I then detailed some of the arrangements made by the Commonwealth Government in order to help the various State governments to do what they could to ensure a policy of full employment. The honorable gentleman will himself know that there is close co-operation between the New South Wales Government, which has primary responsibility in this limited area, the Commonwealth Government, and various officials of my department, and the Joint Coal Board, in order to minimize the effect of the continuing closing down of mines in the Cessnock area. I cannot contribute anything more to what I said yesterday, but I think the honorable gentleman knows that even at this moment officials are considering what additional methods can be used to minimize the effects of the closedown of Elrington.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Are quantities of buffalo meat coming to southern States from northern areas and being used in the manufacture of sausages and smallgoods? If so, is there any way that consumers can tell this meat from normal supplies? Is the sale of this buffalo meat likely to be continued and extended, and if so what effect would this have on home-consumption beef sales?
– I understand that a small quantity of buffalo meat is coming to the southern States for human consumption. Whether it is accepted, is entirely a matter for the State departments of health. It is subject to a certificate of approval being granted by the Northern Territory Administrator or the Northern Territory officer concerned. I think that the quantity that is coming or is likely to come is not very significant.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that the Coffs Harbour airport is now closed for night flying due only to the lack of an illuminated air sock? Will the Minister see fit to allow the previous provisions employed for night flying to continue?
– I will, of course, convey the honorable member’s question to the Minister in another place, but I do happen to know something about this matter, and because of its urgency perhaps I should state the position. It is a custom of the Department of Civil Aviation to issue Notices to Airmen similar to Notices to Mariners, with which the honorable member for Batman will be familiar. These notices keep airmen up to date on various flying matters. Unfortunately, due to a misunderstanding, a Notice to Airmen went out about three or four days ago saying that Coffs Harbour was to be closed to night flying. This was an error. At Coffs Harbour, as at most aerodromes, landing aircraft are given instructions for landing, details of turbulence on the approach, wind direction and so on. But to provide an extra safety aid, and to give the pilot a visual reference at Coffs Harbour, it was decided to install an illuminated wind-indicator for night flying. Somehow or other, when this information was passed on in the Notice to Airmen, the matter became confused, and the notice stated that night flying would cease at Coffs Harbour until this illuminated wind-indicator was in position. That was wrong. There is no intention to close Coffs Harbour to night flying, and I understand that the airline concerned - whether it is East-West Airlines Limited or Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited - has been informed of this.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether there is any significant shortage of telephone cable or other telephone equipment at the present time? If there is, to what extent is this shortage delaying the installation of telephone facilities in country areas?
– I can advise the honorable member for Canning that there is at present no shortage of telephone cable. The Australian factories that manufacture cable for us are filling our orders on time, in spite of the fact that within the last twelve months or so our demand has increased by about 50 per cent. It may be that in some areas, possibly in the area represented by the honorable member for Canning, there has been a temporary shortage of cable, due to some problem of distribution. I can assure the honorable member, knowing how keen is his interest in the extension of country telephone services, that there have been no delays of any consequence. There may be slight delays at times because of our changing over from manual to automatic exchanges in country areas. These changeovers involve the installation of a new kind of equipment, some of which has been in short supply. But this is only a temporary difficulty and it will shortly be overcome.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Did the right honorable gentleman state, early this year, that the unemployment problem would be solved within twelve months? As there are now more than 73,000 unemployed, does he still consider that he will be able to fulfil his promise within the period of twelve months? If not, when does he think the problem will be solved? Does he consider that the existing level of unemployment is normal?
– I think the progress being made in this field has been very good and that the position will continue to improve in future months.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Government has adopted the new practice, when sending out tax refund cheques, of including with them a leaflet directing attention to the advantages of investment in special bonds? Have any complaints been made about this practice? What have been the results of this method of attracting investment in special bonds?
– It is a fact that since August of this year leaflets have gone outwith tax refund cheques, setting out the advantages of special bond investment. As honorable members know, the Government conducts an active campaign of advertising and publicity in various forms to bring to the notice of the public the value of special bond investment. One of our problems, of course, is to get to the small investor and present our material as persuasively as we can. There is nothing in these leaflets that could constitute any undue pressure or exhortation. The merits of the bonds are set out, but any one interested is invited to consult a bank or a stockbroker or to secure a prospectus from the Registrar of Inscribed Stock. Some hundreds of thousands of these leaflets have now gone out, and the only complaint which has come to my notice was by way of a press report in a Queensland newspaper. On the other hand, we have received some 5,000 requests for this prospectus and no doubt banks and stockbrokers have had other requests as well. It may be just a coincidence but I think we can claim that this at least has been due partly to the fact that subscriptions to special bonds in the first five months of this year which amounted to £10,500,000 were considerably in excess of the £6,300,000 which was subscribed in the corresponding period last year.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade, who no doubt will be aware that the Australian Meat Board, in its report for the year ended June, 1962, stated that freight rates on frozen meat shipped to the United Kingdom from New Zealand and the Argentine had increased by 25 per cent. and 35 per cent. respectively since June, 1955, whereas freight rates from Australia had increased by between 40 per cent. and 70 per cent. in the same period. Will the Minister inform the House of the reason for the much higher increase in freights on meat exports from Australia as compared with those from New Zealand and the Argentine?
– I am not able to explain the increase, but I shall see whether it is possible to procure an explanation for the honorable member. Having said that, may I remind the House that I have pointed out on a number of occasions that until 1956, Australia’s exporting interests regularly invited the Government to assist when they were negotiating freight rates. In that year, however, the exporting interests, known in the jargon as the shippers, decided that they would negotiate alone and direct with the shipping companies. The parties arrived at an understanding which incorporates a formula, and it would be the operation of that formula, negotiated by the interests which themselves meet the freight charges, that would explain the variation in freight rates. When the shippers took this action the Government decided that they should be as well equipped as possible to conduct their negotiations on freight rates, and it made a grant of money to ensure that they would be able to establish an appropriate office and other arrangements as the basis for their negotiations.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Defence by stating that during the debate on the defence estimates there was apparently some difference of opinion on the value of submarines and aircraft as compared with surface ships. I now ask the Minister whether he has seen a statement attributed to the editor of “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “ in which he comments on the run-down state of the British Navy and urges a massive swing to submarines, pointing out that as an aircraft carrier shortly will cost about £100,000,000 submarines could within a decade take over the present activities of aircraft carriers.
– I did see the comment made by the editor of “ Jane’s “. Because we all know that this is a publication which speaks with some degree of authority I have asked the Government’s professional advisers to examine the statement and to give me their comments on it.
– Has the Minister for Air been informed that an aircraftsman attached to the Royal Australian Air Force in Darwin has openly declared himself to be a Nazi and that he attempted to insert an advertisement in a Darwin newspaper calling a meeting to form a branch of the National Socialist Party in that area? What action has the Minister, or his department, taken to deal with the activities of this airman who desires to spread the evils of this ideology which is completely abhorrent to the Australian way of life?
– I have been informed of the occurrence to which the honorable member referred. This airman, Aircraftman Crouch, came to Australia from England about eighteen months ago and joined the Royal Austraiian Air Force about fourteen months ago. During the time in which he has been a member of the R.A.A.F. he has not been a very suitable serviceman. He was absent without leave on one occasion for about three weeks, he took an overdose of sleeping tablets on another occasion, and has recently shown leanings towards the National Socialist Party. This last action, of course, is completely contrary to Queen’s Regulations and Air Force Orders, which state that under no circumstances will any serving airman have anything to do with a political organization. He may be a member of an organization, but if he takes any active part in it he must resign from the Air Force. In fact, on some occasions, this provision has been used by people who want to get out of the Air Force. Honorable members may have seen, recently, that there has been quite a spate of candidates at by-elections in the United Kingdom because one method of buying your way out of the services is to lodge a £150 deposit as a candidate for election to parliament.
I immediately called for a report on this case. It appears that, in August of this year, Aircraftman Crouch’s mustering became redundant and he and a number of other airmen in the mustering were offered the opportunity to elect to be re-mustered or discharged. Aircraftman Crouch elected to be discharged, but was told that some months would elapse before he could be discharged. In view of the fact that he has been a most unsatisfactory airman, I have directed that his discharge from the Air Force should be expedited.
– I ask the Prime Minister, as Acting Minister for External Affairs, whether it is a fact that certain nations in the Soviet bloc have not paid their contributions to the United Nations. Is this a matter of serious concern to that organization? What view has the World Court expressed concerning the effect of non-payment of contributions in relation to their continued membership of the United Nations?
– As the honorable member knows, the International Court of Justice was consulted on this matter and gave a majority opinion on it. Article 17 of the United Nations Charter provides that the expenses of the United Nations shall be apportioned among the members by the General Assembly. It was argued by the Soviet Union, among others, that this did not apply to special provisions such as those that had to be made in the case of the Congo and other efforts by the United Nations to keep the peace by means of special activities. The court did not agree with that. Now, the matter comes back to the assembly. The assembly will have the opportunity of voting on two resolutions in connexion with this matter. One is that the report of the International Court be adopted; We will support that. The other resolution, which is partly based on the first one, is that a committee should be established to work out ways and means of financing future operations of this kind. We will also support that. The fact is that the Soviet Union is the chief defaulter in these matters. The total of the default - I asked about this only this morning-
– What a coincidence!
– Well, it is like my answer to your question yesterday. I believe in one Dorothy Dix-er a day. I have one to-day. The default by the Soviet Union in relation to the emergency force is of the order of 12,000,000 dollars and, in the case of the Congo operations, of the order of 20,000,000 dollars. These are very substantial sums. I hope that they will be pursued. I hope that the General Assembly will assert the validity and effect of the
United Nations Charter as now authoritatively determined by the International Court of Justice.
– I ask a supplementary question in pursuit of the same Dorothy Dix-er. Can the right honorable gentleman give the amounts of the defaults by France in respect of the same expeditions?
– In the case of the regular budget, none. In the case of the emergency force, none. In the case of the Congo operations, the figure available to me in respect of France is 9,000,000 dollars.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of the report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization earlier this year that almost the whole of the grain bought by red China from Canada and Australia is used as rations for the red Chinese forces, have there been any consultations between Canada and Australia for the purpose of stopping the shipping of grain to red China while she continues acts of aggression against India?
– The honorable member was good enough to put this subject into my mind recently. I am having it investigated, and I will advise him as soon as I can.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Trade, concerns the Boomerang Cargo Line, which the Minister has just stated is subsidized by the Government. I ask: Are the vessels of this line Australian-owned and are they manned by Australians?
– My recollection is that the vessels are Swedish-owned and Swedishregistered. The line has been established after the canvassing of the most appropriate ships available. The subsidy payable is determined on the basis of making good any failure to make certain earnings out of the trade. The subsidy is not a fixed sum, regardless of the financial results of the trade. There is a ceiling amount from which shall be deducted any earnings made by the line.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Has the Minister seen a report that a registered trade union, Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia, despite an agreement, and an apparently full understanding with the management of television station Channel 7 in Sydney, has made demands outside the agreement and understanding which have forced the station to suspend production of an historical drama series, “ Jonah “ ? Does the Minister consider this to be just one more instance of an industrial union using its industrial strength to impose its will on management in unlawful circumstances, and is this action to the detriment of members of this union who have been crying out for opportunities to develop the Australian television industry by their own participation in local productions and to provide greater job opportunities for Australian actors and artists?
– I was informed this morning that station ATN7 has suspended production of the television film, “ Jonah “, which records dramatic incidents in Australia’s history. I think that the honorable gentleman has the facts correctly and that there was a private industrial agreement between Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia and the television company, regulating pay and the conditions of employment. Actors Equity has now demanded, in cases known as re-user privileges, a 100 per cent. increase in fees if the film is re-used in North America and a 25 per cent. increase if it is re-used in the United Kingdom. The company has pointed out that, already, in the last two years alone, its losses on Australian productions are about £320,000, that it is committed to expenditure of over £30,000 for this production. Clearly, the company cannot carry on if this sort of demand is made on it, particularly if such a demand is made outside the terms of the agreement which was only recently negotiated. I think the action of the union is to be deeply regretted. Not only have the rank and file members of the union lost their employment for the time being, but, if it does so happen that the production of “ Jonah “ is not continued, they will lose their employment on this production permanently. If the company’s losses are too great, it becomes probable that there will be real prospects of discontinuing the Australian production by the company. I deplore the action taken and hope that sweet reason will prevail and that the union will agree to its members returning to work.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. Can the Minister say whether a decision has been made by the Government on proposals to construct a cool store at Darwin for the purpose of assisting the establishment of an export meat industry in the Katherine and Darwin areas? If a decision has been taken to establish the store, can the Minister say where the store will be sited?
– Some months ago, the Government announced its planning of a cool store at Darwin as part of its general developmental planning of the north. A week ago, Cabinet took a decision, the general effect of which was that cool stores would be built in what are known as the victualling yards adjacent to the wharf at Darwin, and Cabinet voted the funds necessary for that purpose. Two antecedent conditions will have to be met before construction commences. One, a task which falls primarily on the Administrator, is to put up proposals regarding the rentals to be charged for the space, and the Administrator has done that. Then, the Government is seeking from the potential users of the cool stores a firm commitment to take a stipulated amount of space for a stipulated period at the agreed rental. When that condition is met, there will be no further impediment to the immediate construction of the stores.
– I would like to address my question to the Minister for Trade. Has the Minister heard that a shipment of frozen mutton in cardboard cases, shipped to the United States of America in April, was left on the wharf for two days? As such delays can affect the quality of meat and possible future sales, can the Minister say who is responsible for these shipments when they arrive in America?
– I do not know anything of the incident to which the honorable member refers. I should imagine that the responsibility for any such goods on arrival lies between the shipping company, the stevedoring agents and the purchasers, although, of course, the government of a country, through its customs, quarantine and health agencies, also comes into the picture. Not knowing anything of the incident, I cannot do more than say that if the honorable gentleman will furnish me with some particulars I will try to find out the facts.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service, supplementary to the question asked a few moments ago. Was he stating Government policy relative to the situation between ATN and the actors engaged in making a television series called “ Jonah “? Is it not a fact that a Hollywood strike of screen-actors lasting some months arose out of the very same problem - that is, the payment of fees for new business? When a film is sold first for a small sum and later for an exceedingly high sum, the actors concerned do not get a second fee. This is one of the most important industrial problems associated with Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia. Did the Minister not completely misrepresent the position and give a few smarmy and oleaginous tributes to the “Sydney Morning Herald “ rather than support actors in their fight for fair conditions?
– I deplore the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question, which was, after all, a statement of his own ideas on this matter. I repeat that what I said was correct. There was an industrial agreement entered into between Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia and ATN Channel 7. I believe in the honouring of agreements. It is perfectly true that that agreement did not deal with the specific matter of re-user rights, but there was an agreement. In this case there was a breach of the agreement. Notice has been given to the company that from tomorrow night employees will be withdrawn. I repeat what I have said on other occasions: The Government believes in full employment. It wants to increase opportunities for employment in this country, particularly in the television industry. It is up to us to honour agreements. If the employees want to amend the agreement the proper way to go about it is to negotiate with the company concerned.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he has any information about the possibility of receiving in Australia direct telecasts of the Olympic Games to be held in Tokyo in 1964.
– As yet I have no information for the honorable member or, indeed, for the people generally on this matter. As soon as I have information 1 will make it public.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral received complaints from people living in the vicinity of radio station VK3W1 at East Melbourne, operated by the Wireless Institute of Australia, to the effect that they are experiencing difficulty in obtaining uninterrupted television and radio reception because of the station’s operations? Has the honorable gentleman investigated these complaints and will he take the necessary action to redress this grievance?
– I have not received any complaints of the nature referred to by the honorable member for Scullin.
– You will.
– If they come along they will be treated in exactly the same way as other complaints that are made from time to time.
– Do better than that for these people.
– When complaints are received they are investigated by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department acting on behalf of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and by the board itself. Everything possible is done to ensure that interference is eliminated. In our efforts in this regard we obtain a great deal of cooperation from some State instrumentalities, whose services from time to time interfere with reception. I assure the honorable member that if any complaints of the kind referred to come to the notice of my department, they will be properly investigated.
– I ask the Prime Minister in his capacity as Acting Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that the United Nations has taken over from the Netherlands a number of small naval vessels for patrol duties off the coast of West New Guinea. Was this move discussed in any way with the Australian Government? What is its real significance? Has the United Nations patrol any secondary role in respect of quarantine?
– With the honorable member’s permission I will treat the question as being on the notice-paper, because it requires the assembling of some detailed information.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. In answer to an earlier question about the dispute between Actors and Announcers Equity Association of Australia and ATN Channel 7 he said Actors Equity was breaching an agreement. He said also that the matter in dispute was not covered by the original agreement. If that is a fact, how can Actors Equity be breaching an agreement? Is it not a fact that the newspaper companies that have interests in television companies have made substantial profits, running into millions of pounds in some instances, and are in such a satisfactory position as to be able easily to meet the demands made upon them by Actors Equity?
– You can always rely on the honorable gentleman, who has a most confused mind, to get his facts mixed. The simple truth is that there is a private agreement between the company and Actors Equity as to terms and conditions of work. Actors Equity now claims that because a particular matter is not specifically referred to in the agreement, the union has the right unilaterally to break the agreement. That is a view that I cannot support. That is a simple explanation of what I said previously. As regards the operations of ATN Channel 7, personally I do not think it has made profits running into millions of pounds. In fact, on its Australian productions in the last two years it has lost £320,000. The parent company may have made considerable profits, but that is a different matter from the profits made by the television concern itself.
– I ask for leave to make a brief explanation in regard to a mis-statement made last night by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam).
– Last evening the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said -
There are two members of the Australian Country Party in this Parliament who have electorates wholly or partly in the tropics - the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson), and I do not remember him speaking on this subject, although
I am subject to correction on this, and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) who, I am certain, has never spoken on this subject.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was referring to the subject of northern development. The records of “ Hansard “ show the honorable gentleman’s remarks to be a deliberate and characteristic mis-statement of fact. The records show that I dealt with this matter in my maiden speech in this place and in other speeches. The remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition are characteristically misleading.
– by leaveIf the honorable member for Maranoa will point out to me when he has spoken on this subject, I shall acknowledge my error. It should not take long for the honorable gentleman to refer me to his speeches on the subject because the references to his speeches in the index to “ Hansard “ are among the briefest of all honorable members.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Adminstrator’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the States Grants (Universities) Act 1960, as amended by the States Grants (Universities) Act 1962.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Menzies and Mr. Harold Holt do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to authorize the Commonwealth to offer to the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia grants for the University of New South Wales, Monash University and the University of Adelaide respectively, which are supplementary to those already offered for the years 1961, 1962 and 1963 by the existing State Grants (Universities) Act 1960-1962. Honorable members are aware that since the Government’s acceptance of the Murray report of 1957 Commonwealth grants to the States for their universities have been on a triennial basis. The grants for the years 1958-60 were those recommended by the Murray committee, and those for the current triennium, 1961-63, are those recommended in the first report to the Government by the Australian Universities Commission.
Grants for a period three years ahead have advantages both for the universities receiving them and for the governments responsible for providing them. The former - that is to say, the universities - have an assured income for the period, and so can plan with a large measure of certainty, while the latter - the governments - know, broadly, the level of finance required of them by the universities. I emphasize the importance of the triennial scheme. It is so important, both ways, that it ought not to be interfered with except under exceptional circumstances. In our opinion exceptional circumstances have arisen in the cases contained in the bill.
The Government’s policy is to offer, for a period of three years in advance, specified sums of money for the university purposes which have been recommended to us by the commission. In general, our view is that if a State university requires additional money during that period it must obtain it from other than Commonwealth sources. In fact, this usually means State government grants and private benefactions. The State governments recognize that they have a special responsibility for their own universities.
On the other hand, we know that the judgments on which the commission’s recommendations for the current period, 1961 to 1963 were based had to be made on evidence presented by the universities as long ago as 1959. Accurate forecasting of needs and costs for such a long period ahead is difficult, and we recognize that in certain circumstances exceptions to the principle of fixed offers by the Commonwealth for a triennium are justified. For this reason, in 1960 we agreed to increase our grant to Victoria for the early stages of the planning and development of Monash University. Again, in May this year, we amended the act to permit increased Commonwealth grants so that the Commonwealth and States would share the cost of providing higher salaries to university academic staffs.
In recent months, the commission has received many requests that it should recommend to the Government increased grants for the present triennium. After close and painstaking examination of the various proposals, the commission recommended to me that the special problems involved in establishing two rapidly growing new universities - the University of New South Wales and Monash University - and in planning a new constituent part of the University of Adelaide on a new site at Bedford Park, justified supplementary grants of the amounts indicated in clauses 3 and 4 of the bill for the purposes mentioned there. I put them in summary form as follows: - University of New South Wales, in relation to the building for medical and biological sciences, £242,500. This has become a matter of some urgency. There is a matching provision for the State Government, and the Premier of New South Wales is extremely keen on getting this work done. The next is Monash
University, recurrent expenditure, £114,000. This is involved principally in future staffing arrangements. The third is the University of Adelaide, Bedford Park College, capital expenditure £37,500, and recurrent expenditure, £26,000. These amounts mean a total Commonwealth grant of £420,000.
The commission had discussions with the appropriate State government authorities and was able to assure me that the State governments concerned would match the recommended Commonwealth grants on the customary basis, that is to say £I-for-£l for capital expenditure and £1.85 to £1 for recurrent costs. In these circumstances my colleagues and I, knowing how thoroughly the commission had considered the claims put to it, were prepared under these very exceptional circumstances to accept the recommendations. The result is the present bill, which I warmly commend to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
– I move -
Mr. Speaker, I think I should give a brief explanation of how this matter arose. Recently, the chairman of the Joint Printing Committee of the Parliament, the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin), brought to my notice a report of that committee which had been prepared after an examination of the problems associated with the printing of parliamentary papers. I subsequently conferred with the committee and I must say that it had gone to some trouble to have on display a very interesting exhibit of a great variety of Commonwealth publications of diverse kinds, indicating the enormous range of Commonwealth publications through the various departments of State at the present time. While it cannot be argued that uniformity is obtainable in respect of all these documents - indeed there are some documents required by particular departments which necessarily need to be of a rather more elaborate and colourful kind than the normal official document - it was felt that considerable improvement could be achieved towards producing greater uniformity which, in turn, would tend towards more ready accessibility in volume form when many of these documents were put together. The committee directed my attention to the fact that the United Kingdom Government had made some substantial improvement in this direction, and obviously the committee had been influenced in its own thinking by the success of the action taken in the United Kingdom. There is also the question of the availability of these documents to members of the general public and the desirability of making more widely known to people the existence of documents which would be of value and of information to them. Most of us, despite, perhaps, even long experience in this place, would find it difficult to tell constituents or interested organizations just where a particular official document could be procured or to indicate the great range of these documents so that people would be informed as to their availability. Here again we believe is room for some substantial improvement.
The Printing Committee was of the opinion that the present arrangement for the preparation, printing, publishing and distribution of Commonwealth publications should be reviewed. It felt that the need for easier reference and easier access to Commonwealth publications is not being met under existing arrangements and that some confusion, and indeed irritation, are caused by the lack of uniformity which exists under the present conditions.
The Printing Committee concluded its report by recommending the appointment of a joint select committee to inquire into and report upon the printing, publication and distribution of all parliamentary and government publications. I took the report of the committee and its recommendations to Cabinet, and Cabinet agreed that there is room for improvement in the present arrangements. This would include not only Commonwealth Government publications, as they are more generally known, but also those issued by Commonwealth statutory corporations. We decided, therefore, to take the necessary steps for the establishment of a select committee for this purpose. I have set out the terms of reference in the motion. I hope that the personnel of the committee, assuming the House adopts the motion, can be announced before the House rises to-morrow. I therefore move in the terms I have indicated.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Opposition supports the motion and applauds the appointment of this committee. There is a great number of reports which have to be presented to Parliament under statute - some three score at least. There is also a great number of matters upon which Government departments issue periodic or spasmodic publications. Many of the matters upon which reports and publications are made are basic to an increasing number of activities. It is impossible to carry out any adequate research into most activities in Australia to-day without having some recourse to publications by government departments or reports which have to be made to this Parliament. It is altogether desirable that these reports and publications should be promptly and readily available.
The variety of the publications appears from answers which I was given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 12th August, 1959, as reported at page 101 of *’ Hansard “ of that date, and on 15th September, 1959, as reported at page 1023 of “Hansard” of that date. Most reports which have to be made to the Parliament and most publications which come from government departments and instrumentalities are at present printed by private printers. With the advent of the new Government Printing Office in Canberra, there is undoubtedly an opportunity to see that all such publications are more promptly and readily available than hitherto. The model of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in the United Kingdom is one which Australia could copy with very great advantage. The Opposition is ready to make its appointments to this committee as soon as the resolutions here and in the other place have been passed. We commend the Government’s adoption of the Printing Committee’s report. We know from our own members on the Printing Committee how valuable the suggestions of that committee have been in these new fields, and we look for the benefits which will flow to the Parliament and to the people from the deliberations and recommendations of this joint committee which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has sponsored.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed-
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Opposition must take a different attitude to this motton from that which it took to the preceding one.
– You are stretching it a bit here.
– I thought the phrase you usually use on these occasions was “ synthetic emotion “. The right honorable gentleman has a pretty soporific effect at any time, but he particularly aims to bring about a soporific effect upon the deliberations of the Parliament in the last week which he fixes for the Parliament to sit. I do not know whether the right honorable gentleman will move the next motion or whether he will allow the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to move that one also, but while the Parliament should sit next week, it is most unlikely that it will be sitting in the following week. General business only comes before the House on alternate Thursdays. If this motion is carried and if, also, the House sits no longer than this week or next week, there will be no further opportunity for general business this year. I apprehend, however, that there have very rarely been occasions at the end of the year when there have been so many matters of general business still undebated. There are six matters of general business upon which debate has not even commenced. There are four matters of general business on which debate has commenced and been postponed.
I shall indicate why we will oppose this motion by referring briefly to the nature of those matters which have not been debated or have been only partly debated. The first two, which have not yet been debated, concern the extension of the benefits of the Aged Persons Homes Act to disabled persons; to totally and permanently incapacitated pensioners, invalid pensioners and the like, civilians and returned soldiers who are disabled and who, on the grounds of their disabilities at all events, would be entitled to social service benefits. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) on the first day on which this Parliament sat moved a motion on this subject, and over eight months ago the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) sought leave to introduce a bill to achieve the same objectives. If the honorable member for Mackellar, honorable members of the Opposition and such Government members as have supported this idea outside the House and on some timid occasions in the House support these two motions, then a very deserving section of the Australian public will benefit, and not before time. But for all this period, for nearly nine months, the Government has refused to allow these two subjects, upon which the Opposition and certain members on the Government side are agreed, to be debated in the House.
Then there is a third notice of a motion, this time by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), concerning the extension of the Seato defence arrangements.
– You do not intend to go through them all, do you?
– Apparently this is the only opportunity you will give us to debate them or even mention them. The honorable member for Chisholm has very properly suggested that the time has come to extend the operations of Seato to deal with developmental projects and marketing problems in the South-East Asian area. There is, no doubt, a very great deal of support in the House, on both sides, for those propositions, but this matter has been kept on the noticepaper without debate since the first day that the Parliament met.
The fourth notice is of a motion by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) concerning the issue of an Anzac medal to Gallipoli veterans. This has been urged by several honorable members on both sides of the House and by a great number of persons outside the House. Yet this has been on the notice-paper for nearly four months.
Then we have a notice of a motion by the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) concerning Commonwealth and State co-operation in flood mitigation work on rivers on the north coast of New South Wales. It is unthinkable that the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) would not support the proposals that the honorable member for Cowper put before the House seven weeks ago, and which the Government has not allowed the House to debate.
The remaining notice has been on the notice-paper for only a comparatively short time, only four weeks. It is a notice of another motion by the honorable member for Mackellar, dealing with the matter of disarmament which, it is trite to say, is vital to us all.
These are the matters which are on the notice-paper and which the Government has not yet allowed the honorable members concerned to bring forward even for the first time. Then there are four matters on which debate has commenced, but in respect of which the Government has not allowed debate to continue. The first concerns national service training. The debate on this matter was initiated by the honorable member for Chisholm. It may be that large majorities on both sides of the House are satisfied that the best contribution to the defence of our country lies in proposals other than the revival of national service training. It may be that, in the view of most honorable members on both sides, national service training is not the most suitable way of ensuring the defence of this country, or the best way of spending our defence allocation, even if that allocation was substantially increased.
Then there are two bills on the noticepaper, private members’ bills, both brought forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), one to give the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) a full vote in this House and the other to give the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) a full vote in this House. Debate on these bills was commenced nearly nine months ago but the Government has refused to allow it to be resumed. The Government realizes, of course, that if these honorable members had full voting rights, the Opposition would become the government as, in fact, was desired by a majority of voters in a majority of States and in the whole nation twelve months ago.
The fourth matter which was partly debated need not, of course, be debated any further. It concerns the international airport at Tullamarine, and it was brought before the House on the motion of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson). Here we have an excellent example of the way in which reforms can be brought about by discussing them in this House. The Government refused to allow the Parliament to make a decision on this motion. Nevertheless, because the debate that did take place showed that many honorable members on the Government side supported the proposition, as well as honorable members of the Opposition, and because it appeared that a vote taken in the House would result in the acceptance of the proposition, the Government has bowed to the inevitable and in the meantime has made an announcement outside the House.
All these matters are on the notice-paper, and they have been on the notice-paper, in some cases, for more than nine months. We cannot accept the postponement of the debate on them until next year. We oppose the motion. We do not believe that general business should be superseded tomorrow.
– 1 hope the House will not delay its determination of the very important questions urgently requiring our attention by taking up unnecessary time in debating this motion. The attitude of the Australian Labour Party has been made clear by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). That is putting the matter at its highest. A little earlier to-day I read something in which the honorable member was described as the crown prince of the Labour Party. Frankly, after having listened to him a few moments ago, I should think he would be more aptly described as the half-crown comedian of the Labour Party. Does he seriously expect us or the public to believe that he has been sincerely putting before us his own views and those of his party? He and his colleagues know why this action is being taken. No one would be more uncomfortable than honorable members opposite - or at least they would share the discomfort with us - if we were to add to the very heavy legislative programme that is before us, and which must be dealt with before the Parliament can rise, by allowing general business to be discussed tomorrow.
– Why not sit another week?
– We know how the honorable member for East Sydney always suggests that we should sit longer. We also know that for half the day he is not with us. He comes in refreshed from his afternoon siesta and joins in the fray at night. Others of us, of course, give our attention constantly to the business of the House. I have claimed before, and no honorable member opposite can deny the truth of the claim, that no government in the history of the Parliament has made more time available for private members’ business than we have done during our term of office. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has produced documentary evidence in support of this claim.
The Opposition is adopting a holierthanthou attitude on this occasion, but I ask the House to consider how often in the course of this parliamentary year the Opposition has intruded on the time available for private members’ business by bringing forward for discussion matters which by no stretch of the imagination could be considered major matters of great public consequence.
– They have been urgent matters.
– I am not talking about their urgency, although the very fact that we have now decided to amend the Standing Orders by omitting the term “ urgency “ is a practical recognition of the fact that on very many occasions items brought forward for discussion by the Opposition could not with any justification have been described as urgent.
We have, I repeat, a heavy legislative programme ahead of us. Both this motion and the one that will follow it are designed to avoid, as far as practicable, inconvenience to honorable members on both sides of the House. I would have hoped that on this occasion at least, instead of the Opposition going through the kind of songanddance routine that has become almost nauseatingly familiar on such occasions, we could have had a common-sense recognition of the fact that what was being proposed was in the best interests of all members of the Parliament.
.- Having listened to the claim made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) that his government has made more time available for private members’ business than any other government, I suggest it is not a bad idea to have a look at the record. This Parliament has almost twice as many members as it had at the time of Federation, or even as recently as 1946. The business of government takes up much more time and is much more complex than in those earlier years. There were a few thousand public servants in 1900; there are now as many as 170,000. The Budget and everything else with which we are concerned have increased in complexity and in size. We are in control of the development of a most complicated modern community. Yet when I turn to the record I find that we meet for fewer days in the year now than we did in the first ten years of this century.
In 1901 the Parliament met on 113 days. This information is available to all honorable members. If you look at to-day’s notice-paper you will find that it is number 64. For those who have not troubled to find out what that means, I can s?.y that this is the sixty-fourth day on which the Parliament has met this year. To-morrow will be the 65th day. In 1901 the Parliament met for 113 days, in 1902 for 107 days, in 1903 for 78 days, in 1904 for 122 days and in 1905 for 98 days. In the remaining years of that decade the Parliament met for 70 days, 97 days, 91 days, 98 days and 83 days respectively. Taking the second decade, in 1912 the Parliament met for 105 days and in 1919 for 114 days. In the 1920’s and 1930’s this Parliament met consistently longer than it does these days. The figures for the last few years since this Government took office are most interesting. In 1951 the Parliament met for 50 days, in 1952 for 74 days, in 1953 for 61 days, in 1954 for 48 days and in 1955 for 52 days. Prior to this Government taking office the average annual sitting had been 71 days but this Government has been meeting on so few occasions that the average has fallen now to about 66 days. That is the first point that I wish to make.
Although parliamentary procedure now is much more complicated than it was, although, I think it is fair to say, the Parliament now has a more important task to perform than it had previously and although there are now more members to participate in discussions, the Parliament is meeting on fewer occasions than in earlier years. The complexity of government business is crowding the private member off the floor of the House. All Opposition members are private members, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) himself. I believe that I have as much right to speak in this House on behalf of the people of the Wills electorate as the Treasurer has to speak on behalf of the people of the Higgins electorate. The same remarks apply to every honorable member. We are here as representatives of the same kind of Australians as are those honorable members who belong to the Ministry.
Reference to the records relating to Budget sessions reveals the actual hours of sitting. In 1910-11 the Parliament met for 749 hours and in 1912-13 it met for 912 hours whereas in 1961 it met for 575 hours and in 1962 for 617 hours. In 1925-26, during the era of the Right Honorable Stanley Bruce who did not believe in Parliament meeting at all, the Parliament met for 650 hours whereas in 1958 it met for 491 hours. In 1948-49, the last year of the Labour Government, the Parliament met for 815 hours. These are matters to which the Parliament should address itself. In the first place, it is urgent that this Parliament meet more consistently and give more consideration to public business. This Government is surrendering parliamentary authority by continually diving into longterm recesses, by the continual suppression of private members on both sides of the House and by curtailing Grievance Day and general business debates and question time. The Treasurer inflicts on the House more verbosity, more evasion and more timewasting than does any one else. Whether we are in the Ministry or not, whether we are in government or in opposition we all are here as members of Parliament and it may not be so very long before the Treasurer himself is again a private member or even an ex-member - to the benefit of this country. The Government should remember that our first duty is to discuss public affairs.
The motion now before us signifies the Government’s intention to surrender parliamentary democracy and to allow public affairs to be handled in the secrecy of the Public Service which is not answerable to the community. It is time that the Treasurer, who speaks so often of the Parliament and its mission and who is proud of his position as head of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, brought the principles which he espouses into full play in the House. It is time that he reorganized the whole structure of parliamentary meetings to give all honorable members, whether they represent Wills or Higgins, an equal opportunity to discuss public affairs.
.- I rise to support this motion. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) made a magnificent address. I think that what he will bring down on his own head in some future parliament is that some one will appoint him Whip. When that happens, whether I am in or out of the Parliament, I shall send him a telegram and remind him of the speech that he made this afternoon. If he had gone a little further into the records and had looked at the opportunities which the Government has set aside for private members to discuss certain matters, such as Grievance Day and general business day, and if he had checked on the number of occasions on which the Opposition has proposed for discussion matters that it regarded as being of urgent public importance, thus depriving the House of Grievance Day and general business day discussions, he would have been very much surprised by the statistics. Most of the subjects which the Opposition proposed for discussion were not, in the first place, urgent and were not, in the second place, of national importance. Every time a motion similar to the one which is now before us is proposed several members of the Opposition take up precious time by opposing it. This means that we shall sit later to-night than had been planned.
– Why not sit down?
– I shall in a few seconds. Opposition members take up time discussing whether we should or should not do this or that and the net result is that we must sit late into the night. The attitude of Opposi tion members is most insincere and absolute humbug. I deplore it.
.- I am thankful to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) for the research that he has carried out in relation to the sittings of the Parliament and the hours that Opposition members have been allowed for the discussion of important matters. It certainly answers the case, if you can call it such, which has been presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) opposing the Opposition’s contention now that the Government’s motion should not be accepted. The Treasurer gave the game away when he said that we should be concerned about the convenience of honorable members. What does he mean by the convenience of honorable members? He suggests that he means the convenience of honorable members on both sides of the House, and implies that there has been some kind of gentleman’s agreement to close up the Parliament. Nothing of the kind has occurred. Members of the Opposition are prepared to sit on until we have given proper consideration to the nation’s business.
It is rather interesting to note that the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) reflected on the Speaker. If an Opposition member had made the remarks which the honorable member made I am certain that he would have been promptly called to order.
– Order! I ask the honorable member to restrain himself.
– I am doing that, with great difficulty. The honorable member for Perth claimed that matters which were proposed by the Opposition for discussion as matters of urgent public importance were not urgent - you, Mr. Speaker, under the Standing Orders must be satisfied that they are urgent - and that they were not matters of national importance. If that is not a reflection on the judgment and impartiality of the Speaker I have never heard one. In any case, when Opposition members propose such matters for discussion in accordance with the Standing Orders, they are only taking advantage of another means by which the ordinary rank and file members of the Parliament may direct attention to issues that they consider to be important.
Why is the Treasurer in a hurry? We know that in a protracted parliamentary session a great deal of time is wasted. I have seen the Government repeatedly, because it has had no new business to present to the House, deliberately prolonging debates on certain measures. It has put up speaker after speaker to talk on matters to which no real opposition was presented. Yet in the closing days of the Parliament we have all this haste and speeding-up of business! Many people outside are not very interested in the convenience of individual members of this Parliament about which the Treasurer seems to be so greatly concerned. They are also not impressed with the idea that members of Parliament are over-worked and are continually on the job here attending to the matters which require attention. That is not the Opposition’s responsibility. We have always been ready to proceed with the business but the Government has not been ready to deal with important issues which have been raised not only by members on our side of the chamber but by Government members as well.
Let the Parliament sit on for another week. On any pretext at all the Government is ready to call a halt to the sittings and to adjourn the Parliament. If a party is going on in the precincts of the House in the festive season the chamber is almost deserted while the attendance at the party is large. If the Treasurer is worried about spear fishing at Bingil Bay or Hobart, that is his own personal affair. He is paid to do a job in this Parliament and the Parliament should be kept open until all the matters of national importance that require attention have been dealt with.
It is no good for the Treasurer to try to imply, as he has done, that this proposal is designed to meet the convenience of all honorable members. The real way in which to put this proposition to the test is to keep the Parliament open to deal with the business of the nation and see whether there will be any objection on the Opposition side. We invite the Treasurer to keep the Parliament in session until we have had properly regulated debate and consideration of national questions. In the last week or two of each sessional period the Government suspends the 11 o’clock rule and then it carries on the proceedings into the early hours of the morning, legislating by exhaustion. That is the way in which the Government is conducting the business of the nation.
Everybody here knows what has happened to the rights of private members with respect to the motion to adjourn the House each day. The Government has used the gag prolifically although the Standing Orders provide for the motion to be debated. Despite this, the Government has regularly gagged any member who dared to rise on his feet on a Tuesday evening to raise any matter on the motion for the adjournment, no matter how important that matter might be. The Government decided that on Wednesday night we may have an adjournment debate for a limited period which means that only two or three members from each side of the chamber are able to participate in it. If every honorable member exercised his right to speak during the limited time made available for adjournment debates by the Government some would have to wait for twelve months to get an opportunity to raise matters of great importance.
A similar situation exists in regard to the asking of questions. The Standing Orders provide for a member to rise in his place and try to catch the eye of the Speaker in order to get the call. Although nobody admits it, we all know that a roster system for the asking of questions prevails in this place for which no provision is made in the Standing Orders. No matter in what direction you look, an attempt is made by the Government to stifle the expression of opinion by private members. I join with others in strongly protesting against this practice. I now invite the Treasurer to put us to the test and keep the Parliament in session so that we may properly debate and consider questions of urgent national importance.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority .. .. 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 2934) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority .. .. 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That Standing Order No. 104 - 11 o’clock rule - be suspended for the remainder of this week.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Opposition opposes the motion. Under the Standing Orders, the House can continue sitting to debate any matter on the notice-paper in respect of which debate has commenced before 11 p.m. This morning, we sat until about 1.30 o’clock debating a matter in respect of which debate had commenced before 11 p.m. yesterday. Under the Standing Orders, the House can sit all night, if it wishes, to debate any matter, as long as debate on that matter has commenced before 11 p.m. But, if this motion is agreed to, the House will be able to sit all night to debate a matter in respect of which debate commences after 11 p.m.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has formally proposed thi9 motion, as he did the preceding one, without giving any reasons for the motion. I take it that, after I have concluded my remarks, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who is Leader of the House, will make his usual references to a song-and-dance act and the like. I shall not ape him in the use of dialectic, choreographic and theatrical terms. I shall confine myself to the facts of the situation. What are the reasons which prompt the Government in wanting to commence debate on matters after 11 p.m. to-night and to-morrow night?
– The reason for this motion is that we want to enable the Parliament to rise for the recess.
– Which of the bills on the notice-paper does the right honorable gentleman believe cannot be the subject of debate commencing before 11 p.m.? The matters which he wants to debate before the House rises are all on the notice-paper, except a bill to provide for financial assistance to the gold-mining industry. Eight days ago we were given a precis of the text of that measure and of the speech explaining it, and we have told the right honorable gentleman that, if the text of the bill and the second-reading speech agree with the precis which he gave us eight days ago, we shall not oppose the bill. He knows our attitude on that measure, which is one of only two bills not on the notice-paper at this stage. The only other bill which is not on the notice-paper is the States Grants (Universities) Bill (No. 2) 1962, which is not to be debated until next year. Which of the bills on the notice-paper does the Minister for Primary Industry believe must be the subject of debate commencing after 11 o’clock to-night or to-morrow night?
I do not believe that there is in the House one honorable member who believes that a debate can be satisfactorily commenced after 11 p.m. There is the pressure to remain silent on matters where members believe that their views should be expressed or exchanged. Furthermore, Sir, even under your own benign but firm discipline, the House does tend to get out of control more after 11 p.m. than before.
We can debate anything for as long as we like, provided the debate commences before 11 p.m. That is provided under Standing Orders. But which of the bills before the House must be brought on for debate after 11 p.m.? We know the bills. There are several on wool, several on honey, several on repatriation, two on Queensland, one on air navigation charges and a statement on the Commonwealth and education. Those are the matters that must be debated. There are some five other matters that should be debated, if we come back next week, but the ones I have already stated are the ones which have to be debated if the House is to rise at the end of this week. Which of them must commence, or may have to commence, after 11 o’clock to-night or to-morrow night?
No case has been made out by the Minister for Primary Industry at all. He did not even have the courtesy to make a suggestion as to what may happen. He just assumes that we will agree to take on new matters after 1 1 p.m. without any reasons being shown at all.
– My colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) did not find it necessary to give any detailed explanation on this matter, because, I would have thought, the explanation is obvious to every member of the Parliament. Who is so naive that he does not understand why this course of action is being adopted? The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) has been here long enough to know that, with the best will in the world and the best organization in the world, we do get a concentration of matters and this arises from a variety of causes. Sometimes it is because we have had to put pressure on other governments to bring to a head agreements which then are adopted in legislative form. Sometimes departments have to work to the deadline of the closing of Parliament to bring to finality matters that are awaiting determination. Each side of the Parliament has gone through this experience and I have yet to see the day when we can handle it without having a concentration of business in the closing stage of a sessional period.
Honorable members who have been here for any length of time will know that I, for my part, have tried - not without some success, I think I can claim - to give a rather more orderly presentation of business to the House. I need to go back a long time into the records of “ Hansard “ to find a period when there have been fewer occasions when the House has been called upon to sit on new business after 11 o’clock at night. Whether we will require to exercise the opportunity which carriage of this motion will provide remains to be seen. I am acting on what has been put to me as to the list of speakers announcing themselves for the debate on the bills which yet remain to be dealt with. We have very important bills dealing with the wool industry, which is the major export industry of the Commonwealth. We have other bills of consequence relating to the honey industry, although this is a great deal smaller-
– Debate on both those matters will start before 1 1 p.m., surely.
– Unless we interrupted debate on the wool bilk, there would be no prospect of the honey bills coming on before 1 1 o’clock at night. The honorable gentleman who was so vocal on the earlier motion talks about education. I am trying to arrange matters so that he will have a chance to talk on education. He and his colleagues are combining to frustrate that debate. If it gives any satisfaction to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) or our friend from Western Australia to speak as they do, I will defer to them.
The Government has no intention, if it can avoid doing so, of bringing the Parliament back next week. We feel it is time the Parliament rose, and I am quite certain that if we could take a secret ballot on this matter, the only vote that would be recorded against what I am putting would be that of the honorable member for East Sydney, and I would not like to bet too much on how his vote would go, either.
We believe we are interpreting the wish of the Parliament in putting these motions forward and bringing the business to finality as best we can. The essence of democracy is that the Parliament provide opportunity for representative viewpoints to be fully and fairly put, and that certainly applies to what has come from the Opposition in the course of this parliamentary session and indeed on the matter immediately before the Chair. Because to carry the matter further would be merely to waste the time of the House, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . l
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 2940) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Provision of engineering services to Rapid Creek Subdivision, Stage 3, Darwin, Northern Territory.
The proposal provides for the construction of roads and drainage, water supply, sewerage and electricity supply to a further staged subdivision of the Rapid Creek area of Darwin, Northern Territory, at an estimated cost of £465,000. I table the preliminary plans of the proposed works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance wilh the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House: - Proposed modernization and expansion of the Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory.
The proposal submitted to the committee provided’ for the erection of a new 90-bed ward block, a new nurses’ home, expanded casualty out-patients’ administration, physiotherapy and occupational therapy facilities and associated works, at an estimated cost of £1,537,800. The committee has reported favorably on the proposal and has recommended the following provisions not contained in the original proposal: -
The Department of Health, in general terms, finds the committee’s additional recommendations desirable. They will, however, have to be examined carefully in the context of the funds available for the work and as yet it has not been able to reach a final decision on this aspect. Subject to this, since the committee raises no objection to the proposals I ask for the approval of the House so that detailed planning of the work may proceed in accordance with the proposals submitted to the committee and, as far as is practicable, in accordance with the committee’s additional recommendations.
.- As chairman of the Public Works Committee it may be appropriate for me to speak briefly to the motion proposed by the Minister for Works (Mr. Freeth). First, I direct the attention of the House to the twenty-sixth general report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and to that part of the report headed “Approval of Work” commencing at paragraph 6 and terminating at paragraph 14. I will not read all of those paragraphs. Paragraphs 9 and 10 read -
This was discussed with the Minister and I am glad to say that he appreciated the committee’s concern and readily agreed to give more details when moving that it was expedient to carry out the proposed work. The Minister has done so to-day, and we thank him for it.
There is one correction that I would like to make to the Minister’s statement and it relates to the provision for a swimming pool. The committee gave some thought to this matter and recommended that consideration should be given to early provision of the swimming pool rather than that it should be included in the present work. This was done because the committee, in making the recommendation, realized that the money would not be available at the present time. However, the committee considered that it was an amenity which would be of great assistance to the nursing staff when conditions allowed for it. The main concern, I think - this is supported by investigations- [Quorum formed.] Mr.
Deputy Speaker, I was saying that it is believed that the main item requiring extra consideration by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Administration, to which the Minister referred, is the recommendation concerning the provision of additional air-conditioning, especially in the new home to be erected for nursing staff.
We directed our attention to the possibility of air-conditioning the whole building. The evidence presented to us revealed that, while some witnesses felt that this would be desirable, there was no strong pressure for it, because of the general fear that the additional cost involved might result in delaying the start of the work. It is because of our desire not to delay the start of the work in any way that we members of the committee support this motion. But we feel it necessary to point out that the reason for not making this provision in the first place was that we believe it would be unsatisfactory.
As I pointed out recently, we believe the time has been reached when the Government must make a decision on matters such as this so that more people will be attracted to the Territory. We point out that we were asked to consider the provision of air-conditioning in buildings which are about to be constructed in the southern parts of Australia, and we believe that the provision of air-conditioning is even more necessary in the Northern Territory.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I agree that the construction of this hospital is long overdue and I am pleased that the recommendation to proceed with the work at the earliest possible moment has been accepted. I believe that when the Public Works Committee is asked to investigate and report on works that are referred to it, the recommendations and reports should not be completely disregarded. That is what will take place in this case, I feel sure.
– That is absolute nonsense.
– I do not think it is. I think time will prove me right and the Minister for the Interior wrong. We have had previous experience of reports of this nature, one of them being in respect of the Darwin High School. The recommendation of the committee was that the school should be air-conditioned, as an urgent measure, and we know the fate of that recommendation. I feel that the recommendation now before us will meet a similar fate. Anybody who has lived in the tropics and knows the conditions there realizes the discomfort occasioned to sick persons - patients in hospital - when temperatures and humidity are in the 90’s. The patients are in a bath of perspiration. How can people get well under those conditions?
It is time the Government stopped considering this matter in the terms of pounds, shillings and pence and adopted a different attitude towards it. I do not know the reason for committees going to places to investigate and to report upon proposals for works if no heed is to be taken of their reports. In this case, of course, the committee was able to take evidence from all interested parties - not only departmental heads but also the general public. It is all very well for the Minister for the Interior to say that the Department of Health feels that the additions recommended are desirable, but that funds will not be available. We know full well that it is not the Department of Health but the Treasury which is holding up this recommendation. The Treasury is the department which can say yea or nay to a request for additional funds to put in works which are considered to be vitally necessary. I feel, in my heart, that although the Minister says these proposals are not to be proceeded with immediately and that they will have to be further considered, the fate of the recommendations will be the same as that in respect of the high school.
– I have already told you that the detailed planning of the work will proceed in accordance with the proposals submitted to the committee and, as far as practicable, in accordance with the committee’s additional recommendations. If you had listened to my speech you would have heard me say that.
– I listened to the Minister’s speech and I have listened to other speeches of like nature. I feel that the building of the hospital is a good thing and should be proceeded with with the utmost haste. I believe that additional funds should be made available to implement the recommendations of the Public Works Committee in their entirety and not piecemeal, or at some time in the dim and distant future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 2732), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
-There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the measure before the House is a bill relating to the wool industry. In resuming the debate I wish to say that the Opposition is fully conscious of the fact that, in the economy of Australia, income earned by wool exports is the most important factor influencing the lives of the people of this country. In those circumstances I suggest to the Government that, in view of our outlook on this situation, it may take as genuine the attempts and suggestions that we will make to improve the measure. It must be perfectly obvious that, as an alternative government, the Opposition is as keen to see the Australian wool industry prospering as is the government of the day. Having pointed out that factor, and as a first step towards providing the means to make an improvement, I move on behalf of the Opposition -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ this House, having in mind the great impact of the wool industry on the Australian economy, is of opinion that wool-growers should not be called on to provide the whole of the funds required for the purposes of the bill and that a matching contribution of not less than ten shillings per bale should be made by the Commonwealth “.
No one could proceed with a debate of this character without putting on record some historical facts, however tedious this may be. I do not intend to go right back to the beginning of the wool era, but at least I should go back to, say, 1920, when this country had just emerged from World War I. From 1920 onwards there was never an economic crisis or an economic difficulty confronting any government of Australia, irrespective of its political complexion, that was not linked intimately with the price being received by the wool-growers of this country. We know that in 1917 the Commonwealth Government of the day sold the 1916-17 wool clip, plus the three succeeding clips, to the Imperial Government at a fiat rate of 15d. per lb., which at that time was considered to be reasonably satisfactory. We know that after the term of the contract expired the United Kingdom Government had a surplus of wool on hand amounting to 1,800,000 bales. We know that the economists and government advisers of that day realized, as they did in later years, that if that surplus of wool were unloaded on the market by the Imperial Government it would have a serious impact on the incoming wool clips.
Most honorable members will recall that it was in those circumstances that the British Australian Wool Realization Association, known as Bawra, was formed. We know that that association operated successfully. It is true that it took eleven years to unload the surplus wool clip, operating as it did coincidentally with the sale of the current clips. We know that the work was so successfully managed that a substantial dividend was paid to those who ultimately held the scrip that was issued by Bawra. I cite that particular case because it is an illustration of how controlled management of the sale and disposal of wool can have a favorable result for the wool-growers of a country and, therefore, for the whole of the national economy.
The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) will remember that in 1921, not long after Bawra had been formed, the price of wool actually fell in Australia to about 6id. per lb., and the situation became so serious that the directors of Bawra and the bankers and brokers of the pastoral and agricultural societies went to the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Hughes, and asked him to put a prohibition on the export of wool from Australia at a price less than a reasonable figure. This was another example of controlled marketing. The minimum price that they asked to be fixed was either 8id. or 9d. per lb. The actual price does not matter; that is a mere detail. However, the Prime Minister of that day, seeing the serious impact that the situation was having on our economy, put a prohibition on the export of any wool from Australia at less than the price determined in the proclamation. Immediately the market reacted and, within a reasonable period of time, the price had gone up by something like 2d. or 3d. per lb. It is true that experts with some knowledge of this situation are still arguing about whether the prohibition on the export of wool below a certain price was responsible for the favorable reaction of the market or whether it was some other factor that might have caused a rise in any case. However, they are the facts of the history.
We know that subsequently, with the winding up of Bawra, we again ran into economic difficulties in 1932, and again those economic difficulties were associated with the price being paid for wool grown by the Australian wool-growers. So serious did the situation become that the woolgrowers of Australia asked the Commonwealth Government to do something about it. Again some action was taken tardily, as to-day action of another character is being taken tardily. The government of the day set up a committee of inquiry. That was a conservative government, and the committee of inquiry consisted mainly of some of the most conservative elements in the ranks of the wool-growers’ associations. In addition there were some radicals, some economists and Sir Graham Waddell. One radical on the committee was the late Edward Grayndler, who was secretary of the Australian Workers Union. They proceeded merrily on their way and pointed out the factors that they considered were responsible for causing the cost of production of wool to be such as to make its sale uneconomic at the price then being offered on the markets of the world. They suggested remedies and, strangely enough, they were probably more advanced, in some respects, than are the people who are advising the present Government. The chairman of that committee was the honorable John Gunn. He may or may not be related to Sir William Gunn, the chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau. Other members of the committee were Mr. J. B. Brigden, Mr. W. L. Payne, who was an economist, Mr. R. C. Field, who T think was a grazier and a representative of the Victorian Graziers’ Council and conservative in outlook, Mr. B. A. N. Cole of the New South Wales Wool Growers Association and, I think, a member of the present Australian Wool Bureau-
– He has just retired.
– Then he must be of my vintage. I think he had a quite radical outlook. Also there were the Honorable E. Grayndler and Mr. R. A. Ramsay and Mr. James Clark, both representatives of growers. The remarkable thing was that they made this recommendation in paragraph 256 of their report -
It is further recommended that the Commonwealth Government should, by regulation under the Customs Act, or by such other action as may be necessary, take to itself power to prohibit the export of wool, except on conditions as to minimum reserve price or otherwise as may be prescribed, provided that this power shall be exercised only at the request of the Commonwealth Wool Executive.
The Commonwealth Wool Executive, of course, was the executive of the graziers’ organization. The report continued in paragraph 257-
The Committee fully realizes that in order to give effect to the recommendations of the Executive it may be necessary to secure financial provision in order to hold over wool, and it will be a function of the Commonwealth Wool Executive to confer with the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of securing the necessary funds.
That is very interesting. That committee recommended control of marketing as a means of escaping from the economic difficulties caused by a low price for wool. Then we read of the mischief that caused no action to be taken.
A special meeting of the Commonwealth Wool-growers’ Council, convened to deal with this report, was presided over by Sir Graham Waddell, who was not only a member of the reporting committee but was also the president of the Commonwealth Wool-growers’ Council. The meeting rejected the recommendations for appointment to the Commonwealth Wool Executive and for any prohibition on wool exports below a minimum price. It reaffirmed the opinion that meeting the market was the best means of restoring confidence. That was another illustration of the influence of conservatism on this group of growers’ organizations. The primary producers’ section of the organization of that day sent a telegram to the Prime Minister saying that the committee strongly supported the recommendation that there should be no embargo on exports below a minimum price. That had no impact on the government of the day. The organization was emphatically of the opinion that the proposed personnel of the Commonwealth Wool Executive were not sufficiently representative of the growers of Australia to justify confidence in their decisions. The Australian Primary Producers Union recommended that the proposed new Commonwealth Wool-growers’ Council should be chosen on a franchise giving all wool-growers equal voting powers. That is interesting, in view of an amendment which will be moved by the Opposition later in the debate on this bill.
Let us consider how the recommendations of this 1932 inquiry committee caused the merchants of Bradford to react. The newspapers of that day were full of wool brokers’ denunciations of the reserve price proposal. The cables ran hot with statements expressing opposition from the British wool trade, which predicted dire consequences if any changes were introduced. These sentiments were faintly echoed on the continent. So agitated did the wool men of Britain become that Mr. S. M. Bruce, the Australian Minister in London, found it necessary to reassure Bradford. He was reported as stating, at a luncheon in that city: “They need not be alarmed at any foolish action being taken. The findings of the committee were designed to reduce the costs of production. Australian and Bradford’s interests were identical.”
So the value of that committee’s particularly constructive recommendation was destroyed by the conservative forces of that day. It is interesting to note that the committee’s report was embellished by a minority report by Mr. Edward Grayndler, who was at that time the secretary of the Australian Workers Union. He said, amongst other things, that pies were operating to the detriment of the industry. That was away back in 1932. These pies are nearly as old as sin. He said that pies were operating and he accused the wool buyers’ organizations of the day of operating in a restrictive manner insofar as they dealt arbitrarily with any member of their organization who operated outside the organization. That kind of restriction is probably still imposed, as we can infer from the report of Mr. Justice Cook.
Then we came to the time of the outbreak of war. All efforts at organized marketing for the industry having been destroyed, the Government of the day, which was a Menzies Government, sold the whole of Australia’s wool clip at about13½d. per lb., which price was to operate for the duration of the war and one year thereafter. The price was unsatisfactory, and later Dr. Evatt, on a trip abroad, succeeded in persuading the United Kingdom Government that the price should be raised to about15d.
– It was 15½d.
– I stand corrected. Like the Minister, I prefer to be exact. As I say, the man who was later to be leader of the Labour Party succeeded in having the price increased by 2d. per lb. This gave an increased income in that year and succeeding years of about £15,000,000 to Australian wool-growers. The Australian economy was consequently assisted to this extent.
Time marched on and we saw signs of the coming of peace. I mention all these matters to illustrate the interest of the present Opposition party in the welfare of the Australian wool-growing industry and its recognition of the value of the industry to our economy. The leaders of the Labour Government, as the end of the war drew near, realized that the British Government would hold about 10,000,000 bales of wool surplus to their requirements on the cessation of hostilities. It also knew that this represented about three annual wool clips in this country, and that if this wool was thrown on to the market it would mean disaster to Australia and her wool-growers. It introduced an agreement which is still to be found on the statute-book of Australia, although the agreement is not now operative because the job that it was designed for has been finished. It was the Joint Organization agreement between the Governments of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Under the terms of that agreement the Australian Government purchased half of the proportion of wool that Australia had contributed to that surplus, or 7,800,000 bales, at a price of £40,000,000. This was a commitment not of the wool-growers of Australia but of the Australian taxpayers generally. Actually the price was £50,000,000, but there was available an amount of £10,000,000 in profits to the Australian Government, which brought down the cash commitment to £40,000,000.
Under the terms of that agreement was established the great organization known as the Australian Wool Realization Commission, which operated what was known as a reserve price system. Over a period of time it unloaded on to the market, in an orderly fashion, a variety of types of wool. There were as many as 2,000 types. At the same time, the organization arranged for the marketing of the annual clips as they became available. The Australian Government risked £40,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money. The growers had already been paid the price originally agreed upon between the United Kingdom and Australian Governments. We then introduced legislation to distribute any profits that might accrue. The profits eventually amounted to £93,000,000, every penny of which was distributed amongst the growers of this country.
I mention all these matters to show that between the bad times, on every occasion when it has become necessary, such as in time of war, to deal in an orderly and controlled fashion with the marketing of wool, the attempts to do so have been eminently successful. I pointed out how, in desperation, the Commonwealth Woo] Inquiry Committee of 1932 recommended the use of the customs legislation to place a prohibition on the export of any wool below a certain price. I pointed out how William Morris Hughes actually imposed a prohibition, which was removed, of course, after wool prices reacted.
I want to suggest that this country, In the last three or four years, has not been as affluent as it ought to have been. I am glad that the Minister has used the figures which were used first by the honorable member for Wannon, that Id. per lb. difference in the price of wool up or down -means £7,000,000 more or less on the sale of our wool on overseas markets. The variations in prices over the last few years have been such that the Australian woolgrowers have suffered losses of £50,000,000, £60,000,000 and £70,000,000 a year. Why has that happened? It has happened because we stand in the markets of the world stripped of any armour; we stand naked and almost stupid while the organized wool buyers of the world, nationally and individually, are formed into co-operative pies and scheming groups. Can you blame them?
Consider the situation of the Australian wheat-grower. To-day he stands as strong as a giant in the citadel which was provided for him by a Labour government. No one in Australia can sell Australian wheat in the organized markets of the world except under the control of the elected wheat-growers’ organization - that magnificent organization which was given to our wheat-growers by a Labour government. Mark you, Mr. Speaker, the wheatgrowers of this country have enjoyed none of the advantages of the wool-growers. We all know that over the last five or six years the world has been packed with surplus wheat. The world has never been packed with surplus wool except in wartime. This is surely an ironical circumstance. On the one hand you have an organized group armed to the teeth with measures to protect the sale of their wheat and to get the best available price for it, and on the other hand you have 90,000 to 100,000 wool-growers naked and unprotected, dodging about alone in the wilderness, sometimes being betrayed by their leaders and, above all, sometimes being betrayed by this Parliament.
What do we find? Surely no one here will deny the success of organized marketing in the past. Do I hear any one claim that it has not been successful? Do I hear any one claim that a similar scheme would not be successful in the future? Not one sound do I hear from the Government side of the House. Honorable members opposite have been in office since 1949 but they have done nothing about this. To verify my statement that no honorable member opposite can deny that organized marketing has been successful-
– You know that we are not allowed to interject.
– I sympathize with the honorable member. I have in my hand a document from which I shall read to illustrate the point that even honorable members on the Government side of the House cannot deny that the organized marketing of wool has been demonstrated to be successful.
– Is that what your amendment means?
– I shall answer you after the meeting. What honorable members opposite lack is sufficient guts to do something, to take the bit in their teeth. Let us look at what has happened. History is always interesting. I hear honorable members opposite complain about my use of the word “guts”, but I first heard it used in this House by Lord Casey, no less, so let honorable members opposite not become too circumspect, although I admit that we all should be circumspect. I have in my hand a very useful little brochure which begins with the title, “The Wool Levy”, and goes on -
As explained in a speech made in the Federal Parliament by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, Mr. McEwen, on 13th June, 1950, when introducing the legislation for a wool levy in anticipation of a plan of reserve prices for wool . . .
This is what Mr. McEwen says in the introduction -
Wool-growers designed the plan and asked the Government to sponsor it.
The Government will not support any plan unless the wool-growers approve it.
Auction selling of wool is to be preserved,
As it was under joint organization. Mr. McEwen continues -
There will be no Government control of the industry.
The levy will be repaid if no plan is adopted.
The initial and main part of the Australian capital necessary for the plan is to be provided by the wool-growing industry.
The Government will guarantee an acceptable plan.
Quite right! The introduction goes on -
Money withheld by levy will be a deduction from growers’ taxable income until repaid.
Wool-growers will have an effective voice on the authority controlling the plan. Wool-growers will be as strongly represented at least as on the Australian Wool Realization Commission.
Then follows an outline of the variety of acts which were passed in June, 1950. But here is the really wonderful thing which puts the Government in a most embarrassing position: Under the heading, “ Growers’ Plans Developed “, the brochure contains the following extract from the then Minister’s speech -
This plan operated with such success-
The Minister was referring to the joint organization - that, long before its termination, leaders of the Australian wool industry were turning their minds to the problem of how its benefits could be continued after war-time stocks bad been sold.
The Minister paid a tribute to the success of the scheme and pointed out how growers were turning their minds to the question of how it could be continued. He actually arranged for delegates to attend a wool study group in the United Kingdom where a plan was hatched. Now we come to this further historical record of the sequence of events in the world reserve price plan. On 21st August, 1950, at Canberra the then Minister informed a meeting with representatives of wool-growers’ organizations that when a plan had been evolved finally the Government would definitely conduct a referendum of wool-growers unless there was quite obvious unanimity on the subject. The meeting was also addressed by the then Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, Mr. Fadden.
I have said that the Minister promised that when a plan was evolved which was acceptable to the growers the Government would hold a referendum. The referendum was held and the affirmative vote for the plan was 16,000 and the negative vote 80,000. But almost twelve months before the plan was evolved a lt per cent, tax had been imposed to provide funds in anticipation, and rightly so, and the Country Party Treasurer, now Sir Arthur Fadden, imposed a 20 per cent, deduction on woolgrowers’ gross incomes for the 1950-51 season. The conservative wool-growing elements within the organization, backed by the great financial institutions, brokers and others in Australia, set out on a campaign to mislead the growers into voting this proposed plan out of existence. The Government has been in office since that time. It is now in trouble about the price of wool.
Following the 1951 affair Opposition members in 1955 nagged the Government with questions about the activities of wool pies and wool cartels. Responsible Ministers denied that such things existed. Finally the position became so serious that the New South Wales Labour Government appointed a commission of inquiry, which was presided over by Mr. Justice Cook. His report proved beyond doubt that pies were operating to the detriment of the Australian wool-growing industry. Incidentally, the published report indicates that six leading wool buyers in Australia belonged to not less than sixteen operating pies. All the big fellows were in it.
– When will you get on to the bill?
– I know that you do not like this. Because of constitutional difficulties, obviously the New South Wales Government could not do anything about the pies, but the opportunity is available, and has been available since then, for this Government to evolve a plan and to put it to the wool-growers. It should get busy.
Subsequently the wool-growers became so articulate through their organizations that, after holding meetings all over the country, they demanded that the Government should do something. What happened? After much nagging by the growers the Government appointed Mr. Justice Philp, Mr. Buttfield and Mr. Merry as a committee to inquire into problems associated with wool promotion and wool marketing, and asked the committee to submit a recommendation as to what should be done. Apparently these three gentlemen were conservatives. It is the usual thing for a government to appoint people to committees of inquiry who they think will reflect the economic opinion of the Government. These people did that and it is no reflection on their honesty to say that they did so.
– It is.
– It is not. It is an expression of opinion that they had an unconscious bias towards the government that appointed them. They were appointed in January, 1961. They brought down a report in February, 1962. What do we find? They bucked the subject into which they were asked to inquire. They travelled abroad. They met the wool-buying merchants and manipulators of the world in Great Britain, France, the United States of America and other countries. They furnished a report which will npt hurt anybody. They furnished a report which stressed that promotion would be a great thing to save the wool-growers of Australia.
They said that promotion should be accelerated. There was apparently, in their minds, a lack of co-ordination between the Wool Production Research Advisory Committee and the Australian Wool Bureau. They made some suggestions for the setting up of a new authority. They did not have the powers of a royal commission. They had not wanted them. But, strangely enough, in one of their recommendations, they suggested that the new authority to be created under this measure should ask for the powers of a royal commission if necessary. Why did they not ask for such powers for themselves and finish their inquiry?
We find before this House a measure which represents an evasion of what the wool-growers really wanted. This measure proposes to create an all-powerful wool board which will absorb the research committee which consisted of a very competent body of men. The new board will control the wool statistical service, and also the wool testing service which does not matter very much. But some question arises as to the wisdom of including the control of the research committee among the wool board’s activities. There may be a case for that, but I doubt it. Still more astonishing was the adoption of the suggestion of the wool committee and the Australian Wool Bureau itself - not the Government - to set up a committee to inquire into and inform the Australian Wool Board on marketing problems - not to introduce a scheme for submission to the growers. How long will members of the committee spend in touring Australia and, perhaps, the world, in order to find out what sort of marketing scheme the wool-growers want? We can accept anybody’s answer to that question. If the Government runs true to form, the committee will never provide a recommendation which the Government will accept to control the sale of wool. This is an evasion of responsibility and it is almost crooked-
– Oh, Reg!
– You must know that what was expected from this committee which reported on the wool industry was a recommendation concerning an improved form of price system. What we wanted was an acquisition and appraisal system. But those who conducted the inquiry brushed that aside and said: “ Stick to promotion.
Spend your money on advertising.” I am not belittling that.
– You are belittling the representations of the growers who came to the Government.
– The Government sold them down the river. Mr. Howell, who is a member of the Australian Wool Bureau, told wool-growers at Balmoral in July, 1960, that Australian wool-growers were the suckers of the world wool industry. Woolgrowers all over Australia are condemning the Government’s proposals. Wool-growers’ representatives who have accepted them take the view that anything is better than nothing.
What is the next startling situation? In accordance with the recommendation of the three gentlemen who compiled the report, an Australian wool industry conference is to be set up with a membership of 25 representatives from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and 25 from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, a total of 50 members. These are to be the people who will recommend to this new wool authority, the Australian Wool Board, what the levy on growers should be. There is no democracy about that. Another organization, for which I have no love, is standing outside the conference; at least it is entitled to justice. Consequently, I foreshadow an amendment that will eliminate all reference in the bill to this so-called conference and which will provide for the election directly of the six growers’ representatives on the new Australian Wool Board.
– In other words, you do not want anything to be done for the industry.
– We want democracy in this matter. You have been sitting there for ten years and have done nothing for the growers. You have introduced a bill under which they will collect 10s. a bale. The Opposition suggests that that amount should be increased by another 10s. That is in the offing because the membership of the new board will be similar to that of the Australian Wool Bureau. The policy of that bureau calls for a levy of fi a bale. The reaction of the growers to such a proposal can easily be imagined. This industry which earns between £400,000,000 and £500,000,000 in external currency for Australia each year deserves a matching contribution of 10s. a bale from Consolidated Revenue. That would enable the advertising campaign that has been proposed by the Australian Wool Bureau to be undertaken. No doubt the present proposal for an advertising campaign will be improved upon by the new wool board which will have the services of Mr. Vines, a very capable officer. I believe that improved promotional work is being done. Imagine what another £2,400,000 from Consolidated Revenue would mean to that authority for the purpose of advertising to assist competition by our wool-growers in world markets. Of course, that would not eliminate the need for organized marketing.
The Minister for Primary Industry has had the cheek to tell me that the Opposition is trying to destroy the wool industry. When we were in office we proved in every practical way that we had a constructive approach to the wool industry, and we did things. Until 1945 no Australian Government had contributed a penny piece to the Australian wool industry. But in 1945 the Labour Government came to light with a 50-50 contribution towards the Australian Wool Board of that time. I suggest that there is a wide range of things yet to be talked about on this bill, but my time is running out. I ask the House to take the opposition to the measure as it stands at its face value. We are prepared, with Government supporters, to commit the Consolidated Revenue to the extent of approximately another £2,500,000 for a matching grant of 10s. a bale in order to accelerate promotion in world markets where our wool is challenged by synthetics. We are prepared to give to wool-growers who produce not less than ten bales - or not less than five bales, if you like - a vote to elect representatives to the Australian Wool Board. If the Government agrees to do that and to eliminate this stupid conference suggestion, it will prevent the internecine strife which is damaging the great wool industry. There is a plethora of growers’ organizations. There is a tightlyknit combination of two of the most powerful federations, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The Government has left the Australian Primary Producers Union outside. I do not like that organization, but I believe that there should be a democratic election of representatives of the Australian Wool Board. It has been suggested that the Australian Wool Board will pay for secretarial assistance for the conference, which there will be a war among the organizations to capture. It will be argued that this conference can take in organizations such as the Australian Primary Producers Union, but consider the conditions contained in the articles under which they may be taken in. A two-thirds vote is necessary in favour of the admission of any outside organization. We want to help the Government. We want to give the grower representatives who are elected to the new board the satisfaction of being elected democratically. We do not want a continuation of this rotten row between the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. We shall not get peace by giving preference to two federal organizations and leaving other organizations out.
We suggest that candidates for appointment to the proposed Australian Wool Board be allowed to nominate subject to the nomination form being signed by twenty wool-growers and that a wool-grower be defined as a producer of not fewer than ten bales of wool per annum, this being the equivalent of the production of wool from 500 sheep. Is there anything wrong with that? Can the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council or the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation quibble about that? It may be said that if the proposal for the establishment of an Australian Wool Industry Conference is abandoned, the Minister for Primary Industry will have nobody to consult with. I suggest that he could call into his office, or himself go to see, representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Primary Producers Union or the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, and he could then use his own judgment in ensuring that the proposed board is democratically elected. The present proposals represent only a cover-up for the Government’s evasive tactics, by giving the wool-growers something for which they have not asked instead of something that is vital to their economic future and to the economic future of Australia as a whole. I leave the matter at that, Sir.
Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forbes) adjourned.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1962.
Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1962.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1962.
War Service Homes Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1962.
Social Services Bin (No. 2) 1962.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1962.
Estate Duty Assessment Bill 1962.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1962.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 2818), on motion by Mr. Swartz - ,
That the bills be now read a second time.
.- Sir, 1 thank the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) for his kindness in making arrangements to enable me now to resume on behalf of the Opposition the debate on the various bills related to repatriation, the principal of which is the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1962. The Opposition has no serious quarrel with that bill, which is really circumstantial and perhaps consequential on a previous measure, the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act 1956, The purpose of the bill is to protect men of the permanent forces who are overseas on service in tha British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve and on other special overseas service. Men who serve in Malaya and Singapore have been taken care of by the 1956 act that I mentioned. Repatriation benefits and the incidental advantages accruing from such benefits have been made available to those servicemen. The arrangements made, apparently, are working very satisfactorily. It has now been found necessary to extend similar benefits to a small instructional group of Australian servicemen on duty in the Republic of Viet Nam. Those men are taking risks greater than the risks of normal peace-time service. The Repatriation
S Special Overseas Service) Bill 1962 is so framed as to extend to those men repatriation benefits appropriate to the risks that they are taking.
Another feature of this group of measures is that they are designed to ensure orderly control of repatriation procedures, and I can see the wisdom of this, for there ought to be a guide for the future. A pattern should be laid down for service abroad in these special strategic and other forces so that in future new measures will not have to be introduced to deal with situations as they develop. The object is to ensure that men who serve abroad and who, in the words of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), are subjected to “ some operational risk beyond that normally associated with peace-time service”, shall be eligible for repatriation benefits. In essence, therefore, these bills are simplicity itself. The group of men serving in Malaya and Singapore has been taken care of.
The small number of Australian servicemen on duty in the Republic of Viet Nam will be eligible for repatriation benefits. With that we agree. We on this side of the House have some reservations, which it is not appropriate for me to discuss now, about expeditionary forces of various kinds. But we are faced with a fait accompli and Australian servicemen are already on duty in positions of some danger. We agree that they should be covered by repatriation benefits in the way in which eligibility for such benefits was conferred by the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act 1956. The Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1962 is a corollary of that measure. The purpose, as I have said, in effect, is to streamline the repatriation procedures and to confer eligibility for repatriation benefits on Australian servicemen on duty in SouthEast Asia.
Repatriation benefits conferred by these’ measures are not to be in all respects total benefits. We on this side of the House take exception to one or two features of the Government’s proposals. I foreshadow an amendment that I will move at the committee stage designed to make provision for men who contract tuberculosis as a consequence of service abroad. The Minister, knowing that I was to lead for the Opposition in this debate, told me that war pensions in respect of tuberculosis contracted after war service under section 37 (3.) of the Repatriation Act will not be payable, under the terms of the bills now before us, to members of the Australian forces who serve abroad in peace-time. He said that this is the position, also, under the Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Act 1956. I think that we all have made a little mistake in that respect. Surely we shall not now be niggardly about this. We all remember the great struggle put up in this House by honorable members on both sides in efforts to have tuberculosis accepted automatically as entitling an ex-serviceman to a pension. This is an important matter. The rigours of service in France, with sustained shortages of food and lack of nutritional foods, subject to all the hazards of weather, may have made tuberculosis more of an incident of war than was the case in other campaigns. Nevertheless, the hazard of tuberculosis is always present and provision should be made to meet the needs of servicemen who contract it.
I think that the Government is wrong in not allowing members of the permanent forces who serve abroad in peace-time to be eligible for benefits in respect of tuberculosis in exactly the same way as they become eligible for other repatriation benefits. Why niggle about it? If, under the terms of these bills, Australian servicemen on duty abroad in peace-time are to be given almost all repatriation benefits, why not give them benefits in respect of tuberculosis? We all recall the history of the rugged battle in this House for the automatic acceptance of tuberculosis as entitling servicemen to benefits. We feel impelled to take up the fight again, although we did not drive our attack home quite hard enough on a previous occasion. We ask the Minister to agree to our proposal. We intend to force a vote on the issue of benefits for servicemen who contract tuberculosis after service.
We believe that service pensions, also, ought to be provided for. The Minister has said that service pensions will not be total under the terms of these bills. He is on a little safer ground in this respect than in relation to benefits for tuberculosis. We know that, under the terms of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, certain benefits are available and we know that members of the permanent forces will be retired before the age of 60. So, pensions for what are known as burnt-out servicemen are not in issue. Therefore, we have not included reference to such pensions in the amendment that we intend to propose. We merely direct attention to this matter. We hope that the Minister, in his wisdom, will understand that piecemeal alterations to repatriation legislation are bad. Blanket provision should be made instead of merely making a few provisions of the Repatriation Act not applicable to certain servicemen, as has apparently been done by the officers who helped the Minister to frame these bills.
In extenuation of the Minister and his officers, I say that the question of service pensions may not arise, because a burnt-out serviceman would already be in receipt of a pension. However, I suggest that it would not hurt to make a gesture to men on operational service overseas and to allow all the provisions of the Repatriation Act to apply to them.
The main point we return to is that a pension for ex-servicemen suffering from tuberculosis should be granted automatically, and that is the only point of contention in the bill. Because of the courtesy of the Minister in allowing me to speak this afternoon so that I may attend the funeral of a celebrated authoress in Sydney to-morrow, I am restricting my remarks. Those who follow me will also restrict themselves so that the bills may be passed. These are not contentious bills, except in the way I have mentioned. We approve of the consequential alterations that will be made to the bills now before the House.
I will not elaborate on this matter, because I want to allow sufficient time for a young ex-serviceman, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), to follow me. However, I want to say that the Opposition will move its amendment with a proper consciousness of what the Government is doing in repatriation matters and with a proper conscience towards the servicemen serving in the Far East Strategic Reserve. We believe that though the repatriation legislation is still full of defects, it should not be so mangled that ex-servicemen are deprived of benefits. Ex-servicemen suffering from tuberculosis should receive a pension, whether they were subject during their service to the rigours of the tropics, the Antarctic or a temperate zone. We know what the Minister has said is being done for a serviceman who contracts tuberculosis. However, if the symptoms of this disease appear five years after the man has completed his service, and they can be traced back to his service, he should be automatically entitled to a pension.
I should like to deal also with cancer, but I have not the time and Standing Orders would not permit me to do so. I say only that sooner or later we must deal in our legislation with the awful problem of cancer. We should examine the incidence of cancer amongst ex-servicemen. Cancer should be accepted for repatriation purposes. At present, the situation is far from good. Except for the amendment I will move, the Opposition supports the bill because it provides benefits for those men who are serving with an expeditionary force in a hazardous area. We have provided benefits for servicemen serving in Malaya and Singapore and it is only reasonable that we should do this also for the small force in Viet Nam.
.- I do not wish to delay the House unduly, but I believe that these bills are extremely important to the personnel serving in what is known as the Far East Strategic Reserve in Malaya and Singapore and now in Viet Nam. When we are dealing with matters of this nature, it would be of great benefit to exservicemen, and certainly to ex-servicemen’s organizations and other organizations directly concerned with these matters, if the bills could be dealt with at a time when honorable members would be able to give more consideration to them, lt should be pointed out at once that we are not merely discussing one bill now; we are discussing a series of bills. Although I am willing to concede that the bills are not complex, they may have far-reaching effects on personnel now serving overseas. I concede, of course, that this legislation will improve the situation for personnel obliged to serve overseas in discharge of our responsibilities under the Seato, Anzus and other pacts.
The purpose of the legislation is to provide that servicemen serving in these areas will have their service counted for repatriation purposes. The provisions of the legislation may in future be applied by regulation to cover personnel serving in countries to which Australia may be obliged to send servicemen for one reason or another. In that respect, I think the legislation now before us is well designed and will be of great benefit to members now serving in Malaya and Singapore and to those who will serve in Viet Nam.
Although, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has pointed out, permanent members of the forces have pension rights and receive compensation for injuries, I have always thought that servicemen serving in Malaya, Singapore or Viet Nam should be given full repatriation benefits. The bills now before us will ensure that these benefits will be available to them. I note that the benefits can be made available immediately by regulation.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Parkes on the question of an allowance for tuberculosis. The Repatriation Act provides that servicemen who have contracted tuberculosis will be entitled to repatriation benefits. However, I believe that the same provision should be made in the legislation we now have before us. I do not think that any repatriation doctor can say definitely when a person contracted the tuberculosis from which he is suffering. It may be possible for a doctor to diagnose the condition immediately, but it is not possible for him to say with any degree of certainty when the disease was contracted. In these circumstances, tuberculosis should be automatically accepted for repatriation purposes when it is contracted by servicemen serving in the areas mentioned by the Minister, just as it applies to ex-servicemen who contract tuberculosis, though their service may have concluded some years earlier. In all fairness to personnel serving in the areas mentioned already, I believe that the repatriation provisions should apply to such personnel who contract tuberculosis, and the Minister should accept the amendment that will be moved by the honorable member for Parkes. I agree with the honorable member for Parkes that there is nothing in this legislation to suggest that it is in any way controversial. It does effect some improvements. That being the case the Opposition supports the measure. But there is clearly a great need to cover all aspects of repatriation benefits for exservicemen, irrespective of where they have served or where they may serve in the future. I am sure that all honorable members concede that an ex-serviceman who has completed his service would prefer to have any disability from which he may be suffering as a consequence of that service accepted by the Repatriation Department rather than that he be considered for purposes of compensation. I believe that every ex-serviceman is entitled to repatriation benefits. This measure will provide benefits for those who are now serving in the areas to which we have just referred.
I suggest to the Minister that he might consider this one further aspect with regard to tuberculosis. I concede that there may be no great necessity to ensure that a service pension is payable to all members who are serving in those areas to-day because obviously they will be entitled to pension payments in their own right as serving members of the defence forces. That reasoning does not apply so far as tuberculosis is concerned and I believe that servicemen who are now serving in these areas should be covered in the same way as ex-servicemen have been covered in the past.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time.
.- I refer to clause 7 of the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill, which reads in part - (1.) Subject to this Act, the provisions of Divisions 1 to 4 (inclusive) of Part III. (other than section twenty-four, sub-sections (3.) and (4.) of section thirty-seven and sections forty-two, fortyfour and fifty-four) and sections one hundred and fourteen, one hundred and fourteen a, one hundred and nineteen, one hundred and twenty a, one hundred and twentyb and one hundred and twentyone of, and the Schedules to, the Repatriation Act extend to and in relation to -
In sub-clause (1.), omit “sub-sections (3.) and (4.) of section thirty-seven “.
The effect of the amendment will be to leave the Repatriation Act intact. This will create machinery for giving automatic pensions to ex-servicemen who contract tuberculosis while on service. I have fully explained our proposition, if briefly, during my remarks earlier in the debate.
– For reasons indicated during my second-reading speech, the amendment is not acceptable to the Government.
.- In the absence of better reasons advanced by the Government for its rejection of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), I repeat some of the remarks that I passed earlier in regard to this matter. The committee is entitled to hear from the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) why the amendment is not acceptable to the Government. I am not satisfied that the reasons outlined by the Minister in his second-reading speech are valid. I am sure that my view would be upheld by ex-servicemen’s organizations and by those who are interested in the provision of benefits for ex-servicemen. If tuberculosis can be accepted so far as repatriation benefits are concerned in respect of ex-servicemen whose condition is diagnosed some years after their service has been terminated, it should be possible to apply the same principles to servicemen who will be serving in the areas referred to by the Minister. There is no reason why tuberculosis should not be automatically accepted. The Minister, who generally is sympathetic towards the claims of ex-servicemen, in all fairness should accept our amendment. As the honorable member for Parkes has said, we on this side of the chamber consider that not only tuberculosis but also other diseases should be automatically accepted as war-caused. Cancer is one to which special reference has been made in the Parliament in recent years. There should be automatic acceptance of tuberculosis by the repatriation authorities. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Parkes provides for the automatic acceptance of this disease. The Government should accept the amendment.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Haylen’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. .. 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) put -
That progress be reported.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . Nil
– The result of the division is, “Ayes” 56; “Noes”, 56. I give my casting vote with the “ Ayes “.
– Do I understand you to say, Sir, that you are giving a casting vote? Our understanding with the Opposition was that five pairs would be granted.
– There is no such arrangement. It is not a point of order and it is not the truth.
– It is the truth.
– There are four pairs - four pairs sought and four pairs honoured.
– There are five. Do you deny any one of these pairs on the list I have?
– There are four.
– The names are Menzies, McMahon, Barwick, Jack and Bury.
– The fifth pair is for to-night.
– Yes, from 6 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 6.12 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed (vide page 2953).
– Mr. Speaker, when this debate was adjourned we had just heard the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) speaking for the Opposition, in a characteristic speech which we all enjoyed.
– What do you mean by “ characteristic “?
– The honorable member asks me what I mean by “ characteristic “, so I will tell him. [Quorum formed.] I will say that it was a most enjoyable speech, but characteristic in the sense that the honorable member ranged back over the history of the wool industry, taking us back all the way to 1916, and he did so in a very able and diverting manner. We have heard him do this many times. It is not only characteristic of the honorable gentleman because he has done it before, but it is also characteristic of him because in thinking about the wool industry his party is very much in the past. This, I think, is proved by the amendments, one of which he has proposed and others which he has foreshadowed. I want to say just a word about them.
The Opposition proposes to change the conference system proposed in the legislation to a wool board appointed by a direct election by the growers. The honorable member for Lalor told us that if this were done it would, and I quote him, “prevent internecine strife in the industry “. So he proposes to abolish the conference and provide for direct election.
I point out to the House that for the first time in recent years the two major organizations in the wool industry have come together to work for the good of the industry. Yet at this very stage the honorable gentleman and his party have decided to introduce a provision which will divide wool-growers along organizational lines in a bitterer manner than they have ever been divided before. Inevitably an election would be fought on organizational lines and therefore we would see the same sort of bitterness as comes in elections for this House where political parties are involved. What is more, Sir, the Opposition intends that this should happen not once every three years as in the political sphere, but every year. Every year, if the scheme proposed by the Opposition were accepted, there would be an election which would divide the woolgrowers.
Another point that the honorable member did not mention is that not one of the organizations - not even the Australian Primary Producers Union, which is not included in the conference at this stage - has suggested that this should be done. In other words, characteristically the Opposition is seeking to take the matter out of the hands of the wool-growers, to decide it over their heads and to tell them what is best for them. The Opposition would not take advice from the industry organizations about what should be done.
One thing that will happen if the House adopts this amendment is that the coming into being of the new organization of the industry will be delayed inevitably for at least a year. I should like to place on record that I am most disappointed that the Australian Primary Producers Union, the third major wool industry body in Australia, has not at this stage been included in the wool industry conference. I believe that it should be included and that to exclude it represents a gross injustice to a considerable body of wool-growers. Because the wool industry conference has the almost final say on the wool industry levy, it means, in effect, for a section of the wool-growers in Australia, taxation without representation. The fault for this must be squarely and solidly placed at the door of the two wool-growing organizations which are to comprise the conference - the Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Wool and Meat Producers Federation.
Exclusion of the Australian Primary Producers Union represents what I would describe as an almost brutal display of organizational power in the interests of the two other organizations. These two organizations have even informed the Government that they will not co-operate in the new set-up - in other words, they will throw it overboard - if the Australian Primary Producers Union is represented. I know well, because I have been closely associated with the matter, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) have worked hard and unceasingly in an attempt to persuade the two organizations to come together with the Australian Primary Producers Union on this matter. So far, their efforts have been of no avail. I believe the enactment of this legislation is so important for the future of the wool industry that it should not be delayed. It is, in effect, a choice of the lesser of two evils - either the evil of the legislation not coming into being immediately, or the evil of a large section of the wool industry not being represented. Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, I believe this situation cannot go on indefinitely. The Government cannot stand idly by forever and see a continuation of what obviously represents an injustice.
I ask the Minister to test the bona fides of the two organizations that will comprise the conference in the next year or so by noting their reaction to the approaches and proposals of the Australian Primary Producers Union. If the Minister is convinced that the union is being excluded from the conference purely through a desire on the part of the other two organizations to protect their own position, then I believe the Minister should act. It would be of great advantage and mean much to the wool industry if the Minister could give an assurance to this effect when he replies to the second-reading debate.
I welcome this legislation as a step towards meeting the conditions of the 1960’s as they affect Australia’s greatest industry. Basically, the legislation provides the means by which the wool industry can meet the challenges that it faces from the changed conditions of production, which involve changes in costs on the one hand, and changes in the world pattern of demand for fibres on the other hand.
It is important to remember that this legislation will provide only a framework, and it will not by itself ensure that the problems facing the industry will be overcome. They will be overcome only if the men who make up the conference and the board and the committees provided for in the legislation tackle their tasks in realistic fashion, having the future of the industry as their sole objective. I say this advisedly, because the wool industry has a long history which suggests that the last thing that some of its leaders have allowed to influence them has been the good of the industry. In many cases the opposition of a particular organization has been the predominant consideration in the minds of the leaders of the industry. Perhaps this legislation will mark the birth of a new attitude. Certainly the process by which the legislation has come to be finally framed, as described by the Minister in his second-reading speech, gives at least some grounds for hoping that the yardstick of the future will be the good of the industry as a whole.
There are certain particular provisions in the legislation that give good grounds for such hope. I refer particularly to the large number of growers who will comprise the conference, and also the provision for conducting some of the conference’s proceedings by secret ballot. But although these provi sions will help, in the last resort the achievement of the objectives of the legislation will depend on the men themselves and their organizations.
While the attitude of wool-growers and others who make up the new institutions will be of vital importance, so will be the attitude of the Government to any proposals that they may make. Nothing is more certain than that, just as the establishment of the new institutions has required the cooperation of the Government, many of the plans that the new bodies will draw up for the continued health and growth of the wool industry will also require co-operation from the Government. Personally I regard the conference and the board as the means by which an effective partnership can be established between the wool industry and the Australian Government, and such a partnership is vitally necessary if Australia’s greatest industry is to continue to prosper.
Now that we have this legislation before us, Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to imagine why we have not had something like it before. In retrospect, it seems quite extraordinary that an industry so important to this country should have been allowed to drift along in an ad hoc, laisser-faire fashion without some integrated, comprehensive approach to its problems. Is there any other country which has a single, identifiable industry as important to its economy and future development as the wool industry is to Australia, and which has approached the problems and organization of that industry in as off-hand a way as we have those of the wool industry? I doubt it.
The fact that our wool industry has been treated in this way can be partly explained by the composition of the industry, in which we see a large number of units run by people with a long tradition of independence - and thank God they have that tradition of independence. It can be partly explained by a constitutional situation in which most of the factors affecting production are the concern of State governments, whilst marketing and promotion are the concerns of the Commonwealth Government. It can also be partly explained by the traditional rivalries of the organizations of the woolgrowers themselves.
Whatever the reason, Mr. Speaker, the fact is that what has been done in the past is just not good enough in the circumstances of the mid-1960’s. The challenges facing wool as a commodity, and the difficulties facing growers in producing wool profitably, are much too great to be solved by a policy of drift and laisser-faire. The industry is so important to our future development that we must ensure that we do not reach a situation in which we wake up one morning and find that the industry has been allowed to drift to a point at which it has been irretrievably lost.
It is worth considering, Mr. Speaker, where wool stands in the Australian economy because it is possible to detect a certain amount of confusion in the public mind, and also, and more particularly, in the minds of members of the Opposition in this Parliament, about the present-day importance of wool. A few years ago the old saying that Australia rides on the sheep’s back made, I believe, a greater impact on the public mind than that saying does today. In earlier days everybody knew the phrase and everybody believed it to be true. To-day everybody pays lip service to it, but many doubt whether it is still valid. Certainly many people do not act as if they still believed it. There are, Sir, those who believe that there has been a change, and that with increased diversification of the Australian economy wool has declined in importance.
This belief springs partly from the fact that in the post-war period sharp declines in wool prices have not, as they did pre-war, immediately and substantially affected the general level of economic activity inside Australia. People are inclined to generalize and to infer from this undoubted fact that we have reduced our dependence on wool. Nothing could be further from the truth, and nothing could be more dangerous if it is allowed to influence policy.
The reason, of course, why a reduction in wool income does not immediately and directly affect economic activity in Australia, as it once did, is that we now have belter techniques of overall economic management than we did before the war. These have made it possible to protect the Australian economy from the short-term effects of the multiplier, which was pointed out by that great economist Giblin, that results from a reduction in wool income.
Yet we know from the experience of the last twelve years that we cannot defer for ever the consequences of a declining export income.
In this respect it is worth emphasizing what has been emphasized so often in the past, that wool is as important to overseas earnings as it ever was. On the average, the proportion of our export income derived from wool has been as great in the last ten years as it has been in any other ten-year period in our history, if not greater. In the ten years ended 1938-39, the proportion of export income from wool to the total export income varied between 34 per cent, and 52 per cent. From 1945-46 to 1947-48 it varied between 35 per cent, and 67 per cent. From 1949-50 onwards it has never been lower than 45 per cent. It can be said without question, Sir, that wool’s role as an earner of foreign exchange has not been reduced by post-war developments in the rest of the economy.
It can also be said that because of its role as an earner of foreign exchange wool has become even more important in the post-war Australian economy than it was in the pre-war economy. This is because the effect of our development since the war has been to increase rather than to diminish the demands made on overseas earnings, while, at the same time, industrial expansion has not thrown up any substitute for wool as an earner of export income. Indirectly, the economy has become more dependent on wool because wool is needed to pay for a large part of our imports. Indeed, one of the reasons why the increase in the volume of imports has been possible is that the real value of wool exports, measured in terms of imports, rose very substantially after the war. In 1957-58, with the depressed prices of that year, the volume of imports that could be purchased with the proceeds of wool exports was more than three times as large as it was in 1945-46. From this point of view it may be said that the rise in wool prices, or more importantly, the increase in wool output since the end of the war has made a significant contribution to the expansion of secondary industry and the rise in the standard of living which is a familiar part of Australia’s post-war economic history. The Opposition should remember that
Australia’s post-war expansion and the increase in the post-war prosperity of the people whom honorable members opposite claim to represent just would not have been possible if it had not been for wool and for what the wool-grower has done.
Although there is some tendency in the public mind to discount the importance of wool in our balance of payments, it is more clearly understood than is wool’s direct contribution to our internal economy. Indeed, I have noticed in recent years that because people concentrate on the employment situation to the neglect of everything else and because there has been a declining proportion of our work force directly employed in wool-growing, there has been some tendency to discount the direct contribution of the wool industry to our internal economy. Nothing could be more mistaken. As one of the sources of demand for locallyproduced goods and services, the wool industry has had’ some considerable influence on the pattern of growth of the Australian economy. From a study undertaken of the Australian economy in 1953-54 it can be shown that purchases by the wool industry in a number of industries or activities represented a significant portion of the total sales of those undertakings in that year. For instance, nearly 9 per cent, of the aggregate sales of commerce, 8 per cent, of the aggregate sales of engineering products, 6 per cent, of road transport activities and more than 4 per cent, of the sales of oil refining products in that year went to the wool industry. These figures suggest that purchases by the industry have been sufficiently large and concentrated to affect the pace and composition of investment in certain industries, especially in commerce, transport and metal working.
I can illustrate this in another way by pointing to the town of Naracoorte in my electorate, the experience of which could be repeated many times over throughout Australia. I have chosen Naracoorte because it is a town which is entirely dependent on the wool industry in the surrounding districts. There is no secondary industry in the town nor is there much in the way of cropping, dairying and other forms of primary production. In 1947 there were 412,000 sheep in the Naracoorte district. By 1961 there were 713,000, an increase of 75 per cent. During the same period the population rose from 2,200 to 4,400, an increase of 100 per cent. In other words, an increase in sheep numbers of 75 per cent, has led to an increase of 100 per cent, in the number of people locally serving the industry. Moreover, this has happened in a period when the number of wool-growers in the district has increased by only a few hundred.
Whichever way you look at it, wool is as vital to the Australian economy as it ever was. It is as important to the Australian employment situation, both through its contribution to export income and in direct employment, as is any other industry. It is for this reason that I welcome this attempt to establish an authority which will integrate the various elements essential for the industry’s future survival and prosperity - research, promotion and marketing. The Minister has pointed out the vital importance of integrating promotion and research. I believe that the importance of this is well understood if wool is to retain its share of the world fibre market against competition from synthetics. What is not so well understood is the importance of integrating marketing into the process if the same objective is to be achieved.
If promoting wool will maintain or stimulate the demand for wool, as well as providing an end product better than and different from that of its competitors, we must have available the raw material under comparable conditions to those of the synthetic fibres. I have no doubt that when and if the marketing system is changed this will be the reason for the change. Most demands for a change in the marketing system have sprung hitherto from the simple and natural demand by wool-growers for a better price. This has never appealed to a majority of wool-growers but there are now signs that the consent of a majority of woolgrowers could be obtained for a change in the marketing system if it could be demonstrated that such a step follows logically from the requirements of effective promotion. No one can tell whether, on examination, this will be shown to be correct. This is why the marketing committee of the board is being set up. No one can tell what form the changes in the marketing system will take. However, one thing that is certain is that by bringing research, promotion and marketing together under the central direction of the Australian Wool Board for the first time the inter-dependence of these three aspects of the wool industry can be tested and reviewed constantly.
I have no doubt also that as well as providing basic guidance and managing marketing, promotion and research into wool, the Australian Wool Board and conference will provide an authoritative source of information to the Government and others concerned on the production of wool.
The basic nature of the’ conditions of production is worth remembering. You can have the best marketing and promotion system in the world but it will get you nowhere if wool of the right type is not coming forward in sufficient quantities. In this respect the profitability of wool production is crucial. At present the production of wool, particularly in the high rainfall areas of Australia which have been responsible for most of the increase in production in recent years, is not profitable. This is due partly to reduced prices about which the promotion, research and marketing activities of the board may be able to do something. It is due even more, however, to an increase in wool-growers’ costs, particularly in the high rainfall areas. There is no doubt whatsoever that the great majority of Australians who have been able to beat the post-war inflation and achieve steadily rising real standards of living have done so at the expense of the Australian wool-grower. No one is more responsible for that than is the Opposition in this Parliament. The wool-grower has had to accept returns determined on a world market while making his payments in the protected Australian market at a time when technical developments have meant that an ever-increasing proportion of his total outgoings has been on equipment, goods and services. The result of this process is clearly demonstrated in the figures of the sheep industry survey undertaken by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. Is the honorable member in order in reading his speech?
– Order! The honorable member is in order.
– For the past five years the rate of return on capital in the high rainfall zone has averaged 2.5 per cent. That is not good enough for Australia’s most important industry. Sooner or later, with returns of this order, investment in the wool industry will fall and with it will fall Australia’s production, the capacity to withstand adverse seasons and so on. If the new Wool Board and conference do nothing else but bring home to governments and the Australian community the consequences for the wool industry, and thus for Australia, of a continuation of unprofitability in wool-growing, they will more than justify their existence. Australians must be made to see the consequences to the wool industry of what they are doing. They must be faced with the stark alternative that if the present trends are to continue either wool production will fall, with all the disasters that would bring to the Australian economy-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, if I may use the words which the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) used a few minutes ago, I would say that his speech, too, was characteristic because, as usual, he deliberately misinterpreted Labour’s attitude and actions in regard to the wool industry. He made one statement which I think was rather remarkable. He said that the Australian Labour Party was taking the matter out of the hands of the wool-growers and telling them what to do. I should have thought that the meaning and effect of the Opposition’s proposed amendment, copies of which have been circulated, would have been clear to any one who had studied it. It would place the control of the industry directly in the hands of all wool-growers - not just a section of them. That seems to me to be a more democratic proposal than that of the Government. The honorable member said that our proposed amendment would require an election for the re-appointment of members of the Australian Wool Board every year. That is not the case. If the honorable member takes the trouble to look at the Opposition’s amendment, which proposes to omit paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of clause 1 1 (2.) and to insert other paragraphs in their place, he will find that that would not be so. The election would take place every two years.
There have been worse times in the history of the Australian wool industry than the present, but the great majority of average or small wool-growers would have to look back to the depression years to find them. The wool-grower, of course, is primarily the producer of a natural fibre which has clothed mankind for centuries. He runs the risk of many hazards - of the elements, of drought, of seasons that are too wet, of pests and all the other risks that farmers face. Wool-growing is a commercial venture. Even after the product has left the property the wool-growers’ worries are not over. There is no guarantee of a fixed price for wool as there is, for instance, for wheat. We sell our major export commodity on the open market without asking what the price will be. Faced with high production costs, the wool-grower takes his chance at auction, hoping for a price sufficient to give him a reasonable return to cover his capital outlay and his year’s work. He hopes that his wool will not go on to market during a decline in prices. That is a day-to-day risk, as the prices fluctuate.
Unfortunately, for some years now, the wool-grower has experienced a deteriorating market situation. Indicative of this are the relevant statistics. Since 1953-54 the average price in pence per pound obtained for the Australian wool clip has declined through the eighties, seventies and sixties and has even touched the forties. In the year 1959-60 the average price of greasy wool was 57.78d. per lb. In 1960-61 it fell to 52.06d. per lb., a fall of 10 per cent, in a year. In the first four months of this financial year, the average price again fell, this time by 1.65d. per lb. It will be remembered that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that every drop of one penny per lb. in the average price of wool meant a loss of £7,000,000 in the export income of the nation. So, despite some firming of prices in November we can again expect a low yearly average price. As the indicators show, the average price may be lower than it was last year.
This price tumble has come to the individual wool-grower at a time when wool production costs have risen. Land prices have boomed. Interest rates are higher, the cost of plant and equipment has risen; and hire-purchase rates and charges have all lifted remarkably. While wool producers receive prices which are almost akin to those of 1948, they pay 1962 prices for their plant and equipment. Squeezed between high production costs on the one hand and low wool prices on the other hand, the woolgrower is struggling to make ends meet. The grower who is paying off his property is faced with an impossible task. Because wool makes the main contribution to our export income, the nation as a whole, as well as the wool-grower, has suffered. These, then, are the circumstances which prevail as we discuss the first major wool legislation we have had for nearly ten years - legislation which has resulted from recommendations by the committee of inquiry on wool.
To me, the two greatest factors arising from this legislation are the following: First, that there will be, for the first time, a central organization, charged with the duty of watching over the diverse interests of the wool-growers - interests which involve the production, promotion, marketing of, and research into wool. Secondly, there is the fact that this organization will have under its direction a committee formed solely for the purpose of examining the marketing of Australian wool. The machinery of this central wool organization which this bill seeks to create is based, first, upon the Australian Wool Industry Conference. This conference, supposedly a nonstatutory organization to consist of 25 members appointed by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and 25 members nominated by the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, will apart from an independent chairman, be wholly constituted by wool-growers. I was rather amused by the statement of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in his second-reading speech that he was “urging an agreement between all wool-grower organizations, and enabling a complete industry voice to be expressed through the conference “. It is known that the Minister has definite ideas about representation of the Australian Primary Producers Union on the conference. With those ideas being opposed to such representation, he must have uttered those words very reluctantly.
– You speak for yourself and do not misquote me.
– They must have been literally wrung out of him by forces inside the Government party room which created the furore last week and which caused the delay in the introduction of the bill. Conciliatory words they were, with little hope of realization, as the Minister knows. Already the two organizations represented on the conference have vigorously opposed representation of the Australian Primary Producers Union. To expect a change of front as a result of the Minister’s gentle and reluctant urging is almost to expect a miracle. I realize that this is said to be a non-statutory organization. In reality, if the Minister and the Government wanted wider representation on the conference, either by the Australian Primary Producers Union or any other organization, it could have announced its recognition of the organization and indicated by a frank statement to the big two, as we might call them, that before legislative action could be taken they should get together with the third side of the triangle. The Government’s failure to do this leaves little doubt in my mind that the Minister’s words were a sop to prevent a minor rebellion within the ranks of the Government parties.
However, as the honorable member for Lalor has said, the circumstances surrounding the constitution of the Australian Wool Board are not satisfactory to the Labour Party. The amendment proposed by the Opposition is designed to restore a democratic influence to the wool board and to delete from the bill all reference to the conference. We want the wool-growers’ representatives to be elected, not nominated. There are in Australia more than 100,000 wool-growers. Together, the organizations recognized by the Government, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation account for some 66,000 wool-growers. More than 30,000 woolgrowers, or about one-third of the total, will nave no say in the management of their industry.
As honorable members are aware, the proposed Australian Wool Board, which will control the industry, will have virtual taxing powers, because it will be able to impose levies or virtual taxes on the growers, who, as I have said, will have no say in the management of their industry. Perhaps, like an echo from the days of the Eureka Stockade or the Boston Tea Party, these 30,000 disfranchised growers will raise the cry, “ No taxation without representation “. If they do so, they will in my opinion be fully justified. The Opposition amendment would provide an opportunity for any organization, including the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, farmers and settlers’ associations and the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association, which has more than 1,000 members who are wool-growers as defined in the amendment, to have a say in the management of the wool industry. The amendment defines a wool-grower as a person who produces at least ten bales of wool in a season. This level of production means that the producer would have a flock of at least 500 sheep and a gross income from that flock of £700 or thereabouts. I emphasize that this is gross and not net income. A producer with, say, only 500 sheep, would not be solely dependent on the income from his flock, but he would have a substantial interest in the wool industry and in the outcome of proposals concerning prices, promotion and so on.
We recognize that an election of members of the proposed Australian Wool Board could be unwieldy, because there could be too many candidates. Therefore, the Opposition’s amendment calls for the nomination paper of a candidate to be signed by at least twenty wool-growers as defined in the amendment. This would surely eliminate irresponsible and hopeless candidates who might clutter the field. The proposed Australia-wide poll of growers is practicable and democratic. It will give all in the industry a chance to have a say in the industry’s management. I commend the Opposition’s proposal to all who are interested not only in democracy but also in the welfare of the Australian wool industry.
As time passes, whatever may be the composition of the industry’s controlling authority, concerted action will be needed to deal with problems vital to the industry. If the Opposition’s amendment is defeated and the proposed Australian Wool Industry conference survives, and the Wool Industry
Bill is passed as introduced by the Government, the conference could be torn by dissension, as the industry has been for many years, and could fail to serve the woolgrowers effectively. Under the terms of the bill, the conference would be, in effect, the parliament - nominated, not elected - of the wool industry, with the proposed Wool Board as its nominated executive. The two bodies together, as such, would have considerable power over the wool industry. Under the terms of the bill, the conference, of course, would recommend to the Government the maximum rate of levy to be imposed on wool-growers and the operative rate to be struck in any year. For a socalled non-statutory body - a nominated body - the proposed conference would have remarkable powers. In addition to being given virtual taxing powers, it will be the only organization given, under the terms of this bill, the right to nominate representatives of wool-growers for appointment to the proposed Australian Wool Board. The conference might be, technically, non-statutory, but the recognition and power accorded to it under the terms of the bill cast considerable doubt on that definition in my mind.
Neither I nor other Opposition members have any quarrel with control by the growers, especially democratic control, for it is well that the producers, except in times of national crisis, direct the affairs of their own industry. This has been the essence of Labour policy down the years - a policy which provides for organized marketing with control by the producers. The wheat industry stabilization scheme, which was inaugurated by legislation guided through this House by my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), is a notable example of this kind of organized marketing. We still hold to our intention to give the growers every available opportunity to bring about the establishment of a statutory wool marketing organization providing for a reserve price selling system, and the advantage of our promise to guarantee, through the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, £25,000,000 towards the financing of such a scheme.
If time permits, Mr. Speaker, I should like to examine briefly the functions of each of the committees to be established under the aegis of the proposed Australian Wool
Board. I shall deal first with the proposed Wool Marketing Committee. I refer to a study in the December, 1961, issue of “ Wool Outlook “, a publication of the Division of Agricultural Economics, and, in particular, to statistics on overseas trade, which show that the volume of exports of New Zealand and South African wool in 1960-61 fell back to 1958-59 levels. Altogether, an export loss of 40,000,000 lb. weight of wool was shown by those two countries. Australian figures show that our exports in 1960-61 rose beyond the 1958-59 level by 70,000,000 lb. weight. On the surface, that seems very gratifying, but we must bear in mind the remarkable drop in the Australian price in 1960-61 and the resultant loss in export income of £53,000,000 compared with the previous financial year. While the nations which sell under a reserve price system lost in sales volume, we gained. Could our gain in the volume of wool exports, despite a loss in financial returns, be the result of a transfer to Australia of buyers who were taking advantage of lower prices? Are we under-selling our fellow members of the International Wool Secretariat? Let me quote from an article in the “ Australian Country Magazine “, which was contributed from South Africa. The article, which is headed, “ How can we force South Africa and New Zealand to buy in wool? “ states -
The wool Moor price is going along steadily at South African Sales. The only time we have had to buy-in any quantity, was when the price of Australian Merino Lines was allowed to go lower than our floor price. New Zealand also suffered.
Of course, the buyers just switched their orders from our countries to Australia, where they could get the wool cheaper. However, we have resold even those quite large amounts of wool at a profit.
The article concluded -
Yet Australian Woolgrowers, ignoring price protection, are cutting the throats of New Zealanders and South African growers. Australians aren’t too popular in wool trade circles here.
If this comment by a South African correspondent is true - and the comparative export figures that I have quoted lend credence to it - the situation is sorry indeed when we find ourselves attracting wool-buyers and custom by under-cutting our wool-selling partners in the International Wool Secretariat, and, in the process, contributing to uneconomic returns to growers and a loss of vital export income for the nation. In these circumstances, it is natural that resentment against the Australian free auction system is strongly evident in South Africa and New Zealand. Certainly, as I see the situation, a change in this marketing system seems long overdue. A question which occurred to me was: How long overdue is this change? Despite the extremely keen world-wide competition from man-made fibres, I believe that Australian growers have hot received prices as high as they could have obtained, because the auction system, as it operates, is open to lot-splitting, the activities of pies and the concentration of buyers under national or block groupings. I believe that the main factor bringing about the loss in returns has been the activities of pies or groups of buyers operating together to reduce competition and so obtain for themselves better prices. In 1957, the royal commission presided over by Mr. Justice Cook in New South Wales confirmed the existence anc! activities of these pies.
The report of the latest committee of inquiry on wool presented to the Parliament this year again recognized the activities of pies. In the only really positive expression about pies in the report, the committee said -
Pies do exist, and they depress the market.
That is quite a definite statement. Its other references to concentrations of buying were nothing less than amazing. It said, in effect, “ While pies depress the market, it would seem that the effect is not great, even though the extent to which prices are reduced cannot be determined “. Even assuming that the effect of pies is not great, it says that the present system of wool auctions does leave the grower in a vulnerable position, should further concentrations of buying occur. For my part, if I were a wool-grower, I would be extremely dissatisfied with a committee of inquiry that could produce nothing better than this when investigating the forces that it admits depress wool prices.
Another statement by a committee of inquiry which raised eyebrows was this - . . it is abundantly clear that the woolbuyers have a very close organization and have such power among themselves to enable them to keep down prices. The existence of “ lot splitting “ in my opinion is not aa innocent and legitimate on all occasions as their advocates imply. The composition of a “ pie “ seems to be readily accomplished at their will. Those in the “ pie “ ‘do not bid against each other.
That statement was contained in the report of the Commonwealth Wool Inquiry Committee dated 26th October, 1932.
For 30 years, certain wool-buying interests have conspired to defraud the woolgrower of his rightful reward for his labours. In defrauding him, they have defrauded the nation; they have deprived us of vital export income. How much have we lost? That is a question no one can answer with any certainty. But even -with the present low price of wool, action by pies which depress prices by only 1 per cent, would cost the nation at least £3,500,000 a year. The activities of pies could be responsible for a far greater percentage than that. It seems likely then that in recent years alone we can count our losses in scores of millions of pounds, and it is high time that the Government awakened to its responsibilities in this regard. Years of growing discontent culminated in the appointment of the recent committee of inquiry on wool, but a strong government, concerned with the trend in the industry, would on its own initiative have taken action long before.
It is remarkable that more than two years ago the wool industry asked for an inquiry, with urgent emphasis on marketing. Confronted with a disastrous fall in price, agitation for a review of marketing methods became the chief topic in wool industry discussions. Almost two years ago the committee of inquiry was set up. An examination of its terms of reference confirms that its specific task was to report on and recommend changes in the marketing system. The committee in due course completed a comprehensive report, and no one could deny that many of its observations and findings are of great value to the industry. But what of its main task, marketing? The end result of its report is the establishment of another committee to inquire into the very same subject - marketing - more than two years after the industry had asked for an urgent examination of the position. The average wool-grower expected something concrete regarding the marketing of his product, but in effect he is back to where he started two years ago.
Mr. Speaker, one of the difficulties facing the advocates of additional promotion cannot be accurately gauged. No one can say, for instance, after experiencing a lift in the demand for wool, that some factor or factors other than promotion were not responsible for it. A bitterly cold winter in Europe or Asia, the building of a stockpile, the threat of war and other factors could gain the credit. No one could say, too, after witnessing a fall in the demand for wool that promotional activities have been a failure. Other factors could have clouded the issue. This difficulty in assessing the result of promotion tends to create a disbelief in its effectiveness.
Earlier, I showed how the prevailing low wool prices have adversely affected woolgrowers, but the nation as a whole has suffered as well. As the result of deteriorating prices, Australia’s wool exports expressed as a percentage, were only 39.4 per cent, of the total of all exports in 1960-61. This was the lowest percentage for fourteen years. In the first four months of this financial year, we exported 427,731,000 lb. of wool, bringing in an income of £98,059,000. In the same period of the previous financial year, for an export of 5,000,000 lb. less we received £2,700,000 more in income. So that clearly over the years the nation has suffered a serious loss of export income, a loss in these times that we can ill afford.
The estimates of Australia’s balance of payments in the first quarter of 1962-63 show a deficit of £96,000,000 with imports exceeding exports by £32,000,000. We face a further serious setback in trade as a result of Britain’s prospective entry into the European Common Market. Further, the International Wheat Council has forecast a decline in world wheat trade in 1963. In particular, the council has said -
There will be a decline in trade on commercial terms.
Obviously, Australia could suffer there. Our trade prospects, looking at them realistically, are far from satisfactory. It is clear to all that we must urgently seek an expansion of our export trade. I believe that the greatest single opportunity for an increase in export income lies in the creation of a greater demand for wool and the elimination of auction abuses.
Any commercial venture that seeks to increase sales and create a greater demand for its goods engages in an advertising or promotional campaign. It is true that the wool industry has done much in this vein, but much more is to be done if we are to increase the demand for our product in the face of stiff competition from man-made fibres, the synthetics. Already the lowered incomes of the wool-growers are subject to levies totalling 12s. a bale - 10s. for promotion and 2s. for research, Together these raise almost £3,000,000 per annum. I believe that these imposts upon the woolgrower have reached the limit in the present circumstances. A further 10s. a bale would be beyond the means of many of the smaller wool-growers. Already the secretary of the International Wool Secretariat, Mr. Vines, has indicated that organization’s desire to increase substantially its expenditure on wool promotion.
This promotional programme is so essential and the need for increased wool prices, and therefore, income, is of such national importance that I believe it is time the Commonwealth made its contribution to the sales effort which, after all, is likely to return greater dividends to the Commonwealth than will subsidies granted already on some other goods. This is a good business proposition. An investment by the Commonwealth of 10s. a bale would not only assist in increasing export income but would also stimulate our internal economy by increasing rural incomes and, of course, it could return by way of taxation on the increased incomes the outlay of £2,400,000. There is a precedent. In 1947 the Chifley Government paid a contribution of 2s. a bale towards promotion and research. I urge the Minister and the Government to join the industry in a partnership for wool promotion.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I will agree with one aspect of the criticism levelled by both honorable members who have spoken on behalf of the Opposition. That criticism was in relation to the Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry. Speaking now as a grower, I and many others were disappointed that the committee did not positively recommend changes in the marketing system. I appreciate the reasons put forward by the committee for not recommending a floor price scheme, but the committee clearly felt that, the»» some merit in possible alternative marketing schemes - an appraisal or acquisition scheme of some kind. Having felt that there was some merit in such proposals the committee should have gone forward more fully than it did and examined these proposals with a view to their implementation. This may have saved some time, but nobody can doubt that a great deal of good has come out of the committee. It has resulted in the legislation that we now have before us.
I do not think the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) did himself any credit when he criticized the view taken by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) with regard to the Australian Primary Producers Union. In recent weeks all members of the Ministry and all Government supporters have worked conscientiously and tirelessly to try to achieve some solution to a very difficult problem. The honorable member for Bendigo did himself no credit at all in accusing the Minister of holding the view that he wrongly attributed to him.
In opening the debate for the Opposition the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that he and his colleagues as much as anybody on this side of the House wanted to see the industry in a good position. That is a statement we all would accept willingly, but the honorable member has acted strangely in his efforts to place the industry in a good position. He opposes the establishment of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which has been requested by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. In view of the amendment that the honorable member has proposed, he clearly thinks that the conference has no place on the present scene. But in addition to opposing something that wool-growers largely want, he has proposed an elected board which the members of both these major organizations and, I believe, also of the Australian Primary Producers Union, largely do not want. This seems to be an odd way to help the industry - to oppose something that the industry wants and to propose something that a large section of the industry does not want.
In addition the honorable member for Lalor has moved an amendment which, if accepted, would negative the bill entirely.
In effect the wording of his amendment would mean that the bill would not be read a second time. His amendment involves itself with the proposed Government contribution towards wool promotion and does not concern itself in any way with the bill before the House. If by some mischance the amendment were carried, the wool industry and Australia would be left without this organization which has been sought for so long. The honorable member for Lalor should clarify his position. Let him tell us whether the wording of his amendment was intentional or accidental. I hope and believe that it was accidental.
The origins of this legislation go back some way. I will not go back as far as the honorable member for Lalor went. My memory would not serve me well if I did, but it is well known that the arguments between the two traditional recognized organizations for wool marketing in particular led to an approach to the Government late in 1960. This resulted in the inquiry being held. The report of that inquiry was brought down in February, 1961. The two organizations discussed this inquiry individually and between themselves and remarkably, in view of past history, reached a real measure of agreement and submitted proposals to the Minister and the Government. Those proposals resulted in the legislation that we now have before us.
– What about the Australian Primary Producers Union?
– T will come to the Australian Primary Producers Union later. Up to the present the industry has been divided into many different divisions. There are three gro%ver organizations. Thee are the brokers and the buyers. There are the customers. There are the Australian Wool Bureau, the Wool Research Committee and the Wool Testing Authority. All of these groups have been involved in wool but their activities have not been in any way correlated and there has been a degree of disorganization where there should have been organization and co-operation. This legislation provides the organization which will bring the general management of the industry in relation to matters concerning promotion, research and marketing under one authority. This is something that is most important to the industry. It will give the industry a voice not only in matters concerning wool but in rural affairs as a whole, which will be of immense importance to rural industries and through them to Australia.
The Minister has referred to the framework that will be involved in this business. At the present time there is a conference being held of 50 wool-growers. I hope that in the not too far distant future that conference will be larger. The Australian Wool Board is directly responsible for the conference. That is a statutory authority under which there will be the Production Research Committee, the Textile Research Committee, the Wool Testing Authority and the Marketing Committee. In the short term the latter may be the most important. Presumably the board will manage its promotional activities without the assistance of a committee although it is left to its own discretion as to whether it handles promotional activities itself or whether it forms a committee to do the wo: k.
Elaborate provisions have been built into the conference and into this legislation to try to maintain unity in the two organizations which have fought so bitterly for so long. Voting on the conference will be by secret ballot and under certain circumstances voting on the board will be by secret ballot. There are special arrangements concerning the chairman. In the first year the conference chairman will be somebody outside the conference. The chairman of the board in the first year will be appointed by the board, but in the first year he may be appointed only after agreement with a sub-committee appointed by the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
I have said that the Wool Marketing Committee will probably be one of the most important bodies working for the wool industry and it certainly is one to which a great many growers will be looking for some positive results in the not-far-distant future. The establishment of this marketing committee was clearly essential if the federation were to reach agreement on the overall plan. The change in the attitude of many growers, and particularly the change in the attitude of the Graziers Association in relation to marketing has been remarkable. In the last two or three years views have been expressed by grazier associations in some States which three, four or five years ago would have been regarded as radical in the extreme. The Graziers Association of New South Wales has passed resolutions requesting that once this, marketing committee is established it will examine appraisal or acquisition schemes as one of its prime objectives. I know that many graziers in Victoria are waiting only until this legislation is passed before they place similar resolutions before their branches. Quite clearly there is a very definite change of heart on the part of many people in this organization as far as the marketing of our wool is concerned. I would not be surprised if, within five years, or in the not-far-distant future, the marketing committee recommended some acquisition or appraisal scheme for the marketing of Australian wool. The results of this would be greatly beneficial to the wool industry and to Australia. It would give some stability in prices to both the grower and the consumer. In addition, changes in marketing are probably going to be required because of the increased tendency towards national buying, which makes the operations of pies more effective, because of the increased operations of forward selling and because of the increased quantity of wool sold on the up-country method - wool bought direct from the sheds. In addition, it is necessary to try to break away from the ceiling set on the price of wool by the price of synthetics. This can only be done if there is stability in wool marketing and if there is active promotion which will tend to bring a quality status and symbol into the trade mark for wool and encourage people to pay a premium price for what is a premium product.
Objections may be put up to what I have been saying and I am not going to canvass them at the present time. It is my firm belief that all the objections put forward to these kinds of changes to the marketing system are objections that people of good faith with a will to achieve something can readily overcome. There is one objective which some growers may fear, however and that is that changes in the marketing of wool, as opposed to organizational changes, could lead to government control. This could not happen under the legislation as the Government has framed it, because grower control and grower authority are maintained throughout, as they should be. Firstly, they are maintained in the conference, the supreme body of the whole organization, which has only growers on it for the first year., with an outside chairman. There is a grower majority on the Australian Wool Board, which is responsible to the conference. The committees of the board are responsible, through the board, to the conference.
The conference has power to recall members of the board for inability or misbehaviour and the conference will be the judge of these two things. The experts who may be appointed to the board or to sub-committees of the board must be approved by the conference. This gives absolute control to the growers on the conference. This is vital and it is something which the growers have defended vigorously many times in the past and which they would defend again if there were any effort to undermine grower control and substitute for it some kind of government control. This is implicit in the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) - an amendment which opposes the conference which the growers want and which proposes other means of having the board appointed, which the organizations have said they do not want.
The bill gives the growers an immensely powerful organization to control their own industry and this can be achieved only if peace is preserved in the ranks of the growers. Thus I hope that all growers will be able to work, through the organization, for the desired objectives of the industry. This can be done even through the branch levels in grower organizations, because resolutions can come from these organizations up through their State branches and their Federal branches and so on to the organization that this legislation establishes.
I wish it were possible to say that all was well with the industry as the result of this industry’s co-operation and this legislation which arises from partial industry cooperation. However, it is unfortunate that this is not so. The Australian Primary Producers Union has been unjustly ignored by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and by the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation.
This situation cannot be allowed to endure and I do not believe the rank and file of wool-growers would want it to endure. The Australian Primary Producers Union has a just claim to membership. We have seen statutory evidence of its claim to membership of 25,000 wool-growers spread over four States. The leadership, particularly in the wool industry section of this union, has shown itself to be responsible and constructive and its thinking has added to the thinking of the wool industry. When you compare the composition or spread of the Australian Primary Producers Union with the spread of the graziers council or the federation you find that it is true that the council is representative in more States, but is not particularly strong in Western Australia and the federation, the Tasmanian Farmers Federation affiliated with the Australian Primary Producers Union in Tasmania is much stronger numerically than the graziers association in that State. I understand that there are 22,000 or 23,000 graziers throughout all States.
– They deserve recognition.
– Yes; the federation has 43,000 members spread over four States. The Australian Primary Producers Union is also spread over four States and the graziers organization is spread over six States, but in two States is not particularly strong. There are perhaps many reasons why the union has not been recognized by these two traditional organizations which have been first in the field. They say that the leadership is not realistic and that this is not a proper wool organization, but all these reasons are just to make a point.
It is my firm belief that the real reason why the Australian Primary Producers Union has not been recognized by the other two wool-growers’ organizations at this stage is that the others were first in the field. Perhaps it is ironic, but the federation should have had a soft spot for the Australian Primary Producers Union in this regard, because there was a time when it had to fight the graziers organization for recognition, the graziers being the only opponent in the field. But having got in and achieved recognition the federation seemed to be prepared to slam- the door behind it and forget that it once had this particular struggle.
I feel that there is a fair amount of prejudice in this matter. I believe that the organizations feel that if the Australian Primary Producers Union were on the conference it might use balance-of-power tactics on the conference. Knowing the leadership of the union, I know that this would not be so, but at the same time I believe that this is a fear which the other organizations have. I also believe that the other organizations have a determination to maintain their present position if they can. I believe that these reasons, in substance, add up to nothing very substantial and they should not be allowed to stand in the way of ultimate Australian Primary Producers Union membership of the conference.
Many negotiations have been undertaken in the last three months between leaders of the Government, between Government members and between the organizations. These negotiations have gone on at all levels, from private members of Parliament to the level of Ministers in the Government. All these negotiations have failed, for the reasons that I have mentioned. They have failed largely because the two organizations which have formed the conference between them, to the exclusion of the Australian Primary Producers Union, have made it fairly clear - this may have been bluff - that they will not accept the position if the Government tries to insist that the Australian Primary Producers Union should be put on the conference and that they will walk out of the conference and abandon the whole organizational framework if the Government does this at this stage. I believe this to be a quite unreasonable attitude, but it is the attitude which has largely been adopted in the conversations with members of the organizations. The Government has accepted this position and members of the Government parties accept the position as it is because they recognize the importance of the legislation, the importance of the organization and the necessity to get this legislation passed as soon as possible.
If the two organizations were not bluffing and if they did walk off the conference and abandoned this organization which every one in the wool industry wants, then these changes which are so vital to the industry’s future could be postponed indefinitely. They could perhaps have been abandoned and the old rivalries between the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation could have broken out once more.
If this had happened irretrievable harm would have been done to the wool industry, and the responsibility for doing something which would cause this to happen would not be taken, I believe, by honorable members on this side of the House. However, there is a ray of hope in this matter, slight though it may be. The constitution of the conference has clauses in it which would make it possible, if the conference so willed, to introduce new members to the conference. It is my belief that if the members of the conference did not want the Australian Primary Producers Union on the conference the proposed provision could be used to exclude the union almost indefinitely. But if that attitude changed and there was a realization that complete unity must be achieved in this industry, then the provisions of the constitution would not prevent the Australian Primary Producers Union from being recognized by the two existing organizations and achieving the proper place that it should have on the conference.
I should like to quote the Minister’s words on this matter. They show how unjustly he was quoted by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
However, the Government notes with approval that the constitution of the Wool Industry Conference makes provision for the inclusion of other organizations under the terms set down, and considers it would be appropriate - and indeed the Government urges to that effect - if an agreement were reached between all organizations to enable a complete industry voice to be expressed through the conference. It might also be said that a non-statutory body whose membership can be modified by mutual agreement among organizations offers full scope for the development of unity in the wool-growing industry.
An honorable member interjected that if that occurred it would be a miracle. I say that it would be no more of a miracle than the marriage that occurred between the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council and Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation in the middle of this year. Nobody believed that these two organizations could get together in the sense in which they have. This occurred much more rapidly than anybody expected, and if that could happen there is no reason why these two organizations should not admit to the conference the Australian Primary Producers Union, which has every right to be on the conference. The omission of the union is serious. It will prevent complete peace being achieved in the wool industry ranks. If the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation are really sincere in their efforts to serve the industry as a whole, they will not allow this position to prevail.
The alternative of an elected board provided for in the amendments of the honorable member for Lalor would not solve the problem. Every two years there would be a campaign. Tickets would be run by the organizations and rivalries would develop. This scheme was not wanted by any of the organizations, and since it would abolish the conference it would prevent the co-operation which can develop in a large body, with both, and I hope ultimately, all three, organizations getting together, working together and thus getting to appreciate each other’s point of view. Such co-operation will be very valuable to the maintenance of unity between the two organizations and, I hope, ultimately to the unity of the three organizations.
It has been said that the conference could be made a statutory body and that the Government could just say that there shall be 25 members of the graziers council, 25 members of the federation and a number of members of the union on the conference. But as I have already said, a clear understanding was given to us that the two present organizations on the conference would abandon the conference if this kind of thing were done. This was a responsibility and risk that I believe the Government was not able to take, because the industry needs this legislation. It needs the legislation badly. Only through this legislation can the industry give a lead to the wool world and to our partners in the International Wool Secretariat. There is no other way of doing that. Australia has to force the pace with the International Wool Secretariat in the marketing and promotion of wool. These two things are combined; they are both part of each other. Without this organization Australia cannot give this lead. It is important that this proposal shall become law now so that the organization can begin working as soon as possible.
Therefore, in the interests of the industry, I believe the Government and all members on this side of the House accept the present position, despite the omissions on the conference. However, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Government must work to see that prejudice is not allowed to prevail and to see that the position is put right in the not too far distant future. I suggest to the Minister that if action has not been taken in this direction within a reasonable period he should convene a meeting of all the people concerned to see what can be done about it.
.- I feel sorry for the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). He gave us a Jekyll and Hyde speech on these very bills. In the first half of his speech he praised the proposal, and in the second half he-
– Condemned it!
– I had not intended to use that word. He criticized it very severely. It is a great pity that honorable members on the Government side of the House in dealing with a vital part of the Wool Industry Bill could not express their disappointment, criticism and opposition by voting for our amendments. It seems a wasted sort of speech because the honorable member does not propose to back up his opinions by action. However, I realize the awkward situation in which he finds himself.
– He said he detested your amendment.
– He did not use those words; he is kinder than you are.
– That is what he meant.
– On 25th January last year the Commonwealth Government appointed a Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry. On 19th February, 1962, the committee presented its report, which has been in the hands of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) since then. Yet here we are in the first week of December with a bill implementing portions of the recommendations of this committee!
– That is very good progress.
– I think that is as slow as the old steam train.
– You do not know of all the negotiations that took place.
– A lot of negotiation has gone on, I will admit, but honorable members on this side of the chamber feel that the Government has passed the buck to the growers and wants them to hammer out the whole problem in conferences, despite the fact that the organizations were opposed to each other on many points. In other words, it has created a bear garden for them. It has asked them to form a united front. Then the Government will just give its stamp of approval to the resulting plan.
I feel, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the way that this measure has been brought in shows a lack of courage and a lack of statesmanship on the part of this Government. The Government has left the growers fighting each other for nearly a year, with one group fighting in vain. The scheme proposed in this bill will exclude at least 25 per cent, of wool-growers who produce more than five bales. This is very disappointing, and it is very disappointing legislation. Instead of building unity, these measures will perpetuate disunity in the industry. No legislation basically designed to cope with this industry’s growing problems, which excludes 25 per cent, of wool-growers, can be called either just or adequate. It is half-way legislation; it is piebald legislation; it is unjust legislation, and, as my colleague suggests, it is crossbred legislation.
The two organizations which are mentioned in the legislation are the two most powerful in the industry. Good luck to them; we are not going to criticise the way in which they came into being and the work that they have done. But these two organizations will receive the stamp of approval of this Government, while the third organization, with 50,000 members, 25,000 of whom are wool-growers producing more than five bales a year, will be exiled. The Minister’s statement gives us some hope that this organization may at some time in future be brought within the provisions of the legislation. The honorable member for Wannon spent some time on this subject. He read from the Minister’s speech, to which I shall also refer. The Minister said that the legislation leaves a door open through which other organizations may come in. The Minister said -
In other words, the Minister acknowledges that the arrangements made in this measure are not to be considered complete. He expresses the hope - a pious one, I admit - that these three organizations in the industry will eventually be covered by the legislation. But the entry of the third organization will be effectively blocked by other clauses in the bill, which provide that two-thirds of the conference would have to vote for its admission before it could be brought within the terms of the legislation. The Australian Primary Producers Union will, therefore, be left out of the conference for many years. The other two organizations will have the final say in what is going to happen to the industry during the next few years.
It is a very poor practice indeed to leave this powerful body of men, who have been leaders of the industry and growing wool throughout their lifetimes, without a voice in the decisions that are made concerning the future of the industry. The treatment meted out to this organization, which is the newest and youngest of them all and is what I would call the third force in the industry, reminds me of the restrictive trade practices that we on this side of the House have been complaining about, because legislation prevents 25 per cent, of growers from having any voice at all in the marketing of their product.
– But they will be levied for the costs of promotion.
– I shall come to that. They will be levied for promotion costs, and they will have to dance to the tune played by the conference and later by the executive body, the Australian Wool Board. As I say, this treatment reminds us of the restrictive trade practices that we on this side of the House utterly detest, and which have been growing more and more widespread throughout Australia.
I believe that this legislation will constitute a nasty irritant throughout the wool industry. It will leave out a disgruntled group of growers who will feel that they have been unjustly treated. This will not be conducive to good relations in the industry. These growers will have every reason to feel disgruntled and unjustly treated.
For the life of me I cannot see how any one could consider these other two bodies sincere in making an effort to assist the future of the industry when they persist in keeping out the Australian Primary Producers Union. I am rather inclined to believe that they are thinking more of power than of the good of the wool industry as a whole.
– That is unkind.
– I do not think it is unkind. I also believe that the committee of inquiry effectively sidestepped the really important issue, the future of wool marketing. I believe that the future stability of the industry depends on the answer to the marketing question. The two accepted wool organizations have been at loggerheads on the question of marketing for quite a long time. The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation have clashed on the question of what is best for the industry in the matter of marketing. The federation has talked nearly all this year about a reserve price plan, which is in line with our policy on this side of the House, but which would be put to the growers by way of a referendum proposal. The council has been bitterly opposed to such a scheme. These two bodies, which are opposed to one another on the question of marketing, are now to run the industry jointly. I only hope they can smooth out their marketing differences very quickly, so that they can operate in unity and harmony.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) mentioned the Joint Organizataion and its great success in the last war, when it opened up completely new horizons on the marketing side. Many of the activities of that organization could still be usefully followed in this day and age. In this connexion I would like to refer to an article in “ Muster “, the New South Wales country newspaper, of 14th November of this year, which was only a few weeks ago. It said that the Graziers Association of New South Wales intended to recommend to the new Australian Wool Board that it institute an investigation as soon as possible of methods of marketing wool by acquisition or appraisal, and not by the floor price system. It said that the association realized something would have to be done quickly with regard to the marketing of wool. It feared unified buying by Japan. The article went on -
The full motion carried by the meeting was: That in view of the present marketing situation of wool and likely developments therein, this Association recommend to the proposed Australian Wool Board that it take action to secure, as soon as possible a full investigation of methods of marketing wool by acquisition or appraisal, with sales at fixed quoted and/or negotiated prices and on a guaranteed yield, based on core test . . .
The motion had been moved by Mr. B. G. L. Killen, who was reported in this article as making some very interesting comments. He referred to the committee of inquiry and was reported by the newspaper as follows: -
The Committee of Inquiry in its report said “ at present “ it did not recommend the implementation of alternative methods of marketing.
The “at present” was important, he said.
The Inquiry report also said it found some advantages in these other methods. “For some years I have felt that we woolgrowers have been facing a deteriorating market position,” Mr. Killen said. “ We are facing increasing competition from synthetics. “ The old saying ‘ There is no substitute for wool ‘ is now completely empty. “ In almost every field there is some substitute.” Recently, Mr. Vines-
Honorable members know that Mr. Vines is one of the leaders of the industry, now on the promotion side -
Recently, Mr. Vines had said that the auction system of marketing wool was the Achilles heel of the industry, Mr. Killen continued.
Experts agreed it was urgent that alternative methods of marketing wool should be investigated.
That is what we wanted the committee to do, but it tackled this problem of marketing only superficially. This article I have! been quoting from appeared in “ Muster “ of 14th November.
– That is a very reliable graziers’ journal.
– It certainly is. The article said that Mr. Killen went on to give some figures. It said -
He submitted the following table: -
In 1958-59 twenty buyers bought 48.5 per cent. of the greasy wool clip.
In 1959-60 twenty buyers bought 52.6 per cent. of the clip.
In 1960-61 twenty buyers bought 52.9 per cent. of the clip. “Obviously there is a gradual contraction of the number of buyers operating in the market,” he said.
That brings me to the matter of pies operating on an international scale. The trend is for the activities of pies to increase throughout the world, and we may reach the stage at which Japan may have only one buyer purchasing for all Japanese firms. Where is the competition in the face of that pie? That is why the industry is so very concerned about marketing. But the inquiry gave no lead on that aspect and that is one of its weaknesses. Now it has been left to this new organization to try to solve this difficult problem.
In the western district of Victoria, which includes the electorate of the honorable member for Wannon, there have been some interesting reports this year of meetings of the Victorian Wheat and Wool-growers Association. A Mr. A. C. Everett, a very outspoken man who does not beat around the bush, is one of the top men in the organization. When speaking at Hamilton, in Victoria, in March this year, he said that the committee had recommended everything except orderly marketing for the wool industry, which was the important thing. He urged wool-growers to reject the wool marketing inquiry entirely. He was very disappointed that many of the federation’s views were not accepted by the inquiry when he stated them in evidence. He then is reported in this way -
His conclusion was that the findings of the committee of inquiry were not in conformity with the evidence tendered by growers’ organizations, who made it clear that the real problem facing the industry was marketing legislation by means of a reserve price plan.
He believes in a reserve price plan. Apart from his views on that, he criticized the inquiry for not going far enough in relation to marketing. The Victorian Wheat and Wool-growers Association conference, which was held in Melbourne in March this year also expressed disapproval of the findings of the inquiry into wool marketing and promotion, particularly those in relation to marketing The report goes on -
The conference accepted the recommendation which provides for a wool industry conference of growers to elect a commission to control marketing, research and promotion. But this recommendation is only acceptable if provision is made for the industry conference to be elected by a democratic ballot of wool-growers and providing majority grower control is maintained in all divisions.
– That is the purpose of our amendment.
– That is right. This important body of wool-growers accepted the system provided that the conference was elected by the wool-growers in a democratic ballot. We are by-passing the conference and we claim that the six growers on the executive body, the Wool Board, should be elected by democratic vote of wool-growers throughout Australia, cutting right across organizational levels, wiping out in one fell swoop the bitterness that has existed between certain organizations and bringing the matter down to the grass roots of the industry - the men who grow the wool. They have intelligence. These 80,000 men who would have ten bales or more of wool would select the six men to form the executive of this organization in a court-controlled ballot, which is a ballot in the best sense of the word. What is wrong with that? In March this year the Victorian organization claimed that that should be done in relation to the conference. We are claiming now that it should be done in relation to the board. We propose the election of the members of the Wool Board by democratic vote. The growers have voted previously on similar issues. They all voted when the 1951 referendum was conducted.
We believe a weakness exists in that a great many candidates could stand for election to the six positions irrespective of the organization to which they belong. As long as a wool-grower produces ten bales he can be a candidate. In an attempt to prevent overloading, we suggest that each candidate’s nomination form be signed by twenty grower members of his organization. If the candidate were a member of the Australian Primary Producers Union his nomination form would have to be signed by twenty recognized grower members of the union who themselves are eligible for nomination. The same remarks apply to the graziers organization and to the federation. Probably twenty candidates would seek election to the six positions. Those twenty candidates would be able to tour Australia and to tell the true story to the growers. By doing this they would create a wider interest in the growers’ affairs. Candidates for election to the Parliament campaign vigorously throughout the electorate. People hear them on the air, see them at meetings and have personal contact with them. They get to know what the candidate stands for and what his programme and his policy are, so they take an interest in the election. A similar campaign by candidates for the six positions on the board would give a good deal of information to wool-growers that they are not getting now and would put them in touch with the top men.
One of my criticisms of this industry is that the men on the bottom are not hearing enough of what is going on at the top. It is a top-heavy organization intellectually in the sense that Sir William Gunn, Mr. Vines and the others belong to a bureau. They are living in a different world from that of the ordinary grower. They have very little contact with the growers. Sir William Gunn swept through the country when he was seeking an increased levy. He did a wonderful job in convincing the growers that they should pay a levy of 10s. a bale, but how many of the growers have seen him since then? The ordinary grower can find out what is going on only by reading the newspapers.
The system of election which we advocate would bring the leaders of the industry down to the grass roots. It would bring them face to face with the men who should have a say in the industry’s activities. In my electorate lives Mr. Ernest Mills who is the president of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation. He flies his own plane to meetings all over Tasmania. He has addressed 20, 30, or 40 meetings in this way. This illustrates my point about the leaders meeting the men at the bottom.
– He would be an acquisition to the board.
– Yes, he would be. He would be able to get around much more quickly than some of the others would. I have mentioned this case as an indication of the way in which the leaders of one group of wool-growers can meet the grower himself face to face. The industry has lacked public relations between the grass roots and the men at the top. When men reach a position of importance in an industry they are liable to get a swelled head and to think, “ Now that I am here I shall be here for a long time so I need not worry about contacting the members of my organization who are at the grass roots “.
– That would not happen if he had to be elected to his position.
– If he had to be elected he would be sure to contact the ordinary men. We claim that the ordinary men in the industry should have the right to say who will be at the top. The Victorian Wheat and Wool-growers Association has made some very pertinent comments on this. I have mentioned them already.
– I thought you were supporting the Australian Primary Producers Union.
– I am supporting the Australian Primary Producers Union in its battle to have a voice. We shall not interfere with the conference at this stage and will allow the present constitution of 25 members from the graziers organization and 25 from the federation to remain unaltered. Amendments can be made in later years, so we shall by-pass the conference and remove from the conference the right to elect the six members of the board. The growers are going to elect the six. At that rate, the Australian Primary Producers Union has an equal chance with the other three of getting representation on the six. At the present moment they have two chances of getting representation on the conference or the six - Buckley’s and none. That is our view.
– What about the members of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation? They grow the finest wool in the world.
– I am coming to that. This bill provides for the Wool Industry Conference to decide the extent of the levy which at present is 10s. a bale. There is a move to have this increased to £1 a bale. About 25,000 Australian Primary Producers Union members will have to pay this levy, including any increase, although they have no representation on the conference which fixes the levy. This is taxation without representation, as my colleague from Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) stated to-night, and as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) also said to-night. We are saying, in effect, that it is not fair to the growers that they should have to pay the whole £1 on every bale. We suggest that the bill be withdrawn. Here I answer the criticism by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) of the honorable member for Lalor. The Opposition has moved that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that this levy be matched by a payment of 10s. from the Federal Government. It would cost us about £2,500,000 a year to help in the promotional side of the mighty industry from which we jet 40 per cent, of our overseas income. All that we are asking the Government to provide is £2,500,000 to match the £2,500,000 contributed by the growers. That would give £5,000,000, and the growers would not have to pay another penny by way of levy. This move was supported by the General Council of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, according to “ Muster “ of 14th November. An article in “Muster” reads as follows: -
ASSOCIATION WANTS PROMOTION TO BE SUBSIDIZED.
The General Council of the Graziers Association of New South Wales will seek a subsidy for wool promotion. It will ask for a subsidy of a £1 for £1 from the Federal Government.
The Opposition is putting that proposal forward to-night. In Tasmania, we have the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, with 6,000 to 7,000 members engaged in all branches of agriculture. It has a big proportion of wool-growers. I think that members of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation produce 65 per cent, of Tasmanian wool, which is among the best in the world. None of those growers will be represented on the new organization because the Tasmanian Farmers Federation is affiliated with the Australian Primary Producers Union. I feel that it is completely unjust to have a big group of growers in one State voiceless concerning the future planning of the Australian industry of which they are a vital part. That is one reason why the Opposition is so critical of the failure to give representation to the Australian Primary Producers Union. We have our reservations about that body. We have not agreed with everything it has done during its fourteen years of existence, but, overcoming any prejudices that we may have towards this organization, we are advocating that it should have a voice, one way or the other, in this matter. That is why we are moving this amendment. The problems of this industry are too big to permit of 25 per cent, of the growers being unrepresented and voiceless on the conference or on the Australian Wool Board.
On the manufacturing side of the industry, there is a need for a lot of assistance from the new organization. The Minister for Primary Industry referred to this fact in his speech. Three members of the Wool Board will be from manufacturing and textile industries and other sections of related industries - the outer fringe. I believe that a good deal more research will be needed on the manufacturing side to help sell our wool products in Australia and overseas. It is a good thing to have this assignment committed to the new organization.
We hope that the Government will give consideration to the Opposition’s proposals in another place if it is not prepared to accept them in this House. It will be funny if, when the bill gets to the Senate, it is defeated. It could be defeated, and I hope that it will be defeated in its present form. I hope that the Government will take note of that. There are some on the Government side of the Senate who are bitterly disappointed with the omission of 25 per cent, of the wool-growers of Australia. The senators concerned have voted against the Government before and they could do so again. I hope that they will do so, so that this bill can be withdrawn and the kind of justice written into it for which we are asking to-night.
.- At the outset, I should like to congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on the fulfilment of a task that he set himself to. [Quorum formed.] The introduction of the Wool Industry Bill represents the culmination of many months of hard work. I pay tribute to him for producing something which has been requested by the wool industry and which meets with the approval of that industry. This legislation fills a long-felt want. The wool industry has had a pretty bad time in many ways, but its worth to Australia has been recognized on both sides of the House. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), speaking on behalf of the Opposition, told us how valuable this industry is to Australia, particularly in providing export earnings. I am very sorry to say that I feel that he was not making his points entirely out of sympathy for the wool industry, but rather from a political point of view. That is borne out by the fact that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said that he hoped this bill would be thrown out. The Minister has been battling to get the bill into the House for the benefit of the wool industry, yet the honorable member for Wilmot has said that he hopes that it will be thrown out. This would put back by many months the possibility of having such a measure passed. The honorable member for Lalor has moved an amendment which contains the following words: -
That all words after “that” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: -
The “ following words “, summed up, offer a matching contribution from the Commonwealth.
– Are you against that?
– I say that that is an attempt to bribe the wool industry. The Opposition proposes that we put aside the legislation before us. The bribe is that the industry will get a couple of millions of pounds from the Commonwealth Government. That government will be formed, Opposition members hope, by the Australian Labour Party. The parties on this side of the House, however, know what the industry really wants and accept responsibility for introducing legislation that will do what the industry really wants. I suggest to any one who has doubts about the attitude of the Labour Party that the representatives of that party in this Parliament are merely playing politics and ignoring the wishes of the producers in the wool industry. The producers have asked for legislation of the kind now before us. They want it, but the Opposition merely seeks to play politics with them. Speaker after speaker on the Opposition side of the chamber has said, with his tongue in his cheek, how valuable this industry is and how much Australia depends on it. While I listened to the remarks of Opposition members, I had in my mind a vivid recollection of the way in which, only yesterday, in this House, the Opposition did its best to deny the people who are resident in the outback parts of the States, and who are the backbone of the wool industry, representation in this Parliament adequate for their needs and commensurate with the important part that they play in the Australian economy.
Opposition members, whenever they say what Labour will do to help rural industries, are merely playing party politics, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During the general election campaign in 1961, the Australian Labour Party submitted a plan for a secret ballot of producers for the establishment of some marketing scheme which was not defined. That proposal was made at a time when the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry had not even been made public. At the request of the industry, this Government established that committee for the purpose of conducting an inquiry into wool marketing, but, before the committee could tell us the result of its inquiries, the Opposition was trying to bribe the people of Australia by promising the wool industry a plan under which there was to be a compulsory ballot to determine whether a marketing scheme - a scheme which was not even outlined - was to be adopted.. I describe that sort of thing as an attempt at political bribery. [Quorum formed.]
Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is a remarkable thing that most Opposition members, whenever I tell them a few home truths, walk out of the chamber and leave one of their number to call for a quorum in an effort to prevent me from giving the House a few more facts about what is going on. I repeat that, during the election campaign, the Australian Labour Party promised the producers a scheme for a compulsory ballot on an undefined marketing scheme although the producers had never asked for such a ballot. Furthermore, as I have said, Labour made this proposal even before the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry appointed by this Government at the request of the producers had beer released to the public. This is plain humbug. The amendment proposed by the Opposition merely represents an attempt to bribe the producers, not with Commonwealth money, as it may appear, but with the producers’ own money. Most graziers pay pretty heavy taxes, and, as a result of the increase in taxes that will be necessary to meet the cost of Labour’s proposals, the graziers will really be paying the cost themselves. The wool industry knows what it wants and has said what it wants. It has expressed its views to the Minister for Primary Industry, who has very faithfully carried out the industry’s request.
I should like very briefly to outline the history of the wool industry in Australia. Before I do so, I should like to say that the Wool Industry Bill is so straightforward, and the understanding of it is such plain sailing, as to make unnecessary a lengthy explanation of the reasons why it should be agreed to. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said that he hoped that the bill would not be agreed to. He is content to see the wool industry wait a great deal longer for what it needs. Obviously, the honorable member is not interested in the welfare of the industry.
The honorable member for Lalor reminded us that, during the two world wars, some form of organized marketing was adopted. The impression that I gained from his remarks was that he would like to see organized marketing controlled by some government, preferably a Labour government. I think I am right in saying that that is the honorable member’s view. No doubt, he would like to see organized marketing, because that would fill the bill for the Australian Labour Party, which wishes to compel people to do all sorts of things. The Minister for Primary Industry, and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who had administrative responsibility for the wool industry when he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, always work on the principle of trying to give the industry what it wants and needs.
The grazing industry has a chequered history and a proud tradition. Its roots go back to the very beginnings of our nation, when early settlers in this country brought sheep here from England, Spain and other places, improved the breeds and the pastures, and pioneered the grazing country. Later, people who engaged in grazing on a smaller scale went out, cleared the scrub and then ran stock on the land, and this sort of development is still going on. People such as this have developed the wool industry to its present standards by careful selection and breeding of stock and by careful husbandry of their flocks. Australia for a great many years has been proud of its wool industry and will continue to take great pride in it. In fairness, an industry such as this should be able to say to the Government: “ You can do for us certain things which we cannot do for ourselves. We ask you to do those things for us. They will hurt no one else. In fact, they will benefit every one.” In effect, that is what the industry has said to the Government. However, the Australian Labour Party does not like that sort of thing. That party adopts the socialist idea of trying, for political purposes, to force an industry to do something whether or not the industry likes it. That is the principle by which the Labour Party always works. [Quorum formed.] I thank the Opposition for paying me the compliment of bringing its members into the House while I am speaking. Apparently they did not like what I was saying and left the chamber. I notice that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is walking out now. Of course, he is quite entitled to do so.
Over the years, the wool industry has been bedevilled with far too many organizations. In earlier years, its organizations fought for the industry. Then came the 1951-52 boom, which brought about a set of conditions that were most unfavorable to the industry in the long run. Wool-growers made a great deal of money during those years, but unfortunately the price of stock and land went up. When the boom burst and the price of wool fell, the price of stock and land did not fall at a commensurate rate. That is one of the causes of the problems facing the industry to-day. The price of wool now is low but costs are high. Accordingly, the wool industry finds that it will have to adopt different methods to dispose of the clip. There is nothing wrong with the production of wool and there never has been; but there is obviously something wrong with the method of sale of the clip. This bill attempts to correct this position.
At the request of the graziers’ organizations, an attempt was made to get some information. As I have said, the Government set up a committee to inquire into the problems bedevilling the wool industry. At much the same time, the organizations themselves realized that until they could speak with one voice and in that way make their requests to the Government - a sympathetic government in this instance - they would not succeed. They realized that they would have to get more concentration amongst themselves. On 24th October of this year, the Australian Wool Industry Conference was established. The various organizations that claim to represent the wool industry have been reduced to two. Some have been formed into the conference and we have one other organization, to which I will refer later, that is not a member of the conference. This was a major step forward. Under this bill, the conference will be recognized as a body representing the grazing interests of Australia.
The bill also provides that the Australian Wool Board will take over the functions of the Australian Wool Bureau, the Wool Research Committee and the Australian Wool Testing Authority. The Wool Testing Authority, which is not very well known to the general public, has done very valuable work. It was established by this Government some years ago and its work is appreciated. The Wool Research Committee has done work of tremendous value not only in research into wool but also in research into sheep diseases and similar matters. The Australian Wool Bureau has done a remarkably fine job of promotion. It is believed that by concentrating these three bodies under the one roof, as it were, better results will be achieved.
There will also be another job facing the board, and that will be to investigate the problems associated with marketing. There are also delicate matters between the graziers themselves as to whether they should have an auction system, a floor price system or an appraisement system. I remind the House that when the honorable member for Lalor spoke so strongly in favour of orderly marketing, he mentioned two schemes which operated in two world wars. Conditions are entirely different to-day.
– Both of them operated after two world wars.
– They were operated during two world wars.
– After two world wars.
– The honorable member for Lalor has already spoken. I hope he will allow me to speak now. Both schemes operated during two world wars. They operated at a time when there would be no possibility of a sale of wool in the circumstances existing at the time. Of course they were successful, but the conditions to-day are entirely different. I do not want to canvass this subject. It is a subject on which many people have many opinions. However, the establishment of the Australian Wool Board will provide an opportunity for a full investigation of the possibilities of these schemes under to-day’s conditions. That is another reason why the wool-growers want this bill to be passed without delay.
Other matters, such as the classing of the clip, are exercising the minds of growers to-day. I repeat what I said before, that the wool industry wants this bill. It has been produced by the Minister at the express wish of the industry. No fault is found with it by the industry. Only one other point can be raised and that is a point on which, apparently, the Opposition is basing its amendments. I refer to the position of the Australian Primary Producers Union. It has been said that the union has been refused entry into the Australian Wool Industry Conference. It has also been said that the two organizations in the conference have refused to have anything to do with the union. That must be entirely hearsay. I do not doubt that honorable members who have spoken on these lines have done so quite sincerely and have based their views on what they have been told. But there is no evidence before the House that the union has been refused entry into the conference. It could be that there has been some disagreement; but the major achievement is the bringing together of all the other organizations in the industry.
The honorable member for Wilmot said there was no chance of the union being recognized by the conference. I do not say that he has deliberately misquoted the constitution of the conference, but he certainly did not give all the facts, which show that the union can become a member of the conference.
– Do you think the union should be recognized?
– I am relating exactly what your colleague, the honorable member for Wilmot, said. He said, in effect, that it was impossible for the Australian Primary Producers Union to join the conference because a two-thirds majority of the voting strength of the conference was required before the union could be admitted.
– That is right.
– I am sorry that the Opposition is so grossly in error over this matter. If honorable members opposite read the constitution they will find the following provision under “Admission of New Member Organizations “ -
Admission of a new Member Organization shall be subject to the followng procedure:
The procedure is then set out. It states-
– I think you are lost.
– No, I am not lost.
– It requires a two-thirds majority.
– If the honorable member for Lalor looks at sub-section (ii) of section 6 on page 2, he will find the following provision: -
Any motion for the admission of an organization to membership shall be subject to the procedure required for an amendment of this Constitution.
Section 31, sub-section (ii), at page 7 provides -
The Australian Wool-growers’ and Graziers’ Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation give an undertaking that, after the first Annual Meeting of the Conference, they will meet in three years’ time to review the Constitution of the Conference. At this meeting, voting on any alterations to the Constitution will be by simple majority.
The simple position is that if the Australian Primary Producers Union wants to join the conference, it must make application in accordance with the rules of the conference, which requires that acceptance of a nomination be by a simple majority. I suggest that here again the honorable member has been guilty of making a misleading statement, although I do not suggest that it was made deliberately.
I appreciate what the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) said about the position of the Australian Primary Producers Union. He said that he did not want this bill to suffer because of a difference of opinion concerning the union. I have every sympathy with those members living in the south-eastern portion of Australia. Where I come from, the Australian Primary Producers Union is relatively unknown. It claims that it has 25,000 wool-grower members out c»f 100,000 wool-growers growing ten bales or more a year. But one thing has been over- looked: The members of each organization probably belong to more than one organization. I suggest that the figure of 25,000 probably represents the maximum number of growers that would belong to the Australian Primary Producers Union, and that possibly 50 per cent, or 60 per cent, of those belong to the other organizations. The same reasoning applies conversely. It is unrealistic to claim that a certain number of members belong to any one organization in this industry. I pay a tribute to the honorable member for Wannon. The fair thing to do is to say that this is a very good bill. It has been produced at the request of the wool industry. The Opposition has attempted to sidetrack the bill by moving an amendment to defer the second reading. The Opposition’s action looks suspiciously like a bribe to the graziers, promising that there will be some alteration to the bill in the committee stages.
Many things could be said about this measure. I congratulate the Minister on bringing it down at the request of the industry. I know that this legislation is desired by the industry. I know that the industry will appreciate what the Minister has done. I am sure also that this House will pass the bill without further delay.
.- We have just been listening to the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes). I am convinced that we will not have to suffer him for much longer. The Administrator of the Northern Territory will be back in the electorate of Lawson at the next elections.
Twelve months ago I found myself on the hustings in the blue, ribbon electorate of Hume, fighting the Australian Country Party in one of the greatest wool-growing areas in Australia. I am proud to say that many wool-growers fought for my return to this Parliament. I recall one little place called Bigga where 116 persons voted for the Country Party candidate in 1958 and 114 voted for me. At the last elections I improved my figures in Bigga. That area comprises nothing but wealthy wool-growers.
This bill deals with Australia’s greatest wealth-producing industry. The legislation gives effect to certain recommendations of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry. It is a condemnation of the Government that the introduction of this bill provides the first and only opportunity that honorable members have had to discuss the committee’s report. The report was tabled in the House on 8th March. Since then the woolgrowers of Australia have been waiting for a clear lead from the Government, but they have not received it. It is a sad commentary on the state of the Country Party that no official opinion on the recommendations one way or the other has come from this party, which claims to represent country interests. That claim is the greatest myth and fraud ever perpetrated on country people, and they are coming to realize it very quickly. I am glad to say that the electors of Hume have already realized that this claim is a myth and a fraud. That is why I am in this Parliament to-night.
It is all very well for the Leader of the Country Party to complain that country representation in this Parliament is dwindling because of changing population patterns. The fact of the matter is that if it were left to Country Party members in this House, the real interests of the country people would not be represented at all. The central fact about the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry is that the grower will be left at the mercy of forces organized to depress prices. Although the committee recognizes the injury which those forces can inflict, it recommends no protective measures and it rejects, without exception, every plan put to it to strengthen the position of the seller. The Government used the committee to stall, until after the 1961 elections, the request of wool organizations for a ballot on the vital issue of a reserve price. Having sidetracked that request by the device of a committee of inquiry, the Government obtained the kind of report that it sought, namely, one which suits every overseas buying organization benefiting by manipulating the Australian wool market.
Ninety thousand wool-growers will surely find no satisfaction in the prospect of continuing to be held to ransom by overseas moneyed interests - by the free auction system designed to depress wool prices. The Labour Party when returned to power will recognize the full right of the wool-growers to decide the method by which their wool shall be marketed. The Labour Party is pledged to hold a poll of growers on the question of a reserve price auction, which we believe a large majority of growers desire. This right of the growers should be untrammelled, whereas it appears that the Government is again determined to destroy any reserve price plan, just as it did ten years ago in the interests of big wool-buyers, who are its real friends.
A study of the committee’s report shows that although it contains 270 pages and voluminous information, it makes no contribution to the problem of a payable price for wool, which is most urgent both for the growers and for the Australian people, who may already have lost some £500,000,000 in the absence of such a marketing scheme, since every penny per lb. fall in the price of wool costs £7,000,000 in export income. The fears expressed when the membership of the committee was announced have been more than justified, for the Government, indeed, obtained exactly the report it sought.
The recommendation that the existing free auction system be maintained without any protective measures is staggering, in the light of all the evidence of the abuse to which that system is open and the committee’s recognition of these abuses. Indeed the committee, over and over again in its report, recognized the existence of these abuses. It finds that stabilization of prices would be an advantage to the industry, that pies do exist and that they depress the market and that the present system of wool auctions does leave the grower in a vulnerable position should further concentrations of buying occur. There are many other such references, but in every case the committee promptly proceeds’ to administer a soporific. While the committee admits that pies depress the market, it claims that the effect is not great, even though the extent to which prices are reduced cannot be determined. It says that centralized national buying has not yet become so farreaching as to justify measures to counter it, and so on.
The general value of the report as a guide to growers may be judged by the statement of the committee that it could not ascertain the extent to which wool prices are artificially reduced. The fact is that the committee was helpless to probe these matters, lacking power either to compel the attendance of witnesses or to ensure the production of documents. Yet the committee never at any stage sought to obtain this power. The opinion is unavoidable, from a study of the report, that the committee was far too receptive of the opinions of overseas wool-buying interests which it consulted everywhere on its tour overseas, while it failed even to visit New Zealand or South Africa to examine the operation of the reserve price systems in those countries. While the committee could not avoid recognizing the actual and potential aggregation of wool-buying power overseas and the possibilities inherent in centralized national buying, its extraordinary complacency is akin to seeing a bush fire blowing up, but recommending that no action is needed until the farm is surrounded.
When the development of unitary buying arrangements, in blocs of countries such as the Communist bloc, is plain to see and the danger of future centralized buying for the European Common Market is apparent, the money and time lost in producing this futile report - futile in the vital marketing sector - represent a near tragedy for both the wool-growers and the Australian people. The Australian Labour Party will adhere to the wool-marketing policy which it set out fully in its recent election campaign. It will give the growers themselves every opportunity to bring about the re-establishment of a statutory woolmarketing organization providing for a reserve price system similar to the war-time Joint Organization plan, which ultimately paid nearly £100,000,000 profit to the growers. In particular a Labour government will guarantee, through the Commonwealth Bank, £25,000,000 towards the financing of such a system.
If this Government went to the country to-morrow it would be swept out of office. Twelve months ago I found myself on the hustings in the electorate of Hume, fighting the Country Party in one of the greatest wool-growing areas of Australia. I am proud to say that although I represent one of the closest borderline electorates I found many wool-growers fighting for my return to this Parliament. At the first opportunity that presents itself the Government will go overboard.
I challenge members of the Country Party and of the Liberal Party to tell us of one act that they have placed on the statute-book of this country and which is in the interests of the primary producers of Australia. What happened to the woolgrowers during the war years when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) sold the total wool clip of his country for the duration of the war for 13.54d. per lb. is fresh in my mind. We know exactly what happened. Thanks to the Labour Party, when it came into power the agreement was made which set up the Joint Organization and which returned several hundred millions of pounds to this country. That money would have been lost to_Australia had it not been for the incoming of the Labour Government at that time. Sufficient has been said by the spokesman of the Labour Party, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), on these vital questions to-night. We realize that we do represent country interests and we realize, too, that wool is part and parcel of the credit of this country.
Wool-growing was a down-trodden interest when the Liberal-Country Party Government was previously in power and it was lifted and put on its feet by the Labour Government. The same applies to every other primary industry of this country. As I said a moment ago, our case on these vital matters of primary production has been stated by the honorable member for Lalor and by my friend the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), so there is no need for me to delay these proceedings. I know full well that when I am once again called upon to go to the country I will fare just as I did on the last occasion. I understand the fears of the Country Party group in the corner because at last the country people have wakened up to who represents their interests. Having said that, I desire to say nothing more.
.- Mr. Speaker, this legislation sets out to put Australia’s most valuable industry on a business footing. One would not have thought so from some of the speeches we have heard to-night. In effect, these measures will supply a suitable board of directors to conduct the industry’s affairs. [Quorum formed.] This is an attempt to overcome the problems caused by the differing views of wool-growing organizations on such questions as marketing, promotion and research. Wool is a product that demands a ready sale because of its many virtues. But securing a payable price is a different proposition altogether. This can be seriously affected by lack of unity and disagreement among those in charge of the destiny of the industry, and I am afraid it has been.
Too often the rival organizations have been more interested in retaining office than in conducting the affairs of the industry in the best interests of the producers. The politics of the wool industry have been tough and rugged to the point where the ruling body to-day, the Australian Wool Bureau, has often been more preoccupied by internal squabbles, in which the two factions who made up the bureau took opposing views, than in carrying out the job it was appointed to do.
Steadily declining prices indicated that some reorganization was necessary, and eventually the industry asked for a committee of inquiry into the present system of marketing and promotion. The excellent report of the committee has eventually provided the material on which the legislation that we are now considering has been devised. In all respects, except one, the provisions made are excellent.
Reorganization of the industry is achieved mainly by grouping the management of its various functions under a single authority. The Wool Bureau, the Research Committee and the Wool Testing Authority, together with a new marketing committee, are all to be embraced in a new body of eleven members, to be known as the Australian Wool Board. But the foundation of the new board, with six grower representatives, remains the same as that of the old bureau. Instead of the two recognized organizations nominating three members each, they now go through a curious process of electing six members by a conference consisting of 25 members nominated by each organization. This so-called conference must be one of the greatest confidence tricks ever used to hoodwink a Minister into believing that he was getting a true expression of industry opinion. The Minister called it in his second-reading speech “ the national forum of woolgrowers “, and later in the same speech he called for the inclusion of “other organizations under the terms set down”. He was referring to the constitution of the conference. He said that agreement between all organizations would “ enable a complete industry voice to be expressed through the! conference “. Sir, in these words he admitted that this conference is not a forum of wool-growers.
Let us examine some of the background of this conference. There are only three federal organizations claiming to represent wool-growers. Each of them submitted evidence to the committee of inquiry. There were twenty other organizations that submitted evidence, but each of these is associated with one or other of the principal three. One of these, the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, in its evidence to the inquiry made the first reference to the setting up of an overall authority, and in doing so it acknowledged Mr. Stan Gleeson, who is chairman of the Federal Wool Commodity Section of the Australian Primary Producers Union, as the originator of the idea. Indeed, at Mr. Gleeson’s suggestion it was adopted by the Victorian division of the A.P.P.U. as far back as 1960 before the setting up of the committee of inquiry, and later it became federal policy. Apparently the committee liked the idea. It asked the other federal organizations to express an opinion on it, and they were quick to adopt it and now present it as if it was their own idea.
But whatever the actual steps that have been taken, the plan has now been adopted. My only concern is the dubious way in which this authority, now called the board, is to be elected. Clearly some form of election by wool-growers had to be provided. It could be argued that the democratic proposition would be to have a complete ballot of all growers of over five or ten bales of wool, or perhaps based on a certain number of sheep. This is foreshadowed in the amendment of the Opposition. [Quorum formed.]
If we conducted a full ballot of all woolgrowers, we could certainly ensure that only wool-growers would have a voice in the election of their board of management. But such a system would be extremely clumsy to operate and it would involve intolerable delay in the present conditions and set-up of the industry. It could produce some very queer results. For instance, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, which has the fewest members but handles by far the greatest quantity of wool of all these organizations, might be left without any voice at all. Obviously some sort of electoral college had to be thought up, and so the idea of the conference emerged.
The committee of inquiry pointed out -
The primary difficulty is to secure that the members of that body would act and vote freely, and not subject to the dictates of any organization.
The council and the federation at first suggested that the conference should be composed of twenty members from each of the two organizations. The committee pointed out -
The obvious danger in this suggestion is that the conference may be split into factions on an organization basis and perpetuate the unhappy situation which has obtained in the Wool Bureau.
For the purpose of emphasis I shall repeat those last words, “perpetuate the unhappy situation which has obtained in the Wool Bureau”. The committee said, further -
To meet the danger it was suggested (by the committee), that representatives of other organizations should be added to the 40, but the federation and the council could reach no agreement on this point.
The report indicates that the executives of the federation and the council are fully conscious of this danger and of this defect in the set-up of the Wool Bureau. Yet we find that this defect is to be perpetuated under the provisions of the bill now before us. It seems also that the curious idea is held that the twenty appointees would be spread over the constituent body of each organization, not just the central junta, and that they would not vote en bloc. This is manifestly absurd; each organization will vote a ticket, or more likely, the organizations will agree to have three members each. [Quorum formed.]
The committee saw the obvious flaw in this argument, although the Minister refused to do so. It said -
We have some doubt in this matter and would prefer that there should be on the conference some representatives of other organizations to neutralize bloc action.
However, it saw some difficulties in this because of the traditional recognition of the council and the federation, but it stated, very properly -
It would be open to the Government to cause to be introduced into the conference representatives of other organizations.
It is a pity that the committee did not actually name the Australian Primary Producers Union as the other organization, but obviously only that union can fill the suggested role. The committee recognized this fact in pagaraph 664 -
There are three voluntary non-statutory federal associations of wool-growers, the council, the federation and the union.
Having in mind this kind of background, I think it was fair for the union to assume that the Minister would give the fullest consideration to its request for inclusion in the first conference when he set it up. I think it was fair also for the union, and for many members of this Parliament, to assume that the Minister himself would set up the conference and not have it foisted on him by these two vested interests.
It came as a bit of a surprise to me to read in the daily newspapers on 1st November, that the wool conference had been set up, and later to find, in the definitions contained in the bill, that the conference means the organization known as the Australian Wool Industry Conference which was formed on the 24th day of October, 1962. On 23rd October, the Minister informed a meeting of the federal council of the Australian Primary Producers Union, here in Canberra, that a non-statutory body was to be set up. The union clearly expected that it would be given the opportunity to take part in the formation of such a body. On 23rd October, a representative of the union went to Melbourne, where both the council and the federation were conducting meetings, to seek a joint approach to this problem of forming a conference. He was informed that he was too late. Yet we find that the date given in the bill for the formation of the conference was 24th October.
I believe that the acceptance of this creation of the council and the federation means that a grave injustice is being done to a large section of wool-growers. I do not mean the big boys, because many of the people for whom I speak are those who produce five, ten or twenty bales of wool a year. They are men for whom wool represents their main source of income. There are some 25,000 of these in five States who are sufficiently dissatisfied with the performance of the leaders of the council and the federation to pay an annual subscription to another producer organization to further their interests.
I think it may be useful if at this stage I give some figures showing the membership of the wool section of the Australian Primary Producers Union in the various States. They are as follows: -
This gives a total of 24,264 wool-producing members, out of a total membership of the union, covering all commodities, of 49,766. It will be noted that I have not mentioned Queensland. In that State the union has not made any concerted drive for membership, because there is one organization in Queensland that the growers are satisfied is working on their behalf and is quite capable of representing them
Sitting suspended from 11 to 11.30 p.m.
– The Minister has said that the A.P.P.U., as an organization, is spread over a wide range of primary products whereas the major organizations, as he calls them, cater specifically for the wool industry. This is a deliberate perversion of the truth because he has been given proof that the 25,000 members of the A.P.P.U. have all indicated that wool is their major industry and that the A.P.P.U. is the only organization in which members are segregated into commodity sections. No one other than a wool-grower can have any say in policy or policymaking. The A.P.P.U. is the only organization in which the members pay a direct subscription to the parent body and in which executive positions are voted for by members of only one organization. However, the council and the federation both consist of loose associations and neither of them has any specialized section to deal only with wool.
The council and the federation have themselves highlighted the obvious fact that they do not fully represent the woolgrowers. Knowing that they cannot keep the affairs of the industry within their own close grasp on a basis of reason and balanced argument, they have set up this so-called conference without any authority on which to base its membership. They have given it a constitution in which is included provision for the admission of new member organizations. The conditions laid down will be quite difficult to comply with, and as acceptance of a new organization requires a majority of two-thirds of the members of the conference present, any one organization will be able to keep a feared rival out indefinitely if it so desires. This can only be regarded as political window dressing.
I was struck by the definition in the constitution of “ a member organization “. It is in these terms -
A member organization means any organization . . comprising organizations established in four or more States which are primarily concerned with the development and promotion of the woolgrowing industry in such State . . . and which meet together on a national level.
According to this definition I should think that the rules debar the federation from being a constituent member of the’ conference. The federation consists of the following organizations: - The Queensland Selectors Association, the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association, the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association, the South Australian Wheat and Wool Growers Association, and the Farmers Union of Western Australia. Inclusion of the word “ primarily “ in the constitution rules those organizations out and makes the wool commodity section of the union a logical contender for the first priority in the formation of the conference.
– Would you repeat your statement that what I said was a deliberate perversion of the truth?
– The federation which claims to be primarily concerned with wool first gained representation on the Wool Bureau and now has gained representation on the Australian Wool Board. The federation which claims to be primarily concerned with meat gains representation on the Australian Meat Board. There is also some peculiar process by which the constituent members of the federation are also affiliated with the Australian Wheatgrowers Association.
– I have asked you to repeat the previous statement which you made.
– I have not the time to argue this matter with the Minister at present. Surely he cannot prefer a vaguely organized body such as the federation to a specialized body like the A.P.P.U. whose wool commodity section has proved its singleness of purpose and concern for the welfare of wool producers.
– When you make charges of perversion you should prove your statement.
– I have not the time now to argue. This conference has been allotted a tremendously important role in the new set-up which is designed specifically to advance the welfare of the wool industry. The Minister has enumerated its functions. They are, first, to nominate the representatives of the wool-growers on the board, and it is given the right of recall at any time; secondly, to consult with the Minister and to submit a panel of five names for the three “other members” of the board, so those members as well as the producer members will be controlled; thirdly, to recommend the maximum rate of levy to be collected from the wool-growers to finance the board’s activities; fourthly, to decide the actual operative rate of levy; fifthly, to consult with the Minister on the appointment of the first chairman, and sixthly, to consult with the Wool Board in respect of its activities. This last activity is described in the submission to the Minister as being to review the activities of the board biannually, which I claim to be an entirely different interpretation from the one which the Minister has given us.
These functions are of such a vital character that it would be entirely in the best interests of the Australian wool-growers and the future attainment of unity among primary producer organizations for the wool conference to start its operations by embracing the three organizations which comply with the specifications of a federal woolgrowers’ organization which have been given to us. The failure to include the A.P.P.U. in the conference has struck a damaging blow at the moves which have been going on for such a long time for unity among primary producer organizations. These have been progressing extremely well and this is a blow at the very roots of the work which has been done.
I appeal to the Minister even at this late stage to take action, which we know is within his power to take, to inform the council and the federation that the Government requires the inclusion of the A.P.P.U. in the conference so that it may in truth present what he called a complete industry voice and give full coverage of growers in the first election of the new Australian Wool Board.
.- First of all let me say how very pleased I am that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) led the debate on this bill for the Opposition. No one is better informed on these matters than he is, although what he has to say at times is coloured by his experience and by his political convictions. When we have to reply to the honorable member we have to reply to a man who has applied himself to a study of primary industries and who has been closely associated with them for a great many years. I am very glad, too, that I follow the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) because I find it necessary to inform him of some of our own activities. [Quorum formed.]
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim to have been misrepresented.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. I call the Minister for Social Services.
– I was wrongly blamed for calling a quorum.
– That is right. It was I who called it.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, when the quorum was called I was saying that I was very pleased to be following the honorable member for McMillan in this debate. Let me say straight away that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is to be congratulated, not only upon the splendid purposes which will be served when this legislation becomes effective, but also on the success which has attended his efforts to bring a degree of unanimity to the accredited organizations representing our greatest industry at the federal level, the national level and the international level. The terms, “ federal level “, “ national level “ and “ international level “, need some explanation, particularly for the honorable member for McMillan, and I hope to provide it. No other Minister for Primary Industry and no other Minister responsible for primary industry departmentally under any other title has ever succeeded in composing the differences which have divided these organizations for more than 30 years. No one knows that better than the honorable member for Lalor.
The purpose of these bills is to coordinate and to consolidate a variety of functions exclusive to the wool industry under the one statutory authority. Instead of having an Australian Wool Bureau, which has to do with wool promotion a Wool Production Research Advisory Committee, which has to act in an advisory capacity on wool research, and an Australian Wool Testing Authority, which is engaged in the technical testing of wool and wool products, all with separate and exclusive responsibilities, there will be an Australian Wool Board with the comprehensive responsibility to continue the work that is being done by those three instrumentalities, together with the additional and most important responsibility to subject all aspects of wool marketing to a constant and critical examination in the interests of the producers, to ensure that the marketing system can measure up to the changing circumstances of modern society.
It is at this point that I must refer to the history of the agricultural and pastoral organizations of our country. It is necessary for me to remind honorable members that it antedates federation. The honorable member for Lalor referred to that organizational history, and he could have been pardoned if he had gone back to the very beginning of it. Prior to federation, when the State parliaments were the only legislative authorities in our country, there were even then a number and a variety of agricultural and pastoral organizations in all the six States. They made their representations from time to time to their respective State governments, but they had no contact with any other government and little or no contact with any other organization. That was the state of affairs at that time.
These State organizations appeared to be adequate for all industrial purposes. Although they changed their names and their constitutions from time to time, and although they were superseded from time to time, they continued to function as State organizations - and usually as commodity organizations - long after the six States of the Commonwealth had federated at the beginning of the century, when each successive Federal Government was placed in the most unenviable position of having to consider representations from a number of State organizations, frequently in conflict, in all six States of the Commonwealth. That unhappy state of affairs continued for the first twenty-odd years of federation. In desperation, and with the approval of successive Commonwealth Governments, regardless of their political character, the State organizations, representative of the major primary industries, recognized and acknowledged, with experience, that if confusion were to be less confounded, federations would have to be formed for the exclusive purpose of making representations to the Federal Government on interstate and international issues.
In the meantime, largely because of our geography and the isolation of a great many of our major primary industries, the State organizations had become particularly interested in particular commodities. As a direct consequence, the federal organizations, when they came to be formed, became commodity in character, covering all the major primary industries. There was the wool industry, spread throughout the Commonwealth but exclusive to people engaged in that industry, who were not particularly interested in primary producers engaged in any other industry. There were the wheat-growers of the Commonwealth, in precisely the same position. There were the dairy farmers of the Commonwealth, confined largely to our coastal localities. There were the meat producers, the sugar producers and the producers of almost the entire range of irrigable crops grown throughout the Commonwealth.
The federations were never intended to usurp the functions of the State organizations. From their very inception it was provided that membership of the federations should be confined to approved and accredited State organizations, capable of undertaking and discharging their federal responsibilities. No one ever dreamed that the federations would become involved internationally, but they did, through the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. That rendered the formation of the National Farmers Union imperative. There were State organizations in each of the six States of the Commonwealth. The State organizations federated with the commodity federations. The commodity federations federated first of all with the National Farmers Union and, subsequently, with the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. That is the record of our history in respect of the major primary industries and the major pastoral and agricultural organizations of our country.
Up to this point in the history of our agricultural and pastoral organizations, Mr. Speaker, there have been no exceptions to these rules governing the State organizations, the Federal organizations, the national organization and the international organization. That is how both the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation came to be formed in the first place. They are Federal organizations exclusive of State organizations. The State organizations, even where membership extends to more than one organization in any State, are required to accept on a pro rata basis financial responsibility for the existence and operations of all the Federal organizations. That applied in New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. In all those States, there was more than one organization, and the organizations within those States accepted on a pro rata basis financial responsibility for the federations when those federations were formed.
The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, having reached a measure of unanimity, approached this Government, successfully, for the appointment of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry. The report of that committee, when it was presented in February of this year, included a recommendation for the establishment of a central wool authority “upon whose decisions Government could confidently rely and which could speak with final authority on all matters affecting the industry”. That recommendation, together with the encouragement given by the Minister for Primary Industry, more than anything else, brought the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation together to form what is now known as the Australian Wool Industry Conference. From the 50 members of that conference, nominations will be received for the appointment of six producers to the proposed Australian Wool Board of eleven members, those members to include a chairman, a representative of the Commonwealth Government and three other members associated with the industry.
The Australian Wool Board, which is to be established under the terms of the Wool Industry Bill 1962, will take over the functions of the present Australian Wool Bureau, which is engaged in wool promotion, the Australian Wool Testing Authority, which is technical in character, and the
Wool Research Committee, which is an advisory body concerned with wool research. When the Wool Research Bill 1957 was being considered five and one-half years ago, an Opposition member who had no knowledge of or interest in the matter proposed an amendment seeking to provide representation on the Wool Research Committee for the Australian Primary Producers Union, an organization not affiliated with any federal body. The present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who was then Minister for Primary Industry, had explored the possibilities of this and found the proposal impracticable for constitutional reasons. The amendment was rejected by him, the Government and the Parliament. The decision to reject the amendment, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker, was sound. When the Wool Industry Bill 1962 was being drafted, the same question arose, and the present Minister for Primary Industry explored the possibilities of the Australian Primary Producers Union being represented on the proposed Australian Wool Board. But he was, and is, confronted by insuperable and historical difficulties. The union is not affiliated with the council or the federation, and, as a consequence, it is not a member of the conference formed by the council and the federation for the purpose of creating the Australian Wool Board. The Minister has no power to compel affiliation, although it is popularly supposed that he has; nor has he the power to offer affiliation. Therefore, his explorations, like those of his predecessor in office, were of no avail.
– Mr. Speaker, would I be in order if I moved that the rest of the Minister’s prepared speech be incorporated in “ Hansard “?
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. He will resume his seat.
– When the Australian Primary Producers Union was formed some seventeen years ago, I held an office of some importance in a State organization and in the appropriate Federal and national organizations. The members of the executive of the union at that time - principally Captain Robbiliard, Mr. Dawson and Mr. Glasgow - honoured me by consulting me about their ideals and aspirations. They wanted to form one big union. They wanted to absorb the States organizations and disperse the Federal organizations. They wanted to supersede the national organization and make their union the national farmers’ union. I had the melancholy task of informing them that there was no known way to absorb the State organizations, that the commodity federations - since they drew their sustenance from the State organizations - were likely to last for ever, and that the national organization was already recognized and committed internationally.
Mr. Clark: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: As the Minister obviously is reading a speech -that somebody else has written for him, I should like to move that it be incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
– I am used to these interruptions, Mr. Speaker.
I had many pleasant conversations with Captain Robbiliard, Mr. Dawson and Mr. Glasgow. They, very generously, invited me to address the annual conference of the Australian Primary Producers Union. Much has happened to the world since then, and much has happened in our own country, but the traditional pattern of the agricultural and pastoral organization of our country remains unaltered and the position of the organizations concerned remains unchanged. The fault does not lie with the Minister, the Government or, indeed, the Parliament. The fault - if it is a fault - lies with our traditions and history.
I welcome the Wool Industry Bill 1962 for the degree of unity that it will bring to two of our great organizations, for the consolidation and co-ordination that it will bring to the industry, and for the opportunity that it will provide for the proposed Australian Wool Board to examine the marketing system against the background of criticism levelled at that system. But we must never forget that, to use a phrase that I was required to coin in a different context altogether, in a free country the produce of the land belongs in its entirety to the producers, subject only to the discharge of their lawful obligations. The honorable member for Lalor knows that. He came up against that principle when he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. He knows that no Commonwealth government is competent to dispose of any primary product except at the will and pleasure of the producers. Wool disposal provides a classic example of the operation of that principle.
The wool industry has examined a variety of alternative marketing proposals. Our wool-growers have rejected these proposals from time to time. Admittedly, the proposed Australian Wood Board will be empowered to carry out a constant and critical examination of the marketing system and to make recommendations from time to time. But, in the final analysis, Mr. Speaker, the only people who can determine the marketing future of the industry are the people to whom the product rightly belongs, subject only to the discharge of their lawful obligations. This is our greatest industry. It contributes more than £400,000,000 per annum to our economy and employs a great many people. But more than that, Mr. Speaker, it has given to this country the opportunity to occupy effectively and develop vast areas of land in all the six States and the two Territories of the Commonwealth. For that reason, if for no other reason, the Minister is to be commended for bringing about the measure of unity that has created the conference and will, after the passage of this legislation, create the new Australian Wool Board.
Thursday, 6 December 1962
.- The Wool Industry Bill, in my humble opinion, is the most important and valuable piece of legislation concerning the wool industry that has been introduced in this House for a very long time. I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the Government on introducing this legislation. It deals with a very contentious subject, but I believe it is a worth-while bill. I would also like to refer to the speeches of my colleagues, the honorable members for Lawson (Mr. Failes) and Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). They were two of the few speakers who really confined themselves to the legislation now before us. The general trend of the debate has been all around the wool industry. Whilst I do not agree entirely with everything that those two speakers said, I believe they made a most valuable contribution to the debate.
At the outset let me say that I admire the ability and knowledge of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). He has moved an amendment and has foreshadowed that he will move further amendments in the committee stage. I agree in principle that the Commonwealth could make some contribution to wool research and promotion, but I remind the House that the Government is at present contributing 4s. for every 2s. provided for research.
Over the years, governments have been unable to win the complete confidence of all the wool-growers, and not all the growers will support this legislation. However, I believe that most growers will support its principle, which is the setting up of a board, under the control of the growers, to deal with all aspects of the industry. We must bear in mind all the time, of course, that the wool industry is Australia’s most valuable industry in the earning of export income. It has been repeatedly stated that every rise or fall of Id. per lb. means a rise or fall of approximately £7,000,000 in the income from wool. That alone makes the bill important. We must think of the people who produce this valuable commodity because to-day they are at the crossroads. If the price of wool falls any further they could face disaster. Some of the smaller growers may be beyond the crossroads and may to-day be virtually living on their capital.
The Wool Industry Bill brings under one authority the functions that were previously performed by various bodies. For instance, the Australian Wool Bureau dealt with promotion in Australia and, in conjunction with the International Wool Secretariat, promotion overseas. The functions of the bureau and of the Wool Research Committee and the Australian Wool Testing Authority will now be performed by the board. The board will be required to establish a Wool Marketing Committee. This will be a most valuable committee. Whilst it will be continually investigating all aspects of marketing, it will not have the power to introduce new methods of marketing. It will report its findings to the board which will in turn report them to the
Australian Wool Industry Conference. The growers will virtually have the final voice on any issues relating to marketing.
I disagree with the amendments proposed to be introduced by the Opposition in the committee stage. The Opposition wishes to do away with the Australian Wool Industry Conference and have only the board. [Quorum formed.] In my opinion, the proposed amendments of the Opposition will virtually take control of the wool industry out of the hands of the growers. Of course, we must not forget that the policy of the Australian Labour Party is to concentrate all controls in the hands of the government of the day. I am not surprised, therefore, that the Opposition intends to introduce the amendments it has foreshadowed.
I think I should outline the composition of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The honorable member for Wannon dealt with this aspect, but I think I should again outline the composition for the benefit of those honorable members who were not present when the honorable member for Wannon spoke. The conference consists of an independent chairman, 25 members from the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and 25 members from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. I understand that the 25 members of the council will include five representatives of the stud breeders. The conference is not a statutory body, but it is a body representing the growers. It will be directed and controlled by the growers, and that is a very important point.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: I have been accused of calling quorums.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honorable member will resume his seat.
– This is important-
– Order! The honorable member will restrain himself and resume his seat.
– I have outlined the composition of the conference and I would like now to deal with the board. It consists of eleven members - a chairman, six members to represent the wool-growers, one member to represent the Commonwealth and three other members. The six members will be appointed by the conference and the three other members will be appointed from a panel of five names submitted to the Minister by the conference. Membership will be drawn from such fields as marketing, manufacturing, research and finance. All appointees will be retired at various intervals.
Let me turn now to the work of the various bodies to which I have referred. I remind the House that many organizations have some claim to being representative of the wool-growers but it is generally accepted that three main bodies represent the woolgrowers. Those bodies are the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Primary Producers Union. The last-named is a somewhat new organization; it has been formed since the war. The other two organizations are of much longer standing and have been recognized by various governments from time to time. In his second-reading speech the Minister said that the two prominently recognized bodies asked for an independent committee to be set up to inquire into marketing and promotion, among other things. That request was made as far back as September, 1960. As a result of that request a committee under the chairmanship of Sir Roslyn Philp commenced inquiries in 1961. This year those same two organizations asked the Minister to establish a central body such as the one we are now discussing. Sir Roslyn’s committee recommended the appointment of a central body. This is possibly the first time that the two major wool organizations have got together and reached agreement on a major issue such as the one dealt with in this bill.
It has been said also that one of these organizations, if not both of them, would not agree to the admission of the Australian Primary Producers Union. The 64 dollar question is: Do we accept the recommendations of the two organizations that the Government recognizes or do we take a chance and try to get all three organizations to agree? Although I feel somewhat sorry for those who are not getting direct representation on the conference through their organization, it is important that the industry come first. The Australian Wool growers and Graziers Council claims to have 22,000 members. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation claims to have 43,000 members. The Australian Primary Producers Union claims to have 25,000 members, but a large proportion of those 25,000 growers belongs to one or both of the other two organizations. So it is not fair to say that all of those 25,000 members of the Australian Primary Producers Union have no representation at all. The important thing is to make sure that the board operates in conjunction with the conference. We must bear in mind that the constitution of the conference would allow the inclusion of other organizations. Membership would not be limited to the Australian Primary Producers Union. In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
Having dealt with the main provisions of the bill I would emphasize that the Government, in determining that the Wool Industry Conference should be a non-statutory conference, desires that the industry itself should decide its composition.
That is a most important aspect. The Minister continued -
This was decided although representations had been made to the Government from organizations other than those represented on the conference, and these included the Australian Primary Producers Union, which sought inclusion of its organization in the conference. However, the Government notes with approval that the constitution of the Wool Industry Conference makes provision for the inclusion of other organizations under the terms set down and considers it would be appropriate - and indeed the Government urges to that effect - if an agreement were reached between all organizations to enable a complete industry voice to be expressed through the conference.
I repeat: The Government urges to that effect. Yet we hear people say that the Government is not interested in the inclusion of the Australian Primary Producers Union. The Minister continued -
It might also be said that a non-statutory body whose membership can be modified by mutual agreement among organizations offers full scope for the development of unity in the wool-growing industry.
Surely that statement is proof that the Government is desirous of making sure that all organizations which claim to bc representative of the wool industry receive some consideration. The honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes), who understands the wool industry backwards, referred to the constitution of the conference. He quoted that part of the constitution dealing with the admission of new members. If any honorable member or anybody else doubts that the policy of the conference enables it to absorb another body, I suggest that he read the constitution which, he will see, provides for the admission of any other organization. It has been said that no other organization could gain admittance to the conference because they would need a twothirds majority of votes. Paragraph 31 (ii) of the constitution of the conference reads -
The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation give an undertaking that after the first annual meeting of the conference they will meet in three years’ time to review the constitution of the conference. At this meeting voting on any alterations to the constitution will be by a simple majority.
Could that provision be fairer? I ask for leave of the House to incorporate in “ Hansard “ paragraphs 661 to 684 inclusive of the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry.
– Order! Is leave granted?
– No. Read them.
– Leave is not granted.
– The honorable member for Lalor earlier to-night said that he would consider giving me leave to incorporate those paragraphs in “ Hansard “. I remind the House that this issue is not party political. If the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) objects to the incorporation of any portion of this report in “ Hansard “ he, as a member of the Opposition, has not the slightest interest in the wool industry. It is a pity that more Opposition members are not interested in the wool industry, which is Australia’s most important industry. I advise anybody interested in this subject to obtain a copy of the committee’s report and to read the paragraphs to which I have referred. It has been said, both in this chamber and outside, that the conference, which is not representative of all the wool-growing organizations, should be elected by a ballot of growers. What constitutes a wool-grower? This is a subject that will always bring about an argument. Wool-growers produce from one bale to possibly many hundreds of bales a year. I would like to know what some members of the Opposition think constitutes a wool-grower. It is a case of whether you vote because you are a straightout wool-grower, or whether you vote because you produce one, five or ten bales of wool. I have not heard any member of the Opposition indicate where he stands in this regard.
It is interesting to note that, according to the 1961 statistical handbook, of the 124,000,000 wool-growers in Australia to-day, no fewer than 114,000 produce less than 100 bales of wool. They produce 55.7 per cent, of the total wool clip. The remaining 9,617 growers produce 44.3 per cent, of the clip. They are the growers who produce over 100 bales of wool. There is another problem concerning a ballot of wool-growers. If over a period of time any one of the three major wool-growing organizations had the advantage of having a few more members than the other organizations had, it would eventually get complete control of the conference by a ballot of growers. This is most dangerous. The other organizations that might be interested in the wool industry would find themselves without a voice on the conference.
My time is running out and I do not wish to delay the House, but, as I said earlier, I think this is one of the most important measures concerning the wool industry. I think that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), when introducing the bill, mentioned that the wool industry is responsible for some £400,000,000 of overseas funds coming to this country annually. Surely it must be rated as an important industry. If I have any criticism of the Government to offer in regard to this measure, it is that it is unfortunate that the bill has been introduced in the dying hours of this sessional period. Here we are, at 12.20 a.m. There are other speakers to follow me, and I know that the Opposition intends to introduce certain amendments at the committee stage. That could mean that the bill could be neglected inasmuch as we could not devote sufficient time to it.
I turn now to the activities of the Australian Wool Bureau, which will virtually come under the control of the new Australian Wool Board. We all know that the main role of the Australian Wool Bureau is to promote the sale of our wool at home, and abroad through the International Wool Secretariat. The next question that arises is: Why must we spend so much money on wool research? After all, we do sell our wool at a price, although, when one compares to-day’s price with that of a few years ago, it is not a desirable price. I suggest that there are three ways of increasing the price of wool. You can jack up the price virtually artificially, keep your fingers crossed and hope for the best; you can increase the price through research, advertising, promotion and so on; or you can achieve an increase by the use of both methods.
Why must we promote our wool? I call to the attention of the House the fact that during the period from 1949 to 1959 the consumption of wool in the United States of America, which has one of the largest populations in the world, fell by something like 40 per cent., whilst in the same period the consumption of man-made fibres increased. We should not allow that to continue. Since 1959, when the International Wool Secretariat became more active, I believe that the consumption of wool in the United States of America has risen. I suggest that over the years we have been beaten in promotion and research in every field of the wool industry by a vigorous campaign on the part of our opponents. If we are to continue this industry, we must make sure that we have a similar or even a better promotional campaign. I believe the Australian Wool Bureau and the International Wool Secretariat are adopting a far-reaching policy which is sound in every way. We must remember that we depend on the export of wool for something like £400,000,000 of our overseas income. Not only that, but Australia is the biggest exporter of wool and possibly one of the biggest wool producers in the world. Communist Russia produces large quantities of wool, but the Russians use it themselves. As Australia is the biggest exporter of wool, it is our responsibility to ensure that we continue to give wool all the promotion and research that is possible. Our natural trading area is the Asiatic countries. The standards of living there are improving, so I can see the possibility of a great improvement in the consumption of wool. This indicates where we can spend large amounts of money on promotion.
As I said at the outset, I congratulate the Government on a very good piece of legislation. I hope that it will have a speedy passage through this chamber.
– Mr. Speaker, I shall speak only to the amendment. There are one or two things which I feel I should say at this stage. The Government cannot accept the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– We have the numbers.
– Whether you have the numbers or not, if you carry this amendment you will do the wool industry a disservice. The amendment would then supersede the motion for the second reading of the bill, and the bill contains a plan to help the wool industry.
– It does not supersede it, but adds to it.
– The amendment seeks to omit all words after “That”. The sixteenth edition of May’s “ Parliamentary Practice” states that, according to modern practice, it would appear to be unlikely that, after a reasoned amendment had been carried, any further progress would be made. The Government will not accept an amendment merely because the Opposition moves it. If the Government wants to assist an industry, it will do so by way of a definite policy after consultation with the industry concerned and after a definite plan has been determined as to how the money required should be used.
– You take no notice of the Opposition at all.
– Our plan of approach to these things is by way of policy and certainly not by the substitution of an amendment which would be like a vacuum without any particular purpose to fulfil. The Opposition would defeat the plan that has been prepared on behalf of the wool industry. Now, the Opposition has put forward an amendment to provide for the election of the board by a ballot. Every member on the Opposition side, as well as those supporting the Government, know that there is no register of growers. A register could not possibly be completed in less than two or three months and six months would elapse before a ballot could be taken. So apparently it is in the mind of the Opposition to defer any action to assist the wool industry.
The Opposition has charged the Government with being lethargic on this matter when in fact the Opposition, by its planning and by its amendments, simply proposes to delay legislation which is designed to assist the wool industry. That would be the effect of the amendment. If members of the Opposition are too naive to understand me I shall try to explain it to them again.
The Government, at the instance of the wool industry, appointed a committee of inquiry. When the committee’s report was presented to the House last March it was with the understanding, by agreement between the Government and the industry, that the industry would have time to study the report and make recommendations to the Government. No time was lost by the industry organizations because by 25th July - only a few months ago - the industry organizations presented their plan of operations to me. The Government has worked on the plan ever since. It has had many discussions with representatives of the industry, and as a consequence the legislation is before the House to-night.
What does this legislation represent? It represents a comprehensive plan embracing the activities of the wool industry to date and also planning - so far as it is possible to plan - for the future. In the past we have had research committees operating in isolation and not in association with the Australian Wool Bureau. Obviously, it must be of benefit to the industry to have such committees associated with those who are managing the operations of the industry. They will make their recommendations to the board, which in turn will be responsible for recommending to the Minister what research should be undertaken. Of course it is necessary that the Minister should have the final say, because the Government is contributing to the cost of research £2 for every £1 contributed by the industry.
Again, the wool testing authority has been operating in isolation. That organization also must be brought into association with the activities of the board and the research committee so that any benefit that might be derived from scientific work will be collected and used under the one board of management.
Looking to the future, it is imperative that there be a marketing committee. From time to time the Opposition has talked about a marketing scheme for wool. What scheme? Many schemes have been suggested by all and sundry, but they have not been complete in themselves. Now the proposal is that the marketing committee set up by the industry itself will determine the best approach to marketing and will make its recomemndations to the board. In turn, the board, with the support of the conference which represents the organizations in the industry, will recommend to the Government what action is required.
The proposed board will have no executive powers. It will not be a full marketing organization. It is impossible to define within the confines of this bill the marketing powers that would be necessary for some type of marketing that might be determined by the future, because no one could know what type of marketing would be adopted. The Government will certainly consider any recommendation on marketing activities that is made by the industry. Contrary to what the Opposition had indicated to-night, it has always been the policy of this Government to seek from the industry its approach to marketing policy and the requirements of the industry.
If I understood the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) correctly he said that the Opposition would determine the type of marketing that should be undertaken. That is not our approach. We have always sought the views of the industry. There has been a division of opinion in the industry itself, and no one can charge the Government with not trying to bring the organizations together. I have initiated conferences between the two major organizations. I have had quite a hand in trying to get the Australian Primary Producers Union and the National Farmers Union together. Each in turn has had conferences, and the two major organizations have agreed to combine and work together. So far as I can understand the situation, the National Farmers Union and the Australian Primary Producers Union have had at least two conferences. I hope that they can arrange further conferences, because I want to see unity of approach by the organizations in the industry. I am certain that that is what the Government desires also. This Government has always laid it down that it wants to see various sections of the industry working together and telling us their approach to these important matters.
When we look at the picture in relation to the present conference we think back to 1936. At that time the wool board of the day was established with one organization recognized by the government of the day. That was the Graziers Federal Council of Australia. Then in 1945, I think it was, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation was recognized along with the Graziers Federal Council. We have progressed slightly since then because, under the present proposal, the conference, which includes the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation proposes to include also representatives of the stud breeders. So far as the Australian Primary Producers Union is concerned I have stated the attitude of the Government. I emphasize now that it is desirable that that organization should be represented, and we urge that further steps be taken in that direction.
But we have not created the conference. That is a creation of the industry. We do not want to dictate to the industry who shall represent it. That might be contrary to the views of the Australian Labour Party, but it is certainly the policy of the Government. It is not an organization that we have created as such, but we do hope that more and more it will seek to have a full industry voice rather than one not so representative. We have kept faith with the industry. The plan involved in this bill is the one submitted by the industry organization, which completed its thinking as a result of the report presented to the Government by the committee of inquiry. We have analysed that report and substantially accepted it.
In the main we have accepted the proposals submitted by the industry and, in addition, the thinking of the Government has been to make this comprehensive measure bring the research committee and the wool testing authority within the one comprehensive bill. We did so because we felt that that, too, would be better for the industry, although that was not in the industry’s plan submitted to the Government. In addition, the wool stores provision contained in another act is to be repealed and that function will be taken over by the proposed wool board. When I talk about the wool board I am referring to the wool bureau, which is to be taken over and put under another name with increased personnel representing the industry. It is a widened board. Whereas previously the bureau represented only the growers and there was one Government, representative, we will now have, from, other interests associated with the board, representatives who also are very much interested in the welfare of the wool industry.
I thought I should state these points at this juncture in the debate. Generally speaking there has been commendation of the main principles of the bill. I have heard no real criticism of the establish- . ment of the wool board as such and the association of other organizations with it. The main criticism has been concerning the representation on the conference. I repeat that that is not our creation. We seek to recognize the industry representatives to the best of our ability to do so, : and we are transferring the recognition that now exists in respect of the present bureau to the proposed board, that is, that of the two major organizations plus, in this case, the representation that is being given to the stud breeders. I hoped that there would have been wider representa- , tion, and I still urge that that will be the case in the near future.
.Mr. Speaker, I am prompted to address a few remarks to this important measure before the Parliament because of the statements of certain members of the Country Party and members of the Government in relation to the attitude of honorable members on this side of the chamber. As has been truly said by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and by other speakers, this bill is one of the most important dealing with the wool industry that probably has ever been presented to the Parliament. But the wool-growers must indeed be far from flattered to think that the Government brings it in in the dead of night, at a time when most people ought to be home in bed. At a time when real consideration cannot be given to the measure in a true and efficient manner, we find the Government introducing this legislation. Does not that indicate that there is something sinister in certain provisions of this measure which is not in the interests of the wool-growers? Does it not mean that the Government has not been prepared to produce it at a time more appropriate for us to consider it?
Honorable members opposite are criticizing the Labour Party for its lack of concern for the wool industry. I tell them that we would not introduce legislation of this type at this hour of the night. We would give honorable members, particularly those from country electorates, an opportunity to debate such a bill at a more appropriate time when country people would be able to hear, if the debate were being broadcast. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. King), in his remarks a few moments ago, was critical of my refusal, and that of other members of the Opposition, to allow him to incorporate in “ Hansard “ certain matters relating to the industry. There was nothing personal in the refusal, other than this: I do not recollect any member of the Government ever giving me permission to incorporate anything in “ Hansard “, and whenever I am in the House and whenever any member asks for anything to be incorporated in “ Hansard “ I will say “ no “. Of course, if the honorable member wanted a passage from a report to appear in “ Hansard “, and if it is important to the wool industry, although he is not much good as a speaker he is not a bad reader and he could well have read a couple of pages so that we would have known what was to appear. The honorable member wanted to incorporate it without our knowing what it was.
The Government prides itself on what it has done for the wool industry. I think that the Country Party in particular, which is supposed to represent the interests of the rural industries, has the poorest record of any political party in this country in regard to activities associated with the protection of the man on the land, particularly the wool-growers. On the question of pies, for instance, which have been mentioned in relation to this bill and which were destroying the market for wool and reducing the returns to the producers, it was left to the New
South Wales Labour Government to institute an inquiry, conducted by Mr. Justice Cook, which disclosed that buyers or their agents operated pies for the purpose of depressing prices. This Government stood by and refused to inquire into what they were doing. The Bolte Government in Victoria did the same thing. Had it not been for a Labour Government in New South Wales there would have been no inquiry into these matters. And this, despite the restrictions imposed upon State governments in their control of these matters by section 92 of the Constitution. A Labour government in New South Wales had to go over the head of the Country Party-Liberal Government in the Commonwealth and take action to prove how producers were being exploited because of the pies that existed. I think the present Minister for Trade and Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) would undoubtedly have sat idly by and taken no effective action in regard to the pies, had it not been for a Labour government.
As the Labour Party asserted in its policy speech at the last election on the question of pies, which are covered in this bill, it is no exaggeration to say that growers and the nation may have lost £500,000,000 in the absence of marketing protection. What an indictment of this Government’s policy with respect to wool producers! What an indictment of this Government it is that the growers have lost more than £500,000,000 income because of the activities of this Government! Let the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) and the honorable member for Wimmera, who say they are here to protect the wool-growers, stand in this Parliament and tell the people why they stood idly by and did nothing along the lines of what was done by the New South Wales Government to give effect to this matter.
Mr. Speaker, in the rural section of the last policy speech of the Labour Party, so ably delivered by the honorable member for Lalor, (Mr. Pollard), there was a blueprint for a government and also a section referring to wool-marketing. Some of the most important proposals are probably incorporated in various parts of this bill, but these would be of more importance to the wool industry, probably, than anything that this Government could bring forth. I now ask the House for permission to incorporate in “ Hansard “ the section on wool marketing in the policy of the Labour Party so that the wool-growers will really know what a real policy is for them, one which ought to be given effect by this Parliament.
– Is leave granted?
Government Supporters. - No.
– Leave is not granted.
– It proves the point I mentioned earlier in relation to the honorable member for Wimmera. Leave is refused because members opposite know that that is the policy enJorsed by the vote for the honorable member for Lalor in a magnificent way in the last election, and honorable members opposite do not want the policy to be given effect. So let the honorable member for Wimmera keep his idle thoughts to himself.
There are a few other matters about wool marketing under discussion. In this Parliament members of the Country Party try to ally the Labour Party with the Communist Party, yet the honorable member for Wimmera proudly boasted to-night about the sales of Australian wool to Communists in the iron curtain countries. It is the Country Party that says we are at war with the Soviet and others, yet its members sell their wool to Communist countries. They will sell anywhere as long as the wealthy interests that support them get some return, while they criticize the Labour Party and others. Is it not true that the Country Party will sell anywhere and will sell anybody out - particularly the wool-growers - as long as it can masquerade as the protector of these people, and come into this Parliament and criticize the Labour Party? I have no criticism to make of the sale of wool to any country, but I could not let the opportunity pass without jibing at government supporters, particularly members of the Country Party who constantly criticize Communist countries but proudly boast of our exports to them. I suppose it would be true to say that our overseas balances would have been reduced to an all-time low if it were not for the purchases made by iron-curtain countries, particularly of wool, since this Government has been in office.
I think it is worth mentioning that, particularly in relation to wool research and marketing, and protection of the growers, the Country Party has been betraying every principle that it has espoused in this Parliament. We recently discussed the question of textiles, particularly woollen textiles. We showed that this Government was breaking down the protection of woollen textiles in Australia, removing the tariffs that were there to protect the wool industry and the growers. There was a reduced market here for woollen textiles because of the Government’s policy, which was breaking down protection and allowing synthetics to flood the market to the detriment of the wool industry.
Let government supporters answer this if they will. Let members of the Country Party stand and state their position. It is quite true that they did not want these measures to be discussed in the middle of the day because they did not want the public to know of the things I am discussing to-night. They did not want the public to know that they are selling wool to iron curtain countries and at the same time criticizing them. They did not want the public to know that they have caused woolgrowers to lose £500,000,000 in income because of their failure to inquire into pies and wool marketing generally. They do not want the people to know of the problems of the wool industry which have been created by this Government, particularly the Country Party section of it.
The Minister for Primary Industry dismissed the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor, who was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the Labour Government. He was a very effective Minister in war-time, before the present Minister came into this Parliament. If it were not for the policies of the honorable member for Lalor, primary producers, particularly wool-growers and wheatgrowers, would never have had a decent return for their efforts. They benefited by the proposals that he put to primary industry, which were endorsed throughout the length and breadth of the country. Yet we find criticism levelled against the Labour Party!
I am interested in these matters. I thought that I should place on record these few comments relating to the most important measures before the Parliament and awaken the Country Party to the fact that the measures are important. Let us have a look at the Country Party benches, when one of the most important measures relating to primary industry is being discussed. Three Country Party members are in the chamber, and only one of them is awake. Is it not a disgrace that we should have to discuss these matters at this hour of the night and that the Country Party is not even interested in them? Is it not a disgrace that honorable members opposite refused to let Labour debate the legislation at a time when we could bring these facts before the Australian people? I place these few comments on record as an indication that we on this side of the Parliament are aware of the importance of these measures.
– Few comments!
– I know what I am talking about on country matters. As the honorable members knows, I come from Currabubula. I left there when the price of wool was lOd. per lb., which was regarded as quite a good price at that time. Wheat at that time was only bringing ls. 7d., because the Country Party ruled the roost, and primary producers, particularly wool-growers, went to the wall and became bankrupt owing to the policies that were followed. Because of that, I had to leave the bush. One could not live there under Country Party Governments. If there is a continuation of the policies enunciated by the Country Party in particular, and generally by LiberalCountry Party Governments in Canberra, primary producers will have a sorry lookout.
I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor and put on record my condemnation of the policies that have brought the wool industry to the state it is in to-day under this Government. I place on record also condemnation by all wool-growers of the great loss incurred because of the Government’s failure to inquire into pies. Protection of woolgrowers has been left to the New South Wales Labour Government, whereas this Government should have accepted full responsibility. I certainly hope that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor will be carried, because Labour’s policy is really in the interests of the nation’s wool-growers.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honorable member for Grayndler said a few minutes ago that I had said I supported sales of wool to Communist countries. I did not say anything of the sort. I only wish that the honorable member would stick to the truth.
.These bills are, I believe, some of the most important that we have had to consider. If those members of the Australian Labour Party who are interjecting are not interested in the Australian economy, let them remain silent. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who is leaving the chamber now, would not know a piece of wool from a piece of cotton, and would not know anything about the wool industry, which contributes so much to the economic welfare of the country. We can ignore whatever he has to say.
– That is not nice. ‘
– And it was not nice of him to say what he said, as he does not know what he is talking about. This is the first attempt that has been made to establish a reasonable economy for the wool-growing industry. It is up to the wool-growers themselves to decide where they are going in connexion with the Government’s proposal. I shall not go into the intricacies of the legislation, we are saying to the wool-growers, “Decide what you want and we shall give it to you.” Basically, Country Party policy in this connexion - I do not think the Labour Party will disagree with it - is that a product is the property of the producer, and it is for him to decide where and how it will be disposed of. That is exactly what the Labour man says. [Quorum formed.] I thank the people who decided that attention should be directed to the number of members in the chamber at this stage.
Mention has been made of an organization called the Australian Primary Producers Union, which is a body set up to deal with farmers’ problems. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has suggested that this organization should be represented in the conference. Let me ask honorable members opposite this question: What do you do with splinter groups?
– You encourage them.
– No, we do not. When you find an organization that has broken away from an existing organization which has worked hard over a period of years for the benefit of a group of people, you do not say that the breakaway organization is entitled to the same representation as the body which has worked hard for a long period.
– You give them a vote.
– The honorable member says that you give them a vote. I would be interested to learn that the Labour Party has at any time suggested, “Never mind about the organized unions, we are going to take a vote of individual members “. In the case we are now considering there has been an organization in existence for some years. In a case in which such an organization exists, whether it is representative of wheat-growers, wool-growers, fruit-growers or other primary producers, or whether it is an organisation of ironworkers, clerks or timber workers, it is the expressed opinion of the organization that is accepted by the Government. In this ~case we find the honorable member for Lalor saying, “ Never mind about the organized expression of opinion, we are going to depart from Labour policy and go to the individuals “.
– That is the most democratic way of doing it.
– Of course it is, but you never follow that practice. The next time some one objects to some practice in the Labour movement, you will not say, “We will take a vote of the individuals and ignore the group “. Why do you have an organization if not to express the opinion of the majority in the group that it represents? In this instance we have the woolgrowers organized, admittedly into two groups, and each of those groups has said, “ This is our opinion “. The Government has accepted the fact that the organized group of people has expressed an opinion. In exactly the same way, the Opposition accepts the opinion expressed by a trade union representing a certain group of people.
So I hope the honorable member for Lalor will not depart from fundamental principles accepted by his own organization, which involve the acceptance of opinions conveyed by organized groups and not the submission of matters to be voted upon by unorganized individuals. The honorable member for Lalor cannot serve two masters. He cannot have both an organized vote and an individual vote. He must make up his mind to have one or the other. If he believes in an individual vote he can proceed with his amendments. If he does not, he should drop them.
In Western Australia we have no organization like the Australian Primary Producers Union, but we have an organization of wool-growers, which has expressed its opinion. Let me say this to the Labour party; Nothing should jeopardize the chance of success of attempts to establish a sound and substantial wool marketing scheme for Australia. The honorable member for Lalor is concerned about the dotting of the “i’s” and the crossing of the “ fs “, but I say to him: Do not worry about those things; let us establish the basis of a successful scheme for our woolgrowing industry. There may be some substance in certain of the amendments that the honorable member proposes to introduce, but if there is a chance that the introduction of the amendments may jeopardize the success of a scheme to improve the position of the wool-growing industry, then those amendments should go by the board for the time being. If the honorable member is honest in his statement that he wants to see the wool-growing industry soundly established he will allow us to make this start, and try to adjust anything that he thinks needs to be adjusted as time goes on. I support the bill, and I do not propose to support any of the amendments that the honorable member may bring forward
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Administrator’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the wool industry.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “the Australian Wool Industry Conference” or “ the Conference “ means the organization known as the Australian Wool Industry Conference which was formed on the twenty-fourth day of October, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two;
.- I move -
Omit the definition of “ the Australian Wool
Industry Conference” or “the Conference”.
The effect of the deletion of this definition would be to deny recognition to the organization known as the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which the Government proposes to recognize as the authority to recommend to it the amount of tax or levy which should be imposed upon the woolgrowers to finance the activities of the Australian Wool Board. If this definition is not deleted, the Australian Wool Industry Conference will be the only authority to be recognized to the exclusion of all our woolgrowers’ organizations. No other organization will have any say. When I consider that there is a vast number of organizations covering the wool-growing industry, I can only say that the Government’s proposal is an act of the most grave injustice to the industry. It is an arrogant proposal and will cause the initiation of an interminable quarrel among the wool-growers themselves. On the one hand, there will be a gigantic struggle between the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council to capture the six seats on the proposed new board. On the other hand, the Australian Primary Producers Union will nurse a grievance in perpetuity. What is worse still is that the two organizations on the inside, by constituting the Wool Industry Conference, will be imposing a levy or a tax on thousands of wool-growers who will have no representation or say whatsoever.
– Why should they have that right?
– Because the Government believes in autocracy.
– Is that sufficient reason?
– That is all the reason there is for it. The Government will not listen to reason. To-night we had the absurd situation of Her Majesty’s Opposition, in order to further the work of wool promotion, offering to give the Government of the day its blessing if the Government would appropriate a sum of aproximately £2,250,000 in addition to the amount that will be raised from the wool-growers of Australia for the very desirable and essential work of wool promotion. The Government said: “ No, we are satisfied to collect all the necessary funds from the wool-growers. We do not want the general taxpayers of Australia, who are indirectly and very seriously concerned, to be called upon to make any contribution at all to this very desirable work.”
– The taxpayers might not want to contribute.
– What an excuse! The Minister for the Interior knows full well that the already announced programme of the Australian Wool Bureau, as it is now constituted, is ultimately to impose a tax of £1 a bale on the wool-growers of Australia for the purpose of wool promotion. Of course, that programme will receive support from certain sectors of the industry. When that is done the band will begin to play and very great questioning will take place as to why the Government refused an offer by the Opposition to support it in finding £2,250,000 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of this country for that purpose. Then the Minister for the Interior will be confronted with an awkward problem.
There is a wide range of organizations In the wool-growing industry. Let me enumerate some of them. They include the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, which will be on the inner; the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council; the Australian Primary Producers Union, which will be on the outer; the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, which will be on the outer; that Wheat and Wool Growers Association of New South Wales; the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association; the South Australian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association; the Farmers Union of Western
Australia Incorporated; the Graziers Association of New South Wales; the United Graziers Association of Queensland; the Graziers Association of Victoria-
– They are all affiliated.
– They are not all affiliated. The honorable gentleman lies, and he knows it, too.
– It is the truth. I am telling the truth when I say that the Minister lies. Surely I can state the truth. Let me prove that the honorable gentleman lies and that he knows it.
– The honorable gentleman knows that the Australian Primary Producers Union is not affiliated. Why does he lie to the Parliament?
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Lalor to withdraw the remark that he made in regard to the Minister for Social Services.
– Am I required to withdraw statements that are the truth?
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Lalor to withdraw the remark that the Minister lies.
– Well, the honorable gentleman made a misstatement of fact.
– He does not know any different.
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will come to order.
– I apologize. I am very sorry.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor has not yet withdrawn the remark that I asked him to withdraw.
– How can I withdraw a remark that happens to be the truth?
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will withdraw the remark.
– I am not going to withdraw it.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Lalor to reflect on his decision.
– I withdraw it, but I will continue to believe that what I said is a fact. The honorable gentleman knows that what I said is correct. I demand an apology from the Minister for Social Services; but I am not likely to get it, so I will leave it at that. There is also the Boorowa Woolgrowers Committee of New South Wales.
– That is a very important committee.
– Of course it is. Can the Minister for Social Services who is so knowledgeable tell me whether or not that committee is affiliated? He does not know. Then there is the North-west Wool Marketing Association of New South Wales, the Western Australia Woolgrowers Voluntary Co-operative and, so help me goodness, the Hooker Pastoral Company. We all know that a former Treasurer of this country has some link with the Hooker outfit. We all know that not so long ago, in advertisements throughout the press of Australia, he was advising the investors of Australia to put their Ss. into debentures in Hookers Limited. The graphs that were printed in the press indicated that if you put your 5s. in it would be £1 in no time. He is a member of the Australian Country Party. But only last week people found that they had done their money to the extent of about £3,000,000. I wonder whether this is the same outfit and the same Country Party gentleman. Then there is the Portland Woolgrowers Co-operative Limited. Where do we go from there? Those organizations have no representation at all.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The Government is not prepared to accept the amendment.
– Why not?
– Because it would destroy the approach that has been made and agreed to by representatives of the industry. It is obvious that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is making too much politics out of this approach and bringing in other organizations, some of which, at least, he knows are affiliated with the major organizations.
– Some are; that is right. You are more accurate than your mate, the Minister for Social Services.
– I am always accurate. The Australian Primary Producers Union, to which the honorable member for Lalor referred, has a much higher motive and a much more noble approach to this matter than have the honorable member and those who support him.
– That is a terrible thing to say, Mr. Chairman.
– I will prove that statement. I have learnt this evening of a statement made by Mr. Heffernan, the federal president of the Australian Primary Producers Union. He, as the federal president of the union, has announced - and all credit is due to him for this - that his organization believes that the well-being of the wool industry is of paramount importance and, giving priority to recognition of this above all other considerations, has declared that any delay in setting up the proposed Australian Wool Board would not be in the interests of woolgrowers. He has added that his union, recognizing its responsibility towards its members, will continue its efforts to obtain membership of the Wool Industry Conference. He declared that a conference which was fully representative of Australian woolgrowers would be powerful in promoting all the interests of wool. Mr. Heffernan then added that in order to achieve maximum unity of all sections of primary industry, his union would continue negotiations with the National Farmers Union towards that end.
I commend the sincerity of the Australian Primary Producers Union in adopting a course calculated to achieve the well-being of the wool industry. Not only is there an urgent need to achieve unity within the wool industry but, of course, it is highly desirable that there should be the maximum unity amongst all elements of primary producers. The Government would welcome unity negotiations between the National Farmers Union group of organizations and the Australian Primary Producers Union being resumed, as Mr. Heffernan has indicated, at an early date. Obviously, a united rural voice when issues arise from time to time as they do in all sections of primary industry would be better understood by governments and, of course, carry more weight with governments. If the National Farmers Union and the Australian Primary Producers Union are able to reach agreement, the Government naturally would welcome such a development. Any assistance that I and my department can give towards that end would be readily given. I have been able to lend my support in that way in earlier negotiations. I sincerely hope that those negotiations will be resumed. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that that is the right approach for the organizations to take. I commend it to the Organizations and I commend the same attitude to members of this Chamber.
.The letter read by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) from Mr. Heffernan does not mean anything at all. The plain fact is that, under the terms of this bill, recognition is given to the Australian Wool Industry Conference, an organization composed, on the one hand, of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers’ Council and, on the other hand, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. There is a proviso in the rules of the conference that it may or may not accept another applicant organization, dependent upon a two-thirds vote of the conference. The letter represents only a pious hope that at some future time two organizations which have been at war with a third organization for a long time will kindly admit that organization to their ranks. What sort of nonsense is that? A pious hope is not enough to enable this bill to be accepted In its present form which shuts out all organizations other than these two.
Just imagine it! It is even provided that the Australian Wool Board will provide secretarial assistance for this conference. Why give this favour to this merger of two organizations while no favour is given to other organizations? It has been suggested that this so-called conference will be provided with accommodation in close proximity to the Australian Wool Board. If it is not located exactly on the premises of the Australian Wool Board it is to have a sort of favoured nation treatment. What would be the attitude of the Government if it were suggested that in the Department of Labour and National Service or in some branch of governmental administration the Australian Council of Trade Unions should be provided with secretarial assistance and living accommodation? That is the sort of thing which has been provided for in this measure. This organization, cultured, nurtured and nursed by the Government, to the exclusion of all other rival organizations, has the sole right to nominate from its ranks representatives on the Australian Wool Board, an authority which will have spending rights over a sum of approximately £3,000,000 annually.
The Opposition has engaged, in certain circumstances, to support the providing of an additional £2,400,000 for this organization but the Government has bluntly rejected the offer of the Opposition to support this particular allocation. The Government believes and I believe that promotion is essential in this day and generation to encourage the use of wool and to create a continual competitive factor in the world wool markets. The Government should only be too ready to match the 10s. of the growers’ organizations with 10s. from governmental sources.
The plain fact is that this whole exercise is a deceitful exercise. It represents an evasion of the Government’s duty to the wool-growers. No one will deny, if he reads . the primary producers’ journals and the daily press that the great thing for which the wool-growers of Australia are ever searching is an organization clothed with authority and strength similar to that of the Australian Wheat Board so that they can face the world, partcularly the trickster buyers of the world, as one solid organization, selling the producers’ commodities. They are nothing but a disarmed rabble today. All this bill does is to inculcate into the minds of the growers a thought that they have some protective armour thrown over them.
It is professed that some advantages are given under this proposal. Are they given? Honorable members should carefully read this bill and take into consideration the speeches made by the former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in 1953 when he was responsible for destroying the old organization, the Australian Wool Board, and creating in its stead the Australian Wool Bureau by throwing overboard the old non-statutory organization which dealt with research and which gave representation to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, universities, labour organizations, textile associations and so forth. He told this Parliament that this new blessed child of his, the Australian Wool Bureau, and the Wool Production Research Advisory Committee were just the things to solve all the problems of promotion and research. We then realized that there was a grave element of doubt as to whether the setting up of this new organization was justified.
At the time that the Australian Wool Bureau was set up it was said, “ This is the way to promote the sale of wool at home and abroad.” The Wool Production Research Advisory Committee was set up as a law unto itself. It was said, “ It is not wise to harness research with promotion so we shall have a separate committee, representative of scientific bodies, textile organizations and so on.” In order that there might be co-ordination between research, on the one hand, and promotion on the other hand, it was provided that the chairman of the Australian Wool Bureau-
– You are getting pretty wide of the subject.
– I let you get away with six clauses.
– You did not.
– Yes, I did. I could have dealt with this particular matter by speaking on the short title. So do not be too arbitrary on that now! As I was about to say, it was provided that there should be co-ordination between the two authorities. It was provided that the chairman, who is now Sir William Gunn, should be a member of the research committee. Then we have all this fiddle-de-dee from the buyers’ committee appointed by the Government to inquire and report. There has been some fiddle-de-dee about lack of harmony between the personnel of the Australian Wool Bureau and the personnel of the Wool Production Research Advisory Committee. I have gone carefully through the report of the Australian Wool Bureau for 1962 and have found no hint of a lack of harmony there. There is no hint of any lack of coordination of work with the research committee. I have gone through the report of the Wool Textile Research Advisory Committee and I could find in it no reference to lack of harmony or co-ordination between the committee and the Australian Wool Bureau. So, what is this all about? There is no question that it is an exercise in deceit which comes from a belief that when the wool-grower reads that three authorities have been dispersed and a new one created, everything in the garden will be lovely. We have the anomalous and strange position that the proposed Australian Wool Board is to create a marketing authority to report on marketing. When the report will be presented, and what it will contain, goodness only knows. In the meantime, the country will be going to the pack, the industry will be going to pieces, and Australia generally will suffer.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– If this amendment is carried there will be a vacuum in the representation of the industry. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has spoken of deceit. I shall not be so unkind as to charge him with deceit, but I do say that he is camouflaging the position in order to delay the introduction of the plan and to prevent the industry from getting on with the job. The proposed conference is part and parcel of the whole set up, and to omit this proposal from the bill would delay considerably the implementation of the plan. As I said in speaking of the Opposition amendment moved at the second-reading stage, that is of course the motive behind the Labour Party’s plan.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. .. 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the definition proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
After the definition of “wool”, add the following definition: - “ ‘ woolgrower ‘ means a person who produces in Australia not less than ten bales of wool in the respective growing seasons to which this Act applies “.
The Minister alleged that my previous amendment would have created a vacuum. That may be his view, but, if he had read the further amendments in the circulated list, he would have seen that they made provision for filling the vacuum, if one were in fact created. All the Opposition’s proposals are constructive. The purpose of my present amendment is to outline the qualifications that must be possessed, on the one hand, by anybody who wishes to vote for a candidate for appointment to the proposed Australian Wool Board, and, on the other hand, by a person who wishes to nominate for appointment to the board.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Pollard’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Clause 9. (1.) The Board shall consist of eleven members, namely: -
.Clause 9 of the bill provides for the constitution of the board. The board is to consist of eleven members - a chairman, six members to represent Australian woolgrowers, one member to represent the Commonwealth and three other members. It is the wish of the Opposition that representation on this board should be given to the employees in the industry.
– May I suggest that you take the two related amendments together?
– No, we will take them separately. I point out to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) that there is a good precedent for allowing employee representation. The Australian Wool Realization Commission, which sold the war time surplus of wool, had an employee’s representative in its membership. The representative appointed was the late Mr. Arthur Kyle. He sat as a member of the commission until it was wound up within the last two or three years, and he gave good service to all concerned.
Therefore, I move -
Omit “eleven”, insert “twelve”.
This amendment will enable the committee to have a membership of twelve instead of eleven as now proposed.
– It is the traditional policy of the Australian Labour Party that employees engaged in an industry should be represented and have a voice in the management of the industry. When in office, the Chifley and Curtin Governments appointed such representatives and they served, and still serve in some instances, with distinction in the management of the industries concerned.
Like the wool-growers, union members working in the industry are entirely dependent on the industry for their livelihood. Their future employment depends on the prosperity of the industry and they have just as much interest in such matters as wool promotion, wool research and wool marketing as have the wool-growers. Their future livelihood is tied up with the industry and the future of the industry is just as vital to them as it is to the wool-growers. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that there is a precedent for employee representation. I suggest that there are several precedents. In the post-war period, there was employee representation on the Australian Wool Realization Commission, which sold the post-war surplus of wool. The Australian Meat Board has union representation and I think that the Australian Wheat Board has an employees’ representative.
– And the egg boards.
– It is true, also, that egg boards in the various States have representatives of employees in the industry. So we have precedents in State and Commonwealth organizations for employee representation. Whatever union may be represented, whether it be the Federated Union of Storemen and Packers or the Australian Workers Union, the members of the union have a great interest in the welfare and prosperity of the industry. I think if there is an employee’s representative on the board, there will be greater harmony in the industry.
.- -I join with other honorable members in seeking to have representation of the employees on the Australian Wool Board, which under the bill is to have eleven members. The Government appears to consider every one but those who are a major part of the wool industry, and that is the employees. The board should have amongst its members a representative of the employees. It is significant that members of the Australian Country Party are opposed to this proposal. Do they think that an employee’s representative on the board would seek improved conditions for the men and that this would result in smaller profits for the huge growers who control the industry? It will be interesting to hear the views-
– Order! I think it would be wise for the committee to decide whether honorable members can speak about employee’s representation when discussing the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor or whether such views should be expressed only when the next amendment is before the committee. I allowed the honorable members for Lalor and Bendigo to comment on this matter, but strictly the amendment now moved by the honorable member for Lalor seeks to do no more than increase the membership of the board from eleven to twelve. The subject of the representation of employees engaged in the wool industry arises from the next amendment that the Opposition proposes to move. I want to make clear to the committee that at this stage the matter before the committee is whether the membership of the board should be increased. Does the committee want to consider the two amendments together?
– No, we will consider them separately. This is a question of whether there should be eleven members or twelve members and I have moved that there should be twelve members. I will speak on the subject of the representation of employees when I move the next amendment.
– In that case, I suggest the honorable member for Grayndler should make his speech when the next amendment is before the committee.
– I raise the point of order that if we are to discuss the question as to whether there should be eleven or twelve members, we must be able to discuss the reasons why there should be twelve instead of eleven. One reason is that it is necessary to have employee representation on the board. We cannot argue as to whether there should be twelve instead of eleven unless we can argue the reason. I submit, therefore, that the argument as to employee representation is relevant to the question of whether there should be twelve instead of eleven members.
– In view of the next amendment that is to be moved, I rule that the full argument relating to employees should not be advanced during the discussion of the amendment now before the committee.
– With all due respect to you, Sir, I submit that we have a perfect right to state a case as to why the committee should have twelve members rather than eleven members. No one will contest that right, surely. Twelve is a nice round number; it is exactly one dozen.
– If there are to be twelve members we should be able to give reasons.
– That is right. The very specific and desirable reason for the increase in the number of members is that employee representation on the board should be given. This would be unattainable unless it is provided that the number of members will be twelve instead of eleven. This is a most essential amendment and we maintain our right to argue along the lines that I have suggested. I think the argument is quite clear to the committee. If any of my colleagues would like to support me, I think they should be allowed to do so. If the committee, preferring the word “ twelve “ to the word “ eleven “, agrees to an additional member being appointed, we can then give particulars and say why we want the additional member. I will deal with that point at a later stage, of course.
– Will we discuss both together now?
– No, separately.
– Order! I have so ruled-
– On a point of order: You are not going to rule out the right of any one here to speak while I am here. We are discussing the reason why “ twelve “ should be inserted instead of “ eleven “. The committee is not aware of the next amendment until it is moved. If that is so, we can now discuss only whether “ eleven “ shall remain or “ twelve “ shall be inserted. I think I am right. I ask for your ruling, Mr. Chairman.
– Order! If the committee is unaware of what the next amendment is, the honorable member should not speak on the subject covered by the second amendment. In relation to the first amendment, my ruling is that it may be argued that the number should be increased from eleven to twelve. The honorable member for Lalor has stated whom he desires the twelfth member of the board to be. I have ruled that while it may be mentioned that the twelfth member should be an employees’ representative, in the circumstances, as this is purely an arithmetical question of eleven or twelve, the argument should not be developed and debate ensue in regard to the employees. This does not mean, as the honorable member said, that I am denying any honorable member the right to speak on this matter. In dealing with the next amendment any honorable member may speak about the employees’ representative. I have said that the committee should make up its mind whether it wants to consider the two together - whether it wants to discuss this matter which I have ruled is covered in the second amendment. In respect of the first amendment, I rule that this is purely on an arithmetical matter and debate should not ensue in regard to the employees’ representative.
– I appreciate your ruling, Sir, but I think it is wrong. There is no sense in arguing for the insertion of twelve or the deletion of eleven unless we can explain to the committee the purpose of the amendment. I think we have already explained the purpose. As far as I am concerned I have practically exhausted my rights, but I am supporting the right of the honorable member for Grayndler to elaborate on that matter. That is fair enough.
– Mr. Chairman, I ask you to consider this fact: If the committee is limited to an arithmetical consideration it will have no grounds for deciding whether there should be twelve members or eleven. If, on the other hand, you limit the discussion to an arithmetical consideration and we then decide that membership shall be eleven, it will be too late, at a later stage, to argue why there should be an employees’ representative, because we will already have limited the membership to eleven. I therefore suggest that it must be within the power of the committee at this stage, in asking for twelve, to give the reason why we want twelve instead of eleven, and that reason is that we want an employees’ representative.
If we are confined to the arithmetical argument and not allowed to say why it is very important that there should be an employees’ representative then later, on the next clause, we will be debarred from arguing it because we will have already decided that the number should be limited to eleven on purely arithmetical considerations. I hope you will see the necessity of allowing us to argue at this stage that we want twelve.
– I tried to help the Opposition earlier by suggesting that the two matters be discussed together, because the one depends on the other, but the Opposition is curtailing the right to debate the second amendment with the first because it is insisting on debating them separately.
– We must debate them separately.
– You may vote on them separately, but to debate them together would help the Opposition. If the Opposition is not prepared to accept my suggestion, then you, Sir, must stick to your ruling.
– Order! I still say that the very fact mentioned by the Minister, and which was mentioned by me when I first rose, is that there is no endeavour to stop any member of the committee from giving the reason why it should be the inclusion of an employees’ representative which brings the number of twelve. That is an argument why the number should be increased from eleven to twelve. The argument why the representative should be an employee engaged in the wool industry is consequential on that but not necessarily a factor, because the representative could be from some other industry. My ruling still stands that in this amendment members must confine themselves to the increase from to eleven to twelve and not engage in a full-scale debate on the particular representation within that number. I so rule.
– I am prepared to debate the matter now and make my speech on the next clause. As the honorable member for Lalor said-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.As no other honorable member has risen, I will take my second period. We seek to alter the composition of the board from eleven members to twelve. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said, we want to increase the size of the board-
– I rise to order! Is not the honorable member for Grayndler out of order in now arguing what you said he could not argue?
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised.
– Allow me to congratulate you, Sir, on the wisdom of your ruling. We cannot have an extra member of the board unless we increase the size of the board from eleven members to twelve. That is the major reason why we want to increase the size of the board. The board now is to consist of eleven members. How do you increase its membership by one? You increase it to twelve. That is precisely the effect of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor.
– Did you work it out yourself?
– I worked it out, but the disappointing thing is that the honorable member for Perth cannot understand it. The nature of the interjections from honorable members opposite must convince you, Sir, of the necessity of taking these things separately. Things do not dawn on members of the Liberal Party easily. The so-called intelligent Government Whip does not understand that to increase the membership of the board from eleven to twelve you add another member. That is precisely the purpose of this amendment. I will not elaborate on what we will do when we get the membership increased from eleven to twelve, but once having made that major alteration, when the next clause comes before the committee honorable members will see the Opposition’s plan outlined clearly and distinctly so that even Government supporters will be able to understand it.
I will be interested to hear the views of Australian Country Party members on this matter - the increase in membership from eleven to twelve. I am glad to have had the opportunity of convincing the committee of the necessity to support our amendment. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) is nodding his approval. Apparently he at last understands that eleven plus one equals twelve.
Question put -
That the word proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 10. (1.) The Chairman shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Board. (2.) The last preceding sub-section does not apply to the appointment of the first Chairman or an appointment to fill a vacancy in the office of Chairman that occurs before the expiration of the period of appointment of the first Chairman, but the Minister shall, before making any such appointment, consult with the Australian Wool Industry Conference with respect to the appointment.
Amendment (by Mr. Pollard) proposed -
Omit sub-clause (2.).
Question put -
That the sub-clause proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11. (1.) Each member to represent Australian wool- . growers shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. (2.) Of the six members to represent Australian woolgrowers first appointed -
.- I move -
In sub-clause (1.), omit all words after “ appointed “, insert “ by Australian woolgrowers ; after a poll of such woolgrowers to be conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth “.
The amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) will introduce a really democratic process to this clause of the’ bill and will give Australian wool-growers the right to elect their representatives at a poll conducted by the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth. I do not think that there can be much objection to the proposal that the industry be represented by persons who really have the confidence of the growers. That would be better than having as representatives persons who were merely appointed upon the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. It is ! beyond me to imagine what arguments the Country Party or the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) can offer against the proposition.
I should like the Minister to explain why the amendment is not acceptable. It is a wonder to me that such a provision was not included in the measure presented to the Parliament. What could be more democratic than for the industry to be represented by persons chosen by the industry in a poll conducted in a fair and just manner? There would be a full choice of any persons who might care to nominate for the position? Clause 11 (1.) reads -
Each member to represent Australian woolgrowers shall be appointed upon the nomination of the Australian Wool Industry Conference.
I do not believe in such appointments, because we just do not know whether the persons concerned will be selected because of their association with the industry or because they are friends of the Minister, or for some other reason of that nature. This matter is important to the industry. It is important that the persons who are appointed should know a little about the industry, and I suggest that persons who nominate would have an intimate knowledge of it. They would have to display their qualities and win the confidence of the wool-growers.
I should like to hear members of the Australian Country Party address themselves to this question. Not many of them have been in the chamber during this debate, but they should express their point of view on this important provision of the legislation. They are supposed to represent country people, yet they are never more silent than when a Country Party measure is before the chamber. Whether this implies ignorance on their part or lack of appreciation, I do not know.
I make no apology for speaking at this hour. If the Government introduces legislation of this kind and makes us sit up all night to debate it, in an endeavour to hide from the public certain things that the Government is not prepared to have debated in the day time, every member on this side of the chamber should rise in his place and protest to the limit of the time available to him under the Standing Orders. I can see no reason why we should remain here, constantly being knocked over by the Government’s majority, without expressing our support for the Opposition’s amendments and our dissatisfaction with the treatment that the Government is according to us. We can see the state of Ministers at this hour of the night. They will have to work to-morrow. They are bad enough when they are bright and wide awake.
– Order! The honorable member’s remarks are wide of the clause.
– I was making passing reference to the fact that this procedure is legislation by exhaustion. I should like to hear the Minister explain why he will not accept the amendment put forward by the honorable member for Lalor which proposes to apply the democratic process of election to the appointment of representatives of wool-growers. This should be written into the legislation for the protection of the industry.
When all is said and done, the Government writes a provision of this kind into every piece of industrial legislation. The Government demands that properly supervised ballots be held by the trade unions. It claims that this is for the protection of the workers. If it is good for trade unionists to go through this procedure, it is good for the wool industry. This amendment ought to be supported. I hope that members of the Country Party will speak to it. I urge honorable members on this side to rise and support the amendment vocally.
– We have already decided that there is not to be a roll. The committee decided that in relation to an earlier clause. The compiling of a register of wool-growers and the taking of a vote would delay the implementation of this legislation for up to twelve months. I said earlier that it would take at least six months. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) knows that it would take about two months to go through all the brokers, compile a register and then take a vote. I think it is fair that the committee should now vote upon this amendment. I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
After sub-clause (1.) insert the following subclause: - “ (1a.) A candidate for election as a member of the board to represent Australian woolgrowers shall not be eligible for appointment to the board unless he -
is a member of a woolgrowers organization which, at the date of close of nominations for the election of a member of the board, includes in its membership not less than one thousand woolgrowers; and
is nominated by at least twenty woolgrowers who are members of a woolgrowers organization as defined by paragraph (a) of this sub-section.”.
.- The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is to be congratulated for the amendment which he has proposed. He is acting in the interests of the wool-growers of this nation, and for this alone he deserves the congratulations of all honorable members. As the legislation now stands, there is no stipulation that these representatives must be members of a wool-growers’ association or, in fact, that they must be wool-growers at all.
– They could even be peanut growers.
– That is right. The Government could elect its defeated supporters or unwanted members to positions on the board. We have already seen the mess which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has made of our economy and we would hate to see him in charge of the welfare of the wool-growers.
The proposed amendment is in the interests of the wool-growers. It is essential that it be accepted because there are many wool-growers in this country who could be regarded as small growers. Their interests must be protected. How better to do this than to ensure that the people on this body will be fellow wool-growers and that they will be elected only after twenty wool-growers who are members of woolgrowers’ associations have nominated them? They will be acquainted with the industry and will be well known to some of the members of the associations. If this proposal is accepted it will prevent pressure groups from being formed which have no loyalties to any one or any interests in the small operators. With such pressure groups, any benefit which the small operator obtained would be a secondary and incidental consideration. We have seen these pressure groups so often in the past creep into various bodies which the Government has set up.
If the proposal is accepted, the rank and file members of the wool-growers’ associations will have a say in the election of their representatives to the board and their real interests will be safeguarded. However, I assume that the Government will reject the proposed amendment. As the bill now stands, a few people who are minions of the powerful pressure groups which control the wool-growers because of the financial, assistance which they have given the; growers could obtain control of the board and be able to compel the wool-growers to accept their nominations without demur* ! Let there be no rejection of our proposal; There is ample evidence that such things have happened, unfortunately to the detriment of many industries.
The proposal which we are now discussing, the proposals which already have been advanced and the proposals which will be advanced later show clearly how mindful the Labour Party is of the welfare of our primary industries. I can see the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) nodding his head in agreement with me.
No doubt the proposed amendments which we have submitted and which the Government has rejected will be advanced later by the Government as its own proposals for the benefit of the community, and the Government will feel very virtuous because it has proposed those amendments of the act. The Government has done this on previous occassions. I have in mind Labour’s proposals during the last election campaign, which the Menzies Government adopted later as its own. The “ Times “ of London said that the Menzies Government was wearing the cast-off clothes of the Labour Opposition. That was very true. The Government rejected our proposals to save its own face, but a few months later, in indecent haste, it introduced our proposals in the form of legislation. We are disappointed that the Government has rejected our proposals on this occasion but there is some hope that it will accept them at some time in the future. To reject our proposals completely as a matter of vain personal politics and then to advance them later is to adopt a very selfish attitude. It certainly pays no consideration to the well being of the wool-growers.
The crying need and the urgent demand in this country to-day, not only for the wool-growers but for all primary producers, is for greater representation for the small operators. For far too long the big men and the pressure groups have received favoured treatment from the Government,
I ask any honorable member on the Government side to point to one portion of the legislation where it is stated that the representatives on the board shall be woolgrowers. Any one could be elected to the board. This is a very serious shortcoming in the bill and an anomaly which will be the cause of great censure of the Government in the future.
There is an aspect which we should not completely overlook. What is to stop subversive interests concerned with the manufacture of synthetic materials moving in their representatives by devious means and destroying the organization? This suggestion cannot be denied or rejected because there is evidence that such things have happened in relation to trade, although not in relation to this particular industry. We know that Australia gains its highest export income from wool. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we should have legislation which will give the maximum protection and encouragement to the industry.
The Government’s legislation has gone nowhere near far enough towards meeting the requirements of the industry. If the Government accepted at least some of the proposals which the honorable member for Lalor in his wisdom has seen fit to advance, we would feel more secure when we completed this debate, because we would know that the welfare and prosperity of the wool-growers had been given greater safeguards. The proposed amendments have been long overdue and the explicit manner in which the honorable member for Lalor has set them out highlights the shortcomings of the legislation. As the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has pointed out, one wonders whether these shortcomings were accidental or intentional. Does the Government want to ease some of its compatriots and some of its powerful outside supporters into a remunerative position?
Last night the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said that the Country Party represents the voice of the primary producers. Why is the Country Party so silent now? Why are Country Party members displaying such a lack of enthusiasm on this occasion? It is a shame that it must be left continually to such great fighters as the honorable member for Lalor and the honorable member Grayndler to battle for the primary producers. Honorable members on the Government side could support the propositions which have been advanced, but they remain silent. They are more interested in getting home to bed than in fighting valiantly to defend our primary producers. They claim that our primary industries are the backbone of our nation, but what are they doing now to defend the backbone of our nation?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– That was a very interesting speech by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), because he said that the 50 wool-grower members of the Wool Industry Conference were members of pressure groups and were not to be trusted.
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. I did not say that.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The effect of what he said was that they could not be trusted to elect wool-growers to the Australian Wool Board. That is the position, Mr. Chairman. I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. Pollard) - by leave - proposed -
In sub-clause (2.), omit paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), insert the following paragraphs: - “ (a) three shall be nominated for appointment, and shall be appointed, for two years; and
three shall be nominated for appointment, and shall be appointed, for four years.”.
.- I regret that the mainspring of the Opposition’s amendments has been lost. That was the last amendment, which provided for the election of the Australian Wool Board by a poll of wool-growers throughout the nation. The Minister may ask why we are going on with these other amendments now that the mainspring has been lost. I reply that we object to being gagged. All honorable members who spoke in the secondreading debate on this bill said that it is a most important measure because it deals with the most important industry in the Commonwealth. We have been denied our democratic right to speak on the measure. I have been denied the opportunity to speak on three occasions during the committee stage. As far as I am concerned, we will fight all the way and take every opportunity to put our point of view.
Generally, we approve of the principle contained in the bill that the marketing, research, testing and promotion authorities be gathered together under one roof, as it were. The essence of our objection to the bill, of course, is that the Wool Industry Conference will be nominated by two organizations and not elected. We want an election and no nomination. The amendment that we are discussing is part of the machinery of our proposal.
First, we recognize that members of the Australian Wool Board before their nomination should be members of a wool-growers’ organization. The Labour Party supports unionism. We support the principle that wool-growers should join an organization which has the interests of their industry at heart. They have indeed a wide choice of organizations. There is the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Farmers and Settlers Association and a great number of others. We believe in encouraging these organizations. The provision in proposed paragraph (a) indicated that.
We indicated, too, that all the wool-grower organizations should have a chance to be represented upon the Wool Board by virtue of the fact that we provided, first of all, that the nominated candidates must be approved and, secondly, that the organizations themselves must have at least some substance - at least 1,000 wool-grower members. Knowing that the election of the Wool Board could become unwieldy, we further provided that nomination papers of the candidates must be signed by at least twenty wool-growers, bearing in mind the definition of wool-growers which was proposed by the Opposition - a proposal which was lost. This required that a wool-grower should produce at least ten bales of wool in a growing season.
We considered that proposed paragraph (b) would remove the possibility of irresponsible and, shall we say, hopeless persons endeavouring to gain election and cluttering up the ballot-paper. I feel strongly that the members of the Wool Board should have been elected. I am greatly disappointed that the Government and the Minister have not accepted our amendment. I feel sure, as the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden) said, that the day will come when justice will prevail and members of the Wool Board will be elected.
– Mr. Chairman, I rise to order. Is the Postmaster-General entitled to read a newspaper while he is in the chamber?
– Order! There is no substance in the honorable member’s point of order.
– I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) for the reasons given by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton). Mr. Chairman, I direct your attention to the fact that Country Party Ministers all over this chamber are asleep.
– I rise to order.
– Order! The honorable member for Eden-Monaro will resume his seat.
– I move -
That progress be reported.
– Mr. Chairman, that is not a point of order. The Minister cannot move that progress be reported. He rose to a point of order. I also direct your attention to the fact that legislation vital to the interests of wool-growers is being dealt with while Ministers are asleep all over the chamber, particularly Country Party Ministers.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put-
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the paragraphs proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.34 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. No details are available.
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice-
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 arid 2. The information is not available and could not be ascertained without an unreasonable amount of work.
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What quantities of (a) butter and (b) margarine were used during each of the past five years in each of the States by Commonwealth Hostels Limited?
– The following table provides the information desired: -
I am advised by the company that only butter is served with meals and used in the preparation of sandwiches. Margarine is used in cooking.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
on asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. The general policy of the Government in the purchase of supplies is to obtain its requirements after the invitation of public tenders. In the comparison of tenders for local and overseas goods it is the practice to include charges for freight and insurance in the prices quoted for overseas goods and to add an amount equal to any customs and other duties which would be payable if the goods were imported commercially. In all cases, therefore, the local manufacturer obtains the protection provided by the tariff which is the accepted means of providing preference to industries which can produce efficiently and economically. In addition all proposals to accept tenders for imported supplies for which offers were also received for acceptable goods of Australian manufacture are reviewed to determine whether the circumstances of the particular case would justify the granting of an additional margin of preference to the local industry. Whilst maintaining the integrity of the public tender system this policy means that preference in a genuine sense is given to Australian goods and the major government purchasing authorities obtain the great bulk of their requirements from local sources.
y asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The Governor of the Reserve Bank has advised that the contractors who submitted tenders were as follows, in order of tender price: -
F. C. W. Powell and Son Proprietary Limited
A. W. Edwards Proprietary Limited
James Wallace Proprietary Limited
Concrete Constructions Proprietary Limited
Thiess Brothers Proprietary Limited
Max Cooper and Sons Proprietary Limited
Hutcherson Brothers Proprietary Limited
T. C. Whittle Proprietary Limited
James S. Samson Proprietary Limited
A. F. Little Proprietary Limited.
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honor;able member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. The information is not available.
s. - On 28th November, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) asked if the Commonwealth’s defence had been delivered in the proceedings - Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited v. the State of New South Wales and others.
When I replied to the honourable member’s earlier question it was, as I stated, expected that the Commonwealth’s defence would be filed in the course of a few days. However, it was found that the draft defence needed further consideration by the law officers and by counsel and this consideration is now being given to it. I am able to assure the honourable member that no avoidable delay has occured and that the defence will be settled and filed as soon as this can be done without prejudicing the interests of the Commonwealth in the litigation by insufficient attention to the terms of the pleading.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 December 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621205_reps_24_hor37/>.