24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr. Speaker, honorable members may not be aware that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) is indisposed and is entering hospital for a few days. Although he will carry on with his other ministerial duties, he will not be able to attend the sittings of the Parliament over the next two or three weeks. During his absence, and for the purposes of the House itself, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) will represent the Minister for the Army.
– I wish to address a question to the Attorney-General. First, will he institute an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the purchase of a warehouse property in Melbourne by a leading newspaper monopoly - Herald and Weekly Times Limited? This property, which was formerly owned by a merchandising company - Sargood Gardiner Limited, incorporated in New South Wales and trading throughout Australia - will be purchased by the brutal exercise of financial power. Secondly, is the Minister aware that the merchandising firm was the subject of a take-over bid, which is riot yet finally consummated, the take-over offer having come from an investment corporation in Victoria - Australian United Corporation Limited? Thirdly, is he aware-
– Order! I hope that the honorable member’s question is not too long.
– It is not too long, Mr. Speaker. I am more than half-way through it.
Does the Attorney-General agree that if his proposals concerning restrictive trade practices had been in force, particularly the part relative to take-overs, some stay could have been put on these transactions? Finally, will the Minister consider blanketing, meanwhile, further takeover proposals until legislation is passed?
– I know nothing of the material that the honorable gentleman has mentioned, but he has told me enough for me to know that I have no function in this matter, because it is outside the present responsibilities of my office.
– I direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. Can he say whether there is any concrete evidence, now that Indonesia has achieved its objectives in relation to West Irian, that it is turning to increased economic development? In particular, can he say whether there are any signs of a reduction in the very large proportion of the Indonesian budget that has been spent on defence in recent years?
– I can inform the honorable member, and honorable members generally, that there is increasing evidence that the Indonesian Government is turning to the question of economic development after the taking over of West New Guinea. Indeed, there have been continuing discussions between the Indonesian Government and representatives of the International Monetary Fund, which I can properly describe as discussions of a very promising nature. On the question of expenditure on defence, honorable members may have read that in 1962 the defence component was about 8n per cent, of the Indonesian budget. The 1963 budget has not yet been brought forward, but there is evidence so far that the defence component will be very considerably reduced. It will probably be reduced to about SO per cent, of the budget.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: In the interests of landholders in the Tidbinbilla area, will the Minister consult with his colleague, the Minister for Supply, and give the earliest possible information delineating the actual areas to be withdrawn from leaseholds for the establishment of the deep space tracking station? So that farmers in that area can plan their pasture, cropping and grazing programmes, will the Minister as early as possible inform each of the land-holders concerned of the actual areas to be completely withdrawn from lease and of the areas which, although withdrawn, will still be available for grazing? Will the Minister say whether the establishment of this station will mean that the access road to Tharwa will be sealed or will the Government now proceed with the construction of a bridge across the Murrumbidgee River at Point Hut?
– I will do as the honorable member asks. I should say that it is my understanding that there will be relatively small areas withdrawn from lease for these tracking stations. The question of the road is a matter yet for decision. As to the other matters, there has been fairly constant discussion with the farmers in the area. They are pretty wc”. aware of the kind of work that will be done and the kind of opportunities that will be available. However, as the honorable member has asked that the position be made more precise, I will follow his suggestion.
– I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question. As a background to the question, let me say that I understand that in racing, owners, trainers and jockeys who commit certain misdemeanours may be sent out or warned off the course for life. Do any of the provisions of the uniform companies legislation apply to persons who have been directors of companies and who, though they acted within the four corners of the law, welshed thousands of honest people of money they had invested on the stock exchanges? It is true that every one has a duty to take care, but this type of activity has been predominant recently. Is there any provision in the legislation that would permit these people to be sent out for life? Can they be prevented from again occupying positions as directors or managers or influencing company affairs in any way in the future?
– The uniform companies legislation was the result of a great deal of discussion between the States and the Commonwealth. Its provisions for the protection of shareholders received the approbation of the State Attorneys-General and the State parliaments as well as the federal territorial administrations. As I understand its provisions, they are adequate to protect the public. I know nothing of the particular situation referred to by the honorable gentleman. Whilst I am unable to offer any legal views, if the honorable gentleman supplies me with details I will see that they are forwarded to the appropriate authority, which no doubt will be one of the State Attorneys-General.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the recent survey of the apprenticeship position in Victoria, which has disclosed that for some years the intake of apprentices into skilled trades has been something less than one-third of industry capacity? Does this situation indicate that employers are now adopting the view that their skilled labour requirements may be met by the more expensive method of relying on recruitments from overseas to the detriment of Australian youth? Is the Government itself employing apprentices to the extent that it may do so?
– There have been several reviews of the apprenticeship and skilled training systems in this country. I think that although we estimate that about 30,000 apprentices are required each year, the number of registrations of apprentices amounts to about 20,000. I do not think the explanation of this situation is to be found in the fact that employers think they can recruit apprentices or skilled people from overseas. For a complex of reasons employers are not engaging in the training of apprentices. Not the least of those reasons is the fact that the present system of apprenticeship has been found by many not to be efficient. I have said in the House that the system does need to be reviewed. As the honorable gentleman knows, a partial review has taken place and substantial changes have been made, particularly in the electrical and engineering trades.
With regard to the last part of the honorable member’s question, Commonwealth departments that engage skilled people are taking apprentices up to the limit of their needs. Many departments, in particular the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of Supply, have been asked to look into this matter further with a view to taking more apprentices than their needs demand so that some contribution to our future requirements for skilled workers will be met.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the changes that have taken place in the composition of our meat exports since the Australian Meat Board was formed in 1946 and in view of the probability of other big changes in the future, will the Minister consider a suggestion, put forward recently by an official of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, that the board be reconstituted to give greater prominence to representatives of the beef industry in Australia?
– I think it may be said that beef producers are not adequately represented or not proportionately represented on the Australian Meat Board and that to that extent it may be an advantage if the act were amended. The organizations concerned have indicated their desire to put their views to me and I will be glad to hear their views when they have formulated and considered them.
– I ask the Treasurer a question without notice. In view of the fact that self-employed persons are at a great disadvantage in taxation matters in that they can claim none of the deductions available to executives of companies, whether proprietary or public, will the right honorable gentleman earnestly consider giving effect in the next Budget to the recommendation made by the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation, in paragraph 729 of its report of June, 1961? If effect were given to that recommendation, self-employed persons who are members of a superannuation fund approved by the Commissioner of Taxation under section 23 (ja) of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act would be allowed a business deduction of not more than £200 in a year of income in respect of payment to such fund. And further-
– Order! I think the honorable member should be seeking information. There is a tendency for questions to become far too long. I ask him to frame his question.
– Will the Treasurer consider the committee’s recommendation that such deductions should be in addition to the aggregate deduction to which such selfemployed persons may be entitled under section 82h?
– When the honorable member introduced this question I thought he put the position rather loosely in saying that self-employed persons were not able to claim deductions available to persons employed by companies. Of course self-employed persons claim deductions, as do other taxpayers, in respect of a great variety of personal matters. It appeared, though, as the honorable member proceeded to ask his question, that he was confining his proposition to the opportunity which now exists for companies to make superannuation arrangements in respect of some of their executive staff and to have such payments, up to a specified limit, deducted for taxation purposes. As to selfemployed persons, while the honorable gentleman raises a matter of policy which I would not be willing or competent to answer in a detailed way at this point of time, I understand some self-employed people have been able to make arrangements to procure superannuation and to cover their situation. I shall study the question in its detail, as it appears in the “ Hansard “ record, and give the honorable member a full reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Last Thursday, I asked him a question referring to the dissemination of information to the public by the Australian Water Resources Council. Can he, at this stage, give the House any information on that matter?
– I have had an opportunity to discuss with the Minister for
National Development the question which the honorable member asked me last Thursday. I can inform him that the Australian Water Resources Council intends to publish a newsletter twice yearly which will give information to the public on the water resources available in Australia. It will be of a fairly technical nature.
The honorable member spoke to me of a provisional assessment of water resources in Australia. As the title of the newsletter indicates, this provisional assessment will not be published, because further work is being done on it. However, the council intends, when this further work has been completed, to publish the full assessment of Australian water resources. In addition, if from time to time further matters arise which come within its purview and which are regarded as of interest to the people the council will publish this information.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the proposed United States radio communications station in Western Australia will transmit messages on the very low frequency band to submerged Polaris missilecarrying submarines in the Indian and South Pacific oceans? Also, is it a fact that no missile will be fired by the United States forces without the order to fire coming directly from the President himself? If this is so, how will this order be conveyed to submerged missile-carrying Polaris submarines in the Indian Ocean?
– I have stated more than once that this is to be a very low frequency communications station and that it is designed to communicate with the naval vessels of the United States of America, which, of course, include both surface vessels and submarines. Also, from time to time, as the Minister for External Affairs will be explaining to the House in a day or two, arrangements can be made for the Australian authorities to transmit messages. I have no doubt that the ultimate judgment for the use of missiles of any kind, and indeed for the operations of war of any kind, will in the case of the United
States of America come from the President. That is understood widely to be the position. If any instructions have to be sent to naval vessels, I would take it for granted that the American authorities would use this communications station. That is what it is for. It is not being put up by way of ornament. It is being put up so that messages can be communicated to naval vessels of the United States. We will have ample opportunity to discuss this matter quite soon. I satisfy myself for the moment by saying that I am delighted that the station is being established.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. In view of the general community interest in the care of children suffering deformities as a result of the use of the drug thalidomide, will the Minister say whether these children could be helped by Repatriation Department artificial limb and appliance centres?
– Repatriation Department artificial limb and appliance centres are established in each State, principally for the purpose of providing limbs, appliances and services for repatriation patients. In some cases these patients are ex-servicemen; in other cases they are dependants of exservicemen. The department also provides limbs, appliances and services for other Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities. These are provided at cost. In addition, where surplus production is available the present policy permits the artificial limb and appliance centres to provide limbs, appliances and services to State instrumentalities, philanthropic organizations or private individuals. In those cases, of course, a charge is made to the instrumentality, organization or individual concerned. The department has already provided limbs and appliances for a number of thalidomide cases, and will be happy to do so in future, under the existing policy.
– Are you charging for them?
– Yes. In the case of private individuals, when an approach is made, it is necessary for each individual to provide a doctor’s certificate stating that the limb, appliance or service cannot be provided from other sources. Also, in accordance with our policy we have carried out medical investigations in this particular field and will continue this medical research work.
– I would like to ask a question of the Minister for Territories. Is it true that a syndicate in Sydney is desirous of acquiring land at Norfolk Island for the erection of a modern hotel and that this syndicate is endeavouring to obtain from the Government, by lease or by purchase, the old parade ground of convict settlement days? Is it true that so far the Minister has resisted this attempt to spoil the panoramic view of the old penal settlement by the erection of a hotel right in the centre of it? Is it his intention shortly to visit the island to make a first-hand inspection?
Mr. HASLUCK__ I am aware that a group of business people in Sydney is interested - of course, we will encourage that interest - in developing the tourist trade to Norfolk Island. It is established policy that not only should the group of old colonial buildings at Kingston be carefully preserved but also that no building of a foreign character should be allowed to intrude into the group of buildings. Honorable members who have visited the island will know that this is one of the finest groups of Australian early colonial buildings existing anywhere in the Australian region. It is our intention to preserve it as such and to prevent the intrusion of any alien buildings. That policy will be maintained. There is, however, a possibility that permission might be obtained to erect buildings, at a point removed from the central area of Kingston, which in general architectural style would be in conformity with the main group. I am hoping to be able to visit Norfolk Island, not for the specific purpose of looking into this matter but in order to join the islanders in celebration of Bounty Day.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Well knowing his keen interest in Australian Rules football, which is our only original national game, I ask him whether he is aware that secondary schools in the Australian Capital Territory refuse to allow the game to be played, even though they have been offered assistance in the way of coaching and equipment. Whilst not wishing to limit in any way other codes of football played at these schools, I ask the right honorable gentleman to look at the position and ensure that, as a matter of national interest, schools in the national capital give greater attention to the national game.
– The bulk of this question should really have been directed to the Minister for the Interior. I do not administer this matter. But I am bound to tell my honorable friend, if it is any comfort to him, that no winter game is more strongly established here than Australian Rules football. It attracts a great deal of public interest. It fields many teams, ranging from the senior teams down to the midgets. It is in a state of good rude health.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Health inform the House whether it is the intention of the Government to make further drastic cuts in the list of free medicines? For the Minister’s benefit, I may say that the rumour is being circulated in Melbourne that many of the drugs to be eliminated from the free medicine list are drugs that have proved themselves most beneficial to the sick and suffering, young and old alike. If the Government intends to make this change will the Minister say when it will do so?
– As the honorable member knows, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee revises the list of free drugs from time to time and makes recommendations to the Commonwealth Department of Health. This procedure is continually going on, and changes are made quite regularly in the list. Perhaps the honorable member has seen or heard of a list of seventeen drugs which are being deleted from the present list but are being replaced by new and improved drugs to be used for the purposes for which the drugs being deleted were formerly used. As I say, this revision procedure is being constantly followed. No reduction is being made in the list on this occasion. In fact, there will be an improvement in the value of the services to the public by the replacement of these seventeen drugs with new and more effective drugs. 1 can give the honorable member a list of the drugs concerned if he would like to see it. I can assure him that these changes are carefully watched and that in this case an improvement will be effected.
– I ask the Treasurer whether any representations have been made by members of the accounting profession at various times to be allowed to use accounting periods other than that ending at 30th June each year, for the reason that 30th June may be an unsuitable date for the closure of their records. If so, has any consideration been given to the matter?
– Yes, it is a fact that representations have been received. The matter is not a simple one, but I can assure the honorable member that it is receiving study and that when a statement can be made on it such a statement will be made.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question about the proposed radio station in Western Australia. I preface it by reminding him that over a fortnight ago he told me he would ascertain the attitude of countries in the Indian Ocean and Pacific areas to this proposal and notify the House. Has he any information that he can give the House on that point? In particular, will he reconcile the statement that I understood him to make a few minutes ago, namely that an order from the President of the United States to fire missiles would be sent through this radio station, with his reported statement in the Grey byelection campaign that the station is merely a means of conveying messages to naval vessels and has nothing to do with firing anything?
– I am sorry that the honorable member should fall into this error. He has suggested - and so have one or two others on his side of the House - that the actual control of fire will be determined by this station; in other words, that it will fix the navigational point, choose the direction and directly control the fire. That is an entirely different matter from having a communications station from which communications appropriate to the Navy will be sent. If one of those involves the fact that the country is at war and that missiles may be discharged, I can imagine no more important naval message under such circumstances. He need not bother about trying to whip up confusion on a matter which in itself is most simple, unless he is fully determined, as he is, to hound the proposal down. It is perfectly simple otherwise. As for the other question, 1 know that he put a question on this matter. 1 am interested to know that it has not yet been answered. I will see that it is.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industry. He is aware of my recent representations relative to the Honey Industry Act. I ask him for an assurance that the Australian Honey Board will be restricted to handling the export of honey placed voluntarily under its control. Will he dispel the apprehension of some people in this industry that the board may restrict private trading in honey?
– The Australian Honey Board was created for the express purpose of regulating exports. The board was given the right to collect a levy for the purposes of administration and promotion. lt is confined to those purposes. The levy is deductible on all sales made on the domestic market. That does not interfere in any way with the right of people to sell honey as they like.
– I as/ the Minister for Primary Industry: Has he informed himself whether the United Kingdom Government is requesting the Australian Government to forgo the preference of 15s. per cwt. which Australian butter at present receives on the United Kingdom market? Is the United Kingdom Government indicating that if the Australian
Government does not agree to do that the quota for Australian butter, which last year I think was 62,000 tons, may be reduced? Will he and the Government maintain a firm attitude on this matter and ensure full protection of the present rights of the Australian butter producers?
– This matter is under negotiation at present. The negotiations are being handled by the Minister for Trade, who at present is having discussions with the United Kingdom Government. I understand that the Danish Government seeks the removal of the 15s. per cwt. duty that is now payable on Danish butter; but there is no suggestion of a threat by the United Kingdom Government to take away our quota rights at all. The attitude of the Commonwealth Government is that we desire to retain our preference rights in this and other matters. Of course, there is always the prospect of negotiating something that is equally as good. That is in the hands of the Minister for Trade.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Repatriation. Is there any provision whereby the Repatriation Department can grant return rail travel warrants to the wife of an ex-serviceman who lives in a country district to enable her to visit him frequently while he is a patient for what is likely to be a lengthy period in a repatriation general hospital? If no such provision exists, will the Minister sympathetically consider granting this necessary concession in the interests particularly of totally and permanently incapacitated, and physically handicapped, ex-servicemen?
– Provision has been made for cases such as that to which the honorable member has referred. Where a patient in a repatriation general hospital or any other repatriation hospital cannot be discharged and is likely to be in hospital for any lengthy term and also, because of his condition, is unable to take any lengthy period of leave, arrangements can be made for his wife and child, whether living in a country centre or elsewhere, to be provided with rail warrants and a certain amount for expenses at least three times a year. The same facilities are provided for a close relative should the patient be an unmarried ex-serviceman, a widower or a war widow. In the case of a person who is dangerously ill or who is a terminal case near death, special facilities for air travel are provided.
– Earlier, in reply to a question relating to the United States naval communications base in Western Australia the Prime Minister said that he was delighted at its establishment, and in that he was supported by a number of Government members. Is it not true that the establishment of this station is a manifestation of the cold war and the heightened tensions which prevent a rapprochement between East and West? Is it not fraught with great danger for humanity that this has to be done through grim necessity? How can any decent citizen be delighted at the necessity for the existence of such an establishment?
– I take it from what the honorable member has said that he is opposed to the establishment of this base.
– I asked why you were delighted at its establishment.
– I take it from what the honorable member has said that he is opposed to the base, because when I said that I was heartily-
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. I want to make it clear that I asked the Prime Minister why he was delighted.
– Order! No point of order is involved.
– This is quite simple. I said I was delighted that the station was to be established. I was challenged at once about this by the honorable member, who made it perfectly clear that so far from being delighted he was opposed to the establishment of the base. That is a very valuable thing to know.
– Mr. Speaker, I have been misrepresented.
– Anyhow, the honorable member made a very illuminating remark.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by stating that during the adjournment debate last Thursday night I advocated that donations to the Murray Valley Development League be allowed as deductions for income tax purposes. Will the Treasurer give my request full and, if possible, favorable consideration at the appropriate time before the presentation of the next Budget?
– The honorable gentleman’s interest in this area is well known and fully appreciated. As other honorable members will know from their representations to me, I receive a great many requests of this character. Such proposals must be examined against the background of the Budget and of practicability of adoption. The honorable gentleman’s request in this instance will receive the careful consideration that is given to all other requests of a similar nature.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Did he, when criticizing at a meeting in Brisbane on 23rd April the policy of the Australian Labour Party, state that every Australian should look at the map of South-East Asia at least once a week? If so, will he extend this advice to include also the study of a map of Australia with the Brisbane line marked on it as a reminder to all Australians of the fate from which they were saved in World War II. by the collapse of the inept Menzies Government in October, 1941, and its replacement by the Curtin Labour Government, which immediately set about the task of defending all Australia?
– The honorable member recites a piece of fascinating history. He invented the Brisbane line. Let me remind honorable members who were not here at the time that the honorable member for East Sydney, when he had made his allegation about the Brisbane line and it turned out that there had been no record of such a thing in our time, then said, lightheartedly as usual, that a file was missing. His own Prime Minister took steps to have this allegation investigated by a royal commissioner, Mr. Justice Lowe, to ascertain whether this allegation-
– What did Major-General Willoughby say?
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney must cease interjecting.
– What did Major-General Willoughby say?
– Order! The honorable member continues to interject. I ask him to rise and apologize to the Chair.
– You said, Sir, that if I continue to interject I shall have to apologize.
– I warned the honorable member not to interject. He continued interjecting and I now ask him to apologize to the Chair.
– Then I do so.
– As I was saying, we all should remember what happened when the honorable member for East Sydney alleged that a file was missing and the Labour Prime Minister of the day appointed a royal commissioner to investigate the allegations. The honorable member - the man who had made the charge - pleaded privilege. He refused to give evidence before the royal commissioner. He gave no evidence before the royal commissioner at any time. He said, “ I cannot be challenged on a remark I made in Parliament, even though my own Prime Minister has established this royal commission to investigate the matter”. The royal commissioner took the opportunity to make an investigation, deprived of the valuable assistance of the man who had made the charge, and found that no file was missing; and, indeed, found that there was no substance in the allegation that lay behind the statement.
If the honorable member for East Sydney is really fascinated by what goes on in Queensland at this time, all I can tell him is that I made it clear to a number of people in that State that whereas this man had invented the story about a Brisbane line, the policy of his party to-day, so far as I can understand it, rests on the Hobart line or the South Pole line.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister, in his reply to my question, said that I had invented this story about the Brisbane line, but any reasonable member of this Parliament must recognize that there are-
– Order! I point out to the honorable member that he may not debate the subject-matter. He may only state the facts in relation to the alleged misrepresentation.
– Very well. I shall do that, Mr. Speaker. The Prime Minister said that I had invented this story. I ask him to quote in this Parliament, whenever he is ready to do so, what was stated on this matter by Major-General Willoughby, a member of General Douglas MacArthur’s staff, in a book of which he was joint author, entitled “MacArthur, 1941-1951”, and in which he made it quite clear that when MacArthur arrived in this country the Brisbane line strategy existed and that that strategy ‘had been the creation of the previous government, which had been led by the gentleman who sits at the table of this House now.
– Mr. Speaker, perhaps I may claim that I have been misrepresented. I think that the honorable member for East Sydney, with the advance of time-
– Order! Opposition members are interjecting. The Prime Minister claims to have been misrepresented. He has the same right as the honorable member for East Sydney had to make a personal explanation.
– The honorable member for East Sydney has developed a defect of memory. He forgets that I went out of office in August, 1941, when Japan was not in the war and when the question of how Australia ought to be defended in these waters had not arisen. It is a very interesting fact that subsequently, when Japan had come into the war and the Japanese movement south was progressing, and when General MacArthur arrived here, we heard for the first time about the Bris bane line. None of us had ever heard about it before, and for the best reason in the world.
- Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation, having been misrepresented.
– Order! The honorable member will explain how he has been misrepresented.
– Yes, Sir. I was misrepresented in the “ Age “ newspaper of yesterday’s date. It stated that my charges of Communist infection in the Australian Labour Party were too generalized to refute by particulars. My charges were not generalized. They are backed by particulars, and the only reason why the particulars were not made available was that the Opposition obstructed debate in this House and refused to let me speak.
– For the information of honorable members, I lay on the table the second interim report of the select committee appointed to inquire into and report on the political development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea-. Honorable members will recall that, on 23rd October, 1962, I tabled the first interim report of the committee, together with a resolution of the Legislative Council relating to the report. Both reports will be distributed together.
– by leave - I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Mr. Benson acting for Mr. Jones in connexion with a definite matter of urgent public importance which Mr. Jones had submitted to Mr. Speaker for discussion this day.
I understand that the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) is travelling in an aircraft that is caught up in a fog and that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) is to submit the proposal on behalf of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
-I have received a letter from the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The economic and strategic importance to Australia in promoting the shipbuilding industry.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for allowing me to raise this matter in place of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), whose aircraft, as has been explained, has been caught up in a fog. I am sure that when he returns to the House, he will be able to lift any fog that surrounds this subject and put his case well. I hope that when the House has heard that case something will be done to stimulate the ship-building industry - an industry that is of great importance to Australia. It is well to remember that every Australian pays for liberty by taking part in providing for it.
The importance of the shipbuilding industry to the economic well-being of Australia cannot be over-emphasized. It would be wrong to build ships in Australia if we were uncertain of ourselves and did not have the necessary knowledge. We would then have a legitimate excuse for buying our requirements overseas. However, since 1913, Australia has been building ships for the Navy on organized lines. Many of our naval vessels, ranging from small ships to light cruisers, have been built here. My speech will be devoted mainly to the building of naval ships in Australia. We have the necessary men, the necessary know-how and the necessary equipment to do this most important work. If we did not have the necessary skill, I would be one of the first to say, “ Let us get our requirements from overseas”. But when we have the knowledge, we should build the ships here.
The Australian Labour Party believes in providing for our defence. We would not hold back on the spending of money on defence requirements, but when defence work can be done in Australia it should rightly be done here. This is not the moment for the Government to turn away from an industry as important as the shipbuilding industry is, unless it has good reasons for doing so. So far, the Government has not provided the people of Australia or the members of the Opposition with sufficient reasons for spending some £A100,000,000 overseas on the purchase of ships. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has been most outspoken on this subject and has given reasons for not building ships in Australia. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has concurred with the Minister for the Navy and his reasons are similar to those of his colleague. They have said that Australian workmen are too slow and that costs in Australia are too high. To say the least, their remarks about Australian artisans and workmen are insulting. Their assertions about the costs in Australia being too high cannot be accepted. Mr. Weymouth, chairman of the Australian Shipbuilding Board, in his evidence before the Tariff Board in January of this year, said that Australian costs compared favorably with costs overseas.
For the information of the House, I wish to compare building times for the construction of naval vessels in the United Kingdom with those in Australia. I was a naval officer for a considerable time. The two books in the Navy that are considered to have correct information are “Jane’s Fighting Ships “ and “ Queen’s Rules “ and “Admiralty Instructions”. I shall refer to “ Jane’s Fighting Ships “, in which building times are given. I have taken two classes of ships, one built in Australia and the other built overseas. They are practically the same, having about the same tonnage and similar dimensions. In England, H.M.S. “ Dainty “ was laid down in December, 1945, and was completed on 26th February, 1953. It took seven years and two months to build. H.M.S. “Daring” of the same class was laid down on 29th September, 1945, and was completed on 8th March, 1952. It took six years and six months to build. H.M.S. “ Decoy “ was laid down on 22nd September, 1946, and was completed on 5th December, 1952. It took six years and three months to build. 1 will now give information about two ships built in Australia, one at Williamstown and the other in New South Wales. H.M.A.S. “Anzac”, which was built at Williamstown, was laid down on 23rd September, 1946, and completed on 22nd March, 1951. It took four years and six months to build. H.M.A.S. “ Tobruk “ was laid down on 5th August, 1946, and completed on 17th May, 1950. It took three years and ten months to build. These ships were built in times of peace. The ships built in England took some seven years to complete and the ships built in Australia took about four years. Finance for the Australian ships is provided through a method we all know, and that is the naval estimates. Sums of money are provided for each period of twelve months only. In times of crisis and need, the time taken to build the ships in Australia could be shortened, as in England. There is no doubt of this, but the fact is that in England it took seven years to build a ship and in Australia it took four years.
The Government has placed orders overseas for three destroyers of the Charles F. Adams class. They will be built in the United States of America. About four years will elapse from the time of placing the order until the time the ship arrives in Australia. So, despite all American knowhow and production-line methods, the ships will not be built any more quickly in the United States than they would be built here. When I asked the Minister for the Navy about this, he told me that the ships were being built overseas because of their armament. This was some nineteen months ago when he came to Williamstown town hall to receive a deputation from dockyard workers who sought to learn why the work was being taken away from them. After the order for the ships had been placed, a statement by the Minister was reported in the Melbourne “Sun” of 20th March, 1963. After telling the people at Williamstown that the ships were being built in the United States because Australian armaments were no good, he was reported as having said -
Our missiles the best, says Gorton. Australian-developed anti-submarine missiles would be used on American Charles F. Adams class destroyers ordered by the R.A.N. the Minister tor the Navy, Senator Gorton, said to-day.
It had been decided to use the Australian missiles “ because they were better than the American ones “, he said. . . .
It was claimed that the Ikara, which was developed at Woomera, was a “killer” weapon because of its accurate guidance system.
This is proof that the ships should have been built in Australia. I hope that the Minister for Defence and the Minister for the Navy will make clear why they are not being built here. The Minister for the Navy said that he would not be the one who would make a few hundred jobs available to dockyard workers. He said that is all that would be involved if orders for the ships were placed in Australia. But the Minister, knowing very little about the shipbuilding industry, is not aware of the fact that some two-thirds of the structural work of a vessel is done by sub-contractors. In Australia, we make most of the component parts that go into a ship. It is estimated that a ship of the Charles F. Adams class would require some 47 miles of single-core electrical cable, 48 miles of two-stranded eight-core cable and 22i miles of eightstranded 38 core cable. In addition, about 1,500,000 feet of electrodes would be used in welding on these ships.
I have here a list of 86 sub-contractors who supply parts for vessels built in Australia. It is obvious that many industries are associated with the shipbuilding industry. How wonderful it would be if we could stimulate the shipbuilding industry and, consequently, those other industries that rely on the shipbuilding industry, instead of allowing them to stagnate as they are at present because they have not been given the go-ahead signal! This Government has had every opportunity to foster the shipbuilding industry, but for its own reasons, whatever they may be, it has failed to do so.
The men engaged at the Williamstown dockyards are in a serious plight. Only ten apprentices were engaged at the beginning of this year. About 596 tradesmen are employed at the dockyard. It was only after a conference between those tradesmen and the management that the ten apprentices were put on thi: year. The reason given for engaging so few apprentices was that the dockyard was now to be only a repair depot and not a construction yard. At Williamstown four slipways are idle.
Let me tell the House what another country with a small population can do in the field of shipbuilding. Norway has a population of about 3,596,000 persons. Ships of over 500 gross tons registered in Norway number 1,205. Australia has a population of about 11,000,000 persons, but only 138 ships of over 500 gross tons are registered in this country. Norway controls 15 per cent, of the world’s tanker tonnage. In this regard Norway ranks second only to Great Britain. Australia has no tankers. It is true that we did build a tanker here, but it was registered overseas and does not trade to Australia. I hope that we will build tankers in this country. When they are built I hope that we will have sufficient national pride to see that they are registered here for the benefit of Australia. Whenever I have raised this matter with the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) he has stated that anybody can build a tanker. That is not so; anybody cannot build a tanker. Before thinking of building a tanker we must have the goodwill of the people who own and supply the oil which must be obtained to make it possible for tankers to operate. It is up to the Minister to see that Australia becomes a strong maritime nation. Who can say what the future holds for us? We must strengthen our defences. The Government thinks it is necessary for us to build up our defences. If this is so, it is obviously necessary to sec that our shipbuilding industry is placed on a firm footing so that it may meet Australia’s requirements. As I said earlier, defence cannot be bought; it must be built. It is well to remember that every Australian pays for liberty by helping to provide for it.
– The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) stated that he entered into this debate in order to stimulate shipbuilding in Australia. He implied that nothing so far has been done to stimulate shipbuilding in this country. He referred amongst other things to the construction of naval vessels in Australia. I propose to deal with ship building generally as it affects my department. If time permits I will refer to the building of naval vessels, but in any event I know that naval shipbuilding will be referred to adequately by my colleagues.
The honorable member for Batman said that the Australian shipbuilding industry was stagnating. I propose to rebut that claim and to give the facts of the situation as it exists to-day. I welcome this debate because it gives me an opportunity to clarify the present position. At every opportunity the Labour Party in the last few years has made provocative statements concerning the state of the shipbuilding industry. The fact is that by close and sympathetic study and financial assistance the Government has maintained the industry at a reasonable level. Most importantly, this has been done at a time when in other parts of the world shipbuilding has been suffering acute setbacks and shutdowns. To adopt some of the terms used by the Opposition in instituting this debate, the Government has recognized the economic and strategic importance of promoting the shipbuilding industry.
The honorable member for Batman referred not so much to the strategic importance of shipbuilding as to its importance from the employment angle.
– He referred to naval shipbuilding.
– He did, but more from the point of view of employment. To support my submission that the Government has recognized the economic and strategic importance of the shipbuilding industry I propose to cite some figures. For instance, when it became evident that private shipowners were not responding adequately to the 25 per cent, subsidy carried over from the 1947 legislation introduced by the then Labour government, a Tariff Board inquiry was held. Following the board’s report in June, 1955, this Government increased the maximum subsidy from 25 per cent, to 33$ per cent, of the cost of building in Australia vessels over 500 tons gross for use in the coastal trade. That is an example of the stimulation given to the industry by this Government. At this very moment a further review of the industry is being held. Since the Government came to office £16,600,000 has been spent on the shipbuilding subsidy, and it is estimated that in the current financial year a further amount of £1,799,600 will be spent on subsidies. Whilst comparisons may be odious, it is well to note that, when Labour was in power in the period 1941-42 to 1948-49, only £2,191,000 was provided in subsidies. During that period the highest yearly expenditure on merchant ship construction was £2,694,000.
For a long time the Opposition has been throwing over these wordy smokescreens about the shipbuilding industry, but let us look at the true position. Australia has a population of almost 11,000,000 persons. At present we support six merchant shipyards. They range from yards with the capacity to build large vessels to yards that are interested only in small tenders. But those yards have a constant and insatiable appetite. We must not let the yards become idle for lack of orders. It is important to maintain a skilled work force in the shipyards and to see that the yards have continuity of work. The Government is well aware of this need. Honorable members opposite who criticize the Government for its attitude towards the shipbuilding industry have no conception whatever of the diligence with which my department and the Australian Shipbuilding Board inspire the industry to build modern ships in order to meet modern competition.
We recently had to cater for the re-entry of the Cockatoo Dock and Engineering Company to the shipbuilding industry. As a result of this move the construction of the “ Empress of Australia “, which would have been a welcome addition to the work of some other shipyard, had to go to this company. I emphasize that despite the volume of freight and cargo carried, Australia has n-1V 11,000,000 people.
The volume of construction in Australia is comparatively higher than that in many overseas shipyards. The United Kingdom has had a tremendous amount of experience in shipbuilding and ship merchandising over a very long time, yet vessels under construction there at the end of March, 1 963 aggregated only some 1,124,000 tons gross. This is the lowest figure for any quarter since the March quarter 1939 and at present there is no clear sign of a revival.
There is still a substantial tonnage of shipping laid up in the United Kingdom and one British shipbuilding firm has seriously considered the manufacture of prefabricated houses. This evidence shows how difficult it has been for the shipyards of the United Kingdom, which has relied on shipbuilding as one of its outstanding industries, to maintain their orders How much more difficult is it in Australia to provide seven shipyards with orders sufficient to create consistency of employment!
Australian shipyards to-day have under construction a total of ten vessels, aggregating about 62,000 tons gross and having a value, on completion, of approximately £17,000,000. Far from Australian shipbuilding having been allowed to lapse, I emphasize that it has steadily increased in value from £3,765,000 in 1952-53 to a peak of £8,415,000 in 1960-61, while the estimated’ figure for 1962-63 is £11,200,000. This is the industry which the honorable member for Batman said was being allowed to stagnate and even decline. At 30th June, 1960, 2,304 persons were employed in the industry. This figure has increased steadily until in February this year the total was 3,093. This is the industry which honorable members opposite say is stagnating! The fact is that the industry has been built up and sustained during the most difficult period in our experience of ship construction. This gives the answer to the criticism of the Government from the other side of the House. The Government is well aware of the necessity ti sponsor, subsidize and’ sustain this important industry. But it proposes to do so on a basis which is in balance and in keeping with the rest of Australia’s economy and needs.
If honorable members opposite want an example of this Government’s initiative and interest in the shipbuilding industry, I shall give one. I have only to go back to the time when shipbuilding in Australia was falling off and the Government came to the arrangement, which is now made a bone of contention by members opposite, concerning the Ampol tanker. On that occasion the Government arranged for the biggest ship ever built in Australia to be constructed at Whyalla in order to sustain the flagging industry. The arrangement was that the Government would pay a subsidy and the company would forgo some of the advantage of the lower price for which it could have obtained the vessel by having it contracted overseas. It was a good motive and an arrangement was made that the vessel could be registered outside Australia. Unfortunately the Sean, n’s Union backed by honorable members opposite, tried to have the arrangement broken. This action was not encouraging to any other company which might have had it in mind to build a vessel in Australia. The arrangement for the construction of the Ampol tanker was an example of the stimulus that this Government has given to the shipbuilding industry.
Another factor to be considered is that developments in the shipping industry over the last decade have resulted in the almost complete modernization of Australia’s coastal fleet. There are fewer vessels operating, but with bigger ships and faster turn-rounds they are carrying a greater average amount of cargo than was the case in the past. For this reason we do not need the same number of ships as was needed ten years ago. Because of the irresponsibility of some sections of the maritime and stevedoring unions, shipowners were not encouraged to continue in the Australian coastal trade. In to-day’s stoppage we have an example of how ships are being held up. Shipping is a hard and difficult industry. It is constantly faced with internal competitive transport by road haulage and rail modernization. It is harassed by waterfront stoppages, the result of ancient feuds, when the unions concerned could go to arbitration instead of engaging in direct action. The industry is under the overhanging fear of Communist domination and the wrecking of its assets by direct action, through extreme union proposals. But if the industry is allowed to be a consistent, uninterrupted freight and passenger carrier it is still cheap and fast by any comparison with other means of transport. This Government believes that shipping is still an essential medium of transport.
The shipbuilding industry is an avenue of skilled employment and the figures I have already given show how the Government has kept the industry stable. The Government has given the industry the aid and encouragement which it merits and will continue to explore every possible and reasonable means in an endeavour to maintain the maximum degree of stability and progress.
The honorable member for Batman referred to the question of tankers. The Government has not overlooked this matter. It is possible for any shipping company to build a tanker and operate it on the Australian coast, where it will have the protection of the Navigation Act. Confidential discussions are constantly taking place. They are confidential because no company involved wants its business to be known by competitors. Some companies are keenly interested in the prospects of trade on the Australian coast and I can assure the House that subject to various matters being ironed out, the subject of the tanker trade is under discussion with the Government. It is open to any company with a tanker to operate on the Australian coast, with Australian rates of pay and conditions, and receive the protection of the Navigation Act.
.- Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) say that it is open for any shipping company to enter the tanker trade on the Australian coast and have the complete protection of the Navigation Act. As I think the Minister is already aware, any overseas-owned vessels trading on the Australian coast can do so only by permission of the Minister. It is also true that under the Navigation Act the owners of these vessels are obliged to employ Australian crews or to maintain Australian award conditions. There have been many cases of exemptions from this award. Whether these exemptions have been granted with the Minister’s knowledge, I do not know, but I do know that there are numbers of vessels trading on the Australian coast which do not comply with the requirements of the Australian awards and employ men under sub-standard conditions.
I do not single out the Ampol tanker for criticism. In fact, Ampol Petroleum Limited deserves praise for having this tanker built and for its co-operation with the shipbuilding industry in Australia. One of the greatest offenders is a competitor - H. C. Sleigh Limited, an Australian company - which registers its ships overseas as a means of employing cheap labour crews in its tankers plying overseas and on the Australian coast. This company is to-day employing its crews to work under unAustralian conditions, and to this all unions and the Australian Labour Party take exception. We feel that the Minister for Shipping and Transport is not enforcing the Navigation Act to its full extent.
I am pleased to be associated with this urgency proposal on the economic and strategic importance to Australia of promoting the shipbuilding industry. We require at all times trained men available for the construction and the manning of the ships needed for our defence and development. Since the war, methods of shipbuilding have altered greatly. There is a lesser demand for unskilled labour in Australian shipyards now, due to the greater use of welded construction in place of riveted construction. One tradesman, two labourers and a boy were employed in riveted construction. The same work is now performed, in welded construction, by one welder.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport mentioned seven shipyards. He did not include the naval dockyard at Williamstown, to which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) referred. Excluding that yard, there are seven shipyards in Australia, and four of them are outside the capital cities. This is a fine example of decentralization. Further, sub-contracts from the shipyards are let to light industries in centres away from the capital cities - a further example of decentralization. In the main, electrical cables come from Sydney and piping comes from Port Kembla and Newcastle, but auxiliaries - pumps and generators - are purchased from inland centres. I refer particularly to the Southern Cross foundry at Toowoomba, Ronaldson Tippett at Ballarat and Thompson’s at Castlemaine. Armaments for naval vessels come from the ordnance factory at Bendigo.
The chairman of the Australian Shipbuilding Board, in his submission to a recent Tariff Board inquiry, stated that a period of 23 months passes from the time of deciding to call for tenders to the handing over in the case of a vessel of 10,000 tons. One of the problems facing the shipbuilding industry is continuity of work. This is necessary if shipbuilding firms are to introduce new methods of construction - particularly prefabrication and improved welding methods - thus reducing costs. Another problem is to keep trained staff. The Minister for Shipping and Transport mentioned the numbers of men employed in the industry. I am not certain where he obtained those figures, but in the short time available to me I will mention our shipyards and the conditions that apply there. I will deal first with the shipyard of Walkers Limited at Maryborough, where I was previously employed. Since handing over the “ Arinya “, a gift vessel, to the Philippines Government last October, no shipbuilding has been carried on in that yard. The management has retained a few men in the hope that tenders for the erection of two 120-ft. lighthouse service vessels will be successful. At the Evans Deakin yards, the vessel at present on the stocks represents the last order they have. That firm is desperately looking round for further orders. The Phoenix shipyard at Devonport is also hoping to be the successful tenderer for the construction of two 120-ft. lighthouse service vessels. So also is the State dockyard at Newcastle. In a submission to the Tariff Board, the management of the State dockyard at Newcastle said that they could not anticipate any orders on hand until 1964. The Cockatoo dockyard has one vessel under construction and no further orders are on hand. The position is much better at Whyalla. With the exception of Whyalla, there is a dire need for further orders in the shipbuilding industry.
– What about Walkers Limited in your own electorate?
– There are no men employed on shipbuilding at Walkers Limited at present. The firm has an order, but it has not commenced on it. It is an order from a Victorian firm, as the honorable member for Fawkner says. That is quite correct. But there are no men employed there on shipbuilding now.
– There will not be for months.
– There will not be until the firm can settle down and gather staff. This is one of the problems facing the industry. When an order is obtained, it takes a long time to collect the trained staff necessary for a start on construction. When the staff is obtained, there are no further orders and the men drift away. Continuity of orders is necessary for the constant employment of skilled men within an industry which is very important to an island continent such as Australia. There are many component parts of ships which are not manufactured in the shipbuilding yards and which support industries in inland centres. This is important in relation to the decentralization of industry.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport drew attention to the fact that a subsidy of only 25 per cent, was paid in the time of the Labour Government. I point out to the Minister that most of our shipyards during the war and up until 1946 were engaged on naval construction. Not one of these shipyards was looking for orders at that time. They each had a plentiful supply of orders at that time and no approach was made for an increased subsidy. But the position has changed and the industry has applied twice to the Tariff Board - and is again applying - for an increase in the subsidy from 33i per cent. It has been pointed out to the Tariff Board that a greater subsidy applies in other countries.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The terms of this proposal relate to the strategic importance of the shipbuilding industry, but it seems to me that most of the members who have spoken so far have concentrated on employment in the industry. I think it wise that before I start on the general theme of my talk I should remind honorable members opposite, as the Minister did, that the number of people employed in the seven private Australian shipyards in 1960 was 2,194 and that at the end of December, 1962, that number had increased to 2,623. Increasing numbers will be employed at Walkers Limited during the coming months. Everything the Minister has been doing has contributed towards increasing the number of people employed in the shipbuilding industry in Australia. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) dealt with the situation at Williamstown and he said that employment there was decreasing. In fact, the figures I have available show that the number of men employed at the Williamstown dockyard on the wages staff in 1962- 63 was 944. This is as great a number of men as has ever been employed at Williamstown since the war.
– I said tradesmen.
– I dealt with the wages staff. I am saying that the general employment of wages staff has been kept up. This talk of vast unemployment throughout the industry is not borne out by the facts.
Let us deal with the strategic aspect of this matter. First of all, when we look at the strategic importance of the shipbuilding industry we have to divide activities into three parts - the building of merchantmen, the building of naval vessels, and the repair and refitting of naval and merchant ships in time of war. In peace-time, most of the merchant ships are built in the private shipyards, and those shipyards would still be required to build merchant ships in wartime. That is their function in peace-time and also in war-time, because there is always a need for more merchantmen in war-time, just as there is a greater need for naval vessels. The second most important thing in war-time, as was proved in the last war, is efficient naval repair and refitting yards. The whole of the work that has been done by the Navy during the past few years has been to build them up so that repairing and refitting may be done in this country. The least important of the three functions of shipbuilding in war-time is naval shipbuilding. We have seen so often in the past that most of the naval ships that bear the main brunt of the war are those that had been built, or were in the course of being built, when the war started. The actual need for a naval shipbuilding industry during war-time is very small compared with the need for naval repair and refitting yards. If we consider employment in refitting and repair yards in the Navy at the moment, we find that the numbers of those employed are steadily increasing, particularly at Garden Island and, as I said before, Williamstown. Therefore I say that for strategic purposes the merchant shipbuilding which has been dealt with by the Minister is important and is being cared for. Repair and refitting are being cared for by the Navy, and such repair and refitting activities and facilities are steadily increasing in efficiency.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) has raised two points dealing with the placing of orders for naval vessels overseas. I think that from the strategic point of view we need to ask ourselves two questions: Will it be cheaper to build vessels overseas, and will they be built more quickly? The honorable member dealt with the question of time taken. He posed as an expert in giving evidence to the Tariff Board, but I suggest that he has been a little inaccurate with some of his information. First, he compared the Daring class destroyers in Britain with, as he said, the Daring class destroyers in Australia. Actually, however, he did not do this. He compared them with the Battle class destroyers, “Anzac” and “Tobruk”. He would have done better to make the comparison with the Daring class destroyers, “ Vampire “, “ Vendetta “ and “ Voyager “. He compared the times taken to build “ Dainty “, “ Daring “ and “ Decoy “, which were as long as seven years, but he did not tell us that other Daring class destroyers built in England, “ Defender “, “ Diamond “ and “ Duchess “, took very much shorter periods of time to build. The times taken were, respectively, three years nine months, two years eleven months and four years three months. In Australia the three Daring class destroyers took much longer periods of time to build. “Vampire” took seven years, “ Vendetta “ nine years four months and “ Voyager “ seven years four months. These figures give quite a different picture from that painted by the honorable member for Batman. I suggest that if he wishes to set himself up as an expert he should be a little more careful to put all the facts instead of only some of them.
The honorable member also spoke of the need for placing orders for these guided weapons destroyers in Australia. If he looks at the time taken to build the type 12 frigates in Australia he will find periods of six years three months, six years eleven months, six years nine months and seven years five months. How can we expect that a more complicated vessel, more than twice the size of those ships, could be built in half the time, which is the time in which we can obtain a guided weapons Adams type destroyer from America. I put it to the House that the times taken to build ships in Australia are far greater than the times in which ships can be obtained from overseas.
The honorable member also made the comment that defence should be built and not bought. We have heard this slogan so many times. It is all right if everybody else will play the same sort of game and use the same rules. But when we find in the so-called Indonesian Ocean ships cruising around which were not built in the countries from which they operate but were bought from other countries, can we afford to wait for nine years or more to get the kind of ship that can deal with those vessels that are cruising in our own ocean?. We find that we can get two ships, of comparable capacity to those now operating in our vicinity, delivered here by 1965. Even for a type 12 frigate we would have to wait until 1970 if we had it made in this country. We would have to wait a good deal longer for ships of the kind we are getting from overseas. We might have to wait until 1972 for ships of the type that are now cruising in our own waters, and by that time the countries operating those ships might have bought others. Can we afford to go on playing the game according to our rules while our neighbours are playing to a completely different set of rules?
The honorable member for Batman talked about shipbuilding, but I would remind him that shipbuilding is only ship assembly. Taking his arguments to their logical conclusion, we would have to set up industries in this country to build the hundreds of thousands of components that go to make up a modern ship. We would have to set up not one shipbuilding industry, but a hundred or more separate industries for the purpose of manufacturing a few items, whereas we could buy these components from overseas, where they are manufactured on the assembly line. As I say, if we take the honorable member’s arguments to their logical conclusion we will find a tremendous portion of the defence vote tied up in this one operation.
As the honorable member said, two-thirds of the parts of a ship are made by subcontractors. What he does not say is that at least one-third of the cost of one of these ships has nothing to do with the ship itself but with weapons and all the other things that go with them, and I suggest that all these things are not now manufactured in Australia, cannot be so manufactured at the moment and will not be manufactured here in the future. I believe a very much better approach is to regard ourselves as contributing to the general pool of defence equipment throughout the western world. This is what we have done in the past. We have, for instance, manufactured the Ikara weapon system, which is being used in these guided weapons destroyers. This system is unexcelled throughout the western world, and by manufacturing it we have contributed to the general pool of defence knowledge. By selling such items as Ikara to other nations we qualify to obtain other items of equipment which other countries are more capable of building than we are. One such item is the guided weapons destroyer that we have been talking about. We should look at this whole question as a co-operative venture. We should not try to wrap ourselves up in a little island and take no part in what is being done for the defence of the western world. If we adopt the co-operative approach we will get a very much better strategic picture than the one painted by the honorable member for Batman and other members opposite.
.- The speech by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) was one of the best speeches knocking Australia that we have heard. It followed another knocking speech by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman). If the Government really has the interests of this country at heart and is desirous of developing the industries of Australia, it will come into this House and tell the people what Australian industries can do and not tell them what Australian industries cannot do and try to find excuses for its own sell-out of Australian industry to overseas interests. That is what I have heard to-day in the portion of this debate that I have heard. If one likes to read the Tariff Board’s report on shipbuilding, one will find that Mr. Weymouth and Captain Nicholls have spoken in very glowing terms of the Australian shipbuilding industry. I will deal with their statements in the very short time that I have at my disposal this afternoon.
In Australia to-day we have four major merchant shipbuilding yards. They are the
Whyalla yard, the State dockyard at Newcastle, the Evans Deakin yard in Brisbane and the Cockatoo dockyard in Sydney. I think the Williamstown yard would be classed as a naval shipyard, but it has proved that it is capable of building merchant ships. Walkers’ shipyard at Maryborough, in the electorate of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), who spoke in this debate earlier this afternoon, can cater for orders for the in-between sizes of ships; that is, ships of up to a maximum of 3,000 tons. The Phoenix shipyard in Tasmania and the Adelaide Ship Construction yard in South Australia build the smaller types of ships. There are quite a number of other yards throughout the Commonwealth which are capable of manufacturing ships of required sizes.
The Australian shipyards have seen the need to develop their construction potentialities and to reduce their costs. On 31st January, at the Tariff Board inquiry, Mr. Weymouth, the chairman of the Australian Shipbuilding Board, said that Australian shipbuilding costs per ton of constructed steel were comparable with overseas costs and that Australian shipbuilders had done an excellent job in the development of their yards by the introduction of new machinery, the development of new cranes, the extension of their slipways and so on. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited yard at Whyalla can construct ships of up to 45,000 tons dead weight. The State dockyard at Newcastle has extended its slipway to provide for ships of approximately 17,000 tons. The Cockatoo dockyard can build ships up to 10,000 tons. The Evans Deakin yard can build them up to 15,000 tons and at present its owners are considering an extension to provide for the construction of ships of up to 40,000 tons. The State dockyard in Newcastle also has recently made an arrangement under which it can build much larger ships by the construction of a new slipway. All in all, the Australian shipyards realize the necessity to get on with economic development and the building and extension of shipyards in this country. I believe that there is any amount of proof to substantiate that statement.
To-day the Australian shipbuilding industry is working at only 45 per cent. capacity. In reply to a question, a representative of the Australian Shipbuilding Board said -
At present, taking into consideration ships under construction on building berths and at fitting-out wharves, it is estimated that Australian shipyards are currently working at about 45 per cent, of full capacity.
What has the Minister got to say about that position in a country in which we have any amount of labour and the materials and the need to build ships?
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) dealt with naval construction. One might deal with naval construction or normal building of merchant ships; but to-day I want to deal with one of the worst acts of political corruption for which any government could be responsible. I refer to the action of this Government, led by Sir Robert Menzies, under which, on the Australian coast to-day, there are eleven ships with continuing permits and 134 ships trading under single voyage permits; and 70 ships are actively and continuously engaged in the transport of crude oil from overseas to Australia. I have worked out some figures. Australia imports 9,000,000 tons of crude oil annually, and also about 400,000,000 gallons of petroleum products. We import that huge amount of oil in foreign-owned ships. We transport 4,700,000 tons of petroleum products around the Australian coast in overseasowned ships. Yet Mr. Weymouth and Captain Nicholls told the Tariff Board that to-day Australian shipyards are economical. They would be much more economical and able to compete to a greater extent than they have been in the past if they could give continuity of employment and had regular orders. That is one of the things that ensure the economic running of a yard.
A yard cannot be run economically on the basis of the figures that I can cite. For example, at the Evans Deakin yard the number of men employed has fluctuated from as high as 800 down to about 300. At one time 188 boilermakers were employed in that yard, but within twelve months the number was down to 26. That shows the way orders fluctuate and the way labour fluctuates. That position is brought about by this Government’s failure to plan the shipbuilding requirements of this nation.
At the Tariff Board inquiry Mr. Weymouth said - I have not time to quote all the details - that at this stage he cannot see that sufficient orders are available to ensure the economic functioning of the shipyards of this country. Yet the Minister for Shipping and Transport, in this House’ a few minutes ago, tried to justify the failure of this Government to ensure that the Australian shipbuilding industry is employed to a greater extent than 45 per cent, of full capacity - the figure that the Australian Shipbuilding Board stated in correspondence dated 28th March this year. That is the position that this Government has to answer for. It has an answer to give, but it does not tell the truth. It can distort the position.
Recently we have heard about the letting of a contract for a ship to transport cattle on the Queensland coast. Where was the contract let to? It was let to Yugoslavia, which has a Communist-controlled government. Yet last Thursday we had the - I nearly Laid “ rat-bag “; I withdraw that, Mr. Speaker; I only thought that I would say that - honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) put on a most despicable performance in his attacks on members of the Australian Labour Party in respect of communism. But this Government permits a situation in which, at the Evans Deakin yard in Brisbane, at present approximately 300 men are employed, but they do not know where their next job will come from, and in which Walker’s yard at Maryborough was idle for a long period when it did not have a ship on the slipway, and received an order only in the last month.
However, the Minister for Shipping and Transport - the guilty man - sits at the table and allows this ship to be built in Yugoslavia, a Communist-controlled country. In other words, this Government would sooner provide employment for Communists than for Australian workers. Yet its members and supporters have the temerity to stand up in this House and level criticism at members of the Australian Labour Party, as they did last week. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) came into the chamber and tried to justify the honorable member for Mackellar. It makes me sick to listen to what comes from the other side of the House.
Let us look at some of the subsidies that are paid in Australia at present. In 1961-62 we paid a subsidy of £13,500,000 on dairy products, £355,000 on cotton, and £11,900,000 on wheat. They totalled £25,761,000. The shipbuilding subsidy “was £1,780,000. If it is good enough to subsidize those rural products, what is wrong with subsidizing Australian-built ships. Those are the subsidies which are paid by the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, Japan, Sweden, West Germany, Italy and France. France insists on at least two-thirds of her crude oil and oil products being carried in Frenchowned ships. Why cannot the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) tell the Australian oil industry that as from a certain date in the not-too-distant future it will be required to build ships in Australia and to man those ships with Australian seamen? The responsibility is that of the Minister. Under the Navigation Act he has the power to withdraw the licences he has issued to the various overseas-controlled monopolies which bring their ships to Australia. Build the ships in Australia, use Australian seamen and save some of the £150,000,000 which at present is being paid annually in freights. .
.- The Opposition has again raised for discussion a matter of so-called urgent public importance. It is amazing that the more such matters the Opposition raises, the worse the Opposition becomes. I rather fear for the people whom the Opposition purports to help if it cannot advance any better arguments than those which it has advanced on this occasion. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) dealt so effectively with the suggestion that we should build naval ships in Australia that subsequent Opposition speakers turned their attention to merchant vessels. The Opposition is considering only the employment aspect. Obviously that is of great concern to Government supporters too, but we must look at the overall position, not the narrow one. We must consider the effect on the Australian economy as a whole. I know that Australian shipyards could build any ships that are required probably by any country in the world, but what would be the cost of those vessels. Honorable members opposite have made very much of a statement by, I think, Mr. Weymouth, who apparently is some authority on shipping.
– He is the chairman of the Australian Shipbuilding Board.
– I am glad of the honorable member’s help. Apparently Mr. Weymouth is an authority on shipping and has given evidence before the Tariff Board. Obviously his evidence could not have been very much in favour of the Australian shipbuilding industry because following it the subsidy paid to the industry was increased from 25 per cent, to 33J per cent. Despite the £16,000,000 which has been given to the Australian industry during this Government’s term of office we still cannot compete with overseas shipbuilders. Suppose we build these ships in Australia. What on earth will we do with them?
– There are 75 foreign ships trading on the Australian coast.
– I know. I shall deal with that in a moment. Honorable members opposite claim that if we built Australian ships we could transport both our exports and our imports in them, using Australian seamen working under Australian conditions. Honorable members opposite are asking the Australian community to subsidize a shipping line. Immediately we commenced importing crude oil in Australian ships operating under Australian awards and conditions, the price of petrol, dieseline and other such products would increase.
– The shipping would be held up.
– As the honorable member for Wentworth so aptly remarks, the shipping would be held up, because that is one of the unfortunate factors associated with Australian shipping. It is not so much Australian awards and conditions as the attitude of Australian seamen that has ruined the industry in Australia.
Fifty years ago the major portion of Australian cargo was carried by ships. We then had a most efficient coastal shipping service. We had ports all round our 10,000 miles of coastline being served by the cheapest possible form of transport, but since the advent of communism and the Communist attitude of striking at the most important industries and unions to prevent our economic prosperity, the shipping industry has declined. To-day there is not one passenger ship registered in Australia. The Communist-dominated Seamen’s Union has completely wrecked the Australian shipping industry. Only a fraction of the number of ships which previously were engaged in the general cargo service are now in use. Not only the seamen but also their friends, the watersiders, have made the use of shipping so unprofitable that now 95 per cent, of general cargo is carried either by motor transport or by rail. Thank goodness we have motor transport. Otherwise the State Government-controlled railways, together with the Australian Seamen’s Union, would have adversely affected our industries more than they have. Motor transport came to our aid, with the fortunate result that the State railway systems are improving.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) made a stand recently on aid to the north of Australia. My view is that if we are to assist our remote areas we should open our shores to all flags of the world. Any one who wants to trade round our coast should be able to do so. Transport is our most expensive item. It represents between 15 per cent, and 30 per cent, of our costs, according to information that I have received, but I believe the true figure is 20 per cent. We have a transport problem particularly in the inland, so we should subsidize our railways in preference to the maritime system. We must do something to reduce the high cost of inland transport Unfortunately, due to our climatic conditions the further we go inland the drier it becomes and the fewer people we have. That is something we must face. If we could return to the cheap and efficient coastal shipping services that we had 50 years ago we would have unlimited prosperity and the shipyards would have their full complement of workers. Unfortunately that hope is not being realized. Awards and conditions are minor items. If we had proper co-operation from the seamen and the watersiders we could reduce our costs and have an efficient service, but that cooperation is not forthcoming. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) mentioned that we brought overseas contractors to Australia for the
Snowy Mountains scheme. They employed their own tradesmen, as well as many Australians, under Australian awards and conditions and those workers are doing very cheap high-quality work in Australia.
The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) mentioned the subsidies which are paid to Australian primary industries and suggested that those industries should subsidize further our overseas shipping service. From information I have received, which relates to July, 1961, 3,000,000 tons of overseas shipping was tied up because no cargo was available for it. I have been informed that the tonnage has increased since then. The vessels concerned are offering freight rates much lower than we could possibly offer if we had our own ships. The Opposition has suggested that we should build our own 16,000 and 17,000 ton vessels. What would we do with them when we built them? We have to consider that question. We cannot leave ships lying in mothballs in our ports. I recall a time, nearly 40 years ago, when there was a tremendous shipbuilding programme in the United States of America and when every bay along the coasts of that country was filled with ships held in mothballs. Much the same thing would happen in Australia if we set out on this kind of wild promotion of shipbuilding that honorable members opposite suggest. This Government is doing an excellent job. As the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) has stated, there are seven ship-building yards in this country, and every yard has orders for at least one ship.
.- Mr. Speaker, I support the arguments advanced by Opposition speakers on this subject, which was proposed for discussion by notification to you by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and introduced by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), who led the discussion for the Opposition in the absence of the honorable member for Newcastle. I congratulate both honorable members, as well as the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), on the very effective way in which the case on behalf of the shipbuilding industry of this country was presented. It is a remarkable thing that anything of Australian origin seems to be subjected to all manner of depreciation by honorable members on the Government side of the House. The worth-while conditions that we have been able to establish in this country are subjected to constant attack by honorable members opposite, who are always prepared to give their sanction to a policy of buying abroad, no matter what the circumstances or the effect on this nation may be, anything that can be bought more cheaply outside Australia than within this country.
– They take a short-term view.
– They take a short-term view, as the honorable gentleman has very rightly interjected. I was a war-time Minister for Munitions and at the same time Minister for the Navy, and I know something of the vital importance of the shipbuilding industry to the very existence of the Australian nation. When Labour took office in World War II., we found that the neglect of the shipyards and the failure to place orders with them prior to the war resulted in difficulty in building up the kind of organization that we needed to train tradesmen and provide proper facilities to meet the urgent needs of war for the repair and construction of vessels. We could not borrow ships from other countries. We had to provide as best we could the means by which we could equip ourselves with vessels to defend our frontiers. Only with extreme difficulty were we able to develop the potential in shipbuilding and repair that ultimately became a material factor in saving this country from invasion by an enemy who came very close indeed to our shores.
When Labour took office in 1941, there was only one base capable of undertaking any repairs on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy. That yard was situated on Sydney Harbour. We were in a highly vulnerable position, because, if the Sydney Harbour bridge had been brought down across the harbour channel, the Navy would have been deprived of access to the construction and repair facilities that it needed. Therefore, I informed the Honorable A. A. Dunstan, who was then Premier of Victoria, of the Navy’s urgent need for a second repair base, and asked him to make available facilities at Williamstown in Victoria. I intimated that if he was not prepared to recognize the urgency of the situation, I intended to take over the available facilities under the war-time powers that I then had. As a result of this approach to the Victorian Premier, a second repair base for the Royal Australian Navy was established at Williamstown so that maintenance and repairs essential to keep our naval vessels afloat would be available if the repair yard in Sydney Harbour were denied to the Navy.
The policy adopted at that time by the Labour Government resulted in every shipbuilding yard working to capacity. No shipyard was wondering when orders would bc received or what kind of vessel would be ordered. We planned sufficiently far ahead for all the shipyards to be sure of a continuity of work that enabled them to build up a complete organization for the repair and construction of ships. In time of war, very critical situations arise in relation to shipping. I realize what was done by the workmen of this country after they had been organized, and I have the greatest respect for Australian tradesmen and for the ability of the shipbuilding industry to organize on the most efficient lines and, with continuity of operations, to give the very best possible service to the nation in time of need.
What do we find to-day? On the Australian coast we have not one passenger ship of any size that could be used in time of war as a transport or a hospital ship. When a government leaves the country in so desperate a position, surely the Parliament must take action to see that the situation is remedied at the earliest possible moment. I understand that the shipyard at Whyalla has work on hand at present but is uncertain about the future. No proper planning has been undertaken and the shipyards are not encouraged to believe that there will be continuity of work for them. Australia is an insular nation which depends on merchant shipping as its very lifeline. Our defence depends on the degree to which we meet the imperative need to have the use of stable shipping services capable of doing the job required. The shipbuilding industry should perhaps be one of the most flourishing industries in this country. That industry could do almost as much as any other to provide work for our people, and, at the same time, it could enable us to build up a marine fleet capable of transporting our products not only to other countries but also in our domestic trade.
One speaker on the Government side of the House this afternoon stated that, in view of the equipment programme that would be required, we would do better to buy ships overseas. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) could tell the House the story of the great establishment that the Labour Government built up in Bendigo for the manufacture of naval guns for the equipment of the naval vessels built in Australia’s shipyards during the war. One of the great needs is to train tradesmen through the years of their apprenticeship and their experience as journeymen so that, in time of urgent national need, they will be capable of the imperative and essential tasks on which the defence of this country depends. We are living in a world of tension and our very security could be threatened. Therefore, it is essential that we should give every encouragement to our shipbuilding industry and ensure that no yards are idle. There should be some plan to give work to the yards in the future so that they can keep intact an organization and staff that will serve this country well both in peace and in war. If we do this, we will be meeting the demands of our country.
.- It was somewhat shocking to hear the first chairman of the Security Council prepare for war in such violent terms. Normally the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) is a very mild-mannered man, except when he reaches the full flood tide of his oratory. It was interesting to learn - I did not know this - that he was the father of the Williamstown dockyard, even though it was born under a threat. He was father of the dockyard, if not of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson).
As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) pointed out, the honorable member for Batman gave some rather misleading statistics about the time it took to build a ship in England and in Australia. The statistics did not mean very much anyway, because he referred to ships built in England when the shipyards were slowing down and trying to spread the work over a long period following the end of the war. This could also be said of the ships mentioned by the honorable member for Fawkner. The statistics prove nothing either way. I understand that the Williamstown dockyard is in the honorable member’s parish. He said that this year the dockyard had taken on only ten apprentices. The fact is that it has already engaged sixteen apprentices and approval has been given for two more. The dockyard is still advertising for four more apprentices.
We had a very fiery and rather doleful speech from the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). He asked to be told what solution the Government had to the problem of the shipbuilding industry. The answer regarding Newcastle is best given by a Minister of the same political colour as the honorable member is. I refer to the New South Wales Minister for Public Works, Mr. Ryan. An article dated 1st September, 1962, had this to say -
Mr. Ryan said that at the present time the State Dockyard is working to orders valued at over £6i million which is the greatest volume of work on hand in its history. “ This is a very healthy sign for Australian shipbuilding”, said Mr. Ryan.
New ships under construction include three lighthouse supply vessels (£2.1 million), a survey ship for the Royal Australian Navy (£1.2 million), a 5,500-ton “Sea-tainer” ship for Mcllwraith McEacharn Limited (£1.2 million) and a modern ladder bucket dredge for the Department of Public Works (£750,000).
– Who said that?
– A New South Wales Labour Minister, Mr. Ryan. He is a responsible man. The report continued -
During the year the number of employees was increased from 1,512 to 1,785.
Mr. Ryan is reported as having said also that in the twelve months ended 31st March, 1962, the State dockyard had its highestever turnover of nearly £3,900,000.
I do not defer to any member of the Opposition in my desire to have a big shipbuilding industry in Australia. But shipbuilding must be done properly and on the right lines. The industry should not become a bottomless pit for the Australian taxpayer. The main requirement of the Australian shipbuilding industry is a market for its ships. The honorable member for Fawkner has spoken about naval ships, about which much has been said to-day. The truth is, unfortunately, that modern naval vessels have such sophisticated equipment that the great bulk of it would have to be imported anyway. We in Australia could not expect to do very much more than build the hull and the simple working parts of such a vessel. This would take very much longer to do in Australia than it would overseas and would load our defence vote with a great deal of extra cost.
The real market for our shipbuilding industry should be in the provision of ships for the Australian trade. If we had an efficient shipping line, operating on reasonable costs, the Australian shipbuilding industry would have a ready market. The Australian shipyards already turn out quite a large tonnage of ships, even though they have a much greater capacity than could be employed everywhere full-time at the moment. Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before we have efficient shipping, because of the operating costs. Even on the coast, where our ships have a monopoly, it is not possible for them to maintain their position, let alone improve it. Shipping must compete all the time with rail and road transport, except for goods shipped to Tasmania. Here, of course, there is no means of transport other than shipping. The whole outlook of the shipping industry, unfortunately, is dogged particularly by the attitude of the Communist-dominated Seamen’s Union. The honorable member for Batman compared the results in Norway with the results in Australia. The fact is that though the achievements of Norway are remarkable, we must look at their manning scales and the way their unions behave. How many Communists would there be in the Norwegian seamen’s unions?
We have one outstanding example of a big and promising market for Australian ships being killed. The “ P. J. Adams “ as a tanker would have been an ideal precursor of a whole line of tankers built in Australia. It would certainly have been merely the first of a line, but unfortunately immediately it was built there was agitation to operate it under an Australian flag, under Australian conditions, with Australian manning scales and subject to Australian costs, which are continually magnified. It would be very nice if the Australian Labour Party were to clean up the Seamen’s Union. If it were cleansed of Communist influence, we would have a very much better chance of running our ships in a decent way. The Seamen’s Union, supported by members of the
Australian Labour Party, killed all prospect of further tankers being constructed in Australia. Tankers are one of the types of vessels that could be very conveniently constructed here, and they would be built largely by Australians. The attitude of the union has robbed Whyalla of much of its bread and butter. We must be practical about these matters, and what I have said is unfortunately the brutal truth.
We must use our brains and apply ourselves more to trying to solve the problems of ship construction in Australia. Shipbuilding is only a small industry. Its costs are not high necessarily because of high wages. Wages in Sweden, which builds some of the cheapest ships in the world, are about 30 per cent, higher than those in Australia. The present labour cost of building hulls in Australia is 150 to 200 man-hours per ton of steel. The equivalent figure for very good overseas yards is about 70 and at the very best about 50. Unfortunately we have a long way to go. Only one reasonable course is open to us. We must train in Australia our own naval architects. At present such training is given as a seven years’ part-time course at the University of New South Wales. We must train our own men for our future requirements. Our greatest needs in this industry are skilled technicians and a much higher order of technology. Given those requirements there is no reason why ships should not be built in Australia as cheaply as they are built in many other countries. But until we take that first step it is useless to talk about increasing our rate of shipbuilding seven-fold at the expense of the taxpayer.
.- Honorable members opposite have devoted their efforts in this debate to an attempt to knock the proposition advanced by the Labour Party that the economic and strategic position of our shipbuilding industry is of the utmost importance to Australia. I was amazed to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) and the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury). Apparently the honorable member for Fawkner holds the view that it is better to import goods if they are cheaper than similar goods made here, despite the effect that such a course would have on the employment situation and on the development of industry in Australia. The honorable member for Wentworth made a most illuminating observation about the use of tankers on the Australian coast. He said that the “ P. J. Adams “ constructed at Whyalla would have been the first of a line of Australian-built tankers on the Australian coast. The “ P. J. Adams “ has caused so much hostility and has aroused so much controversy in Australia because the owners of the vessel, who enjoyed a 33i per cent, subsidy provided by the Australian taxpayer, insisted on putting a coloured crew on the vessel. I take it that the honorable member for Wentworth would have approved of the Navigation Act being amended or breached to permit the line of tankers that would have followed the “ P. J. Adams “ to be manned by coloured crews. That is something which no decent Australian would advocate or support.
There is certainly scope for the use of more tankers of the “P. J. Adams “ class on the Australian coast but they must be manned by Australian seamen. Of course, the owners of the “P. J. Adams “, although employing labour at reduced rates, are charging full transportation rates.
Much has been said during the debate about the building of naval vessels. Although I support the arguments advanced from this side of the House regarding the construction of vessels for our defence services, I feel that not enough emphasis has been placed on the need for recognizing the importance of the merchant service. Australia has had two bitter experiences during war-time of its inability to handle iti own exports and to transport weapons of war to its armed forces. Many times here the story has been told of how, during the First World War, the Australian producer and the Australian armed services were held to ransom by British shipowners who increased shipping costs. The situation compelled the war-time Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, to establish an Australian line of steamers and to commence the construction of ships in Australia. With the cessation of hostilities in 1918 the shipbuilding industry was allowed to fall into a state of depression. In the Second World War a similar situation arose. At the outbreak of war the shipbuilding industry was incapable of swinging into top gear immediately and the government of the day, urged on by the courageous and great Australian Labour leader, Mr. Curtin, was forced to revitalize the industry. When Mr. Curtin became Prime Minister full rein was given to the development of the industry in Australia. From that time until shortly after the end of the war every Australian shipyard was operating at full capacity. Many ships were constructed in Australia for the Navy and for the merchant marine. But since the advent of the Menzies Government the industry has been allowed to go into decline.
I speak with knowledge of the industry in Queensland. There are two major shipbuilding yards in Queensland - one at Maryborough and the Evans Deakin yard in my electorate in Brisbane. At Maryborough we have witnessed a sad state of affairs. The industry is gripped by paralysis. It has been in this state for some time ind now the inevitable has happened. Skilled tradesmen formerly engaged at the yard in Maryborough have moved to other places seeking employment. Now, when a Victorian authority has given to the Maryborough yard a small order for the construction of a ship, the company concerned is unable to assemble the force of skilled tradesmen necessary to do the work because its work force has been dispersed.
A similar position has arisen in Brisbane at the Evans Deakin yard. Let me refer to some facts that have been supplied to the Premier of Queensland in an endeavour to get him to do something with his political brothers who control the Government in Canberra. Since the early war years and until 1959 the Evans Deakin Kangaroo Point shipyard was a stable avenue of employment for at least 700 persons. But from late 1959 there have been three periods of heavy retrenchments through lack of orders. These were in 1959, 1952 and again this year. In late 1961 Evans Deakin procured an order from the Australian Shipbuilding Board for a 7,500-ton bulk carrier. That order came too late to stop retrenchments on the vessels “ Troubridge “ and “ Kangaroo “, which were in an advanced stage of construction. In the months between November, 1961, and February, 1962, there was a heavy decline in the labour force employed. With the development of work on the bulk carrier, by June, 1962, the yards had a labour force in excess of 300 metal workers. However, with the advancement of work on that vessel to the near launching stage, one month ago that number had decreased to 172.
So at this very important yard - the second largest shipbuilding yard in Australia - only 172 metal workers are employed. Ample scope exists in Brisbane for the promotion of shipbuilding but I fear that the Queensland Government is not aware of the importance of this industry to the State. One cause of the high rate of unemployment in Queensland to-day is the absence of secondary industries in that State. The training of apprentices is not on the basis on which it should be. There are not enough skilled tradesmen in the place and not enough apprentices are being trained. In many instances the skilled tradesmen are leaving Queensland.
With that in mind one would have thought the Queensland Government itself would do something to subsidize the construction of vessels. But there is a cattlecarrying company in north Queensland which is heavily subsidized by the Queensland Government. Its two principal directors are Sir Arthur Fadden and Sir William Gunn. The Queensland Government is giving a heavy subsidy to this line to operate the carrying of cattle. The ship which is being used for this purpose was built in a yard in Europe. This is a sad commentary on the disinterest of the Queensland Government and this Government in developing the important shipbuilding industry.
.- Mr. Speaker, the matter of urgency raised by the Labour Party in this House this afternoon is one of the most extraordinary heard here for a long time. It deals with the economic and strategic importance of promoting shipbuilding in Australia. No honorable member opposite has, to my knowledge, paid much attention to the strategic importance of the industry and, frankly, the argument put forward by the Opposition has proven nothing. Surely, if the Opposition moves to raise a matter of urgent public importance it has to prove a number of things. To be successful this afternoon it has to prove that less has been spent by this Government on shipbuilding through subsidies than was spent by the previous government and that fewer people are now employed in the shipping industry by the Government and by private firms. Honorable members opposite have done neither of those things. When the Opposition thinks up something to be dealt with as a matter of urgent public importance, I feel that it takes the first thing that comes into its head. It does no research, but introduces the matter and hopes that the newspapers, by their reporting, will lead the people to think that the Labour Party is a virile party.
This is the first discussion of this kind in which I have heard the word “ strategy “, which equals “ defence “ mentioned by the Opposition. It does not often occur to the Australian Labour Party that defence is a matter of urgency. This is the first time that any suggestion of defence being a matter of urgency has been made by the Opposition in such a discussion and now it is presented not as a matter of urgency but almost as a last thought. It is presented as a side effect, as though members opposite, not being able to justify the views they express in this debate, have had reluctantly to include what, to the Australian Labour Party, is almost a dirty word - “ strategy “. Does what the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) and other honorable members opposite have said about ships required to move troops and hospital ships, mean that the Labour Party has again changed one of its policies? Does it mean that honorable members opposite now realize that we cannot wait on our shores for an enemy, but have to go abroad to meet him? If that is so, I support that view, but I do not think it is so. This is only an argument put forward by honorable members opposite for the debate this afternoon.
Does Labour, alternatively, wish Australia’s defence to be dictated to by the Communist-controlled boilermakers’ union, the sheet metal workers or the Australian Engineering Union? When it was known that the frigates H.M.A.S. “Yarra” and “ Parramatta “ were required to do sea security patrols recently in the Tasman sea, during the Queen’s flight from New Zealand, those unions decided that their members must down tools on work on the two ships at Garden Island unless penalty rates were paid by the Navy? Does the Opposition feel that Australia’s defence should be allowed to depend on such unions? Does the Opposition feel that it can guarantee performance and delivery by these unions should Australia be confronted by enemies supported by communism? Could we depend on these unions to deliver in the right time? Surely “ strategy “ means getting ships built in time and manned with crews able and willing to deliver equipment and supplies to our forces! Much has been said about the Seamen’s Union and various other Communist-controlled unions. At no stage did the honorable member for Bonython refer to the Korean war and what the Seamen’s Union did at that time, nor have we heard it from any other honorable member opposite.
The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) spoke about the importance of getting weapons of war to our services in times of emergency. Let us remember that in 1950 Australia was supporting action by the United Nations against Communist aggression in Korea. At that time the Communistcontrolled Seamen’s Union decided against Australia assisting in the fight against Communist aggression and did not hesitate to sabotage the war effort. To this end its executive manoeuvred through the acceptance of a resolution by all Australian ports. That resolution was to the effect that neither Australian troops nor, when the troops were actually in combat, their supplies were to be allowed to leave Australia by ship for Korea. That is a matter on which the Opposition is deadly silent.
Two years later, when addressing a meeting of the Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions in East Berlin, Mr. Elliott, the Communist federal secretary of the Australian Seamen’s Union, declared proudly that “ no Australian ship has taken troops or supplies from Australia to Korea and that the Australian Government was compelled to use Air Force planes for this purpose “. That statement can be seen in the “Seamens Journal” for March, 1952, but no member of the Labour Party ever mentions that here. Opposition members talk about defence this afternoon and they want our trade to be carried in overseas vessels manned by Australian crews. They know we could not depend on them in time of emergency to deliver equipment and facilities to troops operating overseas. They ask us to have an overseas shipping line manned by Australian seamen dominated by Communists who, if it suited their purpose to weaken the economy, would be able to prevent the ships’ operation and hold the country to ransom at the drop of a hat.
I think the Opposition’s argument regarding Australian shipbuilding was answered effectively by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who said that this Government had given every encouragement to the industry. He has mentioned the amount of subsidy that has been paid and the result of a recent inquiry by the Tariff Board has been to increase the subsidy paid to Australian shipbuilding. The matter is at the moment again before the Tariff Board. It has also been proved that more people are to-day employed in the Australian shipbuilding industry than were employed previously. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) pointed out to the House the differences between civilian shipbuilding firms and naval dockyards, and their role in war.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) effectively put the case for Australian shipbuilding in times of peace. When members of the Opposition talk about the ships that have been ordered overseas for the Navy and say that, in their opinion, those vessels should have been constructed in Australia, I wonder whether they know what they are talking about. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) has already made two “ blacks “ this afternoon. My regard for him has slipped a digit because he tried to show that the rate of delivery in Australian shipbuilding is equal to that overseas. For his comparison he picked the Daring class destroyer in the United Kingdom and the Battle class in Australia. I know he was a good naval officer and, should he continue in that role in this House, he should know that Daring class destroyers have been built in Australia and that there he has the ideal comparison of two similar types of ships and their times of delivery.
The honorable member for Fawkner quoted some figures and I will read them to the House again. The United Kingdom constructed the “ Dainty “ in seven years and two months and the “Daring” in six years and six months. It constructed the “Decoy” in six years and seven months, the “Defender” in three years and nine months, the “Delight” in seven years and one month, the “Diamond” in two years and eleven months, the “Diana” in six years and eleven months and the “ Duchess “ in four years and three months. In Australia H.M.A.S. “ Vampire “ was constructed in seven years, “ Vendetta “ in nine years and four months and “ Voyager “ in seven years and four months. Surely honorable members must realize that if you are to build highly technical ships such as the Charles F. Adams class destroyers to-day you do not just walk into a dockyard and say, “ I want one of those vessels and I want it delivered in three years “. You have to set up a dockyard and equip it. You have to get specialists and plans. You need the technical equipment and know-how, which we do not have in Australia and which possibly we will not get.
The Government’s decision to buy naval ships abroad was made for one reason - to get into the hands of Australian servicemen as soon as possible the things which will allow them, if an emergency should arise, to go out and fight the enemy.
When you look at the Indonesian navy and other navies with heavy cruisers operating in various theatres, it is nothing but humbug for the Opposition to talk of this as only a matter of employment. It is a matter of defence and strategy. Nobody on the other side has been genuine in his contribution to this discussion this afternoon. I suggest that honorable members opposite could well look to what they are proposing as to defence and naval armaments. So far, on their showing in this House, it does not appear to be very much.
.- Mr. Speaker, the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) affects surprise that members of the Labour Party in this House should raise the subject of shipbuilding for discussion. Permit me to say, Sir, that my colleagues who represent Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), Newcastle (Mr. Jones), Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) and Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) built ships before they were elected to this House. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) commanded them. Another member who spoke this afternoon, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), signed more orders for ships to bc constructed in Australia than anybody else in Australia’s history. My honorable friend from Griffith (Mr. Coutts), who also spoke, has a large shipyard in his electorate. In fact, all the shipyards in Australia are situated in Labour-held electorates. It therefore should not surprise honorable members opposite that members of the Labour Party are interested in the subject of shipbuilding and know something about it.
– What about defence?
– I was coming to that. The defence aspect of shipbuilding has become quite crucial this year, because we have placed in the United States of America orders for three Charles F. Adams destroyers, each to cost £A.20,000,000. We have placed in the United Kingdom orders for four Oberon submarines, to cost £A.22,000,000 all told. This is a very considerable naval order. These are ships which we need in Australia. There should be no surprise that we need them. The signs have been there for some time past. But most of the building of these ships could be done in Australia. I know that many components would have to be imported, but that applies to a great number of ships which are built in Australia. The argument in respect of the Charles F. Adams destroyers - the most sophisticated of the ships concerned - was undermined when it was decided to equip them with the Ikara missile, which is, we claim, the best in the world. The particular equipment which these destroyers require is in fact to be made in Australia, just as it was developed in Australia.
– That is only one section of it.
– Of course. As I said before, we import some of the equipment for any aircraft or ships which we make in Australia. We could make a substantial part of these ships in Australia.
The defence significance of this matter is not remote from the employment aspect. It is only if people are employed in shipyards that they gain skill in shipbuilding and ship repairing. When war breaks out it is too late to decide then to give men skill in shipbuilding and ship repairing. The countries which are in the best posture for defence are those which not only can make their equipment now but can service their equipment. This applies particularly to ships. Australia, in its isolated geographical position and with its vast coastline - the longest navigable coastline in the world - is a country which must rely very largely on naval forces. It would be no use saying when an emergency arose, “ We can send the ships back to where they were built”. You would want to repair them in Australia. You would repair them much more quickly in Australia if you had the people who knew how they were constructed and fitted out and how they could be repaired. The substantial argument-
– That is absolute rubbish.
– I do not want any overtones of last Thursday. Members on the other side were heard to-day with the placidity which their speeches deserved. Perhaps I deserve relative attention.
The Government’s attitude in the matter was given presumably by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman). First, he said shipbuilding is a matter which should be referred to the Tariff Board. During the term of office of the present Government it has been twice referred to the Tariff Board. It was first referred on 21st March, 1954. The Tariff Board reported on 16th June, 1955, and the Government vouchsafed the report to the House on 12th April, 1956. The Government next referred the matter to the Tariff Board on 11th December, 1957. The Tariff Board reported on 30th June, 1959, and the report was tabled on 25th November, 1959. The average time, therefore, between referring the matter for report and the tabling of the report is two years. The subject was last referred to the Tariff Board in January of 1963 and if this Government had an option in the matter we would get the report in January of 1965. We cannot wait until then.
The next point that the Minister made was that the Government is spending more and more on subsidies. So it is, but we are building only half as many ships as we could. There is nothing remarkable about the subsidies we pay. The shipbuilders gave evidence this year to the Tariff Board and one can see from that evidence that the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, West Germany, Sweden, France and Italy all give subsidies as large as ours. I quote from the “Petroleum Gazette” of September, 1962 -
Australia is one of the few maritime countries in which shipowners do not enjoy some form of subsidy or taxation concession to help to bridge the gap between original purchase price and eventual replacement cost of ships.
The Minister’s third argument is that the experience with the “ P. J. Adams “ was discouraging. The position is that the “P. J. Adams” has been given an exemption from Australian award conditions while operating on the Australian coast. This is an evil which has greatly increased during this Government’s term of office. In 1951 there were no continuing permits and only 48 single-voyage permits for ships on the Australian coast. In 1961 there were eleven continuing permits and 134 single-voyage permits. Every tanker on the Australian coast and every tanker trading to and from Australia is given an exemption from Australian award conditions. There is no reason why tankers engaged in the coastal trade should not be wholly constructed in Australia and operated under our award conditions. We should have at least one-half - I do not see why we cannot have more than that - of the ships in the tanker trade that are operating to the countries whence we get crude oil. This is within our legislative and economic competence. But the Government, instead of encouraging the building of further tankers here, as could be done under the Navigation Act, in fact exempts every tanker on the coast from the provisions of the Navigation Act.
– Order! As it is now 5.19 p.m., the time allotted for this debate has expired and the discussion is terminated.
– I move -
That Mr. J. Dulihanty and Mr. J. McKnight officers of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, be authorized to attend in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory at 10 a.m., on 8th
May, 1963, to give evidence in relation to a proceeding in the House on 3rd October, 1962, provided that these officers shall not be required to attend at any time which would prevent the performance of their duties in the Parliament.
By way of explanation I would say that I am informed that there is at present an action proceeding in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory between Goodwins Limited, plaintiff, and the Federal Capital Press of Australia Proprietary Limited, defendant. I am told that the libel, or at least the allegation that there has been a libel, results from the report of a speech by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) in the House on 3rd October, 1962. It is put to me that the newspaper report of the honorable member’s speech differs significantly from the “ Hansard “ report. Yesterday the defendant queried the accuracy of “ Hansard “ and claimed that the newspaper report is accurate. It is necessary, therefore, in the view of the plaintiff, that the “ Hansard “ reporters be called as witnesses, and this is required to-morrow. In order that this can be done the leave of the House must be given. There is precedent for the giving of such leave as far back as 1933. I have checked the House of Commons practice in these matters, and it would seem clear from pages 59-63 of the sixteenth edition of May’s “ Parliamentary Practice “, and from Standing Order No. 366, that no officer of the House or of the reporting staff shall give evidence outside the House regarding proceedings in the House without the permission of the House. However, it is customary for the House of Commons not to hinder or delay the administration of justice and to give leave to an officer to appear. I have referred to the earlier precedent, when a “ Hansard “ reporter gave evidence in a legal action, in the course of which he swore to his shorthand note of statements made in the House.
With that explanation, I suggest that the House might adopt the motion I have put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1946.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT (Higgins-
Treasurer) [5.23]. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain the approval of Parliament to certain amendments of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1946, in order to extend or improve the facilities available to subscribers to Commonwealth securities who wish to hold their investments in the form of inscribed stock. I have received a number of representations from people who have suffered inconvenience under the existing arrangements and I hope that the proposed new procedures will provide a solution to most of the problems which have been raised with me.
Two main objectives will be achieved by the amendments proposed. First, it will become possible for subscribers to special bonds and treasury-notes to take advantage of the facilities for inscription of securities which are provided by the Inscribed Stock Act for investors in Commonwealth loans. Second, it will be possible for larger amounts of inscribed stock to be transmitted following the death of a stockholder, without the need to produce probate or letters of administration.
Hitherto, it has not been possible for investors to avail themselves of the inscription facilities provided by the Inscribed Stock Act for special bonds and treasurynotes because of technical provisions in the act. In the case of special bonds, the main reason is that the act provides that stock must be redeemed at par. One of the features of special bonds which has proved particularly attractive to the small investor is that not only can holders redeem them at short notice at par, immediately after their first interest date, but they may be redeemed at prices appreciably above par after being held for specified periods. Because of the present provisions of the act, large numbers of people with small amounts to invest have had to apply for their securities in the form of bearer bonds. There have been over 300,000 individual subscriptions to special bonds since they were introduced in 1958, and it seems desirable to give these people, and future investors, an opportunity to make use of the established procedures laid down in the Inscribed Stock Act and associated legislation for the safeguarding of stockholders. The Inscribed Stock Registries are conducted by the Reserve Bank on behalf of the Commonwealth, and as they are substantially mechanized there will be very little additional cost involved for the Commonwealth in making this change.
The main reason why it has not been possible to extend the inscription facilities provided by the Inscribed Stock Act to treasury-notes has been that the act requires that inscribed stock must be issued bearing interest at half-yearly intervals. Treasurynotes are issued at a discount and bear no “ interest “ in the sense required by section 5 of the Inscribed Stock Act. Furthermore, treasury-notes are redeemed at par on maturity only three months after issue, and their life is consequently less than the minimum of six months envisaged by the act. Regulations approved when treasurynotes were first issued in July, 1962, have filled in the gap at this point by permitting registration of treasury-notes at the Inscribed Stock Registries, but it is unsatisfactory to allow this position to continue indefinitely. From a legal and practical point of view, it is preferable that the act be amended to enable treasury-notes to be inscribed in the same way as other Commonwealth securities.
Ever since 1927, the Inscribed Stock Act has contained a provision to the effect that the Treasurer may dispense with production of probate or letters of administration when a person dies leaving stock of an amount not exceeding £100. This amount is now unduly small in relation to the current costs of obtaining probate for small estates, and it is proposed to amend the act to permit transmissions without production of probate to a value prescribed by regulation. For the time being, it is proposed that the maximum amount which will be transmittable in this way will be £600, which is the same as the amount of bonds that the Commonwealth Banking Corporation may transmit, without production of probate, under the Commonwealth Banks Regulations.
Although the purposes of the bill are relatively simple, the involved nature of the Inscribed Stock Act has required a fair number of amendments to be made to the act to achieve the purposes I have outlined, and to ensure that investors in any of the securities in question are not inconvenienced by the new arrangements. However, each of the amendments proposed is related specifically to the achievement of these purposes, and has been designed to permit these added facilities to be offered to holders of Commonwealth inscribed stock, as soon as the new regulations which will have to be associated with the bill have been drafted and promulgated.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1960, and for purposes connected therewith.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent -
the consideration together of Notices of Motion Nos. 3 and 8;
in relation to the proceedings on the following bills: -
Heard Island and McDonald Islands Bill 1963, and
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1963, the introduction of the bills together, and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the first readings, the second readings, the committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of all the bills together, and
Acts Interpretation Bill 1963. Australian Antarctic Territory Bill 1963. Christmas Island Bill 1963. Cocos (Keeling) Islands Bill 1963. Heard Island and McDonald Islands
Bill 1963. Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1963.
Motions (by Sir Garfield Barwick) taken together, and agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Acts Interpretation Act 1901- 1957, and for purposes connected therewith.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section twelve of the Australian Antarctic Territory Act 1954-1957, and for purposes connected therewith.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section ten of the Christmas Island Act 1958-1959, and for purposes connected therewith.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section thirteen of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act 1955-1958, and for purposes connected therewith.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section eleven of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Act 1953-1957, and for purposes connected therewith.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section twelve of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1959, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bills presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bills be now read a second time.
The first of these bills amends the Acts Interpretation Act. That act is, as its name implies, an act to aid the interpretation of other acts of Parliament and its main usefulness lies in the economy of language that can be used in the other acts, because the Acts Interpretation Act supplies the meaning of many expressions used in other legislation and makes certain general provisions which would otherwise have to be repeated in the individual acts.
Among its many provisions, the Acts Interpretation Act provides, in section 40, short methods for citing, in any Common wealth act, instrument or document, acts passed by the Parliament of the Commonwealth, the Parliament of the United Kingdom or the Parliament of an Australian State. It also lays down, in section 48, the procedure to be followed in order to make effective regulations made under an act of Parliament, and the procedure to be followed for disallowance of regulations.
The main purpose of this bill is to add a new provision to the effect that, where any Commonwealth or Territory legislation provides for any document to be tabled or otherwise brought to the attention of either House or both Houses of Parliament, and under the Standing Orders of the House or Houses concerned, papers are deemed to be presented to the House if they are delivered to the Clerk of the House and recorded in the records of the proceedings of the House, it shall be sufficient compliance with that requirement if the document is dealt with in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House or Houses concerned. In addition, opportunity is taken to make some necessary amendments to sections 40, 48 and 49 of the principal act, which I mentioned earlier.
The need for a provision in the Acts Interpretation Act dealing with tabling of documents arises primarily from the review of the Standing Orders of this House, approved by the House. The review includes an addition, to the previous Standing Order No. 315, providing that papers may be delivered to the Clerk of the House instead of being presented in the House and that papers so delivered to the Clerk and recorded in the “ Votes and Proceedings” shall be deemed to have been presented to the House on the day on which they are recorded in the “ Votes and Proceedings”.
The words that have been added are designed to adopt the House of Commons practice and save the time of the House of Representatives. However, the expressions used in Commonwealth legislation providing for presentation of documents are “ lay before “, “ present to “, “ table “ or “ lay on the table of “ the Parliament or each House, and compliance with the proposed new procedure of the House of Representatives by delivery of documents to the Clerk would not constitute sufficient compliance with the statutory requirements in the absence of an appropriate statutory provision. Clause 2 of the bill will make the proposed new procedure of this House as to presentation of documents legally effective and will enable the Senate to adopt a similar procedure if it so desires.
Clause 3 of the bill amends section 40 of the Acts Interpretation Act and ensures that a United Kingdom act may be cited under the law of the Commonwealth in the same manner in which it may be cited under the law of the United Kingdom. That was, in effect, the position under section 40 until recently, when the United Kingdom law was amended to enable acts passed after 1st January, 1963, to be cited by the calendar year and chapter number, a method not provided for in section 40.
The amendments that the bill makes to sections 48 and 49 of the principal act are intended to clear up some ambiguities in the language of these sections that arise from the use of the word “ resolution “ where the expression “ notice of motion “ should have been used, and to ensure that, where notice of motion to disallow a regulation is given in either House of Parliament in accordance with the provisions of section 48, the Government cannot avoid a vote on a motion for disallowance of which notice is given near the end of a session by keeping it at the bottom of the notice-paper until expiry of the House of Representatives, prorogation of Parliament or a dissolution, each of which events would at present have the effect of disposing of the notice of motion for disallowance, with the result that the regulation could no longer be disallowed within the prescribed period of fifteen sitting days. The effect of the amendment will be to protect the rights of honorable members and senators, as, under the section as it is to be amended by this bill, if a prorogation, dis.solution or expiry occurs within fifteen sitting days of the giving of notice of motion for disallowance and the notice has not been withdrawn or the motion otherwise disposed of when the expiry of the House of Representatives or the prorogation or dissolution of Parliament occurs, the regulation shall be deemed to have been laid before the House or Houses concerned on the first day after such an event, thus preserving the opportunity for disallowance.
There are five bills complementary to the Acts Interpretation Bill. The first of these, the Australian Antarctic Territory Bill, amends section 12 of the principal act. That section makes similar provision in relation to the ordinances of the Australian Antarctic Territory as is made by the present provisions of section 48 of the Acts Interpretation Act in relation to regulations made under Commonwealth acts, and it suffers from the same shortcomings as the latter section. This bill, therefore, clears up ambiguities in the language of section 12 of the principal act and ensures that, where notice of motion to disallow an ordinance of the Australian Antarctic Territory is given in either House of Parliament in accordance with the provisions of section 12 of the Australian Antarctic Territory Act, the Government cannot avoid a vote on a motion of disallowance of which notice is given near the end of a session, by keeping it at the bottom of the notice-paper until expiry of the House of Representatives, prorogation of Parliament or a dissolution.
The second in the series of bills complementary to the Acts Interpretation Bill amends section 10 of the Christmas Island Act.
The third in the series of bills amends section 13 of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Act.
The fourth of the five bills complementary to the Acts Interpretation Bill makes a similar amendment to section 11 of the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Act.
The Seat of Government (Administration) Bill is the last of the bills amending acts containing provisions with regard to disallowance of legislation made for Commonwealth Territories which are similar to the present provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act in relation to disallowance of regulations and have the same faults as the latter. That bill accordingly amends section 12 of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act, relating to disallowance of Australian Capital Territory ordinances and regulations made under them in the same manner in which the corresponding provision of the Acts Interpretation Act is being amended.
I commend all of these bills to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Fairbairn) read a first time.
– by leaver - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill to amend the Air Navigation Act 1920-1961 to carry into effect an amendment to the Chicago Convention adopted at the Fourteenth Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization which was held in Rome in August and September, 1962.
The Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation which was agreed to in 1944 establishes the International Civil Aviation Organization - I.C.A.O. - to develop the principles and techniques of international civil aviation and to foster the planning and development of international air transport. The organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations and is made up of an assembly, a council and such other bodies as may be necessary.
Article 48 (a) of the convention provides that the assembly meets not less than once in three years and at its meetings all contracting States have equal rights to be represented. This article also provides that extraordinary meetings of the assembly may be held at any time upon the call of the council or at the request of any ten contracting states addressed to the secretary general.
When the organization came into existence in April, 1947, ten states comprised a substantial proportion of its total membership of 26. The number of member States has increased steadily over the intervening years and is now 98. As a result it is now possible for ten states, comprising a very small minority of a little over 10 per cent. of the membership, to require the convening of an extraordinary session of the assembly. It was generally felt that this was an undesirable state of affairs and accordingly a proposal was submitted by the United States of America to the Fourteenth Assembly, which convened in Rome on 21st August, 1962, that the number of states specified in Article 48 (a) should be increased to one-third of the total number of contracting states.
After considerable debate, the assembly, on 14th September, 1962, approved a protocol to amend the article by increasing to one-fifth of the total number of contracting states, the number of contracting states required to address to the secretary general a request for an extraordinary meeting of the assembly. The practical result of this amendment, at the present time, is to double the number of states necessary to join in a request for an extraordinary session, that is, from ten to twenty.
The bill amends the Air Navigation Act 1920-1961 by giving approval to ratification by Australia of the protocol to amend Article 48 (a) in the manner just indicated. By section 3a (2.) of that act approval is given to the ratification by Australia of three other protocols amending articles of the Chicago Convention affecting the constitution of I.C.A.O. which were approved by the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization in 1954 and 1961. Clause 2 of the bill amends section 3a (2) by adding a reference to the protocol amending Article 48 (a) approved by the assembly of the organization on 14th September, 1962.
Section 4 of the act is amended to provide that the text of this protocol is deemed to be the English text which is set out in a sixth schedule added to the Air Navigation Act 1920-1961 by clause 4 of the bill. This follows the pattern of the principal act which sets out in a series of schedules the texts of the Chicago Convention, the Air Transit Agreement and the various protocols amending the Chicago Convention which have been ratified by Australia. The provision in section 5 of the principal act for publication in the “ Gazette “ of notices declaring which countries are parties to the Chicago Convention and the protocols amending it is applicable to the new protocol dealt with by this bill, without any necessity for amendment of that section.
In accordance with the provisions of the Chicago Convention, the amendment effected by the protocol referred to in the bill will come into force, in respect of the States which have ratified that protocol, on the day on which the sixty-sixth instrument of ratification is deposited with the International Civil Aviation Organization. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 2) 1962-63. Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 2nd May (vide page 1016), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- A former Premier of New South Wales and member of this House once remarked that it was of little use to have logic on your side unless you also had the numbers. It is a strange paradox and a contradiction of democracy that in the true sense of the people’s will we of the Australian Labour Party have a substantial majority of the people of Australia on our side, as indicated by the result at the last general election, yet we are in a minority in this House. No doubt many people are wondering whether this curious state of affairs came about accidentally or by design. As there have been two electoral boundary fixations - or shall I say fixes - since this Government came to office in 1949, I find it extremely difficult to believe that curious state of affairs came about accidentally. That celebrated American humorist, Mark Twain, once remarked, “ Let me make the customs and 1 care not who makes the laws “. If I may turn a phrase, the Government might well say, “Let us fix the electoral boundaries and we care not what the people think “.
By custom this House has an opportunity to express its dissatisfaction with its rules in what is known as the Supply debate. The British people fought for that right over many centuries. Now it is established practice and no one would dare to attempt to take this right from us. But there are other rights for which we still must fight. We believe that all men are born equal. We believe that parents have a right to the means whereby they can be assured of a roof over their own and their children’s heads. We believe also that parents have a right to be assured of an adequate income in return for honest work. We believe further that parents have a right to guaranteed security against misfortune in the shape of sickness or any unforeseeable calamity. We believe also that in their old age they should not want, neither should they have cause for fear or for worry.
We are still in the process of fighting for these rights for the Australian people, despite anything that may be said to the contrary. So far, of all the rights that I have mentioned the only one that we have firmly established is the right to stand in this House by the will of the people and criticize a minority government which, in our opinion, is not sufficiently concerned with either the creation or the consolidation of those rights.
I said that parents have a right to a roof over their heads for themselves and their children. All people have a right to a roof over their heads. Let us examine the present system. It is useless to prevaricate or to deny that there are not thousands but tens of thousands of people who want and need a home to call their own. Yet there is no practicable means by which their need and their desire for a home can be satisfied. Not so long ago, the Sydney “ Sun “ devoted a series of articles to the problem that faces people of moderate incomes in their efforts to attain a home that they can call their own. The writer spent a considerable time investigating the plight of people of moderate income and came to the conclusion that, no matter how hard they strove, they would never have a home that they could call their own. The price of land and the price of a house are beyond their means. Short of winning a lottery or robbing a bank, Mr. Deputy Speaker, they will never have a home to call their own. There are tens of thousands of people in this extremely unhappy situation. We on this side of the House consider that it is the task of governments to govern in such wise that land shall never be exploited by speculators. I remember that not so long ago land represented about one-tenth of the cost of a house. But to-day land represents nearer one-third of the cost of a house.
I said that parents have a right to an assured adequate income in return for honest work. This, if it means anything at all, means that there should be jobs for all who are capable of working. This is the undeniable and hereditary right of all. Yet, what is the situation? The unemployed are not to be counted in thousands. They are to be counted in tens of thousands. Their total number is probably well above 100,000. On this point, I want to mention particularly the plight of those who become unemployed through no fault of their own in their 50’s or 60’s. My experience, like that, I am sure, of honorable members on both sides of this House, has been that a man who becomes unemployed at SO or older finds it extremely difficult to obtain suitable employment. As any one knows, in this age of rapidly changing times and circumstances, frequently the job for which a man trained in his youth and as a boy disappears in his 50’s through no fault of his own because of changing circumstances beyond his control. When this happens, he finds himself at the age of SO untrained to do anything else. Though his mental capacities may be unimpaired at that age, even if unskilled work can be found for him his physical capacities are such as to make him unable to comply with the requirements of most employers. As a consequence, he goes on the register of unemployed and his name will remain on that register unless this Government sets itself to the task of finding ways and means to re-train people for other useful occupations in their later years.
I believe that we must refuse to be fobbed off or diverted by the stock Government reply that a union leader once stated that, because of the seasonal nature of employment of many kinds, 1.5 per cent, of the work force would inevitably be registered as unemployed. The level of unemployment at present is well above l.S per cent, of the work force and has so remained for quite a few years now. Incidentally, the union leader referred to was, at the time the statement was made, fighting a case before an arbitration tribunal on the claim that the country was so prosperous as to permit the payment of a higher basic wage. I think it is reasonable to assume that any honorable member on either this side of the House or the other side, if he were in the position of a union representative advocating a higher wage, would have recourse to every argument that he thought would help his claim. I think that the reason why the remark was made was that the union leader thought that his case in the court would be made stronger if he said: “A certain number of people are unemployed, but that cannot be helped. They need to appear on the register of unemployed, and their number should be ignored.” He was simply trying to strengthen his case and he used every argument that he believed would help in that aim.
We on this side of the House, at least, cannot rest content, nor will we rest content, while even one man or one woman who wants work cannot get it. We refuse te accept another stock Government reply that the percentage of the work force unemployed is not so high in Australia as in some other lands. I have heard the examples of Canada and the United States of America cited here. We all know that those countries have more people unemployed and a proportionately higher number unemployed, than is the case in Australia. I say again that unemployment in any other country is no excuse for misgovernment in Australia. Responsibility rests ultimately on the Commonwealth Government, and the blame for any unemployment in this country must be laid at its door and ought to be accepted.
I have said that parents and others have a right to be guaranteed security against misfortune such as sickness or unforeseeable calamity. Let us first examine the sickness benefit at present paid by the Commonwealth. Perhaps that benefit is better than nothing, but we can say, quite honestly that it is not enough to keep body and soul together - and this at a time in the lives of many people when they have the greatest need for freedom from worry which, in itself, is the greatest single cause of sickness in man or beast! I make that observation from a knowledge of people and human nature, Mr. Deputy Speaker. A great deal of the sickness that occurs among our people results from a feeling of insecurity and worry about their future. If we judge by the number unemployed, there is undoubtedly real and genuine cause for a great deal of worry.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. Hasluck, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make further constitutional reforms in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as another stage in the political advancement of the country and its people. The action this Parliament is being asked to take will be seen in perspective if we think of the Papua and New Guinea Act as the Constitution of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This Parliament is being asked to enact an amendment of that Constitution at the request of the legislature of the Territory.
The view which the Australian Government takes on such a question is influenced very considerably by the fact that we ourselves have been through a history of political advancement. We have ourselves risen to nationhood from the status of colonial dependencies ruled from overseas. Each of the several Australian colonies passed through the stages of representative government and of responsible government, and, out of a colonial experience, we shaped a single nation with full national autonomy. These changes came, not without some struggles on our own part, but always in an atmosphere of friendship with those on whom we were formerly dependent, and by a path of peaceful constitutional change. Although, in a formal sense, our national Constitution was granted to us by another parliament, the terms of that Constitution were shaped by our own will to suit our own circumstances and to meet our own needs and, at every stage of our national progress, we were able to express our own will.
Hence it is natural that we see the political advancement of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as part of a peaceful constitutional process, and that we take it as a basic principle that in each successive stage of advancement the people of the Territory can and should participate in the process and make their own judgment. Neither we nor the people of Papua and New Guinea have any need to wage a war of liberation. Liberty is here a natural growth.
It seems to me that colonialism reaches its utmost depth when a parent authority, disregarding the wishes of a dependent people, decides and declares exactly what should happen to them. Yet, by a queer paradox, this is precisely the course which is being advocated in the world to-day by so many of those governments and those critics who cry out most loudly against colonialism. I suggest the paternalism of the colonial powers of the past is a mild self-interest compared with the active and arrogant disregard of the will of dependent peoples that appears in the new imperialism that is at work in so many parts of the world to-day.
It is our firm intention to defend the freedom of choice and respect the wishes of those dependent on us. In all matters of political advancement we will try to engage their interest in consultation with us in working out what they themselves would regard as being best suited to their needs and their circumstances and their position in the world.
In conformity with the views which I have outlined above, a Legislative Council was created in the Territory. Although the debates of 1949 are not illuminating on this point, I feel sure that this Parliament, in creating a subordinate legislature, did not conceive of it as an instrument to be used only by the Australian Government for the administration of the Territory, but knew that it was creating a parliamentary institution which would develop over the years, its membership becoming more widely and more directly representative of the inhabitants of the Territory and its powers and privileges being increased until, through successive changes, the legislature would become wholly elected and the Government of the Territory would be made wholly responsible to it. Certainly that is the way in which as Minister I have read that part of the Papua and New Guinea Act which refers to the Legislative Council.
Another point which I have made in previous debates but which I fear may not have been clearly appreciated outside Parliament is that, in the British tradition of parliamentary democracy, the question of the powers a legislature can exercise is of more importance than it is in those countries which have an authoritarian tradition. In authoritarian countries the requirements of what they call democracy are satisfied by having a large representative assembly even if that assembly has limited or no powers and functions and even if its members are chosen by a method which leaves the voter a limited range of choice or takes little or no account of the popular will. We ourselves judge the character of a legislature only after asking how it is chosen and what powers it can exercise.
Taking these views - and in the light of our own history and our own conception of political liberty we can surely have no other view- our aim is to ensure not only that the legislature of the Territory is enlarged from time to time but that the method of choosing its members will be such as to ensure that it is truly representative and that its members can speak on behalf of the people of the Territory, not only with competence but with personal independence and with the strength that comes of having the trust and confidence of the people. We also want to ensure that it has clearly recognized functions, and power to perform those functions.
When we come to apply these views we see, on one hand, the need for exceptional care on matters of detail such as the compilation of rolls, the boundaries of electorates, the method of voting and the qualifications of candidates. On the other hand, we see the wide range of practical problems related to the exercise by the legislature of its powers. I can illustrate my meaning about this second group by one example. This bill proposes that the majority of the Territory legislature will be members elected freely on a common roll. Consequently, at a time when most of the funds for expenditure in the Territory are being provided by Australia, at a time when the Australian Government still has to give an account to the United Nations of what is done in the Territory, and at a time when the Australian Government and Parliament are still responsible for the defence and the economic and social advancement of the people, we are proposing that there should be a majority of elected members in the body that makes the laws and votes the money.
It is true that there is a power for the disallowance of the ordinances made, by the Territory legislature, but that is a negative provision and does npt help in the practical problem of getting the financial estimates passed or Government bills enacted. We meet this problem - a real problem of politics - not by reducing the powers of the Legislative Council but by facing up to the political reality that in future the appointed minority of official members in the legislature will have to obtain the support of a significant proportion of the elected members in order to pass the estimates or to make a law. This in itself will provide a stimulating challenge to the inhabitants of the Territory and a valuable process of learning by doing in the field of active politics.
As another example of the practical problems which arise from the application of our views on constitutional change in the manner proposed in this bill, I direct attention to the need that these reforms will create for preparing for the executive body which will eventually become responsible to a wholly elected legislature. It would be fatal to wait for the day, however close or distant it may be, when, by another measure passed by this Parliament, in due course the legislature will become fully elected and at that moment to expect a fully fledged Cabinet to rise from the nest of parliamentary singing birds. Responsible government demands from members of parliament a capacity to do many things besides pleading their own cause or contradicting each other.
As the House knows, we have already taken measures to produce in the Administrator’s Council an embryo executive and, by the bill before the House, it is now proposed to enlarge this Council considerably and to require the exercise by it of fuller functions. At the same time, Parliamentary Secretaries will be appointed from among the elected members to understudy those official members who act in the legislature in a role resembling that of Ministers. By these and other means we will try to ensure that at the time of selfgovernment there will be members of parliament who will have learnt a good deal more than the arts of debate and who will have gained some executive experience.
I am sure that honorable members, all of whom are practising politicians and some of whom have had experience as members of an executive, will appreciate that political advancement is both a question of constitutional reform and of growth in political understanding, in which term is embraced not only a capacity to make sound political judgment but also a store of political experience regarding both the subject-matter and the processes of politics.
I feel sure, too, that members of this chamber, all of them being elected representatives, will also agree that preparation for self-government means not only producing qualified members of parliament but also producing a qualified electorate. It is a truism of democracy that the higher the standard of the electorate the higher the standard of the parliamentary members. The standard of an electorate is not necessarily only a matter of the level of schooling of electors, but embraces just as significantly their familiarity with the basic processes of democracy, their independence of mind, the clarity of their purpose, their sense of responsibility, and what I like to call a sense of smell by which they know with accuracy whether a candidate is to be trusted.
I hope that no apology is needed to the House for this introductory discussion of constitutional change for dependent territories. I felt it to be necessary to say something of this kind. By this bill we ar3 performing a memorable and historical act and we are asserting the rightness of the course we have chosen. We are not going about this task of political advancement in precisely the same way as others who talk of the liberation of dependent peoples. Therefore it is necessary that we and the world should understand what we are doing and how we are doing it. We are moving with steady purpose and without hesitation or delay to bring selfgovernment to the people of Papua and New Guinea. We are protecting to the utmost the right of the inhabitants of the Territory to choose. The test of our wisdom will be found in what happens to the people of Papua and New Guinea and, facing that test, we will continue to work as clearly, strongly and speedily as we can towards selfgovernment along the lines I have indicated in close association with all the inhabitants of the Territory.
Honorable members will be aware that the present proposals derive from and are the consequence of a good deal of work that has been done throughout the post-war ye 5. During the term of the Chifley Government the Papua and New Guinea Act was passed by this Parliament and it provided for a Legislative Council with a membership which was considered to be suited to the stage reached by the Territory at ‘ time. It fell to my own lot, as Minster for Territories, to take the action which led to the inauguration of the Legislative Council as provided in the act of 1949. At the time of inauguration the Government foreshadowed future changes. This was intended to be the beginning of progress. We then started purposefully to lay the groundwork for political advancement. By deliberate choice we gave special attention to the field of local government and in ten years we have come to the point where there is now a widespread and vigorous interest in this field of government among the people of the Territory. In 1950 there were four village councils covering fewer than 12,000 people. By 1955 there were nine councils covering 38,000 people. There was then a reconstruction and consolidation of our work in this field and to-day there are 78 councils covering a population of close on 700,000 people. As the result of this work in local government we now have a considerable element in the total population that has become familiar with the processes of government, including the processes of choosing representatives and expecting the representatives to act not for themselves but on behalf of their communities in managing communal affairs. We have also produced many hundreds of persons who have become accustomed to taking part in the affairs of deliberative councils.
At this point may I turn aside to announce that we have in preparation for introduction to the Legislative Council for the Territory a new local government ordinance under which the role of local government throughout the Territory will be expanded considerably so that local government councils will have wider responsibility in raising local revenues and applying revenues to local purposes and will take a more active role in providing services for their communities and shaping policies of local application. They will cease to be native local government councils and will be able to become local government councils embracing the whole community whom they serve. This move will extend to the sphere of local government the type of electoral reform we are making for the Legislative Council in this bill and in subsidiary legislation.
In the post-war years we have also given attention to the need for political preparation of the people in other fields such as the co-operative movement and the association of the native people with Australian people in the affairs of the district advisory councils, town advisory councils and statutory boards, such as the Education Advisory Board, the Native Loans Board and the Copra Marketing Board. In this connexion, I should like to express the Government’s appreciation - should I say Australia’s appreciation - of the way in which the various non-governmental associations, such as the Returned Soldiers League, Farmers and Settlers Associations, the Public Service Association and others, have drawn representatives of the indigenous people into their councils. All of us know that a great deal of the political growth of a country lies in the work of private and voluntary organizations, including political parties, and it is hopeful to find that, under the encouragement given by organizations comprised mainly of Australians, the people of the Territory are now learning to associate together in matters of common interest.
Furthermore, the progress made in education is now beginning to have its political effect and in all phases of Territory life, but particularly in the public service, in the staffing of local government councils and co-operative societies and in the organization of associations of various kinds, a younger generation of articulate and knowledgeable men and women is taking an increasing part in public life. Then we have undertaken special courses of training of various kinds, both in administration and political leadership, including visits to Australia and overseas, in order to broaden the knowledge and experience of persons active in public affairs. Without these and other measures which I could describe the people of the Territory would not have been ready for the step now proposed. 1 turn now to the reform of the Legislative Council. Honorable members will recall that, under amendments to the Papua and New Guinea Act made by this Parlia ment in 1960, elections were held in the Territory early in 1961 for a council in which the number of elected members was increased from three to twelve and the number of native members was increased from three to a minimum of eleven, with additional places open to appointment regardless of race. When the new Legislative Council was opened in April, 1961, it was announced on behalf of the Government that this was only to be a stage in further constitutional change. In introducing the bill of 1960 to this House I made the points that Australia had dedicated itself to the political advancement of the people and that, in deciding what was best to do, we would apply the test of the welfare of the people rather than the satisfaction of a theory; that the Government saw the future of the inhabitants of the Territory as a single future and, in the case of the Legislative Council, this meant that the eventual goal would be an equal and universal franchise exercised by voters on a common roll; that Parliament was being asked to commit itself to a frequent and periodical review of the Papua and New Guinea Act and to accept the continuing responsibility to watch closely the changing situation and to make amendments when they were needed and when they would be useful. I believe this Parliament accepted those views.
At the time when the reformed council was instituted our anticipation was that the council might run a full term and that, after a second election, proposals for the next step forward would be placed before the council. In the light of our experience of the rapid progress of the people of the Territory we have found that the next step, that now being proposed to Parliament, can be taken before the next election rather than after it.
I should like to inform the House of the precise steps by which we arrived at the judgment on the reforms to be made and the time to make them. Shortly after the opening of the new Legislative Council in April, 1961, preparations for the next stage began. In September, 1961, the appointment of a select committee of the Legislative Council to consider constitutional reform was envisaged by the council itself. In order that full assistance could be given administratively in the development of any new proposals, a committee of public servants was set up by the Administrator in October, 1961, to give attention to what might be described as the mechanical side of constitutional reform; namely the best way to develop efficient electoral machinery, the political and electoral education of the people and the means by which a common roll could be established and by which direct elections and secret ballots could be introduced. In March, 1962, as anticipated in the previous September, the Legislative Council appointed a select committee on political development.
This committee presented its first interim report in October, 1962, and its second report in February of this year. Both reports were adopted by the Legislative Council and, on being forwarded to the Australian Government, were approved by Cabinet without any delay and with only minor reservations. Cabinet’s approval of the first interim report, which contained the major recommendations, was announced by me to Parliament on 23rd October, 1962. To save repetition may I suggest to honorable members that they might regard my statement of last October as being part of the material submitted to the House in support and in explanation of the bill now before us. To-day, as honorable members know, copies of the Select Committee’s reports are also being distributed to all members after being tabled in this place.
In the meantime, while the select committee was at work, a visiting mission of the United Nations had visited the Trust Territory of New Guinea and had made a report in April, 1962. This report suggested that preparations be made for the election of a “representative parliament” of about 100 members not later than 31st December, 1963. When the visiting mission’s report was received, the select committee was already at work and we, governmentally, preferred to await the report of the select committee before passing an opinion on the suggestions made by the visiting mission. The select committee - and this is the point I want to stress - had under notice the suggestions made in the report of the visiting mission and two of the indigenous members of the select committee attended sessions of the United Nations in New York, at which the work of the visiting mission was discussed. The select committee of the
Legislative Council worked for several months inquiring and discussing suggestions of various kinds with hundreds of leaders of the native people in the presence of thousands of others. So its reports are the result of a comprehensive study by persons with a long and close knowledge of Papua and New Guinea, and, as I have said, the select committee’s proposals were finally endorsed by the Legislative Council after debate and after they had been under public notice throughout the Territory.
On examination, the select committee’s report will be seen to reflect the thinking of the more advanced elements about the immediate future. In this connexion I should like to quote from the penultimate paragraph of the first interim report, which reads -
Your committee wishes to point out that its recommendations, though largely based upon the freely expressed wishes of the people, in fact go well beyond the conservative proposals which they themselves put forward. However, your committee is confident that the people will respond to this stimulus and challenge, and that the implementation of these proposals will make yet another step in the democratic political development of this country.
It is for the reasons I have indicated in that summary that the select committee’s reports commended themselves to the Government as an expression of the views of the inhabitants of the Territory, endorsed by the only body competent to speak on behalf of the whole Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Furthermore, the meaning of the select committee’s reports was clear and exact. We know what sort of a legislature the proposed new legislature is to be and what powers and functions it will perform and we also have confidence from the recommendations of the select committee that the body it proposes will be representative of the people in a real sense and that the elections will be conducted in a way that will allow effective participation by the people. And without in any way decrying the report of the visiting mission we certainly could cot interpret the proposals of the United Nations report with anything like the same clarity or translate them into the same clear draft of an electoral act.
While the Government pays proper deference and respect to the report of the visiting mission on the Trust Territory of New Guinea, it will be clear that the reports of the select committee, produced as the result of action commenced before the time of the visiting mission and, I repeat, after a very careful consideration of the visiting mission’s report, have been the chief formative influence in shaping this bill. At the same time we believe that these reports are fully in conformity with the objective which the visiting mission was trying to serve. The Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, after endorsing the visiting mission’s report, recommended the administering authority, Australia, to give serious consideration to the proposal that preparations be made for the election of a representative parliament no later than December, 1963. The select committee, too, considered the question of a time-table and advised that the changes it proposed might be made at the end of the present term of the Legislative Council. After considering these recommendations, Cabinet decided to attempt to make the next constitutional change at the time of the periodical elections due to be held in the Territory in March, 1964, instead of after the election. This was found to be practicable and so the recommendations of the select committee are being put into effect straight away and, assuming the present legislation and the “consequent measures in the Legislative Council for the Territory are agreed to, the next elections in the Territory will be held on a common roll, with direct voting and in new electorates for a greatly enlarged electorate.
The decision on the date of the reforms calls for more than passing comment. In reaching the decision on what to do, how to do it and when to do it the Government was influenced by a wide range of considerations and the need for haste was only one of them. As I have shown, the next stage in constitutional reform was being shaped before any date was mentioned. There is a tendency in some quarters to proceed from the assumption that there is a demand for more speed to the conclusion that we should therefore fix 1970 or some other date for self-government. That seems to us to be an unrealistic approach to a complex task and the Government rejects it; and I inform the House categorically that the Government is not planning withdrawal by that or any other date and has not sanctioned any planning of that kind at any level of administration.
The Government is keenly aware that there will be increasing pressure internationally to hasten towards the day of self-government for Papua and New Guinea; we appreciate in literal and practical terms the fact that year by year there will be changes of outlook in the Territory itself; we are seized with the urgency of our task. But all this does not mean that we abandon judgment on all subjects except speed. The time when it is best to make changes is a matter of judgment involving the consideration of many factors. The end of a journey is not only a matter of going faster but also of arriving safely. Our responsibility to the people of the Territory demands that we make a judgment having regard to all those elements in the situation that will shape the final outcome. We are not working just to come to an end in New Guinea. We are working to reach an end that will be good for the inhabitants of the Territory and will not damage Australia’s legitimate rights and interests.
The reports of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council contain some recommendations which require legislation of this Parliament in order to be put into effect, some which require legislation of the Legislative Council for the Territory and a few which can be implemented by administrative action. I propose to explain to the House the proposals to which effect is being given in the bill now before us. It will be appreciated that, broadly speaking, what we do in this Parliament is to establish the institutions which the Territory requires and to endow those institutions with the powers appropriate to their functions. The main provisions of the amendments before this House, therefore, concern the structure, membership and powers of the legislature itself and the structure, membership and powers of the Administrator’s Council. It will be left to the legislature of the Territory to give effect to those decisions which relate to the conduct of elections and the functioning of the institutions which this Parliament creates.
I have prepared for honorable members some explanatory notes on the various clauses of the bill and so, at present, I will describe the main provisions of the bill in general terms. The first group of provisions in the bill proposes changes in the membership, structure and name of the Legislative Council. The total membership of the council will be raised from 37 to 64. This is slightly different f.om the numbers I announced to the House on 23rd October, 1962, for, adopting a recommendation in the second report of the select committee, it is now proposed that the Administrator of the Territory should not be an ex-officio member and president, but that the legislature should elect its cwn presiding officer, who will have the title of Speaker and who will be the servant of the House. The elected membership of the council will be raised in number from twelve to 54. Of this total of elected members, 44 members will be elected from a common roll in singlemember constituencies, described in the select committee’s report as open electorates; and ten will be elected on a common roll in single-member constituencies described as reserved electorates.
There will in future be no appointed nonofficial members and the number of appointed official members will be reduced from fourteen to ten. Thus the total of 64 members in the new body is made up of ten official members, 44 members from open electorates and ten members from reserved electorates. It is expected that the 44 members from the open electorates will be indigenous persons, although it is not obligatory that they should be, and in that case the change will mean that the number of indigenous members will be raised from a prescribed minimum in the present council of eleven, of whom only six were elected, to a prospective minimum of 44, all elected.
In order to avoid misunderstanding, it might be well for mc to digress slightly to explain the nature of open and reserved electorates. The arguments in favour of this arrangement are sst out at some length in paragraphs 15 and 16 of the first interim report of the select committee. At one time it had been thought that with the establishment of a common roll some non-indigenous members would be elected by popular vote, but as the inquiry proceeded, this prospect became more and more unlikely and the realization of this caused a good deal of dismay among the indigenous people themselves, for, while on the one hand they said that they would feel bound to vote for their own people, they also said that they badly wanted some of the Australians to be elected, too. In addition, they wanted to have a say in which Australians- were to be members. So this device of open and reserved electorates was chosen as the means by which both of their wishes could be met. Only non-indigenous candidates can be chosen in the ten reserved electorates, but all voters will take part in their election. In practice this will mean that at each general election every voter will take part in two ballots, the first to pick one of the 44 members for an open electorate, and the second to pick one of the ten members tor a reserved electorate. The roll in both cases will be the same. In keeping with the recommendation of the select committee this arrangement will be reviewed before the election next after the one in March, 1964.
The reforms for the legislature include the establishment of a common roll and the introduction of direct voting by secret ballot by the indigenous voters. Enrolment is to be extended to all adult inhabitants of controlled areas. It is contemplated that in the conducting of the secret ballot it will be made possible for presiding officers at polling booths to give assistance to voters who require help. Effect will be given to all these matters by ordinance of the Territory. In the bill before this House the only express provision is contained in clause 9, wherein the new proposal for section 36 (3.) of the Act establishes the principle of no disqualification on the ground of race. For the rest, the amendments in this bill may be described as facilitating the electoral reforms or giving power to make them.
Two further changes proposed by the bill are to increase the normal term of the legislature from three years to four years and to change the name from Legislative Council to House of Assembly - a name which is thought to reflect more truly the character of the body. All these changes are effected by replacing the whole of Division 2 of Part V. of the Principal Act by a new Division under the title of “ Division 2 - The House of Assembly “.
One question which may arise in the minds of some members is whether the number of elected places - namely 54 - and the total membership of the House of Assembly - namely 64 - is large enough. They may recall that the United Nations Visiting Mission mentioned 100 members. It is estimated that the average enrolment of voters in 44 open elect. will be n-t more than 30,000 and the average total population in each of these electorates will be about 46,000. For comparison, in this House we have a total membership of 122 covering a population of approximately 10,500,000. It is proposed in Papua and New Guinea to have 54 elected members for a population of approximately 2,000,000. That level of elected representation would give this chamber, if applied here, a membership of not less than 270 members.
The second group of provisions in the bill concerns the Administrator’s Council. The membership of this Council at present is the Administrator, three official members of the Legislative Council and three non-official members, of whom at least two must be elected members. It is proposed to raise the total membership from seven to eleven by increasing the number of non-official members from three to seven and stipulating that all seven non-official members shall be elected members of the House of Assembly. This reform, as I explained earlier, is part of a deliberate purpose of preparing for a future Territorial executive. It is founded on a governmental decision and is not founded on the select committee’s report.
In addition to the amendments to give effect to constitutional changes, the opportunity has also been taken to make a number of other amendments which have been found to be necessary from experience with “the operation of the act. The most important of these is to apply the procedures which this Parliament found desirable in respect to assent to or disallowance of ordinances of a Territory when it amended the Northern Territory Administration Act in 1959.
It remains for me, Sir, in the last few minutes available to me, to indicate briefly those matters other than the ones already mentioned on which legislative action will be required in the Territory to give effect to the select committee’s report. These are the compilation of the common roll, qualifications for electors and candidates, creation of open and reserved electorates, delineation of electoral boundaries, appointment of under-secretaries, and provision to enable a member of the Public Service to resign in order to stand for election and to be re-appointed without loss if he fails in the election.
The Government is anxious to secure the passage of this bill so that consequential measures can be introduced in the June and September meetings of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea and all administrative preparations completed in time for the first elections under the new order in March, 1964. I am sure honorable members appreciate how much patient work will have to be done to make the election a success.
I- commending the bill to the House I should like to express appreciation to those persons of all races in the Territory, both those elected by the people and those in government service, whose work over a period of years has created the conditions in which we can make this major step forward. In particular, a very great burden has fallen and will fall on the officers of the Administration and the leaders of the indigenous people in helping to ensure that the new system works. We rely greatly on attracting from all races the candidature of men and women who will be ready to shape the House of Assembly with skill, understanding and patience during its formative years. To all the inhabitants of the Territory I should like to say that this step is regarded by the Government as opening new opportunities of co-operation in the common task between the Territory and Australia, with the Territory in a better position than ever before to be active in its own interests. One of the most heartening features of the rapid changes that are taking place is, I believe, that as the people of the Territory progress towards their own future the relationships between us are closer, the confidence in each other firmer, the trust less clouded with doubt than it has ever been. In a world where the tares of misunderstanding are sown by enemies of us both our two peoples need to tend the precious seed of trust.
Finally, while recognizing the importance of this proposal for constitutional change, we all need constantly to remember that other great and practical tasks await our daily efforts. We have immense and urgent undertakings in overcoming disease and establishing the rule of health in Papua and New Guinea. We have almost immeasurable tasks in education. The basic needs of food and shelter, the creation of a sense of unity through a common language and shared ideals, the banishing of fear and the protection of life - these are not things you read about in books or hear on the wireless in New Guinea but are the daily and inescapable business of administration. Selfgovernment there is not a matter of clauses in a bill, but presents itself in the practical tasks of training more indigenous teachers, clerks, magistrates, potential parliamentary candidates, local government officers, medical officers, agricultural officers, and thousands of other helpers and workers whose presence in a country like Australia is taken for granted, but in a country like the Territor of Papua and New Guinea still have to be trained and led onwards. Behind it all is the even tougher problem of making the country viable economically so that it can support the rising standard of living of its people and finance its services. Let us by all means make this constitutional reform and be glad of it; but do not let any one either here or abroad be so foolish as to imagine that political advancement is the only progress that is needed. We must press forward with all our energy in all our tasks. Political change without social progress is like getting a new bucket for a dry well.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Ward) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1070).
.- Just before the suspension of the sitting I was speaking about the particularly serious plight of recipients of sickness benefit, and of how a sick man ought to be relieved of his worries so that his mind may work at its best and help his body to recover. If a sick man needs hospitalization he will surely find that unless he can afford to subscribe to such miserly and miserable institutions as the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales, upon which this Government has smiled so benevolently, he will be in very great trouble. The Hospitals Contribution Fund gives only three months protection in one year, and frequently illnesses are far more prolonged than for three months. Who could be happy about the current unseemly differences between the Hospitals Contribution Fund and the equally halfbaked Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited? Both of these institutions appear to have lost sight of the fact, if they ever had it in their sight, that they are supposed to exist for the public benefit. Any citizen who remains happy about federal assistance in the time of sickness or other unforeseen calamity has never yet known the touch of misfortune. He has a bitter lesson to learn.
I have said that people in their old age h:ve a sight to live without want and without cause for fear or worry. Who but a fool or a knave would deny that it is possible to ensure this? Yet what is the situation of tens of thousands of our old people? They exist, they do not live, upon a pretty lean age pension. The administration of the pensions scheme itself bristles with anomalies. It is just plain common sense to recognize that two elderly people existing together on equal pensions are better off than a single pensioner living alone. The inescapable overhead costs, such as light, power, heating and rates, are shared equally by two married pensioners living together. But when death takes one of the partners the income from the joint pension is abruptly halved, although the overhead costs remain the same. It is plain common sense that the bereft and bereaved survivor should receive additional assistance immediately if he or she is not to live in still greater want. The surviving member of the couple will live with his grief and in the sure and certain knowledge that his poverty will be increased.
I would not waste my time appealing to the Minister to change his attitude to these people. Neither would I ask him again to give a fairer deal to civilian widows. I would bring down upon my head, and every other head in this House, the same old platitudinous response that we have endured for years, and the widows would still get nothing. I scarcely need to remind the Minister of the number of times on which he has been asked to increase the permissible income of a civilian widow pensioner beyond the existing limit of £3 10s.
In all this time I have not mentioned children. We believe that children are born with rights. They have a right to enjoy the love of their parents during their infancy and afterwards. They have a right to a free education, even if compulsory in the primary and secondary schools, and voluntary and free for those who exhibit the qualifications for tertiary education.. But what is the situation? Education may be a State responsibility, but it was a Commonwealth scheme that resulted in great numbers of immigrants coming to Australia, with a consequent increase in the number of children seeking education in our schools. Every State, without exception, has clamoured for emergency assistance from the Commonwealth. Every State has appealed for a federal inquiry into education, but their appeals have been heard in the stony silence of indifference. Yet every State has insufficient or overcrowded schools.
There are shortages of teaching staff and teachers’ colleges. In New South Wales some 270 young people who aimed at entering, and were qualified to enter, teachers’ colleges, were turned away. The cynical comment from the Commonwealth is, “ Let the States cut their expenditure in some other direction in order to find money to train these young people.” How, may I ask? Our Commonwealth Minister for Health (Senator Wade) gives one suggestion. He suggests reducing expenditure on hospitals and forcing the sick to pay even more for their hospitalization.
If we turn to universities we again find an unhappy situation. Fees have just been increased sharply to discourage parents not in wealthy circumstances from sending on bright children to the university. Fees are now so high that many students will be forced to leave, thus leaving the field clearer for the children of the well-to-do. I have heard of one lecturer at the University of Sydney in the Faculty of Medicine who told the students in her section coldly, calmly and remorselessly that however well they all did in their studies only half of them could be permitted to go on to the next year. If you know anything about our system of examinations in schools and universities, and especially universities, where the name of the student appears upon the examination paper, you will realize that many will secure anything but justice.
There are so many matters to which I would have liked to refer, but time will not permit me to do so. Let me ask, however, not the thousands but the tens of thousands who have endured long and unreasonable delays while waiting for a telephone to be installed: Do they know why they have these waits of up to three, four or even five years? I tried to find out why that is the position in this country in which not a single bomb fell upon our cities, apart from Darwin, during the Second World War, nearly twenty’ years ago. In this country we had a flying start on every other country at the end of that war in 1945. I tried to find out why every other country had overcome its telephone shortages long ago, although they were literally bombed to bits.
In our Public Service there is a shortage of the necessary telephone technicians and professional engineers. Even a little Commonwealth aid for education in this field would have helped. In addition, if this Government would keep its infernal nose out of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, where its repeated interventions have held back the hope of salary justice from its own employees, many of its highly skilled employees would not listen to the blandishments of private enterprise, which entice them away from the Public Service with allurements of overaward salaries and perquisites to go with them, such as the free use of cars, even the ownership of cars, and big spending allowances which are better, although facetiously described in private industry as swindlesLeet payments. These things are tempting baits. It is time the Commonwealth leant the lesson that if you cannot beat your opponents you had better join them. The Commonwealth should make the Public Service a great deal more attractive than it appears to be.
The Government should keep its infernal nose out of the arbitration commission, where it uses the Public Service Board as its compliant tool in order to keep salary justice from its own employees, and where it has briefed its own counsel to intervene in order that the commission may be influenced against Commonwealth public servants. Last week v/e learnt from an answer given to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the Government, fearful of the mounting anger of the Public Service, will not intervene next time. It is not unremarkable that Commonwealth intervention has invariably and adversely affected the granting of salary justice to Commonwealth public servants. They cannot speak for themselves in protest; they cannot act in protest; they cannot stop work in protest; they cannot strike in protest. However, it is obvious that their patience is exhausted. Even legislation for this Parliament is being held up by the f’ shortage of parliamentary draftsmen. I asked how many people were wondering why they had to wait so long for telephones. There is the answer, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Government, through its lack of vision and incompetence, makes it impossible for the supply of telephones to catch up with the demand. Now that the Public Service is displaying its anger and impatience, it will not be long before the old, old cry goes up - “It has fallen into the hands of Communists”. Public servants will be lumped together with the waterside workers, who were the most ki’kedabout body of men in Australia until they stood up and fought back. I say quite advisedly that, while Australia continues to breed men like many of the waterside workers, we will never lack the best and hardest fighting soldiers in the world when the need arises and our cause is just.
The rumblings in the Public Service are comparable with the wrath of the Australian professional engineers who reacted violently to another iniquitous proposition which emanated from this Government and which would have had the effect of chaining them to a tribunal other than the tribunal of their own choosing. I take this opportunity to congratulate warmly the Australian professional engineers upon the apparent success of their whirlwind campaign to scare this Government into an ignominious retreat.
The very implementation of the rights about which I have spoken would go far towards solving all our social problems. The recognition of these matters as inalienable rights would go far towards their implementation. We regard these rights as being perfectly practicable. I fear that many, if not all, government members and supporters regard them as just wishful thinking. Only a year or so ago a flight through space to our earthly satellite, the moon, was regarded as a flight of fancy or wishful thinking. But who would fail to recognize now that it is, figuratively speaking, just around the corner?
In the few moments that remain available to me, I want to mention the tranquilizing drug, thalidomide, and the frightful results that flowed from its use. A number of babies who have been born in this country and in other parts of the world are the victims of the use of this drug which had not been properly tested by the pharmaceutical laboratories that produced it. The Commonwealth, through its Department of Health, bears a great deal of responsibility for the babies that have been born with frightful deformities. We in this Parliament must bear some of the responsibility for that. I deplore the contemptibly poor offer of the Commonwealth Minister for Health to allow the parents of these babies to buy artificial limbs from the Repatriation Department factories at cost. I contrast that offer with the attitude of the New South Wales government which has offered to pay for the artificial limbs.
I have laid heavy emphasis on the rights of the people. I commenced my speech with a quotation from a former premier of New South Wales and member of this House, the celebrated Jack Lang. What he said was true then and it is tragically true now. He said that it is of no use to have right or logic on your side unless you have the numbers.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, at the outset I remind the House of the measures that are under consideration. The House has agreed to take four bills together. Two of the bills seek the Parliament’s approval of the appropriation of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet unexpected expenses which have been or will be incurred this financial year and which were not provided for in the Estimates presented to the Parliament last year. They are the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1962-63 and the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1962-63. They seek additional funds for the current financial year under what are generally termed Additional Estimates. The other two bills seek the Parliament’s approval of appropriations from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet the normal expenses of running this country in the first five months of the next financial year. The first of those bills, the Supply Bill 1963-64, seeks to appropriate £301,764,000; and the other bill, the Supply (Works and Services) Bill 1963-64, seeks to appropriate a further £70,282,000.
Those two groups of bills are so vastly different, although all the bills seek to appropriate money, that I deeply deplore their being brought into the House together and discussed together. The Additional Estimates are lumped together with temporary supply measures. In my opinion there is sufficient material in the Additional Estimates to justify the particular attention of honorable members. I remind the House, as I have done so often, that we are charged with a responsibility to guard public finances. We are charged also with a responsibility to examine carefully the proposals of the Executive in connexion with how and where it proposes to spend money and how and where it proposes to raise money. That is our responsibility.
As I said, the Additional Estimates deal with expenditure which has occurred but which was not provided for in the origin.il Estimates. The House is entitled to know why these Additional Estimates are necessary and why the original Estimates were not as accurate as they might have been. We will probably hear about that at the committee stage, but we are entitled to know that at this stage when we are approving the appropriations. That is very important because accurate estimating is the basis on which the finances and economics of this country are run. Over-estimating expenditure means that the taxpayers are called upon to pay greater taxes than are necessary. Under-estimating can put a government in a very serious position if necessary expenditures are not adequately provided for. So we have to rely on our departmental officers for accurate estimating.
In his second-reading speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) referred to the fact that £47,000,000 is mentioned in the Additional Estimates, but that is not the total sum actually requested. There have been some adjustments. For instance, £30,000,000 which otherwise would be taken from loan funds will be drawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet current expenditure. The Treasurer referred to savings in some directions. If the Treasurer examines the reports presented by the Public Accounts Committee following its examinations in past years he will find that the committee has condemned the use of the word “ savings “. There are no savings. What happens is that expected expenditure in one direction does not arise, so the amount is spent in another direction. Instead of buying a carpet we buy a vacuum cleaner or a new lounge suite. We save nothing but the word “ savings “ is used.
To indicate the necessity for the House to examine the Additional Estimates, and to support my contention that the Additional Estimates should be presented to the House separately for examination, I should like to refer to page 18 of the sixty-first report of the Public Accounts Committee, presented to the Parliament on 2nd May, which contains a suggestion made by the committee and the Treasury’s reply to it. This arose from investigations by the committee of expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer and related accounts for the year 1960-61. Referring to variations in expenditure, the committee stated -
Your Committee consider, although satisfactory explanations were received in many cases, that the standard of departmental estimating in 1960-61 was not as accurate as might be desired.
I leave it at that. The Treasury replied by minute dated 31st January, 1963, in these terms -
The Treasury has examined the Report and has discussed with the Departments concerned the observations and conclusions of the Committee-
They were the same as mine - that there was a little too much guesstimating and not enough estimating. The Treasury minute went on -
In calling for the draft Estimates of Expenditure for 1962-63 the Treasury drew the attention of all Departments to the Committee’s general criticism of the standard of departmental estimating. In addition, those Departments whose estimates were the subject of particular comment were asked to bring the Committee’s observations directly to the notice of the officers concerned.
There you have an admission from the Treasury itself that there is too much inaccurate estimating. A tremendous improvement has been made in estimating over the past years but a great deal more improvement is necessary. I do not claim that it is unnecessary now or that it will ever be unnecessary to bring down Additional Estimates, but so that the House may be informed of the justification for these Additional Estimates I suggest that they should be presented to the Public Accounts Committee for examination and then presented to the Parliament with the committee’s report. That is the only way to overcome the present difficulty. Supplementary Estimates were dealt with in past years and a lot of cleaning up was done, but a lot of cleaning up still remains to be done by the Public Accounts Committee. Because the House will not have an opportunity to analyse these Additional Estimates carefully and to assess the degree to which departments are culpable for either overestimating or under-estimating, the Public Accounts Committee should have the task of examining the estimates to ensure that they are correct.
I want to deal now with the proposed wheat stabilization plan, which I believe to be the most important matter affecting our primary producers. For the past few years the wheat-growers have been the subject of vicious attack. Apparently an attempt is being made to influence the powers that be to reduce whatever benefits the wheat-growers receive from the stabilization plan to which they have subscribed for many years and from which they have obtained benefits only in the last three years. Before a wheat stabilization plan can be adopted and before a home-consumption price can be agreed upon - that is inherent in a stabilization plan - the Commonwealth and the six States must agree. Where there is a suspicion that the Commonwealth and the States are sympathetic to the claims of the wheat-growers, an attempt is made to have the Commonwealth and the States harden their hearts against the wheatgrowers unjustly and undeservedly.
To give an indication of the wrong things which are being done I shall read an extract from an editorial in the “ West Australian “ of 12th February, 1962, which is headed, “ Cost Problem in Wheat Stabilization Plan “. It is in these terms -
With £13,000,000 set aside in this year’s Budget, the present system of stabilisation - which guaran tees the cost of production for 100,000,000 bushels of export wheat - is becoming an increasing burden on taxpayers.
Up to that stage only £13,000,000 had been provided, and I shall refer to that aspect later. This generous writer, who probably would have difficulty in distinguishing between a grain of wheat and a grain of barley, then went on to say -
The principle of stabilization is not in question. What is questionable is the basis on which the estimated cost of production, and hence the price to Australian consumers and the pay-out for stabilization, is increased each year.
Since the first five-year stabilization scheme was launched, the estimated cost of production of wheat has risen by 152 per cent. Yet in the same period farm efficiency and diversification hf” improved and, on three-year-average figures, the yield of wheat has increased by about three bushels an acre. Despite the vulnerability of primary producers to rising costs in other industries, the implications are that the wheat-cost formula is unrealistic or that stabilization has reduced the industry’s incentive to keep its costs in check.
– That is a shocking statement.
– Of course it is a shocking statement. The primary industries, particularly the wheat industry, can keep their costs in check by increasing their efficiency. This they have done. But they cannot possibly do anything about costs which are charged to them. Let me tell the newspapers, the chambers of manufactures, the chambers of commerce and secondary industry in particular that this country is suffering from a continuance of the costplus complex which arose in war-time contracts. We have not yet got over it. There is no question of secondary industries attempting to absorb the additional cost involved in producing an article. They simply add that cost to the cost of the article. They know that the producer cannot buck against it and that ultimately they will get their money back. We must attack the cost-plus complex in secondary industry if secondary industry is to play anything like a major part in earning overseas income for us. At present there is no indication that secondary industry is conscious of the effect of costs on trade.
Let me go on to a more recent quotation. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 7th April, in an article headed “ Call for farmers to face changes “, there was quite a screed by the Research Professor in Agricultural Economics at the University of Sydney, Professor K. O. Campbell. The basis of his argument was that taxpayers have forked out for years to support wheat-growers. I have always said that economics is the most inexact science of all - if it can be called a science, Certainly it should not be recognized for a professorship by any land. No two economists think alike. Half of them are round the bend or have some kink, and the other half are nitwits. The claim that the taxpayers have been forking out for years to support the wheat-growers is the sort of thing that is said by a nitwit, or by someone who is half way round the bend.
Let us see what the taxpayer has done to support wheat-growers. The post-.var wheat stabilization scheme commenced in 1947-48. Before that time, the wartime marketing arrangement was in force. That was not strictly a stabilization scheme, but it did cost the growers money. There was no call on the Commonwealth to contribute to the wheat stabilization fund until the year 1959- 60 although the wheat-growers had been contributing to the fund in the previous years. When the price fell below the guaranteed price the wheat-growers drew money from the fund to make up the difference.
– It was their own money.
– Yes. But in 1959-60 the Commonwealth, under the terms of the stabilization scheme, came to their assistance. The wheat-growers fund in that year became exhausted and the Commonwealth made a part-payment of £3,021,966. In 1960- 61 the Commonwealth contributed £8,884,166, because neither the overseas price nor the home consumption price of wheat had risen. The last payment by the Commonwealth was in 1961-62 when the contribution was £7,287,784. These are the only contributions that the Commonwealth has made. They total £19,193,916 and were made over a period of three years only; yet we have this inexact economist telling us that the taxpayers have been carrying the wheat-growers for years
– Less than £20,000,000 in fifteen years
– Yes, less than £20,000,000 in fifteen years. But let us look at the other side of the picture. Leaving aside the fifteen years during which the wheat-growers contributed so much to the prosperity of the Commonwealth, I should like to draw attention to something that is familiar to the honorable members for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), Wimmera (Mr. King) and Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe). I refer to the tremendous contribution to the turn of about £200,000,000 made by wheatgrowers in order to prevent the price of wheat in this country from rising to a fantastic figure and so causing inflation. The wheat-growers did this when they accepted a home-consumption price well below the price they could have obtained on the open market. That was a direct contribution of £200,000,000 to the pockets of the taxpayers of this country.
I leave that and turn now to the part the wheat-growers have played in the last three years. The value of wheat exports in 1959-60 was £61,680,000; in 1960-61 it was £102,426,000 and in 1961-62 it was £142,446,000-3 total of £306,552,000. But in addition to that were flour exports. In 1959-60 the value of exported flour was V. 5,143,000; in 1960-61 it was £18,979,000, and in 1961-62 it was £17,397,000- a total of £51,519,000. In case any honorable member on the Labour benches does not know it, flour comes from wheat. The value of flour exports added to the £306,552,000 for wheat brings the total export earnings of this country from the efforts of the wheat-growers to £358,071,000. Yet the taxpayer has contributed less than £20,000,000 towards maintaining the solvency of the growers - those who have produced this tremendous volume of overseas income. The actual cost to the Treasury was less than one-half of 1 per cent. What an enormous sacrifice!
It is time that this persistent and ignorant, but at times vicious, attack stopped. People must realize that wheat-growing is still an important industry. The taxpayer should be happy to say: “ We are benefiting from the work you are doing, Mr. Primary Producer. You go your hardest and we will help you. If you need a bob or two to make sure that you can earn overseas income for our benefit, then we will let you have the money.” That should be the taxpayers’ attitude, instead of making vicious and unjustified attacks on the wheat-grower.
I invite the professorial gentlemen - those economists who have not an exact science and who cannot agree on anything - to turn their attention to one of the major problems confronting this country, that is, the need to rid secondary industry and the service industries of the cost-plus complex which is a legacy from our wartime system. If we could be rid of that the wheat-grower would not have to worry about getting a few pence more for his wheat because of a difference between the cost of production and the homeconsumption price. The wheat-grower has to take what he can get for his product but he has to pay what is demanded of him.
– What about the effect on the basic wage?
– If the honorable member had a barrow, and sold prawns, he could put his own price on the prawns and there would be no argument about it. If a member of the public wants a shirt and is not offered one at the right price he does not buy one. But the primary producer is no: in that position. He has to accept what the consumer will pay him, and the consumer wants as much as he can get for as little as possible. The policy of the suppliers to the primary industries is to make the farmers pay as much as possible for as little as possible. So, two vicious sections are fleecing those who have been, and will be, for many years the backbone of this country. 1 now want to refer to some remarks nude in the course of this debate. The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) pleaded for greater assistance for civilian widows. I do not deny that his cause is a deserving one. He made a good plea. However, I say in a kindly way - and I hope he and other honorable members will bear this in mind - that he made the cardinal and fundamental mistake of comparing the circumstances of war v widows with those of civilian widows.
– He did not say the war widows pension was unjustified.
– That sort of argument merely causes unfortunate bitterness and misunderstanding between these two groups of people. Let me point out to the honorable member for Phillip, in case he is not aware of it, that the war widows’ pension has nothing to do with sustenance; it is a compensation to the war widow for the sacrifice she made for him and for me. I am not debating whether or not the pension payable to the civilian widow is enough. As I said, I give credit to the honorable member for Mitchell for putting up a good case. The cause is a good one. My support for the honorable member for Mitchell indicates where I stand.
We do not want to tie the civilian widow and the war widow together. Immediately that is done, the civilian widow who is not aware of the circumstances and does not understand the position says, “ Why cannot I get the same as a war widow receives? “ The circumstances are entirely different. Trying to tie the two classes of widows together will only engender bitterness and cause trouble.
I turn now to what was said by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), a philosopher and economist. He attacked the apartheid or segregation policy that the South African Government, and the South African people, very largely now, are following. I suggest that the honorable member speak only about things that he understands. He ought to live in South Africa - not just visit it casually - and get from the South African people the true story and not just the propaganda that is spread about. Let him get the true story of what the South African people are attempting to do. They are attempting to develop the native race by giving them their own territory and making them proud of what they are instead of content to be imitation whites. The problem existed when I was in Africa 30 or 40 years ago. Everybody has known of this problem. It can be tackled only in the way in which the South African people are tackling it. They may be wrong in some respects in this plan, or perhaps their propaganda wrongly emphasizes certain features of it In any event, I suggest to the honorable member for Yarra, as I would suggest to any other member of this House or to a member of any other Parliament, that what the South
Africans do is their business and not our concern. What we do in Australia is our business, and we resent other people poking their noses in, as they sometimes do, and wrongly criticizing our endeavours.
Finally, Sir, 1 want to deal with some remarks made by the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill), who made a vigorous plea for greater consideration for outback areas in Western Australia in the transmission of television programmes. I am 100 per cent, behind the honorable member. I almost said “ more than 100 per cent.”. He has taken up a good cause. There is no doubt about that. The people in the rural areas look for a better spin in the provision of stations for the transmission of television programmes. This is a point on which the honorable member and I may differ. I do not want sub-standard programmes transmitted through the medium of translators, transistors, temporary relays, relay stations or something of the sort. The people in country districts are entitled to decent transmissions, just as much as are the people ir> metropolitan areas.
I am a little worried about one matter that the honorable member mentioned although, as I have said, I support him generally. He mentioned the proposal for a television transmitting station to be established in the central wheat belt area of Western Australia, between York and Northam. The proposed station will probably be established at Needling Hill, eight miles from York. I may be doing the honorable member an injustice, but somehow or other I gained the impression that he suggested that the Great Southern agricultural area, which includes the districts of Katanning, Narrogin and Wagin, really ought to be the location of this station rather than the central agricultural area in which as at present proposed it will be established.
On this issue, 1 fight the honorable member quite kindly, Sir. I do not want the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) or anybody else to think that there is any justification for considering that the Great Southern area is any more important than the central wheat belt area is, when considering the establishment of a new television station. I point out to the honorable member for Canning that the central wheat belt area, which will be served by the proposed station, produces more wealth per head of population or per acre of land than does any other part of Western Australia, Because this area contributes so greatly to the wealth of the State it well deserves the consideration that, apparently, it has received from the authorities who are responsible for making the decisions about where new television stations shall be established. I resist any suggestion that the transmitting station proposed for Needling Hill should be situated further south. Indeed, it might give a better coverage of television transmissions if it were located further north and east. It certainly will give no better coverage if it is situated further south.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is quite clear that the Commonwealth Government has run out of policies and ideas, for most of its proposals over the past eighteen months or so have been derived from the Australian Labour Party. Despite the Government’s criticism of our policies, it has adopted our proposals on the Budget, interest rates, housing, trade and national development. But the Government’s efforts, like those of all imitators, have been belated and halfhearted. The Australian people are tired of this Government dragging itself along at the heels of the Labour Party. The people do not want poor imitators of Labour’s policy. They want the genuine article, which only the Australian Labour Party can supply. I firmly believe that Australians will give three cheers for the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) if he ever produces an original policy for the benefit of the Australian people.
At the last federal general election the Australian people rejected the policy of the present Government and voted for a party whose economic judgment has proved much better than that of the Government. Events since the election have only confirmed the bankruptcy of the Government’s thinking and its inability or, worse still, its unwillingness to restore full employment and get the economy moving consistently ahead again. The people are looking to the Australian Labour Party, which has a positive policy, to promote sustained economic growth. I warn this Government, Sir, that a conservative government has fallen in Canada and that the conservative governments in the United Kingdom and Australia cannot survive much longer.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has endeavoured to show how healthy and expanding the economy is. I do not propose to go into statistical arguments to disprove his claims. I rely on the assessment made by his former assistant, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), whom the right honorable gentleman deserted. The honorable member for Wentworth says that the economy is moving sideways and lacks vitality. The truth of this assertion is reflected in the length of time that the economy has taken to recover from the recession, and particularly in the sluggishness of employment and the state of the building industry. There is no real confidence in the air. I believe that the chief reason for the lack of confidence is the fact that business itself has no confidence in the Governments ability to deal with Australia’s economic problems. Business organizations have every reason to doubt the competence of this Government, and, as I shall show later, they also have reason to doubt its good faith. The Government’s diagnosis of our economic ills and the prescriptions it has offered in recent years have invariably been wrong. The Labour Parry’s proposals have been proved right.
It is unnecessary for me to point out that the Government has been forced to concede the correctness of our Budget and election proposals of 1961, which were designed to restore full employment and to promote economic activity. Now, the Government is being forced to concede that our 1962 Budget proposals were nearer the mark than were the Government’s proposals. We of the Opposition said then that the Government’s proposed deficit of £118,000,000 was inadequate and that it should have been in the region of £160,000,000. Our proposals were described by the Prime Minister as a policy of acute inflation. How foolish do his words look now, in the light of the Government’s recent measures to stimulate the economy.
We proposed also that action should be taken to reduce interest rates. Our proposal was foolishly attacked, particularly by the Treasurer, but once again we have been proved right by the Government’s own be- lated action in reducing at least some interest rates. The Treasurer could hardly humiliate himself more if he tried. How miserable he must feel about his policies. How long must we wait before he correctly estimates the degree of financial stimulation which the economy requires? It is hard to know which is worse - the advice the Treasurer receives or the advice he gives. No Treasurer has made so many tragic mistakes in such a short space of time, or has had to eat so many of his own words.
How can we have confidence in a Prime Minister who in November, 1961, promised to restore full employment in twelve months, when we find that twelve months after the general election campaign during which the promise was made the number of registered unemployed stood at 101,000? How can we have confidence in a Prime Minister who could say, “It is clear that purchasing power in Australia this financial year will be uncommonly high “? The fact of the matter is that purchasing power in Australia is uncommonly low. Part of the failure of the Government’s budgetary proposals has been due to its over-estimation of purchasing power. On 29th August, 1’962, the Treasurer stated -
If the Labour Party’s assessment is correct, our measures are likely to be proved inadequate.
Our assessment has been proved correct, and the Government’s measures have been proved inadequate. The Government’s economic policy has failed in both the short term and the long term.
Let us look quickly at the short-term economic situation. Over the last eighteen months or so, the most critical weakness of the economy has been the lack of strength in the growth of consumer demand. It was this which provided the main ground for the Labour Party’s criticism of the budgetary contribution to the growth of consumer spending. Since then, as we predicted, the growth of private savings, not the growth of private consumption, has broken all records. Private saving is in itself commendable, but when it occurs at such a rate that consumer spending remains sluggish, a situation exists in which the Government needs to take countervailing action unless, of course, it is content to see a continuing high level of unemployment.
Another aspect of the Government’s short-term thinking on economic policy is its approach to interest rates. High interest rates have the effect of shifting income towards the better-off and, partly for this reason, of fostering savings. As the Labour Party clearly indicated some time ago, the last year or so has not been a time when savings should be fostered - quite the contrary. The results of this year’s loanraising programme show only too clearly how wrong was the diagnosis which the Treasurer made in his second Budget speech last year. How much better off we would have been had the Labour Party’s policy been adopted, instead of that of the Government. If the Government’s shortterm policy may be criticized for its lack of understanding of simple, basic economic processes, its long-term policy may be criticized because it is conspicuous by its absence. Why, otherwise, would the Government need to appoint a committee of inquiry to tell it what its long-term policy should be? Of course, the Government will point to a railway for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited here and a railway for Mount Isa Mines Limited there, and whilst such schemes as these are desirable, there are no signs that they form part of a comprehensive view of the way in which Government decisions should shape future development and employment opportunities. They are essential ad hoc measures.
Is it, then, a matter for surprise that the Government’s uncertainty, due to its lack of foresight about the long-term shape of the economy, should be shared by private investors? In consequence, they are hesitant in their forward planning. If both the public and the private sector have no clear picture of the future, can it be wondered that the economy lacks vigour and stumbles along rather than strides forward? The Government’s failure to plan is shown clearly in its attitude to education, housing, roads, railways and shipbuilding. These are vital fields in which it should be possible to draw up blueprints for action in the next four or five years, but the Government has refused to act in each of those fields. It has refused the unanimous request of all the State premiers for an inquiry into the needs of primary, secondary and technical’ education. It has refused the request of all the State Housing Ministers foc * survey of Australia’s housing needs for the next five years. It has for years studiously refused to provide for a standard-gauge railway link between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. However, Sir, the Government has suddenly changed its attitude in this respect. It now finds itself confronted with a by-election in South Australia. In an endeavour to gain some mean party political advantage it has announced that it will provide this vital standard-gauge link. The Government has been content to allow our shipbuilding yards to languish. It simply has no clear idea of where it is going.
I want to touch on one other matter which is of the greatest importance to our nation as a whole. I refer to our roads system. To-day, there are no municipalities or shires which are capable of keeping up with the requirements of our road transport system. What are Australia’s road needs? The prominent position occupied by road transport in Australia’s economy forcibly demonstrate the magnitude of the present and future road needs. The need for road transport to be recognized as a primary element in the national economy is shown by the fact that annual expenditure, including capital investment, on roads and road transport in Australia reached the huge total of £1,362,900,000 in 1956-57 and is increasing every year.
Because of the environment factors of isolation from the world’s markets, extended internal communications channels and a low population density, Australia has special need for an adequate road system. At the present time, road transport is carrying approximately three-quarters of Australia’s total goods tonnage and road traffic in this country covers more than 25 billion vehicle miles a year. Over the ten-year period to June, 1959, capital investment in motor vehicles in Australia has risen from £81,000,000 to £296,000,000 per annum, an increase of 265 per cent. The number of motor vehicles on Australian roads has more than doubled in the last decade. In June, 1950, the number of motor vehicles registered was 1,266,866 and this increased to 2,731,238 by June, 1960, an increase of 116 per cent.
The growing use of motor vehicles is further evidenced by the fact that the increase in petrol consumption over the last ten years has out-stripped even the increase in vehicle registration. The increase in petrol consumption was 142 per cent. In the world rating of highly motorized countries, Australia now ranks in fourth place with one motor vehicle for every 3.84 persons. The amazing cataract of new motor vehicles - over 300,000 a year - now pouring through Australian distributive channels underlines the urgent need for a road system capable of accommodating this increase in traffic flow. The sequel to this surge of new motor vehicles superimposed on a road system which, because of lack of finance, is inadequate for its task is the crisis now facing Australian road construction authorities.
The disturbing truth is that road construction and maintenance have not kept pace and under present circumstances cannot keep pace with the increase in motor vehicle usage. Under these conditions, it is not possible to provide adequately for future traffic flows. In effect, because of financial limitations, most of our efforts are being spent in endeavouring to construct and maintain roads to cope with yesterday’s traffic volumes. We are living in a motor age. From the humblest subsistence farm to the stupendous super-market, the exchange of commodities is largely effected by means of motor transport. An efficient road system promotes new wealth in business, industry and land values, and conversely inadequate roads restrict the development of the Australian economy.
A United Kingdom study has shown that when the speed of traffic in urban areas is reduced by congestion to 10 miles an hour, petrol consumption is increased by about 50 per cent. In addition to fuel wastage with inferior reads we waste tires, mechanical parts and man-power. In an Australian context, it has been estimated that the running loss to vehicle users in this country through inferior roads is about £200,000,000 a year. However, in addition to the conclusive aspects of economic needs requiring a serviceable road system, road safety considerations are also of paramount importance.
Whilst Australians may be justly proud of ranking fourth on a world basis for popularity of motor vehicles, the fact that we also have 8.5 fatal accidents per 10,000 vehicles on the roads should provide no cause for complacency. A startling con clusion reached by the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety was that the cost of road traffic accidents in the Australian community was in the region of £69,000,000 per annum. I say with honesty and sincerity that to-day there is no greater tragic waste of human lives, no greater unnecessary background to human suffering and no greater source of needless economic loss than traffic accidents. As the use of motor vehicles in Australia is constantly expanding, the risk of accident exposure and potential tragedy increases each day. For the privilege of living in the motor age we pay a toll of human lives. This toll is tragic and there is an overwhelming obligation on the part of governments, societies and individuals to reduce it to a minimum.
There is no simple answer to the road accidents problem, and unfortunately some casualties will be inevitable as long as there are vehicles moving on the roads. However, what we must realize and accept is that we are living in the motor age and if we do not wish to pay the price for this in human lives, we must pay it in more money for our roads and more restrictions on our liberty to drive as our whims dictate. As the causes of road accidents lie principally in human behaviour and in road conditions, the road conditions are particularly susceptible to attack by implementing advance programmes for road improvements. The engineering approach to road safety is characterized by advance planning and orderly annual programmes of road improvements and maintenance in order that lasting results can be obtained. Road planning surveys conducted by the State road authorities of Australia, therefore, provide the essential facts with which to develop our future road improvement programmes to achieve road safety.
I want to come now to another very important and vital matter, and that is unemployment. Every one must admit that unemployment is a tragedy. I ask honorable members how they would like to be placed in the position of the unemployed? It is hard to judge whether the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) knows what he is saying, but, as he is a senior Minister, we assume that he does. He told the Parliament that unemployment dropped by 16,000 last February, bringing the total number of registered unemployed down to 96,000, compared with 112,000 last year. He then went on to say, “ These are good figures”. The figure showing the drop is good, but not good enough. However, according to his statement, the Minister also believes that a figure of 96,000 unemployed is a good figure. I think you will agree with me, Sir, that most people would call that nothing but tragic. Still, the Minister is not alone in holding that view. Other members of the Government have treated the present unemployment in the same fashion. They shrug it off as being of little consequence. The Liberal and Country Parties cannot gloss over these statements as mere slips of the tongue. The fact is that the Menzies-McEwen administration uses unemployment as a weapon in its economic policy.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) once said that if you wanted to put down a boom you had to hit a few heads in the process. The people who have had their heads knocked are the unemployed, yet they get no sympathy from the Government. Instead, they are told to stop whingeing. What has the Government head-knocking policy achieved? The Government says it has achieved stable costs. Stable costs are the Government’s excuse for the present army of unemployed, for the housing shortage, and for the present plight of the pensioners. It is true that some costs have remained stable, but not all costs have remained stable. Those which have risen alarmingly are vital to the workers. One example is the present high cost of land for housing. Although costs have risen alarmingly, wages have remained at a depressed level.
I stand in this Parliament to-night as a member of what I would term one of the greatest political forces in the country - a party that has grown from nothing, a party which, at the last general election, polled something like 304,000 more votes than did its combined opponents. That cannot be denied. We, the members of this great party, are expected to sit in this Parliament and take all the sneers and snarls that come from some of our political opponents, although not all of them. Believe me, there are some decent men amongst them. I, for one, will not stand for a moment being branded as a traitor to this country. The Australian Labour Party enjoys a record of which all its members may justly feel proud, and I certainly am proud to be associated with it. With all the uncertainties of our time, we have at least one assurance. We have the guarantee that one organization is constantly at work, resolved to preserve all that has been won across the years, to improve our way of life and to go forward to achieve maximum gains from every challenge and every possibility of the future. On all levels of the Australian Labour Party’s thought and work, party members and friends alike make a valuable contribution daily towards making the world a better place than we found it. So I say that the Labour Party means a great deal to all of us.
The work of the Labour Party is our guarantee that endeavours will be increased to enlarge the measures of social justice available to all the people. The Labour Party is our guarantee that a powerful and wealthy few will not dominate the many and that democratic government, under Labour administration, will fulfil its destiny in promoting the welfare and increasing the rights of the great majority of our community. The Australian Labour Party is our guarantee that, through a more just redistribution of the income of the nation, poverty will be banished permanently and want will be conquered. It is our guarantee that the basic levels of life will be constantly raised for the handicapped, for the humblest in our midst and for those of whom the passing years have taken their toll. With the progressive working out of Labour policies, none will be underprivileged. The Labour Party is our guarantee that every family will be adequately supplied with the necessaries of life in health or in illness, that all will be well paid, that there will be full employment with a wide choice of occupational opportunities, and that none will be overworked or under-paid. These necessaries include a home with modern amenities to lighten the burden of the housewife and conditions in which all may enjoy peace of mind, free from economic fears of the future.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller) led us down a gloomy vista of economic disaster, down the path that he alleges has been trodden by the present Government. Then he lifted his eyes to the hills and saw a bright light - the return of a Labour government. All this, of course, was predictable. Then he made a plea for better roads. None of us would disagree with that plea. Money for better roads, money for developmental projects or more money for education and so forth, is, of course, highly desirable. Then the honorable member finished by speaking about unemployment. The comparison should not be a comparison of what we are doing and perfection. It should be a comparison of what we are doing and what other industrial countries are doing, of what we are doing now and our past record. From this point of view, we do not come out so badly.
This debate offers us an opportunity to speak upon those matters that we believe to be. most important at this time. I feel that the matters raised by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) last Thursday night have not been concluded, and I want to give some objective and dispassionate attention to them. It was alleged that the Australian Labour Party was infected with communism. The Australian Labour Party might more properly be called the Labour movement, because it consists not only of the parliamentary wing, but also of sections outside the Parliament. I propose to make some examination of the constitution and rules of the Australian Labour Party.
– That is a good idea.
– Yes, it is a very good idea. I have with me a little book issued by the Australian Labour Party at the ridiculous price of 3s. That is a very small price for a book that many Australians ought to read, because it is important that they should understand what is the constitution of the A.L.P.
– We know it.
– Yes, but the Australian people do not know it and I am going to try to enlighten them a little. I want to look at the structure of the Australian
Labour Party to see just how far, by its very nature, it is a host for communism.
– You want to be very careful.
– I am going to be very careful in this matter. I am going to move step by step. I cannot leap to conclusions like my honorable friend from Mackellar. I am going to move along very slowly, step by step, and I hope honorable members will follow me. I turn to the section headed “Australian Labour Party - Preamble to the Federal Platform Setting Out the Nature and General Philosophy of the Party “. One paragraph on that page reads -
The Labor Party policy is made by Federal Conferences of delegates from all States, and the Party policy within the States is framed by conferences of delegates elected by the constituent branches and affiliated unions. Its policy is not framed by directives from the leadership, but by resolutions from the members within branches and affiliated unions.
I repeat the words -
Its policy is not framed by directives from the leadership . . .
So far, so good. Follow me step by step. This is a philosophical statement showing what kind of thing the Australian Labour Party is. Now we move on to more precision in this matter - how this philosophy is put into effect - and we find it set out under, I think-
– Have you lost your place?
– Yes. I want to refer to quite a number of parts in this constitution. We find effect given to the philosophy in the federal conference rules, particularly Rule No. 1, which reads -
The Federal Conference of the Party shall be the supreme governing authority and policy-making body, and its decisions shall be binding on all State Branches and affiliates thereto, and upon the Federal and State Parliamentary Labor Parties, and upon the Federal Executive.
– How are they elected?
– Order! The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith will have an opportunity to speak later.
– Let us move to the constitution of the federal conference, which is the governing body of the party. Federal conference rules provide that each State shall be entitled to six delegates. We all recall the conference that was held a few weeks ago and which vas attended by 36 delegates - six from each of the six States. This, then, is the governing body of the Labour Party to which the parliamentary wing is entirely subordinate.
– That has been so for 60 years.
– That is so. Follow me all the way.
– Do not think you have discovered something new.
– I have discovered something, as I will point out shortly. Let us see how the State conferences elect delegates to this governing body which controls parliamentary members. Rule No. 27 governing conferences reads -
State President and General Secretary shall represent the N.S.W. branch as delegates to the Federal Executive of the Party. Conference shall elect annually four (4) delegates to Federal Conference who, with the State President and General Secretary, shall comprise the six (6) delegates from the N.S.W. branch to Federal Conference. No M.L.C., M.L.A., M.H.R. or Senator shall be permitted to contest these positions.
The position with regard to New South Wales is slightly different from that which governs some other States. Evidently the six people from each State branch form this governing body which controls the parliamentary members. Who are the people from each State who govern the conference? I hope honorable members opposite are following me step by step. Rule No. 19 governing New South Wales conferences reads -
The Annual Conference shall be the supreme ruling authority within the State. It shall be constituted as follows: -
Delegates from (1) the A.L.P. membership in each State Electorate; (2) Affiliated Unions as separate entities.
It is also constituted by certain other people who are not important for this purpose. We see then how the parliamentary members are controlled by the Federal Conference consisting of six delegates from each State and how the delegates from each State are themselves elected by a body composed of delegates from branches of the party in the State electorates and from the unions. There is nothing new about that. May I add that representation on a special conference is the same as representation on the annual conference. Therefore the special conference which met in Canberra a few weeks ago is the body that controls honorable members opposite. It was not an ad hoc body. It is the body that controls honorable members opposite at all times during their terms of office. The important thing to note is that the parliamentary Labour Party is controlled, taking this matter step by step, by the people who come to the conference as delegates from branches and unions. Is that democratic?
What is the nature of the unions which play an important part in this matter? In 1962 the General Secretary of the International Transport Federation - Mr. Pieter de Vires - was in Australia. As reported in the press at the time he said -
Too many unions in Australia are under Communist control. Transport unions are in particular danger from Communists. Something will have to be done in Australia to make the workers understand the great dangers of communism.
He said that the principal purpose of his visit to Australia was to bring to the notice of Australians the danger of communism. I think it is common knowledge that unions such as the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Miners Federation, the Blacksmiths Society of Australia, the Boilermakers Society of Australia and the Sheet Metal Workers Union, if not under Communist control, are at least subject to very great Communist influence. So we see that in the last resort honorable members opposite are controlled by people who are not without a great deal of Communist influence among them. That is the plain fact. I have not made any new discovery. Honorable members opposite may smile at this circumstance, but I remind them that when the Communists seized power in Russia after the revolution they represented only a handful of people in Russia. To-day the Communist Party in Russia represents only a very small percentage of the people of Russia. It is common knowledge that a small group of people who are zealous and well organized and who know clearly their objectives can control amorphous bodies of people. So it is not possible to laugh off this influence that is in the very bones and structure of the Labour Party.
Let me refer now to one or two matters of recent history. We all recall that the Labour Party expelled those of its members who later formed the Australian Democratic Labour Party, particularly in Victoria and Queensland. The Labour Party blew out its right wing.
– That is quite right.
– Of course it is. It is common knowledge. If you eliminate your right wing you are left with a very powerful left wing. That has happened in Victoria to such an extent that unity tickets have been run on which the names of Communist and Labour candidates have appeared together, and no steps have been taken to prevent this practice. This is not denied. It may be said that this is slender evidence that there is serious Communist influence in the Labour Party.
– Oh dear!
– I confess that it is very wearying indeed to follow me step by step, but we will reach our conclusions in due course. I want to point now to Communist policy which has shown its influence in the Labour Party. The honorable member for Mackellar recently referred to this matter and I propose to refer to it again. In “Keesing’s Contemporary Archives 1961- 62 “, which is a weekly diary of world events the authority of which is not disputed, the following item appears at page 17897: -
Communism: The largest international conference of Communist leaders since 193S took place in Moscow in November, 1960. It was attended by delegations from 81 countries.
A list is given and Australia is included. The item continues -
It called for joint action on a national and international scale between Communist and social democratic parties-
That is, ‘parties like the Australian Labour Party - in support of the abolition of military bases on foreign soil, assistance to the nationalist movements in colonial and dependent countries-
And so forth. The item continued -
It also adopted a peace appeal similar to that issued in 1957. . . . This called for co-operation between Communists, socialists, trade unionists and others in support of the immediate prohibition of the testing, manufacture and use of nuclear weapons.
That all seems very familiar to me. We have heard a lot about this in this House in recent times. It is also laid down as the policy of the Communist party.
I hope it will not be denied that this is in line with Communist policy. It is impossible to deny that this policy has been pushed in this House for some time. On this very issue I refer to the notable conference a few weeks ago that was held by the 36 delegates who represent the governing body of the Australian Labour Party and who, under their constitution, can tell honorable members opposite what they are to do. The vote in favour of the establishment of the North West Cape base had the very narrow margin of nineteen to seventeen. The Labour Party’s agreement to the establishment of the base was hedged about with so many qualifications that it really meant nothing. I do not want to go into the details of that now, because we shall have opportunities to do so later.
However, I do want to deal with some of the arguments that have been used by honorable members opposite in justification of their attitude. It has been suggested that the Liberal Party is as much governed by pressure groups as is the Labour Party. I think I am right in stating the argument in that way. Let us look at it. I ask honorable members to bear with me while we go through this slowly and carefully. To begin with, there is a substantial difference between a parliamentary party which has to take its orders from a group outside and one like ours which may be advised by its party organization but is not directed by it. Let us pursue the matter a step further. There are pressure groups in the community, and they apply themselves to parties on both sides of the House. Will anybody deny, for example, that trade unions constitute a pressure group which apply their pressure on the Labour Party in particular? Will anybody deny that there are many pressure groups in the community? A group that wishes to get better social services for handicapped persons is a pressure group. Of course, there are business pressure groups. There are businessmen-
– All right, there are in the community those whom the honorable member describes as monopolists. There are business groups which apply pressure to governments. They may apply pressure to honorable members on this side of the House. But let honorable members follow me very carefully at this point. Is there any comparison whatever between a pressure group which manages to gain some financial advantage - perhaps profits which may be better than it would have received otherwise - and a Communist pressure group which is able not only to apply pressure but also to direct the parliamentary Labour Party?
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member asserting that the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party is a pressure group? If so, I ask that he be made to withdraw the assertion.
– Order! The honorable member for Bradfield is within his rights.
– What I am saying is that there is a Communist pressure group within the very structure and bones of the Labour Party which may or may not influence the Federal Conference. The point I am making is that there is all the difference in the world between some pressure group of dairyfarmers, business men or even trade unionists and a Communist pressure group which, if its pressure is successfully applied, can compel a party to do something which may result in the complete destruction of this country. To put the two things in the same balance and say that they are all pressure groups is nonsense. A pressure group of the kind I have just mentioned is completely different from any of the trivial pressure groups that are always operating in any democratic community.
It may be said - and people outside may believe it - “ The Labour Party has had this constitution for 50 years. What does it matte”.-? “ For one thing, the cold war is a lot hotter to-day than it was 50 years ago, and what may have been appropriate in 1890 is not appropriate to-day. It may further be said, “Mr. Calwell is their leader. He would not be ruled by a conference which directed him to do things which were against the interests of this country “. That is, a conference which has already fallen, or at some time might fall, under the influence of the Communist Party.
How strong is the leader of the Australian Labour Party? Honorable members will recall that during the war the then Labour leader, Mr. Curtin, went to the conference, accepting the fact that it had power to direct him. He asked delegates to the conference for permission to send Australian troops compulsorily beyond the borders of Australia. To do so was against the policy that had been laid down by this conference which controls honorable gentlemen opposite. So, even that powerful Labour leader - and he was powerful in those days of war - had to sue to these people. What is the position with the present Leader of the Labour Party? A few weeks ago the present leader went to the Federal Conference, which is fresh in our minds, and apparently urged delegates to vote substantially in favour of the North West Cape base. They rebuffed him. They agreed to the establishment of the base by a narrow majority of nineteen to seventeen, but they hedged the decision about with qualifications which made their agreement meaningless. So if the people of Australia say that the Labour Party has had its present constitution for 50 years, that circumstances in 1890 were the same as those of to-day, and that the great Labour leader would not agree to be controlled by a body that fell under the influence of Communists, they have only to look at recent events to see whether their belief is well founded. I am not saying that the Leader of the Labour Party is not a patriotic Australian. He is patriotic, and perhaps he is the more dangerous for being so, because people may think that he has a strength which clearly he does not possess.
I note that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has come into the chamber. The Labour Party has been unduly sensitive to criticism from this side of the House which suggests that some of its members may lean a little towards the Russian or Chinese side of the fence rather than to the American side. The honorable member for Parkes has written a book titled “ Chinese Journey “. That book is the work of a very competent journalist, and, if I may say so deferentially, it is of great literary merit. However, whilst it is a very readable book it displays a completely uncritical mind. That is true also of other honorable members opposite. I am not singling out the honorable member for Parkes but am merely mentioning him as an example of those whose adherence to our side in the cold war has often been in question. As I said earlier, the honorable member’s book is very readable. He begins with a rather dubious preface in which he says -
I had the honour of leading a Commonwealth parliamentary delegation to China consisting of myself and three other members of the A.L.P.
To call it a parliamentary delegation suggests that it had the authority of this Parliament. I do not think that because members of this Parliament go somewhere they are entitled to call themselves a parliamentary delegation. But let that pass. In his book the honorable member says -
No flies in China. The only persecution I saw in China was of the fly.
I do not know how hard he looked. It is a very readable book. He goes on and says -
When you are seated in a train in China, don’t think big brother has forgotten you - he hasn’t. A boy moving with the swiftness of a runner shoots through the train filling up cups of green tea. If he spills a drop he smiles. The incident is radioed somewhere else in the train and presently a smiling girl appears with a cloth and mops your table, replacing your cup comfortably in your hand. The radio ls never silent. Mostly a Chinese girl is singing.
It is all very pleasing. I quote this because it is typical of the honorable gentleman’s view of China. This is only one passage, but the whole book is like this. Then he went to Canton. He said -
Over there 8,000 men were executed by the order of General Chiang Kai-Shek.
There he only heard about the executions ordered by Chiang Kai-Shek. AH the crowds are good natured, and that made him feel happy. Then he saw this - and I like this -
The sampans carry great piles of pineapples, melons, goods, nuts, vegetables of all kinds, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, rice, poultry, fish and pheasant, pigeons, dove, piglets and peanuts the tapestry of trade. The waterways are the shoulders of China when the load gets too heavy for the human.
I think that is a very literary phrase - the shoulders of China. But this gives a picture of great plenty. I do not say that the honorable gentleman claims it is at all times like that. But reading the book gives a picture of great plenty. Then he says -
A handsome adult male with a university degree from California, Mr. Wong, astonished me by admitting that he had never heard of Marilyn Monroe. His interests appeared to be concerned with such things as co-existence, the problem of Taiwan, trade with China, the decline and fall of Joseph McCarthy, the prospects of world peace and the parliamentary systems of the democracies.
He was not interested in Marilyn Monroe. He was a very serious man. I do not know how true he is to life, but there he is. Here we have a man who goes to China and apparently sees nothing but pleasant things in his journey. If members of the Labour Party - and this is typical - will look at these things through rather rose-coloured spectacles, can they be surprised if people wonder which side they are on?
I have here a number of other extracts which I have taken at large, from “Hansard” and elsewhere. They are simply taken at random, to illustrate this same point of view. I could quote many instances where half a dozen honorable members on the other side of the House have constantly, whenever any matter was in dispute between East and West - between our Allies in America and our enemies in Russia and China - looked indulgently on the Russian and Chinese side. Why does this come about? I am not suggesting that honorable members opposite are Communists. I think most of them are patriotic men. I do not know whether that applies to all of them. I would not know. But why do they say these things? I can only assume that this influence right from the base and foundation of their party - as I have traced it through - communicates this to them through their branches and through their unions, to which they are responsive, just as honorable members on this side of the House are responsive to what is said in their branches. And they find that Communist influence has infiltrated into these branches and into these unions and is powerful far beyond its numbers.
That is the only way that I can understand the reflection of these views in speeches made by honorable members opposite. Certainly the reflection of this basic sub-structure of the Labour Party is reflected in the governing body - the conference of 36, which we have seen at work within recent weeks. I am not one who in the past has taken great interest in these matters, but 1 v as certainly alerted by that conference, as I think the Australian people have been. Here it was, for the first time in such a dramatic form that nobody could miss it - the party which right from the roots up is dominated by this influence which explains, as I have said, the remarkable statements made from time to time by half a dozen members in this House. I have not had time to read out all these things and they have been taken at random. But me of these days I hope to have the opportunity. They are here, and I hope honorable members opposite will not provoke me into using them. We have listened - day after day, week after week and month after month - in this House, whenever matters have been at issue between East and West, to half a dozen honorable members of the other side of the House looking at these things through rosecoloured spectacles.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos. 2, 3 and 4 for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill and the Supply Bills being called on and read together and a motion being moved that the bills be now passed.
Consideration resumed from 30th April (vide page 832), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Consideration resumed from 30th April (vide page 833), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
Thai the bill be now read a second time.
Consideration resumed from 30th April (vide page 833), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) passed.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What would have been the added value of last year’s exports if the prices for exports obtained in 1961 had been ruling?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
Exports of merchandise for 1961 and 1962 were valued at £1,036,900,000 and £1,407,800,000 respectively. A revaluation of exports for 1962 at 1961 prices is not available. However, between these two years the export price index published by the Commonwealth Statistician rose by less than 1 per cent., and the index of exports at constant (1955-56) prices, also published by the Commonwealth Statistician, rose from 142 to 143.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
At a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held on 13th July, 1949, agreement in principle was attained on the construction of works to comprise the Snowy Mountains scheme. The agreement included an undertaking that New South Wales would construct Blowering dam which was to be an important ancillary work to the scheme. The construction of the Snowy Mountains scheme then commenced on the basis of this agreement It was not, however, until 18th September, 1957, that final agreement on all aspects of the construction and operation of the scheme was reached. This final agreement was approved subsequently by legislation enacted by the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian Parliaments. The relevant clause of the Agreementis as follows: - “6.- (1.) The State of New South Wales shall for the purpose of regulating waters of the Tumut River and the waters diverted thereto from the Eucumbene, Tooma or Murrumbidgee River catchments -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has supplied the following information: - 1. (a) Value of goods admitted under by-law at concessional rates of duty - £83,327,897. (b) Value of goods admitted under by-law free of duty- £260,060,540.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
y asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What are the comparative average costs per mile to the Commonwealth Government of (a) steel reinforced tires supplied by the Michelir Rubber Company, and (b) other makes of tires, which are used on different types of government transport vehicles based in the Australian Capital Territory?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Mile costs per tire vary with the size of the tire and the type of vehicle on which they are used. Comparative costs per tire of Michelir tires now being used and of standard rayon tires of similar size are -
s asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amounts were subscribed to the last Commonwealth Loan by (a) banks, (b) hire-purchase companies, (c) insurance companies, (d) other financial institutions and (e) private investors?
– As indicated in answers to questions on 11th March and 8th April, 1959, 10th October, 1961, and 7th March, 1962, it has not been the policy of this Government, or of preceding governments, to release details of subscriptions to public loans, unless publicity is specifically requested by the subscribers concerned.
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2.-
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the followingreply: -
y asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 4. The questions raised by the honorable member concern the financial activities of individual companies and as such are not matters about which I would wish to comment
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1, Was there any diminution in the importation of goods which could have been produced in Australia as a result of the Buy Australian campaign which he opened at a banquet held at the Hotel Canberra some year or so ago?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. It is impossible to determine to what extent any one factor such as the Buy Australian campaign has influenced the level of imports competitive with Australian production.
r asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Naval Base in Western Australia.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
d asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: - 1 to 3. As I stated to the honorable member on 12th November, 1959, in reply to a similar question (“ Hansard “, page 2718), it has been the established and well-known policy of the Government to dispose of the Commonwealth interests in industrial or commercial undertakings whenever the Government has believed that the activity was more appropriate for private enterprise or whenever the purpose for which the undertaking was established or acquired no longer existed.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 3. I refer the honorable member to the reply given by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, to a similar question asked by the honorable member for Phillip. (“ Hansard “ of 30th April, 1963, page 869.)
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Postmaster-General, 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: - 1 and 2. The National Broadcasting Station 6GF Kalgoorlie commenced operation on 10th December, 1936, with operating power of 2,000 watts.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s 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: -
Sir Robert Menzies__ On 9th April, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) asked, in a question without notice, whether the Government had made any protest about proposed French nuclear tests in the Pacific.
I refer the honorable member to the reply given by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, to a similar question asked by the honorable member for Phillip. (“Hansard” of 30th April, 1963, page page 869.)
s asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Australian assistance was given to Britain without any treaty between the two countries in the form of one Royal Australian Air Force Hercules aircraft for transportation purposes, This followed a request by the Sultan of Brunei for the aid of British armed forces under treaty arrangements.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 May 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630507_reps_24_hor38/>.