24th Parliament · 1st Session
|[INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS||(PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES) BILL 1963 AND ASSOCIATED BILLS](#debate-32)|
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I refer to a statement by the Premier of Queensland that he would confer with the Premier of Western Australia with a view to a joint approach being made to the Commonwealth for the setting up of a northern development corporation. I ask: Does the Prime Minister know whether the Premier of Queensland has conferred with the Premier of Western Australia and, if so, whether any agreement has been reached for a joint approach to the Commonwealth? Has the Premier of Queensland made any approach to the Prime Minister or discussed the proposal with him? Will the Government give favorable consideration to the setting up of such a national authority, along the lines advocated by the Australian Labour Party during the 1961 federal election and for a long time before that? If so, when will the Government move in this urgent matter?
– One would almost think there was an election on in Queensland. The question should go on the notice-paper.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. It concerns a letter, which has been circulated, no doubt, to most honorable members, from the Central Region of the National Parks Association of New South Wales. The letter quotes various statements by the Australian Academy of Science and then makes this statement -
It has been estimated that the Snowy Scheme will have ceased to operate due to siltation within about 70 years.
Will the Minister have this statement checked and inform the House whether it is well founded?
– I cannot believe that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has not been very active on silta tion. In fact, I know that it has. I know that it is undertaking many works to prevent siltation. I am sure that the authority would disagree with the remark in the letter referred to by the honorable member. The Hume weir reservoir has been full now for nearly 40 years and it is obvious that there is very little siltation there. I cannot see why there should be any greater siltation in the Snowy Mountains area. However, in view of the honorable member’s interest in this matter, I will approach the Minister for National Development and ask him to provide a full reply.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. Has the Minister undertaken to ascertain the deplorable conditions under which many age, invalid and widow pensioners are forced to live on the miserable pittance paid to them by this Government? If such a survey has been undertaken, have the results shown the urgent necessity for a substantial increase in the rates of all pensions? Will the increase be granted in the forthcoming Budget? I remind the Minister that it is almost two years since any increase was granted, and then it was only a very small one.
– I am indebted to the honorable member for West Sydney for reminding me. May I be permitted to remind him that since 1949, year by year and Budget by Budget, the circumstances of people receiving social service benefits have been improved to a degree that should give the honorable member cause for satisfaction. It is my hope that our splendid record of achievement in this field will be continued) but it can be continued only to the extent of the capacity of the Australian people to pay the additional costs.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has he received any confirmation of reports that since the Australian liaison mission was withdrawn from Kota Baru in West Irian, Australianborn Papuans have been victimized? If this has been taking place, is any action contemplated by the Australian Government?
– I have seen a report which suggests that there has been some maltreatment of Papuan people who were born in East New Guinea and who are now in West New Guinea. I have no confirmatory evidence of that statement at all. I think I should take the opportunity of saying that it is wrong to suggest that the liaison office was withdrawn, placing emphasis on the word “ withdrawn “. We had a liaison office in West New Guinea under an agreement between the Netherlands and Australia. We were minded to remove the liaison office at the time the Dutch left New Guinea and the United Nations temporary authority came in. However, at the request of the United Nations Temporary Executive Authority we allowed the officer to remain for liaison purposes with the temporary authority. Once the recent change-over was effected there was no basis upon which the liaison mission could be maintained.
I would like to say also that the liaison officer would have had no function whatsoever connected with the treatment, or protection, for that matter, of the East New Guinea Papuans in West New Guinea, and it is wrong to suggest that the closing of the office has had anything to do with either the treatment or protection of these people. Lastly, I would say that if people born in East New Guinea are in West New Guinea they are, of course, quite free to return to East New Guinea.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Is there any indication that the facilities in the new courthouse to be opened in Canberra this afternoon will be already overtaxed by the sittings already arranged of courts of various jurisdictions for next week, together with sittings of the Commonwealth Industrial Commission?
– I know of no such indication. The courthouse will contain six court rooms and, to the best of my information, there is adequate accommodation for all the needs of this city for the immediate future.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. In view of the disastrous flooding that has occurred on all the north coast rivers of New South Wales, the Tweed, the Richmond, the Clarence, the Macleay, the Hastings and the Manning, and as some of these rivers have already been flooded three or four times this year, will the Treasurer take immediate steps to see that there is no delay in finalizing arrangements between the State and Commonwealth Governments to make flood relief money available for those who are suffering from these disasters, and also for local government authorities for the repair of roads and other public amenities?
– I am sure I speak for all sections of the House when I say that we join in expressing our sympathy to those who have been unhappily affected by these dramatic events in the north of the honorable member’s State. The Prime Minister has just handed to me a telegram that reached him a few minutes ago from the Acting Premier of New South Wales on this subject. I can assure the honorable member that the Government will be giving quick and sympathetic consideration to what appears in the telegram. There is a wellestablished practice as between the Commonwealth and the States on these matters. No doubt we shall apply the normal tests to the subject dealt with in the telegram.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the Commonwealth Government’s assistance to Western Australia, and indirectly to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, in the construction of a standard-gauge railway link from Koolyanobbing to Kwinana, why has not the Government assisted Queensland in the construction of a port at Weipa, where the Comalco company has spent more than £2,000,000? Has the Government received any request from the Queensland Government to assist in the establishment of port facilities associated with the proposed alumina refinery at Gladstone? Has the Government received any request from Queensland to ensure that the proposed output of that refinery can be disposed of economically?
– I repeat my observation about some election in Queensland. I would have expected that if the company concerned in the development of Weipa had required any assistance in developing the port as part of its development of the bauxite field I might have heard something from it. I am not aware of such a request having been made. I do not want to disappoint the honorable member; but if he will, in the still watches of the night up at Cairns, sit down and study what has been done for Queensland in a variety of ways in recent years, he will find little reason for optimism in attacking the Queensland Government.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he can give the House any information about how the services provided by Radio Australia are regarded by the peoples of East and South-East Asia, particularly from the educational and technical points of view.
– I think I can best reply briefly to the honorable member’s question by saying that the best indication of the standing of Radio Australia in South-East Asian countries is provided by the fact that for three consecutive years a listeners’ poll conducted by the International Short-wave Club of London placed Radio Australia at the head of the poll. That is an indication of the standing of Radio Australia in those countries. Expanding my reply a little, I say that Radio Australia broadcasts in at least seven languages daily to all the SouthEast Asian countries. I am informed that its broadcasts have a valuable educational result, although of course that is hard to measure exactly. However, it can be stated - I know that this is completely true - that the service is used extensively for educational purposes. In fact, the Commonwealth Office of Education and the educational branch of the Australian Broadcasting Commission have been combining for some time in putting on programmes which provide for the teaching of English in those countries. I know that in some countries, particularly Indonesia, these broadcasts are included in the curriculum of the schools. Also I have received reports from various businessmen who have been to this area. They have expressed some surprise at the degree of knowledge that is possessed by many people in those countries of the way of life in Australia and, particularly, of the development of Australia. That knowledge has been conveyed to these people by these programmes.
The honorable member for Ryan also asked about the technical standard of the service. That has been good, but I have to qualify that statement by saying that within the last couple of years or so other international transmissions of high power have been developing and have been causing a certain amount of interference and, indeed, jamming. This matter has been under consideration by the various departments concerned, by the A.B.C. and by the Government to learn what can be done to improve the situation.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Immigration by stating that in a letter to him last year, which be acknowledged, I pointed out the difficulty of maintaining sufficient labour for sugarcane harvesting in the Ingham area of Queensland, and stated that the estimated harvest for this year for the two mills there was 1,320,000 tons. Will the Minister endeavour to have suitable migrant labour, preferably Italian or Spanish, made available from August to December? It is considered loyally, from past experience, that less than 20 per cent, of the 400 Yugoslavs being provided by the Department of Immigration will last the season.
– It has always been the desire of my department to supply adequate labour to the part of Queensland which the honorable gentleman represents to cope with the sugar-cane harvest. I can assure him that the department will do everything which is reasonably possible to ensure that an adequate flow of migrants is maintained so as to avoid any interruption of the progress of that valuable part of the nation’s economy.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Territories. Is the work of defining the border between Papua and New Guinea and the Indonesianadministered territory of West Irian proceeding? If so, is the Indonesian Government helping in this work?
– Under the control of an inter-departmental committee, and with the aid of the national mapping authority, considerable work is being done on the mapping and delineation of the border between East New Guinea and West New Guinea. The change-over to Indonesian administration is so recent that, so far as I am aware, no arrangement has been made between the Australian Government and the Indonesian Government about cooperation on the details, although that is a matter which is under the notice of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs.
– Has the Prime Minister received a letter from the Premier of Queensland, or from any person writing on behalf of the Queensland Government, protesting about the granting of special mineral leases in the Northern Territory to Gove Bauxite Corporation Limited in association with the Pechiney company? What was the reason for this protest? Will the right honorable gentleman table the letter and any subsequent correspondence relating to this matter?
– I will treat the question as being on the notice-paper and will find out the facts.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Air. I have been informed that the civil defence authority in Lismore, which is the authority supervising flood rescue work and relief, has sent out an S.O.S. for two additional flood rescue boats to be sent from Sydney. I believe also that the authority has sought the assistance of a Hercules aircraft to get the boats to the scene of the floods as quickly as possible. Has the Minister made this aircraft available? Will he consider also making available whatever aircraft or helicopters are needed to help in the flood emergency areas of the Tweed, Richmond, Clarence and Macleay rivers?
– Head-quarters of Operational Command of the Royal Australian Air Force did receive a request this morning to fly two flood boats to the Lismore area. The R.A.A.F. was prepared to make a Hercules aircraft available to do this job, but unfortunately it was learned from the Department of Civil Aviation and the civil defence authorities that the aerodrome at Casino where the aircraft would have had to land was unsuitable, so it was necessary to cancel the flight and to send the boats by rail.
The honorable member has asked whether the R.A.A.F. would be prepared to make aircraft available in the flood areas. The honorable member for Lyne has also approached me on this matter. Let me assure them, and the House, that we are prepared, where possible, to meet any reasonable requests we can for aircraft or for helicopters.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister, who doubtless is aware that later this year Australia is to be visited by a South African cricket team, the membership of which will be confined to persons of European ancestry. As a protest against the intrusion of racialism into South Africa’s participation in international sport, will the right honorable gentleman give a lead to all Australians by staying away from all matches played by the South Africans in this country?
– I can assure the honorable member that frequently enough I get into sufficient trouble, spoken or unspoken, as the selector of a Cabinet.
– Do not treat it too lightly.
– Fancy treating the honorable member lightly. I do not undertake to be a selector of the South African cricket team. All I know is that the last cricket team to come to Australia from South Africa consisted of cricketers of great quality. They provided great pleasure for the Australian people and they did uncommonly well as a combined team. So far from staying away from matches played by the South Africans on the coming visit, I hope to be able to attend and welcome them on at least one occasion, because I am glad they are coming.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and
National Service. I ask: Has Mr. Justice Ashburner of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission this morning announced his decision on an application for an increase in the margins of waterside workers consequent on the recent increase of 10 per cent, in margins in the metal trades? Is the effect of the decision to increase margins in all ports except Sydney and Melbourne? Did the reasons for the decision spell out the very poor record of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia in Sydney and Melbourne by, in fact, stating that the attitude of the federation to arbitration is, in the most expressive term used, “ heads we win, tails you lose”, because the federation refuses to take to arbitration any issue on which it is not confident of winning? Finally, what does the Waterside Workers Federation need to do to have the increased margins applied to the ports of Sydney and Melbourne?
– As the honorable gentleman has said, the presidential member of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission who is responsible for the Australian waterfront this morning gave his decision on an application by the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia for an increase of 7s. an hour in the margin. The increase granted was an interim Hd. an hour, not 7s. It was granted in respect of ports other than those of Sydney and Melbourne. I have pointed out to the House on other occasions that the conduct of the waterside workers and their officials on the waterfront in Sydney and Melbourne amounts to anarchy.
– The honorable member knows all about the Sydney waterfront and his friends there. The conduct of the federation on the waterfront at these two ports amounts to anarchy, I repeat. It is a long time since we have had in any port throughout the Commonwealth stoppages of this kind - stoppages for which, frequently, no reason is given. Mr. Justice Ashburner was bitterly critical of the actions of the federation officials in Sydney and Melbourne, and stated that it was high time they realized that they could not resort to arbitration only when they believed there was a reasonable prospect of getting a decision in their favour and resort to direct action when they thought that the arbitration system would not grant their demands.
As to the last part of the question, Mr. Justice Ashburner said that if the circumstances on the waterfront changed or if the officials of the federation in Sydney and Melbourne agreed to abide by arbitration, the federation could apply to him to have the interim increase applied also to both Sydney and Melbourne.
– I direct my question to the Postmaster-General. Does he agree that a great deal of harm is experienced by many people because of the very great delay, amounting sometimes to some years, that occurs in the satisfaction of applications for telephone installations? Can he say when his department will be in a position to arrange to supply telephones in a reasonable time to those who require them?
– The honorable member for Phillip attempts to convey in his question the impression that there is very great delay in the provision of telephones. That, of course, is not correct. There have been some delays of a year and two years, in some cases due to difficulty in providing equipment in particular areas and in other cases due to a very great increase of industrial development in some areas as a result of the remarkable improvement in the economy. Over recent years there has been a steady reduction of the delay in the provision of telephones as a result of the increasing amounts of money made available each year to the Post Office for the extension of its services. There has been a steady reduction in the number of applications that have been outstanding for mote than two years. I can support this assertion by giving the honorable member for Phillip a table that I received some months ago showing exactly how the number of long-standing applications has been consistently reduced.
– My question is addressed to the Minister foc Labour and National Service. As public statements emanating from various sources have been made to the effect that Australians work fewer hours than the people of other industrial countries do, can the honorable gentleman say whether any statistics are available or whether any analysis has been made of the hours that Australians work, taking into account both ordinary time and overtime, and how hours worked in Australia compare with hours worked in other relevant countries?
– The honorable gentleman has anticipated me with his question. I have read reports that Australians work fewer hours than do workers in other parts of the world. Naturally I have sent such reports to the department to have their accuracy checked. Only this morning the report from the department was placed on my desk. I have had the opportunity to read through only the first part of the report and not the wholeof it. However, I will read through the full report, which is full of qualifications, and as soon as I can I will make the information available to the House if the honorable gentleman cares to repeat his question.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Can he inform the House whether the 15,000 or more Indonesian troops at Kota Baru, West Irian, are in fact being employed on civil administration duties, as he stated was his hope when the matter was raised in the House recently? In the view of the Government, does the presence of these troops connote a more serious state of affairs, having regard to President Soekarno’s recently announced view on colonization?
– The last time I answered a question about this matter, I intimated that I understood the majority of these troops would be used in civil work. I have had a report that this has been stated to be so by a highly placed Indonesian official, and I have no reason at this moment to doubt it. As to the presence of troops, wenaturally keep ourselves apprised of developments as far as possible.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade. Has his attention been directed to a Japanese proposal for the establishment of a five-nation Pacific trade study group? If so, does the Minister know what form of study is contemplated and is he able to give any general information relative to the proposal?
– The honorable gentleman’s question is apparently based on a statement that was released to the press in Japan by an economic research organization and not by the Japanese Government. The proposal was that a group comprising representatives of the United States, Canada; New Zealand, Australia and Japan should be formed to study trade matters in the Pacific region. So far the Government has not received any request along those lines from the Japanese Government, but if such a request is receivedit will be carefully examined.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, is supplementary to a question that the Minister answered, a few minutes ago and deals with the decision in relation to workers on the waterfront. I ask the Minister whether it would be correct to say that the2½d. an hour increase in margin is merely the implementation of the 10 per cent. principle laid down by the full Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the recent metal trades judgment. If so, does he not think it is time a new approach was adopted to this industry? Does not the Minister think that to withhold from a turbulent industry, because of industrial trouble in that industry, a right that is extended to other industries can only give rise to further turbulence? Does not the Minister agree that the stage has now been reached when he should ask the Australian Council of Trade Unions to discuss this problem with him with a view to finding a real settlement of the troubles on our waterfront, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne?
– This is not a matter involving just some trouble in a turbulent union. There has been considerable and consistent trouble with this turbulent union in the ports of Sydney and Melbourne. As to the substance of the honor- able member’s question, the Waterside Workers Federation presented its case to the presidential member of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to apply the 10 per cent, metal margins increase to the waterfront. This was done subject to variation in Sydney and Melbourne. The Government did not intervene in that case. The issues were between the federation and the employers. The arbitrator has made his decision, and I believe that most thinking Australians will agree with the decision. As to the last part of the honorable member’s question referring to consultation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, of course that would be a wise step, but the honorable member will know that I received assurances from the A.C.T.U. and from the Waterside Workers Federation that provided certain concessions with regard to long service leave were granted, the A.C.T.U. and the federation would attempt to conciliate on their differences with the employers and, if that course were not practical, would resort to arbitration. Only recently I have had discussions with the president of the A.C.T.U., who is fully aware of the problem. Recently, he made a statement which, while supporting the federation’s claims, said that whenever the federation had a dispute it should resort to the usual methods of settlement of disputes.
– My question to the Minister for Labour and National Service arises from an amendment to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act passed by this Parliament in 1954 relating to the conduct of trade union elections by secret ballot. Is the Minister aware of any recent collaboration between members of the Communist Party and members of the Australian Labour Party in relation to the forthcoming elections in the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union with a view to establishing the equivalent of a unity ticket between confessed Communists and members of the Labour Party taking part in that election? Has any arrangement been made for the Labour how-to-vote card to be stapled to its Communist counterpart so that the Labour Party’s instructions on unity tickets may be honoured in the breach? If so, is there any way in which the Minister or the Government can ensure that how-to-vote cards are not manipulated in such a way as to deceive decent rank and file members of the union and thus impede them in voting in the manner provided for them in the secret ballot legislation?
– It is a matter of notoriety that the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union has frequently issued how-to-vote cards in the form of unity tickets between the Communists and members of the Australian Labour Party. Members of the House, as the Leader of the Opposition will well know, have had either copies of the unity ticket issued in 19S9 or photostat copies of that ticket given to them. I have a copy of it. Subsequent to the decision of the federal executive of the A.L.P. outlawing unity tickets the practice in the Victoran branch of the Australian Railways Union has been to issue a stapled ticket - or two tickets that can be stapled together. This method is designed to deceive the rank and file voter - the true A.L.P. voter.
Whilst I can do nothing under the act, the value of the honorable gentleman’s question is that it brings to the attention of rank and file members of the A.L.P. a deceit that has been practised by some of their own members and by the Communist Party in an attempt to win support for the joint candidates. I think the Leader of the Opposition would help the cause of A.L.P. members-
– Are there not three tickets?
– Yes, there are three. The Leader of the Opposition would help the cause of A.L.P. members if he would come out in condemnation of the practice and would warn A.L.P. members of the danger of voting on a ticket of this kind. So far as the ballot itself is concerned, it will be a secret ballot under the legislation and consequently I can assure the honorable gentleman that it will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the regulations. We can ensure that a secret ballot will be taken.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Have tobacco manufacturers made a request recently for a reduction in the percentage of Australian leaf that must be used in order to qualify for the concessional rate of duty? Have inquiries been made, or will the Minister cause inquiries to be made, to ascertain whether the leaf at present being imported is superior or inferior to the leaf passed in at the Brandon and Mareeba sales? Do the tobacco companies ever indicate to the growers’ representatives the type of tobacco they are likely to require?
– There was a request recently from the manufacturers for a reduction in the percentage of Australian leaf to be used in manufacture in order to qualify for the concessional rate of duty. That request was not acceded to, so the 4H per cent, stipulated to apply from 1st July, 1964, will be operative. However, because the decision on the 1964-65 rate was based on an estimate of the crop, a proviso was added that, at any time during the year, the Government reserved the right to review that percentage. This was done mainly because we did not know what the production would be, and we still do not have reliable figures. That is the position at the present time. As to the quality of the leaf, manufacturers have stated in my presence that top quality Australian leaf is equal to any leaf in the world and that if they could get such leaf they would not hesitate to buy it, irrespective of price.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that in 1951 the Government of New South Wales agreed to undertake and to bear the cost of construction of the Blowering dam? Also, is it a fact that until that dam is completed only 200 farms out of a target of 1,500 farms can be established in the Coleambally irrigation area of the Murrumbidgee irrigation system? If these are facts, can the Minister inform the House whether the Government of New South Wales has indicated its intention of commencing the construction of this dam and, if so, when?
– I understand that as long ago as 1949 the New South Wales Government agreed in principle to the construction of the Blowering dam, and in 1951 legislation was passed by the Legis lative Assembly in that State approving the construction. Provision for this was included in an agreement between the Commonwealth, the State of Victoria and the State of New South Wales in 1957. In the last State election campaign in New South Wales, the present Labour Government agreed that, if returned, it would commence construction of the Blowering dam within the period of the life of the present State Parliament. So far as I know, nothing has been done towards commencement. I understand that it has been possible to use some of the water available in the Murrumbidgee for the Coleambally irrigation area. Some 150 farms have been established already and about another 150 could be established without the Blowering dam. But if the Blowering dam were built, it would be possible to establish about another 600 farms, which would use water at present going to waste.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister and is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Lyne, who has, apparently, just come in out of the wet. Is the Prime Minister aware of the widespread flooding now taking place on the coastal areas of New South Wales, spreading from the Queensland border to the Hawkesbury? Will the right honorable gentleman consider making an immediate special grant to those affected, apart from th; fi for £1 grant normally made for flood disasters? Finally, when these disastrous floods have subsided, will the Prime Minister confer with the State Premiers with the object of launching a national scheme for flood mitigation, thus relieving people of the ever-occurring threat of flooding and its hardships?
– It would not be appropriate to answer a question on policy, because this is not the time to do that. As my colleague, the Treasurer, pointed out in answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Lyne, since I came into this chamber I have received a telegram from Mr. Renshaw, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, who, having regard to past experience in these matters. is suggesting in the case of these unhappy floods an initial payment and a joining together by the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales to finance a scheme, on a £1 for £1 basis, on the charter applying to earlier similar schemes. We have had quite a few of these, unhappily. As my colleague pointed out, we have always followed, and will continue to follow, the practice of dealing with these applications sympathetically, helpfully and, I think, to the satisfaction of the governments concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: As it is important that well before planting time cotton-growers should have any available information on the future prospects of the industry, and as the Cotton Bounty Act, if it is to be continued, must be renewed before 31st December of this year, can the Minister tell the House whether the act is to be renewed on the same terms as now operate?
– The Government appreciates the worth of 4he bounty that has been paid to the cotton industry and the help thus given to that industry. We can understand the growers desiring to know what their future is to be. At the last Australian Agricultural Council meeting various aspects of this subject were discussed with the State Ministers. As late as last month my department convened a meeting of Australia-wide interest to ascertain the various problems associated with the administration of this bounty. The honorable member can see that this matter is being very much thought of, but at this stage I cannot indicate what the decision of the Government will be.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Territories a question. Do the travel privileges of members of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea extend to periodic visits to Australia, especially to this Parliament and city? If not, will consideration be given to extending their privileges to cover such visits periodically? Will steps be taken to give them ease of access to the Parliament to enable members to enlighten themselves on the working out of the new constitution and on what the Papuan people’s representatives feel about it?
– The existing travel allowances of members of the Legislative Council are fixed by ordinance of the Legislative Council and relate to their electoral duties as members of the Legislative Council. There would be no difficulty in financing an official visit by any member of the Legislative Council to this Parliament. On the question of whether they need to come here to inform themselves about the new proposals for legislative reform, I would remind the honorable gentleman that members of the Legislative Council probably know far more about it than we do.
– Inform us.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon. I thought his suggestion was that we should inform them. They are in a good position to inform at least some members of this Parlaiment. If it were necessary for them to do so, I suppose that could be arranged, but their opinions have been placed in a select committee’s report, endorsed by the Legislative Council and available to all members.
- Mr. Speaker, I have been misrepresented in the daily press, which misquoted me this morning on a question I asked yesterday.
– Order! The honorable member wishes to clear his name?
– I would npt go so far as to say that, Mr. Speaker. It remains unbesmirched. Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister a question with reference to the United States naval communications station. I said this -
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 of the existence of such an establishment?
The Prime Minister took no note of my use of the word “ necessity “. Neither did the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ nor the Melbourne “Age”, misquoting me in the same way and in the same spirit as the right honorable gentleman.
– by leave - The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) visited Wellington at the invitation of the New Zealand Government to conclude an agreement which would implement the understanding which had previously been reached between the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the New Zealand Minister for Industries and Commerce, that goods imported into Australia from New Zealand or into New Zealand from Australia should not be subject to dumping duties without prior consultation between our two governments.
It has been agreed that if either government considers that any product is being imported from the other country under such conditions as may cause material injury to producers df like or directly competitive products in the country of importation, and gives written notice to the other government accordingly, the two governments shall thereupon consult together immediately to consider measures to prevent further injury. While consultation proceeds, neither government shall make direct inquiries concerning the matter in the territory of the other.
Only in the event that the two governments do not reach a mutually satisfactory solution to the matter within 60 days from the commencement of consultations, would the imposition of dumping duties be considered.
The New Zealand and Australian governments feel confident that this agreement, to maintain close consultation on dumping questions, will operate to the mutual advantage of Australia and New Zealand.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Copy of letter, dated 29th April, 1963, addressed by Senator Henty (Minister for Customs and Excise) to Mr. N. L. Shelton, New Zealand Minister for Customs, containing a copy of the Agreement on Dumping Duties concluded between the Governments of Australia and New Zealand - and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
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
World Health Organization 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
International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Bin 1963.
International Development Association Bill 1963.
International Finance Corporation Bill 1963. Internationa] Monetary Agreements Bill 1963.
World Health Organization Bill 1963.
Motions (by Sir Garfield Barwick) taken together, and agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to the privileges and immunities of certain international organizations and of persons connected therewith, and for other purposes.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to repeal section seven of the International Development Association Act I960.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section six of the International Finance Corporation Act 1955-1961.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section eleven of the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947.
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend section six of the World Health Organization Act 1947.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Evidence Act 1903-1936.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The primary purpose of this short bill amending the Evidence Act 1905-1956 is to facilitate the proof in courts of law of the making and the contents of tariff and other proposals for financial imposts made in this Parliament.
The Evidence Act contains a number of provisions enabling public matters or public documents in the Commonwealth sphere to be proved in legal proceedings without having to lead oral evidence as to such matters or to produce the original documents. The reason for such provisions is, of course, that otherwise an unnecessary burden would be imposed on litigants and, secondly, that there are more convenient means of proof which are, generally, completely reliable. One such provision in the Evidence Act is section 7, which provides that all documents purporting to be copies of the Votes and Proceedings or Journals or Minutes of either House of Parliament, or of papers presented to either House of Parliament, if purporting to be printed by the Government Printer, shall on their mere production be admitted as evidence thereof in all courts. This provision follows closely section 3 of the Evidence Act, 1845, of the United Kingdom, which in that country has been judicially held to establish the admissibility of Journals of the House of Commons as evidence of events recorded in them.
Honorable members will have noticed that among matters printed in the Votes and Proceedings of the House are tariff proposals which are printed in full and frequently are very long. Such proposals are also printed in a separate document published by the Government Printer under instruction from the Clerk of the House. It is now proposed to discontinue the present practice of printing the tariff proposals in full in the Votes and Proceedings, and merely to record in the Votes and Proceedings the proposal number and the heading of the separate document printed by the Government Printer. This would effect quite a substantial saving in printing and also eliminate delays in the publication of the Votes and Proceedings which occur from time to time when large tariff proposals are involved.
The customs and excise legislation enables new tariffs or alterations of tariffs to be put into effect as from the date on which they are expressed to operate in a tariff proposal introduced in Parliament. As the fact that a tariff or tariff amendment has been proposed in Parliament has thus an immediate effect on the rights of persons, it is desirable that there should be some convenient means of placing evidence of the making and the contents of any such proposal before a court of law when the practice of printing the proposals in full in the Votes and Proceedings ceases. This bill, therefore, provides that documents purporting to be printed by the Government Printer and to be copies of motions, resolutions or proposed laws, introduced in a House of Parliament or in a committee of the House, shall on their mere production be admitted as evidence of the fact of such introduction and of the matter introduced. Any amendment to, or the abandonment or withdrawal of, such motions, resolutions or proposed laws may be proved, under section 7 of the Evidence Act, by the mere production of a copy of the Votes and Proceedings or Journals of the relevant House, as printed by the Government Printer.
The provisions of the bill have been widely phrased in order to cover not only tariff proposals but also any other motions, resolutions or proposed laws, as the introduction of some other forms of taxation, such as income tax, sales tax, &c, and primary industry and other charges and levies, by bill under the new financial procedures approved by this House, instead of by resolution as at present, would mean that they would no longer be printed in full in the Votes and Proceedings. The bill will also permit the discontinuance of the printing of any lengthy motions or resolutions in the Votes and Proceedings should this become desirable as a matter of convenience.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Parliamentary Papers Act 1908-1946.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In my second-reading speech on the Acts Interpretation Bill 1963 I explained that the main purpose of that bill was to add to the Acts Interpretation Act a new provision to the effect that, where any Commonwealth or Territory legislation provided 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 were deemed to be presented to the House if they were delivered to the Clerk of the House and recorded in the records of the proceedings of the House, it was sufficient compliance with that requirement, if the document was dealt with in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House or Houses concerned. The new provision will overcome the difficulty placed in the way of the implementation of the revised Standing Orders of the House by the use of expressions such as “ lay before “, “present to”, “table” and “lay on the table of” in Commonwealth legislation providing for presentation of documents, as such expressions would otherwise require literal compliance. However, the Acts Interpretation Bill will not operate to change the literal meaning of the expressions mentioned where they are used in a provision that does not require documents to be presented.
One such provision is sub-section (1.) of section 2 of the Parliamentary Papers Act 1908-1948, which provides that it shall be lawful for either the Senate or the House of
Representatives to authorize the publication of any document laid before it. A document delivered to the Clerk of the House and recorded in the Votes and Proceedings would not be laid before the House within the meaning of section two of the Parliamentary Papers Act unless that section so provided, and the purpose of this bill is to make such provision.
I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19th April (vide page 782), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, the measure before the House deals with one of Australia’s most important primary industries. Over a long period I have had both a practical and a political association with it. I do not think any honorable member opposite will want to allege that any communism surrounds this industry. The plain fact, unfortunately, is that the dairy industry, for a variety of reasons, has not received the assistance and kudos to which it is entitled as a great producer of locally consumed foods and a great earner of export income. For a long period child labour was engaged in it, the industry itself was dirty, and the methods of production were not good. By a very slow process, with assistance from parliaments in some instances, it has been lifted to a very much better condition than it was in formerly - and so it should have been.
I recollect being a member of the Victorian Parliament - I am going back about 30 years now; almost too long to recollect - when a Labour government attempted to give assistance to this industry. There was a young man named Mr. Bond. He was a member for a western districts electorate. He lived at Heywood. He was a school teacher. He was successful in having a committee of the Victorian Parliament appointed to inquire into conditions in the industry. The facts that were ascertained were enough to make strong men cry. They indicated beyond any shadow of doubt that the dairy industry was a sweating industry as far as the fanners’ family labour was concerned. I remember very well the Minister for Agriculture, the late Mr. Slater, bringing down in the Victorian Parliament a plan to assist the industry to improve the quality of the cows comprising the herds. In those days the purchase of a good sire to produce good quality milking cows was beyond the financial capacity of the dairyman. This scheme became known as the pure-bred bulls scheme. Under it the Victorian Government provided half the purchase price of a bull calf sired by an approved sire and out of an approved dam with a good record of milk production. I recall going to the Commonwealth Bank as the Minister administering the Victorian Department of Agriculture. With the assistance of the late Mr. McComas, who was a director of that bank, I secured additional funds to assist the further development of the herd-testing scheme in the middle of the depression. Right through feat long and difficult period very substantia] and practical assistance was given to this industry.
In due course I came into this Parliament. The industry was then in a parlous condition. I remember a prominent Country Party member of this House citing the enormous number of insolvencies among people engaged in the dairy industry in Queensland under an anti-Labour government in the federal sphere. I remember the wartime period when, under the Administration of the late John Curtin, substantial assistance was given to the dairy industry, and its conditions were improved. I. remember that at the end of the Second World War the industry asked that a committee be appointed to inquire into the cost of production of butter and cheese in Australia. As the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture at that time, on 22nd November, 1946, I announced in this Parliament the appointment of a committee known as the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee on Production Costs. It was composed of six producer representatives, a representative of the then existing Prices Branch, a representative of the Treasury and a representative of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. After making a very thorough investigation, in which it was assisted by the departments of agriculture in the various States, and after examining the costs, conditions and economic structure of thousands of dairy farms in Australia, that committee reported on a fair price. The majority - composed of the primary producer members of the committee - reported that a fair price at that time would be 2s. Hd. per lb. The minority recommended that the price be 2s. per lb. The Chifley Government accepted the recommendation of the public officials, who were the minority, of 2s. per lb.
– The honorable member for Gippsland fails to recognize that a responsible government always has to take into consideration the unconscious bias of the primary producers on a committee of inquiry, and the more factual and unprejudiced outlook of representatives of the Treasury, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and the Prices Branch. The honorable member can obtain a copy of the recommendations of that committee. The most important point about them from his point of view, as a Country Party member, is that the really respected and authoritative representatives of the organized dairy industry throughout Australia expressed their satisfaction in no uncertain way. I do not want to tire the House, but perhaps I should give quotations from the statements of some of the people who expressed their satisfaction. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Gippsland has heard of these people and respects them very greatly.
The late Mr. Howey of Colac, which is in the electorate of Corangamite, was president of the Victorian Dairy Farmers Association. He is reported in the “ Gippsland and Northern Co-operator “ in this way -
Firstly, as far as price is concerned, thanks to the subsidy provided by the Commonwealth Government, the industry is now, I believe, on the soundest basis which, to my knowledge, it has ever been, taking all factors into consideration, but dairy farmers are disturbed at the thought that the assistance given - which only counters the protection given to secondary industries - may be taken away at the whim of any government.
– Which government provided the subsidy?
– Th Chifley Labour Government. Now let us see how the subsidy has been taken away by the present
Menzies Government. To-day a dairy farmer shall not receive less than 40d. a lb. for his butter fat. In 1958-59, which is the latest year for which figures are available, the cost of production figure was 53d. per lb. based on the 1947 recommendation f the Joint Dairy Industry Committee. So the assistance which was- provided by the Chifley Labour Government has been taken away by this Government. If to-day the guaranteed price were based on the cost of production as ascertained in accordance with the 1947 recommendation, it would be 53d. a lb., or probably a little more. For the last few years the actual return to the farmer has been about 41d. but the fact remains that the under-written guarantee is only 40d.
Let us consider “.e contrast. In 1947, using 2s. as a base, and allowing for annual variations, the Labour Government applied the ascertained cost of production which was recommended by the committee. That guarantee was given and honoured for fi /e years. As the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is at the table, well knows, 1 am always fair so let me add that at that time the Chifley Labour Government had been successful in negotiating a contract with the United Kingdom Government which fortunately started to give us a return in excess of the ascertained and guaranteed cost of production. At that time - I -> collect it well and it is good to remind honorable members about this - after agreement with the industry, we thought it would be a very good idea to put into a stabilization fund all moneys which Australia received in excess of the ascertained and guarante d cost of production. While the guaranteed contract price on sales to the United Kingdom continued over the years, between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000 was accumulated in the fund. The most severe critics in this Parliament of the Labour Government’s action in putting that money into the stabilization fund were members of the Country Party, of which the former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, was the leader. We were accused of robbing the dairy farmers of their incomes. In the last few years and until now, when the fund is practically exhausted, this Government has been glad to refund to the industry moneys from the stabilization fund to help to raise the price received by the farmer: to a level higher than it otherwise would have been.
We had before us last year legislation, which we now are amending, providing for the payment to the processed milk industry of a bounty of £350,000, the same amount which the Government the previous year had approved being taken from the dairy produce stabilization fund set up by the Labour Administration. This was to enable the milk processors in due course to bid the same price for milk supplied to the processors’ factories as the butter and cheese factories were able to bid by virtue of the assistance given them by the present butter subsidy of £13,500,000. I read statements in the newspapers by uninformed people who claim that the subsidy of £13,500,000 paid to the butter industry is excessive. That amount means little in view of the increased cost of production since this Government took office in 1949. It is equivalent to about £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 in 1947. The net return received by the dairy farmer is about 16d. less than the guaranteed cost of production to-day as found by the system employed by the Joint Dairying Industry Advisory Committee.
The first plan ran for five years. In 1952 this Government introduced into the Parliament a measure to re-enact the stabilization scheme but there was a most notable change. Whereas the Labour Party’s guarantee covered the full-found cost of production of butter produced for home consumption and for export, the new legislation provided for a reduction in the amount of butter covered by the guarantee. The new proposal, which has operated since 1952, was for the payment of a price after a consideration of the found cost of production by a new committee to be set up, known as the Dairy Industry Investigation Committee. That committee did not have to apply the cost of production; it only had to take the cost of production into consideration. Under the legislation the committee was also charged with the responsibility of ascertaining the effect any increase in the local market price would have on the consumption of butter in Australia, to take into consideration relevant prices for export butter and so on. From that time the dairy producers received a substantially lower amount than they would have received if the old assessment procedure established by the Labour Administration had been followed. I am always fair, as the Minister knows, and I am not suggesting-
– You know that conditions now are quite different from what they were.
– The Minister has said that conditions are different. Why are they different? There are two reasons. The cost of production in Australia, at the time the Labour Government left office, was based on a full-value £1, whereas to-day the Australian £1 is valued at only 7s. In other words, the cost of production in Australia since the Labour Government left office has increased three times. At the other end of the scale, the overseas market price has dropped substantially. So as to the different circumstances, one was completely within the control of this Government and one was completely outside the control of this Government. Now the farmer is receiving relatively a substantially lower price for his butter fat than he was receiving when the Labour Government was in office.
– And a very substantial subsidy.
– The Minister has said that there is a very substantial subsidy, but it is undeniable that the subsidy is worth only two-thirds as much as an equivalent amount would have been worth when Labour was in office.
– Is the honorable member for or against the bill?
– I shall come to that point in due course. I can see that what I am saying in unpalatable to the honorable member. What the Minister for Repatriation omitted to say when he interjected was that despite the increase of the bounty on exported processed milk products to £500,000, the dairy farmer will receive only 40d. per lb. for butter fat. The ascertained cost of production, on the other hand, was 53d. per lb. in 1958-59 and is nearer 55d. today. Those are the facts. I do not suggest that this Government is responsible for export prices, but it certainly is responsible for what happens within Australia. I know that when honorable members opposite reply to my remarks, they will say: “The Chifley Government, in the last hours of its administration, was somewhat difficult. It hesitated to grant the additional ascertained cost of production in its last year of office.” We can thank the present Government parties for that difficulty, because it so happened that in 1948 the Chifley Government had put a referendum to the people of Australia.
– Because it wanted power.
– Prices control was sought. The approval of the proposal at the referendum was opposed by the present Government parties. The powers sought then will some day be granted, not necessarily to a Labour government, but perhaps to a Liberal government. Those powers, had they been given to the Commonwealth in 1948, would have interposed a steadying factor that would have prevented the huge increase in the cost of production that dairymen have faced since, resulting in the present high level of the cost of production. There was subsequently some doubt whether the Commonwealth Government should increase subsidies or whether State governments should permit price increases. After some effort to get the State governments to do the decent thing, the Chifley Government agreed to increase the return to the dairyfarmers and to carry that increase into the next year. Subsequently, the present Government, in the first measure dealing with this subject that it introduced, limited the guaranteed return to local sales plus 20 per cent, of that quantity exported and adopted a different basis of assessment. So, altogether, the dairyman has been substantially gipped because the present Government has failed to control the economic situation in Australia.
Why is it that the dairy-farmer is always blamed for the industry’s problems? Honorable members who belong to the Australian Country Party, particularly, know that, a couple of years ago, the dairymen were up in arms about the situation with which they were confronted. So what did this Government do? It appointed the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. The members of that committee were distinguished men. I am not sure that any of them were primary producers. The Labour Government at least appointed six primary producers to its original committee, along with three departmental officers. The chairman of the committee appointed by the present Government was Mr. M. E. McCarthy, one of the most able economists and best public servants that Australia has ever known. I have no quarrel with him, but I quarrel with the recommendations that he supported. Another member was Mr. G. H. Chessell, Diploma of Commerce. I am not sure that he was a farmer. Other members were Mr. J. A. Jones, Mr. G. McGillivray and Mr. J. P. Webb, F.C.I.S. Mr. T. T. Colquhoun, M.Sc, M.A.I.A.S., was executive officer, Mr. R. M. Watson, Bachelor of Economics, A.A.S.A., A.B.I.A., was research officer and Mr. L. C. Hellier was secretary. They all were competent men.
The report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry touched on the whole question of efficiency. The dairy industry is still in economic difficulties. Whenever it is in such difficulties the tendency of those who do not know the facts is to say that it is inefficient. This industry is no more inefficient than is any secondary industry that honorable members may care to mention. I have had some experience of secondary industry as well as of the dairy industry. Because I was able in 1948 to persuade the Chifley Government to provide £250,000 a year for five years - this Government, to its credit, has continued to provide a similar sum - for disbursement by the respective State governments to promote the efficiency of dairy farming by lectures, experimental work and the distribution of literature and the like, much has been done to raise the industry’s standards. Before the Labour Government went out of office, it sent to every dairy-farmer in Australia a wellproduced publication. The publication distributed in Victoria was entitled “Dairy Farming in Australia “, and similar publications with appropriate titles were distributed in all the other States. The idea was to put at the disposal of the dairy-farmer the most up-to-date knowledge then available, by incorporating it in these publications. The publications also contained explanations of Commonwealth and State laws relating to the dairy industry. The work begun by the Labour Government continues.
I question certain comments made by the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. At page 89 of the report, there is a reference to costs of production and a table showing overall returns to producers and notional costs in various financial years. The return to the producers for 1958-59 is shown as 46d. per lb. commercial butter and the notional cost - that is the ascertained cost of production - as 53d. per lb. Referring to the 53d. per lb., which the producer never received, by the way, the committee stated -
The acceptance of the figures in the second last column as representing actual or average “ cost of production “ would simply mean that the industry as a whole has been operating at increasing losses over these six years.
The Committee is not prepared to accept this deduction as true or even partly true. There is an absence of either internal or external evidence to support a suggestion that the industry as a whole has been losing money over this period. There were, for example, no signs of -
a general exodus from the dairy industry; on the contrary the industry has been relatively stable . . .
That is a strange comment. The plain fact is that there could not have been a general exodus from the industry. Where would the farmers have gone? This comment is set aside when we realize that, except for the last few years, the highest dairy production ever known in Australia was obtained about 1935. Do honorable members know why? That was a time of depression when the dairy-farmers could hardly sell their farms. A few were forced by the banks to sell very cheaply. The sons and daughters of dairyfarmers could not get employment anywhere off the farms. So, about 1935, there w.as available to the farmers a greater labour force than has ever been available before or since, and particularly since the period of full employment began after the war. So the story that, because there had been no exodus from the dairy farms for the six years before the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry was presented, the dairy-farmers were not in difficulty does not hold water.
The committee went on to state that there had been no sign- of a substantial reduction in production that could not be accounted for by seasonal conditions, and it mentioned the production of butter over the period reviewed1. Production was 160,000 tons in 1953-54. It rose to 209,000 tons in 1955-56 and the estimated production for 1958-59 fell to 194,000 tons. It does not follow that because things are tough the farmer will reduce production. As a matter of fact, the urge is to produce more, whether or not production is profitable.
The committee went on to state that there had been no signs of a reduction in land values which would be a sure indication of continuing losses. It commented that, on the contrary, land values had, if anything, increased. No dairy farms were being sold. The man who has been established on a dairy farm with his family for a long period does not want to leave it even if he makes only half as much as the basic wage. But he still goes on urging an improvement in his conditions. Farmers are not people who give up easily. The committee went on to say that there were no signs of increasing overdrafts and that overdrafts generally had been reduced. That is so. After this Government took office, there was no point in applying for an overdraft until recently, because the banks were instructed to reduce overdrafts.
– That is wrong.
– That is right and everybody knows it is right. The banks were told to tighten up.
– Priority was given to export industries.
– I know about that. If you had a tremendous equity and were getting a good price for your butter, you could get finance, but the butter man was not getting a good price. So when he went to the bank he was probably told that he could not get assistance.
– The banks would send you to the hire-purchase companies.
– The report said there was no sign of reluctance on the part of financial houses to make advances. But we know that finance houses would charge an excessive rate of interest. The report said, also, there was no sign of -
The report continued -
No industry could sustain increasing losses over a period of five or six years without some or all of these, and many other, signs being very much in evidence.
I disagree entirely with those deductions.
Let us come back more particularly to the measure now before the House. This has a history to which I must refer. It is a repetition of a bill that was before us last July, I think it was, which provided for the payment of a bounty to milk processors amounting in total to £350,000. That bounty payment will expire at the end of June or July of this year and the bill now before the House will provide for the bounty for the year ending in June or July, 1964.
– The end of June.
– The end of June, 1964. That will amount to £500,000. It is believed that the payment of the bounty to milk processors last year encouraged processing companies, both co-operative and proprietary, to export more of their products and to buy more milk. Of course, it is desirable to draw milk away from butter producing. This has been a success in the sense that exports of processed milk products have increased. This eases the pressure to increase exports of butter. The strange thing about all this is that in the year preceding the 1962-63 bounty year £350,000 was paid out of the Dairy Industry Stabilization Fund. I think the Minister will agree that that is right. The fact is that £350,000 was paid out of the fund for the year ended June, 1962, £350,000 from Consolidated Revenue for the current year and now £500,000 from Consolidated Revenue for the year that will end June, 1964.
– No, nothing was paid in the previous year out of the fund for this express purpose.
– I have here a journal published by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
– You may be confusing this with the Asia processed milk.
– That may be. I would like the Minister to listen to a passage from the journal. He has created an element of doubt in my mind. A passage in “ The Dairy Situation “ No. 9 of May, 1962, at page 11 reads as follows: -
The Australian Dairy Produce Board announced in March 1962 that, after considerable negotiation, ft had agreed to make available to processors a rebate of £92 per ton commercial butter, on the butterfat content of their exports. This is equal to ls. per lb. butterfat. Money for the rebate, which had the full approval of the Minister for Primary Industry and which was at the rate of about £350,000 in a full year, would be drawn from the Dairy Industry Stabilisation Fund. The rebate will be superseded in 1962-63 by the subsidy arrangements notified on 1 May.
What is wrong with that? Is that right or wrong, Mr. Minister? This is a journal from your department.
Order! I think the honorable member will have an opportunity of finding out when the Minister replies.
– I would like to know. Here is a Minister who administers the department telling me that nothing has been paid out of the Dairy Industry Stabilization Fund. I have read a statement from his own journal. It is all very well to say I can find out later which is right. I think he can defend himself. I do not criticize him for not knowing the position. I know the ramifications of his department. But this point should be cleared up. I have read from an official publication. The story is that £350,000 would be drawn from the Dairy Industry Stabilization Fund and under the bill I supported last year another £350,000 was paid. Now £500,000 is being provided for the year ending June, 1964. Did the money come from the stabilization fund?
T.Ir. POLLARD.- I do not mind these people getting the money. It is a tribute to the Labour Administration that provided for it.
Mr. Cope. - Stop interjecting, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– I do not require any assistance.
– Order! The honorable member will proceed with his speech.
– Well, do not interrupt me. You are here to keep order, not to interrupt the debate.
– Order! The honorable member will refrain from making those remarks.
– I will, certainly. These people should not be denied a subsidy similar to the subsidy that butter producers have been receiving. If they are denied the subsidy, they will not be able to pay the price that will attract the milk of the primary producers to the factories. The primary producers will take their milk to the butter factories, which can pay a higher price because they participate in the distribution of the subsidy of £13,500,000. The only way to rectify the situation is to pay a subsidy, and this party will support the measure.
The point I want to emphasize is that the proprietary processed milk manufacturers have been a pretty miserable crowd in the past. Over the long number of years that the dairy-farmers have been, through the butter factories, members of the equalization arrangements, the processed milk manufacturers, particularly the proprietary companies, have been pretty miserable. Over the long number of years that export prices were high, the manufacturing companies refused to pay one penny piece into the equalization scheme. When they were receiving an export price above the homeconsumption price, they waxed rich and fat. Now, when the home-consumption price is higher and the export price is lower, they want to come to the party. They ask for a subsidy and they say, “ Unless we get it we cannot pay the same price for the milk of the farmers as the butter factories can pay “.
– Was anything paid out of the stabilization fund?
– The Minister has not ascertained that yet, but he will probably get the information before the debate is finished.
– I can tell you the position now. Only £13,000 was paid out.
– What is wrong with the statement in the journal then? The officers who prepare the journal are like every one else; they can mak: a mistake. The fact is that the journal says something was paid out.
– That is an estimate of the amount that would be paid in a full year if that rate applied. That is all it is.
– I do not want to lose the thread of my remarks about the proprietary companies. They were miserable to the producers when everything was going right for them. Now that things are not going right for them, they extend their hand. Some of these companies have an international character. One of them is the Nestle Company (Australia) Limited, and as far as I can understand it is a ruthless firm, lt conferred a benefit on the dairy-farmers not because it wanted to do so but because it found in the past that milk processing was profitable. Now it wants the Australian taxpayers to keep it profitable. The company will pass some of the bounty on to the primary producers, of course, but how much will it pass on and what arrangements are being made, if any, for the farmers to be participants in equalization arrangements similar to those that apply to butter and cheese? Perhaps the Minister can tell me what protective arrangements have been made. I do not know. It is alleged that, some years ago, one international company had the habit of selling its products to a subsidiary at a low price. It was able to show a low profit to the Australian income tax authorities, but it picked up its profits through its subsidiary in areas in other parts of the world which had low taxation rates.
– The Nestle company.
– I should not name parties when we have no concrete proof, but I think I should refer to this problem that we have had to face. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I could say more along those lines, but I would not like to fall foul of you. Accordingly, I will be content to say that the Opposition has no hesitation in supporting this measure. We can see no other course open to us to surmount the high cost factor confronting the Australian dairyman than to increase the bounty. We believe that the dairying industry is a valuable one. We do not stand for curtailment of production, but if when demand for one type of milk product is low you can obtain a better market for another type of milk product we are all for assisting the marketing of that product which is in better demand. We on this side of the chamber do not think that the dairying industry will fade out. We think that as purchasing power and living standards in overcrowded countries improve there will be an increased need for Australian butter, cheese and other healthy dairy products. I support the bill.
– The bill provides for a continuation of the export bounty on processed milk products. This bounty is a very valuable addition to the framework of the dairying industry. The amount of bounty provided in this bill is additional to the £13,500,000 general bounty that has been paid in each of the previous six years. In his remarks the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) covered most aspects of the bounty, but he did not refer to the philosophy behind the bounty. I join issue with the honorable member in his comparison of the performances of the Labour Administration in which he was a Minister and the subsequent performances of the Menzies Government over the last ten or eleven years. The honorable member pointed out that the Labour Administration negotiated a very successful deal with the British Government but it must he remembered that at that time the United Kingdom was hungry for food and was an easy target for pressure tactics. That was a time before the general inflation that followed the Second World War and the Korean War had made its presence felt in the economy of this country. I remind the honorable member that, du? to the policies of the Government of which he was a member, which had a dampening effect on industry and led to shortages and restrictions on production, the amount of processed milk products available for export was very small after local orders had been filled. The situation that existed at that time cannot be compared with what has happened since the Menzies Government took office. The Menzies Government encouraged an increase in production. Producers were encouraged to make a maximum effort.
The relative prosperity of the dairyfarmer to-day surely is reflected in the price of dairying land on the market. The honorable member for Lalor said that very few farms were changing hands. In point of fact, in the area that I represent quite a number of farms have changed hands, particularly in the soldier settlement area. I know that the price of land, particularly dairying land, has been maintained very well. That situation is in itself a fair indication of how the average person regards the future of the dairying industry.
At this stage I would like to refer to the tremendous loss suffered by the dairying industry in the death of Mr. Hedley Clark. Anybody who knows anything about the history of the industry over the last generation and about its administration will be aware of the tremendous value of the work done for the industry by Mr. Clark. The industry has benefited not only by his wise counsel but also by his deep and practical knowledge of the industry. I am sure that everybody who has the interests of the dairying industry at heart will appreciate the vast contribution that he made and will join with me in expressing deepest regret to his relatives.
One of the main problems confronting the dairying industry has been the difficulty of disposing of quantities of butter and cheese. Because we cannot consume a high percentage of the whole-milk product we must endeavour to dispose of it as manufactured dairy products. The incidence of the butter subsidy, which we believe in and which has amounted to more than £150,000,000 over the last ten years, has subjected milk processors to a difficult handicap. It was in an effort to remove that handicap that this bounty was introduced in May of last year. The milk processors who were competing with the butter and cheese factories found themselves at a disadvantage because of the subsidized price at which the butter and cheese factories obtained their milk. Following a request from representatives of the dairying industry last year the Government introduced the legislation that we are now amending. The bill introduced last year provided for a maximum bounty of £350,000 with the object of assisting processors to export and, in so doing, to increase the amounts of milk taken from the butter and cheese manufacturing areas. It is interesting to note that in the first seven months of the 1962-63 season the butter fat content of exported processed milk products has already totalled 3,642 tons compared with 2,798 tons in the same period in 1961-62 and 2,579 tons in the same period in 1960-61. It is estimated that this year exports of processed milk products for the whole of the current season could represent approximately 6,000 tons of butter fat, which would be an increase of almost 50 per cent, on the amount exported in the previous year. That situation reflects the value of the bounty.
When the figure for the bounty was fixed last year it was calculated that it would be in the vicinity of the amount paid in butter fat subsidy. However, a substantial increase in the exports of processed milk products have reduced the effect of the bounty to a lower figure. That is why in this bill the former maximum bounty of £350,000 has been increased to £500,000. I am sure that anybody interested in the industry will acknowledge the value of the Government’s decision in this matter.
I would like to say something now about diversification. One of the great problems that have confronted the industry in the past has concerned the amount of milk products converted into butter and cheese in the face of competition in Europe. More recently we had hanging over our heads the threat that Britain would enter the European Common Market. If that had happened our selling opportunities in the United Kingdom would have been greatly restricted. As it is, the quantity of butter and cheese that we would like to sell overseas will continue to present a problem. Every effort should be made to encourage diversification in the butter and cheese industries in an effort to reduce the amount of butter and cheese that we need to sell overseas. It is well to explain some of the measures that have been taken by the Australian Dairy Produce Board in regard to this matter, not only in respect of the variety of products but also in exploring additional markets. Honorable members may be aware of the provision of machinery, for reconstituting milk from Australia’s exported butter oil and milk powder, now operating in Manila. This is the first factory of its kind that we have established, but another is under construction at Bangkok and similar schemes are being projected for Burma, Singapore, Malaya and Peru. They are at present under negotiation. This development has two sides to it. Not only are we supplying machinery, which is of direct benefit to our secondary industries, but also, by making this machinery available, we are making possible the export of a greatly diversified range of products from the dairying industry. The vigour of the board’s activities has also been directed towards our own domestic market and much imagination and many novel ideas have been employed in the advertising of dairy products in Australia.
Honorable members may have read recently of the intention to put on a television show to emulate in New South Wales one in America which provides a competition for ladies in making cakes and other preparations using milk products. It is called a “ Bake-off “. I understand that such a show is to be put on fairly soon at the Chevron Hotel. I have not much sympathy with the grumblers in the industry who, perhaps being too lazy to ascertain the facts for themselves, are continually asking what is going on and what the Government is doing about increasing exports and increasing home consumption. If we study the activities of the board we realize how it is following up these possibilities. Not only the board but the Government also have gone a long way in this and other legislation and in administrative action towards making £ contribution to the industry and assisting ;n its expansion and the disposal of its products. I have mentioned those two points - first, the activities of the board in encouraging production and exploring markets and secondly, the way in which the Government has assisted in other ways to carry out the policies submitted to it by the board.
One of the points that we have to consider is the responsibility of the producers and manufacturers in the industry itself. The first suggestion which I have to make and which may be of value relates to quality. A comparison of Australian exports of butter and cheese with those of New Zealand shows that, in the 1961-62 export season, of Australia’s- export of butter only 65.3 per cent, was of choicest quality, whilst the New Zealand figure was 93.5 per cent. The Australian figure for first-grade butter was 26.1 per cent, and the New Zealand figure was 6.5 per cent. Australia’s figure for lower grades was 8.6 per cent, and New Zealand’s figure was nil. The point there is that New Zealand is achieving an export figure of 93.5 per cent, of choicest quality butter as against Australia’s 65.3 per cent.
In cheese Australia’s export of choicest grade was 8.3 per cent, and New Zealand was 18.4 per cent. For first grade, Australia’s export was 82.7 per cent, as against 78 per cent, for New Zealand. For lower grade the Australian figure was 9 per cent, whilst New Zealand’s figure was 3.6 per cent. These figures speak for themselves and illustrate one avenue in which the industry itself can improve its situation. The comparison I have given is not completely fair, because obviously the conditions which apply in dairying areas in Australia make it considerably more difficult to achieve good results than do those which apply in New Zealand, where the temperature is far more even and the distances involved in the collection of dairy products from the farm are much shorter. Climatic conditions make the situation in New Zealand more favorable. But it is worth considering that if New Zealand can achieve these results there is no reason why Australia should not improve her own performance. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) will remember that legislation was passed some years ago remitting sales tax on milk tankers, in order to assist the industry in the carriage of its products.
Another point which I think is worth looking at relates to cheese manufacture in Australia. Being one who is always a little interested in novel and exciting cheeses, I have had quite an interesting time examining the availability of various cheeses in shops throughout Australia. It is obvious that with the influx of migrants from many countries different types of cheeses - not many of which are produced in Australia - have come into demand. Although we are a large producer of cheese - I think the total production this year is estimated at 55,000 tons, mainly cheddar types, which, incidentally, is about 5,000 tons more than we expect to be able to dispose of through our present known selling outlets - we are importing cheese this year to a value, I understand, of about £1,000,000, the equivalent of 1,600 tons or 1,700 tons of butter fat. I think this is important. We can make these cheeses and we are, in fact, making some excellent cheeses of a novel nature. I remember that after the war an excellent Limburger was made in the Dandenong district, outside
Melbourne, but unfortunately that factory has gone out of production. I believe this is another avenue in which the industry could develop new processes and make available to consumers in Australia an Australian substitute for what is now being imported, not in large quantities but in significant amounts^-
– We can make cheese as good as that produced anywhere in the world.
– Yes, particularly blue-veined cheese. There are other types - particularly the type of cheese we get from Italy - which appeal to the Italian element in our new Australian population. I feel that this is an avenue that is worth examining.
I shall conclude by referring to the artificial-breeding establishment which some Government supporters had an opportunity to inspect last year. This show was originally started by the Government in Victoria and has been gradually taken over by private co-operatives, which are doing excellent work, particularly for the dairying industry, through artificial breeding. Naturally they have considerable expense; but I do not want to go into detail in that respect. I understand they have submitted to the department for consideration a case for assistance. We believe they are making a very valuable contribution to the dairy industry. One of the weaknesses of the industry has been the difficulty experienced by the smaller man in getting good quality bulls to upgrade his herd production. If we can give encouragement to this artificial-breeding establishment I think we will make a valuable contribution to the upgrading of the standard of cows in Australia, particularly in areas where it is easy to distribute the semen from the artificial breeding establishment. That is one avenue which could be considered by whichever committee deals with that feature of the dairying industry. I support the legislation. I believe it is a valuable contribution to an industry which has quite serious problems; and I hope that the bounty which is being provided will show very good results in our export returns.
.- Before dealing with the bill I should like briefly to refer to two points raised by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon). In the first instance he referred to the maintenance of butter rationing in Australia. It is a well-known fact that butter rationing was maintained in Australia by a Labour government at its peril, electorally, for the benefit of people in the United Kingdom who could not obtain sufficient foodstuffs at that time. I would also like to point out that statistics disclose that during the successive terms of Labour governments prior to 1949 there were substantial surpluses of butter available for export. These surpluses were exported profitably.
However, turning to the real subjectmatter of this debate, one salient feature that projects itself forcibly into a discussion of the dairying industry of Australia is the need for diversification. We have seen quite recently developments in relation to the European Common Market which caused great fears for the welfare and security of the Australian dairying industry. It became obvious that to rely only on the traditional markets for butter and cheese was not sufficient if we wanted to maintain prosperity in the dairying industry and ensure the welfare of the many thousands of men directly engaged in the industry, the welfare of their wives and families, and also the welfare of the towns - there must be many thousands of them scattered throughout Australia - that are totally or largely dependent on the dairying industry. With a prosperous dairying industry, people in these towns are prosperous and thriving, quite contented and there are signs of progress. However, if there is a downgrading of the standard of living in the dairying industry, these people suffer. Therefore, I repeat, diversification becomes very necessary. The Minister in his secondreading speech said -
Because of the world surplus of butter-
That is another consideration, apart from the developments in relation to the European Common Market, which, according to the latest world news, are far from concluded. I continue the quotation - and the quota limitations imposed upon its import into the United Kingdom - virtually the only export outlet for large quantities - it is obviously desirable to divert as much butter fat as possible away from butter. Cheese is in somewhat the same position. The Government considers that it can assist all sections of the industry by encouraging this diversion through increased exports of processed milk products. This is the main purpose of the bill.
Members of the Opposition support that contention.
Another very important factor which has loomed on the horizon is causing concern to the people responsible for the welfare of our primary industries and for the maintenance of our trade. I refer to the negotiations proceeding at present in relation to Great Britain’s desire to have eliminated the 15s. per cwt. preference for Australian and New Zealand butter entering that country. Great Britain desires this preference to be eliminated, in the interests of Denmark. If we lose this preference, quite obviously the Australian dairying industry and those engaged in it or dependent on it will suffer. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) pointed out - he is very well versed in this subject - the dairying industry is a very important segment of primary industry in Australia to-day. I hold the view that if Great Britain takes arbitrary action to eliminate this preference, against the wish of Australia - certainly it would be against the wishes of Australians generally - or if this Government agrees to the elimination of the preference, Australia should state very definitely that, as there is to be no sentiment in matters of trade, it will eliminate the preferences which Great Britain is enjoying here. This is a two-way movement. We must be just as hardhearted and hard-headed in our business dealings as are other countries if we are to survive. We owe a responsibility to the thousands of people engaged in the dairying industry.
While I am on the subject of exports of butter to Great Britain and the possibility of the elimination of our preference so that our butter will enter Great Britain on the same terms as Danish butter, I should mention that obviously that would suit Denmark. I understand that Denmark has a lower cost of production. Further, because of its nearness to Great Britain, it pays lower freights on its products. In those respects, we would have an added disadvantage. We are limited to exports of 65,000 tons of butter to the United Kingdom and it is anticipated that this year we will have available for export a surplus of 85,000 tons. This means we shall build up surpluses. Because of the loss of our trade with Great
Britain, this surplus butter will have to be placed on the open market. We must remember that the United States of America is one of the great butter stock-piling countries of the world, and that frequently it dumps butter on the open market. In attempting to compete on even terms, obviously we will be in a very serious predicament. Our dairying industry will be in a parlous position and the future of the people dependent on the industry will be jeopardized.
I would like to quote from an article titled “Past, Present and Future” by G. Chislett, an economist with the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. He said this -
Within the dairy industry, consisting of 40,000 farms, 3,000 odd were sub-marginal, and 11,000 marginal, producers under market conditions prevailing when the Committee made its Report. If the export situation deteriorates then the 11,000 borderline producers will be faced with even worse prospects.
The committee referred to by Mr. Chislett is the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. It is quite obvious from developments now taking place that the 11,000 producers referred to could be in a serious predicament, together with their dependants. This Government must take strenuous action to ensure that we do not lose our preference in Great Britain.
As I have said, there is a necessity for much greater diversification within our dairying industry. When the avenues of consumption of the products of our dairying industry are analysed, the argument for diversification becomes much stronger. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) referred to cheese consumption. It is interesting to note the per head per year consumption rates of cheese. They are: Denmark, 16.3 lb.; New Zealand, 6.6 lb.; and Australia, 5.2 lb. Domestic consumption in Denmark is much higher than in Australia and New Zealand. The fears expressed by many producers as to their future prospects are justified. This is a point which the honorable member for Lalor made. He said that it has become necessary for us to take every step right here in our own country to expand our domestic consumption. The figures point urgently to the need for stimulating the home consumption of our commodities and, in the case of cheese, indicate the necessity for the curtailment of imports. You have only to walk into any delicatessen store to see the wide range of exotic brands of cheese that is entering the Australian market to the disadvantage of home products.
Butter consumption is another interesting point in relation to the dairying industry. On a per head per year basis, in Denmark 29.8 lb. is consumed, in New Zealand 43.3 lb. and in Australia, 25.9 lb. Quite obviously, this indicates that there is room for greater consumption of butter at home. There is also room for increased consumption of milk at home. In pre-war days Australia consumed 187.2 pints of milk per head per year. In 1958-59 the amount increased to 225.6 pints, and in 1959-60 it went up to 228.8 pints. In comparison, the figures for New Zealand tor those years were 220, 324.2 and 328 pints per head per year. On a daily basis New Zealand is consuming about 1 pint per head per day while in Australia the consumption is only about i a pint per head. This is despite the fact that a large amount of milk is consumed by school children throughout Australia under a scheme providing free milk for schools.
It is obvious that something must be done at home to increase the consumption of these traditional products of the dairying industry at the same time as we are considering diversification of the industry to meet possible trends in the export market. We should try to develop our exports in other fields and also to use up the production that we are already achieving in Australia.
I have mentioned the possibility of losing our preference for butter in the United Kingdom market and the fact that we may find our exports of butter to the United Kingdom substantially declining as the European Common Market develops further. It is apparent, when we analyse the figures for exports of butter, that in actual fact the United Kingdom is no longer the great bonanza that it once was for us in its absorption of Australian dairying products. There has been a very sharp decline in the share of the United Kingdom market for dairying products enjoyed by Australians. Other countries have prospered at our expenses. In 1938 Australia supplied 18.9 per cent, of the United King dom requirements of butter, New Zealand 27.2 per cent, and Europe 51.9 per cent. By 1958 the pattern had changed, and the figures then were as follows: - Australia 11.6 per cent., New Zealand 40.2 per cent, and Europe 46.4 per cent. Over the same period of twenty years our share of the United Kingdom cheese market declined from 8.1 per cent, to 5.5 per cent.
It is obvious to any honorable member who represents a rural constituency in which there is a fairly extensive dairying industry that the standard of living of the people engaged in that industry has deteriorated considerably over the last twelve or fourteen years. I have lived in rural areas for the greatest part of my life. I can remember the obvious signs of prosperity that one saw twelve or fifteen years ago. When one moved around country towns, particularly when there was a dance on or a theatrical entertainment which would bring the farmers to town, one could see all the new cars parked along the streets. To-day, in contrast, when one goes to a country town one seldom sees modern American cars, and there are certainly many fewer modern Australian cars than there were some years ago.
When one talks to primary producers generally, and specifically to dairy-farmers, one hears the complaint that they are working very much harder and that they are working many more hours producing much more and receiving considerably less than they did in the past. This applies to primary producers in very many fields. The fact is that these people are working very hard to maintain our rural structure, and yet are receiving much less for their efforts. Is it any wonder that in Queensland alone since 1956 the number of dairy farmers has declined by more than 4,000. This must be a clear indication, even to the casual observer who has had little association with the dairying industry, that this industry is no longer profitable, as it once was. Despite what Government supporters may say to the contrary, it is obvious that the primary producer achieved, during successive terms of office of Labour Governments, a much higher standard of prosperity than he has enjoyed in recent years.
As the honorable member for Lalor has pointed out, there has been a sharp decline in the return to dairy-farmers and butter producers during the term of office of this Liberal-Country Party Government which so regularly proclaims its adherence to policies designed to secure the welfare of the primary producer. These producers can no longer rely on guaranteed prices to the extent that they formerly could. Why, goodness- gracious, it was a Liberal-Country Party Minister for Primary Industry who abolished Hie extensive system of butter subsidy which had been maintained by the Labour Party.
– Who abolished it? I did not do so.
– I notice that the Minister for Primary Industry has some comment on this matter, which I am afraid I did not hear. However, if he wishes to comment perhaps he should comment on the figures that I am now about to give the House, which are factual. They relate to the difference between the ascertained cost of production in the dairying industry and the actual return to the producer. The figures are as follows: -
We see that the difference between the ascertained cost of production and the actual return to the producer has increased from about 2d. in 1952-53 to about 7d. in 1957- 58. I am reliably informed by an authority on the dairying industry that this difference will rise to ls. or more.
These matters are all very important and should be seriously considered when we are discussing the decline in the return to the primary producer. We should ask ourselves why this decline has come about. Obviously it is the result of “a lack of awareness or alertness on the part of the present Government. One of the greatest bugbears of the primary producer of to-day is the heavy cost structure in primary industry. We have heard honorable members opposite agree with that statement, but invariably they seek to blame the high cost of production not on the correct source but on the wage earners. They do that despite the following facts: - There is a spiralling inflationary trend; there is ample evidence that the wages that the workers receive to-day have not the purchasing power that they had in 1949; the primary producers now receive less than they received a number of years ago for many of their products; and there are glaring anomalies. One perfect example of those anomalies is in the pig meat industry in Queensland. In that industry extremely low prices are being paid to producers but extremely high prices are being demanded from the consumers for the finished product. Here is a disparity that needs investigation. Obviously some one between the consumers and the producers is netting a great profit at the expense of those two unfortunate sections of the community.
Long before now the Government should have undertaken extensive investigations into the” structure of industry in Australia and the progress of commodities as they go from State to State until they finally reach the consumers. The Government should certainly do that now in order to ascertain where the leakage is occurring and where the heavy cost burden is being imposed on the financial structure. There is ample evidence to show that the whole fault lies neither with the producers nor with the consumers, who are the wage earners, but with the people between those two extremes who, far too often, are allowed to speculate without any controls whatsoever. I believe there is an urgent need to introduce some control to curtail the activities of these people who operate at the expense of the important sections of the community. We have heard honorable members opposite criticizing bitterly and very frequently the Labour Party’s proposals for prices controls. But recently I read a statement made on behalf of a graziers’ association urging the Queensland Government to consider the re-introduction of control of meat prices. The association pointed out - this it what I stated in relation to pig meat - that producers were receiving nowhere near the return that was being gained by some one between the time the meat was produced and the time it was sold to the consumers.
When we consider the dairy industry, we consider primary industries generally and the fact that at present the return to the primary producers is far less than it was twelve to fourteen years ago. I shall cite a few figures to support that contention. Although these figures refer to primary industry generally, they include the dairy industry, which is possibly one of the most sorely afflicted of our primary industries. Australian farm incomes in the last financial year were down £18,000,000 on the incomes in the previous year. In the light of the criticism of the Queensland Government and of the Commonwealth Government for their apathy in not taking some action to investigate that trend, it is rather interesting to note that in Queensland the value of primary producion increased by £7,250,000 but returns to primary producers decreased by £3,000,000. Quite obviously, that is an indication of the high costs that primary producers have to bear and of the ever-decreasing prices that they are receiving. In 1961-62, farm incomes totalled £472,000,000. When we consider that to-day £100 is worth only £48 in 1949 terms, according to the consumer price index, the value of farm incomes last financial year was only £226,000,000 in 1949 terms compared with actual farm incomes of £426,000,000 in 1949, under a Labour Government.
The pamphlet to which I referred a few moments ago - “ Australian Rural Industry - Past, Present and Future “, issued by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council - deals with this matter in a rather critical way. It contains this statement -
An examination of the financial results of rural producers over recent years is the best indication of their current situation. Except for occasional good seasons nett farm income has barely been above the 1949-50 figure of £448m. in the intervening years. Despite a rise of 31% in volume of production-
This supports my contention that producers are producing more but receiving less - nett income to farmers rose by only 4% in the eleven years to June, 1961. This highlights the futility of raising output as a means of increasing income.
The Bank of New South Wales also dealt with this matter quite extensively in a report that it issued last year, A newspaper coverage of the report stated -
The article pointed out that, according to official national income estimates, net farm income in 1960-61 was only 40 per cent, greater than 12 years earlier.
During this period the income of wage and salary earners had risen 240 per cent., and company income bad increased at a similar rate.
As a proportion of net national income, farm income had declined from 17 per cent, in 1948-49 to about 8 per cent, in the past four years. “ Indeed, if allowance is made for the depreciation of purchasing power, net farm income in 1960-61 was little more than two-thirds of what it was in 1948-49, despite a 50 per cent, increase in the volume of rural output,” the article pointed out.
That is a sad commentary on the state of primary industry generally in Australia to-day. It is a rather serious indictment of the Government for its lethargy, failure to provide guarantees to continue primary industries and failure to give greater stimulation to this important section of the economy. Honorable members opposite are continually harping, in a most demagogic manner, about the importance of primary industries to the structure of the community.
– They are important.
– I agree wholeheartedly. But do not these statistics expose very definitely the vulnerability of the Government on this important question? Do they not expose the very important fact that the Government has not been doing what it has been promising to do? It has been indulging in vague and unsubstantiated generalizations. It has been telling the primary producers that they have never had it so good and that the country has never been better off when, in fact, the cold, hard and indisputable statistics reveal very definitely a trend which although not calamitous is extremely serious and demands urgent and priority treatment by the Government in order to ensure that the people engaged in this important section of industry shall have an established and secure standard of living and be guaranteed prosperity.
I concede quite readily and happily that the Government’s endeavour to encourage the diversification of the dairy industry will make some contribution to an improvement, or at least the maintenance, of the standard in the industry. Whether the standard will be sufficient remains to be seen. The decline in the economic structure in the dairy industry has been accentuated over the last four or five years. As each year has gone by the decline has appeared to he accelerating. Quite obviously, the time is over-ripe for the Government to reappraise its whole approach to the situation of primary industries in Australia and to the economic structure of the nation.
.- I cannot let the opportunity pass to refer to the address we have just heard from the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). In the concluding stages he referred to the need for a re-appraisal of the economic situation and virtually called, on more than two occasions during his speech, for an investigation of certain costs and certain aspects of the economy. He did no more by that than illustrate once again the comparative ignorance of Opposition members. Surely the honorable member for Oxley has heard of the Government’s intention to appoint a committee to conduct an inquiry into all aspects of this nation’s economy. This inquiry doubtless will cover some of the matters to which the honorable member referred. On suitable occasions, the Opposition conveniently forgets certain things and tries to give the impression that it is advancing some bright ideas of its own. Of course, that is not’ true in this case.
The honorable member also used the expression “ a sad commentary “. All Government supporters know how many times that expression has been used in this place since the last election. During the past sixteen or eighteen months we have heard nothing but sad commentaries and depressing statements from Opposition members. I am sure that the Australian people share my belief that every aspect of this nation’s economy gives the lie to these sad commentaries. Our primary industries, like the remainder of the Australian economy, are experiencing a considerable degree of prosperity. However, I do not deny that there has been a reduction in farm incomes, as has been claimed by honorable members opposite. The Government is aware of this and has devoted much effort to an attempt to alleviate the position.
The purpose of the bill before us is to authorize the payment of a bounty of £500,000 on exports of processed milk products - milk powders and the like. As was explained by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in his secondreading speech, the bill continues the prin-
F.3823/63.- R.- Nil ciple which was adopted by the Parliament last year of placing Australian manufacturers on a more equitable basis with their counterparts and competitors overseas. Because of the apparent success of last year’s proposal in the first three-quarters of the year, the legislation now seeks to increase the bounty to £500,000 for the current year.
It is well known that the Australian dairy industry suffers considerable disadvantages when compared with the industry in many places overseas. The Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry referred to some of these disadvantages and to the price support schemes which are in operation in many overseas countries. In paragraph 651 of its report the committee referred to the submission of the Australian Dairy Industry Council that 72 per cent, of the free world’s milk came from countries which had price support schemes. The leading European producers of the remaining 28 per cent, were Italy and Denmark, which were responsible for 3.1 per cent, and 2.5 per cent, respectively of world production. That is the general position. What do we find in individual countries? In the United Kingdom, which operates under an annual economic review system - for the purposes of my argument I shall not deal with the details - the subsidy for 1958-59, for instance, was £10,100,000 sterling, which represents 1.1 5d. sterling a gallon on total milk output. In the United States in the same year the cost of the scheme relating directly to the stabilization of milk and butter fat was 172,400,000 dollars or £A76,600,000. In Canada in 1956 the cost of price support for butter alone was 3,100,000 dollars, or £A1,400,000. I shall not give the full details relating to the position in the Netherlands, but that country heavily subsidizes its industry, which is in direct competition with the Australian industry. This story could be repeated many times but I have referred only to some countries to illustrate one of the main disadvantages from which the Australian industry suffers.
In addition, we lack population to absorb the greater part of our production. This obliges us to attempt to dispose of a large proportion of our production overseas, in face of some of the difficulties to which I have referred. In this sphere, we lack ready accessibility to alternative markets. Therefore we are faced with a high proportion of handling and freight charges, all of which help to build up the price structure and to affect the profit margin.
During the debate we have heard considerable discussion of the political and economic aspects of the dairy industry. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) gave us a run-down of the situation since the inception of the dairy industry or at least since his earliest experience of it. This was useful. But no reference was made to what is fundamental to the dairy industry - the environment in which it must endeavour to succeed. We know, and it is generally regarded that the environment in many places in Australia where dairy farming is carried on is not conducive to dairy production. This factor alone contributes to a higher cost of production. We have rather unfavorable conditions. I have in mind in particular soil fertility problems and the need for fertilizers. Oyer a large part of Australia we have short growing seasons and hot conditions which are not conducive to high-quality production. All these features involve the costly establishment of pastures, the growing of crops and the use of irrigation. Those are some of the conditions which other honorable gentlemen might wish to compare with conditions they have seen overseas. Our conditions are unlike those under which dairying is carried on in other parts of the world.
Then there is the relative immaturity of the Australian dairy industry, resulting solely from our short history which has not allowed the full and1 adequate development of an inherently and genetically highproducing national herd. Time is one of the features preventing this. Nor have we behind us the hundreds of years or the scores of generations of people or of animals to provide the background for the selection and breeding of a uniform and consistently high quality stock population.
There are many other particular, technical characteristics of the industry which have a bearing. In addition, as a part of the Western world, we have a high standard of living and, despite the claims of honorable members opposite, a considerable degree of prosperity. These things, it is accepted, act to the detriment of sensitive export industries such as the dairy industry. They cause various increases in production costs and, at the same time, tend to change the dietary habits of the people. This, as we know, tended to reduce the consumption of butter. This is one of the things that comes with the greater sophistication of modern living. The increased production costs are borne not only by the dairy-farmers but also by the dairy factories. So we find that the difficulties of the farmer are compounded considerably by the added difficulties imposed on the factories. As if this were not sufficient, the process culminates in the pricing of our products out of overseas markets, particularly processed milk products, which are the subject of this bill. The position is further aggravated by the fact that the additional supply of milk products then available on the Australian market further embarrasses those who are already trying to sell on the difficult butter market.
As the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) pointed out, there is another aspect. Even if factories such as those of the Nestle Company (Australia) Limited and Glaxo-Allenburys (Australia) Proprietary Limited had suffered no reduction in overseas sales - we know that they have, of course - they would have been faced with stiff sales competition overseas by subsidized industries and also would be competing in Australia with the producers of butter and cheese - in other words, with that portion of the industry that receives a large share of the £13,500,000 bounty. These were the circumstances that prompted the Government last year to introduce legislation of this kind, and led the Government more recently to believe that it would be fully justified in increasing the export bounty on processed milk products as provided for in this bill. I think that the circumstances that I have outlined amply justify this measure.
Let me now, Sir, consider the problem from a different angle altogether. I want to relate for the benefit of the House the experience of a particular factory in my electorate that suffered the disabilities that I have mentioned. As a government is most concerned with what happens to people, I want to describe what happened finally to the farmers, the employees of tha factory and the families of both. The factory began operations in 1932 with about 30 suppliers. In the following year, the intake of milk built up considerably, with a corresponding increase in both the number of suppliers and the number of employees, until, in 1956 - 24 years later - the factory had an annual intake of more than 1,600,000 gallons of milk from 68 suppliers, and almost 100,000 cases of condensed milk a year were exported. All this brought great consequential benefit to the entire district and was achieved, I reay add, in local competition with the whole milk trade, since the factory was handy to the Perth metropolitan area.
What happened when sales on the export market declined? I shall give the House figures that were made available to me by the company last year, Mr. Deputy Speaker. They indicate that, as I have said, approximately 100,000 cases of condensed milk were exported in 1956 and only about 15,000 cases in 1962. Exports of condensed milk by this factory in 1962 were only about 15 per cent, of its exports in 1956. As a consequence, the annual intake of milk, which, as I have mentioned, was more than 1,600,000 gallons in 1956, fell by more than 1,000,000 gallons a year, or by about 61 per cent. The number of suppliers was reduced by 54 per cent., and 55 per cent, of the employees were retrenched.
I think we all can well imagine the effects of this on a purely agricultural community. There was a desperate move, as one might expect, on the part of the farmers whose supplies the factory would no longer take to seek other outlets for the milk that they produced. Some were fortunate enough to be able to channel their production to whole milk, or what is described in the trade as surplus milk, and to butter factories. In such instances of course, the butter problem was accentuated, as the Minister has said. Other producers were not so fortunate and had to change to other forms of production entirely. This, however, is never either easy or quick, and it certainly is never cheap. Added to this, the retrenchment of factory employees and the problem of obtaining alternative work caused much human distress. All these things produced recessive effects on the whole commercial and social life of the district. These were conditions which, I believe, the Government intends shall be obviated by this measure.
What were the effects of the first few months of operation of last year’s measure? They were emphasized by my colleague, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), and they were mentioned by the Minister, who, in his second-reading speech, stated -
That the act achieved its purpose is evidenced by the export figures for the first seven months of the 1962-63 season. During this period exports of butter fat in processed milk products totalled 3,642 tons compared with 2,798 tons and 2,579 tons in the same periods for each of the two previous seasons.
The likelihood is that exports for the current season will represent approximately 6,000 tons of butter fat. This will be a very considerable improvement. The immense success of the scheme is highlighted, first, by the fact that although exports for 1961-62 represented 3,700 tons of butter fat, total exports for 1962-63 could represent 6,000 tons of butter fat, or 1,000 tons more than the estimate of 5,000 tons made by the processors. Factories that were literally facing closure will now be able to remain in business, and the Government intends that, with the additional £150,000 of export bounty proposed in this bill, the actual bounty rate paid to producers of butter fat and cheese will be more nearly approached.
I believe that all these factors add up to a most convincing argument in support of the bill and illustrate the way in which this Government has fully met all its obligations to the processed milk products industry. However, I believe that although this argument is convincing, it does not absolve the processors themselves of responsibility for making determined efforts to expand their sales, irrespective of government assistance in any form. I am inclined to question whether there could not be some safeguards applied by the Government in an endeavour to ensure that processors who receive this assistance will fully extend themselves to meet the demands of the market. I appreciate that there is an incentive element in this bounty and that it is certainly in the interests of the company to expand overseas sales. But I think it is possible to see conditions under which certain established firms may not be prepared to go to any great lengths to maintain or improve a position overseas. I hope that the Government will keep this aspect of the matter well under surveillance. I believe that processors have a moral obligation to the communities which surround them - an obligation which is increased by the acceptance of this subsidy. This moral obligation might well be met in various ways. It is well for manufacturers to diversify production, to look to other ways in which they may be able to turn out a product and so keep their industry in a relatively prosperous condition.
Opposition members have asserted that the Government over the years it has been in office has done little to help primary producers. The Opposition claims that, on the other hand, it has done much for them. We must not overlook the assistance that the Government has given to the dairying industry. Let me refer to some of this assistance. At the request of the dairying industry, the Government continued the successful implementation of the industry stabilization fund for five years. It has allocated the bounty of £13,500,000 for each of the five years, instead of adopting the previous procedure of an annual determination. It has provided for the underwriting of equalization values for dairy products. This has enabled the payment of higher interim returns to farmers. I know how valuable this has been to the farmers; I was one of them for a long time. This has been at the rate of 40d. per lb. commercial butter. The honorable member for Lalor gave some attention to this aspect. We cannot underestimate the value of this to the industry and to the farmers in particular.
I pass now to one of the recommendations of the committee of inquiry, which is contained in its report. As a result of this recommendation the Government has given the industry the freedom to determine its own domestic prices. For the successful operation of the stabilization scheme, the Government has stipulated that only factories participating in equalization are eligible for the bounty. This has had a considerable effect on morale. Despite what has been said, the Government has created favorable conditions for agricultural development. This enabled an increase in production for all purposes of approximately 8 per cent, in 1961-62. During the last ten years - this is the period mentioned by the honorable member for Oxley - this has enabled a 15 per cent, increase of butter production and a doubling of income to the industry. The Government has contributed £1 for £1 with the industry in its statutory levy for research. It has, as the honorable member for Lalor mentioned, continued the allocation to the States of the dairying industry extension grants of £250,000 a year. It has introduced the processed milk bounty for the protection and maintenance of our overseas sales of processed milk.
I think this is a most convincing picture of the action taken by the Government and the genuine interest it has displayed in the dairying industry over the years. I have pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- This is another of the several bills on the dairying industry to which we will agree. It is an essential measure. It provides for a further payment of £150,000 a year to make a total subsidy of £500,000 a year to the processors of milk products as distinct from the producers of butter and cheese.
The principle of subsidies creates an amount of interest in this place and on the political hustings. It is interesting to note that members of the Australian Country Party say with one voice at certain times that they are not over-enamoured of subsidies. At other times when it suits them they will give subsidies their blessing. They have a strange diversity of feeling about subsidies. We claim, of course, that subsidies are one aspect of socialism, but Government supporters are horrified at this suggestion and say that it is entirely untrue. Of course, it is not untrue. I was brought up on a wheat farm and lived on the farm during the early part of my life. I have worked amongst farmers and spoken to farmers throughout all the years of my parliamentary experience. Some farmers have a strange outlook. They want to individualize their gains and socialize their losses. That sums up the attitude of quite a number of them, and it also sums up the attitude of members of the Australian Country Party. Why do they not come straight out and give full-blooded support to subsidies for their own sake instead of playing polities? They are horrified at the thought of socialism, which is government assistance to private industry, but when they chose to do so, they stand up in this place and ask for subsidies. This is a very strange attitude and I thought I would comment on it at the beginning of my speech on this bill.
We agree on the payment of subsidies to primary industries and even to private industry where the economic situation of the industry proves conclusively that a subsidy is necessary. It is necessary to give an industry a temporary boost following some unforeseen competition or to give assistance over a long-term period. The dairying industry is such an industry. It has been receiving an average subsidy of £13,500,000 for the last six years, and before that it received other subsidies. I think all members of the Parliament, except the margarine eaters, are very pleased that this subsidy has been paid. I am not a margarine eater; I am a full-blooded supporter of the butter producers.
– ‘You should talk to the honorable member for Grayndler.
– I have spoken to him. I do not agree with his margarine arguments one bit, except when doctors ordered it for health reasons. I have a large primaryproducing electorate with twenty different types of primary industry contained within it. Dairying is one of these vital industries. Our big dairying industries would be placed in a grave position if margarine ever gained the ascendancy over butter. Thousands of dairy-farmers are working their fingers to the bone trying to make a living out of the industry. Margarine is all right as a variation, perhaps, in some types of cooking, but it is not entirely a substitute for butter.
– Anyway, you do not like it.
– No, I just do not like it. I do not eat it and I do not care who knows that, the honorable member for Grayndler notwithstanding. So the Australian consumers as a whole are helping to keep this industry on an even keel by providing this bounty of £13,500,000. I have not calculated how much that figure represents for each taxpayer, but the amount would be very small indeed.
There can be no question that Australia depends on its primary industries. We must maintain our primary industries at the highest possible level of efficiency. That is the unanimous view of members of the Labour Party. Although this bill has been introduced by our political opponents we on this side of the House applaud it and give it our blessing. If we had been on the treasury bench we would have introduced the bill. Politics do not enter into this matter. We are fighting for the life of a great primary industry on which part of Australia’s economy is built.
In introducing the bill the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) stated the position as clearly as possible when he said -
The Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962 was designed to cushion the disadvantage suffered by Australian processors when purchasing milk for their ex-port activities in competition with butter and cheese factories and thus to help them to compete with overseas processors in the export field.
The original act was passed last year to help processors of milk products to compete on an even footing with exporters of butter and cheese. In other words, this legislation is an effort ot diversify a section of the dairying industry and to give greater emphasis to one aspect of milk production without allowing benefits to flow to one or two sections of the industry to the exclusion of other sections. The bill has an evening-up effect.
I should like to give some details of the effect of the bounty of £350,000 provided for the current season. That figure may not appear to be very high but its effect has been far greater than the Minister expected. In 1960-61 exports of processed milk products represented 4,200 tons of butter fat compared with 3,700 tons in 1961-62. But the figure for the current season could represent approximately 6,000 tons of butter fat. That is a considerable increase on the figure for the year preceding the payment of the bounty. With the increase of £150,000 in the amount of bounty for the 1963-64 season exports of processed milk products in that season could represent 6,500 tons or 7,000 tons of butter fat. So it is obvious that the bounty is achieving its purpose of diverting milk into processed milk products rather than into butter and cheese.
In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
Because of the world surplus of butter and the quota limitations imposed on its import into the United Kingdom - virtually the only export outlet for large quantities - it is obviously desirable to divert as much butter fat as possible away from butter. Cheese is in somewhat the same position.
The Government considers that it can assist all sections of the industry by encouraging this diversion through increased exports of processed milk products.
As we know, the overseas situation as it affects the dairying industry is not as bright as it could be. Negotiations for Britain’s entry into the European Common Market seem to have bogged down temporarily but they could be revived and England may yet go in. If that happened the dairying industry would be seriously affected. In the meantime the departments concerned are trying to develop markets in Asia for our dairy products. In this field they have had some significant success. One of the leaders of the industry in Tasmania, Mr. Brian Smithies, who is secretary of the Butter and Cheese Factories Association, speaking at a meeting of the Castra-Sprent branch of the association last month, outlined very clearly the trading difficulties involved, particularly the problem of obtaining new markets. The report of Mr. Smithies’ remarks, which appears in “The Tasmanian Farmer “ of 2nd May, 1963, reads-
He said it was satisfactory to note that the steps taken by the Australian Dairy Produce Board to develop trade with Asian countries were already showing promise.
There was a need to develop new milk products and here again the board was doing everything to encourage factories to adopt additional types of production to those for traditional butter.
Those remarks confirm what the Minister said. It is good to hear those things from a man closely associated with the industry. The value of the dairying industry to Australia’s economy is very great. The Australian Year Book for 1962 shows that production of whole milk in Australia in 1960- 61 amounted to 1,339,302,000 gallons. The rate has been fairly constant over the last five years. The average yearly production in that period has been 1,347,000,000 gallons. In 1960-61 production of preserved or processed milk products accounted for more than 76,619,000 gallons. Exports of butter averaged 69,700 tons during the three years ended 1958-59, compared with 75,900 tons in the three years ended 1948-49 and 90,000 tons in the three years ended 1938- 39. So it will be seen that in the last twenty years our exports of butter have declined steadily. One reason for that decline has been the increase in exports of whole milk by-products. The United Kingdom is still by far our best customer for dairy products but I hope that in the next year or two our Asian neighbours will become very good customers for our excellent whole milk by-products.
Over the years this Parliament has passed some very vital legislation dealing with the marketing of our dairy products. One such piece of legislation is the Dairy Produce Export Control Act. In 1947 the Parliament legislated to reconstitute the Australian Dairy Produce Board, reducing its membership from seventeen to twelve. The relevant legislation was further amended in 1954 to provide for an export marketing plan. That legislation gave the board additional responsibilities in the overseas field. It was important and necessary to do that because in the past decade Australian dairy products have met increased competition on the European and English markets from other countries. In particular we have met competition from Holland. This enabled the board, when we gave it export powers of marketing in 1954, to purchase dairy produce intended for export to the United Kingdom and to sell it on behalf of the dairy industry in lieu of its previous function of selling on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. The board, therefore, in 1954, became the sole exporter of Australian butter and cheese to the United Kingdom. Another act, the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Act, was passed in 1958. It provided for a levy on all butter and cheese to provide funds for research and sales promotion. The Commonwealth matches every £1 provided by the levy with another £1 from Commonwealth funds.
The other factor which helps to govern this industry and which has helped to put it on a firm basis was the subsidy stabilization plan, for which we of the Labour Party take credit. These are the facts of history. I am not saying it boastingly but am just putting the facts. The Labour Government passed the original act in 1942, in the middle of the war. When we left office the principle of stabilization had been established, and this Government continued the policy when it brought down its first five-year stabilization plan, which came into operation on 1st July, 1952. This is interesting and I want to give some more information about it. The first of the two five-year stabilization plans came into operation on 1st July, 1952, and under it the Commonwealth Government, with the approval of the States, determined the ex-factory prices of butter and cheese, guaranteed to dairyfarmers a return, based upon costs of efficient production, in respect of quantities of butter and cheese sold within the Commonwealth, plus an additional 20 per cent, and agreed: to make available an amount, by way of subsidy, to lift the return on that part of the output covered by the guarantee to the guaranteed level. That, of course, sounds very much like an Irishman speaking and it may be hard to figure out; but that is how it worked out.
The second five-year stabilization plan came into operation on 1st July, 1957, and continued all the important features of the first plan. But there was one new feature. It was that any subsidy made available under the scheme should be on the basis of a fixed amount in any dairying year. The actual amount of subsidy paid by the Commonwealth Government was in excess of its original commitment in 1955-56 when, to assist in offsetting a fall in export returns, it agreed to increase subsidy payments to a fixed figure of £14,500,000. In each of the years 1956-57 to 1961-62 a fixed amount of £13,500,000 was provided. In other words, the figure dropped back to £13,500,000. In 1958, following a period of low income due to drought and low export returns, the Government decided to give the industry additional support. This took the form of underwriting a final equalization payment to factories on total production of butter and cheese for the 1958-59 season. The amount underwritten for butter was 40d. per lb. on a commercial butter basis. The Government decided also that it would consider applying the same principle of underwriting a final equalized return at levels determined by it each year, after an examination of all relevant factors, for the remaining period of the 1957-62 five-year stabilization plan. For the 1959-60, 1960-61 and 1961-62 seasons the under writing of a final minimum return of 40d. per lb. of commercial butter was again determined. The principal value underlying this guarantee is that it enables Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited to make a higher initial payment to factories than would otherwise be possible without risk of over-payment.
That stabilization plan has been written into the industry and has strengthened it. There is no doubt about that. It has provided stability in an industry which for years, up till the Second World War, was in the throes of instability and insecurity. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said earlier, the industry was in a hopeless mess and there were thousands of dairyfarmers who went bankrupt during the depression and in the immediate postdepression years. I believe that this is one of our industries which deserves assistance. It is a hard-working industry. Even though it has modern techniques, modern milking plant and machinery, the assistance of State Departments of Agriculture in respect of pasture improvement and herd improvement and also its wonderful herd recording units in all States, it is still an industry which deserves all this assistance. There is no other primary industry that entails such consistent and constant work and attention on the part of the farmer as does the dairy industry. It is a day-and-night industry and many farmers are now producing whole milk which is taken from the farm to the factories in the city, which want the milk all the year round. The old system of cows going out of milk and not coming in for several months has gone. In many places to-day herds are producing milk right through the year to give the factories regular supplies. It is only with regular supplies that they can manage.
– Do the cows get a spell?
– The cows get a spell in rotation. This is a very good feature, but it has meant that the farmer has had to get more meadow hay each summer to hand-feed his cows through the winter months, when normally they would be out of milk and resting. So the poor old cow has had to produce more and more. I was going to say for less and less, but that is not really so, because she is now being fed as she has never been fed before.
The problems of the industry are not problems of production. We have almost perfected the production of milk. The average butter fat production from individual cows is gradually increasing. The herd recording units have done a magnificent job in building up production and weeding out the unsatisfactory milking cow. The problem in the industry is not one of production but of lifting quality all the time in order to make the production competitive in world markets and to find new markets for the industry. These are the problems. I feel that this House is conscious of Hie problems of the dairy industry. They are problems of quality and new markets and the problem of beating the diseases that ever haunt the cowfarmer throughout Australia - such as diseases of infertility.
These are part of the daily worries of the dairy-farmer. But when the Parliament can come to his aid in marketing, overseas markets, subsidies and those things which the farmer himself cannot handle, he is secure and feels that he has a great body of support. It gives him greater encouragement to face his day-to-day worries on the farm. These are the important features of our assistance to the industry. We are helping to give the dairy-farmer encouragement, faith and hope to continue his daily grind of milking 50, 60 or 100 cows night and morning, throughout the year. That is the point about this industry. The dairy-farmer has to be there in the morning and again at night. No industry entails such constant work for such long hours as the dairying industry does.
I give this bill my blessing. We of the Labour Party give it our wholehearted support. We hope that in a year’s time, when this matter is reviewed, it may be possible to increase the subsidy from £500,000 to £650,000 in order to assist the processors in their efforts to export products sufficient in quantity and quality to compete with other countries in the Asian markets.
.- First may I say that I am delighted to see the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) participating in this debate. It seems from the list of speakers that he has taken the place of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). It may be that the activities of the Country Party in Tasmania have stirred the honorable member for Wilmot to rise from his seat.
One of the big problems of the Australian dairying industry is that it is affected by factors that cannot be controlled by the industry itself. I refer, for instance, to the world prices of butter and the world production of butter. The committee of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations concerned with commodity problems has done a lot of investigation into the dairying industry and has made estimates of the industry’s future, taking as base years 1956 and 1960. From those years it made an estimate for 1970. It is interesting to note the trends of production in the various countries that the committee looked at. For instance, it is forecast that in the countries of the European Economic Community there will be a 34 per cent, increase in production by 1970. For countries outside the European Economic Community, such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Switzerland, it is forecast that they will have an increase of 21 per cent, in production by 1970. An 8 per cent, increase is predicted for Canada and the United States of America, and a 20 per cent, increase for Australia and New Zealand. Those are figures for the developed countries, as they are termed. The figures for developing countries relate to agriculture, not to industry. The areas referred to are Latin America, Africa, the Far East - not including Japan - Greece, Turkey, Portugal and Spain. The estimated increase in production in these countries is 41 per cent. So it is apparent that right around the world there will be increased production of butter.
What is the cause of this growth? One of the causes, no doubt, is the domestic policy of each country. Countries have individual policies to meet different conditions. Each country is the best judge of the policy suited to its own conditions. The policies of West Germany, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom are to assure domestic supplies, because those are importing countries. The need to develop exports is the basic factor in the policies of Denmark, New Zealand and Australia. It is necessary to continue to find export markets and export income. Behind the increased production in the United States of America and Canada is the need to protect farmers’ incomes. Those countries have to keep on producing more per acre or more per cow to protect the farmers’ incomes and to protect the standards of living of agricultural workers vis-a-vis industrial workers. This, of course, can apply to many countries. Some countries strive to increase production in an attempt to maintain their rural populations. There are also political considerations. Much pressure is brought to bear, no doubt, by political parties in most countries, trying to influence the Government to introduce price support measures and other measures to support the dairying industry.
The situation in Australia is easily explained. We have in the south-east portion of Australia an assured rainfall. Together with good soil, this makes increased production a logical step. The trend in past years in all States is quite enlightening. Strangely enough, the State which has increased production the most is Tasmania. Although the expected increase in the ten-year period to 1970 is only 3,410,000 gallons, this represents 8.2 per cent, of total production. For the same period, the figures for Victoria are 18,700,000 gallons, or 4.1 per cent, of total production. An increase of 820,000 gallons is estimated for Western Australia, representing 1.6 per cent, of total production, and for New South Wales, 3,760,000 gallons, or 1.3 per cent, of total production. A decline of 5,610,000 gallons, or 2 per cent, of total production, is estimated for Queensland. In fact, over 4,000 men have left the dairying industry in Queensland and gone to some other form of production because they have been unable to succeed economically in that industry. A decline is also expected in South Australia - 8,000 gallons, or .1 per cent, of total production.
An average of these figures shows that Australia can expect an increase of 21,000,000 gallons, or 1.7 per cent, of total production. It is forecast that in 1970 we will have an annual surplus of 30,000 tons of butter. It appears that butter-producing countries are producing larger and larger amounts. This process has been called “ surplus generating “, where the total increased production, calculated as a percentage, is higher than the total increased consumption. No doubt these countries want to be self-sufficient and their domestic policies of increased production suit their own needs. The results have been price support programmes, as we have here in Australia, and import restrictions in many European countries. In New Zealand, there are restrictions on the importation and production of margarine and export subsidies for butter.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was giving an assessment of trends in dairy production throughout the world. I gave figures State by State in the case of Australia. It is rather noticeable that the greatest gain in quantity of milk production has been in Victoria. I gave a figure of 18,700,000 gallons, as against 3,410,000 gallons for the State with the next highest figure, which was Tasmania. It is logical that Victoria should show a greater gain than the other States, because it is in the most favorable part of Australia for dairy production. The dairying industry is a very big industry in Victoria. In fact, I think that in 1960-61, in terms of pounds, shillings and pence it represented the biggest primary industry in that State.
Against the background of the international situation in the dairying industry we should ask ourselves, “What of the future of the industry in Australia? “ First, let us look at the record of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, and of this Government, too, in co-operating with interested parties in the industry for the promotion of dairy products in various forms overseas. We see exciting developments in Asia in sales of butter oil and skim milk, and we realize, of course, that the bill now before us will assist the sale of processed milk products tremendously.
Let me tell honorable members something about butter oil, which is a product that has not yet received much promotion. A friend of mine in Tasmania, in the electorate of the honorable member for Wilmot, gave me a tin of butter oil produced by a factory in that State.
– At Deloraine.
– Yes. I used it on an excursion to Lake Eucumbene for the purpose of cooking trout, and I can tell the House that it is far better than any other medium for cooking those fish. Peanut oil is considered by the experts to be the next best material. I gave this tin to some fishermen who were experts in cooking fish. They had been using peanut oil, and I gave them this sample tin of butter oil, and honestly, it was so delightful you would not know that it was trout. It even makes brown trout taste like rainbow. That is how good butter oil is for cooking fish. I suggest to the honorable member for Wilmot that when the Shannon Rise is on he take a tin of butter oil, catch a trout and cook it.
The results of the £350,000 bounty of last year have been pointed out by previous speakers. However, they are worth repeating. Sales of processed milk products increased from 2,402 tons in 1961-62 to 3,107 tons in 1962-63. This means that 858 long tons of butter fat went off the butter market and into other forms of milk products, and was sold in those forms. This is the kind of development we need. It is estimated by those who know that sales will reach 6,000 tons in a full year of these kinds of products.
It cannot be said that the Australian Dairy Produce Board, or the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation, which is the spokesman for the greater part of the industry, has had its heads in the sand. They have been looking at the problems of the dairying industry in the long term and making valiant efforts to overcome them. They have been represented in most of the Department of Trade drives throughout various nations. In these overseas marketing journals put out by the Department of Trade we see that the dairying industry has been represented in Latin America and in Asian countries, in an endeavour to find new markets. In our promotion activities overseas we have had some success. Excellent results have been obtained in Japan in the production of cheese.
In the matter of domestic promotion I can tell honorable members that I recently saw on television some very good propaganda. There was a bit of advertising, showing a very attractive dish, while a girl sang in the background, “ Butter Makes It Better”, which has a very pleasing lilt, although I shall not presume to sing it now. This sort of promotion does quite a lot of good. It not only shows people the value of butter, it also shows that the dairying industry is awake to the necessity for promotion.
The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation is also very alive, of course, to the problems confronting the industry in the long term. It has carried quite a number of important resolutions which show that it has had constructive thoughts on the problems of the industry. I have a list of some of the resolutions carried at a conference on 1st May, 1963, at Surfers Paradise. The first is typical of these resolutions, and it is one to which the State governments could well give some thought. It mentioned the Commonwealth Government, but I do not think the Commonwealth has anything to do with this matter. The resolution reads:
That it be a recommendation to the Commonwealth Government and to all State governments that there be no further State land development for dairying until an examination has been made of the project by the Australian Agricultural Council in consultation with the Australian Dairy Industry Council in the light of marketing requirements.
That is the voice of the industry, and there is no political bias and there are no political strings attached to that resolution.. It is simply the industry expressing its views. It firmly believes that the industry itself should have control of its own destiny. It would not agree with the Labour Party’s proposition that the Government should tell the people in the industry what they should do.
– Who said that is Labour Party policy?
– Many members have said it on a number of occasions. The second resolution passed by the federation was -
That no action be taken to introduce a domestic sales quota scheme at present.
This has something to do with a scheme proposed by Mr. F. H. Gruen of the Australian National University. I have read his proposals, and I must say that, although I do not like quotas or licences of any sort, the scheme seems to me to be more workable than many others that I have heard proposed for the dairying industry. The basic outline of the scheme is that all present owners of tend which has been used to produce milk or cream for sale, on a butter fat basis, to a factory shall, in the future, obtain a proportion of home market sales at domestic prices, and anything they produce over and above that will be sold at export prices. They will have 61 per cent, of total output sold at domestic prices and the balance at export prices. Under this scheme quotas would be freely saleable from one farmer to another. I can see abuses in a system like that, but it does seem that unsuccessful dairymen could sell their licences or quotas and get out of the industry without suffering too much damage, the quotas then going to successful dairymen. In any case, that is the Gruen scheme.
The Australian Dairy Farmers Federation also recommended - and I think this is something that the Commonwealth Government could look at along with the State governments -
That the Commonwealth and State governments be requested to make special provision, through government banking institutions, for finance to be made available … to dairy farmers who desire to change to other forms of production.
Many people want to get out of the industry because they cannot make a living in it. They find it uneconomic and they want to go into some other form of production. It is not easy for them to do this. There are economic difficulties in doing it. The” Commonwealth and State governments should consider, in the long term, financing these people if they desire to get out of the industry.
I heard the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) raise in the House last Thursday the fact that the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation has requested the Government to provide assistance in the formation of farm management groups. We all know how those groups work. We know of the assistance which they give in the lowering of costs. The meeting of the federation carried other resolutions. The last one to which I shall refer reads -
That this federation reaffirms its support for an international agreement to provide for the orderly disposal of surplus dairy products at reasonable prices and recommends to the Commonwealth Government and the Australian Dairy Produce Board that every effort be made to expedite th’e. introduction of such an agreement.
I believe that an international agreement in respect of butter would be welcomed by all. But there is no doubt that the Australian dairy industry would have to put its house in order before Australia could be accepted by other nations as a partner in such a plan.
It is interesting to note that the United States Congress passed the Supply Management Control Bill in respect of the wheat industry and that a referendum of the wheatgrowers is being held to see whether they will accept the bill. It is designed to control acreage and production. If that bill is accepted in respect of wheat in the United States, it could be applied to the dairy industry in that country, too. We in Australia should remember that at present the United States has a surplus of 250,000 tons of butter. It has a big problem with its surplus butter. It is estimated that the Australian industry will have a surplus of 30,000 tons in 1970. I do not know whether that estimate is accurate. Perhaps some day a similar bill may be required by Australian producers. I believe that the attitude’ that the Australian Dairy Produce Board is taking, the co-operation that it is receiving from the Government in the promotion of butter throughout the world, and the fact that this bill increases the maximum amount of bounty on processed milk products from £350,000 to £500,000 will assist the Australian dairy industry to meet the problems that it has to .face. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak on this very important bill. I am delighted to find that I am following the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) in this debate. He was at pains to stress the decisions arrived at by the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation at Surfers Paradise. I am sure that it was quite a break for the gentlemen who attended that meeting to go to such an excellent place on the Gold Coast of Queensland to discuss the difficulties of this industry and to deal with with such an important dish as butter. Surfers Paradise is adjacent to a minor dairying area in Queensland. I would have thought that this important industry would have been discussed in an area which would have encouraged the delegates to believe that they were in the correct atmosphere. They could have been in Gippsland, on the
Darling Downs or in one of the other areas that are really concerned about the production of butter.
I listened very attentively to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who led for the Opposition in this debate. He is the most informed man on the dairy industry in this Parliament to-day. I listened to his observations with the greatest of interest. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in his secondreading speech some weeks ago, gave a brief outline of the bill.
– What about the atmosphere surrounding the 36 men at the Hotel Kingston?
– At least they ate butter; they did not eat margarine. I shall deal with the honorable member a little later. The Minister for Primary Industry gave a brief outline of the bill. He said, in effect, that he is concerned about the condition of the dairy industry in relation to the production of butter, and that, in an effort to reduce the production of butter and to channel the butter fat into other fields of production, the subsidy is to be extended to cover the processing of milk products.
The production of butter is the most heavily subsidized industry in Australia to-day. An amount of £13,500,000 is paid each year in subsidies. Contrary to the findings of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, the subsidy is to be extended for five years. That committee found that the industry, to a large extent, in some parts of Australia is run quite inefficiently. Many features associated with the industry lead one to believe that it could be investigated, overhauled and improved greatly. I know that members of the Australian Country Party - that very minor but vocal section of this Parliament - resent any intrusion into the industry by way of scientific investigation and advice. They are living in the past, and they resent any intrusion, even when it is for the benefit of the industry.
The committee of inquiry, which was set up some time ago with the approval of the Minister for Primary Industry, made some very worth-while contributions which, if notice were taken of them, would be of great advantage to the industry. We know that the industry is in difficulties; but it cannot be just brushed aside, because it is a very important industry in Australia. It is suffering a period of decline. In the “ Pocket Compendium of Australian Statistics “ issued by the Commonwealth Statistician I find that in Queensland in 1961-62 there were 763,000 dairy cows. Those cows represent a very large capital investment in the industry. If the average value of those cows were £20, an investment of about £15,000,000 would be involved in Queensland alone. In Australia in that year there were 3,207,000 dairy cows. This book contains some very interesting statistics. I am sure that members of the Country Party are not aware of these facts and figures. The industry has been in decline for some years, as far as the number of cows used in the production of butter fat is concerned. In 1941-42 there were 3,247,000 dairy cows in Australia. Ten years later the number had decreased to 3,019,000. Ten years later again, as a result of the policies of the Menzies Government, in which the Country Party played a very considerable role, the number had decreased further to 3,162,000. We can see how ineffective is the Country Party in its activities on behalf of this very important industry, the principal industry with which its members associate themselves. The industry is declining continually.
Is it any wonder that I claim that the honorable member for Lalor, who initiated the debate for the Labour Party, is the bestinformed member in this House on the dairy industry? Country Party members can see nothing unusual about the problems which confront the industry. They are prepared to allow the present state of affairs to continue and to ask the taxpayers to continue paying the subsidy. The Minister did this, in effect, when he introduced the relevant bill twelve months ago to provide for the payment of the subsidy for at least another five years.
Many organizations are most concerned about the condition of the industry. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, probably one of Australia’s leading journals, has referred to prosperous dairy-farmers in Victoria who will be unjustly enriched still more by the extension of the subsidy. The article in the newspaper to which I am referring then goes on to speak of cow cockies - that name is distasteful to me and I have used it only because it appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “; 1 prefer to refer to dairy-farmers - and other inefficient primary producers, especially on the north coast of New South Wales or far inland in Queensland, who will remain poor and dissatisfied, with little or no hope of bettering their position. That is the way in which the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ regards this matter and you know, Mr. Speaker, that it is a newspaper of which every reasonable man takes notice because its observations are made always in Australia’s interests. The newspaper then refers to the Minister in rather sad terms as being as glib as the rest of his colleagues in providing excuses for the Government’s inactivity. This is a very sorry commentary on members of the Country Party and one of their leaders, the Minister for Primary Industry.
Members of the Country Party have protested so strongly and for so long that they are the only advocates in this Parliament of the primary producers.
– You certainly are not one.
– I believe that I am. I deny that Country Party members are the only spokesmen in this place for the primary producers. 1 am not biassed. I represent a city electorate which contains a large number of butter consumers and the largest margarine factory in the Commonwealth, so I can speak in a completely detached way and make a reasonable contribution to the debate. The honorable member for Lalor said that the committee which conducted an inquiry some years ago found that this was a slave industry and that a lot of child labour was engaged in it. The Labour Party wants to get away from that kind of thing. We realize that the industry has been run inefficiently largely by direction of the Country Party.
– We gave the industry the first real break it ever bad.
– The first real break that the industry ever had came from the Chifley Labour Government, in which the champion of the industry was the honorable member for Lalor, who then was the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Let me deal now with a document which was pro duced with the authority of a former Minister of the Menzies Government and endorsed by the Government’s supporters in the Country Party. I refer to a booklet titled “Eat Better for Less”, which was issued by the Department of Health in the interests of the health of the people.
– The booklet is called “Eat Butter for Less”.
– Oh, no, it is called “ Eat Better for Less”. Dr. Cameron, the former Minister for Health who no longer is with us, authorized the publication of this booklet, which states that butter and table margarine are equally good sources of fat and vitamin A. The booklet also advises people how to live well but inexpensively.
– Who issued the booklet?
– It was issued by the Department of Health, of which Dr. Cameron, a very capable medical practitioner, was the administrative head. The booklet contains a list of meals for each day in the week. In the menu for each day bread and butter or margarine are mentioned in at least one meal and, in almost every case, in two meals. The Department of Health suggested that butter and margarine are of equal value.
– That is nonsense, and you know that it is nonsense.
– I do hot know that it is nonsense. On these matters I am prepared to accept the advice of Dr. Cameron, a brilliant ex-student of the University of Sydney, a great medical man and a man in whom the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had so much confidence that he was promoted to the position of Minister for Health. I profess to be completely ignorant on food values and I accept the advice of an authority, in this case Dr. Cameron. This booklet, for which the Australian Institute of Anatomy and the Commonwealth Department of Health are responsible, suggests that in two meals a day margarine is as good as butter. That statement is very important to the Australian consumer, first, because margarine is about one-half the price of butter, and secondly, because since 1949, when the Menzies Government came into office, value has been going out of the £1 and many
Australian consumers have been compelled to search for other foods which are not as expensive as is butter.
Let me indicate to the House, and particularly to members of the Country Party, how the consumption of butter has decreased and how the consumption of margarine has increased during the time that we have had, in the main, a LiberalCountry Party Government in office. In 1938-39 the annual consumption of butter per head of population was 32.9 lb. In 1960-61 consumption of butter dropped to 25.1 lb. That is a fantastic drop in consumption. However, the consumption of margarine increased from 4.9 lb. per head of population to 9.3 lb. in the relevant period. A short time ago the honorable member for Gippsland said that he did not believe in quotas or controls of any kind. The figures I have cited indicate that the Australian public is increasing its consumption of margarine and reducing its consumption of butter. Yet Country Party members are attempting now to impose further restrictions on the Australian consumer. I have my own opinions on this matter. I eat butter whenever I can. I am one of those lovers of freedom who object to members of the Country Party saying what I shall eat and how often I shall eat it. If people want to eat margarine they must be permitted to do so. Did not a former Minister for Health, Dr. Cameron, say that margarine is as good as butter in fat content and in vitamin A? When Dr. Cameron, who was a member of the Liberal Party of Australia, was defeated, the Prime Minister chose the present Minister for Health (Senator Wade), a member of the Australian Country Party. Has the new Minister repudiated this publication or denied its contents? Not at all. He has not ordered it to be withdrawn. He has said, in effect, that margarine is as good as butter.
– He himself eats it.
– Very likely. We must take note of these things, Mr. Speaker. We know that the consumption of butter is decreasing and the consumption of margarine is increasing. I believe that the industry must produce in such a way as to be able to recover its lost market for butter. If more butter were sold in Australia for local consumption, the difficulties of the industry would be over. I heard the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) say the other evening-
– Surely the honorable member does not believe what he said.
– I do, because he was citing reliable statistics. I know that honorable members who belong to the Country Party are hurt when they hear these figures cited. The honorable member for Grayndler stated that if the Australian public could be educated to return to the use of butter so as to increase the local consumption to 32.9 lb. a year per head of the population, the level at which local consumption stood in 1939, the difficulties of the dairy industry would be solved.
– What is to happen if the people like margarine?
– If they like margarine, they are certainly being encouraged to increase consumption of it, first by this Government’s failure to put value back into the £1 and, secondly, by the ever-increasing costs of the dairy industry. Evidence of that is contained in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry, a most important document, the very existence of which hurts every honorable member in the ranks of the Government parties, and the implementation of the recommendations of which is denied by Government supporters, particularly members of the Australian Country Party. If effect were given to the recommendations of this committee and the people were encouraged to consume more butter, the difficulties of this very important industry would disappear.
We know that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is at present overseas endeavouring to promote trade on behalf of Australia. At least, we are told that by the press. He is very much alarmed about the fall in the prices received for Australia’s exports. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, on 2nd May, reported his views in these terms - “We want to bring into G.A.T.T. a better balance of prices for bulk commodities,” Mr. McEwen said. “This is particularly important because in the past 10 years our terms of trade have deteriorated from the index of 100 to 68 today.
This reflects the fall in prices we have been receiving for our bulk products - wool, metals, wheat, dairy products compared with the prices for manufactured goods.”
We have to do whatever we can to promote the consumption of Australian butter both overseas and on the local market. We are failing in the overseas market. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “, on 1st May, reported -
The New Zealand Government is considering a British proposal to waive the tariff of 15/ a hundredweight on Danish and other butter imported into Britain . . .
Reports say the Danes want the tariff removed in return for eliminating all tariffs with the European Free Trade Area by 1966.
This would affect exports of butter by New Zealand and Australia; so it should concern us all. The Minister for Trade has been in New Zealand endeavouring to increase trade between Australia and New Zealand, these two important countries of the South-West Pacific area. New Zealand, as an exporter of butter, is searching for markets, too. If the United Kingdom Government’s proposals concerning Danish and other butter imported into the United Kingdom are put into effect, New Zealand, which already is searching for more markets, will have to look to Australia. I point out that New Zealand is already the largest buyer of the products of Australia’s secondary industries, taking 40 per cent, of their total exportable output. Let me remind members of the Australian Country Party, without making any comment on the fact, that New Zealand butter could be sold in Australia, if it were free of tariff duty, at two-thirds of the price at which Australian butter is now sold to our consumers.
I make the point that the Australian dairy industry is in a bad way and needs reorganizing completely. This important industry needs the support of strong Government action and vigorous leadership by the Minister for Primary Industry to reestablish itself. Let us do away with the child labour and virtual slavery at present associated with this industry and make it a decent Australian industry. Let us encourage the consumption of butter in Australia and thereby help this industry.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) earlier made an interjection About the production of cheese. This morning, when I had a few minutes to spare, I visited the large retail store of David Jones (Canberra) Proprietary Limited at Civic Centre, in Canberra, and found displayed in a refrigerator cabinet for sale to Canberra housewives 55 varieties of cheese of which only one variety was produced in Australia. The remainder came from countries such as Switzerland and Denmark. Let us realize that the Australian dairy industry is a great industry that encouraged pioneering and made possible the opening up of much land in earlier days. Competition by the products of other countries like the many varieties of cheese that I have just mentioned confronts our dairy industry with one of its greatest problems. We must buy more and more of the products of both primary and secondary industries in this country. That must be our aim in all fields. Our cry must be, “Buy more and more Australian goods”. Let us admit that we are Australians, and let us buy more of our own products.
.- Mr. Speaker, I can understand why the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) does his best to uphold the virtues of margarine. I did not quite follow his story about the offering for sale at an establishment in this city of 55 varieties of cheese. I am something of a cheese lover, but I have never been able to find a place in which I could choose from so many varieties. The honorable member, apparently, is able to do better than I can in that respect. One expects him to stick up for the manufacturers of margarine, of course. He said that the largest margarine factory in Australia is situated in his electorate. Furthermore, his electorate is the location of the Queensland Meat Industry Board’s abattoir. Apparently, the honorable member’s sole association with primary production is with the animal after it is dead. Dripping produced at the abattoir is used in the manufacture of margarine. Perhaps that is why this product is so indigestible that it should not be allowed to be used.
We are discussing this evening processed milk products of the Australian dairy industry. This bill is just another step forward in the long record of support by this Government for the Australian dairy industry.
The first measure of this kind was passed in May, 1962, when Australia was faced with a very serious loss of its export trade in processed milk products. The export earnings of these products amount to something like £8,000,000 a year. We are in a serious situation when export trade of this magnitude is threatened, as this trade was in May last year, by strong competition by overseas producers. We have serious competitors in the dairy industries of several countries. We all know that Holland, for instance, heavily subsidizes its dairyfarmers. From their point of view this is quite right; they want to produce a greater volume and to reduce their unit costs to enable them to compete with other producers. Sometimes, the amounts by which our factories are beaten when tendering are comparatively small. They do not sound much when taken on a unit of a can of condensed milk, but when taken over the whole contract the loss is considerably more than the industry can possibly hope to bear.
In obtaining the raw milk they needed, our factories were placed at a disadvantage because they had to compete for the milk with the local butter and cheese producers. It is well known that the butter and cheese producers offer a price to farmers which takes into account the butter bounty and they also have the benefits of equalization. The processing factories had to match the payments made to producers by butter factories. It was feared that unless some assistance was given in the form of a bounty at a rate that was about equal to the final bounty rate for butter, many factories would go out of production or would at least cease to manufacture for export. Any one who knows anything at all about rural centres would know that this could have been disastrous for those places which have an economy that is very largely tied up with the intake of the local processing factories. The result of any curtailment of processed products would have been a diversion of butter fat to butter manufacturers or perhaps to cheese production, both of which products have been for some time now in a very serious state of over-supply.
For the first year, which is now proceeding, it was decided to assist the industry to the extent of £350,000. It was intended that the rate per lb. of butter fat would be roughly the equivalent of the final butter bounty rate for the year. In effect, the result has been quite successful. Sales for the six months to December were just over 3,000 tons of butter fat equivalent. This is an increase of 705 tons over the previous year. If these sales had been lost, the corresponding quantity of butter produced would have been 858 tons. We all know the state of overseas butter markets. This extra production could not have gone on to the British market, which is already restricted by a quota. It would have been a serious embarrassment, coming on top of an existing surplus, which has been estimated at various amounts but is about 10,000 tons.
If the present rate of sates is maintained, it will be very satisfactory from the industry’s point of view. We are very pleased to see that sales are developing, but the Minister has pointed out that this year’s limitation of £350,000 means that the subsidy may provide only sufficient funds to equal 80 per cent, of the butter bounty rate. For this reason, the Government has decided to increase the limit for the 1963-64 season to £500,000, an increase of £150,000. But if export sales continue to expand - it is to be hoped they will - this may again not be sufficient to cover the full butter bounty rate per lb. I place emphasis on this rate.
It is most important that the export sales of processed products be maintained and that markets established after a great deal of expense and hard work be retained. We have many such markets and our Department of Trade and trade missions have done an extremely good job in finding markets. Every pound of butter fat equivalent sold as a processed product, whether as condensed milk, powdered full cream, malted milk powder or baby foods, helps to solve the problem of the over-supply of butter. If we could increase the sales of processed products by, say, 10,000 tons, all butter producers - not merely processed product manufacturers - would benefit by about Id. a lb. The figure of 10,000 tons is a fairly big increase, but I give it as a basis of calculation. Volume production would lead to a lowering of costs. The resulting benefit to producers of Id. per lb. does not sound very much, but taken over total production it would amount to nearly £2,000,000.
The sale of processed products in many of the markets of South-East Asia, the Middle East, South America and even South Africa should not be impossible. We have the industry, the know-how and the raw materials. There is an awakening in many of these countries to the food value of dairy products. We have taken the products to these people and we have started to educate them on the food value of the products. There is an awareness of the benefits of the natural proteins, minerals and vitamins found in dairy products as against the artificial substitutes found in such products as margarine. Some two or three years ago, producers in McMillan - they are very proud of this - pioneered the sale of instant skimmed milk powder. The latest development of instant mix whole milk powder does away with the old bugbear of powdered milk, which has held back its sale in many markets - the vigorous beating that is necessary to mix the powder and the tinny taste that goes with it. The development of the instant mix powder could well lead to a major acceptance of this wholesome addition to the diet in areas where liquid milk cannot yet be made available.
I am very happy that this extension to the bounty is being made. It should provide considerable incentive to the processed milk product factories to seek increased export markets and will incidentally benefit all dairy farmers. Should it be found necessary, I hope that the Government will favorably consider a further extension in the years to come to stimulate a still greater diversity of production in the dairy industry.
.- I do not have to consider the votes of dairyfarmers in my electorate because, of course, there are none. However, this debate has directed attention to the condition of dairyfarmers who live in other electorates. I know what happens in some of those electorates and I believe that I should at least try to do something to assist the dairyfarmers. The attitude of the Australian Labour Party at all times is to assist the dairy-farmers. That is why the Chifley Government, after an inquiry, gave the first measure of assistance to them.
It seems clear that no industry is as disorganized as the dairy industry is and no industry has had as many committees or royal commissions inquiring into its conditions as the dairy industry has. That would lead one to the conclusion that from time to time governments have been shocked into activity even if only to the point of holding, as happened in Western Australia, two royal commissions and a subsequent inquiry. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) pointed out that a committee of inquiry was appointed by the Chifley Government and as a result of that committee’s investigations the assistance which the industry now enjoys was born. Admittedly there have been other committees of inquiry appointed by other than Labour governments.
No other industry has had so many royal commissions and committees of inquiry to look into its affairs. I suggest that this has been so because from time to time the plight of the dairy industry has shocked governments into action. Generally speaking the time is right for another inquiry into the industry or for further action to be taken in accordance with the recommendations made by the recent committee of inquiry. Incidentally, that committee’s report has been so extensively quoted, misquoted and quoted out of context to-day that one hesitates even to look at it again.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) referred to the views of the dairymen’s organization in Victoria. I agree with the honorable member that the industry should be rationalized. I agree also that the industry in Victoria is probably more prosperous than the industry in any other State. In many States the industry is in a parlous plight.
Before pursuing this aspect I wish to direct the attention of the House to another matter. When the subject of assistance to the dairy industry was last debated in this House I quoted from the report of the committee of inquiry and pointed out that although the committee had evidence from economists that dairymen were in some instances indolent, it was my view that one could not always place great credence on what economists said because, after all, they are materialists and probably they take the hard line. One could even call them social atheists. I think it was Professor Karmel and Professor Downing who were responsible for that remark. I pointed out that since that committee held its inquiries an inquiry had been conducted in Western Australia at the instance of the Institute of Agriculture of the University of Western Australia. It was conducted by M. L. Parker and Henry P. Schapper. That inquiry delved into seven years of operation of the industry.
– In Western Australia?
– Yes. I remind the honorable gentleman that the recent inquiry also embraced the industry in Western Australia. Those two gentlemen who conducted the inquiry in Western Australia reached conclusions different in some respects from those reached by the recent committee of inquiry. They claimed that the dairymen in Western Australia were not so much indolent as defeated and beaten because of over-capitalization and failure to obtain the financial assistance that they needed to develop their properties. The upshot of all this was that the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) claimed that I said the dairymen were indolent. That is the kind of treatment one gets here. In my experience the dairymen are not indolent but it is obvious that they are up against difficulties that are almost insurmountable.
Country Party members are eager to claim that all of the benefits that have been bestowed on the dairy industry which, according to the report of the committee of inquiry, has received protection amounting to 47 per cent., have been the result of their efforts. In my view the Government has never been of much help to our friends the Australian dairymen. Let me read an article that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on Wednesday, 20th August, 1958, under the headline “ Dairy ‘ Depression * “. Apparently there was a depression in the dairy industry as far back as 1958 and at that time the Government had been in office for a good many years. Under a further headline “CP. Member Blames Own Government “, the article reads -
A Government member of Parliament to-day bitterly attacked the Government’s policy on the dairying industry.
The member, Mr. J. D. Anthony (CP., N.S.W.), was speaking in the House of Representatives during the Budget debate.
So even in 1958, after years of a LiberalCountry Party Government, we had a de pression in the dairy industry and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) was attacking the Government he supports. Of course, he did not vote against the Government, just as he did not vote against it on the question of providing flood relief for the flood-bound dairy farmers of his own electorate. The article in the “Sydney Morning Herald “ continued -
He said the dairying industry was in a depressed condition, but all the Government could say was that the industry was inefficient and ought to go out of butter production in N.S.W. and in Queensland.
The honorable member for Gippsland did not exactly say that, but something along those lines could be inferred from his remarks.
– Turn it up.
– I will turn it on. The article continued -
The Government was either ignoring what was happening to the industry or did not want to listen to the facts.
That was a statement made by the honorable member for Richmond in 1958. That was the situation in 1958. The honorable member for Gippsland referred to the re- survey of dairy farming in the far south-west of Western Australia, but he could have with advantage dealt with areas in Victoria. I refer in particular to Heytesbury, which was established and developed by the Bolte Government despite the fact that the committee of inquiry recommended that the area should not be developed. The honorable member for Gippsland knows the situation there to-day. He knows Victoria. He knows that many dairy farmers are being starved out and that the matter has been raised frequently in the Victorian Legislative Assembly.
– How many have been starved out? You do not know.
– Don’t I? I went down there. Not only that, but there at least three men are leaving their properties. I know that in his electorate 96 of the men had a meeting, but the honorable member for Gippsland was not there. He was like the honorable member for Richmond when it came to a question df dairy-farmers having a meeting about being flooded out in his area. The fact is that Heytesbury should never have been developed.
– That has nothing to do with this bill.
– Yes, it has. Everything in connexion with the industry has something to do with the bill. Everything related to the surplus of butter in the world to-day has something to do with the bill. The bill has this great merit, that it will help towards easing the surplus of butter fat in world markets. It has the advantage, too, that under the subsidy it is an economic proposition to export processed milk. It is a better and more economic way of using milk than is the production of butter fat. In paragraph 1030 on page 98 of the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry on the Australian dairy industry the following appears: -
Official statistics show that about 6 per cent, of Australian milk production is manufactured into condensery products such as condensed, concentrated and dried milk and infants and invalids foods. This is not a very great proportion and in the overall picture the processors’ influence is negligible. But it is far from negligible in the areas in which they operate and which are generally outside the liquid milk zones. Wherever situated they do not, and could not, compete for supplies at the prices available for liquid milk.
Furthermore- and this is the important point - the value added to milk in the course of processing is considerably greater than the value added to make butter. For example, in 1957-58 the 80,000,000 gallons used for processing would have been worth about £8,000,000 in butter but in processed products nearly £19,000,000.
So we see that this is a better method of using milk, particularly in circumstances in which we already have our butter markets considerably over-supplied. The honorable member for Gippsland said that America had a surplus of 250,000 lb. This is a continuing process; and we have in mind the further difficulties that are arising in the negotiations with regard to zoning butter production. I believe that this is a good measure not only because it continues the bounty payable but also because it proposes to increase it and thus ease the strain on the butter fat market. Because somebody else desires to speak I have to cut my time short but, to give a picture of the situation in south-western Australia, I shall quote six case studies, which were dealt with by the committee of inquiry. This committee, by the way, was appointed subsequent to the Commonwealth committee of inquiry. At page 15 of the report titled “A Resurvey of Dairy Farming in the Far South West of Western Australia “, we read -
The characteristics of the farms surveyed are presented in this report in terms of averages and frequency distributions. In an attempt to make these averages more meaningful, a number of cases are presented.
Policy will finally be effected on the individual farm and it is an advantage of the case study that the inter-relatedness of resources, goals and performances of individuals can be clearly visualized.
Farm No. 97 was alienated from the Crown in 1938, so it has been long established. Its area is 262 acres. It was abandoned for seven years from 1941 and ownership was renewed in 1948. This case study stated -
After abandonment for seven years, Farm No. 97 was purchased in 1948 by a 42-year-old retail store manager who previously had one year’s farming experience on a relation’s property.
At the time of the first survey the farm comprised 150 acres of virgin jarrah and re-growth, together with 37 acres of ringbarked but unsown, and 75 acres sown to subterranean clover. Fifteen acres were mowable and the area of summer-moist land was confined to 1-2 acres. The farmer worked full-time on the property and there was no other source of labour apart from that provided by his two school-age children. A third child was of pre-school age.
I have no doubt in my mind that that child was working like a slave, too. The study continued -
The milking herd of 16 cows was of Shorthorn and Shorthorn-Friesian blood with a purebred A.I.S. bull. During 1951 the farm produced 2,060 lb. of butter fat for sale, at an average yield of 137 lb. sold per cow calved. Gross farm sales in 1950-51 amounted to £298.
That was the income of this man, who had three children working besides himself. The study went on -
Gross farm sales in 1950-51 amounted to £298 and were derived from butter fat, £202, 68 per cent.; cattle £26, 9 per cent.; pigs £70, 23 per cent. Total £298.
On that income the farmer had to keep a family. And that sort of thing is still going on in that area. The study continued -
The negative farm income of £168 was augmented by £280 earned by the farmer’s wife who held a part-time secretarial position-
And I suppose she milked the cows when she came home -
The family income in 1950-51 was therefore £112. The farmer’s liabilities in 1952 totalled £950 and the walk-in walk-out value of the farm was estimated to be £3,650.
Talk about over-capitalization. Who would want to pay £3,650 for a place like that? The study continued -
By 1959 the same farmer estimated the walkin walk-out value to be £6,500-
So it has doubled and he is now overcapitalized to glory - - of which land and improvements were £4,000. The total farm area had been increased to 270 acres by the purchase of an adjoining eight acres of bush.
The farmer milked 27 cows - an increase of 11 in the intervening seven years - and sold 4,420 lb. of butter fat. The average length of lactation was seven months- that is because of seasonal conditions - - and the farmer reported that this was getting shorter due to sterility in the herd. He declined to herd test because sterility prevented him culling for production. Artificial insemination was not practiced because of the distance from the nearest centre.
Hay was fed between early March and late May to all springers one month before calving. Hay was also fed in the bails to keep cows contented. Concentrates were not fed. The farmer was developing the property at a rate of about eight acres per year, his practice being to do the ring-barking himself and then to pay up to £100 per year for contract bulldozing. Lack of finance was given as th? reason for not developing at a faster rate, it being his intention to finance clearing out of farm income. His overdraft and total indebtedness in 1959 amounted to £1,600 but early in 1959 he had been requested to reduce this by £200.
Of course, the Government always has made finance available to these strugglers! To continue the quotation -
The farmer intended to meet this reduction by a particular year, but indicated that it meant that his wife would have to continue her secretarial work.
That is one case. I agree with the proposition contained in the bill before the House, but I am heartily sick and tired of the inactivity of those who are supposed to represent the small farmer and seldom, if ever, put his case before this House.
.- We have just listened to the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay). From what he has said it is quite evident that he is a theorist on the dairy industry and is not very familiar with its problems. He has risen only to add to the list of Opposition members speaking to this bill.
I rise to support this proposal to give an additional bounty to processed milk products. At the beginning of my remarks I would like to congratulate the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) on a statement he made during his speech. He said that too many slurs and aspersions are cast upon the Australian dairy industry for being inefficient. I regret to say that a lot, although not all, of these aspersions come from members of his own party.
– That is rubbish. Don’t talk nonsense.
– It is quite true. A lot of these aspersions have come from members of the honorable gentleman’s party, who are supporters of the manufacture of margarine in Australia. I am not going to be biased in this matter, and I will say that some of these aspersions have come from metropolitan interests. They are quite unfair, because the Australian dairying industry is one of the most efficient dairying industries in the world. For efficiency it is surpassed only by the industries in New Zealand, Denmark and, possibly, France. It is only in those countries that the producers receive a lower price for their butter fat than do producers in Australia. If that is any gauge of efficiency, those countries win. However, I believe there are many farms in Australia which are much more efficient than the best farms in New Zealand. I appreciate that many fanners in Australia are having a difficult time, mainly because they cannot produce enough butter per cow per unit of labour to make an adequate income.
The purpose of this bill is to help one section of the dairying industry which was penalized by the subsidies given to manufacturers of processed milk products in other countries, who were thus enabled to compete successfully against Australia in world markets, particularly in Asia and South-East Asia. If we were likely to be forced out of those markets because of the subsidies paid by other governments to their dairying industries, we had to protect our manufacturers by granting similar subsidies. Last year, for the first time, this Government made provision for a bounty of £350,000 to be paid in respect of the butter fat that goes into dried milk products. It seemed completely silly that if a processor converted milk into butter he got a subsidy, but if butter fat went into a processed milk product no payment was made in respect of it from the £13,500,000 dairying subsidy made available each year by this Government. To eliminate this anomaly, provision was made for a bounty of £350,000 on processed milk products last year, and the Government is increasing the bounty this year to £500,000. The reason for the increase is that production has risen and our export potential has developed considerably. As an illustration of the increased production of processed milk products containing butter fat, it was estimated last year that £350,000 would cover the production of 5,000 tons of these products, but, by the end of the year, production totalled 6,000 tons. In the year 1963-64 it is expected that we will produce 10,000 tons of these products for export to world markets. This is very good, because it is taking away an amount of butter fat from the butter market and therefore does not add to the surplus of butter.
I would like to support a remark made by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) this afternoon in paying tribute to the late Hedley Clark, who died a few weeks ago. I do not think that any one associated with the Australian dairy industry in the last decade did more for that industry than Hedley Clark. He was raised in the Clarence River area and had practical experience on dairy farms. He obtained a degree in agriculture and played a very important part in the work of the New South Wales Government during the war in assisting the dairy industry. Later he joined the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in Canberra and gave tremendous support to the Government by his suggestions. It was largely as a result of his efforts that an industry levy was placed on butter and used for research and promotion in the dairy industry. This levy probably represents the most important advance the industry has made. When Hedley Clark made his proposals he was asked to take up the position of executive officer with the Australian Dairy Produce Board to administer those proposals. I believe that his wise counsel and administration reflect great credit on him. I would like his widow and children to know that his work is appreciated and recognized by all associated with the Australian dairy industry.
The Government has decided to give a bounty on butter fat used in processed milk products, but I would also like to suggest that butter oil too should attract a subsidy. A special process is necessary to make pure butter oil and if it is used in the manufacture of butter it receives part of the bounty. But if pure butter oil is used in re-combination plants to make milk or dried milk powder, no bounty is payable. It should be remembered, too, that any means we can find to make new products from butter fat will result in a reduction of our annual surplus of butter. I was in the electorate of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), at Deloraine, recently. I went to the co-operative factory there, where I was pleased to see established some of the most modern plant in Australia for the conversion of butter fat into pure butter oil, which, I believe, is being exported to the Philippines to be made into reconstituted milk. This is a wonderful step forward. If the butter fat was used in the manufacture of butter, a bounty would be paid, but because it is to be used in the manufacture of butter oil, no assistance is received. The Government should look into this matter with a view to a reduction of our surplus stocks of butter.
– The honorable member for Wilmot will be fighting for it.
– He has not mentioned anything about it, although he spoke this afternoon. I do not hold that against him, because butter oil is also being manufactured in Queensland.
Another matter I would like to bring before the House is one that has received some publicity recently. I refer to the United Kingdom proposal to ask Australia and New Zealand to give way on the longstanding 15s. a hundredweight tariff duty imposed on Danish butter. I am not one of those who would be bull-headed and say that it is a very bad thing and that it should be reduced, but I believe a duty has little effect in a market where the commodity concerned is coming in on a quota. The 15s. duty now imposed on Danish butter has little effect in protecting the market for Australia now that quota arrangements are in force. I do believe, however, that if we agree to the reduction of the 15s. tariff we should have some compensation with regard to our quota, which, I suggest, should be increased. I believe that if we can achieve an increase of our quota Australia will be much better off than if it continues to insist that the 15s. duty should be imposed.
This duty of 15s., of course, is a preferential duty. Other countries have much higher duties, but those higher duties have never stopped them from sending butter to the United Kingdom market or dumping butter on that market, which is probably the only butter market for many countries. All right, let us give in on the duty, providing we can get our quota stepped up a little. I think we have been very lucky in some ways. In the original arrangements it seemed that we would get a quota of only 55,000 tons on the United Kingdom market. We finished up, after intensive negotiations, with 62,000 tons. It is pleasing to see that in this year the United Kingdom has again increased our quota to 65,000 tons. 1 have mentioned that the two greatest developments in the dairying industry in recent years have been in connexion with promotion campaigns and additional research. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has done a very good job in promotion. It has co-operated with the Government in many ways. The Government gives a £1 for £1 grant to the dairying industry and other industries for promotion in countries such as the United Kingdom. This money is used for publicity to show why Australian dairy products are outstanding. The Department of Primary Industry and the Department of Trade have done much to inform the Australian Dairy Produce Board of trends in different parts of the world and of market opportunities. The Department of Trade has encouraged the board to send representatives on trade missions to such areas as the eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, Southwest Asia and South America. These missions have managed to negotiate contracts in these countries. The trend is most encouraging. It shows that we are able to develop markets outside the United Kingdom.
The board, on its own initiative, has sent delegates to Japan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, Peru and
Malta, and also on its own initiative it has managed to negotiate a contract with Asia Dairy Industries Limited for the production of reconstituted milk in Kuala Lumpur and the Philippines. This kind of activity will also be taking place in Thailand, Burma and Singapore. We are finding increasing opportunities for selling Australian dairy products in these areas. One of the main advantages, of course, in selling our reconstituted milk is that it enables us to get rid of our Australian butter fat. One of the problems throughout the world is to cope with the surplus butter fat that is being produced.
It is pleasing to read the Australian Dairy Produce Board’s report and to see the way in which the board has taken advantage of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation. It has been able to use the facilities of this organization to make credit arrangements for the sale of Australian dairy products in areas in which it has never tackled markets before.
I have mentioned research. A good deal of work is going on in research into ways and means of increasing the productivity and the efficiency of the Australian dairying industry. As I have said, Hedley Clark was the man who suggested an arrangement similar to that which obtains in many other primary industries such as the wool, beef, tobacco, barley and dried and canned fruits industries. In all those industries the £1 for £1 arrangement operates. The industry imposes its own levy and the Commonwealth provides support on the basis of £1 for £1. In the dairying industry there is a levy for research amounting to *d. per lb. for butter and Ad. per lb. for cheese. In 1961-62 the amount raised by this levy was almost £250,000. This money has been split up for use on various projects. Some has been used for dairy farm research, some lor dairying manufacture research and a portion for marketing and distribution research.
As to dairy farm research, it is interesting to note that throughout Australia 37 different projects are being carried out, of which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is participating in eight. The State departments of agriculture, the universities and other organizations are also taking part. 1 am pleased to say that five of those 37 projects are related directly to problems of the north coast of New South Wales. This is a very pleasing proportion, but I do not believe that enough work is being done on research in this area. We have tremendous problems on the north coast of New South Wales, and somehow or other we must get the money to carry out the necessary research. The north coast is one of the major dairying areas of Australia, and it is one of the areas with the biggest problems.
I believe there is a responsibility on the State governments and the Commonwealth Government to find ways to overcome these problems. In areas where there are dairying problems the State governments involved have definite responsibilities. I believe that when there is a major problem, and the dairying industry cannot get enough money by way of its levy, there should be some way for the Commonwealth to contribute with the State on a £1 for £1 basis to enable research to be undertaken. After all, this is a national industry of tremendous economic importance to the north coast area, which is being adversely affected because of declining soil fertility resulting in lack of nutritional value in the feed available for dairy stock. It is only by stepping up research that we can hope to overcome these problems.
I know there are people in my area who would like to submit a proposal direct to the Commonwealth for a special grant to ensure that this work is carried out. I would be quite happy to support that proposition, but I know what would be the reaction in all these other industries that impose levies and are assisted by the Commonwealth on a £1 for £1 basis. If a special grant was given for tackling a dairying problem on the north coast of New South Wales, the other industries would come in and say: “ We have a special problem in a certain area, or a special problem associated with this industry. Why does not the Commonwealth make a special grant in this case? “
– Hear, hear!
– It is all right to say, “Hear, hear”; but I believe this is a field in which the State government has a responsibility, although not a complete responsibility because this is a national industry. Some arrangement should be formulated for the Commonwealth and State Governments to give assistance on a £1 for £1 basis to carry out that sort of research. I know that this is completely new thinking, but if we have big problems we have to have new thinking in order to overcome them.
The dairy industry’s problem is that there is a surplus of butter throughout the world. Many countries are producing beyond their home consumption and there is no market for the surplus. Somehow we have to formulate an international commodity arrangement similar to the international commodity arrangements for such commodities as coffee, sugar, wheat, cocoa and tin. Those are five major commodities in respect of which there are international arrangements which work very well. There are probably about twenty primary commodities in respect of which international arrangements could be formulated. The dairy industry is one in respect of which there could be an international commodity arrangement because annually and traditionally some countries are exporters of butter and other countries are importers of butter. Surely we can work out some quota arrangements among countries so that prices will not be depressed because of surplus production, and there will not be dumping by some countries which can afford to dump products which are heavily subsidized.
I believe that the future of the Australian dairy industry is not nearly as bad as people claim it is. In March, 1962, the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome issued a pamphlet titled “Means of Adjustment of Dairy Supply and Demand “. That pamphlet is an attempt to estimate the extent of the disequilibrium in the world dairy economy. It tries to estimate what the position of the dairy industry will be in 1970. The predictions are measured against the influence of improved methods of milk production and processing on the supply side, and against population growth, per capita income and the elasticity of dietary habits in future years. The calculations show that some countries will be exporting even more in 1970 than they are exporting to-day, in relation to the rate of increased consumption in those countries. However, the pamphlet shows that Australia and New Zealand are two countries in which the percentage of exports to production will not increase at the same rate as it has been increasing in the past. In fact, the pamphlet predicts that our percentages will drop quite considerably.
I shall give the House some figures on the predictions. They show that in the six countries of the European Economic Community the gap between supply and demand will be most prominent by 1970. In the community, production will increase by 39 per cent, as against only a 29 per cent, increase in consumption. That is a difference of 10 per cent. In other European countries the difference between supply and demand will be only in the vicinity of from 4 per cent, to 5 per cent. In North America the positron will be much the same. But in Australia consumption will increase quite considerably in comparison with our exports, because of increase in population and the development of methods of selling our produce. For instance, there will probably be an increase in the consumption and sale of whole milk. We may be able to develop our products and reduce the possibility of having to export so much butter. I believe that by developing new markets throughout Asia we will overcome some of our problems. It is interesting to see in this pamphlet issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization that Japan has the biggest potential for increased imports of butter. In 1958, Japan imported 3,000 metric tons of butter. In 1965, it will import 12,000 metric tons, and by 1970 it will import 25,000 metric tons. In view of those figures, surely we must try to make inroads into the Japanese market and develop it as a potential regular outlet for Australian dairy products, particularly butter. If we do that, I do not think the future of the Australian dairy industry is gloomy. On the figures issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization, it seems that our position will not be nearly as bad as that of other butter-producing countries.
I support this bill. I believe that the provision of a bounty on the production of processed milk products that contain butter fat will help to reduce our butter surplus. I should like also to see consideration given to some sort of bounty on the production of butter oil which is so important in the manufacture of reconstituted milk.
.- This bill provides for an increase in the export bounty on processed milk products from £350,000 last year to £500,000 in 1963-64. As a member of the Australian Labour Party, which believes in the protection of Australian industries whether they be primary or secondary, I support this bill. Because of butter and cheese production in excess of local needs and present export requirements, a refusal to increase this bounty could result in the people who supply milk for preserved milk products turning to supplying the butter and cheese factories.
This bill comes before the House at a time when negotiations are proceeding for the elimination of Australian preferences on the sale of butter and cheese to the United Kingdom. The statistical bulletin on the dairy industry for the six months ended December, 1962 states -
Total exports of butter during the six months ended December, 1962, amounted to 37,525 tons, compared with 44,134 tons for the corresponding period in 1961. The quantity exported to the U.K. during the six months ended December, 1962,. comprised 83 per cent of the total exported, as compared with 89 per cent, for the same period in 1961.
In respect of cheese, the bulletin states that the quantity of cheese exported during the six months ended December, 1962 was greater than that exported in the corresponding period in 1961, but that there was a drop in the percentage of the Australian production that was exported to the United Kingdom. Milk production generally plays a big part in the closer settlement of Australia. It plays a large part in the economies of country towns. Butter and cheese factories and factories producing such byproducts as powdered milk, skim milk, fullcream milk, casein, concentrated and evaporated skim milk and invalid and infant foods contribute to the welfare of many people in country towns. The statistical bulletin shows that they contribute £11,500,000 a year in the payment of wages and salaries, and that they employ 11,072 people.
I have before me a statement by Mr. Klopfstein who for fourteen years has been a factory manager for Tongala Milk Products Proprietary Limited at Echuca, which 1 believe is in the electorate of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). He is urging the payment of a greater bounty on sweetened condensed milk. The company for which he is a factory manager is a subsidiary of the Swiss Bernese Alps Milk Company, which we know as Nestle Company (Australia) Limited. When Mr. Klopfstein went to Tongala fourteen years ago the foundations of the factory were being poured. The town then consisted of 90 houses. To-day there are 250, and 200 dairy farms in a six-mile radius supply the 100-man factory with up to 40,000 gallons of milk a day. That shows the influence of these factories in bringing about closer settlement in our country areas.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) mentioned the fancy cheeses which can be seen now in many shops. There are many such cheeses but very few of them are manufactured in Australia. We import far too many of them. The local consumption of cheese has increased, due partly to the growth of our migrant population. Many migrants favoured cheese in their own country. Of course, the high price of meat and the reduced purchasing power of social service benefits, in the case of pensioners, also leads to an increased consumption of cheese. Recently my notice was directed to the disparity between the price realized by cheese processors and the retail price charged to the consumers. Retailers purchase cheese for 2s. 7d. and 2s. 9d. per lb. and sell it for between 4s. 7d. and 5s. per lb.
The present equalization schemes are voluntary. I note that mention is made of this fact in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. Because overseas prices are falling off, there is a tendency for manufacturers to sell their products at the higher price on the local market outside the equalization arrangement. The committee recommended an alteration in the constitution to provide for contributions to the equalization scheme to be on a share and share alike basis. This would remove the voluntary aspect of contribution. 1 have learned of instances where, because of the difference between the local price and the export price, manufacturers, particularly private companies, are selling on the Australian market outside the equalization agreement and, because they save their contribution to the scheme, are able to undersell processors of cheese which, in many cases, are co-operatives owned and operated by dairy-farmers, who, of course, contribute to the scheme.
Now let me deal with marketing. I have learned of a regrettable case in Queensland of a cheese manufacturer on the Darling Downs who does not contribute to the equalization scheme but who has the co-operation of a bacon factory co-operative in the marketing of his cheese. This case shows a lack of co-operation among farmers. It is also a matter of concern that a director of the bacon factory is a prominent Country Party man who represents my electorate in the Queensland Parliament.
Mention has been made of assistance for research and sales promotion on a £1 for £1 basis. The present contribution by producers is Ad. per lb. on butter and &d. per lb. on cheese. The Government has matched this on a £1 for £1 basis. Many dairyfarmers have taken advantage of the assistance given by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the State Departments of Agriculture and Stock. I think it was the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) who mentioned a dairy farm which carried sixteen cows and one bull. This would be entirely uneconomical for all practical purposes. Artificial insemination has assisted greatly in improving the quality of stock. Old stock has been culled and the dairy herd has increased its production. During the last election campaign the Australian Labour Party proposed a subsidy of £3 a ton on superphosphate. This would assist dairy-farmers greatly to improve pastures and this, in turn, would have a beneficial result for the public.
I mentioned previously the falling-off in the consumption of butter. It is interesting to note that while consumption of butter in Australia fell from 30.2 lb. a head in 1955 to 25.1 lb. a head in 1962- a fall of 5.1 lb. a head - the consumption of margarine increased by only 1.1 lb. a head, so competition from margarine is not as strong as some honorable members would have us believe it to be. The Australian people have shown a definite preference for butter and, with the possible exception of New Zealand, they would be the greatest butter consumers in the world. As I have said, consumption in Australia is 25.1 lb. a head. Consumption in Denmark is 23.6 lb. a head, in the United Kingdom 18.5 lb. and in the United States 8 lb.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) mentioned the increase in sales of butter to Japan. The Australian Dairy Produce Board is to be congratulated on the success of its sales promotion campaign there. But I believe that the opportunity exists to increase our sales of butter to the United States and to those countries to our north in which many people do not know what it is to drink a glass of cow’s milk. There must be a market for our powdered milk and powdered milk products in the countries to our north. I and my colleagues of the Australian Labour Party are pleased to support the proposed increase in bounty.
During the debate yesterday on shipbuilding certain Government members attacked the payment of subsidies to the shipbuilding industry, claiming that ships, including naval vessels, can be purchased overseas cheaper than they can be built in Australia and that overseas vessels carry our produce more cheaply than our own vessels could. That is not Labour’s attitude. We stand for assistance to local industry. By the introduction of the legislation now before us the Government has adopted the socialist policy of subsidies and bounties. If certain Government members are to be consistent in their attitude - I am pleased to exclude the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) because I know his attitude - they must oppose this bill. Perhaps they hope that they will not be asked to vote on it.
.- The House has before it a bill which provides for the continued payment of a bounty on processed milk products. In his secondreading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said -
Australian processors not only received no subsidy, but were forced to compete for their milk supplies with the butter and cheese factories which were enabled to pass on the bounty to producers.
He went on to say that for each of the six years previous to 1962-63 the bounty had totalled £13,500,000 a year. The processors of milk products are entitled to receive some bounty, and the proposal envisaged in this bill is that the total bounty be increased from £350,000 in the current season to £500,000 in 1963.-64.
We on this side of the House strongly support the bill, because we realize the tremendous value of the dairy industry to this country. We have only to turn to the much-publicized report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry, presented in August, 1960, to see how important this industry is. As appears at page 114 of the report, the committee estimated that there were some 40,000 farms comprising the dairy industry proper and that probably another 30,000 depended for part of their income on the sale of dairy products. I realize, only too well that many of the coastal towns along the north-west coast of Tasmania depend for their prosperity on the well-being of what we call the back country, and the people in the back country depend for much of their income on the dairy industry to-day. In the old days, they undertook a lot of cash-cropping to supplement the income that they obtained from their dairy herds. In particular, they relied on potatoes.
The Tasmanian potato industry is a great one. At one time, about 80,000 acres of land in Tasmania was under potatoes, but to-day the total area is down to some 20,000 acres because the Tasmanian farmers experienced problems in marketing their potatoes in Sydney, the traditional market for the Tasmanian product. The development of irrigation in New South Wales and the lower freights incurred in getting New South Wales potatoes to the Sydney market, thereby enabling the farmers in that State to market their product more cheaply in Sydney, have greatly reduced the value of potatoes as a cash crop in Tasmania. The freight on Tasmanian potatoes sent to Sydney is some £12 a ton. This gives honorable members some idea of the problem that faces the Tasmanian farmers. The reduction in the value of this cash crop on which they had come to rely so much to supplement their income from dairying means that for many Tasmanian farmers there is now practically no income from potatoes.
– The area of which the honorable member speaks has very rich soil.
– My great friend, the honorable member for Macquarie, is quite right. We have in this area possibly some of the richest dairying land in Australia, with very rich volcanic soil extending right to the seafront. The Tasmanian potato industry is passing through very difficult times. I know only too well that in recent weeks some of the farmers have found their accounts running into debit because of the low prices received for their potatoes on the Sydney market.
– Order! This bill has nothing to do with potatoes. I suggest to the honorable member that we have now had enough of them.
– I defer to your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am pointing out that the income received by farmers from the dairy industry in the area that I represent was supplemented by income from the cash-cropping of potatoes in the past.
– Order! I think the honorable member has made his point, and I suggest that he now get back to the subject of the bill.
– The lack of income from potatoes to bolster income received from the dairy industry has made it necessary for the farmers of northern Tasmania to give closer attention to the dairy industry. We have heard from this Government over the years a cry for greater efficiency and higher production. I know that the responsibility for the difficulties of the dairy industry cannot be laid at the door of the farmers in Tasmania or in the other parts of Australia that I have visited. On behalf of dairyfarmers, 1 say that many of the assertions made in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry are entirely wrong. The dairy industry is very efficient and the farmers and processors give of their very best. I know of the great efficiency of establishments such as the Duck River Cooperative Butter Factory Limited. A few years ago. that factory aimed at a production of 1,000 tons of butter a year, later raised its output to 1,500 tons a year and now is producing at the rate of more than 2,000 tons a year. There are other efficient establishments such as the North-Western Co-operative Dairy Company Limited, which has its headquarters at Burnie, the King Island Dairy Products Cooperative Society Limited on King Island and Table Cape butter factory at Wynyard.
In recent years, farmers have had the choice either of sending butter fat in the form of cream to a butter factory or of sending whole milk to establishments such as the Hobart factory of CadburyFryPascall Proprietary Limited. Farmers may contract to do either of these things. When whole milk is sent to a local establishment of the Cadbury company, the volume is condensed to about one-third by the removal of water content and the product remaining is taken in tankers to the company’s Hobart factory where it is used in the processing of chocolates and other sweets. 1 ask the Minister for Primary Industry, who is now at the table, whether the bounty envisaged in this measure will apply to factories such as the Cadbury factory in Hobart. That company, if it is to share in the total bounty of £500,000 for exports of processed milk products in the coming financial year, will be able to sell cheaper chocolates to the consumers of this country. The Cadbury company, of course, is world famous for its range of chocolates. I am very proud to be able this evening in this House, on behalf of Tasmania, to give a free commercial plug to this great industry.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) discussed at length the need for research. I agree entirely with him on the need for a £1 for £1 contribution by the Government towards research in the dairy industry. That very well worth-while point was emphasized by the honorable member. He mentioned also the need for international commodity arrangements to enable us to dispose of the excess production of butter, a very valuable product. This debate has ranged over a very wide field, and I hope that I may be permitted to discuss certain aspects of the dairy industry that are important. I refer particularly to the area of land available to dairy-farmers. In Tasmania - I think the position everywhere is much the same - the average size of a dairy farm is between 100 and 200 acres.
That area has to support the farmer and his wife and family, with an average herd in Tasmania of 50 to 75 cows.
The average dairy-farmer can provide employment only for the oldest son, and farmers in the area that I represent find that their most valuable asset has to be exported, as it were. The sons of farmers, born and bred on the land and having a great love for the land, are forced by inadequate financial resources to go to the towns to look for alternative employment. Members of the Australian Country Party strongly supported the establishment of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia, but that bank is falling down miserably on the job that it ought to do for this country Farmer after farmer who approaches it for funds to enable him to extend his holding or to clear more useful land in order that he may keep his younger sons as well as the eldest on the land with him is consistently refused accommodation. Not only is it difficult to obtain accommodation from the bank but in addition the rate of interest of 6 per cent, is far too high. I have told the House that fat lamb producers receive less than 2 per cent, on capital investment. There is not a farmer, especially a dairyfarmer, who can to-day afford to pay 6 per cent, on capital obtained as a loan from the Development Bank.
I want to refer to another problem facing those engaged in the ..dairy industry and that is the problem of brucellosis. This is a very big problem and linked with it is the problem of infertility, vibriosis and tricho. These diseases reduce the returns from dairy herds. I join with the honorable member for Richmond in his plea for a £1 for £1 grant by the Government for research into these diseases. In my area, we have the big problem of infertility. I think it is time that the Government through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and various other agencies associated with scientific research co-operated with State Departments of Agriculture in an effort to eradicate these diseases and so assist the man on the land.
I am very pleased that the Minister for Primary Industry has once again remained in the House throughout a debate on the dairy industry. He is also interested in war service land settlement. I make a plea for the soldier settlers on King Island, which is half way between Tasmania and Melbourne. The Commonwealth Government has invested millions of pounds in settling approximately 160 soldier settlers on this island. They have holdings of some 200 acres. The Government and the Minister recognize the faults made by the Government and departmental officers in settling the men on this island too soon. This possibly is not entirely the fault of the Government. Pressure came from ex-service organizations and from various people who were eager to get these people settled. The settlers want on to the land before it was ready. There was a regrowth of various rushes such as pith rush and ti-tree. This, of course, diminished the area of the pastures available to the dairyfarmers. The Government realizes that it must accept some responsibility for this state of affairs, but so must the settlers. Faults can be found on both sides. The Government agreed to develop some of the land but in re-developing it for, say, 50 acres-
– What has this to do with processed milk?
– I am dealing with dairy products and dairy-farmers. I speak for my people. I was sent here by the people of Braddon and I intend to speak for them. I am not speaking for the people of Perth or any other place, but I intend to speak for my people on King Island.
As I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, the settlers on King Island have had the area available to them for the grazing of cattle sadly reduced. Naturally they have not the same carrying capacity and their income from cows has diminished. However, they are required to pay the same yearly commitments as before. It is wrong that they should have to do so. I appeal to the Minister, who is in charge of war service land settlement, to examine this problem in an attempt to reduce the commitments of these people.
I have dealt with some of the problems of the dairy industry. The need to-day is to find alternative markets for dairy products and we look to processed milk products as a means of expanding our sales. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Richmond speak of the possible effect on the dairy industry of the reduction of the 15s. duty on Danish butter. He said that our quota must be increased. When I was in England last November I was amazed at the competition in shops such as delicatessens being encountered by Australian butter particularly from French butter. The people handling these products told me that there was an increased demand from English housewives for the unsalted butter that was received reasonably fresh from France. Our dairy products are meeting increased competition and if we are to be faced with a reduction of the 15s. duty on Danish butter, we must see to it that the quota for Australian butter on overseas markets, particularly on the traditional English market, is increased.
I am sorry that the honorable member for Richmond is not in the House, because I want to say that he was most unfair to my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), when he said that the honorable member had not mentioned butter oil in Deloraine, which is in the electorate of Wilmot. I clearly remember my friend raising this matter some twelve months ago. We pay a tribute to the people of Deloraine in Tasmania for undertaking the production of butter oil, which is used in far eastern countries for reconstituted milk. I join with the honorable member for Richmond, who is a member of the Australian Country Party, in expressing the hope that the Government will in the future extend this bounty to the producers of butter oil.
I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), who spoke of the need for a subsidy on superphosphate. The provision of such a subsidy was a plank of Labour’s platform at the last federal election. Since then the suggestion has been taken up not only by dairy farmers’ organizations but also by sugar cane growers and other organizations in many parts of Australia. A subsidy on superphosphate would reduce the costs of farmers and would increase production.
We support the bill, because we realize that the world production of butter has increased to such an extent that anything that can be done to find alternative markets for processed milk products as well as for butter is all to the good. It is difficult to imagine any reduction in the number of dairy-farmers in this country. They have done a magnificent job. As I said, this is a very efficient industry and the dairy-farmers are to be congratulated on the wonderful work that they have done. However, the output of butter has increased to such an extent that the world is possibly oversupplied and there will be a need for some international commodity arrangement to regulate the production and marketing of this product. The expansion of the production of processed milk products would be of great benefit to dairy-farmers and we sincerely hope that markets for this product will be found in South-East Asia.
I remind the House that a trade mission from Tasmania, headed by the Premier, Mr. Eric Reece, who is assisted by various primary producers and representatives of secondary industry, is at present in SouthEast Asia. The mission is examining the possibility of obtaining markets in the various countries of South-East Asia. I know that honorable members on both sides of the House will wish it every success. I support the bill, which will increase the bounty payable in respect of processed milk products.
– in reply- I would like to deal with one or two points raised by honorable members in this debate. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) referred to the report of the Division of Agricultural Economics. I have now had time to look at that report. The actual position is that the Australian Dairy Board had agreed to make available a rebate of £92 a ton to processors in respect of the butter content in their exports. To enable processors to try out the export markets on that basis I gave permission for some of the money in the Dairy Stabilization Fund to be used for that purpose. The actual amount used was £13,203. There were 95 tons of full cream powder exported and 1,133 tons of sweetened condensed milk. It was a trial and apparently it did not work too well, but I think we all agree that we must try for new markets and experiment where possible. Arising out of that we have the scheme of bounty payments amounting to £350,000 this year and £500,000 as provided in this bill. This bounty is necessary because processors have never participated in the bounty payable in respect of butter fat and accordingly they are at a disadvantage in their purchases of milk.
The honorable member for Lalor made it clear by implication that the Nestle company had evaded or had sought to evade the payment of tax in Australia by invoicing its exports from Australia at low prices and taking its profits in other countries that have a rate of taxation lower than Australia has. All I can say with regard to that matter is that it falls within the province of the Commissioner of Taxation, who is undoubtedly aware of such arrangements that may be made by any internationally controlled company. On the subject of bounty payments 1 want to tell that company and any other company that officials of the Dairy Subsidy Audit Section will examine the books of all processors who have claimed the bounty. The officials have power to do that. That will be done before any final distribution of the bounty is made. It will be seen, therefore, that we do try to keep a check on these matters.
– To what extent do these people enter into the same arrangement for processed milk as the butter people do for butter and cheese?
– If they make a claim in respect of export sales we see that it is audited in the proper way.
– Will they equalize their local sales with export sales?
– This year I approved of a preliminary payment of 6d. per lb. and when final calculations for the year are made any remainder of the £350,000 will be distributed pro rata.
The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and other honorable members expressed the hope that butter oil would be included in the bounty scheme. Butter oil is covered. I know that the manager of the Queensland Butter Board has been encouraging the use of butter oil in various manufactures in an effort to diversify trade. I was surprised to hear the suggestion that butter oil was not covered.
With regard to the Tasmanian situation, there was some delay in payment because the articles of the Equalization Committee had to be amended to include butter oil. However, that matter has now been attended to. The bounty applies to products containing up to 40 per cent, of butter fat. If Cadburys or any other firm is using butter fat to that extent and exporting it, even in the form of chocolate, it is covered by the bounty on processed milk.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) referred to cheese. His figures surprised me, because I understand that the wholesale price of cheese is between 3s. 4d. and 3s. 6d. per lb. depending on grade and maturity. Generally cheese is sold in reputable places at about 4s. per lb. Fancy cheeses and better grades command higher prices. I can hardly accept the statement of the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) that only one in every 55 brands of cheese sold is Australian. Many fancy cheeses are sold under names such as “ Swiss “, but they are manufactured in Australia. Quite a number of firstquality cheeses are made here. A good opening exists for the dairying industry in the manufacture of good cheese. The honorable member for Griffith said on the one hand that we should recognize New Zealand’s position and import cheese from that country, but on the other hand he said that we should manufacture our own cheeses and make sure that none is- imported. New Zealand does supply some of our fancy cheeses. If Australian manufacturers will not face up to their responsibilities and supply the Australian market with all its needs in fancy cheeses, surely we should be able to import our needs in this respect from a country such as New Zealand, which has an adverse trade balance with us.
– There is still nothing better than a tasty Australian cheese.
– I agree. Australian blue vein cheese is as good as any imported cheese. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) must remember that many immigrants in this country are accustomed to a particular taste in cheese. Are we to prevent those people from obtaining their requirements when we are unable to meet them ourselves?
– In many cafes the most difficult thing to obtain is Australian cheese.
– There is still a challenge to the manufacturers to measure up to their responsibilities. I do not think we should exclude imports when we are not providing the goods.
I am pleased at the response to the bill. Honorable members have touched on every subject in this debate from a needle to a battleship. It would take more time than I would be allowed to deal with all the points raised in the debate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Bill 1963.
International Development Association Bill 1963.
International Finance Corporation Bill 1963.
International Monetary Agreements Bill 1963.
World Health Organization Bill 1963.
Bills presented, and (on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bills be now read a second time.
The first and principal bill, to which I shall devote most attention, reviews the law governing the granting ot privileges and immunities in Australia to international organizations and to persons connected with the activities of those organizations. It also contains provisions enabling privileges and immunities to be conferred upon persons attending international conferences held here otherwise than under the auspices of an international organization.
As honorable members will be aware, there is already on the statute-book an International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Act which was passed in 1948 and amended in two respects in 1960.
The act has, however, proved to be unduly restrictive in its operation. For instance, it enables privileges and immunities to be conferred on an international organization only if there is a convention on the privileges and immunities of that organization, to which Australia has acceded. In fact, however, there are instances where the subject of the privileges and immunities of an organization is dealt with not in an international convention which is open to accession by member States, but in some other form of instrument. Also, whilst the present act contains provisions regulating the unauthorized use of the name, seal or emblem of an international organization, such provisions apply only where the use is in connexion with the pursuit of some trade, business, calling or profession.
The bill proposes that the present act should be repealed, and that the privileges and immunities properly to be extended to international organizations in Australia should be reviewed and re-stated. In proposing such a review, the Government has felt that the opportunity should be taken to give the Parliament a greater degree of control over the fields in which privileges and immunities may be conferred. Under the present act regulations may be made to give effect to any international convention on the subject to which Australia has acceded. The regulations could, provided that they give effect to an international convention, be unlimited in their scope. The bill, on the other hand, in clause 6, when read in conjunction with the schedules, proposes that the Parliament should lay down very clearly the upper limits, so to speak, of the privileges and immunities which might be conferred by the regulations upon international organizations and persons connected with those organizations in the capacities described. The details of the privileges and immunities to be conferred on specific organizations and specific classes of persons must, as a matter of practical convenience, be left to the regulations, because of the special circumstances to be found in every organization, but if the maximum limits within which the regulations may be made are laid down by the Parliament, a substantial degree of parliamentary control over the making of regulations will have been achieved.
Another general feature of the bill is that it will, for the first time, cover the whole field of the privileges and immunities of international organizations in the one piece of legislation. At present, the subject is dealt with in a number of acts. The International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Act deals with the subject to some extent, but there are also general provisions on the matter in, for example, section 23 of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Act, and item 373 of the Customs Tariff. Further, the privileges and immunities of some international organizations are at present dealt with in specific acts quite apart from the International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Act. Thus the Air Navigation Act contains provision relating to the privileges and immunities of the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Finance Corporation Act and the International Development Association Act contain provisions relating to the privileges and immunities of the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association respectively. All this makes it difficult for anyone to ascertain the position in relation to the privileges and immunities of any particular organization or of international organizations in general. The principal bill and the regulations made thereunder are intended to cover the whole field. The four other bills introduced together with the principal bill are consequential on that bill and provide for the omission from certain acts of provisions authorizing the conferring of privileges and immunities on certain organizations by regulation. These four bills will not, however, be brought into force until appropriate regulations are made under the principal bill in relation to the organizations concerned. Other amending bills will follow in due course.
Honorable members, perhaps, might ask why international organizations and persons connected with those organizations should be accorded privileges and immunities in the territory of a member state. There are, however, compelling reasons in favour of the principle. These were set out with considerable clarity in a memorandum which the International Labour Organization prepared in 1945- ILO Official Bulletin Vol. 27, No. 2, page 199 - and may be stated in three general propositions. In the first place it is essential that an international organization should have a status which protects it against control or interference by any government. An organization established by the nations of the world, and controlled by organs on which all member nations are represented, is entitled to expect - and its member nations are entitled to expect - that in the performance of its functions on behalf of the international community it will not be frustrated by interference on the part of any individual government. It can only be effectively protected against such possibility if it, and the persons working for it or attending its meetings, are accorded certain privileges and immunities. Secondly, certain exemptions from the fiscal laws of member states are justified on the ground that no one state should obtain financial advantages by imposing charges on assets contributed by the states which are members of an international organization. Thirdly, it is an established rule of international law that each state, in the conduct of its official business in another state, is accorded certain facilities and immunities which are necessary to enable it to carry on its lawful business without hindrance. An international organization being, so to speak, a collectivity of individual states, and engaging in activities not dissimilar from those of a governmental character, if it is to achieve its purpose, can quite legitimately expect to be given those privileges and immunities which in international law and practice states accord to each other.
Even without resorting to these arguments, it is not going too far to say that it is now a recognized feature of international life that international institutions and persons engaged in the work of such institutions may expect to receive a privileged status in any state in which they are operating. The subject is dealt with in several important international conventions. The earliest - and the prototype for the others - is the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations which was drawn up at the first session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 as one of the earliest acts of the then new organization. It was followed the next year by the adoption at the second session of the United Nations General Assembly of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies. To both of these conventions
Australia is a party and there are several other international conventions dealing with the privileges and immunities of other international organizations to which the Government is contemplating becoming a party. In all of these - and I cannot stress this too strongly - it is expressly stated that the privileges and immunities are conferred by member states, not for the personal benefit of any individuals but solely in the interests of the organization, to enable it to perform its functions. They also lay upon the appropriate agencies the duty to waive their immunities in any case where a claim to immunity would impede the course of justice, or where immunity can be waived without prejudice to the interests of the organization. The philosophy behind the whole subject is thus very clearly established as one of functional necessity - the privileges and immunities are necessary if the organization is to function effectively.
The schedules to the principal bill describe the privileges and immunities which may be conferred by the regulations, as well as tie classes of persons upon whom privileges and immunities may be conferred. The provisions of the schedules follow very closely those of the international conventions on the subject to which I have just referred. I would draw particular attention to the fact that the jurisdictional immunities which may be conferred upon individuals are, except in the cases of the executive heads of organizations, their deputies, and a few other persons holding very high rank, confined to immunities in respect of official acts. This is very much less than full diplomatic immunity, and, as 1 have said earlier, is justified in order to ensure that the activities of international organizations may b; carried on without interference on the part of governments. Immunity is, moreover, as I have pointed out, to be waived whenever this can appropriately be done.
The bill in clause 9 contains provisions relating to the privileges and immunities of the judges and officials of the International Court of Justice and of persons engaged in the business of the International Court of Justice. The statute of the court, to which Australia is a party by reason of its membership of the United Nations, provides that the judges of the court when engaged on court business shall have diplomatic privileges and immunities, and that the salaries and emoluments of the judges and of the registrar of the court shall be free of all taxation. In addition the United Nations General Assembly on 11th December, 1946, passed a resolution (No. 90) on this subject. The clause (Clause 9) is designed to enable effect to be given in Australia to the provisions of the statute of the court and of the resolution to which I have just referred. It will be noted that the privileges and immunities which may be conferred are confined to privileges and immunities in respect of acts and things done in the course of the person’s official duty in connexion with business of the court.
It has also been considered desirable that the bill should contain provisions to restrict the unauthorized use of the names, seals and emblems of international organizations. Resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and of the controlling bodies of other international organizations have recommended this course to member States, and the Government considers that effect should be given to these resolutions in Australia. Clause 12 of the bill deals with this subject. It would make it an offence to use for commercial purposes, without ministerial permission, the name or an abbreviation of the name of a prescribed organization. Also the unauthorized use of the seal or emblem of an organization for any purposes would be forbidden, and ministerial approval would be required before any association may use the name, an abbreviation of the name, the seal or the emblem of any prescribed international organization for the purposes described in sub-clause (2.) of clause 12. It is, however, proposed that it should be made clear that a person using an abbreviation of the name of a prescribed organization is not to be convicted of an offence against the clause if such use occurs in circumstances where it is unlikely to imply any connexion with the organization. It is also proposed that no proceedings under the section are to be instituted except with the written consent of the AttorneyGeneral.
I mentioned at the outset ±at the bill contained provisions which would enable privileges and immunities to be conferred on persons in Australia for the purpose of attending international conferences held here otherwise than under the auspices of an 1164 Adjournment. [REPRESENTATIVES.] Adjournment. international organization. There have been several important conferences of this nature held in Australia - such for example as the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Conference in 1961 and the Anzus Council meeting in 1962 - and doubtless there will be more. Clause 7 of the bill would enable diplomatic privileges and immunities to be conferred on the representatives of the governments and their staffs attending such conferences. It would also enable jurisdictional immunities to be accorded to the members of the secretariats of such conferences in respect of their official acts.
The principal bill, in short, seeks to provide a more adequate framework to enable the recognized privileges and immunities to conferred in Australia on international organizations, on persons engaged in activities connected with such organizations and on persons participating in international conferences held here other than under the auspices of an international organization. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
War Service Homes - Floods in Northern New South Wales - Civil Aviation - United States Naval Communication Station in Australia - Aluminium.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– It is my duty to inform this Parliament and the people of Australia, especially exservicemen, of the callous action of the War Service Homes Division in evicting a war veteran, his wife and two children from their home and confiscating every possession in their household, leaving them with nothing but the clothes they stood up in. To do so, officers of the War Service Homes Division entered the house in the absence of the four members of the family.
I will tell of how Messrs. McKenna and Berof, officers of the division, acting under instructions, refused to grant the family a change of clothing; how they confiscated the text books of a twelveyearold schoolboy, his money box and his special savings to buy his mother a Mother’s Day present. I will tell, in short, of the level at which bureaucrats of this department, in their orgy of indecent haste to secure, like Shylock, a pound of flesh, conducted an eviction - in a manner which is an affront and a shock to all reasonably minded people and to honorable members of this Parliament. It is a story of bureaucracy running riot, of how they seized £1,000 worth of goods for a debt of £90 and of how the responsible Minister, Senator Sir William Spooner, is skulking in silence, failing to grant me an interview. I will tell honorable members how Mr. K. D. Medbury, Director of the War Service Homes Division, refused an offer of £10 per week made by an ex-serviceman in settlement of arrears and refused to enter a conference on the issue.
Let us look for a moment at the general, broad financial set-up of the War Service Homes Division to see its relationship with the confiscation of the possessions of a family in order to pay a debt of £90. The annual report of the War Service Homes Division discloses that the Commonwealth has received interest payments amounting to £105,000,000 on an outlay amounting to £470,000,000 from the inception of the scheme to 1961-62. There are, according to the Minister’s statement, about 160,000 recipients of loans from the division. I quote from the Senate “ Hansard “ of 9th April, 1963, at page 12, where the Minister is reported to have said - and from time to time some of them fall into arrears.
So we are concerned with those exservicemen who fall into arrears with their obligations. We have properly to look at the official attitude towards ex-servicemen who fall into arrears. I quote from the annual report of the Director of the War Service Homes Division, Mr. Medbury, for the year ended June, 1962, at page 13 -
In my report for 1960-62 I mentioned that special action had been taken during the year to carry out a detailed review of the procedure and organization provided in New South Wales and. Victoria to deal with arrears with the object of reducing the arrears in these States.
During the year it was necessary to exercise powers given under the Act for default in 196 cases throughout the Commonwealth and 134 homes were sold by the Division in pursuance of these powers. At 30th June, 1962, the total number of reverted homes still to be gold was ISO,
I like the term “reverted”. That means families were expelled from their homes under eviction orders for arrears probably comparable with those in the case I am going to give details of. Those arrears amounted to a miserable, lousy ?90, covering two and a half years occupancy by an ex-serviceman, with justification for falling into arrears on wages of ?16 per week.
How is this new policy towards exservicemen functioning and to what degree must the Minister for National Development be now held personally responsible? I refer to a question recently asked in the Senate by Senator Fitzgerald of Senator Sir William Spooner. Senator Fitzgerald asked -
Is it true that over the past few months many hundreds of notices threatening eviction have been issued to families who have fallen behind in their repayments of war service homes loans?
asked also whether there had been an alteration in the policy of the department which had allowed families to pay off arrears by weekly payments. Then he went on -
Is it true that in the month of February notices threatening eviction were served upon nearly 1,500 families in New South Wales who had fallen behind in their payments on war service homes loans?
In reply the Minister said -
There has been no change of policy. I just do not believe the statement that 1,500 eviction notices were served in New South Wales in the month of February.
Then Senator Fitzgerald said, by way of interjection -
Notices threatening eviction.
Senator Sir William Spooner replied
I do not believe it.
Four weeks later, on 7th May, 1963, we find in “ Hansard “ a reply to a question on notice asked by Senator Fitzgerald. The question was -
How many forms Ar.4, under the War Service Homes Act 1918-1962, were issued during the months of January, February and March of this year to families in New South Wales who were behind in their repayments on war service homes?
The Minister’s reply was -
January, 196; February, 1,568; . . .
Four weeks before, the Minister did not believe that there were as many as 1,500, yet here we have his admission that there were not 1,500 but 1,568. Then he said that in March, the following month, there were 717. That represents a total of 2,481 people who received these forms, which represent a threat to take action for eviction. This is equivalent to 44 threats per working day issued by this division since the commencement of this year. We have the picture of a section of the division working at fever heat on these forms. It points to the inescapable fact that there are bloodhounds loose in the bureaucracy of this division, and the people they are hounding are the ex-servicemen and their families.
I want now to recite the story of another person about whom I am concerned. I refer to the case of Henry David Malafant. This man served in the Royal Australian Air Force. He is also an ex-NaVy man. He is 52 years of age. His wife has been continuously ill for seven years, and I have a medical certificate on that point. He has a daughter of seventeen years, earning about ?6 a week, and a schoolboy son twelve years of age. Due basically to the death of his mother and father and a brotherinlaw, all in the last twelve months, and also to some sickness that he himself suffered - he is not the strongest of men - he fell behind in his payments to the War Service Homes Division to the tune of ?120.
– What did he earn?
– About ?16 a wees take-home money. 1 think his gross wage was ?17 ls. 8d. He was working on the coal-loading jetty at Port Kembla. He claims he did not receive eviction notices. As my time is running out I will run speedily through his written and signed statement, of which I think the Minister has a copy. He says -
I am an exserviceman, having served with the Merchant Navy and the R.A.A.F. . . .
My present employment is that of a painter working in connection with the new coal loading plant at Port Kembla being employed by a contracting firm. . . . My wages are about ?17 ls. 8d. less tax which means I take home about ?16 and a few shillings.
My 17 year old daughter earns about ?6 per week. . . .
My employment has been regular for a period. My physical condition is not the best. . . .
For about the past two and a half years I have with my family occupied a war service financed home. . . .
The War Service Homes advanced me ?2,750 to build on a block of land which I had originally purchased for about ?200 some 12 years ago.
That land would be worth £800 to £1,000 at the present time if it is worth a penny. This man had a clean record with the division two years ago, he had a block of land and he was granted a loan of £2,750. That shows that he was acceptable to a division which analyses the character and background of every applicant and looks at every aspect of applications. His statement continues -
My repayments are at the rate of £10 lis. monthly. . . .
My payments fell into arrears, primarily because heavy expenses incurred because of the long ill health of my wife and the fact that in the past year expenses were incurred consequent upon the death in the year of my Father, and Mother and a brother in law. . . .
My wife has been receiving very constant medical attention throughout the past seven years.
I have seen the lady. She is in a very serious state of health. The statement continues -
As a result of accumulating arrears in payments an officer of the War Service Homes, name not known to me, called and interviewed my wife, and as a result she wrote to the Sydney office stating that we would pay £40 per month to meet normal obligations and reduce the arrears.
This man is taking home only £16 a week, and he offered to pay £10 a week, even though he has a wife and two children. If that is not a sincere offer I do not know what is. The statement goes on -
My wife affirms that no reply was received to her letter but we made weekly remittances by registered post of £10 for three weeks. [Extension of time granted.]
At the moment I cannot produce to you any letters, or receipts as all are along with all the contents of my home held by the Department at their store house at Bunnerong, so I believe.
On Wednesday May 1st my two children and myself left our home at about 6.45 a.m. The lad to go to school at Kiama, my daughter to the-
Here he mentions his daughter’s place of employment - and I to my work . . .
My wife was at that time a patient at the Kiama Hospital. She had been there for a minor operation; X-ray and other check up.
The home was securely locked. The key for (he back door was left on the inside of the locked door. We used the front door as is normal. It is fitted with a Yale type lock. Both my wife and myself each possessed a key. The children had no keys. 1 left my work about 4 p.m. and arrived home about 4.30 or 4.40 p.m.
When I arrived I saw two large furniture removal vans outside and also the Kiama Ambulance which had shortly before I arrived brought my wife home from hospital.
Apart from one or two men attending to each of the two vans which they were finishing loading, there was an officer of the War Service Homes, whom my wife knew as mentioned earlier, but whose name we don’t know, and also another man whom I think, but am not at all certain, was a bailiff.
My enquiry as to what was going on was met with general silence. My wife who was in a very upset condition told me our possessions were being taken by the War Service Homes because of arrears.
Everything we possessed in the home was taken. My wife sought to get a cardigan and 1 sought to obtain some clothes. I was told by the departmental officer that I could shift nothing from the packed vans. I would have to apply to the War Service Homes for any article I might need or want.
I was told the goods were being taken Vo Bunnerong to some Commonwealth building. If I wanted to know any more or obtain repossession of any article taken from the home I should phone…….. the War Service Homes.
Whether they smashed or forced the lock or door I do not know. So far as I know only my wife and self had keys, and they were in our possession. All windows had been shut and secured.
Every article - furniture - personal clothing - minor goods and chattels, photographic equipment, a 23-inch television set, mantel radio set, my daughter’s transistor radio, cameras, projector films. I estimate the photographic equipment at having been valued at about £200 purchased by the children over a period, were taken.
Blinds, toilet articles, shaving gear, even (o the screws used to hold the blinds were removed.
Meat left in the refrigerator and the refrigerator was taken. A few food items in the refrigerator were left on the floor on a bag.
My schoolboy’s text books and his and my daughter’s personal clothing, every item, along with those of my wife and myself was removed. We were left only with the clothing we were wearing. My sole possessions in clothing was my working paint covered shorts, shirts, shoes.
In addition various sums of money were removed.
My son aged twelve used a milk tin for his money box. He also had 17/6 in the pocket of his jeans saved to buy a present on Mother’s Day for his mother.
My daughter had £10 in her room.
My wife’s purse which had a few pounds in it was also taken.
No receipt or no inventory was given to either my wife or myself.
Included amongst the household possessions were some articles which we were buying on hire purchase from the Wollongong firms of Waltons and Maceys. We do not own these ai tides, as we are still making hire purchase payments for them. They were taken.
It would be my estimate that the furniture, household contents and clothing would cost us as a family at least £1000.
My arrears I believe amount to about £90.
The only article left which I owned was an electric stove, and I believe this was overlooked, probably being regarded as a permanent fixture in the house.
When they finished the packing, brooms were produced and they swept up the floor generally leaving it tidy.
Before they left my wife fainted. I asked for help to lift her. No one moved to help me until my son aged 12 assisted.
My wife asked for a drink of water. I was told I could not get a cup or a glass from the goods as they were packed in the vans.
A man, whom I think was one of the drivers, brought my wife a drink of water. The departmental officer and the man I believe to be a bailiff never moved to render any assistance. Very little was said to me by the departmental representative.
The vans left my home at about 5 p.m. for Sydney along with all others.
Since the confiscation of my possessions the family has been broken up as follows: -
My schoolboy son is staying at the home of a school mate in Port Kembla, and is depending upon borrowing clothes for change from him.
My wife and daughter were taken in to the home of a relative at Warilla who has four children and is over-crowded.
My daughter has to-day found it necessary to buy change of clothing necessary.
I have been sleeping in a car owned by one of my sons who is absent in Queensland.
Those are the incidents which tell the story and give the full facts. That letter, including the parts I have omitted because I have not time to read them, has been made available to the Minister. I have asked for a conference on this matter. I asked Mr. Medbury for a conference. I offered £10 a week on behalf of Mr. Malafant, with his authority. I was told that that offer could not even be discussed or thought of. The division wants the £90. It wants this man to bring his furniture back from Sydney at his own expense. It also wants an adjustment in regard to rates owing to the council. That is the type of thing that lies behind this story. In brief, it is a shocking indictment. Because the Minister has failed to grant me an interview on this matter, I believe I am justified in raising this matter here to-night.
– Order! The honorable member’s extended time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I can only say that I am astonished at what the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) has had to say. I, who represent in this House the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) in his capacity as Minister responsible for the administration of the War Service Homes Division, am available to the honorable member for Cunningham at any time. I have seen the honorable member from day to day. If he had come to me and told me, even in part, what he has told honorable members this evening, I am quite satisfied that I could have obtained some sort of satisfactory explanation which would have avoided this shameful attack on what he describes as the bureaucracy of the War Service Homes Division.
Mr. Speaker, I know the Director of the War Service Homes Division and I know most of the officers and members of the staff of the division. I have the utmost confidence in them all. It is unseemly for an honorable member to come into this place and attack officers of any department who, in the normal discharge of their duties, have unpleasant and distasteful tasks to perform. The honorable member for Cunningham could have presented his case to the Minister for National Development. He may have done that. I have no doubt that the Minister would have investigated the case in all its aspects. I am tolerably certain that there is a complete explanation for this situation. The development of a situation such as that which has been outlined by the honorable member for Cunningham would not give any Minister, regardless of his political party, any degree of satisfaction. It could not give any bureaucrat - as the honorable member for Cunningham described the people who do the unspectacular jobs associated with all government departments - any satisfaction to carry out these tasks.
The fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that the War Service Homes Division is carrying out its operations with consummate skill. It is spending about £35,000,000 per annum. It is building homes where no homes have ever been built before. It is giving complete and absolute satisfaction to thousands of applicants who, but for the division, would have extreme difficulty in getting hornet under any other aegis. I assure the honorable member for Cunningham that I will interest myself in this case. I will discuss it with the Minister for National Development. I am quite sure that there is a complete explanation of the Minister’s action. After all, he has to accept all the responsibility in cases of this kind. I am quite sure that he will accept the responsibility in this case. But, at the same time, I must completely exonerate every officer of the War Service Homes Division.
.- I could say a lot about the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) and his administration of the War Service Homes Division, but I will leave that until a future occasion. In respect of the protestations of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) that a situation such as that which the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) has outlined to-night could not occur, I say to the Minister that twelve months ago I proved without any shadow of doubt that a specification issued by the War Service Homes Division and a specification shown on a plan differed substantially, but no remedy or redress has been offered to the purchaser of that war service home, which went down 3i inches into the soil. I proved conclusively that the architect of the War Service Homes Division, in making a diagnosis of the foundation stump that was extracted from under the building, was utterly wrong. I proved that beyond any shadow of doubt in the mind of any intelligent man.
– You brought the stump in here.
– Yes. No redress has been offered to that purchaser. The whole matter is still the subject of argument between him and the Minister for National Development. We will deal with that matter on some future occasion. It is not over yet by a long shot.
The protestations of the Minister for Social Services and his defence of his colleague in the Senate are not worth anything. I say that with feeling and with knowledge. They are a lot of humbug. One can prove the officers of the War Service Homes Division to be incorrect without any shadow of doubt, but one gets no redress. The Minister for National Development relies absolutely on the advice of his technical officers. In my opinion, he is not even prepared to bring ordinary reasonable laymen in to work on the case. When a case is proved conclusively, what does he do? What did the Minister for Social Services, who represents him in this House on war service homes matters, do about this matter to-night? He backed his colleague all the way. The Minister for National Development suggests that the ex-serviceman go to arbitration and that the arbitrator be an architect who will deliberate and adjudge on the soundness or otherwise of the work of another architect in the Public Service department to whom on some future occasion he may be beholden. 1 have never heard such nonsense. The whole thing is wrong and damned near corrupt. More will be said about it in the proper place at some later time. That fight is not over yet by a long shot.
I had no intention of saying anything about that matter to-night, but, when the Minister for Social Services springs to the defence of his colleague in the Senate and certain officers of the War Service Homes Division, that is just too much for me. What would anybody say to a Minister who has it proved to him beyond any shadow of doubt that on the one hand a written specification prescribes that the foundations shall be 2 ft. 6 in. deep and on the other hand the plans accompanying the specification show that they shall be 2 feet deep? Which is the builder going to follow? He followed the plans and made the foundations 2 feet deep. When the house sinks, the Minister suggests that the matter should go to arbitration. When we prove conclusively that an excuse advanced by the architect of the division is wrong in every detail, the Minister still sticks to his architect and tells the ex-serviceman that he can go to arbitration - arbitration by a man in the same profession as the architect in the War Service Homes Division. Is there any justice in that? There was no suggestion that the arbitration should be presided over by a magistrate, a barrister or by some one able to adjudge evidence. This case was brought to the notice of the Minister’s colleague in the Senate. I have asked him twice to visit the home, but there has been no response to my invitations. The Minister for National Development can go to Weipa, he can go to Dubbo, he can go all over the place looking at oil exploration work; but when you ask him to look at a soldier’s home built by the division which he administers - a home which fell to pieces and sunk on its foundations - there is no response. He is as hard as nails and, I sometimes think, utterly stupid. There is no doubt whatever that he is arrogant.
Only recently I sought verbally an interview with him. To make sure that he would not evade it, I immediately went to my room and wrote a memo reminding him of his promise to give me an interview. No interview! I made my request to him before last Christmas. Am I to crawl on my belly to the Minister who administers the War Service Homes Division? Not on your life! If I had the money, I would take him tomorrow into the highest court of this land. He has no more idea of commercial morals than has the man in the moon. He is hard-hearted, ruthless and indifferent to the needs of the little man. He can kid to provide subsidies and bounties for the oil corporations; he can fly to Dubbo-
– In an Air Force plane.
– He can fly to Dubbo in an Air Force plane to attend a Liberal Party meeting, he can go to the opening of the great Weipa project, but he cannot pay a visit, at my invitation twice issued, to this soldier’s home. As I said in my invitation, seeing is believing. He said that the division would make a loan to this man and specifications were drawn up. Do you know what the specifications provided, Mr. Minister? They provided that the foundations were to be 4 feet deep, but in one section the original specifications provided for the foundations to be 2 ft. 6 in. deep and in another section 2 feet deep. If foundations 4 feet deep are needed now, they were needed when the house was being built.
The Minister has said that there is a fault in the soil. According to the Minister’s own letters, the division took two samples of the soil when the house was being built. The Minister has said it was discovered later that there were peculiarities in the soil in that district. Did not the division fail completely to discover the peculiarities in the soil? Was not the division required to ascertain what, if any, were the soil peculiarities of the district? The Minister for National Development is a humbug. He is a near crook. So is his representative in this chamber. I can produce for any honorable member on the Government side the file containing all the details of this case. Honorable members opposite may laugh but this matter is not yet ended by a long way. Make no mistake about that. What the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) said to-night is all too true. The Minister in the Senate is interested only in big business. The house about which I am concerned comprises only nine squares. It is a mere box of featherweight construction, yet within four years the foundations have sunk 3i inches. When this matter was mentioned to the Minister he told the soldier that the division would lend him the money to have the house fixed. But this will cost £770, and the specifications which the division so kindly provided lay down that the foundations shall be 4 ft. deep. I do not blame the architect in the War Service Homes Division so much, but I condemn utterly the Minister who does not even keep his promise to interview a member of this Parliament, notwithstanding that the member - myself - wrote him a memo after verbally being told in the dining-room that the interview would be granted.
On the first occasion that I saw the Minister I felt I was almost put under an obligation by being allowed to see him. I have been a Minister in two Parliaments and my door was always open to a member of Parliament or to any one else. If the Minister for National Development thinks that I shall crawl to him to put the case of a constituent, he has a lot more thinking to do. A lot of water will flow under the bridge before this soldier is ousted from his home or before he pays £770, in the form of an additional loan, to have his house put into the condition in which it should have remained after it was built. Think that out, Mr. Minister. You are no better than he is. Both of you are pretty fair reflections of the Government which you support, with a few exceptions. There are some men who are decent. There are some men who do not seek legal excuses but who recognize their moral responsibilities when those responsibilities are placed before them. That man up there - I refer to the Senate - knows that legally the soldier has no case. [Extension of time granted.]
I thank the House for its indulgence. In my last letter to the Minister for National Development I stated that, whatever the legal position may be in regard to the house in question, whether there was a structural fault or the condition of the soil was responsible - the division maintains that the trouble lies in the condition of the soil - the house which was built and which failed to remain standing should be repaired without cost to the occupier. If what happened to this man had happened to the Minister or to me, we both would have considered that we had been defrauded. It is a well known practice among decent commercial firms in this country, engineering firms in particular, that, long after a guarantee runs out, if a fault develops in plant or equipment that they have supplied they do the decent thing without equivocation and accept liability, notwithstanding that the cost sometimes runs into thousands of pounds. The same thing should be done in this case.
It appears that the Minister, who rejected this appeal, has no feeling and no conception of the obligations which a Minister administering a department bears, not only in relation to the law of the land but also in relation to the letter and the spirit of the law and the observance of moral laws which any decent commercial firm would and does observe. I leave it at that. More will be heard of this case anon; make no mistake about that. When a Minister in this Parliament refuses or ignores an invitation twice extended to visit a home and inspect it for himself, I have had him. But I have not yet finished with thi- Minister.
.- Mr. Speaker, this afternoon I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) a question about flooding on the north coast of New South Wales. I want briefly to describe the situation there this evening, because, unfortunately, another cyclone has developed off the coast and torrential rain is falling and flooding is causing further damage and hardship to the people of the area. Last week-end, I visited the north coast. At this Stage, Mr. Speaker, I should like to express my sympathy to all those people who have suffered in these floods and to commend so many people in the area for the magnificent work that they have done. During my visit the other day, I noted a great deal that had been done by very many people within the area affected and by many others outside the immediate area who, in response to appeals, had sent money, clothing and furniture to relieve the distress of those who had suffered. I believe, that out of this disaster there comes, in a sense, one advantage, because the relief work that is done gives one a fuller appreciation of the high qualities of the human character and of the unselfish assistance that is given to people who suffer.
When I visited the north coast last weekend, 1 saw the local people beginning to clean up some of the debris that had been left in the wake of the floods. Unfortunately, soon afterwards, the residents were upset again by further flooding. As I have said, I pay tribute to all those who have done sterling work - local government officials, members of the civil defence organization and all those individuals in the area who have helped to relieve distress in this time of disaster on the north coast. I shall mention no names, Sir, because so many people deserve commendation.
The present flooding is out of the ordinary. Never have we in this area experienced flood rains so severe as those that have fallen over the last few weeks. I know that the Commonwealth Government accepts its responsibility to give assistance in this calamity, and I fully appreciate the Commonwealth’s approach in making available to the State a special grant for flood relief immediately the State applies for funds. I pay tribute to the State authorities who have been working in the area assessing the flood damage and relieving distress. I know that they have taken action to provide funds for relief without delay.
I wish to say two things particularly this evening, Sir. First, the people of the north coast are suffering more on this occasion than they do usually during floods in that area. Secondly, the damage will take longer to assess on this occasion because rain has fallen continually over an extended period and there has been a resurgence of the floods for a second time within ten days. The problem with which we are faced is two-fold. - First, there is the problem of assessing the damage. Secondly, there is the problem of the loss of production. After flooding in the past, producers have been back in production within weeks in some instances. Because of the time of the year at which the flooding has occurred on this occasion, many producers will not be able to get back into production for months. This will adversely affect not only the industries immediately concerned but the entire population of the area. I ask that these factors be considered by both Commonwealth and State governments when the damage is being assessed. Finally, Sir, I again pay tribute to all those in my electorate and elsewhere for the work that they have done and for the assistance that they have given to those who have suffered.
.- Mr. Speaker, 1 wish to bring to the attention of the House this evening events that I understand are occurring in the conduct of the airlines in this country. Since the inception of commercial airlines in Australia, our safety standards have been recognizably high - probably higher than standards in any other country. Inquiries and investigations that I have made give me no reason to believe that these standards are not still high. They are indeed still high. But inquiries and investigations that I have made as a result of approaches to me by men who are concerned intimately with the flying and the servicing of aircraft have produced evidence that for two or three years there has been a downward pressure on safety standards in this country, and there is concern that if this downward pressure continues some danger points may be reached before long.
I want to give the House this evening some examples of the way in which this downward pressure on safety standards has already been exercised and may continue in future. I shall cite a number of illustrations and I hope that the Government will take careful note of each of them and, if I have not stated the situation accurately, will say so. I trust that the Government will be able to explain why these events are occurring, and that if they involve any unsatisfactory reduction of safety standards the responsible Minister will make sure that they do not continue.
The illustrations that I am about to give could be multiplied. First, I understand that in this country it has been and still is mandatory to have serviceable on all aircraft two hydraulic systems for braking the aircraft after landing. I believe that in recent times it has been the practice to require an aircraft to take off on operations even when only one hydraulic system is serviceable. That is the first point. The second point may not appear to be so significant. On Viscount aircraft, the cockpit windows are made of three layers of material, and sometimes what is known as delamination of these windows occurs when bubbles of air get into the space between the layers of sandwich material and spread through that space. It had been the practice until recent times to replace any window in which delamination had been discovered. Then it was decided that when no more than five square inches of delamination existed the window would not be replaced and the aircraft would continue to operate. Recently, this limit has been raised to six square inches.
The third point is that it is stated that there has been a tendency to speed up the work of pilots, who feel that they are required to do a little more than they are capable of doing. I think that perhaps the fourth point is more significant than any of the three that I have mentioned already. This, also, relates to Viscount aircraft. I understand that ever since aircraft of this type were introduced to this country it has been understood that every Viscount fuselage would be re-skinned, as the term is, after 20,000 hours of flying. Recently, I understand, it has been decided that Viscount fuselages will not be re-skinned at these intervals, but that certain replacements will be made around the doors and the cut-off section. There will be no complete re-skinning such as I understand has been undertaken periodically throughout the life of Viscount aircraft in this country until recently. Three or four of these aircraft are now approaching 20,000 hours of flying time without re-skinning of the fuselages. Is the situation as I have stated it? If so, what is the explanation for it?
Lastly, I come to the system under which aircraft have been made available on lease by one company to another. Under this arrangement, leased aircraft draw their spares from the stores of the company from which the aircraft was leased. I understand that this has the effect of one company drawing excessively upon the stores of the other for any spares that it requires. This is done not only by one of the major operators but probably by both. The drawing by one airline operator on the stores of another often results in a shortage of parts and in some resistance being offered by the company whose spares are being drawn upon at what it regards as being an excessive rate.
As I said at the beginning, the standard of operation of Australian airlines has always been very high and probably still is high, but it is falling because of the quite relentless pressure that comes from the finance sections of the two major concerns because of the more intense application of the profit motive, or for some other reason. I have not endeavoured to say that a danger point has yet been reached but, as I have said, this relentless downward pressure upon aircraft safety standards is causing some concern in the industry.
I now wish to refer to a matter that is not very significant - the misrepresentation that was indulged in yesterday by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) when replying to a question that I asked him. It was the usual form of misrepresentation that the right honorable gentleman practices. He creates a case for the Opposition to suit himself and then gives great satisfaction to his supporters by demolishing that case. It is a technique for which he is notable. When answering the question that I addressed to him yesterday, the Prime Minister said that I and other honorable members on this side of the House had suggested that the actual control of fire of missiles from nuclear missile submarines will be determined by the radio station that is to be established in Western Australia - in other words, that it will fix the navigational point, choose the direction and directly control the fire.
I am not at all concerned about the Prime Minister’s misrepresentation, because I have long since lost respect for him in this connexion; but merely to put the record right I wish to state that at no time have I said that the radio station will fix the navigational point, choose the direction and directly control the fire. What I have said from the beginning is that the signal to order the firing of Polaris missiles from submarines will be given by the President of the United States of America, and by him alone, and that that signal will be transferred to the submarines through this radio station. In other words, it will be a vital part of the mechanism-
– What is wrong with that?
– What is wrong with it is that you, the Prime Minister and everybody else on that side of the House have done your best completely to ignore this situation. The fact that that view is shared by others is illustrated by an article by Denis Warner, one of the leading Australian newspaper writers, in which he said that the Prime Minister had been guilty of deception over this radio base. The relevant press report reads -
The Australian Government deceived the public over the U.S. radio base al Learmouth, Western Australia, according to the American magazine “ Reporter “.
The Prime Minister has deceived the people. He said, first of all, that this installation would merely be a station that would send messages to naval vessels and he never mentioned submarines. When we pressed him he mentioned submarines. We pressed him still further and he admitted only yesterday for the first time that the station will send out the actual signals to fire. Of course the Prime Minister has tried to deceive the people about this matter. It is part of his usual practice of studied misrepresentation.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) will lose much sleep over some critical remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). A great number of people in Australia have a very high respect for the Prime Minister. Apparently many people in other parts of the world have a high respect for him, too, because they are trying to get into this country of which he has been Prime Minister for nearly fourteen years.
– Why are you crawling?
– And some people, not including the honorable member who is now blurbing, on the other side of the House, have a respect for the Prime Minister, too. It is most gratifying to honorable members on this side of the House that British migrants have been flowing into Australia at the rate of 400,000 a year. That is what they think of the land of Australia, which is led by Mr. Menzies.
– This is more misrepresentation.
– The figures were 36,000 for January and 34,000 for February. That works out at the rate of 400,000 a year. In relation, to such serious matters as aircraft safety, surely it is the duty of a member of the Parliament to make representations to the Minister concerned and to ascertain the facts. That is a basic responsibility.
I now wish to refer to this serious case of eviction which occurred at Barrack Point in my electorate and which the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Kearney) has raised. If I understand the remarks of the honorable member correctly, he knew about this matter last Thursday. On Friday the honorable member had the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) with him in his electorate and in my electorate. He could have brought this matter up with the Minister, who was visiting the area in relation to another housing matter.
– Why did you not bring it up? What were you doing about it? It occurred in your electorate. You did nothing.
– I shall answer that interjection in a moment. The union concerned could have done something about the matter even if the honorable member for Cunningham did not know about it.
– You did not know about it.
– Of course, I did not know. Without bringing party politics into the matter, let us see what happened. It is well known that the strength of a community is dependent upon the health of its citizen organizations. In this case there was a serious breakdown. The man concerned worked in the electorate of Cunningham. He had to belong to a union; otherwise he would not have got a job. What did the fade union in question do about the matter? If it had brought the matter to me or to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), something could have been done about it. Whom are we really criticizing?
– The Minister.
– The Minister did not know anything about it, because neither the honorable member for Cunningham nor I knew anything about it. It looks almost as though this case has been built up to set a trap for somebody. Everybody here knows that the War Service Homes Division is probably the best instrumentality we have. People who get loans from the division are the most satisfied customers we have. Every honorable member knows that when a man gets a loan from the War Service Homes Division and is not obliged to get too much finance elsewhere he is a very happy homeowner, and has to pay only £10 lis. a month, or approximately £120 a year, to the division. Those who work in the War Service Homes Division do a magnificent job for ex-servicemen. Honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is now interjecting, know that these people do a good job.
Who is the Deputy Director of the War Service Homes Division in Sydney? He is an ex-union leader; he was president of his union. He is also an ex-member of the Labour Party executive in New South Wales. He is one man who is being criticized. Let us see who are some of the other people who are being criticized. I take it that this matter had to go before a court, because you cannot get a man out of a house unless you get an eviction order from a court. Who is in the legal branch? None other than Peter Evatt, the son of h: 1 former Chief Justice of New South Wales and the former leader of the Australian Labour Party.
Now let us look at what has happened. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) did not know anything about this case. Who is the Minister for National Development? He is a man who won the Military Medal. Where? At Gallipoli! He has a good war record and, further, he is a most kindly and generous person.
– All right. What have Opposition members done? They have attacked a former member of their own executive, who is now the Deputy Director of War Service Homes. He is a friend of mine and I will defend him in this House. Opposition members should defend him, because he is an extremely good officer and was the president of one of the Public Service clerical unions. He was a union leader and also a member of the Labour Party executive in New South Wales. But he probably did not know what was happening in this case. He would have known if he had been told by this man’s trade union or by the honorable member for Cunningham or the honorable member for Macarthur. The honorable member for Cunningham says he did not know this was happening. He told me a moment ago that he knew only when it was too late to do anything.
– I knew about it.
– If he did know about it, why did he not do something? What about his responsibilities to the trade unions and to the people who work in his electorate? Why did he not do something? I did not know about this matter, because I was not told. I knew about it only when the honorable member spoke in this House. As I said, the honorable member for Cunningham went down into his electorate and into my electorate. With whom? With the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who is a Federal Minister of the Crown and a member of this Government. I met the Minister on his way back from Wollongong in the Trans-Australia Airlines terminal. I do not think he knew about it and I do not think the honorable member for Cunningham told him about it. The honorable member has said that this had nothing to do with the Minister. This matter was serious enough for me to get in touch with the Prime Minister. If the honorable member for Cunningham thought he should do something about it, he should have told the Minister for the Interior.
Every member of the Parliament knows that when a man is to be evicted from a war service home, the member does not rest until he has done something about it. In this case, there has been a breakdown in the procedure. There was no need for the honorable member for Lalor to get up with all his bombastic nonsense and threats. He does a disservice to the Parliament, and there is no need for that at all. This is a simple case in which a man should have been protected, but he was let down by every one. He was let down by his union, by the honorable member for the electorate in which he works and by me, because I did not know about it. No one told me about it. If I had known, I would have seen an officer of the court or asked somebody to hold up the proceedings. All of us do this sort of thing from day to day when some administrative procedure goes through and cannot be stopped unless some one takes action. In these circumstances, a member of the Parliament has to come into the case. Perhaps this is a pity, but in this country which is growing so fast the practice of members of the Parliament intervening has grown up very swiftly.
The Australian Labour Party is showing its own neglect when something like this is allowed to happen. This sort of thing should not be allowed to happen. There has been a breakdown in the procedure. That is not the fault of the Minister for National Development or the Director of War Service Homes. It is not the fault of the officers who are carrying out a system. An examination would show that during the term of the Labour Government cases like this arose, unless a member of the Parliament did something about them.
.- The matter that I wish to raise stems from an application that was made by the general secretary of the Australian Workers Union, Mr. Tom Dougherty, on 20th March of this year when seeking an award to cover employees engaged in the Australian aluminium industry. In putting his case, Mr. Dougherty disclosed that by agreement the Government had guaranteed that two aluminium combines, Comalco Industries Proprietary Limited and Alcoa of Australia Proprietary Limited, would receive £271 a ton for the home-produced metal. This was £46 in excess of the world market price. Mr. Dougherty urged the court to make a complete examination to ascertain whether the amount of £46 above the world price was warranted, because it would mean that when Australian production was in full swing, the Australian consumers of the metal would pay £4,000,000 a year over the world market price. On the very next day, 21st March, Alcoa made a statement in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ to the effect that it intended to drop the price of aluminium by £20 a ton. On the same day, the afternoon newspapers announced a similar reduction in price.
I think most honorable members will recall that in 1960 the Government sold its share in the Bell Bay plant to the Comalco combine. Comalco has a twothirds interest; the other third is owned by the Tasmanian Government. Production in 1960 was 12,000 tons a year. By 1962, it had increased by 25 per cent, to 15,000 tons a year, not because of increased staff but because of the technical know-how of the American experts who were engaged at the plant.
– And more furnaces.
– An increased number of furnaces and so on. Alcoa commenced operations a couple of weeks ago at Point Henry in Victoria. This will mean that it will bc able to produce all the aluminium needed by the home market in the space of two or three years. It is quite evident that aluminium is becoming one of the most popular metals in the world. It has ousted even copper as the most popular nonferrous metal. It is expected that in another ten years we in Australia will require twice as much aluminium as we do at present. We are now using 50,000 tons and consumption is expected to reach 100,000 tons.
I need emphasize only one or two points about what happened after Mr. Dougherty appealed to the judge to hold an inquiry. As I said before, the two combines announced a voluntary reduction of £20 a ton. This can mean only one of two things. Either the reduction was a strange but true coincidence - a million to one chance - or it was a deliberate cover-up by the two combines to evade any inquiry that may have caused embarrassment or may have disclosed a conspiracy between the combines and the Government when setting the price at £46 a ton over the world price. When the Government under the aluminium agreement of 1960 set the price at £271 a ton, it was only £37 10s. above the world price. The Government refused to accept a recommendation by the Tariff Board that the guaranteed Australian price should fluctuate according to movements in the world market price. Since 1960, the world market price has dropped by £8 10s. This means that the Australian price is £46 above the world price. Mr. Dougherty’s disclosure has resulted in a saving to the Australian consumers of aluminium of £2,000,000 a year. This saving would not have been effected if he had not asked an arbitration tribunal to inquire into whether the combines were receiving an exorbitant price.
On numerous occasions in this House we hear Government supporters, particularly those of the Australian Country Party, complaining about the high costs of production. We see the Government intervening in hearings by the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission of claims for an increased basic wage, increased margins and so on. But what action does it take to inquire into excess profit-taking? Absolutely none. Yet Government supporters are the people who talk about the high cost of production. The existence of these great combines and monopolies in Australia provides half the reason for the increased cost of production to-day. This has been encouraged and condoned by the Government. I fully support the establishment of any industry in Australia for the purpose of putting our work force in employment, but we should not sit idly by and see these combines exploiting the Australian consumers if it is possible to reduce the price much below what they are charging, which is £26 a ton over the world market price. Surely there should be an inquiry as to whether this price is now warranted. Perhaps if there were an inquiry it would be ascertained that the price could be lowered considerably. Why should the Australian consumer of aluminium have to pay this exorbitant price?
It is quite evident that it is because aluminium is now becoming one of the world’s most popular metals that the combines from overseas are starting to be interested in it. They know that aluminium has a great future, particularly in Australia, and they are here to exploit the Australian consumers. Unless the Government holds an inquiry into this matter it is actually condoning exploitation of the Australian consumers of this metal.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) 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.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honor- able member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is any estimate available of the cost to an applicant company for a television licence of presenting its case to the Australian broadcasting Control Board; if so, what is the amount?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
No, Such information would be available only to the companies concerned.
n 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 -
If not, will he consider setting up such an authority to gather data of a scientific and technological nature for the purpose of determining -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
Water Resources Council. This is a joint Commonwealth/State body, the prime function of which will be to provide a comprehensive assessment on a continuing basis of Australia’s water resources and the extension of measurement and research so that future planning can be carried out on a sound and scientific basis. The council’s activities will embrace the north where comparatively little is known of the full extent of its water resources. The functions envisaged in points (c) and (d) of question 2 would overlap those already being carried out efficiently by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the Department ot Primary Industry and the Department of Territories. More than twenty branches of the C.S.I.R.O. are concerned with work on problems associated with Northern Australia. The work of the Bureau of Mineral Resources in relation to oil search and the development of mineral fields in the north is widely known. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has carried out important surveys and investigations in the North. The Department of Territories has been no less active in respect of the Northern Territory.
g 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 for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Defence has supplied the following information: -
Pursuant to section 16 (2.) of the Services Trust Funds Act-
From War Office, London - Profits from canteens sales on troopships.
From royalties on sale of Song “ Any Bonds To-day”.
From donations of moneys held for “Gull Force”.
From other donations.
From transfers under War Service Estates Act.
From Department of External AffairsP.O.W. Fund, Mukden, 1945.
Pursuant to section 17 of the act -
From Army Central Canteens Control Board.
From R.A.A.F. Canteens Services Board.
Pursuant to section 18a of the act -
From R.A.N. Central Canteens Fund.
From A.M.F. Special Amenities Fund.
From A.M.F. Special Benefits Fund.
Pursuant to section 18 (a) of the act -
From B.C.O.F. Canteens Profits.
Pursuant to section 19 of the act -
From mess funds of disbanded war-time units.
Pursuant to section 20 of the act -
From regimental funds of disbanded war time units.
Pursuant to section 21 of the act -
From R.A.N. Relief Fund.
From R.A.A.F. Welfare Fund.
son asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Defence has supplied the following information: -
r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1. (a) Exports = £65,956,000 f.o.b.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 8 May 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630508_reps_24_hor38/>.