24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. DEVINE presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
– Has the Prime Minister yet made a decision regarding the request for financial assistance for Victorian Murray valley vine fruit-growers to enable this year’s crop to be harvested? If a favorable decision has been made, when can the assistance be expected?
– The matter referred to by the honorable member is at present awaiting attention by the Cabinet. I expect it to be discussed the next time we meet. As soon as I know the result of that discussion I will be able to announce it.
– In the absence of the Treasurer I direct my question to the Prime Minister, as Leader of the Government. Has his attention been directed to a report in to-day’s Melbourne “ Sun “ announcing a substantial reduction of supplementary assistance to civilian widows, particularly those with children, as a consequence of the pension increases provided in the last Commonwealth Budget? How can the Prime Minister reconcile this action with the Commonwealth Government’s grant of increased financial assistance to the States over recent years?
– I am indebted to the honorable member for directing my attention to this matter. I will have it at once looked into.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. Is it a fact that he has agreed now to receive representations on behalf of Mr. Harold Orr, and has given an assurance that no further action will be taken until those representations have been fully considered? Can he also give an assurance that these representations may be made and received in circumstances which will give Mr. Orr a fair chance of being heard and having his case properly considered? Finally, did the Minister not make statements yesterday which excluded Mr. Orr’s religious views and private morality as matters influencing the decision to refuse to allow him to remain in Australia, but which left the implication that his political views and activities were relevant to his rejection as a permanent resident? In view of the fact that political views and activities include thoroughly objectionable totalitarian kinds, and that many people will assume that these were the kinds referred to when the Minister used the phrase in connexion with Mr. Orr, will he now say what Mr. Orr’s political views and activities really are?
– The honorable gentleman, for whose intelligence in other respects, if I may say so, I have quite a high regard, is really extraordinarily ingenuous in taking the position that he does. I do not think I need traverse what I said in the House yesterday in answer to three questions. In answer to the question asked by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I tried to set out all the salient factors of the situation, and quite fully. However, I think I ought to tell the House of one other factor. I do not think the honorable member for Yarra should mind my doing so, because it throws some light on his attitude. He and I have a lot of correspondence about immigration cases and I try, I repeat, to treat him with respect, as is his due as a member of this House. On 25th September I told him what the general basic objection was to Mr. Orr remaining here after the expiration of his temporary entry permit. Having done that, I must say I find it very curious indeed that the honorable gentleman should persist in his representations and moreover should do something which I myself think - I am sure those who sit on my side of the House agree with me - is strange for a prominent member of this Parliament to do. If the press reports are true, he tried to induce Mr. and Mrs. Orr to break the law of this country, a law which was passed by this Parliament nearly five and one-half years ago, and passed unanimously.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it true that the Victorian Government has planned to construct a railway to the Tullamarine airport in Melbourne, with a station at the airport, and that it has submitted plans to the Minister for Civil Aviation and is awaiting his advice before proceeding with the construction of the railway? If this is so, can we know when a final decision will be made, so that the Victorian Government will be aware of the position?
– I have taken careful note of the question put by the honorable member. I will convey it to the Minister in another place and see that the honorable member receives the earliest possible answer.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether he has received representations concerning a replacement for the cargo ship “ Merino “, which has now been off the Launceston to Sydney run for approximately three weeks. If the Minister has received inquiries on this matter, will he say whether consideration has been given to a replacement vessel to lift timber and other accumulated cargo from the port of Launceston?
– Yes, I recollect having received representations. The department has been asked to investigate the shipping service between Launceston and the mainland. I would like to emphasize once again that if it is possible to trade profitably, no opportunity is lost to provide reasonable shipping services between the ports the honorable member has mentioned. I assure him that the position is being given the utmost consideration. I will let him know the outcome of this consideration as soon as possible.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for Immigration. In view of the recent action of the Indonesian Government in confiscating British industries in Indonesia, will the Minister make it clear that those industrialists whose industries have been confiscated, and their wives and families, will be very welcome in Australia? Will he also make clear that they will be very welcome to bring with them the industries that they have so successfully managed in Indonesia?
– I suppose it can be said that ever since the inception of the immigration programme British immigration has been the foundation of Australia’s immigration policy. What my honorable friend has adverted to, arising out of the troubles in Indonesia, may well be an example of good coming out of evil. If, in fact, British industry in Indonesia is going to be confiscated and if there is some chance of that capital moving here, I need hardly say that it would be very welcome. Of course, British residents of Indonesia who desired to come to Australia, so long as they fulfilled the ordinary qualifications of migrants, would be welcomed very warmly, too.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. Are total and permanent incapacity pensions subject to a means test? Is the Minister aware that the recent increase granted to certain T.P.I, pensioners has been cancelled out by the Repatriation Department reducing the wife’s allowance by an amount equal to such increase? Will the Minister consider lifting the ceiling on those pensions to enable the pensioners to receive the benefit of the increase granted recently?
– No means test applies to war pensions. The system of paying double pensions was introduced by this Government only a few years ago. Under this system a T.P.I, war pensioner and his wife are able to receive an additional part pension, whether it be from the Repatriation Department or the Department of Social Services, provided that’ the total amount does not exceed the ceiling of £17 10s. a week. That ceiling still applies. When the T.P.I, war pension rate was increased by 10s. a week recently, as announced in the Budget, the ceiling was not affected. Of the total number of approximately 25,000 people in receipt of T.P.I, war pensions, about 18,700 - very close to 19,000 - will receive the full increase of 10s. a week. The remainder who are in receipt of some pension in addition to the T.P.I, war pension, either from the Repatriation Department or the Department of Social Services, will receive only part of that additional payment or no increase at all. The majority of T.P.I, war pensioners will receive the full increase. A relatively small proportion of them will be affected in the way mentioned by the honorable member.
– Will the Acting Attorney-General carry out his responsibility for enforcing Commonwealth laws in relation to the honorable member for Yarra who apparently has connived at or incited a breach of the Migration Act in connexion with this second Orr case?
– I have no information other than newspaper reports on which to take any action against the honorable member for Yarra.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that in August last the Treasurer announced the compulsory restriction of the transfer of funds from Australia for investment overseas? Do such restrictions prevent Australian participation in the ownership of Australian industries owned overseas, such has General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited and the Ford Motor Company of Australia Proprietary Limited? Also, is the right honorable gentleman aware that the Treasurer, during his present stay in the United States, has complained about the current United States move to check the flow of some American capital to Australia? Will the right honorable gentleman explain the difference between the Australian action and the American action and the differences, if any, in the results of such actions?
– The first part of the honorable member’s question involves a number of technical considerations. I would ask for an opportunity to get a precise answer on those matters, stating what was done and the reasons for it, so that the honorable member may have the advantage of a complete statement. As to the second part of his question, the honorable member will be aware that there has been promoted in the United States a law which is calculated to impose some disability, in terms of interest rate, on the borrowing of money by overseas people as compared with the United States people - in other words, by countries such as Australia. I know that my colleague has discussed this matter not only with the International Bank but also other authorities. I think I am right in saying that he has discussed the matter also with the President of the United States. I do not yet know the outcome of those discussions, but when my colleague returns, as he will before very long, no doubt he will be able to give us the latest information on the matter.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that there is in Victoria a consistent advocacy, principally by officers of the Country Roads Board, for the imposition of an additional excise duty on petrol of at least 3d. a gallon, the amount so collected to be returned in full to the State for road building and maintenance? Could such a proposal be implemented in a practical manner? Even so, in view of the many classes of taxes being paid by motorists, will the Minister reject the proposition?
– I am aware of the interest that the honorable member takes in roads. I have noted the particular suggestion for raising additional revenue for roads, to which he has referred. I remind him that as the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act will lapse this year this matter of finance for roads is now being considered. I cannot state unequivocally now that I shall reject the proposition he has mentioned if it is made to me. This matter, no doubt, will be raised with other matters when we consider the Commonwealth aid roads legislation to be introduced next year. * ‘ r.
– My question to the Minister for Repatriation relates to the regulations governing the treatment of service pensioners in repatriation hospitals. Has the Minister arranged for additional staff to be appointed in order to handle the largely increased patient turnover? Is it a fact that in the specialist categories, such as X-ray, pathology and other clinical services, there are not enough doctors on the staffs of repatriation hospitals to meet the increased demands? Also, is it a fact that due to the Government’s failure to apply to the Repatriation Department the marginal increases recently paid to all other sections of the Commonwealth Public Service the department is unable to recruit the number of doctors needed to provide essential medical and surgical services in repatriation hospitals?
– There is no shortage of medical staff in the Repatriation Department. The department employs a considerable number of doctors and, in addition, engages the services of outside specialists. Also, as the honorable member knows, there are about 5,200 local repatriation medical officers throughout Australia. The remuneration of repatriation staff is governed by awards. These are the subject of constant consultation between senior officers of my department and the appropriate committees under the control of the Public Service Board. I have not received any complaints regarding the remuneration of particular sections of our medical staff. If there are complaints, I shall certainly hear of them and they will be investigated.
I can assure the House that there is sufficient medical and nursing staff in all repatriation general hospitals and ancillary institutions throughout Australia to cater for our immediate requirements. With the very rapid expansion that is now taking place there will be a continuing necessity to increase the staffs in both those fields.
– Has the Postmaster-General been kept informed of the methods by which frequency modulation broadcasting services are being increased in the United Kingdom and other countries? Is it intended to re-introduce frequency modulation broadcasting iri’ Australia?
– I know of the interest of the honorable member for Robertson and many other honorable members in frequency modulation broadcasting in Australia, and I have addressed myself to this question on several occasions in the House during the past two or three years. I have nothing to add to what I have said previously, except to say ‘that it is not planned to re-introduce frequency modulation broadcasting here at present.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Did the Government reject a request from the Queensland and Western Australian governments in 1959-60 for the establishment of a northern development authority? Have Queensland and Western Australia now renewed their request? If so, has it been considered by the Government?
– I cannot speak by the book as to some earlier date, but in the last few months I have read more than once in the press that a joint approach will be made by Queensland and Western Australia. So far that has not happened. All I know about this matter is what I have read in the press.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Has our export drive been as successful, generally speaking, as the Government hoped? Has the recent period of peace and quietness on the Australian waterfront been a material factor in the improvement of our trade position and of assistance in the development of new overseas markets?
– There has been a very substantial increase in the total value of Australian exports and in the diversification of exports. I think I have stated previously that, excluding steel and oil exports, which fluctuate for peculiar reasons, the value of manufactured exports increased in the last year by 23 per cent. This is a phenomenal increase. There is great activity in pursuing export opportunities overseas. When industrial trouble arising from any cause occurs in Australia, particularly on the waterfront, there is an interruption of our trading, there is some reduction of our reputation as a country capable of giving prompt delivery and, of course, there is an addition to costs. Peace on the waterfront is very conducive to the betterment of Australia’s export trading opportunities.
– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by referring to a question that I asked him on 12th September, in which I inquired whether the ratio of Commonwealth scholarships granted to candidates for matriculation had decreased in the last five years from 12.8 per cent, to 10 per cent. On 26th September the right, honorable gentleman advised me that those percentages were correct. I ask whether he will now answer my question, which is: Will he increase the number of scholarships so as at least to restore the ratio that existed five years ago?
– We have had under consideration in the last week the most recent report of the Australian Universities Commission including, of course, reference to the scholarship board and the provision of Commonwealth scholarships. As a result of Cabinet’s discussion I expect, before very long now, to be able to produce the report to the House, to announce what we propose to do about it, and, if possible, to introduce the related legislation. I will not anticipate what appears in the report but I think the honorable member will find that it deals with the problem that he has so much in mind.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. By way of preface I point to the confident note that exists in the marketing of Australian dairy products abroad. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the consumption of cheese in Japan has risen from under 3,000 tons five years ago to about 16,000 tons this year, and is estimated to reach 40,000 tons by 1970. Has Australian cheese had a significant effect on this welcome new market? Is it a fact that Aus- £alian butter is in strong demand in thenited Kingdom at firm prices and that dairy exporters report successful tours in Arabian and South-East Asian countries?
Is it a fact that Australian rindless cheese is bringing 4s. a cwt. more than New Zealand rindless cheese in the United Kingdom for the first time in history? Is it a fact that stocks of butter in the United Kingdom are so low that they must be restricted as to offerings and that the previously expected surplus of cheese in Australia should not now eventuate?
– Broadly speaking, all the information conveyed in the honorable member’s question is correct. The position is that, due to very adverse seasonal conditions in Europe, there is a shortage of butter and cheese in Europe, and the traditional suppliers, Australia and New Zealand, have been able to sell, and indeed are under pressure to supply, all that they have. In fact, Britain has been reduced to the point of seeking to import butter from the United States of America at the present time. This is very good for our trade and I think it is to the credit of the Australian dairy industry that it has not sought in these circumstances to push its price up. I think it is commercially prudent that this is not being done because the present demand, valuable as it is, can be regarded as a passing phase. It is true that because of enterprising promotional activities by the Australian dairy industry our market for cheese, particularly in Japan, has improved enormously, and there are grounds for confidence and optimism about the future of Japan as a market for our cheese as well, as, I think, our butter. The trade missions, both private and organized, which have gone to the other countries mentioned by the honorable member have come back with heartening stories of the prospects there, and in some instances with order books filled.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question in his capacity as Minister representing the Acting Treasurer. Will he consider redrafting the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act so that a Commonwealth employee who is discharged for unsatisfactory service will not be automatically and irrevocably deprived of any entitlement which may have accrued to him by way of. long-service leave or .payment In lieu of that leave? ^ Will he recognize that there are degrees and gradations of unsatisfactory service which might be weighed against long periods of satisfactory and honest service? Will he further recognize that loss of employment is a substantial penalty for a misdemeanour and that the loss, amounting in some cases to hundreds of pounds, is an additional burden which would not be borne by any other person guilty of a misdemeanour of the same kind?
– The honorable member will realize that this is really a matter of policy. I think I have heard one or two aspects of this matter discussed in the past and as soon as my colleague, the Treasurer, returns from abroad I will bring the honorable member’s remarks to his notice.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. It concerns the Commonwealth and the trading opportunities within the Commonwealth. By way of explanation, I refer to a speech made recently by the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd. In that speech, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd said -
I spent some time on Thursday morning discussing Commonwealth problems with a very great Commonwealth statesman, Sir Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia. I put this idea of a Commonwealth Export Council to him and he said he would warmly welcome it and give it every support within his power.
Mr. Selwyn Lloyd went on to say
I ask the Government to act and to show that they understand the need for a new initiative with the other countries of the Commonwealth.
I now ask the right honorable gentleman whether a Prime Ministers’ conference is to be called in the near future and, if so, whether any opportunity will be presented to consider the views put forward by Mr. Selwyn Lloyd.
Sir ROBERT MENZIES__ No, there is no proposal for a Prime Ministers’ conference. Indeed, there seems to be a good deal of argument going on both in Great Britain and here as to who will occupy that particular post in the event of a conference taking place at some time in the future; I do not know.
– When are you going to. sOlve it?,.., … v.- . “
– Now, do not be too anxious. I remember my talk with Mr. Selwyn Lloyd who, I thought, had a very good point to make. He said that in Great Britain there had been for some time a very representative and highly authoritative committee which was directing its attention to expanding British trade with the United States of America and that, of course, there was a good deal of work going on about the European area. He said he thought that it might, with great advantage, be followed in Great Britain by some group designed to increase trade with the Commonwealth countries. That is a general proposition. I thought it was quite right, and I said that to him. As to what developments may have occurred since, I cannot say.
To come back to the beginning: No, there is no proposal before me for a Prime Ministers’ conference; and, having regard to the almost certainty that there must be an election in the United Kingdom in 1964, perhaps I shall have to defer my visit to the next conference until the following year.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. The honorable gentleman will no doubt recall that on Tuesday, 17th September last, I directed his attention to a television presentation known as the “Dave Allen Show”, which was televised by Station TCN, channel 9, in Sydney, on Thursday, 5th September, and in which this gentleman, Dave Allen, in the course of interviewing a person named Andrea, a radio announcer in Sydney, and an overseas artist named Eartha Kitt, conducted a conversation which, in my opinion, was obscene and suggestive. I then asked the Postmaster-General whether he would inquire into the matter. I should now like to know the result of that inquiry.
– I remember the honorable member for Watson referring this matter to me some weeks ago, and I told him that I would make some inquiries about it. I have done so, but I regret to inform him that I have not yet had a reply. I think I am right in saying that the persons involved in this matter have left Australia. In any case, I shall pursue the matter further and let the honorable member have a reply to his question as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether the Australian canned fruits industry is experiencing difficulty in marketing its products overseas. Has he had any discussions with the industry? If so, can he give me any information as to the result of those discussions?
– The Australian fruit canning industry is not experiencing any acute problem in marketing its products overseas at the moment, but it feels that it might be on the eve of experiencing such a problem. This arises partly from the fact that conditions relating to the sale of canned fruit overseas are very competitive. Further, there have been very substantial increases in the plantings of canning fruit varieties in recent years. Those plantings will begin to come into production in the coming season and at an increasing rate thereafter. Leaders of the canning fruit industry, both growers and canners, have devoted themselves to this problem and, in recent times, have been continuously in contact with myself and the Minister for Primary Industry. I am glad to say that the industry has a record of wanting to look after itself and to lean upon the Government to the minimum extent. It has put explicit proposals to me and to my colleague. We are examining the proposals at present with a view to deciding whether they should be presented to the Government for consideration. I have no doubt that they will be presented to the Government for consideration.
– The Prime Minister will recall that on many occasions I have raised in this House the matter of the Tumut to Canberra road. Is the right honorable gentleman now in a position to give any information on this matter? Have any discussions taken place between his department and the New South Wales Government for the early construction of this vital western outlet from the National Capital? Is the Prime Minister able to tell the House who is responsible for the hold-up, if any?
– The answer to most of the question is, “ No “. I will find out whether there has been any correspondence or discussion about this matter. If there has been, I will advise the honorable member of the nature of any exchanges that have occurred.
– I preface my question to the Acting Attorney-General by saying that my attention has been drawn to letters which bear the signature of a person purporting to act as agent for Television and General Finance Company (Australia) Limited. The letters threaten people with arrest for technical breaches of hirepurchase agreements. I may say that the breaches referred to appear to me to be both technical and trivial. As the letters raise a presumption of abuse of judicial processes, will the honorable gentleman agree to examine the information that I shall lay before him, with a view to protecting the rights of the people concerned?
– The answer is, “Yes”.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that the chairman of the Australian Wool Board, Sir William Gunn, during his return and less hazardous performance at Hamilton recently, stated that “ it is quite clear that the Federal Government will make a contribution towards wool promotion “? Has such a decision been made? Has any such assurance been given to Sir William Gunn? If not, on what authority does Sir William base his statement? If, as Labour proposes, the Government does make such a contribution, will the Wool Board seek a lesser amount from the growers than the 44s. now sought for wool promotion?
– I have seen in a newspaper a report of a statement similar to that referred to by the honorable member. I do not accept it as an accurate report of a statement by Sir William Gunn. I do not think he would make such a statement in that manner. As to the request by the industry, the Government will announce its decision in the very near future.
– I wish to direct to the Prime Minister a question which is supplementary to that just asked by the honorable member for Bendigo. I refer to a request put to the Government recently by the wool-growers for financial assistance for wool promotion so as to bring Australia’s contribution to the International Wool Secretariat into line with that of the other two member countries, South Africa and New Zealand. I ask: Will the Prime Minister, when he announces the Government’s decision on this issue, give the House an assurance that any assistance given will not prevent the Government from giving its blessing to any satisfactory marketing scheme that may be presented to it?
– The deputation to which the honorable member indirectly refers related to the promotion proposals that have been submitted. That was the matter on which we were invited to consider a request that assistance be given by the Commonwealth Government, and that is the matter to which we have been directing our attention. The subject of marketing proposals, of course, is quite distinct, and we were told at the time of the deputation that proposals on that subject had yet to be formulated. Indeed, as the honorable member knows, there are very many differences of opinion in that field. I regard these two matters as quite separate. I expect within the next 24 hours to be able to say something on behalf of the Government about the request made for assistance in promotion, which is tremendously important. I will, of course, have nothing to say about marketing, because in that matter proposals have yet to be evolved by the industry itself. Therefore, I do not anticipate what may be the result.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is he aware that residents in my electorate and surrounding areas in the Sydney metropolitan area who applied for telephone services back in 1960 are still being told that they will have to wait up to twelve months or more for these services, although many . .of these’, people .. reside. . within a mile of the local telephone exchange? Does the Minister realize that many of these applicants urgently need telephone services for the conduct of their businesses or for medical reasons? For how much longer are members of the Parliament who represent electorates in the Sydney area to be told, in reply to representations which they make to the Postmaster-General’s Department, that no cables are available in the area, or that major engineering works are planned, but services are not expected to be available for another twelve or eighteen months or even two years?
– I have given to the House and to honorable members who are interested fairly complete records over the last twelve or eighteen months to show exactly what the position has been regarding outstanding applications for telephone services. Any one who applies himself to this problem without attempting to use it for political purposes must concede that a very good job has been done by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in meeting outstanding applications. Reference has been made to applications outstanding since 1960. I invite the honorable member to give me particular instances so that we may have a look at them. He will find that they are very few indeed.
– I direct to the Minister for Trade a question that relates to a recent report by Mr. J. S. Knowles, Australian Trade Commissioner in Djakarta, that Australian businessmen were losing Indonesian markets to other countries. I ask the Minister whether, during the last financial year, we sold only £3,500,000 worth of goods to Indonesia and imported from that country goods worth £26,500,000. Are endeavours being made to overcome problems relating to exchange, long-term credit and import licensing to enable Australian businessmen to export more to Indonesia?
– It is a fact that there is, and has been for some considerable time, a quite serious imbalance in trade between Australia and Indonesia. This clearly arises from heavy imports by Australia of crude oil from Indonesia. By and large, over recent years, .trade between Indonesia and
Australia, excluding crude oil, has been reasonably in balance. As every one knows, Indonesia has a quite serious balanceofpayments problem and maintains strict import licensing for the purpose of preserving exchange. This is a very serious obstacle to free trade between the two countries. It is also a fact that there are some countries which are willing and able to extend a degree of credit to Indonesia which this country cannot extend to it.
This again is rather eating into our export opportunities. Having regard to these obstacles, Australian businessmen and the Australian Trade Commissioner staffs in Indonesia are constantly doing their best to increase our opportunities for trading there.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The disadvantages and inequities of making ten shillings (10/-) the basic unit in the proposed decimal currency and of making one cent the smallest unit.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- In February, 1959 the Government set up a committee to inquire into the question of the introduction of decimal currency. It reported to the Government in 1960. Since that time one or two further statements have been made, and on 7th April, 1963, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) issued a press statement in which he said that the new decimal system would be based on a major unit equal to the present 10s. He went on to suggest that general principles concerning compensation for those whose machines would have to be converted had been determined, but that there were vast numbers of points of detail that would have to be negotiated with the machine companies involved. To-day the Labour Party is concerned primarily with the matter of the units to be used in the new currency!
Honorable members are no doubt aware that if the new major unit is to be based on the present 10s., with the smallest unit, the cent or penny or whatever it may be called, being one-hundredth of the major unit, some difficulties will be experienced with the prices of goods which now sell for small amounts. A number of items come readily to mind. First, there is the daily newspaper which sells for 3d. in some States, 4d. in others and 5d. in still others. The fact that difficulties will crop up is evident after a simple arithmetical computation. When the change-over is made, what will be called a penny in the new system will have a purchasing power equal to 1.2 pence under the present system. If something that now sells for 5d. under our existing currency system is sold for 5d., or 5 cents, under the new system, there will have been in essence, an increase of 20 per cent, in the price of that article. This argument applies with equal force in the case of such items as postage stamps, which again sell for 2d., 3d., 4d., 5d., 9d., according to whether an article is sent by airmail, or at the package rate, or at the ordinary postage rate, and so on.
It seems to us, after having read the report, that in many ways the members of the committee should be commended for their zeal, but that they have not been very concerned with this aspect of the problem. The interests of what might be called big businesses, and even small businesses, are apparently being fairly well looked after, because there is provision for a compensation scheme. But nobody so far seems to have made it his business to ask questions about these items that affect particularly the budgets of the ordinary families in the community. One has only to think of articles purchased every day, such as milk, newspapers, and so on, to realize how widespread the . difficulty will be. Fares on public transport will be affected. Smokers will be in some difficulty, because they purchase their cigarettes or tobacco for amounts like 3s. 8d. or 3s. lid. The matches that they use to light their cigarettes are bought for prices expressed in pence.
Other items involved are such things as greengroceries. In the case of such simple commodities as potatoes, onions, tomatoes, turnips, the’ prices ‘are generally expressed in shillings and pence. Goods purchased in the grocery store will also be affected. In the case of such things as sugar, tea, coffee, cocoa, some parts of the prices are expressed in pence. When you buy petrol at a pump you pay for it at 3s. 9d. a gallon or 4s. 5d. a gallon, or some such price, depending on the locality in which the petrol is bought. Items of clothing frequently sell for amounts like 2s. lid. or 4s. lid. You might go to the chemist’s shop to buy the toothpaste special for this week, reduced from 2s. lid. to 2s. 5d. In the case of telephone calls we find that the Government has already anticipated the change. It has jacked up the price of calls made from public telephones from 4d. to 6d. Those who still go to theatres know that the price of admission usually includes a number of pence. If you go into an hotel for a pot of beer or a nip of whisky you pay amounts like 1 Id. or ls. Id. One has only to consider the budget of an ordinary family to realize what the impact of this change will be.
A good deal of attention has been given to what happened in South Africa. It is suggested that the method of compensation adopted in South Africa should be a model for Australia, but that is not the theme of our discussion to-day. However, there is one lesson that can be learned from the experience of South Africa. It has been stated by reputable persons that the changeover to decimal currency in South Africa, with a major unit under the new system of 10s, resulted in an overall increase in prices of between 6 and 10 per cent. I shall give examples typical of what actually happened in South Africa and what can, I suggest, happen in Australia if nothing is done towards considering the problem. lt may be that it is too late to change the unit from 10s. to 8s. 4d. and so obviate the difficulties. I do not know. The Government has not intimated just how far it has progressed, although it is rather interesting to note how much people outside the Parliament have been told about some elements in the scheme. I have received a letter from one of the unions, which wrote to a prominent cash register company in this country. I will not give the name of the company, but I think the terms of the letter are significant. In part, the letter reads -
We have been given to understand by government sources that procedures to be adopted for such conversion will be based on those that pre vailed in South Africa when that country changed to decimals in 1959.
It would seem, therefore, that the machinery has already rolled along a fair way. It may be too late to change the unit from 10s. to 8s. 4d. In our view, many inequities would have been removed if a unit of 8s. 4d. instead of a unit of 10s. had been adopted as the basis for conversion. If this had been done, the new penny would have corresponded to the old penny and prices wilh a penny component could have been adjusted to the equivalent purchasing power.
I do not know how far along the road the Government has trodden. In any event, if it intends to adhere to a standard unit of 10s., in addition to looking at the costs of conversion in South Africa it may well look at some of the price changes in South Africa. For instance, before the adoption of decimal currency, oil - I presume this is lubricating oil for a motor car - sold in South Africa at ls. lOd. a pint. After the adoption of decimal currency, the price was 20 cents, which was an illicit increase of 2d. or an approximate price rise of 9 per cent. It would have been possible to have made the price either 18 cents or 19 cents, but the easy course was chosen and the price was set at 20 cents or 2s. The daily newspapers, which previously sold for 3d., sold at the new price of 3 cents, which was a gain of .6d. or an increase of 20 per cent. Many of the newspapers in Australia which expressed great interest in the name of the new currency, might tell their readers in advance what they propose to do about their prices. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ selling for 5d. or the Melbourne “Herald” selling for 3d. or the morning “ Sun “ selling for 4d. should say what price they intend to charge when the conversion to decimal currency is affected. Will they do as their South African confreres did and increase the price by 20 per cent, by keeping to the same pence unit?
Bread rolls and buns, which sold in South Africa previously at 2d. each or six for ls., under the new dispensation were sold at 2 cents each or five for 10 cents. This was an increase to the purchaser of 20 per cent. Beer, which previously sold in South Africa at ls. 2d. a pint in a bar, sold for 12 cents in the new currency, and this was an increase of 3 per cent. Apparently the patrons of the hotels would not put up with quite as much as the readers of the newspapers would. The 5d. postage stamp carried the new price of 5 cents, which also was an increase of 20 per cent. What is intended to be done in Australia with the prices for our postal services? In South Africa, a tram fare which was formerly lOd. became 9 cents, which was a real increase of .8d. or 8i per cent. Cold drinks such as Coca Cola, which formerly sold at 5d., continued to be sold at 5 cents, which was a gain of 20 per cent.
The members of the committee paid very scant attention to the suggestion of a unit at 8s. 4d. instead of 10s. They brushed it aside on the ground that it would be difficult, when making comparisons between the old and the new prices, to have to use a conversion factor of 2.4 instead of 2. But they overlooked the very real burden that will be placed on most people in the community as a result of the adoption of the unit of 10s. One of my correspondents has estimated that his family each week makes some 165 purchases in which there could be a minimum increase of id. on each article. This makes the additional burden on the family budget about 6s. or 7s. a week. I would suggest that these matters are worthy of comment.
Whilst the Government has set up a committee to look at some of the difficulties that may arise in converting machines to decimal currency, it does not appear to have made any provision for the kind of problem that I have mentioned. I would suggest that this is far more relevant to the ordinary people in the community than are some of the other problems. It is suggested that the cost of conversion of machines will be £30,000,000, and this is excused on the ground that it will be once and for all. The price increases that I have mentioned will not be once and for all. They could affect millions of households in the Australian community to the extent of 6s. to 10s. a week every week in continuum. I will not work out the sort of sum that may be, but it could make the other sum of £30,000,000 pale into insignificance.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to detain the House for very long on this matter. One of the reasons I have for saying this is that I anticipate that quite shortly the necessary currency bill will be completed and will be ready for presentation to the House. I think all honorable members would agree that it would be much better to have a full debate on all these matters at that time than to try to make a few hasty observations in what is necessarily a very limited debate.
– Will the bill be introduced this session?
– I hope so and I believe so. My information is that it ought to be ready within a few days - let us say within a week. Anyhow, we will all have an excellent opportunity then to direct our minds to this subject. All I need to say at present is that the Government did not evolve this scheme out of its own head. It appointed a committee - a very good committee. It was not a committee drawn merely from what may be called one side of commercial affairs in Australia. It included a very distinguished trade union representative, Mr. Henderson, who was formerly the Victorian State secretary of the Electrical Trades Union. It also included Mrs. Edwards, who was there to represent what may be called comprehensively the housewives.
The report of the committee was unanimous. Honorable members will see, if they read the document - it has been printed and is available - that the members of the committee examined a series of proposals. They considered the £1 unit. They finally rejected it, partly, I think, because it would involve having a half cent at the end of the line. This would be rather inconsistent with the easy adoption of a decimal system. They examined the 10s. proposal and came down strongly in favour of it for a variety of reasons, which they have set out in their report. They examined the 8s. 4d. proposal. I do not think it is right to say that they cursorily dismissed it. They devoted quite a bit of attention to it in their report. They had a look at the 5s. proposal and they rejected it.
It is quite true that whatever unit you adopt you may have some disadvantages. With the £1 unit there is the disadvantage of having to go to a half cent. Under that system the half cent would be the equivalent of the single cent in the 10s. system, and therefore the £1 system would be open to all the criticism that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has made about the prices of newspapers and other valuable commodities. Admittedly the 10s. unit produces a cent which represents 1.2d. The 8s. 4d. unit would give a cent equivalent to the present penny. For the purposes of conversion, particularly over the interim period of a couple of years, that would present very acute mathematical difficulties. That is one of the reasons why the committee rejected the 8s. 4d. unit.
We are not unique in this respect. In South Africa, after a long examination, the investigators came down in favour of the 10s. unit.
– With a half cent.
– I know that. The half cent presents great difficulties in introducing a decimal system, particularly in a highly industrialized and commercialized country, such as Australia, in which there will be an enormous number of transactions during the period of time when the two currencies are running in parallel. Anyhow, the members of the committee examined this matter and said, “The 10s. unit it is “. The South African investigators said that too. I am informed that the New Zealanders will adopt the 10s. unit. I understand that they, too, are trafficking with the idea of a half cent.
In Great Britain the Halsbury committee reported, by a majority of four to two I think, in favour of the £1 as the major unit. The members of that committee were not troubled by the point raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. Great Britain does not propose to have a half cent, so far as I can make out. That means that the British cent will represent 2.4d. in Australian currency and substantially more than that in terms of British currency converted into Australian currency. As a matter of fact, the Halsbury committee, although it was divided on the question whether the basic unit ought to be £1 or 10s., was unanimous on the point that the lowest decimal coin should be the half cent, which represents 1.2d. Therefore, Great Britain is not going down to anything less than Id. in the system to which we have been’ accustomed. ‘
I rather think that many of these points about people stepping up prices that are expressed in terms of pence will iron themselves out. After all, it is not so long ago in the eye of history that farthings were currency. Fellows of mature years, such as my old friend the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), and myself, can remember prices of 19s. Hid. There was something infinitely attractive about that price. Of course, there have been no farthings for many, many years now. Nobody has bothered about that. The old farthing was worth probably 2d. in to-day’s money terms. But I do not want to go into all those details.
All I say to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports at this stage is that these matters were examined by the most competent body that we could assemble to go into them. That body made a unanimous recommendation in favour of the 10s. unit. That recommendation coincides with what has happened in South Africa and New Zealand, but it does not coincide with what has been recommended by a majority in Great Britain. We all know enough to understand that there would be a strong sentimental feeling in Great Britain to continue to have the £1 as the unit. I say “sentimental” in a good sense. After all, the £1 sterling is one of the two great international measures of currency. The other is the dollar. So much of the world’s business is done in £l’s sterling that I can well understand why the United Kingdom people would say: “ We do not want to abandon this. We do not want to present people all round the world with the proposition that sterling has gone and that something else has taken its place.” I understand that perfectly.
But we are not inhibited in that way. We have received reports. I suppose we all have varying views that would be eminently permissible on what the unit ought to be, just as there was an infinite number of views on what the unit ought to be called. But we had to make a decision. We received this report by the experts. It was fully examined by the Government and we came to the conclusion that it ought to be adopted. So that honorable members will not feel that they will lack an .opportunity to make their own -contributions on this matter, all I want to say is that as soon as possible a bill will be introduced and then, of course, there will be an opportunity for us to debate the pluses and minuses of all these matters.
.- I support the remarks made so ably by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). I appreciate the points of view expressed by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). We of the Labour Party did not want to wait for the presentation of the bill to debate this matter because we wanted to pinpoint the very great disadvantages that are inherent in the 10s. unit system. That was the reason for raising this subject as a matter of urgent public importance and bringing it to the notice of the Government before the bill was produced. We know by evidence and experience that once the Government produces a bill it will never listen to amendments from this side of the chamber and will vote against them. So we are now pinpointing the very great disadvantages of the 10s. unit system’, particularly as it affects the working man. The effects of decimal currency on low-price, mass-sale consumer goods involve the ordinary man and woman in the street. What we are concerned about is that the injustices to the working man will be very great, as I propose to show, and as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has shown already; but that the advantages to the great business enterprises of this country will be very extensive.
It may well be that the id. to-day is worth very little; but if you work out the turnover of Coles, Woolworths and the other big chain stores on goods the prices of which end with id., you find that a tremendous amount of money will accrue. When the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) announced that the Government intended to introduce a decimal currency system* by 1966, and when the wisdom of the Labour Party was seen by the Treasurer and he agreed to drop the name “ royal “ and, at our .insistence, to accept the name “ dollar “, it was obvious that a very great advantage would be gained.
– I thought you said that we never accepted any. amendments.
– That was not an amendment. It was a suggestion by us. Had we moved it as an amendment it would never have been accepted, so we acted by guile. We advised the Government in a kindly and gentle manner. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer were intelligent enough to see the wisdom in our advice and they took it in due course.
When the Treasurer announced that the Government would introduce a decimal currency system in 1966, he also announced that the system would be based on the 10s. unit, which is now to be called the dollar. Obviously it is to be divided into 100 cents, each of which is to be worth 1.2d. The Australian Decimal Research Organization has estimated that 83 per cent, of all present low-value prices would not have exact equivalents in the decimal system. In fact, only two amounts between id. and ls. have exact equivalents in the decimal system. They are 6d. and ls. Five cents will equal 6d. and ten cents will equal ls.
I am indebted to “Jobson’s Investment Digest” of 28th June, 1963, which presents a decimal conversion table. It shows that on the current value of id. the nearest actual equivalent decimal value will be .417 of a cent; but the natural situation will be that anything that ends in a id. will go up to one cent. The profit gain attached to that is 140 per cent, to the retailer or supplier. One penny in present values will equal .833 of a cent. If a price which ends in a Id. goes up to one cent it will mean 20 per cent, profit to the retailer or manufacturer. If the price of an article now is 2d., the equivalent in cents will be 1.67 cents, but the price will become 2 cents, giving a profit of 20 per cent, to the retailer or manufacturer. An article that now costs 3d. should cost 2.5 cents, but there will not be a i cent, so the price will become 3 cents, again giving the retailer or manufacturer a profit of 20 per cent. An article that now costs 5d. should cost 4.17 cents, but it will cost 5 cents. An article that now costs 7d. should cost 5.83 cents, but the charge will >e 6 cents. An article that now costs 8d. should cost 6.67 cents, but the charge will be 7 cents. An article that now costs 9d. should cost 7i cents, but the charge for it will be 8 cents. An article that now costs lOd. should cost 8.33 cents, but the charge will be 9 cents. An article that now costs lid. should cost 9.17 cents, but the charge will be 10 cents. In each case the retailer or manufacturer will make increased profits.
The obvious tendency is for prices always to go up. I do not think anybody will disagree with the assertion that if an article should cost 4.8 cents the charge will be not 4 cents but 5 cents. The tendency always will be to go to the next highest cent. No manufacturer or retailer will be anxious to bring his prices down. To reduce prices has never been the tendency of businessmen. If prices tend to go up there will be greater inflation because the overwhelming majority of transactions in goods of low price involve pennies.
– It will operate the other way also.
– If the honorable member can cite instances in ‘ which manufacturers or retailers have ever reduced prices it will be something novel in our experience. The tendency always has been for prices to go up. If there is any general increase in the prices of groceries, fruit, vegetables, fares, postage and newspapers there will be an undesirable tendency to increase inflation, particularly during the transitional period to decimal currency.
Let me deal with a number of everyday commodities, some of which were referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports but which will bear mentioning again. A box of matches now costs 2d. If it sells for 2 cents it will be selling for the equivalent of 2.4d. A newspaper now costs 5d. The new price will be 5 cents, which is equal to 6d.
– No, it will sell for 4 cents.
– Can we guarantee that? Does the Minister make that statement on behalf of the Government or on behalf of the newspaper proprietors whom he represents in this place - that if a newspaper now sells for 4d. it win sell for 4 cents, which is equal to 4.8d.? One pint of milk in Sydney until recently cost Hid. It will sell for 10 cents, which is equal to ls.; it will not sell for 9 cents. So, at every turn the working man will pay more for what he buys. A loaf of bread now costs about ls. 8d. Such a loaf will sell for 17 cents, which is equal to ls. 8.4d. An apple that now costs 4d. will sell for 4 cents or 4.8d. An orange that now costs 3d. will sell for 3 cents or 3.6d. A packet of “ Lifesavers “ - the mint with the hole in the middle - now sells for 4d. It will sell for 4 cents, which is equal to 4.8d. A packet of cigarettes which now costs 3s. 3d. will cost 33 cents, an increase of .6d. A 9d. fare will rise to 8 cents or 9.6d. A ls. 3d. fare will rise to 13 cents or ls. 3.6d.
The average working man, who has a wife and two children, is involved in between 150 and 170 transactions a week. Under the proposed decimal currency system he will pay a halfpenny extra for each of those 150 items. He will pay, in effect, about 6s. a week more than he is paying now - about £15 12s. a year more. The average working man cannot afford that increase in prices because his wages will not increase correspondingly. In December, 1962, more than 3,143,000 people in Australia were in receipt of wages and salaries. If each spends an extra £15 12s. a year the total extra amount involved will be more than £50,000,000. That £50,000,000 will go into the hands of retailers and manufacturers who, because of the introduction of a 10s. unit, have been able to increase their prices automatically.
There will be no great outcry because a man who buys a box of matches will pay his 2 cents without demur and will not realize until it is too late that he is paying about £15 12s. a year more for his goods than he paid formerly. In announcing its proposals the Government has declared that it will not make provision for a half cent, which to some extent would obviate the difficulties to which I have referred. The Government is determined to introduce a 10s. unit. I welcome the statement by the Prime Minister that the committee examined all these matters carefully; but there is a strong body of opinion which is deeply concerned about these proposals. We of the Labour Party, who are here to protect the interests of the ordinary working man and woman, are aghast to think that the average wage-earner with ‘a wife and two children will pay an extra £15 12s. a year for his basic needs. Because the necessary legislation soon will be introduced the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has proposed this subject for discussion in the hope that the Government will re-examine its proposals to see that injustices shall not be done to the large body of people in Australia in the lower income groups.
– The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) may be forgiven for some of his exaggerations. I do not think he made a case that on the introduction of the decimal system the average working man with a family will pay about 6s. to 10s. a week, or £15 12s. a year, more for his basic needs.
In reply to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) I should point out that with the exception of the discussion on the name of the major unit of decimal currency, no matter was considered at greater length in the Cabinet than whether we should have a half cent system and what the effect of not having a half cent system would bc on the Australian economy. I was a member of the Cabinet committee that dealt wi h this matter from the outset, and as one closely associated with the arbitration system over the last four years I had to satisfy myself that the proposed system would not have a major impact on prices and, through prices, on the consumer index and ultimately on the cost of living in Australia. We had to take certain things into consideration when we were arriving at our decisions. We had to think of the administrative problem associated with the transition from one form of currency to another. We had to think of the cost involved to the Government, because the Government is accepting the full responsibility and cost of conversion. We had to think - this was very important to us - of the convenience of (he Australian consumer - the Australian mother and the Australian father - and what the new system would mean in terms of cost of living.
Consequently we examined the various systems that were submitted to us. The 8s. 4d. system, which was referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), was immediately discarded because the technical difficulties associated with conversion were too great. One has only to think of the average woman attempting to convert into dollars and cents something which formerly cost 13s. 4d. I venture to suggest that if she did attempt that conversion she would have to carry in her purse a huge conversion table which would make life irritating to her and the effort at conversion not worth while. Looking at the other aspect, if you wanted to convert the new unit into the former .£1 if would have to be multiplied by two plus some fraction between .4 and .5. Under the very simple system that we have adopted, you multiply it by two.
The last point that I wish to mention about the proposed system - the 8s. 4d. - 100 cent system - is the argument that the minor unit of currency would be the equivalent o£ Id., instead of 1 .2d. under the system that we have adopted. Frankly, I do noi believe that the minor unit being worth 1.2d. could have a much greater impact on the cost of the average weekly basket of goods than could a system with a basic unit equal to one penny. And I doubt if the actual basket of goods purchased by the family would rise by 6s. to 1 0s. a week.
There are many advantages in the 10s. - 100 cent system that I shall leave for detailed argument when the bill comes before the House, but I want to mention two of them to honorable members. I think the substance of the Opposition’s argument is that the system that we have adopted will lead automatically to an increase in prices of something like 20 per cent. I think the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was guilty of one or two errors. Take the case of the ordinary newspaper. I come from Sydney, where newspapers cost 5d. each. I seldom buy the Melbourne newspaper because they are delivered to my office and I do not have to pay for them. On conversion, the cost of an ordinary Sydney newspaper would not be 5 cents but probably 4 cents.
– You cannot say that.
– This is hypothetical, but so was your argument. I believe that the proper hypothesis to adopt is not that the price will rise but remain constant. Tn units the number will fall from 5d. to 4 cents.
– What an optimist you are!
– Maybe, but I think it is better to be optimistic than to be continually howling and lugubrious like you are. A box of matches that now costs 2d. will probably cost 2 cents but a postage stamp that now costs 5d. will probably cost only 4 cents. I have no doubt that in some cases the movement will be to the higher rather than to the lower conversion rate, but I think you have to balance that against all the other advantages that flow from a true decimal system of currency. With ease of convertibility, it will be very simple for the ordinary person to know what he is doing during the period of conversion.
The answer to the Opposition’s argument may be stated in this way: First of all, I do not think there will be a very great impact on our cost of living. We examined this aspect. There were so many advantages on the other side that we were prompted to the conclusion that the balance was in favour of the lOs.-lOO cent system. Even if there were some increases in prices, the working man would not lose permanently. Under our system of adjusting the basic wage in accordance with movements of the consumer index, the working man would very quickly get back in terms of an increased basic wage any additional costs he might have to meet. I do not think that in the short run the average wage earner will suffer.
There are two other arguments that I believe to be decisive and of overriding importance. The first is that undoubtedly there will be increased competition over a wide range of articles in the consumer goods or retail trade. I have no doubt that in the large stores - Woolworths and Coles, for example - competition will be so great that they and very few retailers will exploit the market or affront public opinion by blatantly increasing their prices over a wide range of goods. Perhaps the prices of some articles will increase but there should be no increases over a very wide range of goods. Competition will gradually pull the prices back and the consumer will be sure of getting a fair deal. I do not want it to be thought that I am ignoring the fact that there will be an attempt by some people to exploit the change. I am sure that there will be, but I am equally certain that, having regard to the keen competition which has existed in the past and which we can expect to continue during the next five or ten years, increases will be kept to a minimum. They certainly will not be anywhere near as great as the Opposition has argued.
Finally, one other matter should be mentioned. We have in Australia an arbitration system which adjusts wages. We must be most cautious when considering the probability of increases in prices and costs. Over the last three years this Government has taken decisive action to ensure that prices and costs are kept low. You will know, Mr. Speaker, the success that has followed the Government’s actions. We believe that the real impact will not come from an increase in prices and costs due to a change in the currency system. We think that it will come from other causes. We must bear in mind what is happening to our wage, salary and margins structure out of line with productivity increases, what is happening in terms of efficiency and what is happening to the price of imports and any speculative fervour which might exist. These factors will have a decisive impact on costs and finally on prices.
Whilst we welcome the fact that the Opposition has raised this question, we think that the proposed system is the best system that we can introduce. We doubt whether it will have the impact on the family budget that has been mentioned by both members of the Opposition who have participated in this debate.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments):
Clause 7. (1.) Where-
an international conference is, or is to be, held in Australia or in a Territory of the Commonwealth; or
a mission is, or is to be, sent by a country other than Australia to Australia or to a Territory of the Commonwealth, and it appears to the Minister that the provisions of this Act other than this section do not, or may not. apply in relation to that conference or mission but it is desirable that diplomatic privileges and immunities should be applicable in relation to that conference or mission, the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette, declare the conference or mission, as the case may be, to bc a conference or mission to which this section applies. (2.) Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, where such a notice has been published -
a person who is, or has been, a representative of a country other than Australia at the conference or on the mission specified in the notice is, in respect of the period during which he is, or has been, such a representative, entitled to the privileges and immunities accorded to an envoy;
in the case of a notice relating to an international conference - a person who is, or has been, a member of the secretariat established for the purposes ot the conference is entitled to immunity from suit and from other legal process in respect of acts and things done in his capacity as such a member.
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
In clause 7, sub-clause (1.), leave out “the Minister may, by notice published in the Gazette “, insert “ the regulations may “.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
In clause 7, sub-clause (2.) leave out “such a notice has been published “, insert “ a conference or mission has been declared by the regulations to be a conference or mission to which this section applies “.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 -
In clause 7, sub-clause (2.) (a) leave out “ specified in the notice “.
Senate’s amendment No. 4 -
In clause 7, sub-clause (2.) (c) leave out “ a notice relating to “.
Clause 8. (J.) Where the Minister is satisfied that persons, or members of the official staffs of persons, representing Australia in a country would not receive in that country privileges and immunities corresponding to those conferred in Australia by this Act or the regulations upon persons, or upon members of the official staffs of persons, representing that country, the Minister may, by instrument in writing, withdraw from the representatives, or from the members of the official staffs of the representatives, of that country all or any of those privileges and immunities.
Senate’s amendment No. 5 -
In clause 8, sub-clause (1.) after “Australia “, first’ occurring, insert’ “ at an international conference
The regulations may confer upon - (a) the judges, assessors and officials of the International Court of Justice established by the Charter of the United Nations; such privileges and immunities as are required to give effect to the Statute of that Court and such privileges and immunities in respect of acts and things done in the course of the performance of their functions in connexion with the business of that Court as arc, in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral, required to give effect to any resolution of, or convention or agreement approved by, the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Senate’s amendment No. 6 -
In clause 9, leave out “, in the opinion of the Governor-General,”.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
I do not know whether the committee would like me to say anything more about the proposed amendments. They seem to concern fairly small matters. Of the four amendments to clause 7, three are drafting amendments consequential upon the first. In the bill in its original form, the privileges and immunities described in the clause would be conferred if the Minister were to insert in the “ Gazette “ a notice relating to the conference or mission. The Senate amendments would require the making of a regulation before the prescribed privileges and immunities would be conferred, and the Government is prepared to accept these amendments.
The Government is also prepared to accept the amendment to clause 8, which is designed to overcome any doubt that privileges and immunities may be withdrawn from an overseas representative attending an international conference in Australia, if the country to which that representative belongs does not accord appropriate privileges and immunities to Australian representatives attending an international conference in that country; in other words, where there is no reciprocity.
Clause 9 in its original form would enable the making of regulations to confer on the judges and officials of, and on persons engaged in business before the International Court of Justice, “ such privileges and immunities as are in the opinion of the
Governor-General required to give effect to a resolution of, or convention or agreement approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations “. The amendments adopted by the Senate would delete the words “ in the opinion of the GovernorGeneral “, and the Government is prepared to accept this amendment.
.- The Opposition agrees with the Government that the Senate’s amendments should be accepted. The Opposition proposed some of these amendments in the other place. The first five now before us were actually moved by the Minister having the conduct of the bill there. The last amendment was moved by Senator Wright and was supported by mycolleagues in the other place. The Senate committee divided and the amendment was carried by 28 votes to 27.
I make a general comment on the interesting legislative process that we have seen during this calendar year when numbers have been so close in this house and in the other place. In the preceding parliament, which lasted from 1958 to 1961, there were no amendments carried on the motion of the Labour Party in this place or in the other place. This year, however, there have been three bills to which quite considerable amendments have been successfully proposed, some here and some in the other place. Those bills are the Papua and New Guinea Bill, the Service and Execution of Process Bill, and the measure now before us. There was, of course, another bill - the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1963 - which was withdrawn through Labour pressure and the historians cannot readily recollect an occasion when a government voluntarily withdrew one of its own bills. There is yet another bill, the Disabled Persons Accommodation Bill, just introduced through Labour pressure. There may, therefore, be some virtue in having so evenly divided a House as we have during this Parliament.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 7. (1.) Where- (a)an international conference is, or is to be, held in Australia or in a Territory of the Commonwealth; or
– Mr. Chairman, as a consequential amendment, I move -
In clause 7, sub-clause (1.), omit “Minister”, insert “ Governor-General “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 20th August (vide page 278), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The measure before the Parliament concerns the Australian Wine Board. This board has been constituted under the Wine Overseas Marketing Act of 1929-1961 and is charged with the responsibility of assisting in the marketing of Australian wines both in Australia and overseas. The Australian wine industry is of very substantial importance, particularly to Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia and of lesser importance to Tasmania and Queensland, except in the consumption sense. From time to time it has been found necessary to amend the act and to bring lt up to date in the light of modern business methods, and in the light of the necessity, as the industry itself has discovered, to advertise and promote the sales of its wines both in Australia and abroad.
The board is constituted of members representing the industries engaged in the growing of grapes and the production and marketing of wine which, of course, includes brandy. There are, on the board, two members representing proprietary and privately owned wineries and distilleries in South Australia; one member who represents proprietary and privately owned wineries and distilleries in New South Wales and Queensland; one member who represents proprietary and privately owned wineries and distilleries in Victoria; one member who represents the proprietary and privately owned wineries and distilleries in Western Australia: two members who represent co-operative wineries and distilleries; three members who represent grapegrowers supplying grapes to wineries and distilleries, and one member, Mr. A. L. Senger, who represents the Commonwealth Government.
As far as I am able to ascertain the board has performed its work efficiently and satisfactorily for the industry. This applies not only to the winemakers but also to the people who, in the vineyards, produce the grapes from which wine and brandy are extracted. Unfortunately I am not able to give the exact value of Australia’s production of wine and spirits, lt is unfortunate that the annual report issued under the provisions of the Wine Overseas Marketing Act, giving an account of the board’s operations, does not give the value of Australia’s total annual production. It gives the production of wine in gallons, but there is no reference to the value of the production for export or internal consumption. However, in a quick search I have ascertained that two years ago, in the 1960-61 vintage, the value of wine exported from Australia to overseas markets in Great Britain, Canada and some other countries was in the vicinity of fi, 350,000. That figure has increased, perhaps to about £1,750,000 at the present time. The value of wine sold in Australia is not readily ascertainable and does not appear in the board’s annual report, but the production of the industry, which is a very old industry in Australia, is substantial. The industry is firmly established and does not appear to be having any grave difficulties in its export trade. It can be said that the work of the board over the years has been, to some extent, a factor in avoiding difficulties which otherwise might have arisen.
The board - the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) will correct me if I am wrong - does not engage directly in the marketing of wines or brandies, but it docs lay down the terms and conditions under which these products shall be marketed in the various export markets. It does license people to export their poducts. To give some idea of the magnitude of the board’s operations and the source of its finance I must mention that there is a levy imposed upon the grapes produced. It is paid by the persons who process the grapes at wineries or distilleries throughout Australia and constitutes a contribution towards the cost of the operations of the board. For the year ended 30th June, 1963, the levy on wine grapes - which I assume would include grapes used in the production of brandy - amounted to £163,482. That sum was expended in all sorts of wine marketing, promotion and propaganda activities, both at home and abroad, and in the payment of salaries, the cost of advertising and so on. So far as I can picture the situation the administrative costs of the board and its staff are quite small in relation to the value of the product with which they are dealing. Production is important. The production figures show that the total wine production in Australia this year is estimated at 31,000,000 gallons. That is a lot of wine and, if we think of it in terms of 1,000-gallon tanks, which most of us can visualize, being familiar with such tanks on farms and elsewhere, we can get some idea of the magnitude of Australia’s wine production.
– You do not drink it out of tanks.
– No, and I would be very sorry for you if you did. I merely mentioned that that is the estimated production for this year. The quantity actually produced last year was 42,000,000 gallons. Of course, not all of that production was consumed as wine. Approximately 15,000,000 gallons went into beverage wines and the . balance was subsequently distilled - I think that is the word used in the trade - into the very fine brandies for which the Australian wine industry is noted. I am not an authority on wines, but it is my opinion that the Australian wines are comparable in quality with those produced anywhere else in the world, and I think that is also the general opinion of visitors to this country.
The board has important functions to perform, and it should be helped and encouraged. Not the least of its functions, apart from policing the marketing of wines and promotional work, is that of keeping an eye on what is going on in other wineproducing countries. 1 notice, too, that the old question of the names of wines has cropped up again and is to be discussed at a conference to be held in Europe shortly. Certain of our wines are known as sherries, hocks, and so on. These and other names had their origin in Europe and we are accused by European vignerons of stealing from them names which had their generic origin in some particular districts in France, Germany or other countries. For many years now we have been accused of trading under names in which we have no real proprietary right. The board has seen to it that our interests have been protected. Although the use of these names might have been a little act of piracy on the part of those who pioneered the industry in Australia, I hope that at least long usage will permit of our being allowed to continue selling under the names at present applied to the various types of wine we produce.
I come now to the immediate matter before the House for discussion. No party politics are involved in this issue whatever. I have explained how the board is constituted. I have explained that on it are representatives appointed by various organizations such as the vignerons and grapegrowers from time to time. One organization - I prefer to call it a federation - which had representation was the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia. That council has changed its name. It is now to be known as The Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated. It is now described in the act as the Federal Viticultural Council of Australia. Therefore, on legal grounds, the act must be amended by deleting, the titles, “Federal Viticultural Council df Aus tralia”, and inserting in lieu thereof the title, “ Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council of Australia Incorporated “.
The Opposition has no objection to the measure. Like all sensible people, we are anxious to further the welfare of the industry and of the people engaged in it. The industry is a good export income earner. In turns out a wholesome product in Australia which, if used temperately and in the right manner, adds to the joy of living of many people. Perhaps one complaint the Australian public might have is that it is not possible to get a glass of wine at a reasonable price. By the time it reaches the table at home, in the hotel, restaurant or anywhere else, the price of the wine is out of all reason, and there is a tendency on the part of those who must have alcoholic drinks to consume something else which is more palatable, or at least equally as palatable.
.- The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has not left very much for any one else to say. He has covered the subject fairly well, seeing that the Minister said in his secondreading speech that this is only a small machinery measure, which it really is. I appreciate what has been said by the honorable member for Lalor. As he has pointed out, the sole object of this legislation is to amend the principal act by deleting the title, “ Federal Viticultural Council of Australia “, and inserting in lieu thereof the title, “ Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council of Australia Incorporated “. That alteration in the name of the organization having been approved by the Registrar of Companies in South Australia, it is now necessary, in order to make the legal position clear, to amend section 5 of the principal act by substituting the new name of the council for the old.
It is pleasing to know that Australian wines are becoming very popular overseas. I just do not know why, but for a long time there seemed to be some prejudice against them. I believe that the quality of our wines is high and they are now becoming very popular. In fact, in a statement published on Monday, 7th October, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) announced that Australia’s participation in the Fine Foods Fair at Cologne, Germany, had ‘-resulted in substantial sales. ‘He “went on to say that the business written at the Australian pavilion included large orders for cheddar cheese, canned vegetables and canned fruit, jams and marmalade, and 15,000 gallons of white table wines. That is very interesting news, and I should say that 15,000 gallons would be a very big sale. In the past, the board has always been very efficient. From what I know of it, it is very energetic. Its members have always come to Canberra to meet Ministers and explain the needs of the wine industry. As brandy is covered by the measure, it is interesting to note that some years ago this Government made a substantial reduction in the excise duty on brandy. That was a great incentive to sales of brandy, and full advantage has been taken of it by the industry.
Generally speaking, one cannot say much more about the measure. The industry, despite difficulties, is thriving. On some occasions it has been of benefit to the dried fruits industry because the act provides that if the Minister for Customs and Excise is of the opinion that there are not enough grapes produced from normal sources for fortifying spirits, he may grant authority to use sub-standard dried fruits. He has not given that authority this year, but on occasions he has done so in the past. This has enabled the dried fruits industry to sell to the wine-making industry reasonable quantities of sub-standard dried fruits resulting in assistance to the dried fruits industry. The dried fruits industry has urged on many occasions that it should be given this opportunity each year, but so far it has not been successful in that respect. Nevertheless, in those years in which the permission has been granted, the dried fruits industry has benefited. There is not so much wine produced in Victoria as in South Australia, but the quality of Mildara and similar wines is appreciated, I believe, by people not only in this country but also overseas.
– I wish to associate myself with the very fair and sparkling speech made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in support of this bill. As the Minister has said, this is purely a machinery measure but, as the time of the Parliament is being taken up in discussing it, I think one should examine the position closely to ascertain whether the wine-making , industry is of .sufficient importance to warrant the assistance ; that is being given to it. I feel that the industry is of major importance to Australia. It is estimated that the capital invested in it amounts to £70,000,000; and it is a great earner of overseas credit. The Minister recently made some laudatory remarks concerning the industry. He made the point that in 1962 a record crop of 231,000 tons of grapes was grown, from which 42,000,000 gallons of wine were produced. Production dropped considerably in the following year and a production of 150,000 tons of grapes is estimated for 1963. This is an alarming drop in the production of grapes for wine production. I know that the Minister spoke with authority when he said there is no doubt that our wines are well in world class. He was referring to the qualities of our wines in relation to taste and their ability to tickle the palate for the increased enjoyment of good food.
The Australian industry has suffered some reverses and has experienced varying degrees of prosperity. It has not enjoyed consistent prosperity. Although the production of grapes for wine-making has fallen alarmingly in 1963, the consumption of wine in Australia has not decreased. We are no longer very dependent on export markets, as we were prior to World War IT. That is because of increased local consumption. Our wine exports are now less than 10 per cent, of production, compared with 50 per cent, of production prior to the last war. Our increased local consumption may please some people, but it is a matter of regret to me. We want to increase exports. On numerous occasions we are told by Ministers that aid is being given to industries that will increase our overseas earnings. It is regrettable that the wine industry is not maintaining or expanding its sales in overseas markets.
The history of wine production in Australia is very interesting and very romantic. I will quote some figures of the production of wine over a considerable period, since records were first kept in the industry. In the year 1860-61 the total production of wine was 294,000 gallons. Since that time production has increased, decreased and increased again. The latest production figures available are for the year 1960-61, when 33,793,000 gallons of wine were produced, . J want to be,. regarded as. a big.minded. Austraiian, but, naturally I. have a great interest in the production of wine in my own State. I am sorry to say that the production of wine in Queensland is far from satisfactory. The first record of wine production there is for the year 1875-76, when a total of 77,000 gallons was produced. Production rose until in 1895-96 it reached a peak of 238,000 gallons. This production was achieved almost entirely in one area - the Roma area. Roma is noted for the production of various commodities, the latest being oil. Wine production there fell from the peak level of 1895 until it reached, in 1960-61, the very low level of 32.000 gallons. This is a very small amount, particularly when you realize that the consumption of wine in Queensland is increasing. In 1959-60 consumption in Queensland was 880,000 gallons. In 1960-61 it rose to 920,000 gallons and that was maintained in 1961-62. The consumption of spirits has dropped considerably during this period. The decrease may be attributable to the action of the Government in recent years in reducing the excise payable on brandy in order to encourage Australian consumers to drink more brandy. Increased brandy consumption has been achieved at the expense of rum consumption. In the last nine years the excise duty payable on brandy has been reduced to 45s. per proof gallon, whereas the excise duty payable on rum - a product Queensland - has been maintained at the high rate of 82s. per proof gallon. The higher excise duty payable on rum increases its price and gives an advantage to brandy. Rum is produced entirely in Queensland.
The history of the wine industry in Australia is quite romantic and fascinating. The primary producers who pioneered the industry are deserving of every credit. Their successors deserve every assistance that can be given in the protection of this worthwhile industry. I recently received a document which deals with the establishment of the wine industry in Roma, Queensland. An article in it states -
Queensland, the youngest of the States, is also the youngest of the wine-producers. The Queensland industry was founded in 1866 on the western slopes of the Darling Downs. The site was on a bend of Bungil Creek about two miles from the town of Roma. It took almost two months for a bullock team to haul a load including a thousand vine cuttings from Toowoomba, 200 miles away, and only 300 cuttings survived the dusty, blazing journey. These cuttings flourished,” however; in the sandy loam of the property and today the vine yards produce about 40,000 gallons of wine a year. Some of the original vines are still heavy bearers after almost a century.
I think you will agree, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that that is a great tribute to the pioneers of this industry in Queensland and to the fortitude that they have displayed in advancing the Queensland industry and maintaining its level of production, even though it is on only a very small scale. I believe that there is considerable scope for the expansion of the production of wine in Queensland. There is certainly a demand for good wine in Queensland. A number of Queenslanders apparently are connoisseurs of wine and appreciate a product of good quality, though I do not claim to be one of them. Wine of very high quality is produced in Queensland. There is therefore considerable scope for the expansion of the industry in that State, and I hope that in the near future we shall see that expansion taking place.
The Australian Wine Board is doing quite good work in trying to promote sales of Australian wine overseas. It indulges in the usual forms of propaganda and advertising by holding exhibitions, showing films of wine production and holding wine-tasting functions. I note from the annual report of the board for the financial year 1962-63 that during that year 56 wine tastings were held in the United Kingdom, with special attention to tastings in officers’ messes of the three services. There were also other displays of Australian wines throughout that country. Apparently in some parts of Australia, too, wine is being promoted by winetasting functions. Having had no personal experience of these, I know nothing about them, but I take it that the idea is to give a small taste of a quality product to any one who will attend, the object being to encourage people to consume more wine.
The report of the board shows that in 1954 production of wine in Australia totalled 31,666,091 gallons. The estimate for 1963 is slightly less at 31,052,000 gallons. However, this represents an alarming drop from the 1962 production, which totalled 42,201,104 gallons. So, as I said before, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the prosperity of the industry is fluctuating. It is a pity that we cannot stabilize production and sales, because the industry is certainly worthy of every effort that we can make to give it stability. We are, on the one hand, exporting considerable quantities of wine. But I am very much disappointed at the volume of imports. I agree with the statement made some time ago by the Minister for Primary Industry, in a speech to members of the Australian Wine Board, to the effect that Australian wines compare favorably with overseas wines. If that is the case, surely Australians could themselves consume more of Australia’s high-quality wines. During 1962, we exported a considerable quantity of wine. Apparently, the United Kingdom, is still the principal overseas market for our wines. During that year, we sold to the United Kingdom about 654,000 gallons of wine having a value of about £450,000. Canada, also, is buying considerable quantities from us, as is New Zealand.
We boast - and justifiably - of the quality of Australian wines, and it is a pity that we find it necessary to import such huge quantities. During 1962, we imported from France sparkling wines to a value of more than £40,000. That represents a considerable drain on our overseas reserves despite the fact that we produce in Australia such a high-quality product. Much the same applies to brandy. In 1962, we imported brandy to the value of £81,875.
There is much to.be said for the quality of Australia’s wines, and anything that can be done to promote sales of these excellent products of an Australian primary industry should be encouraged. I realize that certain social evils are associated with the consumption of alcoholic liquors, but there are certain pleasures, too. Wine, taken in moderation, I am reliably informed, is a delight to the epicure and the gourmand. I do not regard myself as such, because I drink so little wine that I may be classed as almost a total abstainer. However, on joyous occasions such as the celebration of an election victory, a christening or a wedding, I may be prevailed on to have a sip of wine, and I always find it extremely palatable. I agree that one must not become addicted to it. Unfortunately, we in Australia have coined some rather contemptuous words that we apply to this excellent beverage. Many people refer to it in a depreciatory way as bombo or plonk. The use of such words is most un- fortunate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I hope that we shall get away from such practices and realize that Australian wines are of very high quality and that we should do everything possible, by speaking well of them, to promote their sale and thereby assure the prosperity of our own industry.
South Australia is the principal producer of wines in Australia, and the producers in that State are endeavouring, by means of exhibitions and other gimmicks designed to interest people in wine, to promote sales. I am reminded of the Barossa valley festival, which is held annually, when thewhole of the local community and thousands of visitors hold a very well worthwhile celebration which features music, wine, flowers, pretty girls and elaborate floats, with the idea of publicizing the main industry of the Barossa valley. This helps to ensure the prosperity of that valley, as well as the prosperity of other beautiful wine-producing areas in South Australia and elsewhere throughout Australia.
I hope that honorable members will not be annoyed because I have taken up so much of the time of the House in discussing this measure. I speak from my heart in the interests of primary producers. I am completely detached in this matter, because not one gallon of wine is produced in the electorate that I represent. Therefore, I believe that I can speak on this subject without any bias or prejudice in favour of anybody and without thought of winning any votes by what I say. The wine industry is a great Australian industry in which there is heavy capital investment and on which many thousands of Australians depend for their livelihood. I am convinced that I should support this measure, and I hope that its passage will, in a sense, inject into the industry a fortifying spirit that will encourage still greater production, with consequently greater sales, and even greater prosperity for those associated with the industry in particular and for Australia in general.
.- The legislation before the House is a very simple machinery bill. Its purpose is merely to legalize the change of name of a federal organization comprising various State associations of wine and brandy producers. As the legislation deals with a change of name I want to make a few remarks concerning names. For the benefit of yourself, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and other honorable members, I may say that in Western Australia the bulk of wine production is carried on in the division of Moore.
– More wine.
– More wine, yes, and very successfully they produce it, and produce wine of extremely high quality. If honorable members care to go to the library and turn up a wine connoisseur’s book on wine growing - I think it costs about £4 4s. - they will find that it is recorded that the only part of Australia in which wine of true-to-grape type is produced - that is, a dry sherry and a port - is in the Swan wine growing area of Western Australia. The fact that this is so is attributed to the dry conditions under which the grapes are grown.
– What do they call it?
– I will come to the calling. These wines are a sherry and a port of true-to-grape type. I am not giving my own opinion, because I would not know very much about it. I drink only the humble beer. However, I must remind the House that Australia’s exports of wine are increasing, and I believe the time has arrived when Australia must establish for itself an identity in different types of wine. We should not be content with sending our wines overseas merely as sherries or ports, using the names that are centuries old in European countries. We should establish names for our own wines.
I appreciate that on this occasion I am not really speaking to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the Minister or to the House, but to the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers’ Council and its members. They should look at this suggestion and try to have our Australian wines properly identified, so that people overseas will know that they are Australian wines, not. just Australian sherries or Australian ports or the like. We should have our own names. We could add on th; label “ sherry type “ or “ port type “ as the case may be, but each wine must have its own identifying name.
I call to mind an occasion a couple of years ago when I paid a visit to the oil drilling teams in the north-west of Western Australia, and was entertained by them. They served for lunch, and as a cocktail drink before lunch, beautiful cold
Houghton’s white burgundy. I am not giving a plug now when I tell honorable members that this is a Western Australian wine which had captured the palates of the Americans on those oil fields. They served it properly chilled, and it became so popular that it was about their main drink of the day. If they wanted a cold drink to refresh them they took a shallow glass of this white burgundy, which they believed was better than any other drink for refreshing and quenching a thirst. That white burgundy had - and still has - quite a big following among the American people who come here, some o) whom have gone back to America. It is also very favorably received throughout Australia. As a matter of fact, this House was pleased to make it the main wine on the menu when it entertained the King and Queen of Thailand. It is being exported, but I believe it should have an identity of its own. Never mind about the trade name and the blue stripe or whatever else you have on the label. It could have a notation “ burgundy type “ on the label, but it should have a definite name of its own, and, preferably, a name which would identify it with the great Swan district in Western Australia.
– And with Moore.
– Yes, with Moore, if you like. But it should first be identified as an Australian wine, not merely a burgundy or sherry or port made in Australia. People would then learn to call for it by name. They would not say, simply, “ I want an Australian burgundy “.
We can increase our overseas wine trade if producers and exporters will accept my suggestion. There may be some small difficulties to start with, but with proper public relations work and salesmanship I have no doubt they can be overcome. Our wines are steadily gaining recognition overseas because of their quality. Although, as the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) says, our major purchaser of Australian wines is England, nevertheless it is a fact that we export wines to countries that are expert wine producers, such as France, Belgium, Spain and Germany. These are countries producing wines that have been famous for centuries. Their producers taught us and other countries to grow good wine grapes and make good wine.
I rose merely to make this suggestion, taking advantage of the fact that the bill deals with names. This is an opportunity for us to speak to this council of wineproducers throughout Australia and say to them;: “ Be proud of your product. You have nothing to be ashamed of.” Of course there are some producers who make plonk, but it is never found more than a couple of miles from where it is produced. Let us put our own Australian names on our wines. The honorable member for Griffith mentioned, for instance, Barossa Pearl. That is the kind of name that we should devise for all our wines.
– What about Moore Bouquet?
– That would do very well, because there is an excellent bouquet about Moore, and also about the member for Moore. We will have to do this eventually, so why not start now when we are beginning to expand our wine production and our wine exports. Naturally I support the bill.
.- I have always risen in this House to support wine production in Australia. We grow wine, you know, in practically every State of Australia, lt was a South Australian poet - that State’s greatest - who said, “Wine that maketh glad the heart of man “. So I am at a loss to understand why we are given all this expert evidence by people who must aver that they do not drink wine. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is relying entirely on his experts, but he has done a good job for our wine industry, as is evident from the report he presented from the Australian Wine Board.
I was interested in what the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) said about the very fine wines produced in his State. He drew a picture very much happier than the ones he usually draws about conditions in the country. I was compiling some statistics with the aid of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who led the debate from this side of the House, and I found that our total production for last year was lower than that for the previous year, in which the total was 63,000,000 gallons. This was because of the slow flowering of the vines and the drought that followed. The total was 42,000,000 gallons. If stored in tanks at country homes this would fill 42,000 one-thousand gallon tanks. Think what a bloom would come over the country if the second one-thousand gallon tank on every selection were also filled with the wine of the country. Even the honorable member for Moore would break out in jest; it would be something that he could enjoy. Even the members of the Australian Country Party would lose their grim look if they had one tank for aqua pura and one for the wine of the country. They would be happy indeed. I make that point in passing.
There is a serious aspect to this question. The name of a representative on the marketing board has been changed. Personally, I do not care whether it is called the wine marketing board, the wine and brandy board or the grapes of wrath. The job ahead of the board is to sell overseas more of the good wine we produce here. This could be a very fine supplementary development of our primary industries. Our wine industry is doing well, despite the hazards of snobbery and ignorance about wines. In its long history, the wine industry has not received a great deal of encouragement. Why is it that a man who has a glass of beer is considered to be a reasonable and respectable Christian, but a man who staggers a little on the wine of the country is regarded as something sinister? He is said to be a little French and a little dangerous; there is something wrong with him. In the interests of wine producing in Australia, we should grow up and revise our views on wine drinking.
This is not a good year for wine. This year, we shall produce 31,000,000 gallons. Last year, we produced 42,000,000 gallons, and that is a lot of wine. Earlier, I tried to draw an analogy by saying that the country would be transformed if every man had his 1,000 gallons of wine at the back of his house. The Frenchman may not consume as much wine as that, but many honorable members know that in Paris vans of wine are driven through the streets. When I saw them, I thought they were being used to put petrol into bowsers, but they were being used to put wine into the bistros. That accounts for the gaiety of Paris, for the wonderful production of wine in France and for the large sums of money made out of it. Many things begun with a touch of humour can produce real coin, and wine is a case in point.
As the Minister pointed out in his secondreading speech, this has not been the best year for wine, having regard to the volume of wine produced, but the wine has been good. As a primary producing country, we should be pleased to know that the trend to use table wines is growing. The board has encouraged people to take the snobbery out of wine. Previously, people held the view that there were two classes of wine. The very rich had their champagne, roses and the very best wines; other people had plain plonk from the shanty on the rise. But that view has gone now. The average drinker to-day who likes something different will have a glass of Moselle or perhaps a bottle of red wine on his table, and think nothing of it. As a result of public interest and changed eating habits due to people wanting to taste this or that, and perhaps to the influence of migrants, we have a wider wine-drinking public.
It is good to know that the snobbery has been taken out of wine. Once upon a time, wine-drinking was a social grace. We had to approach the table and make sure that the hostess did not serve white wine when she should be serving red wine. If she committed the solecism of giving a guest white wine with turkey and cranberry sauce, she would not be invited into the members’ stand at Randwick the following Easter. People became suspicions. They thought that wine was not a drink but a ritual. However, all that has gone now and much of this is due to the very good publicity work done by the public relations men attached to the Australian Wine Board. I rose to speak about this point.
The snobbery about wine is universal. I went to see a friend of raine not so many months ago. We were out in the country and we were very hot and tired. When we arrived at the house, I said, “ Is there anything to eat?” He said, “No, not yet; the wine is in the kitchen but it is Still breathing.” I said, “ That is interesting but if we do not get something to eat, your guests will not be breathing.” The idea is to uncork a bottle of wine and let it breathe. The ritual about an ordinary 10s. bottle of wine is enormous. Two chaps go to a table and sniff the bouquet. The honorable member for Moore spoke about the bouquet, but this is the bouquet of the wine itself. First, these chaps discuss the bouquet and then they discuss the bloom. One says, “Do you think there is a bloom on it?” The other says, “Yes, perhaps there is, but not as much as there was in 1927.” Then they discuss the vintage. One says, “ Do you think we have had a vintage year? “ The other says, “ Yes, it could be, but I think the Hunter valley did better last year “.
This double talk goes on while everybody is slowly starving to death. Some one suggests that the texture is not quite as good as it was last year, that there is a certain smoothness in the burgundy but not as much velvet as we will find in the vin du pays. The guests by this time are getting very hungry. They sit down at the table and sip the wine. One fellow looks aghast and says, “ Was that a little piece of cork?” The inclination is to say: “ It was either that or a Canberra fly. It is hard to distinguish between them in the semidarkness.” Then the experts go a little further and one says: “ I think the sulphur is rising a little on this. How do you feel about it?” The other says, “ Yes, it could be, but then again it may be only taking heart.” We have all heard how the wine takes heart. The wine is not sulphurous, it is taking heart. All the time, the spare bottle of wine is breathing in the kitchen. Probably the cook is breathing in the kitchen also, and I hope they are breathing on each other.
We should devote our efforts to selling our wine, most of which is good and some of which is splendid. The splendid wines are mainly produced, as the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) said, in Roma, and, as the honorable member for Moore said, at the Houghton vineyard. He valiantly propounded the virtues of the very fine port liqueurs and burgundies, for the benefit of the estate. I nod in the direction of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) as I think of the Barossa valley, because his electorate is adjacent to the valley. Then we have the Hunter valley which is in the electorate of my colleague, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), and where the richest and rarest reds in the southern hemisphere are grown in profusion. But we must get the virtues of these wines across to the consumers. There is something in what the honorable member for Moore said, that we are caught up in snobbery. We refer to port, claret and burgundy and all the old-world names because of this snobbery. Should we perforce call our wines galahs, cockatoos or striped goannas? What nonsense!
We have made an impact on the wine market, despite the antagonism found overseas and despite the sniffing of old gentlemen sitting up with their brandy, looking for all the world like Alsatian dogs at the police station and saying, “ No, this is not it, is it?” But, after the first drink, they would not know what it was, and neither would most of us. This is another snobbery we have to destroy - the snobbery about the vintage, the blend and the country of origin. We want to strike out and get the great, thirsty world interested in our wines. We have had splendid support from the British, mostly in the north counties, but there is some snobbery in London itself. There is a curious anomaly about wine. We sell a lot of wine, all of it in casks. The French buyers are always deeply interested when our wine goes on the market. They buy it and blend it with their best wines. The snobs sit back and say. “ You cannot beat the French champagne “, but they do not know that perhaps 25 per cent, of that wine is the Australian wine that they would not drink. The snobbery about wine, therefore, is utter nonsense.
Good advertising has taught people to realize the merit in wine. We had some Russian visitors here yesterday. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is not here to advise the House, so I can speak about them. They were enthralled with our white wines. They had a beautiful Moselle. They asked why we gave our wines a German name or a French name; but it is too late to correct or error about the names now. Good wine is produced in Australia.
The defeating of snobbery is good. Books have been written on how to drink wine. They are advertised in the Sunday newspapers and can be procured readily. It is no longer a crime to have a bottle of sauterne with duck or red wine with fish or any wine you like, as long as you feel happy and cheerful. Our merchandising methods can defeat snobbery. There is no el Magnifico to-day to order his wines and set down his cellar in the way that used to be done in the glamorous past, We, as Australians, are out to sell our wine to people throughout the world who want to drink good wine. A good job has been done in marketing. We have had a bit of a setback in Canada, where there is a surcharge, and in some other countries we run into prejudice, but our wine fs selling reasonably well. A product like this could be a great asset to us in the future when wheat, wool, meat and the other great primary products need some subsidiary products. Wine looks like the best bet of them all. Wine sales are growing steadily. We have competitors in South Africa and in California on the Pacific Coast of the United States. But our wine is still more than holding its own.
What has been achieved has been the result of some spendid public relations work which I rose to praise. The Australian Wine Board has issued booklets. One book, called “ The Grapes are Growing “, is in the Library. It gives a history of the grape from the time it is planted until it is harvested. It is very interesting. A film on Australian wine-producing has been running in the various film theatres and theatrettes as well as in clubs. It is now getting a bit outmoded, but I understand from the Minister for Primary Industry that two more films will be produced soon, if they are not already in production. I understand that one is in colour. This is first-class promotion. I congratulate the Minister on it. These books and films will begin to educate people in Australia and then the 40,000 Australians who live permanently in London and the thousands of Australian tourists who go to London each year will be able to talk to people in England and other countries. They will have some information in their minds and will be able to promote sincerely the merits of our wine to their friends.
The book “The Grapes are Growing” and the films are well done. The propaganda in the newspapers and in booklets such as “ How to Serve Wine “ and “ Dishes that go with wine “ is splendidly produced. We have made a very strong leap forward in the publicity of wine. That is very good to see. I speak now as a man interested in the publicity side. Sometimes our publicity in regard to wool and other primary products has become a little ecstatic and a little off-beat. But I am sure that the honest, clever and intelligent promotion of Australian wine - it is presented not as something superlative but as something well above average and something worth investigating - is bringing results. The Minister for Primary Industry is now present. As I said in his absence, Mr. Deputy Speaker, although he has to depend on his advisers for his information about wine, he has done a very good job in developing this very important secondary leg to our great primary industries.
I have referred to getting rid of snobbery and to advertising. I refer now to winetasting - a very interesting thing. The Minister one day should go to one of the Australian Wine Board’s functions and taste a drop of the old cratur. It is served with Australian cheese and Australian biscuits.
– I will have to go and taste the wine.
– Yes. If the Minister were a wine-taster, how much more potent his words in the House would be than if he merely relied on advice from his director of wine marketing. These wine-tasting functions, which are held in cities and country towns, are pleasant. People are asked to come along. There is a total absence of snobbery. There is plenty of cheese and biscuits and there are opportunities for the public to participate.
There are also skilful selectivity groups which organize the sale of our wine in appropriate areas throughout the world. This is why I acknowledge the work of the Australian Wine Centre. During the war, in Great Britain we had nothing except a thing called Emu. 1 do not want to say much about it because that is a trade name. Perhaps 1 should merely say that because of the scarcities during the war there was some bad wine - plonk which was guaranteed to kill the bravest commando at 100 yards. That was extremely bad publicity for us, even in the years after the war. We have cleaned that up by the establishment of the Australian Wine Centre. In London people can receive advice on how to use Australian wines. There is also good publicity. It is all to the good.
The honorable member for Lalor, who led for the Opposition in this debate, explained the export details. I believe that in the development of markets for our exports wine should take a very important place. There is something romantic about it. The wine industry is one of the oldest industries. It is mentioned in the Bible. 1 think all of the Slates - I am not too sure about Tasmania - have some interesting historical connexion with wine-producing. The honorable member for Griffith told us about the Roma district. The honorable member for Moore told us about the Houghton vineyards. I can tell the House about the Hunter valley in New South Wales. Honorable members from South Australia talk about the glorious Barossa valley, which is a tremendous asset. This industry can be romanticized and publicized to a great extent. Nearly all of Australia has the required soil and Mediterranean climate which produce wine in abundance.
We have markets coming up in SouthEast Asia. Malaya and Singapore have been good purchasers of our wines. Probably because of the disturbances and the changes which then were imminent but not effective, those countries did not buy as much last year as they did previously.’ In all countries in which there is an eagerness to buy Australian products we must try to expand our market. I refer not only to the ancient countries of Europe in which wines from Oporto, Lisbon and other places have a monopoly. The statistics contained in the annual report of the Australian Wine Board show how many million gallons of wine go all over the world from France and Spain. The industry in those countries has been established for centuries. We are making only the tentative steps of an infant in entering. the trade. We should consider the vast areas that are opening to us in Asia. There are many Mohammedans and other nondrinkers but there are. very many other, people in the teeming millions of Asia, who are looking for cheap table wines. As their culture develops and, more importantly, as they get the money to give them the right to a better standard of living, they will be our customers rather than the customers of Europe. I am sorry that I delayed the House for’ so long. I rose merely to conpliment my fellow journalists who, in their publicity of wine, have done a balanced, imaginative and completely successful job, without over-statement and with a thorough understanding of their subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Adermann) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26th September (vide page 1428), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- At Geneva on 29th April, 1958, the nations attending the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea signed four conventions - the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone; the Convention on the High Seas; the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas; and the Convention on the Continental Shelf. On 30th October of that year Australia signed those four conventions, subject to ratification. That day, 30th October, was the last day on which the Convention on the Continental Shelf was open for signature, and the last day but one on which the other three conventions were open for signature.
On 10th May, 1961, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was then also Minister for External Affairs, tabled the four conventions under the new procedure whereby the Government proposes as a general rule to table the text of treaties signed for Australia whether or not ratification is required, as well as the text of treaties to which the Government is contemplating accession. At the same time the right honorable gentleman announced that as a general rule and except in cases of urgency the Government intended not to ratify or accede to a treaty until it had lain on the table of both Houses for at least twelve sitting days. On 14th May last, our permanent representative at the
United Nations deposited instruments of ratification of the four conventions and also signed without reservation as to ratification the Optional Protocol of Signature concerning Compulsory Settlement of Disputes, which had also been done at Geneva on 29th April, 1958. The conventions do not come into force until the 30th day following the date of deposit of the 22nd instrument of ratification or accession. The Convention on the High Seas is the only convention which has so far received more than 22 ratifications or accessions. It, accordingly, is the only one of the conventions which is at present in force. The present bill carries out the obligation under Articles 27, 28 and 29 of the Convention on the High Seas - the obligation which every state undertakes - to take the necessary legislative measures for the protection of submarine cables and pipelines beneath the high seas. Accordingly the Opposition supports the bill, which will enable Australia to carry out its obligations under the first of these conventions which is in force.
May I say also that in this case the Department of Shipping and Transport seems to have acted with commendable and unusual promptness. The convention came into force on 13th June last, 30 days after the date on which we deposited our instrument of ratification. Accordingly, this is the first session in which the Parliament could have taken the necessary legislative measures. I do not wish to appear to be too carping in this matter, but I have had occasion previously to refer to the delay on the part of the Department of Shipping and Transport in carrying out Australia’s international maritime obligations. This delay is all the more noticeable when one compares the promptness with which in the last two or three years the Department of Civil Aviation has performed its part in implementing Australia’s international obligations in the field of aviation. I shall illustrate the delay by the Department of Shipping and Transport.
The Navigation Act 1958 contains several sections which, on their face, would permit Australia to ratify several International Labour Organization conventions. Nevertheless, none of those conventions has yet been ratified. They are International Labour Organization Conventions No. 23 -
Repatriation of Seamen 1926; No. 58 - Minimum Age (Sea) (Revised) 1936; No. 69 - Certification of Ships’ Cooks 1946; No. 74 - Certification of Able Seamen 1946; and No. 92 - Accommodation of Crews (Revised) 1949. In general the delay in ratification is caused by the fact that the Government has not yet made the regulations to implement the sections of the act which the Parliament passed in 1958. Since then two further maritime conventions have been adopted at International Labour Organization conferences. They are No. 108 - Seafarers’ National Identity Documents Convention of 1958; and No. 109 - Wages, Hours of Work and Manning (Sea) Convention of 1958. The Parliament has not yet enacted the legislation which, as far as the Commonwealth is concerned, would permit Australia to ratify those conventions. lt is not only in respect of International Labour Organization conventions that we are lagging. There are some of more general significance. First there is the 1957 International Convention relating to the Limitation of the Liability of Owners of Sea-going Ships. Then there are the 1961 International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to the Carriage of Passengers by Sea, the 1962 amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution of the Sea by Oil and the 1962 International Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships. Those are a considerable number of conventions of industrial and commercial significance. Australia, and in particular the Department of Shipping and Transport, have not acted with sufficient speed in implementing these international obligations. I realize that the Parliamentary Draftsman finds it difficult to frame regulations and indeed to find the time to frame regulations to carry out acts which have already been enacted and he finds it difficult to frame or to find time to frame bills to carry out such international conventions. But there is another delaying factor in the fact that the department has taken the attitude in recent years - it is very doubtful whether under the Constitution it needs to take this attitude - that the States must in many cases pass complementary legislation. Now, the States arc extraordinarily sluggish in carrying out this obligation, if in fact it is necessary for them to carry it out. Only the Commonwealth Government can participate in international conferences. Only the Commonwealth can undertake obligations with other nations on behalf of Australia. The State governments have no international standing. They have no international right of audience. The Commonwealth, therefore, in the interest of Australia’s honour and also of Australia’s material advantage must see that the States act more promptly than they have acted in these matters.
I have cited these conventions to illustrate the delay on the part of the Department of Shipping and Transport in carrying out our international obligations compared with the manner in which the Department of Civil Aviation acts in matters that are its responsibility. In this instance the Department of Shipping and Transport is acting with as much speed as can bc expected. Perhaps we could have lodged our ratification before this year, but that has not made any difference because not enough other countries had lodged their ratifications.
These four conventions concern Australia and its neighbours in many respects. Australia is a maritime nation of considerable importance. This is an island or a continent, however one likes to classify it, ruled by one political complex. Australia is among the ten or twelve largest trading countries in the world. It is a country which has very considerable fishery resources. Its gulfs and reefs may raise some difficult problems of international law. Our neighbours also are concerned in these matters. Our second-largest customer and supplier, Japan, is one of the great maritime nations in the world. It is the greatest shipbuilding nation in the world. It is the greatest seafaring nation in the world. It is the greatest fishing nation in the world. Sometimes Britain, the Scandinavian countries or Greece may rival it in some of those respects, but by and large Japan is the greatest maritime nation in the world. Japan trades with this country and fishes in neighbouring waters. Therefore, it is greatly to our interest to see that international obligations such as those covered by these four conventions are undertaken by Japan. Japan was represented at the Geneva Conference on the Law of the Sea but so far she has not ratified any of the four conventions.
Two of our other neighbours, the Philippines and Indonesia, raise particular problems in the international law of the sea because they are large archipelagos. Inevitably problems involving rights of transit, of fishing and of communications arise in relation to the Philippines and Indonesia. Both countries were represented at the Geneva conference. The Philippines has not ratified any of the conventions and Indonesia has. ratified only one. That is the only convention which is in force, the Convention on the High Seas.
Another country which is of commercial significance to us now that Singapore has been incorporated in it and which, through the absorption of Sarawak, Sabah and perhaps Brunei, is likely to have problems of navigation and commerce is Malaya. Malaya was represented at the conference and has adopted all four conventions.
It will be clear from what I have said that Australia, in its own right and also in its geographic and commercial context, has a very great interest in the conclusion and promotion of maritime international conventions. The law of the sea oan be settled only by international arrangements. There is dispute as to how far territorial waters extend, but most of the seas of the world are beyond the jurisdiction of any one country. Accordingly, law and order in respect of most of the seas can be achieved only by international arrangements, by conventions such as those drawn up five years ago at Geneva.
One hopes that the Philippines and Indonesia will carry out their part of the bargain by implementing these conventions, just as Australia has done this year. If they ratify their signatures to the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone - a convention which particularly concerns them as well as Australia - it will come into operation because it will have the necessary 22 ratifications. At present it has only twenty.
I am happy on this occasion to be able to compliment the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) on the promptness and completeness with which he is carrying out Australia’s international obligations.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I wish to ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) one question relating to a subject on which I asked him a question on the last occasion a similar bill was before us. Honorable members will notice that clause 5 of the bill is in these terms -
The definition of “ the high seas “ appears in the concluding part of the preamble, which quotes Article I of the convention in this way -
The term “ high seas “ means al) parts of the sea that are not included in the territorial sea or in the internal waters of a State.
It is clear that in this context “ State “ means Australia but in clause 6, for instance, “ State “ means one of the six States of the Commonwealth of Australia.
I ask the Minister: What precisely is the Australian territorial sea and what are Australian internal waters? These terms require definition particularly in respect of three gulfs. Spencer Gulf, St. Vincent Gulf and the Gulf of Carpentaria, and of the Great Barrier Reef. Are these gulfs in the Australian territorial sea or are they Australian internal waters? The Minister knows the difficulty in relation to fisheries. It is usually accepted that State laws apply within three miles of the coast of a State or within three miles of any island belonging to a State and that Commonwealth laws apply to every other part which is more than three miles from the coast. There is, on the other hand, a dispute as to whether the waters of Spencer Gulf and St. Vincent Gulf, both of which are more than 6 miles wide at the mouth, are within Commonwealth or South Australian jurisdiction.
– There are no submarine cables or pipelines there.
– That is so, but one surely cannot assume that there will never be a submarine cable or pipeline connecting say Adelaide and Port Lincoln, or Port Pirie and Whyalla.
– A pipeline is to be put in there.
– Yes. One cannot assume that there will not be a submarine cable across the Gulf of Carpentaria, or between the Gulf of Carpentaria and Papua. I believe there are submarine cables passing through the Great Barrier Reef. After all, this is a criminal statute with which we are dealing. This measure will make certain things an offence, so its terms ought to be precise. This is not a novel question. It has been discussed on many occasions in learned journals. Honorable members might be interested in an article on the problems of Australian coastal jurisdiction by Professor O’Connell, of the University of Adelaide, which appeared in the British Year Book on International Law in 1958. A problem arises as to whether Commonwealth law, Northern Territory law or Queensland law applies to the Gulf of Carpentaria. A problem arises also as to whether Commonwealth law or Queensland law applies to the Great Barrier Reef. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport - I did not get an answer from him last time - whether these gulfs and this reef are within the Australian territorial sea or are Australian internal waters.
15.37]. - It was difficult for the Conference on the Law of the Sea to come to agreement as to how far from the shore territorial waters extend. This has always been a matter of dispute. As far as the subject-matter of this measure is concerned, the conference considered the high seas to be waters outside the 3-mile limit, and Commonwealth law applies there. The States have not been asked to pass complementary legislation, but they could pass measures which would cover them as far as damage is concerned.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill- by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 12th September (vide page 946), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- The Opposition has indicated that it has no objection to taking these two bills together. I understand that this bill and the related Excise Bill have both been passed through the Senate and have been discussed extensively there. These measures contain amendments which are designed, in the main, to bring the principal legislation up to date and facilitate its operation. The Opposition invariably supports amendments which will improve administrative machinery and assist the public in its dealings with important departments such as the Department of Customs and Excise.
Among other things which are dealt with in the Customs Bill is provision for inflicting heavier penalties for smuggling. The suggestion is that, whereas £100 was a heavy penalty some years ago - particularly before the Government took office - £500 is not now too heavy a penalty in view of the diminishing value of money. The Opposition does not agree with that. The legislation also contains provisions to deal with the smuggling of a wide variety of goods, the importation of narcotic drugs, the giving of suitable guarantees and the enforcing of penalties when guarantees given by importers of narcotic drugs are not complied with. It also contains a variety of other machinery amendments.
I now turn to the proposal to amend the law relating to excise. The Excise Bill is almost entirely complementary to the Customs Bill. It seeks to facilitate the operation of the Excise Act. It contains amendments designed to bring the provisions of the Excise Act relating to the introduction into Parliament of excise tariff alterations into line with the revised Standing Orders of the House of Representatives. I can see no objection to the proposed amendments. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) has had vast experience of pilotage and seafaring generally, excise administration and smuggling activities. He has some very interesting comments to make during this debate. I now make way for him so that he may inform this House as it should be informed.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in saying that the Opposition supports the bill, but I did not quite like his suggestion that I know a lot about smuggling. I was connected with the seafaring industry for a great number of years, and I know that sometimes one sees queer things going on; but my grandmother told me to stay away from certain things and I want to assure the House that I kept away from temptation.
After all, the very reason why our customs procedure was brought into being was to guard against these things and we in Australia are very fortunate in having such a fine body of men in charge of the Department of Customs and Excise. As the honorable member for Lalor has said, this is purely a machnery measure designed to bring certain provisions into line with modern-day practices. lt will tighten up the provisions relating to the importation and safekeeping of narcotics and drugs and will speed up the processes of entry through customs. This is good, and I am glad to see the Government tightening up the code relating to the importation and safekeeping of these goods. By comparison with other countries, we in Australia are most fortunate because we have not had the gang warfare connected with the smuggling of narcotics that we have seen taking place in other countries. We have not got any organized means of bringing these goods into the country illegally, and it says much for our customs officers that this should be so.
I know that certain quantities of opium, indian hemp and the like get into the country. Even in to-day’s press we read that a half pound of opium was found on a ship at Fremantle. This kind of thing happens frequently, but it is nothing to be worried about because in other foreign countries huge quantities of these narcotics are smuggled in, and one has only to view certain television programmes to see what the outcome of that is. As I said before, we in Australia are free of that kind of thing, and I hope that we shall remain so. Much of the credit for this freedom is due to the methods we adopt. We have officers beyond reproach who search ships, aircraft, passengers and so on. Theirs is not a pleasant job, but it is carried out with a certain amount of dignity. Approaches have been made to these officers on many occasions in an effort to get goods in illegally, but, in the main, smuggling has been stopped. I hope to see that position continue for a long time because so long as that state of affairs obtains we shall not have very much to worry about.
One thing I would like to see is a little more consideration given to Asiatics in this direction. Asiatics seem to be the targets of those searching for smugglers. I have had a good deal of experience of what takes place at Melbourne. As most honorable members know, buses go to Victoria Docks to pick up passengers from ships. When the bus stops at the gates on the way out to be checked the man on the gate will say to an Asiatic, if one happens to be on the bus, “Hey, you, off you get”. The Asiatic gets off the bus, is taken to a shed and is searched. In the meantime, traffic starts to pile up behind the bus and the policeman at the gate orders the bus on; and the poor Asiatic who is inside the shed being searched, after having paid his bus fare, has to wait for the next bus and is required to pay a second fare. I urge the Minister to look into this matter with a view to ensuring that a little more humane treatment is given to these people when they are being searched. I do not ask that the searches be eliminated, because I think it most essential that ships, aircraft and passengers should be searched; but when the search is carried out in the way in which I have described, there is a certain amount of indignity suffered by the person concerned. This system has grown up over the years, and I hope the Minister will look into it to see what can be done. After all, if we went to their country we would feel just as badly as the Asiatics do if we were hauled off a bus to be searched. I know that a search has to be made, but I think it can be done with more dignity.
I should like also to see some liberalization of the laws relating to the entry of ships into Australian ports. At the present time if a ship wishes to enter Port Phillip, for instance, it has first to be passed by several authorities. I am glad to see that a port control service is being put into operation in Melbourne, and that will help to speed things along. The customs officials are governed by one Commonwealth department. Health officers are controlled by another department. When a ship approaches a port, nothing can be done about entry until a doctor from the Department of Health first goes on board. This doctor is controlled by the department administering the quarantine regulations. The law relating to the boarding of a vessel by a doctor was set down in 1840, in the days when sailing ships used to come in with whale oil lamps. It was decreed at that time that the doctor should board the ship between the hours of sunrise and sunset. The arrangement was that when he boarded the ship every one on board would line up for inspection. This was to guard against the entry of smallpox into the country. The same procedure applies to-day. Until the doctor makes his inspection, nobody else can go on board the ship. For instance, the customs officials are not allowed to board until after the doctor has made his inspection.
I suggest that something should be done about this because in these modern days one can board an aircraft at, say, Moscow, and, within 48 hours, arrive at Australia. Again, one can travel by aircraft from Britain to Australia in 48 hours. I emphasize that those who travel by aircraft do not have to go through the procedure of having to line up to be inspected. Vaccination certificates are looked at and passengers are told that if anything shows up on their body they must report. It is known that the incubation period is fourteen days. If a passenger should happen to pick up something in some part of the world, it should come out on his body within fourteen days. I point out that a fast ship coming to Aus tralia from, say, the Persian Gulf would take nineteen days to get here and a slow ship would take 28 days. In those circumstances, the fourteen days would be well over by the time the ship gets to Australia. Yet, if a ship should arrive outside any port in Australia half an hour after dark, she must be put at anchor and wait until sunrise next day before the doctor will come aboard to make his inspection. In the meantime, the ship is prevented from berthing. Everything is at a standstill. The customs officials cannot board the ship to carry out their search and pass the ship in. I should like to see this procedure liberalized and speeded up.
The Navigation Act makes certain provisions relating to these matters. Certain procedures, are under the control of the Commonwealth. I know that the Commonwealth controls both the Department of Health and the Department of Customs and Excise and it is proper that this should be so; but it is essential that these activities be integrated so that ships will not be delayed and so that passengers may be allowed to disembark with expedition. I have seen ships forced to anchor in winter at 5 o’clock at night and not be cleared until 10 next morning. It is only by going into these matters that we can expect to relieve the position. I applaud this bill. It is like a spring cleaning. It improves what we had and I hope that when the next bill comes before the Parliament some more good recommendations will be put into effect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Fairhall) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 12th September (vide page 947), on motion by Mr« Fairhall -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
.- My remarks may be more relevant to the previous bill. However, I suggest that the Minister may wish to give the House an undertaking that the suggestions made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) will be taken into consideration.
– I shall bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise and I shall have it looked at by the department.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of honorable members as members of the Select Committee on House of Representatives Accommodation: - The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has appointed Mr. Bury to be the chairman and Mr. Failes and Mr. Fox to be members of the committee. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has appointed Mr. Duthie to be the deputy chairman and Mr. Costa and Mr. Coutts to be members of the committee.
Debate resumed from 14th August (vide page 96), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt - That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, under the terms of this bill all persons travelling as passengers by air in the service of, or for the purposes of, the Commonwealth and authorities of the Commonwealth will have a uniform cover against death or injury, whether they are Commonwealth employees or not, whether they are travelling in Australia or abroad and whether in commercial aircraft or in aircraft owned by the Commonwealth. The cover for these Commonwealth passengers will be the same as for interstate passengers under Part IV. of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959-1962. The Commonwealth’s liability will be the same as that of carriers under that part of that act.
This bill is necessary because the present Government has so far failed to amend the Constitution and because the governments of many other countries have so far failed to ratify the Hague Protocol to the Warsaw Convention. It will be remembered that the House was given a report by the Constitutional Review Committee on 1st October, 1958, and was given full reasons for that committee’s recommendations on 26th November, 1959. One of the recommendations - like most of them, a unanimous recommendation - of this joint and all-party committee was that the Government hold a referendum to modernize the Constitution by giving this Parliament power to pass laws with respect to civil aviation. On subsequent occasions when this general subjectmatter has been discussed in the House, all speakers have conceded that the Commonwealth Parliament ought to have such legislative power, and they have expressed the opinion that the people would vest that power in this Parliament. Such a view was last expressed, only a fortnight ago, by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden).
If the Commonwealth Parliament had power over civil aviation, this legislation would be simpler and it would be possible for us to say that Commonwealth passengers would have the same cover as any other air passengers in Australia in case of injury or death. Because the Commonwealth Parliament has not this power,we have sought to have legislation on this subject passed by the State Parliaments in respect of flights which originate and end in one State, all other forms of air carriage being within the competence of this Parliament. A model bill was prepared by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman for enactment by the States. The terms of that measure appeared in the first annual report by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), for the financial year 1960-61. The bill was adopted, last financial year, by the Parliaments of South Australia and Tasmania and, in 1961, by the Parliaments of Western Australia and Victoria. The Parliaments of New South Wales and Queensland have not yet enacted it. Accordingly, there is no statutory cover for air passengers travelling by Queensland Airlines Proprietary Limited, Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited or East-West Airlines Limited. For TransAustralia Airlines passengers travelling within New South Wales or Queensland or within any other State there is the same Commonwealth statutory cover as there is for passengers of Qantas Empire Airways Limited anywhere or for Ansett-A.N.A. passengers on interstate or territorial flights.
On this subject, I point out that the States have been still more laggard in passing legislation to provide cover against damage by aircraft to objects on the surface. So far, only three parliaments have passed such legislation - those of New South Wales in 1952, Victoria in 1953 and Tasmania this year.
The other reason why this measure is necessary to provide cover for Commonwealth air passengers is, as I have mentioned, that the governments of many other countries have so far failed to ratify the Hague Protocol. It will be remembered that that protocol, which was signed in 1955, doubled the cover provided under the Warsaw Convention of 1929 in respect of international air passengers. The Hague Protocol was to take effect “ where the agreed points of departure and destination are in two countries which have both ratified the Hague protocol, or where both such points are within a ratifying country, if there is an agreed stopping place in any other country “. Australians land in many countries which have not yet ratified the Hague Protocol. Accordingly, the only safe way for people to travel overseas from Australia and to obtain the cover provided under the Hague Protocol is to travel by Qantas. In respect of passengers carried by that airline, the greater cover is afforded by our Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959.
I pointed out, Sir, that the Hague Protocol was signed in 1955. This parliament, in 1959, passed legislation to enable Australia to ratify that protocol. Thirty countries were required to ratify the protocol before it could take effect. The necessary 30 countries had ratified it by this year, and it came into effect on 1st August last. Since many countries have not yet adopted the protocol, and Australians have to travel through those countries by air, for that reason also the Commonwealth has had to provide this special cover for persons travelling under its auspices.
The bill largely incorporates, as I have said, Part IV. of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959-1962. When that measure was before us, at the secondreading stage, on behalf of the Opposition I moved an amendment in these terms -
That the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to incorporate, in relation to Australian domestic air services within Commonwealth competence, the general principle of unlimited liability at law for negligence on the part of airline operators in respect of passengers, cargo and baggage.
We pointed out that the 1959 measure adopted the principle of the Hague Protocol in respect of passengers on international flights but provided a more limited cover in respect of passengers on interstate or territorial flights. There was automatic entitlement to damages in both cases if injury could be proved. The amount of damages that could be recovered was limited to £7,500 in respect of flights within Australia and £7,400 in respect of overseas flights. Yet, in respect of overseas flights, under the Hague Protocol there was no limit if one could prove what I may describe as gross negligence on the part of the operator. The act imposed a limit in respect of passengers within Commonwealth competence; that is, even if a passenger or his surviving dependants could prove that he had been injured or killed within Australia as a result of gross negligence by an operator, there was still a limit of £7,500 on the damages which he or his dependants could recover. The Labour Party in 1959 asserted the principle that the cover for passengers within Australia should be not less than the cover available to passengers in international flights.
An amendment to that act was introduced last year. On that occasion, on behalf of the Opposition, I moved that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to incorporate, in relation to interstate and territorial air services, the general principle of unlimited liability at law for negligence on the part of airline operators in respect of passengers, cargo and baggage. In other words, we once again asserted the principle that there should be no difference between internal and external passengers’ rights if gross negligence could be proved on the part of the operator.
On this occasion we have considered the matter again and have decided that we should assert a wider principle. In general, damages can be recovered by injured persons only if they can show that their injuries have been caused by the negligence, the unreasonable acts of omission or commission, of other persons. That has always been the case where accidents have occurred on the surface. In respect of air travel it is becoming more and more difficult to prove negligence, let alone gross negligence. This is because the whole process of air travel is a much more complicated one. It is also because there are usually very few witnesses, competent witnesses or surviving witnesses. Therefore we propose to assert on this occasion the principle that if an air passenger is injured or killed there should be no limit to the damages he or his surviving dependants can recover irrespective of negligence proved or inferences drawn or explanations given. We believe that this is an appropriate place to assert this principle, because the number of persons covered by this act will be relatively small. In fact, most of those who will come within the purview of this act would already be covered by insurance or by furlough. The number of people who would not be so provided for would be very small indeed. We think that it is appropriate not to limit the damages that may be recovered to £7,500.
If a person who is booked on a flight is injured in an airways bus, or in getting into or out of an airways bus, and he can prove that there was negligence on the part of the owner or driver of the bus, or indeed on the part of the owner or driver of another vehicle, because of whose negligence an accident has wholly or partly occurred, then there is no limit to the amount of damages he can recover if he proves such damages. That is, if his damages as a result of an accident involving an airways bus exceed £7,500, he can recover the full amount. If, however, he is injured in flight or in getting into or out of an aircraft, he can recover only £7,500 even if the damages he can prove greatly exceed that amount.
I take another example. If any of us travel between Sydney and Canberra by aircraft and we are injured or killed, we or our surviving dependants can recover no more than £7,500. If, on the other hand, any of us travel between Sydney and Canberra by car and are injured through somebody else’s negligence, then we can recover the full amount of damages which we or our surviving dependants can prove. If, for instance, we are in that select group which includes yourself, Mr. Speaker, Ministers and Opposition leaders, who can travel in a Commonwealth car anywhere, and if we allow the driver to drive the car instead of driving it ourselves, then any accident is not, of course, our fault. It is obviously the Commonwealth’s fault or the fault of some other driver or owner. In those circumstances we or our surviving dependants can recover the full amount of damages which we or they can establish. Why should there be a difference in the case of air flights which we undertake?
We think this is an opportunity to assert the principle at extraordinarily little risk or cost to the Commonwealth. I know that it will be said that the Commonwealth may be liable for indefinite or even infinite damages if such a principle is asserted. I was told this when in 1957 I urged that the Commonwealth should accept, in respect of its own motor vehicles, the same responsibilities which every private driver has long had to accept, which the State Governments have long accepted and which the Commonwealth had accepted in its own Territories but refused to accept outside its own Territories. There was a prolonged battle between the Attorney-General of the day and the Treasurer of the day. Twice the Prime Minister had to come in and restore peace and reason between them. Finally in November 1959 the Commonwealth Motor Vehicles (Liability) Act was passed.
I have been curious since then to find out how much the Commonwealth had been burdened by this piece of legislation. Last April the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Freeth) told me that in the intervening three and a half years three claims had been made. In respect of one of these claims legal proceedings had not yet been taken. The Commonwealth had indicated its willingness to negotiate in an attempt to effect a settlement. The other two cases were settled by consent. In one the Commonwealth agreed to pay £1,600 plus £400 costs, and in the other the Commonwealth agreed to pay £2,500 plus costs.
In the light of experience I would think that the Commonwealth’s liability would not be too burdensome. But even if the Commonwealth’s burden was great, we still should look at the position from the point of view of the justice involved. An amount of £7,500 is not enough, in very many cases, to cover liabilities which persons in the Commonwealth’s employ or on the Commonwealth’s business have had to undertake. There are not unusual cases in which passengers may be deprived of their livelihoods or their lives in an aircraft accident, and the losses which they or their survivors suffer are much greater than £7,500. There could be cases in which it would be quite impossible, however much one reduced one’s former scale of living, to complete the education of children or to fulfil other family commitments with £7,500. It would not take many children, and they would not have to be very young children, to exhaust that amount in completing their education even up to the minimum age of fifteen years.
There is no limitation in the case of road accidents. There is no limitation in the case of railway accidents, except in respect of the Commonwealth Railways. It seems reasonable, therefore, that the Commonwealth should pay, in respect of passengers travelling about its business, the full amount of damages that they or their surviving dependants can prove. Why should there be this discrimination between people travelling on the Commonwealth’s business in the air, and those travelling about the Commonwealth’s business on the surface?
– It would be the same with the railways, would it not?
– Yes, there is no limit on the amount that you can recover, if you prove it, except if you travel on the Commonwealth Railways. There you are limited to the 1917 maximum of £2,000. I would not advise anybody to travel on the transcontinental railway without personal insurance.
I will also move on behalf of the Opposition a proposition that there should be a payment in the case of death of not less than £7,500. Many honorable members will be able to conjure up circumstances in which this would be a superfluous payment, but in some circumstances if a man is a Commonwealth public servant and is killed in the air or any other way his estate will receive certainly more than £7,500. If the man is insured, his estate will receive whatever sum he takes out in insurance, even if he leaves no dependants. The proposition I am putting is that the Commonwealth should act as an insurer in respect of its servants or emissaries. I know it will be suggested that the only persons who are likely to lose their lives when travelling for the Commonwealth will be bachelors who have led a completely abstemious life. There will be cynics who will suggest that the Commonwealth should send on hazardous missions no one but misogynist bachelors. These are unusual and unlikely circumstances. In fact, as the act stands, it is cheaper to kill than to maim a man without dependants. If a man without dependants is merely maimed, the Commonwealth has to pay damages to rehabilitate him up to the extent of £7,500. I would think that all honorable members would believe that he should be indemnified up to the full amount required to rehabilitate him. If, however, a man without dependants is killed, under this bill it would cost the Commonwealth nothing.
– That is almost an incitement to murder.
– However recklessly negligent a pilot or company is in operating an aircraft, you cannot recover more than £7,500 damages if you are a Commonwealth passenger. If, of course, this reckless negligence results in your death, your estate may in fact recover nothing at all.
I therefore move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following’ words in place thereof: - “ the bill be withdrawn and re-drafted to provide for a minimum payment of £7,500 on the death of a passenger and to remove” any limitation on the amount of damages which may be recovered by an injured passenger or by dependants in respect of the death of a passenger “.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
.- The amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) is most curious. It has no basis whatever in the existing law of the country. This does not necessarily mean that it is bad, although it could be demonstrated to be bad. There is no analogy upon which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition can base his case. What he proposes by the amendment is to fix a minimum liability. Surely he realizes that his amendment means that, if a man gets a scratch on his finger and sues, he is entitled to £7,500 for it because he travelled on an aircraft.
– No, only if he loses his life as a result of the scratch.
– If he loses his life as the result of the scratch - and this could certainly follow - who is to benefit from the payment? It is a well-established law - I do not think this can be contested - that, in the event of the death of a person, his dependants should be able to recover damages, but only his dependants. Are we to provide in this legislation for £7,500 to be distributed according to the rules of distribution in the case of intestate estates or, alternatively, in the case of a man who has no close relatives or dependants? This flies in the face of everything that the Deputy Leader must know as a result of his practice as a barrister. He bears the Queen’s commission as one of Her Majesty’s counsel. Surely he cannot be putting as a reasonable proposition that, consequent upon the death of a man, £7,500 must be whacked up amongst his third cousins, fifth cousins and fifteenth cousins five times removed.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is seeking to put a fallacious argument to the people of Australia. He is trading upon a feeling of emotion that, in the event of a man’s death, he ought to be worth a minimum of £7,500. The truth of the matter in this regard is that if a person dies and leaves dependants the presumption must be possible that he could have continued to sup-‘ port his dependants. The Deputy Leader proposes that no assumption of responsibility for dependency be made. He says, “Just give £7,500 into his estate “. Who will pay the £7,500? The taxpayers of Australia will pay it. It will come out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The people of Australia, through their taxation payments, will pay the money into the Consolidated Revenue Fund so that in turn it may be paid to the distant relatives of the deceased man if he is the type of traveller envisaged by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this great witticism of his - a misogynist bachelor. That does not help the argument.
The fact of the matter is that if a man is killed while travelling on a Commonwealth aircraft there ought to be for his dependants an opportunity to recover damages in order to sustain them during the period of time for which they would have been dependent upon him. The suggestion that a sum of £7,500 should be available for distribution to people who did not claim dependency on the deceased person is something which I am quite sure neither this Parliament nor the people of Australia could encompass.
– What if that man had financial obligations?
– If he had financial obligations, the issue which ought to be determined is whether he had financial obligations to support somebody.
– No, quite apart from dependants.
– You are thinking in terms of debts or something of that kind?
– Unfortunately, the fact is that if a debt is owed by a person it is owed by his estate. When a person’s life comes to an end, if his estate can meet the debt the estate will meet it; if the estate cannot meet the debt, the estate may be an insolvent estate. If the estate is insolvent the creditor has to look for his remedy. Does the honorable member for Bonython suggest by his interjection that the Commonwealth of Australia should collect money from the taxpayers in order to make payment to that creditor for the debts of the deceased man? If he means that, I cannot believe that he has given any serious thought to the point- Whilst the argument is an interesting path to go down, it has no basis at all. The reality is that in law you take your victim as you find him when you do damage to him.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition came out with what he gave to the House as a great new truth. He said that it is cheaper to kill than to maim. Good heavens, when he was a law student and when the five generations before him were law students, it was known as a truism that in many cases it is cheaper to kill than to maim. If a man is injured and consequently is a quadraplegic, that is, he has no use of his upper or lower limbs, or if he is a mental vegetable - we have seen reports about such people in the press, but I was not looking at anybody here when I said that-
– You were thinking of the Country Party.
– The truth of the matter is that I have the perfect vegetable type in my view, but I do not choose to disclose its identity. If a man is so maimed that he is paralysed in his four limbs, but still has a mind that acts feels and senses-
– He should be in the Senate.
– One of two things will happen to him: Either he will get into the Senate or he will receive damages of the order of £30,000. If that man is single and is killed in a motor car accident, who is to claim? If he were single and had no dependants the only claim would be by his executors for funeral expenses. That has been known literally for centuries, yet tonight the Deputy Leader of the Opposition offered his discovery as something completely new! It is so extraordinary that I would have thought the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, bearing as he does the Queen’s Commission as one of her counsel would have spared the Parliament the thought that he had discovered something new.
That leads me on to the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition which proposes that all words after “ that “ be deleted and then makes a very curious proposal in respect of a man who is killed through the grossest negligence. One can imagine a person driving a car when he is not only under the influence of liquor but drunk and hitting a man on a pedestrian crossing and killing him. if the man so killed had no dependants the damages against the drunken driver would be the cost of the funeral. What the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggests is that if the man is travelling in an aeroplane instead of walking on a pedestrian crossing there should be a mandatory payment of a minimum of £7,500 and that that amount should come out of our pockets. Despite references to the contrary, all members of this Parliament, in common with most other people in Australia, pay income tax. This money would come from the people who pay income tax. Can the Deputy Leader of the Opposition be serious in this amendment? I am quite sure that if he gave thought to it he would withdraw it immediately. He is a very busy man. He has responsibilities which he is not accustomed to carrying out. I am quite sure that he drafted this amendment in a hurry. He could not have believed that it was right.
One matter which concerns me is not a minimum payment or anything of that kind, but the imposition of a maximum of £7,500 on the damages which can be recovered as a result of the death of a person. There are occasions on which £7,500 is an adequate upper limit for damages. If the deceased was a bachelor who was supporting his mother who was a woman of 70 years of age, a jury might award damages of £2,000 or a bit more or less, but certainly within the upper limit of £7,500. But as a result of the death of a professional man of 30 years of age, with a future of great prospect and with three or four children, a jury would award an amount much in excess of £7,500. It cuts two ways. In the event of a man being killed and his widow claiming on behalf of herself and the children, normally she would have to prove negligence against the person who caused the death. Under the legislation now before the House, there is no need to prove negligence. But at the same time the quid pro quo for the absence of the need to prove negligence is a limitation of the damages.
Under what might be called, although perhaps not correctly, the principal act - < the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act - in the course of an action by a widow for damages, the air carrier may prove contributory negligence on the part of the passenger. This situation is not beyond the bounds of possibility. It could occur very readily. A person might not buckle up his seat-belt properly. These days people are prone to call them seat-belts rather than safety belts, as they used to be called. An aeroplane, on take-off, may be roaring up the strip when the pilot applies everything to stop. Everybody in the aeroplane is thrown forward. That happened in an areoplane in which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) was travelling.
A person could very well suffer under those circumstances a broken neck or some other serious injury, and the air carrier would be entitled to prove contributory negligence on the part of the passenger whereas the passenger could not seek to prove negligence on the part of the air carrier or go beyond the upper limit of the damages which may be claimed. The provision of an upper limit of £7,500 and the ability of the air carrier to plead contributory negligence demand attention, having regard to the fact that a jury may well award more than £7,500 and that there avails nothing to the injured person or the dependant suing on behalf of the deceased person to prove negligence on the part of the air carrier.
The amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has, in my opinion, absolutely no merit whatever. I definitely reject it and support the bill. But in my support for the bill I would ask that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) consider raising the upper limit of the damages that may be recovered by an injured person or by a dependant suing in the case of death arising from the carriage of a passenger.
– Although the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) was in turn vehement and almost lyrical he did nothing to destroy the value of the reasoned case put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) in support of his amendment. If the Commonwealth requires its employee or servant to endanger his life in a particular means of travel, then surely it is only right that the Commonwealth should accept a responsibility to compensate for the injury or death of that person. It is hardly apposite to talk about the taxpayers being called upon to pay the damages. Quite obviously, if it is a Commonwealth responsibility the money must come from the revenues that the Commonwealth has at its disposal.
The honorable member for Bruce sought to destroy the argument of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on the payment of damages or compensation in respect of the death of a passenger who had no dependants. By interjection the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) directed attention to the fact that a passenger without dependants may well have financial commitments. If such a passenger were to lose his life in the course of his duty, I see nothing unreasonable in a request or a demand that the employer should make a payment to meet the commitments that that man leaves behind him. This is not just a matter of an ordinary debt. It is all very well for the honorable member for Bruce to say that these commitments may be met from the estate of the deceased passenger without dependants; but picture the case of a man who at the time of his death was not too flush - who was short of money - and who perhaps was operating on an overdraft from a bank under a personal guarantee from another person. Should the death of that passenger, on duty for the Commonwealth, require the guarantor of the personal overdraft to meet a responsibility which should properly be met from the estate in the payment of the amounts suggested?
I rose in this debate mainly to express the hope that in the case of death or injury of passengers in circumstances covered by this measure there will not be undue delay in the payment of compensation to the dependants of those who have lost their lives. In expressing that hope I express a very real fear that there will be delay, because the measure we are debating incorporates certain provisions of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act. Expressly incorporated in this bill are those sections of that act which refer to liability in respect of death. Sub-section (4.) of section 35 of the act, which is incorporated as part of the measure now before the House, reads -
To the extent that the damages recoverable include loss of earnings or profits up to the date of death, or funeral, medical or hospital expenses paid or incurred by the passenger before his death or by his personal representative, the liability is enforceable for the benefit of the personal representative of the passenger in his capacity as personal representative.
Sub-section (5.) of section 35 reads -
For the purposes of sub-section (3.) of this section, the members of the passenger’s family shall be deemed to be the wife or husband, parents, step-parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, children, step-children and grandchildren of the passenger, and-
Perhaps to ease the minds of some honorable members the section continues - in ascertaining the members of the passenger’s family, an illegitimate person or an adopted person shall be treated as being, or as having been, the legitimate child of his mother and reputed father or, as the case may be, of his adoptors
The bill sets out the extent of dependency that is recognized and it also sets out the conditions under which the payments referred to can be made.
Nine of the fifteen passengers who lost their lives when a Viscount airliner crashed into Botany Bay on 30th November, 196), were residents of the Australian Capital Territory. Settlement of the claims of dependants of those passengers has only now been completed - almost two years after the fatal crash took place. On behalf of some of the dependants of those who lost their lives in the disaster I wrote to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) in November, 1962 - twelve months after the accident took place - inquiring us to the cause of the delays, and the Minister replied -
The rights of all the passengers on the aircraft were governed by the provisions of Part IV. of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959.
That is the part that’ is incorporated in this bill. The Minister continued -
Under that act the airline is liable to pay damages in respect of death of a passenger without proof of negligence or fault on the part of the airline or its employees.
The Minister continued -
The amount of damages that may be recovered is limited by the act to the sum of £7,500. The actual amount of damages which can be recovered will depend on the circumstances of each case, having regard to such matters as the age and earning capacity of the passenger and the degree of dependency of the persons claiming in respect of his death.
In March this year I directed the Minister’s attention to the fact that the legal rep resentatives of the airline concerned had submitted a questionnaire to the widow of one of the victims of the crash. I wrote to the Minister on 21st March, 1963, on behalf of this lady - I shall call her Mrs. X - in these terms-
The widow of one of the victims, Mrs. X, recently received from her solicitors a letter slating that the airline’s insurance company required answers to a series of questions including the following:
Twelve months prior to death of deceased did Mrs. X receive from him any weekly, periodical or other sums of money? If such money or any, what portion thereof was used to maintain or in any way for the benefit of -
Mrs. X herself
The children of Mrs. X and deceased
Any, and what other persons.
Twelve months prior to death of deceased what was average weekly amount of pecuniary benefits received by his wife from the deceased?
Did deceased’s wife become entitled to receive, or did she receive any, and what payments as results of, or, consequent upon his death?
Did deceased during 2 years immediately prior to death enjoy good health?
During two years immediately preceding his death, at what address or addresses were the deceased and his wife residing? What pecuniary losses has his wife suffered since consequent upon the death of the deceased?
Having quoted those questions to the Minister I then asked him -
Is it intended that the provisions of section 35 of the act should be so interpreted?
I feel that passengers embarking on airline flights have been encouraged to feel that should they be killed in a crash their dependants will receive prompt and adequate financial compensation, that at least their families will not suffer continuing financial difficulty as a result of weir death in an air disaster. In view of the delays which have occurred in the Viscount crash, no airline passenger could now have any such comforting thought.
Surely, it should not be necessary for the airline’s insurance company to require answers lo the types of questions now submitted to Mrs. X some 15 months after the date of the fatal crash.
If the act as at present worded permits this interpretation, then I feel strongly the provisions should be amended.
On 29th March, 1963, the Minister replied to me in this way -
I can see nothing unreasonable in the questions asked, nor should it have been difficult for Mrs. X and her solicitors to supply the required information in sufficient detail to satisfy Hie insurance company. It appears to me that such information is clearly necessary to arrive at a proper assessment of the amount of the damage sustained by the dependants of deceased passengers, which will necessarily vary with the particular circumstances of each case. In the circumstances, I see no reason for any amendment of the provisions of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act.
I repeat the statement contained in my letter to the Minister. I believe that men embarking on airline journeys have been encouraged to feel that should they be killed in a crash their dependants will receive prompt and adequate financial compensation. Admittedly, airline journeys are to-day commonplace but I doubt whether there are many people who embark on a flight without some thought of the possibility of an accident. Men who have embarked on flights have taken some comfort from the belief that under the provisions of the act compensation would be paid promptly to their widow and dependants if anything happened during the course of the flights. What I have put before the House shows that there can be almost interminable delay and a whole series of pettifogging questions directed to the deceased’s widow and family before any assessment of the amount of compensation is made.
I support the amendment which has been proposed. I believe there should be a minimal payment in these cases. I urge strongly, whether an upper or a lower limit is set, that some financial assistance be made available immediately to the widow and family of the passenger who loses his life in an air disaster. For a widow and her family, nearly two years after the husband’s death, to have this cross-fire of question and answer between her solicitors and the airline company’s solicitors seems to me to be completely unreal. Those who embark on airline flights should be entitled to believe that in the event of their deaths during those flights immediate financial assistance will be made available as of right to their widow and dependants.
I again put forward the case of the man who has no dependants coming within the definition of the legislation but who has responsibilities which on his death will need to be met by some other person.
I seriously ask the Minister to consider what has been put forward in relation to the delay in these payments, which is the only evidence that we have of the way in which this legislation will operate. In the case of nine Canberra families out of the fifteen which suffered bereavement as a result of the disaster at Botany Bay in 1961 there was an extensive delay and questions similar to those to which I have referred before any settlement was made. Did the airline company or the Commonwealth, which enacted the legislation, give thought to the possibility that a widow could be left completely destitute? There is no provision to meet such a case. An airline company’s solicitors could argue with the widow’s solicitors for months or years and the widow meantime could be in most difficult and even destitute circumstances.
– And the costs mounting.
– With costs mounting all the time. Who is to accept the responsibilities which the husband was bearing for the upkeep and the education of his children, which probably are completely disrupted? I ask the Government to accept that in legislation of this kind there should be a realization that the men covered by the legislation, in 90 per cent. of cases anyhow, are travelling on duty for the Commonwealth and to insert a provision that immediate payments be made to their widows and dependants. I have participated in this debate to bring this matter to notice.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The Housedivided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Ayes .. .. ..56
Noes . . . . . . 52
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 - by leave - taken together.
– I bring to the notice of the committee clause 4 - the definitions clause. The first definition reads - “ Commonwealth authority “ means an authority of the Commonwealth. ] ask the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) : Why is this definition necessary? What part of the rest of the bill becomes obscure if this definition is omitted? Conversely, what part of the bill is clarified by this definition? I know that in recent times Parliamentary draftsmen have sought to cross every “ t “ and dot every “i “ and that, if they had their way, the Constitution would be re-written to thrice its present length. Nevertheless I think this is as clear a case of labouring the point as I have ever seen. I shall not go so fa;- as to move that the definition be omitted, but I ask: Why is this definition required?
Clauses agreed to
Clause 8. (1.) The maximum liability of the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority under this Part in respect of any one person, by reason of his death or injury, is Seven thousand five hundred pounds.
– I move -
Omit sub-clause (1.).
During the second-reading debate I moved an amendment upon which only one supporter of the Government spoke. He found it unreasonable and, in fact, fantastic that, if a Commonwealth air passenger were killed in an accident, there should be an automatic payment of £7,500 to his estate. He made no other objection to my amendment on the second reading, which would have permitted any person who was injured or the dependants of any person who was killed to recover the full amount of damages which could be proved, and which would have removed the ceiling of £7,500. By moving this amendment now I am trying to overcome my friend’s objection-
– You wanted a minimum payment.
– Yes, a minimum of £7,500 in case of death and no maximum to proved damages in case of death or injury. The honorable member objected to the minimum being provided. He did not justify the retention of a maximum. In order to overcome his objection 1 have moved this amendment, which is limited to expunging the maximum. If this amendment is carried persons injured will be able to recover the full damages which they can establish. The dependants of persons killed will be able to recover the full damages which they can establish. In other words, a passenger by air on Commonwealth business will be in the same position as a passenger on the surface by any railway - except by the Commonwealth railways - or in any motor vehicle.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) again departs from what he really wants.It is a curious set of amendments that he has moved. This one is even more curious than the amendment that he moved previously. On the one hand he says, having accepted clauses 1 to 7, “ Let us accept the bill as it is “, then he says, “ Let us remove the maximum payment “, which is £7,500. What he is proposing in effect is that there be no maximum at all and that the person claiming need not prove negligence.
– The effect of the amendment is that a person merely needs to suffer the injury. As I understand it in terms of argument, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is restricting it to injury rather than death.
– No. The sub-clause that I seek to omit refers to both death and injury.
– The sub-clause does, but, in introducing your amendment, I understood you to concede - and I am sure a reference to “ Hansard “ will reveal that my recollection is correct - that there was no merit in your argument for a minimum of damages in respect of death.
– No. I do not admit that.
– It was in terms of injury as distinct from death that you moved the amendment. For the purposes of convenience, let us disregard the distinction, let us disregard whether it relates to injury or death. Let us look at sub-clause (1.) of clause 8. That sub-clause fixes the maximum liability. The bill also provides that a person claiming damages need not prove negligence. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Monaghan) who is a member of the New South Wales bar, and a distinguished member of it, too, will appreciate, even if his Deputy Leader does not, that when you go into court on a negligence claim you must prove negligence. I suspect that my honorable friend has appeared for more plaintiffs than defendants and he will know that one of the great problems counsel for the plaintiff has is whether negligence can be proved.
Let us translate this into the field of the aeroplane. If a person is injured or killed in an aeroplane he or his dependants will go to court on the issue and plead that there has been negligence. Counsel for the plaintiff has to bear the responsibility of advising the plaintiff whether he will recover or whether he will fail absolutely because, without proof of negligence, the plaintiff cannot recover one penny. On the contrary, the plaintiff will be bound to pay the costs of the defendant, which can be very great, especially in the case of an aeroplane accident where you might very well have a case before a jury for two weeks. Those costs are very high.
This bill provides that the plaintiff does not have to prove negligence at all; he merely needs to prove death or injury arising out of the passage in an aeroplane, and this is where the figure of ?7,500 is arrived at as a compromise. On the one hand, the plaintiff does not have to prove negligence; but on the other hand the plaintiff is limited in his recovery to ?7,500.
Mr. Einfeld. ; Even though the loss might be twice as great.
– Even though the loss might be twice as great.
Mr. Einfeld. ; That is the weakness.
– But the aeroplane might crash in circumstances in which the plaintiff cannot prove that there was negligence on the part of the airline operator.
Mr. Einfield. ; It does not interfere with the amount of damages his dependants can recover.
– It does, because if he has to prove negligence he has to prove it or not collect anything.
Mr. Einfeld. ; But not under this bill.
– You have not read the bill.
Mr. Einfeld. ; I have.
– The point about this bill is that the plaintiff need not prove negligence at all.
Mr. Einfeld. ; We are concerned about how much he or his dependants will be entitled to recover.
– A person need not prove negligence at all and yet can recover ?7,500. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has quoted as an analogy an accident on the surface. A person claiming damages resulting from an accident on the surface would not be limited to ?7,500; but, he would have to prove negligence. This is a different situation. On the surface you may have two motor cars running into each other and it is not difficult for a jury to apply its mind to the issue, decide where the negligence lies and determine what the damages should be. But in the case of an aeroplane accident it is not easy for a jury to apply its mind to the question of whether there has been negligence, or whether the accident was due to an act of God or whether it was due to a circumstance which could not be avoided.
Here is what the bill does: It provides a compromise. On the one hand, the claimant does not have to prove negligence, and on the other hand the amount he can recover is limited. In attempting to use as an analogy an accident on the surface, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is completely departing from the reality. All honorable members on the Opposition side of the House have seen a motor car accident. All honorable members on the Opposition side of the House have seen near accidents. They have all come in contact with them and they could all well serve on juries and make a determination as to negligence; but I would not expect that honorable members on the Opposition side of the House would feel confident that if they served on a jury in a case concerning an aeroplane accident they could bring in a reasonable and proper verdict in relation to negligence. This is an important fact. The bill provides a compromise in that it balances the absence of need to prove negligence by limiting the amount of the damages which can be recovered.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cannot have it both ways. The reason he cannot have it both ways is because the Australian public, the taxpayers contributing to Consolidated Revenue, have to foot the bill. If he wants to remove the limit of liability, he must be equally prepared to overcome the absence from the bill of the need to prove negligence. What is his choice? Is he going to move consequentially to change the absence of the need to prove negligence? He cannot have one by way of an amendment and so achieve a situation where first you do not prove negligence, and secondly there is no limitation. It has to be one or the other, because he cannot choose. He wants the best of both worlds. If he gets the best of both worlds he does a disservice to the taxpayers of the country, I cannot support the amendment.
.- The words which I seek to omit are these -
The maximum liability of the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority- that means an authority of the Commonwealth - under this Part in respect of any one person, by reason of his death or injury, is Seven thousand Ave hundred pounds.
It is not necessary under this bill to establish negligence in order to recover damages. Even if one could establish negligence, or could establish gross negligence, there would be no difference in the amount of damages which one could recover. If one suffers £1,000 damages, whether it be through the negligence of the operator or not, then one recovers £1,000. If one suffers £10,000 damages, one cannot recover more than £7,500 damages. Take the case of a passenger travelling in an airways bus operated by Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited, or Queensland Airlines Proprietary Limited, or East-West Airlines Limited. I quote those airlines because they are ones for which a Commonwealth passenger in their aircraft has greater statutory rights under this legislation than do non-Commonwealth passengers in their aircraft.
If a Commonwealth passenger, or any passenger, is travelling in one of the buses and is injured in the course of the trip, he can recover without limit the damages which are required to restore him to his pre-injury position.
– Provided he proves negligence.
– Provided he proves negligence. But since he was only a passenger in the bus, it would be very difficult to establish that there was any contributory negligence on his part.
– You can forget contributory negligence, but you still have to prove negligence.
– The honorable gentleman is saying - and it is quite true - that you cannot recover damages in respect of injuries suffered in an airways bus if the accident is due to an act of God or is an inevitable accident.
– That is true.
– In how many cases are highway accidents inevitable accidents or acts of God? If a person is injured in an airways bus while it is in motion, the chances are a million to one on that he can recover damages. There is no ceiling to the amount he may recover. If a passenger is entering or alighting from an airways bus and is injured because of a fault in the steps of the bus, he can recover compensation for all the injuries which he suffers. There is no ceiling on the amount he may recover. If a Commonwealth passenger is injured-
– You are leaving out the rider that he has to prove negligence.
– Order. There have been too many interjections from both sides of the chamber. When a member has been speaking, two or three other members have been speaking at the same time. I suggest that the committee come to order and allow one member to speak at a time.
– If a man is injured while a passenger in a Commonwealth car, he can recover the full damages which he suffers. There is no ceiling on the damages. If a man is a passenger in a Commonwealth car, it is a million to one on chance that any injury he suffers while in the car is due to the negligence of the driver of the car or the negligence of the driver of the vehicle with which the car collides. The chance of an inevitable accident or of an act of God is completely negligible in such a case, as in other road accidents. The chance of contributory negligence by the passenger is similarly negligible. There is no ceiling on the damages allowable in those circumstances.
Why should there be a ceiling in the case of damages suffered by a passenger in an aircraft? The argument seems to be that because you do not have to prove negligence in the case of an aircraft accident there should be some limit to the compensation. But there is no limit to the amount of compensation so long as it does not exceed £7,500. If the damages amount to only £7J000, nobody argues that the compensation should be reduced because you do not have to prove negligence or because the entitlement to compensation is automatic and co-extensive with the amount of your damages. But if the damages exceed £7,500, one calls in aid the principle that you do not have to prove negligence and argues that therefore the amount of compensation should be reduced. There is no logic or principle in such an argument, as I proved in the second-reading debate.
The Commonwealth’s liability in these cases is negligible. If you are insured by the Commonwealth or if you are a Commonwealth employee entitled to furlough there is no limit of £7,500 on the amount of compensation you may receive. If you are eligible for compensation under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act the amount of compensation which may be allowed is not limited on the ground that you do not have to prove negligence. There is no logic in maintaining a ceiling on compensation for damages suffered by passengers in an aircraft. I have no doubt that if there were a free vote of the committee on this matter, the amendment I have proposed would be carried.
Question put -
That the sub-clause proposed to he omitted (Mr. Whitlands amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
.- Mr. Chairman, I point out that sub-clause (1.) of clause 14 is in the same terms as subclause (1.) of clause 8, which the committee has just determined shall be retained. I register the Opposition’s view that subclause (1.) of clause 14 should be omitted. We realize, however, that the committee, in its present mood and as at present constituted, would be unlikely to agree to the proposition.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 8th October (vide page 1569).
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed expenditure, £15,537,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed expenditure, £12,139,000.
– The question is, “That the proposed expenditures be agreed to “, upon which the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) has moved as an amendment, “ That the proposed expenditures be reduced by £1. “
.- Mr. Chairman, I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment that has been proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). Because of limitation of time I shall not be able to traverse the four paragraphs of the instruction to the Government which were read to the committee by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as representing the basis of his amendment. I shall confine my remarks particularly to the first of those paragraphs, which condemns the Government for its failure to allow Trans-Australia Airlines to participate in intra-state airline trade to the same extent as Ansett-A.N.A. The committee is well aware of the extravagant assistance that has been given to Ansett Transport Industries Limited by this Government, to the detriment of T.A.A. This shocking airlines story goes back to the 1952 legislation of this Government, which forced T.A.A. to comply with an agreement made between the Government and what was then Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. That agreement, in brief, reduced airline charges claimed by the Government from A.N.A., guaranteed to A.N.A. £4,000,000 in loans, forced T.A.A. to surrender half of its airmail cargo to A.N.A. and gave A.N.A. other Government business. It also provided that T.A.A. pay taxes and pay a dividend at a rate specified by the Treasurer.
The policy of this Government has been directed towards destroying competition between the two airlines, to the benefit of the Ansett organization. Mr. Warren McDonald, who was formerly chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, which controls T.A.A., and who was also a member of the Country Party, pointed out that what was done under this Government’s legislation was the very negation of competition. Despite the favorable treatment received by A.N.A., that company failed in 1957. It defaulted on its Governmentguaranteed loans and sold out to Ansett for £3,300,000. This meant that all the benefits and concessions involved in the 1952 agreement went to Ansett. In addition, the terms of loans were extended, and loans were guaranteed to the extent of £3,000,000. In 1960 the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) compelled T.A.A. to hand over three Viscount aircraft to Ansett in exchange for two outofdate DC6’s.
This shocking story of sabotage of. the Australian national airline was continued in the Airlines Agreement Bill of 1961. It will be remembered that on the eve of the general election held in that year the Government extended the period of the 1 952 agreement, which was to have expired in 1967, by an additional ten years, thus binding future governments. It also guaranteed £6,000,000 in loans, so that Ansett could get jet aircraft. It gave Ansett access to Darwin from his eastern States runs, and it prevented T.A.A. from investing in its own business reserves that it had built up from carrying its own insurance.
The story of sabotage of T.A.A. goes further. The Minister for Civil Aviation has assisted Ansett to take over all but one of the private airlines. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited was, of course, the first one to be taken over. Then Southern Airlines of Victoria was taken over by Ansett, Guinea Airways Limited of South Australia, Butler Air Transport Limited of New South Wales, Queensland Airlines Proprietary Limited, Mandated Airlines Limited and, finally, MacRobertsonMiller Airlines Limited. Ansett tried, of course, to get also East- West Airlines of New South Wales but failed to do so because the New South Wales Government put a spoke in his wheel. The take-over of MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Limited was assisted by the Minister for Civil Aviation, who seems to fall over backwards to help Ansett to create a monopoly in intra-State airlines. The Minister has admitted that T.A.A. was prevented from acquiring shares in M.M.A., and he has refused to Introduce necessary amending legislation to give T.A.A. equal rights with Ansett. In 1957 the Western Australian Government agreed to allow T.A.A. to operate in Western Australia, but in order to prevent T.A.A. from going into that State the Minister threatened to withdraw from M.M.A. the subsidy that it had been receiving if T.A.A. was allowed into Western Australia by the government of that State. Recently T.A.A. again sought authority to operate in Western Australia, but the Minister refused to allow it to do so.
When these matters are raised with the Minister he claims that T.A.A. has not been damaged, and he points to the profit that T.A.A. is making. But the point is that the profit would be greater if T.A.A. were untrammelled in its operations, and those greater profits could be returned to the public in the form of cheaper fares and lower freight rates, or by the giving of more adequate services on certain routes, such as the east-west route. The Minister calls these arrangements rationalization, but the fact is that our airline services are divided into two halves, one privately owned and one publicly owned, both operating over the same routes except in the case of intra state services. That is what we are complaining about mainly in this debate. I refer the committee to page 6 of the report of the Department of Civil Aviation, where reference is made to the rapid development that is taking place in the north-west area of Australia. The strange feature of the situation is that Ansett is being given all the opportunities to take advantage of this rapid development. Why should Ansett have all these advantages? The time to go into that area with air services is now, when the area is being developed. Ansett is being allowed to go in while T.A.A. has been shoved aside, and the Minister is mainly responsible for this having taken place.
T.A.A. has also asked for authority to operate between Perth and Darwin in the Northern Territory, which is controlled by the Commonwealth. This has been refused. It should be remembered that M.MA. is not solely an intra-state airline. It holds a licence to operate to Darwin, and this, of course, is of great advantage to it. If the Government wanted to be consistent in its approach to this matter it would give T.A.A. a similar opportunity to operate to Darwin. The recent take-over of M.M.A. means that Ansett can operate completely around Australia, while T.A.A. can operate only on the eastern side of the continent, or from Darwin around the eastern area to Perth. It is barred from operating on the west coast between Perth and Darwin. It is obviously a big advantage for Ansett to be able to link up all the capital cities with the intra-State airlines which are acting as feeder services for Ansett’s main line routes. This is where T.A.A. is at an extreme disadvantage.
In four years the ports of call of Ansett- A.N.A. have more than doubled. The 1962 report shows the number of ports of call of that airline as 207, but to that must now be added the M.M.A. ports, giving a total of 249 ports now serviced by AnsettA.N.A. The same 1962 report shows that T.A.A. services only 139 airports. An answer I received the other day from the Minister for Civil Aviation shows that Ansett is operating 51,782 unduplicated route miles throughout Australia, compared with 26,201 operated by T.A.A. This gives some idea of the advantage held by Ansett. This Government’s policy is allowing Ansett to get a virtual monopoly of intrastate airlines. The take-over of the majority of M.M.A. shares by Ansett means that Ansett has a majority vote if there is any conflict of views. I do not propose to go into very much detail on this. The “ West Australian “ of 23rd April, 1963, said -
It is misleading to assert that the takeover means no more than the transfer’ of the big Eastern Stales shareholding in M.M.A. from one person to another. Since its inception the company has been West Australian in character and management. These two features will disappear in the wide ramifications of the Ansett group, and in effect another W.A. concern has been swallowed up.
The newspaper then criticizes the Government for not giving T.A.A. equal opportunities in the running of these services. I say that T.A.A. is not being given a reasonable opportunity to compete with Ansett in particular on the intra-state routes. The Minister admitted that he knew that this takeover was to take place. He could have stopped it by threatening to withdraw the subsidy, as he did when T.A.A. was given the State Government’s authority to operate in Western Australia.
Recent reports have shown that both airlines are to get the Boeing 727 aircraft. I think T.A.A. is fortunate that it also wanted the Boeing aircraft and not some other type, because, as honorable members will remember, when Ansett wanted Electras and T.A.A. wanted the French Caravelle jet aircraft, T.A.A. was forced to take Electras to suit Ansett. It would be interesting to know who received the commission from the sale of the Electras. Some one must have received it. The “West Australian” on 11th April, 1962, said -
Pure-jet aircraft would have been flying the East-West route by 1959 if lnc Government had not prevented T.A.A. from buying the twin-engine Caravelles which it wanted.
It does not say much for rationalization when the oldest and slowest aircraft arc being used on the longest and most tedious route, as they are at present. The DC6 aircraft are being used on most of the daytime flights on the east-west run. The “Daily News” commented on this in its editorial on 20th November last, when it said -
The Civil Aviation Department is supposed to legislate for the benefit of Australians in general, and why it won’t do so is a mystery to West Australians. The mystery is heightened by the fact that the Minister for Civil Aviation is a W.A. man, who certainly can’t be accused of showing undue favour to his native State . . .
This gives some idea of the feelings of the people of Western Australia about the use of these aged aircraft on this route.
We are told when we raise this matter that the Electras are more profitable on the routes in the eastern States. That may be so, but surely there is a responsibility to give a better service on the longest run in the Commonwealth, even if, as a result of doing so, the profit is not as much as it otherwise would be. To enable a better service to be given on the east-west run, the Government should pay a subsidy similar to the subsidy that is paid to airlines operating intra-state runs. It may not be necessary to subsidize the east-west run. If Electras were used on the daylight service on this route, profits might be reduced a little but at least a better service would be given on the longest run in the Commonwealth. That is very important not only for the residents of Western Australia but also for the people who come to tour this country and who cannot enjoy making the run in out-of-date aircraft.
It is our view that a full inquiry should be made into the favorable treatment given to Ansett Transport Industries Limited by the Minister for Civil Aviation, supported by the Government. Attention should be paid to the detrimental effects that the rationalization policy has had on T.A.A. and the travelling public.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– My views on the policy adopted by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) have been so forcibly and, I hope, clearly expressed in the past that I do not propose to elaborate them now, nor do I propose to trespass on a matter which, 1 understand, after intervention by the Commonwealth for two years, is still sub judice. I do wish to say, however, as a matter of general principle, that I believe in private enterprise. I believe also that anybody who clings to an outdated notion of capitalism as applied to private enterprise in this day of vast combinations is just as unrealistic in his approach to the modern world as are those who cling to the outdated shibboleths of communism and of complete socialistic control under communism. Personally, I have the strongest objection to a situation that sets up a complete monopoly of intra-State airline operations within Australia - except for East-West Airlines Limited in my own territory - but I believe there is justification for assisting a sturdy enterprise to give the competition that private enterprise is sup-., posed to give.
There is no novelty in the view stated by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). It is on record that several years ago I said that one of the ways to kill a competing line is to cut off all its branches, and that is precisely what is happening now. Nevertheless, because of the magnificent esprit de corps of Trans-Australia Airlines and -because of the excellent way in which it is managed, it has succeeded, despite all its disabilities, in providing a first-class enterprise and maintaining an extraordinarily high standard of service.
There is a suggestion with more than a grain of truth in it that there was a time when the Opposition, whilst in office, acted unfairly towards a private enterprise line, and that this may be a time of reprisal. It is said that the arbitrator in New South Wales is doing violence by suggesting an arbitrary transfer of certain areas. I would remind honorable members that, if my memory serves me right, Qantas Empire Airways Limited was arbitrarily dispossessed of a service it pioneered in New Guinea and that this service was handed over to another airline. I believe that, for a private enterprise to justify itself, it must be able to compete on fair terms, and no more than fair terms, with the opposite type of enterprise, a public authority. I will let the matter rest there. The evidence at present is that there may be something in this idea of reprisal. Reprisal, like tha vendettas of Sicily, goes on indefinitely, with disturbance of sound business and sound enterprise. I will have none of it
I pass from that to the Department of Shipping and Transport. I refer to the fact that this department, according to its estimates, administers such things as shipping services and the Navigation Act. I direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that the Constitutional Review Committee, of which I had the honour to be a member along with distinguished members from both sides of the Parliament, gave particular attention to the matter of interstate trade and commerce. We directed our attention particularly to the Inter-State Commission and to sections 98, 99. and 100 of the Constitution, which deal mainly with the trade and commerce powers of the Commonwealth, in conjunction with section 55 (i.) which says that the Commonwealth shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.
We are in this position: Because the Inter-State Commission provided for in the Constitution functioned only for a few years, we have not had the proper and orderly development of the powers of the Commonwealth in relation to trade and commerce, navigation and so on. We have not had the orderly implementation of those powers for the simple reason that there has not been authority to work them out. The recommendations made by the Constitutional Review Committee did not impinge upon reasonable powers of the States. The committee suggested that the Commonwealth be given the power of co-ordination in regard to services; I believe it is a great pity that those recommendations were not implemented. I go further and say that probably 90 per cent, of what we recommended could be done if the Inter-State Commission were reconstituted with the existing powers and this Parliament passed legislation to overcome certain difficulties which were met by the original commission.
The point I make is that the Commonwealth is given power to deal with navigation. For instance, section 98 reads -
The power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigations and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.
Certain extraordinary legal points were made manifest when the Constitutional Review Committee discussed this matter. If I remember rightly, one of them was that a foreign ship which comes direct to a State port is not under the control of the Commonwealth and can go straight out again. There is a defect in the law in that respect. These points ought to be tidied up. What I am more concerned about is that if the powers which are inherent in that section were put into effect it would be possible for the Commonwealth to deal with the development of navigable rivers as far as ships could go into the interior of the Commonwealth. That would enable development which is not possible at present to take place. There is a limitation in section 99 which states -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce or revenue, give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof.
Section 100 states -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade or commerce, abridge the right of a State or of the residents therein to the reasonable use of the waters of rivers for conservation or irrigation.
It would appear that the Commonwealth would have more power in the field of development if those powers were made effective. I do not want to labour this point.
The Commonwealth’s trade and commerce power extends to the railways in a State. It appears to me that we will have to consider this matter seriously if the national development of this country is to proceed along normal and sensible lines. Let me give an illustration. In the part of Australia to which I belong - the rich north-eastern corner of New South Wales, in which people have been seeking selfgovernment through a new State - there is a problem which is not a constitutional one but a practical one. Experts in agricultural production and development tell us that unless we can put very large quantities of lime into the soil in the coastal area and, to a large extent, on the tableland where the rainfall is heavy and where the lime has leached out into the lower strata of soil or has been taken up in the milk and bones of animals that graze on the land, development will be repressed continually.
If this difficulty were overcome by the railways carrying lime at a nominal freight cost or at no freight cost at all, the freight revenue lost would be recouped as a result of the tremendously increased production. Let us consider the position of the New South Wales government, irrespective of the government that is in power. If it granted that freight concession at present it would certainly suffer a very heavy loss of railway revenue and it could not make up that loss from increased taxation revenue resulting from the increased production because the uniform taxation system stands in the way. I suggest to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and, through him, to the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) that they should get together on problems such as this and say to the States, “The Commonwealth will meet the loss you incur by giving freight concessions to make lime available in large quantities “. Large quantities are required because it must be applied at the rate of one ton or more to the acre in the first dressing, at any rate. If the Commonwealth met that cost and paid the money to the State railways, it would be recouped through increased taxaion revenue on the increased production. The people would not be burdened but would have a new source of life and strength in their production. That is only one illustration of what could be done and should be done in the co-ordination of Commonwealth and State policy, particularly in regard to a matter in which I am deeply interested, namely expanding production on the northern tableland and the north coast of New South Wales in particular.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), which reads -
That the proposed expenditures be reduced by £1-
As an instruction to the Government -
To enable Trans-Australia Airlines to participate in as much intra-state trade as the subsidiaries of Ansett-Transport Industries Limited;
to permit the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to establish, maintain and operate shipping services between the Commonwealth and other countries and between New Guinea and other countries;
to make full use of Australia’s shipyards in building ships for her overseas, island and Tasman trade and her scientific and trade missions; and
to draw up a national roads plan in time for the next period of the Commonwealth aid roads grants.
Because my time is limited I propose to devote my remarks to items 2. and 3. of the addendum to the amendment. I wish to refer particularly to the instruction that full use be made of Australia’s shipyards in building ships for her overseas, island and Tasman trade and her scientific and trade missions
There has been a dearth of orders for Australian shipyards. 1 am pleased that in some yards the position has eased somewhat in the past few months but, generally speaking, Australian shipyards have lived a hand to mouth existence. I recently visited, in the company of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), a number of Australian shipyards. We were told that if the yards had some continuity of orders they could maintain their labour force, reduce costs considerably and construct ships cheaper than they are able to construct them now. One of the problems confronting Australian shipyards has been the delay in the placing of orders. This has meant that in many cases workers have been unemployed for periods. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) knows that the Evans Deakin yard in Brisbane does not have an order to replace on the stocks the ship at the launching of which he was present last Saturday. The only ships that confront the majority of shipyard workers are hardships. I know that at present the Tariff Board is holding an inquiry into the shipbuilding industry.
Last night the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) said that a tug built in Australia would cost £300,000 whereas a similar tug imported from overseas would cost only £150,000. I question the honorable member’s figures. I spoke to the manager of Adelaide Ship Construction Limited at Birkenhead, Adelaide, where they specialize in the construction of tugs, and he told me and the honorable member for Newcastle that his firm would have no difficulty whatever in competing with overseas firms provided that it can get a continuity of orders. His company, the Phoenix shipyards and Walkers Limited, feel that the lack of orders for tugs, dredges’ and similar vessels is brought about by the fact that this matter is under review by the Tariff Board. The Queensland Government and the New South Wales Government are engaging contracting dredges from overseas. The people who would otherwise place orders for trawlers and tugs are holding back their orders in the hope that the Tariff Board will recommend that a subsidy be provided for the construction of such vessels.
There is a need for ships on the Australian coast. The Minister for Shipping and Transport is aware of this need. In answers to questions he has agreed that there is an opening on the Australian coast for the operation of tankers. He has said that he would be prepared to give every assistance to an Australian firm operating tankers on our coast under Australian conditions. The Navigation Act empowers the Minister to see that preference is given to ships operating under Australian conditions on the Australian coast. Most honorable members will remember the case of the “P. J. Adams” and the efforts made by the Seamen’s Union and other maritime unions to see that that tanker was manned by an Australian crew under Australian conditions. The argument against complying with the request of the unions was that to do so would be too costly. In June this year Mr. R. W. Miller stated that he wished to man with an Australian crew a tanker to operate on the Australian coast. He stated that the additional cost involved in manning with an Australian crew would be infinitesimal - less than one farthing a gallon and not sufficient to warrant passing on to the customer.
For some time the Australian Shipbuilding Board has been trying to interest oil companies in building ships for use on our coast with Australian crews, but no company has been interested. Initially, the Minister refused permission for Mr. Miller to import a second-hand tanker to be operated on the coast with an Australian crew. Evidently the Minister’s decision was overruled because R. W. Miller later received permission to import one tanker. Last Sunday he sent a crew of 30 to Singapore to bring back the “ Canopus “ to be operated on the Australian coast. Mr. Miller made a further application to import another four tankers. He promised that he would give Australian shipyards orders for nine tankers if he could obtain finance for them. Curiously, certain oil companies suddenly became interested in operating tankers under Australian conditions on the Australian coast. They knew that under the Navigation Act the Minister would have no choice but to give preference to the tankers operated by Miller. These companies sought permission to bring oil tankers from overseas. As far as I know a decision has not yet been made on their requests, but I have read in to-day’s Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ that last night Cabinet refused to allow Mr. Miller to purchase any more second-hand tankers for use on the Australian coast. To some extent I agree with the Cabinet’s decision in this matter. If we are to have tankers Operating on our coast it is preferable that they be vessels built in Australia. They should be manned by Australian crews. If tankers were built in Australian shipyards (he shipbuilding industry would receive a tremendous boost. I know that the Evans Deakin company in Brisbane is prepared to carry out extensive work to enable it to build tankers up to 25,000 tons in its Kangaroo Point yard. I understand that the State Dockyard at Newcastle also is interested in building vessels and I am sure that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited yards at Whyalla, in the electorate of my friend, the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer), is very interested in constructing tankers.
I would like to know where the oil companies stand in this matter. I am wondering whether the oil companies are behind the move to stop the importation of tankers for use on the Australian coast. The oil companies may not object too strongly to one tanker being used on our coast, but -they would not like to see more Australianmanned tankers on the coast. We know that the oil companies are a strong combine. Before to-day they have applied pressure on governments. I am wondering whether Cabinet’s decision in this matter will be to the advantage of the oil companies. If the refusal of permission to import more tankers means that tankers will be built in Australia, I commend the Minister and Cabinet on their decision, but I reserve some doubts in the matter.
The honorable member for McPherson was caustic in his criticism of Australian workers. I am sorry that he has left the chamber because I do not like to speak about him in his absence. Time does not permit me to send out a call for him so I shall refer to his speech in his absence. He detailed disputes on the Australian waterfront and he wrote down the ability of Australian workmen not only on the waterfront but in the Seamen’s Union and in Australian shipyards. He said that Australian workmen wanted too much money without working for it and he advocated that foreign ships should be allowed to operate on the Australian coast with foreign cheap labour crews so that shipping costs would be lower than they are now. His description of and thoughts about Australian workers take us back to the conditions that existed 50 years ago when there was talk of importing coolies and kanakas because Australian workers were asking for wages which were considered to be too high. Taking the honorable member’s thoughts a little further, we can well imagine him advocating the importation of butter because it is produced cheaper in New Zealand than it is in Australia. I for one would never support him in that any more than I would support his advocacy of a reduction in the conditions and wages of Australian workers. Nor would he receive the support of Che majority of primary producers, who enjoy better conditions now than they did 50 years ago. They do not expect their workers or the people who purchase their products to work under the conditions which existed then. It is not so long ago that certain employers questioned whether shearers should be given china cups and plates. They believed that enamelware was good enough for the shearers. Those days have gone.
– The honorable member for Mcpherson was talking about strikes and so on.
– He quoted what he claimed to be instances of deliberate delays to ships- He claimed that in one instance eighteen men took a whole day to load five tons of meat into a ship. I have worked amongst mcn on the waterfront and I know that they are conscientious workers. In many cases delays are unavoidable. For instance, men are not permitted to load freezer meat in rain because if the meat gets wet it deteriorates and is wasted. An honorable member should not comment on these subjects without mentioning the full facts. I suggest that on many days the honorable member for McPherson has looked back and wondered how he had wasted so much time because he had done so little in the day.
I should like to refer now to overseas shipping freights. There has been a 10 per cent, increase in freights from Australia to the United States but there has been no increase in freights from New Zealand to the United States. We can only surmise that this is because New Zealand has its own national shipping line. It is the tendency for all countries, even small countries like Pakistan and Indonesia, to operate their own overseas shipping lines because it is in their own interests to do so. The increase in freight rates is expected to add £1,000,000 annually to the cost of beef shipments to America if it is passed on to the buyers. On 11th September last Sir William Gunn said that the rise in shipping freight rates would have to be borne largely by the producers. He is the producers’ representative on the Australian Meat Board and he apparently has taken it for granted that this increase will be passed on. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has said that he has given approval for the Australian Meat Board to use every means at its disposal to ensure that the increase is not passed on. The shipping companies concerned are not members of the conference line- The conference line meets every two years and discusses freight rates. These discussions are not like those that take place in the arbitration courts where the worker who is advanc- ing a claim for increased wages has to substantiate his claim against all objectors.
– Order! Thc honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Before dealing with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Shipping and Transport I feel that I must defend my friend and colleague, the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes), against the attack made on him by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), who made some erroneous statements.
– They were true.
– If you turn to page 1563 of the “Hansard” report of Tuesday, 8th October, you will see the trend of the honorable member’s statements. He said -
I have some figures for the calendar year 1962 in respect of the Cairns waterfront. They show a loading rate of 6.7 tons per gang-hour. Prewar loading rales were from 14 to 16 tons per gang-hour.
The honorable member was not suggesting cheap labour or a lowering of working conditions. He was suggesting that having regard to what the waterside workers are receiving in this modern age they should at least give value for money. That was his contention and he went on further to elaborate it. At no stage did he suggest a lowering of working conditions or of wages. He merely suggested that the men should give value for money just as he and every one else in the community is expected to give value for money. I believe he was successful in making out his case.
Having blown out the honorable member for Wide Bay let me now come to the point I want to make. We are dealing with a proposed amendment by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to the allocation for the two departments in question. His suggestion that the proposed expenditures be reduced by £1 is designed to force the Government to do something which actually would involve increased expenditure. He has stipulated quite a number of things which he believes should be done. He attacked Ansett-A.N.A. and its so-called take-overs. In this he was supported by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) and the honorable member for
Stirling (Mr. Webb). Whatever has happened to companies in other States which are now associated with Ansett-A.N.A., I deny completely that Ansett-A.N.A. has taken over MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Limited. All that happened was that AnsettA.N.A. purchased a substantial number of shares in MacRobertson-Miller Airlines.
– A majority of shares.
– That is not so.
– You know it is true.
– Ansett-A.N.A. bought the shares from a willing seller just as any one else could have done. There was no question of a take-over. I have been interested in companies which have been taken over. One in particular was in Western Australia. Although the shareholders suffered substantially the customers suffered no loss at ali. I can assure the honorable member that there was no take-over of MacRobertson-Miller Airlines. His claim that there was a take-over fails completely because any one could have bought the shares which were on offer.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has suggested that there are complaints all along the line about the service being rendered by MacRobertson-Miller Airlines and that Trans-Australia Airlines therefore should be permitted to operate on that company’s routes. I have not heard any complaints about MacRobertson-Miller Airlines. Instead I believe it is to be commended for the service which it is giving. Although I object to monopolies in any shape or form, I believe there are occasions when, owing to the small number of customers offering, you have to restrict services or permit only one operator to supply them. That is the case with MacRobertson-Miller Airlines. Western Australia is a developing State and this is a developing service. If there was another company operating there I doubt whether either of them would make a success of it and we would have a depleted and unsatisfactory air service as the result, because the companies could not operate at a loss. It has been suggested that TransAustralia Airlines should be permitted to run a service from Darwin to Perth. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) suggested that that should be done in. order tq-, relieve the pressure, , on Hie
MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Limited service. Under the present law of Western Australia it would not be possible for TransAustralia Airlines to run an intra-state service and so the only service it could provide would be direct from Perth to Darwin and Darwin to Perth. I doubt whether there would be enough passengers to justify one service, let alone two-
– But Trans-Australia Airlines wants to run that service.
– Yes, quite so, but the point is that MacRobertson-Miller Airlines Limited already gives a good service, carrying goods and passengers over a very wide stretch of country. It is not a very profitable service. The run from Perth to Darwin and back again with a few passengers is one service which makes up for the losses incurred on the other part of the run. To squeeze MacRobertson-Miller Airlines out of that service would inevitably deny to a great many stations and small hamlets in Western Australia the service they get to-day. That is the position. The present service would be forced out and nothing provided in its place. With this one airline running in Western Australia we have a rationalized service and I would not interfere with it. I am certain that the people in the north-west of Western Australia will confirm my words in this regard far more than those of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie.
I come now to the remarks made yesterday by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) in regard to Trans-Australia Airline’s negotiations with the University of Western Australia about the renting of offices in the Gledden Building. I feel that the honorable member for Swan - I say (his in all kindness to him - used rather extravagant language in his condemnation of TransAustralia Airlines for its part in this deal. I cannot help feeling that if Ansett-A.N.A. had been involved instead of TransAustralia Airlines we would not have heard from the honorable member. In my opinion it was a normal business deal - a competitive deal. If I want to occupy an office somewhere and it is already occupied and is not under lease - or even if it is - so long as I do not break the law I am entitled to take any measures to obtain it. There was nothing .illegal in this deal and if there was anything unethical the lack of ethics was on the part of the university, the owner of the building. When Trans-Australia Airlines made the university a more remunerative offer for this accommodation than the rental it was receiving from the existing tenant, the reasonable thing for the university to do was to go to the tenant, lay its cards on the table, and say “We have received an offer which is very much more than you are paying us “. The tenant would then have known where he stood. If he knew that he had no chance of meeting that better offer he would have had to be content if the university accepted it. But he would have had an opportunity to negotiate. Was not that the correct course to follow? Why condemn Trans-Australia Airlines for adopting a normal and natural way of doing business. I am sorry that the honorable member for Swan placed the blame altogether in the wrong quarter.
I want now to deal with rationalized air services and particularly that operating between the eastern States and Western Australia. At present we have two companies operating on this route and the planes of both companies depart from Perth and from eastern cities at about the same time. The only choice the passenger has is a choice of companies. Both companies use the same type of aircraft, so there is not even a choice of planes. It is simply a matter of deciding whether to travel Ansett-A.N.A. or TransAustralia Airlines according to one’s estimate of the service given. Surely it would be reasonable to stagger departure times. I cannot understand the reason for the present system, because staggering the times of departure would suit the travelling public far better. I believe the rationalization has been completely irrational. It is not giving the people service. If the idea behind rationalization was to keep the two companies in competition and stop one from getting ahead of the other, the travelling public are suffering for it. Because of the absence of competition the service which air passengers are getting is not as good as it should be.
Since we are debating civil aviation matters I am astonished that we do not hear something about the Adelaide air terminal from honorable members representing the Adelaide area. That terminal is a shocking place. The Fairbairn airport at Canberra is bad enough, but two or three times a day the Adelaide airport is a shambles. It is crowded out and is miles too small. If the Public Works Committee had anything to do with its design or construction, it was very short-sighted in not anticipating the requirements, because that terminal was outgrown five minutes after it was built. I would like to see honorable members representing South Australian metropolitan electorates getting up on their hind legs and making representations to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to provide decent accommodation there. At least the inside of the terminal could be altered to allow passengers room to move around. At present the passengers are jammed together and you could not get a broomstick between them. The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) should have a go at this. He is an old hand and should have known that Adelaide would grow.
I want now to deal with roads. I make an appeal to shire councils, country municipalities and other local authorities in country areas to protest against the attempt by the lord mayors of the big cities of Australia to get a bigger share of the money allocated under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement. I appeal to them to address their protests first to the proper quarter in their own States and then to the Appropriate Commonwealth Minister. I ask these people in Western Australia not to address their protests to me. I am fully in accord with the basis of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement, which was introduced many years ago by that far-sighted Country Party Treasurer, the late Sir Earle Page. It has proved to bc of inestimable benefit to this country. It was introduced for the purpose of developing the rural areas of the Commonwealth. It is serving that purpose and I deplore the attempt being made by the big coast cities to get a bigger share of this money.
– Do you wish to prevent them from getting any of it? That is a typical Country Party attitude.
– Let me tell you that when the Commonwealth Aids Road Agreement was introduced every one wanted to jump on the bandwagon of this typical example of Country Party policy. lt indicates the’ brains that we have in our party. Of course the honorable member for Bowman would be against it, because he does not want to see the country areas developed. I condemn the lord mayors of the big cities for the attempt to filch what belongs to the and country local authorities to address their protests to the proper quarter in order to ensure that they are not robbed of their rights.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and shall confine my contribution mainly to a matter concerning many people in my electorate, particularly the members of the Cessnock City Council and the mayor of the city of Cessnock, Alderman Brown. First, I direct attention to the following passage on page 53 of the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation for the year 1962-63-
A difficult and complex problem exists in coordinating military and civil airspace activities in the Sydney area. The problem is that, in a very limited area sandwiched between the coast and the mountains, some 290,000 civil movements each year must be safely processed through a complexity of intense and varied defence activities. Both defence and civil aviation activities in this geographically confined airspace are increasing and it is now apparent that the present air safety standards can only be maintained if some of these activities are moved elsewhere. Otherwise, the overall system will become so choked that delays and inconvenience to all airspace users, military and civil, will be inevitable. The problem of rationalization of military and civil airspace activities within approximately 100 miles of Sydney is being discussed with the Department of Defence.
Four miles from the city of Cessnock in the electorate of Hunter, there is an aerodrome with two tar-sealed airstrips each one mile long. The redundancy of this area due to the closure.pf coal mines resulting from lack of demand for gas coal and the mechanization of the gas coal industry has been mentioned in this chamber before. The members of the Cessnock City Council, myself and other public-spirited persons believe that responsible persons in the Government should give serious consideration to improving the Cessnock airport with a view to relieving the congestion which exists at the Kingsford-Smith airport in Sydney, and which is referred to in the extract I have just quoted. Cessnock has a very modern and up-to-date technical college.
– You do not know what you are talking about.
– He never does.
– No. It is a modern and Up-to-date college which could well be used for the training of technicians who could possibly be employed at the airport should it be improved to accommodate aircraft that are unable to land at Sydney due to fog and adverse weather. This particular area at Cessnock is seldom affected by fog or sudden coastal storms which frequently occur near the coast.
The members of the Cessnock City Council have requested me to ask the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) to honour them with a visit to Cessnock. I have made that request in the hope that those Ministers will show some interest in the area. To date, the only Minister who has shown any interest in it since this Government has been in office is the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner). It would not cost the Government a great deal to put the airport at Cessnock in a condition to cater for most types of aircraft, and I suggest that this submission should be given serious consideration by responsible persons in the Government. It is well known that when the Newcastle City Council made representations for the construction of a civil aerodrome at Hexham objection was lodged by the Air Force authorities on the ground- that aircraft departing from an aerodrome at Hexham would interfere with the jet aircraft carrying out exercises at Williamtown. That might have been a wellfounded objection, but I fail to see how the Air Force authorities could object to putting the Cessnock airport in a condition suitable for use by most types of aircraft. I should say that the Cessnock aerodrome is within approximately 100 air miles of Sydney. I hope that my submission this evening will be heeded by thc responsible authorities.
It was pleasing to hear honorable members on the Government side refer in favourable terms to the success of Trans-Australia Airlines. I sometimes feel that when members of this Government praise TransAustralia Airlines, an organization set up by a former Labour Government, they speak with their tongues in their cheeks because it is well known that the members of the Government are the sponsors, aiders, abbettors, promoters and urgers of monopolies and big business.
– Do you suggest they have us in a vice-like grip?
– No, I do not suggest that; but it would not do you any harm if your head were put in a vice. I hope that as time goes on, Trans-Australia Airlines will convince the great majority of the Australian people that a government instrumentality can be just as successful, if not more successful, as a privately-owned transport service.
– If it is not sabotaged.
– Particularly, as the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith reminds me, if it is not sabotaged. One honorable member said to-flight that he liked to see competition. I also believe in competition to a certain extent, but when a monopoly acts in the interests of its shareholders to the exclusion of the interests of the public, it is time that some consideration should be given by governments to taking it over. I do not hear any member of the Government suggesting that we should have privately-controlled post offices competing with our postal service, which is ample proof that our present postal facilities meet the needs of the nation without having to compete against private enterprise.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie would not agree with that.
– I do not know about that. I have expressly raised the matter of the Cessnock aerodrome, because the area is more or less redundant and in the hope that the acceptance of my suggestion will create some employment in an area which has suffered greatly- from economic changes which have taken place in the coal-mining industry which hitherto has been the very lifeblood of the area. I believe that the Cessnock aerodrome is being used at the moment by Royal Australian Air Force helicopters in conjunction with Army in manoeuvres in that area, and I suggest that this is an opportune time for those Ministers to whom I have referred to visit the area and see its potential at first hand themselves. There are adequate facilities and amenities there. Earlier, we were told that planes which cannot land at Mascot because of fog and other reasons are diverted to Dubbo. Passengers must travel back to ;he cities a much greater distance by road transport from Dubbo than they would travel if the aircraft could land at Cessnock when prevented by adverse conditions from landing at Mascot. I urge the Government to give consideration to the matters I have mentioned. I will leave it at that on this occasion, because I realize that the time for this debate is limited and another member from this side of the House wishes to speak on this subject.
.- In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Department of Civil Aviation and on the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam)-, I do not intend to take up much of the time of the committee. I want to mention one or two things about the conditions which apply at the Townsville airport. We have there one of the finest systems of runways in the world, mainly because a Royal Australian Air Force squadron has been stationed there since 1938. The Americans were there during the war, as we all know. So far as runways are concerned, the airport is up to scratch. However, I want to protest about the antiquated collection of fibrolite and timber that the people of north Queensland have to use as an airport building. The building is over 20 years old. It was built in the days of World War II. and has been converted. It has been the subject of many protests to the Minister by the people of north Queensland and by organizations. It is a totally inadequate building. When the passengers arrive there in the morning, there is not sufficient space for them and their baggage. About 60 or 70 people are crowded together in a small space of about 40 feet by 20 feet. Every morning at eight o’clock there is one hell of a mess.
I have written many times to the Minister on this subject, but, as we all know, writing is one thing and getting something done is another. On behalf of the people who live in the area, I feel that I should say something in protest about this airport building. We all feel the same way about it. It is a horrible building. It looks like a secondhand fowl coop, lt has on it a notice saying, “ Danger - Keep off the roof “. I do not know why anyone would get on the roof, but the notice is there. As the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) said, it reminds one of a fowl house that no self-respecting Buff Orpington would go into to lay an egg. This is a serious matter. The building serves not only the people of Townsville but also the people living to the immediate north of the airport in the areas of the Burdekin and Herbert Rivers, where the second-class airports are serviced by hedge-hopping nights. Rather than go through that dreadful up and down business, when flying to Brisbane they first drive into Townsville and leave their cars there. This complicates the matter.
I feel that the Minister has been most unfair, but I do not suppose that he will take much notice of me. He has not taken much notice of the volume of correspondence on the matter. This year the Minister plans to spend £8,000 on improvements to the airport. From what I can see, after a decent cyclone we will not have much left of them. I think it is like putting a gold knob on a toilet door. The Minister has promised to do something for the airport in his five-year plan. I am reminded of the Chinese five-year Plan - it never seems to come off or work out in the way intended.
I want to refer now to the Mount Isa railway line, which is dealt with in the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport. 1 raise this subject because I think that in future we could have some recriminations about the way in which the railway in being built. It is to cost over £30,000,000, including about £5,000,000 interest. It is going to involve a lot of headaches. We have had world experts out there on the job. Anyone who has been there will have seen the way the line has been built. The gradings have been made so that the line can be used to carry loads of about 4,000 tons of ore. Huge banks about 30 or 40 feet high have been built, and these are made up of loose earth. I do not think that they will stand up to the weight. Last year we had the example of- a wash-out of about eleven miles of line on a job that was supposed to be finished.
It was handed over to the Queensland Government by Ford, Bacon and Davis, who are supposed to be experts.
The lengthsmen who work on the line do not have academic qualifications but they have a sound practical knowledge of conditions there, which are quite unique. They have very strong opinions and they feel that replacing single-span bridges with small corrugated pipes and building loose earth banks about 30 feet in height is not going to work out. Once again, the people who live in north Queensland will have to pay. I want my remarks lo go on record because I think that in the future some one is going to ask awkward questions about the Mount Isa railway line. I want now to quote from a letter written by Mr. O’Brien, the Northern District Secretary of the Australian Railways Union. He states -
Recently 1 visited Hugenden and Cloncurry, and had an excellent opportunity of seeing the recent washouts between Undina and Pymurra, on the 30 million pound line, and was amazed to find the extensive damage that had been done to the permanent way on this particular section between julia Creek and Cloncurry. 1 also spoke to many railwaymen who had worked and lived in this area, and knew its peculiarities in respect of rain falls, and so called “ freak storms “ (as this one was dubbed by the socalled experts of Ford, Bacon and Davis, lo cover up their incompetence), who told me that the washout was not unexpected, as the style of drainage persevered with by the experts would not take the storm waters away when they came. In fact this weakness was pointed out to the experts, but they would not listen to our men. They were called hill-billies and were told that they were a little out of date in modern rail road construction and drainage. At least that’s what they were told.
Anyway, the experts went ahead with their plans and ideas, and removed certain spanned bridges on this section and replaced them with corrugated steel pipes and reinforced concrete pipes, of questionable diameter measurements, to take away the flood waters when they came.
As soon as the flash storms arrive, down comes the debris and blocks up the pipes. There is a sort of a dam, and eventually the water breaks through. Mr. O’Brien states also -
So extensive was the damage that trains were held up for five days at Julia Creek waiting for the washouts to be repaired. Just who will foot this bill is hard to say, but more than likely the extra cost will be passed on to the people. This portion of the line, I understand, was handed over to (he railway department as a finished article. If such was the case, then it does not confer any bouquets on those who built the line.
Between Stuart and Cloncurry the line in some places is built up as high as 30 or 35 feet. The theory is that the grass will grow and tie the earth together. If the people who built the line lived in the area or knew the area they would realize that grass which will bind anything does not grow out there. Unless the embankments are stone, pitched or cemented, or some other substance is put on the soil to bind it, I am afraid that they, like the pipes, will wash away when the rain comes. I have placed those remarks on record, and that is all I wish to say.
– I would not intrude in this debate but for the fact that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has proposed an amendment that these estimates be reduced by £1. He referred to Trans-Australia Airlines and the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission. He also referred to shipbuilding. At the beginning of his speech he referred to increases in freight rates on goods shipped overseas and used them as a justification for an Australian-owned overseas shipping line. This argument is a hardy annual and has been well canvassed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– May I interrupt. The proposition is that the Australian National Line be allowed to carry out its statutory function of engaging in overseas trade.
– That may be so, but to engage in overseas trade, it would have to be considerably enlarged. I propose to deal with that later. Freights charged by the overseas shipping lines have recently been increased by 10 per cent., admittedly, Over the years, costs have risen in all countries. We have had increases in costs in Australia. The special committee believes that the increases have been justified.
I turn now to the proposition that the Australian National Line engage in overseas trade. From time to time, the line has endeavoured to engage in overseas trade, particularly when it has had ships tied up at wharfs, incurring port dues ‘ and other charges. The line has taken the View that those charges could be offset by earnings from charters in overseas trade. But it has been found on all occasions that the profit margin has been extremely small. These charter runs have demonstrated the tremendous overhead expenses involved in providing ships for overseas services. During the past twelve months, only one charter run has been available. That illustrates the difficulty of operating on favorable terms in overseas trade. On a number of occasions, honorable members have been given figures that demonstrate the difference between the cost of operating an Australian-owned vessel in overseas trade and the cost of operating a similar United Kingdom vessel in the same kind of trade. Comparative costs are not easily worked out, but it is clear that there is a great difference between these costs. The cost of operating a 10,000-ton Australian-owned vessel in overseas trade is estimated to be almost double that of running a United Kingdom vessel in international trade.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, therefore, made a misleading comparison between our shipping conditions and costs and those of other countries. He implied that costs were similar. The ramifications of providing and maintaining ships and crewing them in Australia, compared with other countries, are not easy to assess. Some of the standards adopted in other countries would not be acceptable to Australians. Recently, a modern 19,000-ton vessel entered the port of my home city, Geelong. That ship was built in Japan for Norwegian owners. It flew the Norwegian flag and was manned by Norwegian officers and a crew from Hong Kong. The Norwegian owners contracted for it to be built in Japan on the assumption that ten or twelve charter trips would immediately bc available. So we see that we cannot compare the cost of operating vessels under the Norwegian flag with the cost of operating ships under the Australian flag, as was attempted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition when he mentioned shipping in Scandinavian countries.
Recently, I had in my office an American economist who is engaged in shipping research. The United States of America has often been described as having high rates of pay and good conditions for seamen, but this economist stated that the United States Government is now far from convinced of the economic merits of the subsidies that it has paid in respect of shipping and of the returns that it receives in comparison with the expenditure incurred.
Having listened lo the remarks made by thc Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I suggest that he exhibits a rather marked irresponsibility when he states that we. should operate our ships in overseas trade on a basis as yet unproved and that the cost of thc subsidies that we would have to pay would bc offset by the greater returns from our export trade. That was just a generalization. Fortunately, this Government has a better sense of responsibility than is exhibited by the Opposition in these matters. Before we committed ourselves to the huge expenditure that would be involved, we would have to be quite sure of the economic value of that expenditure.
The Opposition has never given any indication of thc number of ships that it considers would bc required if we were to enter into overseas trade on a worth-while scale. As I have said, Opposition members are content merely to generalize. Though this may suit the outlook and policy of the Opposition, we as a government, I reiterate, cannot take risks that would perhaps involve us in vast expenditure on subsidies for the building of ships that we would need properly to organize an Australian-owned overseas shipping line and run it effectively. 1 have already mentioned the difference between costs in Australia and costs overseas.
Opposition members continually shift their ground in this matter. Sometimes, they say that Austraiian taxpayers and primary producers will make savings if Australian shipping engages in overseas trade. At other times, they fall back on a proposal that subsidies be paid. This reminds mc of an occasion when a deputation saw mc in my office on this very matter. Its opening gambit was a proposition that the use of Australian ships in overseas trade would save money for the Australian taxpayers and increase returns to primary producers. The members of the deputation made great play on this. I told them that the overseas shipping lines, if they were making such high profits as were alleged, would be able immediately to reduce their freight charges when an Australian line entered into competition with them, the result being that the Australian line also would have to reduce freight rates, perhaps to unprofitable levels. When I asked what was to happen when the rates became unprofitable, the reply was, “ You should subsidize “’. So, once again, the burden is to be placed on the taxpayer and the primary producer.
The Australian National Line is doing a particularly good job on the Australian coast, and the consideration of the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport provides a good opportunity for me to mention this fact. The line is doing an especially good job in the services between the mainland and Tasmania, which have been revolutionized by roll-on roll-off cargo and passenger and vehicle ferry services. The line has also introduced a new service between Melbourne and Brisbane and special wharfs have been begun to serve what it is hoped will be a profitable service between those two ports to be provided by roll-on roll-off vessels. The line is doing its best job in the iron ore trade. However, 1 repeat that, operating under Australian rates of pay and conditions for seamen, the line could not possibly do what is proposed by the Opposition.
On the subject of the Tasmanian trade, I want to answer an inquiry made by thc honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) and to indicate the efforts that the Australian National Line is making to give Australia first-class shipping services. The honorable member asked about a major difficulty met with recently in services to Stanley in north-western Tasmania. This illustrates the difficulties that are met wilh in our coastal trade and the repercussions that can follow hold-ups and strikes. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) made certain proposals when he discussed remarks that had been made by the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes). I have been advised that the major difficulty met with recently by “ Bass Trader “ resulted from a crane drivers’ strike at Melbourne, which meant that the vessel was unable to discharge cargo from
Tasmania ex Devonport from the crane deck and therefore was unable to load outward cargo. This was the basic cause of a bank-up of cargo. In order to ease the situation, the Australian National Line has already placed “ South Esk “ on two weeks’ unbroken service between Melbourne and northern Tasmanian ports, after deferring by a week her customary fortnightly call at Port Kembla.
Aside from the difficulties which led to additional assistance by “ South Esk “, experience led the line to anticipate that there would be a seasonal call for additional assistance to “ Princess of Tasmania “ and “ Bass Trader “, commencing no later than October and, for this reason, it has been planned for some time that “ Yarrunga “ should operate from early October as a container ship using the terminal cranes. It is intended that she should make two round trips per week, serving Burnie and Devonport alternately. The commission also advises that “ South Esk “ will continue to serve Stanley regularly on a fortnightly basis, thus catering for all of the outward cargo from that port.
The question of ship-building is alined with the matter of a Commonwealth line. Let me say that all over the world for many years ship-building has been in a depressed state. As I have reiterated, we have in Australia six shipyards which have to be kept going. Despite the criticism that has been expressed, at June, 1963, we still had over 3,000 employees engaged in the shipbuilding industry, as against 3,032 in 1962, and 2,990 in 1961.
– You had over 3,000 ten years ago.
– The point is that over the last couple of years, during a period when ship-building has been depressed all over the world, we have maintained our figures. The ship-building industry, as I have said, is not an easy industry to maintain. The honorable member for Wide Bay has questioned me constantly in the House, claiming that there are no prospects at Maryborough. The Maryborough yard now has three orders. The Whyalla yards are still working and have orders in hand. It has been said that Evans Deakin Proprietary Limited has not orders, but this company is expanding its yard on the basis that it will have orders. It has confidence in the industry and is modernizing the yards so that it may compete efficiently with yards elsewhere in Australia.
– That area has a good member.
– The company is expanding, incidentally, with the help of the Queensland Government, so if it has a good member it also has a good State government. Because the tender system is a competitive system, there must be some fluctuations of activity in the yards from time to time, but the fact that the Government has been keeping the shipyards engaged and the fact that at June, 1963, more men were engaged in the industry than had been engaged during the previous three years, are indications that our interest is in the industry and that there is no justification for supporting the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Whitlam’s) be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of Customs and Excise.
Proposed expenditure, £6,029,000.
Department of Trade.
Proposed expenditure, £4,792,000.
Department of Primary Industry.
Proposed expenditure, £16,930,000.
– I suggest that the committee give some consideration to one very important aspect of our trade situation. I would like to say a few words about tariff policy as a whole. During the past two or three years we have seen some very important changes in tariff-making procedures designed to give a more sophisticated approach to the problems of providing adequate protection for Australian secondary industry. Duties applied after the usual Tariff Board inquiries have formed the traditional method of protecting local industries against overseas competition. Since 1921 the Tariff Board has functioned as an advisory body, without having any definite basis on which its findings are required to be formulated. Nowhere is there any set of principles laid down by which it can say what industries it is essential to protect. I suggest that there should be’ some standards’ laid down covering such subjects as employment potential, national development, the growth of the particular industry involved, the exploitation of our very great national resources, and, last but not least, defence. It has been sufficient that an industry applying for protection should be considered sufficiently well-founded to be reasonably sure of success, without having regard to the size of the industry or its contribution to the economy - although in the case of new industries it has been customary for due allowance to be made for teething troubles in establishment.
But there has always been a limiting factor, in that the rates imposed should not be so high as to prevent a United Kingdom manufacturer from having equal opportunity of competing on a reasonable level of profit. In essence this means that we are giving protection to our own but that we are offering to share our own. Over the years we have seen thousands of small concerns prosper and grow into large establishments, which concerns could never have done this without the benefit of tariff assistance - and this assistance can be pretty costly. This is demonstrated by the fact that one large company has had to participate in 28 major Tariff Board inquiries since 1950. That is an average of more than two a year. Australian manufacturers should not have to fight a battle of ever-increasing intensity with overseas interests for our relatively small but vital domestic market. Our comparatively small home market, covering 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 people, gives our manufacturers very little support compared with home markets in the world’s major manufacturing countries. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the market covers about 50,000,000 people, in the United States about 180,000,000, in Japan 95,000,000. I am uncertain of the figure for Germany, because it is included in the European Economic Community. All of these countries have developed their secondary industries under protective measures which put our efforts at tariff-making in the kindergarten class.
The United Kingdom established its great manufacturing centres in different parts of the country with government encouragement and most stringent methods, which it was obliged to take to compete with the highly industrialized and efficient factories in Germany. The United Kingdom is one of the most highly tariff-protected countries to-day, as far as manufactured goods are concerned, whilst it enjoys the best of two worlds, maintaining free entry of foodstuffs to feed the masses of workers employed in secondary industries. This policy is rather like that of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) in reverse.
The United States of America makes no apologies for giving the workers employed in its vast industries full and unequivocal protection. She is doing a lot of talking about cutting down tariffs by 50 per cent, now; but in the period when she was building up her great industrial strength - a period, I suggest, comparable to the position of Australia to-day - she maintained an extremely high barrier against outside competition, estimated to have been a tariff of about 47 per Cent. To-day, Australia is accused by the free traders of having a high tariff barrier, but our average tariff is only about 12 per cent. I believe we are only toying with this problem. In Germany, there is a similar story. With a large home market for which industries were deliberately fostered by government action behind strong protection, Germany has built up mammoth industries that can almost demand entrance into world markets because of quality and price. Japan has provided the strongest example of all. She has so many different forms of protection that she leaves us gasping.
Australia is not the youngest country seeking to raise her standards of living, but, in this we are only an infant compared with the countries I have mentioned. I believe it is essential for Australia, if she is to achieve the rate and spread of development that we are all aiming for, to adopt every sophistication in protection that we can copy from these old masters and for the Government to lay down firm principles on which the Tariff Board should make its judgments. It is necessary to offer some reward to the people who are providing the employment that we need. That reward could be given by offering protection on the local market to those manufacturers who can expand their output for export. The reward would need to be sufficient to allow for selling at marginal profit rates - as . the countries to which I have referred have done before us - selling outside Australia if necessary.
I shall quickly give as an example the olive oil industry which is one of the victims of the present system. During the war, olive oil was rationed. It takes about ten or fifteen years for trees to come into reasonable production, and Australian trees can hardly be regarded as anywhere near full bearing yet. But since the war about £2,250,000 has been invested in efforts to establish this industry. The Australian Tariff Board has tried to give the industry every encouragement, but it provided a duty of only about 2s. a gallon to start with. Then it suggested a bounty of ls. 6d. a gallon. The Government did not like that idea and provided for a duty of 3s. 6d. a gallon. That was still not enough in the face of competition from overseas. The Special Advisory Authority went into this matter and said that the industry urgently needed a great deal more assistance than it was getting. He made a recommendation to allow purchasers of locally produced oil to import duty-free, under by-law, four gallons for every gallon of local oil purchased. This proved a real winner. But because the recommendation of the Special Advisory Authority has to go back to the Tariff Board, the Tariff Board examined the position of olive oil together with the position of other oils. It then announced its decision that the bounty system would have to go and that a straight duty of 4s. a gallon should be imposed. The matter has gone backwards and forwards in this way and the industry has suffered because it has not known what would happen. First of all, it gets encouragement and everything is right. Then the whole position is altered because it is found that olive oil has been omitted from the arrangements made for other oils.
The Government has done all it can and deserves every commendation for the atmosphere and conditions it has created to attract overseas capital to this country to encourage people to establish the large industries that are now taking the place of the small industries that were built up after the war. The whole face of our industries have changed until to-day we have a complex of industries which are in world class but which need all the encouragement that. they, can be given. . All along the line, we have success stories. But still we have with us some rumblings that indicate that business as a whole has one area in which it finds some reason for a feeling of insecurity - a lack of confidence that can be overcome. The area to which I refer is the area in which it is known that when an industry receives protection it will be able to rely on having that protection for a number of years. Secondary industry needs a shoulder of its own to cry on occasionally. It needs a voice to speak for itself alone in its own right, not in combination with trade promotion or trade agreements or overseas commitments or any of the other things that are mixed up with it to-day, but solely for its own healthy expansion inside Australia. Just as it has been found necessary to group the administration of matters affecting primary industry under one Minister who handles - very capably if I may say so - all local aspects of production, marketing and protective devices peculiar to primary industry, its promotion and research, so, too, does our manufacturing industry need the undivided attention of one minister for its administration in local matters.
My suggestion does not, in any way, detract from the invaluable work done in this sphere by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). Nor does it necessarily involve the creation of an additional portfolio. The Department of Customs and Excise has become merely an organization for the administration of tariff regulations whilst the Tariff Board itself has come within the ambit of the Department of Trade. The board’s members could well be specially trained public servants rather than, as at present, the representatives of sectional interests. The creation of a new ministry of secondary industry could well embrace both of these arms of the protective processes and leave the Department of Trade free to pursue its true vocation of expanding our overseas arrangements for both export and import trade. With a minister devoted to the welfare of local industry such a ministry would achieve a definite plan of protection and give us the incentive to expand production to the utmost and seek new markets.
House adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Can the Minister stale- how many sources of supply are available to Australian hospitals for
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers: - 1 and 2. The experience of my department in relation to the supply of oxygen and oxygen equipment is necessarily confined to those hospitals which it conducts in the Australian Capital Territory - the Canberra Community Hospital - and in the Northern Territory. The heaviest users of oxygen and oxygen equipment are normally the public hospitals in the States, which are the concern of the respective State government’s. The Canberra Community Hospital and hospitals in the Northern Territory obtain all their oxygen and oxygen equipment from Commonwealth Industrial Gases Limited, which provides a complete hospital service including regular maintenance and ready replacement of parts. Tenderers for the supply of oxygen equipment have included Commonwealth Industrial Gases Limited, Both Equipment Limited, Medical Equipment Services Proprietary Limited and Watson Victor Limited. I understand that other suppliers of this type of equipment include Amalgamated Dental (Australia) Proprietary Limited, Drug Houses of Australia Limited and Wormald Safety Services Proprietary Limited.
Homes for the Aged. (Question No. 263.)
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers: -
January, 1951 and 1st July, 1953, respectively were: -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answer: -
I have forwarded to the honorable member two lists of pharmaceutical benefits in the form of determinations made under section 85 of the National Health Act. One lists those drugs and medicinal preparations that were available as pharmaceutical benefits on 1st April, 1958. The other lists the benefits available at 1st May, 1963. I think the honorable member will, after perusing these two determinations readily agree that it would be both impracticable and fruitless to list all the changes that have taken place to the list of benefits between the making of these two determinations. In the past five years there have been hundreds of changes in the listing of benefits following on the discovery of new and more effective drugs and the consequent removal from the list of superseded and less effective drugs. Furthermore, substantial alterations were made to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme in 1960, when the list was considerably lengthened by the addition of a large number of medicaments previously not available to the public as general benefits. If the honorable member seeks information about particular medicaments that are listed, or have been removed, as benefits I shall be pleased to provide him with such information as 1 can make available, in the light of the policy that has been laid down with respect to meetings of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. The terms of this policy have been conveyed to the honorable member in the past in answer to other questions relating to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and I would refer him to page 263 of the House of Representatives “Hansard” of 13th August, 1959.
n asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
What was the expenditure by his department in each State in each of the last three financial years on purchases arranged by the Contract Board on behalf of other departments and mentioned in his reply to me on 29th August, 1963 (“ Hansard,” pages 730-1)?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The total value of contracts arranged on behalf of other departments was -
Figures regarding contracts placed in each State would be misleading since supply or production does not necessarily originate in thc State in, which the contract is placed.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice: -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Under what section of the National Health Act is provision made for dental treatment, and what form of treatment and benefit is available?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answer: -
No provision is made in the National Health Act for the payment of benefits in respect of treatment rendered by dentists.
k. - In an answer to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) on 24th September (Question No. 281) I gave information that was not strictly correct. The honorable member asked in respect of leases for bauxite development on Gove Peninsula: “ Have applications been received for the grant of the lease that was abandoned? “ and I answered “ Yes “. Strictly, the position is that the lease which had been terminated by the Government was also reserved from the operation of the mining ordinance and therefore a formal application for a lease could not legally be made. The correct answer to the question is: Some proposals in respect of the area have been received but no application is legally acceptable at this stage because the area has been reserved from the operation of the mining ordinance.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19631009_reps_24_hor40/>.