25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sit John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to address my question to the Attorney-General. Has his attention been directed to current reports that the United Kingdom Government proposes to introduce legislation to deal with monopoly price-fixing? Has the Minister any information about that proposed legislation and will it be considered when legislation is being framed to deal with monopolies and restrictive trade practices in Australia?
– I am aware that it has been announced that there is in the United Kingdom a proposal to legislate in the way mentioned by the honorable gentleman. I have seen comment about the proposal, but I have not yet seen any bill. I am considering the comment that has been made and I shall consider the bill also when I see it.
– I address my question to the Minister for Air. Has he seen comments to the effect that the figures that he recently gave to the House concerning contributions to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, and the reimbursements that servicemen are likely to receive from it, do not present the true picture? Is there any foundation for these suggestions?
– I saw the comments that the honorable member has referred to and, for that reason, I checked my figures with the Department of Air. I find that they are perfectly correct. Last Wednesday, in this House, I cited the case of a junior officer who joined the service at the age of 22 and retired as a squadron leader at the age of 47. Under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1963, he would contribute over his service a total of £2,970. If he lived for the average life span shown in the Australian life assurance tables, he would receive from the fund £29,635. I cited also the case of a group captain who retired at age 55. He would have contributed £4,830 and would receive £35,872 from the fund. I repeat that these figures are quite right. They do not, however, take into account the fact that a widow would be entitled to a pension of up to five-eighths of the rate that her husband had been receiving.
So I think I was correct in saying that this is a particularly generous scheme. Indeed, if there is any problem at present it is caused by the generosity of the 1963 act, which, as honorable members will recall, increased the benefits enormously. For example, a retired squadron leader who had served in the Technical Branch and, under the terms of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act in 1958, was receiving an annual pension of £617 would receive £1,511 a year under the terms of the 1963 act. Larger contributions have now to be made, of course, as an automatic result of this increase and men who are getting close to the end of their service have only a very short time in which to make the additional contribution required. The act is administered by my colleague, the Treasurer, who advised people likely to be affected by this sudden heavy increase of contributions that if they were within eight years of retirement they could do one of three things. They could continue to pay the old rate and get the old pension; they could pay the new rate and get the new pension, which was very much higher; or they could continue to pay the old rate and defer some or all of the additional payments for the higher pension until such time as they retired. In the latter case, they would receive a lump sum in lieu of long service leave and that lump sum could be applied to meet the additional payment for the higher pensions. Nearly all elected to take the new rate.
– Is this a Dorothy Dix-er?
– If the honorable member had asked me this question, I would have answered it in a similar manner. I hope that the question has been fully answered. I think that the act is generous and that the Government has gone a long way towards helping people in their retirement. -P:
Torres Strait Islanders
– I preface my question to the Minister for Repatriation by reminding him of his visit to Thursday Island last year. Accompanied by officers from his department, the Minister went to Thursday Island and adjusted a number of anomalies that had existed since the Second World War. I now ask the Minister whether he will go further afield in the Torres Strait Islands and visit Darnley, Daru, Murray and others where there are many people who rendered service and who have not been able to obtain justice. I remind the Minister that the Torres Strait Islanders are a very proud people. He knows this to be true. They are very proud to be Australians, and I think that having served Australia, they are justified in demanding sympathetic treatment equal to that extended to people on the mainland.
– It is a fact that following the amendment of the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act at the end of 1962 I did visit the Torres Strait Islands area last year. I had the pleasure of the company of the honorable member for Leichhardt and the chairman of the Repatriation Commission. We interviewed a considerable proportion of ex-members of the Torres Strait Islands regiment who were present at several meetings we held. I left an officer of the Repatriation Department in the area for about four weeks and he visited a considerable number of the inhabited islands. It is my intention to arrange for the same officer to visit the area again this year. He will go there in a few weeks’ time and he will cover the islands which he did not have the opportunity to visit last year. It is a fact that since repatriation benefits were introduced for Torres Strait Islanders on the same basis as benefits are paid to all other Australian ex-servicemen, there has been a considerable increase in the amount paid to Torres Strait Islanders. The earlier payments for war pensions alone has increased seven fold, and since last year the Repatriation Department has been paying a service pension to more than 160 personnel. I do not doubt that as a result of the next visit by the official the number qf recipients will increase.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. Has his attention been directed to recent advertisements in the press offering blocks of land for sale on a small deposit, and repayment over a period of three or more years, in conjunction with a statement that completion of the transaction would render purchasers eligible for the £250 housing grant? Can the Minister say whether purchasers of such land will be eligible for the grant, and if not, what conditions are likely to be applied?
– I have seen some of the advertisements to which the honorable member refers and they have given me cause for some concern. My concern is to see that the grants find their way effectively into the assets of young married people and are not side-tracked into the pockets of others. During the election campaign the Prime Minister made it quite clear that if one or other of the couple concerned invested his or her savings in land, that would not disqualify the couple from seeking the grant. In a statement which I issued recently, I did, in fact, indicate that under certain conditions savings invested in land would be counted as eligible savings. These certain conditions will be aimed at protecting young couples and not at excluding any legitimate transactions. The best advice I could give to young couples contemplating the purchase of land is, first, that they obtain an independent valuation by a valuer recognized by a real estate institute; secondly, that they check the title carefully; and, thirdly, that they ensure when they are purchasing on terms that the rate of interest charged is reasonable and that exorbitant charges are not wrapped up in a flat rate of interest. To take an extreme case, the taxpayers of Australia cannot be called upon to finance the gimmicks of land sharks. Of course, I am not saying that all of the advertisements by any means fall into this category, but it is necessary to protect both young married couples, on the one side, and taxpayers on the other. All that I can say about these advertisements is that they are completely unauthorized and that until the Parliament has approved this scheme they could prove grossly misleading.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Navy. Are automatically inflatable rafts, with tent cover protection, now standard and general issue for ships of the Royal Australian Navy? Are Carley floats still on issue, or have they been abolished? Are automatically inflatable rafts stowed in Navy whalers when cadets or midshipmen are undergoing ocean sailing exercises in whalers - excursions which in civil life would be undertaken only by the most experienced yachtsmen?
– I must say that I do not know the details of the first part of the honorable member’s question. As to that part which refers to whalers, I do know that the type of equipment kept on board, and which was used during the exercise which has been under some discussion, was considered by the Navy to be adequate for all safety precautions necessary for the type of situation a whaler could get into. In answer to a question recently from an honorable member opposite, I said that an inquiry was being conducted concerning these whalers. I, perhaps, could have added that the inquiry was as to the whaler’s suitability for the type of exercise because, although up to that point, it had always been considered an adequate vessel, in view of the happenings it was thought wise to have a further look at this matter. I shall supply further details later to the honorable member.
– As the Minister for the Interior would be aware, within the past year the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology has established on the Macleay River an elaborate flood forecasting system. Has the Minister had any reports on the accuracy of the forecasts that were made by the bureau in relation to the flood that took place on Tuesday last?
– I have taken a very close interest in this project, because I am well aware of the importance of accurate forecasting of the time and height at which floods might occur. The Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology has developed on the Macleay River an intricate system of flood forecasting which is the first of its type in Australia. This recent flood pro vided a good opportunity to test the accuracy of the forecasts, and I am pleased to say that the accuracy was of a very high degree. Twenty-seven hours before the flood occurred the bureau predicted that a flood might occur and forecast the height and the time at which it would occur. It amended its forecast, and its last forecast, eight hours before the flood took place, was that it would occur about midnight and that the height would be 15 feet 6 inches. The actual time of the flood was 1 a.m. and the height was 15 feet 5 inches. I repeat that it was a very accurate forecast.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: When can the House expect the legislation for the introduction of a Commonwealth-wide egg marketing stabilization plan to be presented? Have the States been informed of the Government’s proposals? Have they yet agreed to the proposals? Is the Minister aware that almost two years have passed since I initiated a debate on this subject as a matter of urgent public importance on behalf of the Opposition? Is he also aware that egg producers are still anxious to achieve sanity in the internal and external marketing of eggs and egg products?
– I said on several occasions that when the legislation was drafted it would be forwarded to the State Ministers for their agreement or otherwise. Drafting of the legislation was completed about a week ago and I forwarded it to each of the State Ministers. Up to date, of course, I have had no reply from them. It would not be fair to expect a reply so soon.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has work been commenced on the extension of runway 16/34 at Kingsford-Smith Airport? If not, can the Minister say when the work will commence? Can the Minister advise whether the new runway is to be 7,900 feet or 8,500 feet long or whether, in view of the possible advent of supersonic commercial airliners by 1970, it is considered necessary to extend the runway even further?
– I will refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister in another place. I see that he is now sitting at the back of this chamber. I understand the position is that work has not yet commenced on this runway and that it will be commenced probably about August. I understand that the runway will be 8,500 feet long, but this could be varied depending on the requirements of supersonic transport. Until now we have not heard what these requirements are. However, I am sure that the Minister for Civil Aviation will give the honorable member a full answer to his question.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. By way of preface, I refer to a short advertisement that appeared in one of this morning’s newspapers. It reads-
For purchase of any industrial or manufacturing companies well established and showing satisfactory profits, by substantial overseas industrial group interested in investment in Australia.
The Deputy Prime Minister has declared that the Government is opposed to the investment of foreign capital in established enterprises. Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government now has any policy to prevent the gobbling up of established businesses or manufacturing enterprises by foreign capital?
– I have not read the advertisement in question. The policy of the Government on this matter has been stated repeatedly by my colleague, the Treasurer. I have no reason to add to his statements or to substract from them.
– 1 desire to address a question to the Minster for Social Services. In view of the tremendous improvements that have been made in social services since 1961, will the Minister consider having the valuable booklet “ Commonwealth Social Services “ reprinted to bring it up to date? I might mention, Sir, that the present booklet does not contain references to the valuable mothers’ allowance given to widows last year, to increases in the widows’ pension made last year, to the children’s allowance for aged and invalid pensioners and widows, to the increase of the aged and invalid pension where there is only one person living in the home, to the extension of social services to student children-
– I am happy to inform the honorable member for Sturt, who is the chairman of the Government Members Social Services Committee, that the question he now raises has been under consideration and that it has been decided to bring the handbook, which has been of very great value not only to people in Australia but also to people interested in social services in other countries, up to date and to publish a new edition.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether it is a fact that at about the middle of 1962 immigration officers found and detained in the Sydney area 23 Chinese who had illegally entered Australia. Are these illegal immigrants still in Australia? Will the Minister say what action he proposes to take concerning their future?
– They are still in the country and are reporting every fortnight. At this stage I cannot say what action will be taken in regard to them.
– My question, which is supplementary to that asked earlier by the honorable member for Lyne, is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. I ask the Minister whether consideration can be given to establishing similar precise flood forecasting systems on other coastal rivers of New South Wales such as the Clarence River and the Richmond River.
– Requests have been received from various other county councils for similar flood forecasting systems. At the present time we are developing such a system on the Hunter River. To put one of these forecasting systems into operation is not simple. A great deal of data on local conditions, such as rainfall and river heights, bas to be compiled. Considerable expense is involved in the instrumentation that is necessary for recording rainfalls up in the mountains and for radio communication. However, I shall accept the invitation to look at this matter more closely. I hope that as time goes by and as adequate finance becomes available similar systems can be installed on some of the other rivers.
– Did the PostmasterGeneral say, in reply to a question that I addressed to him last week, that the exterior of the Sydney General Post Office had been cleaned between 19S8 and 1960? Was his answer correct? If so, what was the extent of the work, who were the contractors and what was the contract price? Is the Minister aware that, except for the restored clock tower, the Sydney General Post Office is the dirtiest building in the city, despite any cleaning which may have been done?
– The answer which I gave last week was correct. ‘The General Post Office was not cleaned in the way in which the honorable member asked that it should be cleaned. It was brush-cleaned because, in the opinion of the experts, to have steam-cleaned it would have done harm to the stonework. Between 1958 and 1960 the stonework was repaired as well as cleaned. I cannot tell the honorable member the name of the contractor, but the total amount spent was approximately £38,000. The frontages to Pitt-street, Martin-place and George-street were treated in the operation.
– I address to the Minister for the Navy a question relating to recent decisions by the Government to purchase in England submarines of the Oberon class. Will the Minister tell the House the reasons for not having these submarines built in Australia? Was a thorough survey carried out prior to the order being placed?
– I should like to inform the honorable member and the House that a full investigation was made prior to this decision being announced by the Government. Honorable members should be aware that since the last war nearly 150 vessels have been built in Australian shipyards for the Australian services. Attempts are made at times to show that the Government has no faith in the quality of Australian workmanship. That is quite untrue. In this case the main factors - the economic factors, the military factors and the capacity of Australian industry to undertake the task - were considered. After consideration of all those matters the decision was made - rightly so, I believe - to call tenders for these ships to be built in Great Britain.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. He will recall stressing the importance of the tourist industry to the Australian economy when he addressed the Pacific Area Travel Association conference recently. Will he say what plans, if any, he has to assist this valuable industry? In view of the fact that primary and secondary industries are assisted by taxation investment allowances, will the right honorable gentleman favorably consider the extension of those provisions to the tourist trade, and thus help the construction of improved accommodation and other facilities? Finally, will he confer with the Minister for Immigration with the object of removing irksome delays and restrictions affecting the granting of tourist vises to the people of the Pacific area who wish to holiday in Australia?
– In reply to the first part of the honorable member’s question, I say that I will have him provided with a statement of what the Government has done about various matters, including in particular the Australian National Travel Association. It would be useful for him to have the facts explicitly. The rest of the question relates to matters of policy and I prefer not to have to deal with matters of policy at question time.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for National Development give any further information about the state of negotiations over the price of crude oil from the Moonie field in Queensland?
– On Thursday last, in the presence of the Minister for National Development, the parties concerned in this matter discussed an amended basis for the sale of the oil. That further discussion has now been referred to their principals for examination. However, the Minister told me that he considers it likely that a basis will be found upon which the further development of the Moonie field can proceed in a way that is satisfactory to the producer.
– I wish to preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Defence, by referring to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. His Excellency, when referring to Indonesia, said, in part -
The major interests which we have in common should, if possible, be preserved. But my advisers continue to make it clear to Indonesia that we have commitments in relation to Malaysia which we will honour.
In view of the call-up of Malaysian troops, what does the Minister intend to do about honouring our part of the agreement? Does the Minister believe that all is well with Australia’s defence plans when we now have 27 more men in the permanent army and militia combined than we had in-
– Order! The honorable member is now exceeding his rights. He is giving information instead of seeking it. He is also making his question longer than is usual.
– I will conclude by asking: As the TFX bomber is not expected to fly before 1967, what arrangements are in hand to support the now ageing Canberra bombers?
– The decision of the Malaysian Government in respect of mobilization relates, of course, to its own forces. The honorable member and the House will be aware that Australia already has forces of each of the three armed services in Malaysia. We will be ready to honour our commitments on request, either with those forces or with other forces at our disposition. No such request has been made for the specific allocation of forces to any operations that involve Indonesia. I remind the honorable member also that recently, as part of our programme of assistance to Malaysia, we sent a defence mission to that country to examine ways in which we might make available material or training in order to strengthen Malaysia’s forces. That mission has returned and completed its report, which will be considered shortly by the Government.
With regard to the Canberra bomber, the Minister for Air has stated the position very clearly on several occasions. Except to contest once again, as we have contested before, the statement that the Canberra is obsolete or unfit for service, I have nothing to add to what my colleague has said.
– Will the Minister for Housing say whether all sections of the community will be eligible to receive the £1 for £3 tax-free gift which will be made available b’y the Government to home builders in the age group, 35 years and under, regardless of whether the home is to be built on a town lot or a farm property?
– The Government’s intention is that the housing grants scheme will apply equally to all married couples in Australia Wherever they may propose to reside and whatever may be their condition. The honorable member has drawn attention to the difference between a couple with a town lot, in which case the provision of a title is a simple matter, and a couple who propose to erect a home on a farm property. It will be necessary to protect the position of a young married couple on a farm property by ensuring that before the grant is given they have title to the land immediately around the house. If the couple did not have title to the land the owner of a farm property or perhaps the mortgagee could sell the property and the young people could be deprived of their rights. There seems to be no insuperable difficulty to obtaining titles in these cases.
I might add that a special group of officers has been made available to me, and that they are considering the whole scheme in relation to homes built on farm properties as distinct from town lots. I am confident that any problems associated with the building of homes on the different types of land can be ironed out satisfactorily.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: Did he last year give the House the impression that he had made an official protest to the French Government about the proposed conduct of nuclear tests in the Pacific? Has the Minister seen a recent statement by a French Minister to the effect that no such protest was received by the French Government? Will the Minister explain the statement by the French Minister? If no protest has been made by Australia, will the Minister see that one is made? I further ask: Has the Minister seen a statement by a French Minister that no danger would exist in the southern hemisphere from fall-out as a result of the proposed tests? Will the Minister contrast that statement with evidence given that fall-out would specially occur in the southern hemisphere and say whether the two positions can be reconciled? Will the Minister make to the House a statement, based on scientific evidence, as to what will happen with regard to fall-out, particularly in Australian dairying areas?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred. I did inform the House that I had told the French Foreign Minister of the Government’s concern about the proposed tests. Since that time we have repeated our view that we are opposed to the tests. We have stated our opposition unambiguously. So far as the receipt of information about the possible effects of French testing is concerned, I can say that the advices we have, which touch on the liability of hurt to Australia from these tests, are that the risk to Australia of fall-out from the. tests that will occur more than 4,000 miles from our coastline in an easterly direction is not likely to be significant.
For the rest, I do not feel that I need attempt to argue with the French Minister, whatever he might have said. We have made it perfectly plain that we are opposed to the tests. We have no information which would raise in our minds the fear of significant damage to Australia by the tests. Nonetheless, we have stated our objection to these tests taking place on the footing that we very sincerely desire that there should be no proliferation of nuclear capacity. We have stated this constantly.
– By way of very brief explanation of my question to the Treasurer I state that the British Prime Minister told the House of Commons on 6th February this year -
To prepare for the Kennedy Round we shall use the machinery of the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council.
Is there to be a meeting of the council at ministerial level for the purpose outlined by Sir Alec? If so, when will that meeting be held? If there is to be a meeting of the council at official level, when will that meeting be held? Who will represent Australia?
– Yes, there will be a meeting of the council at ministerial level on, I think 19th and 20th March, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, known to the initiated as Unctad, will commence on 23rd March. Australia will be represented by the Minister for Trade and Industry. There was an earlier meeting of the council in May last year when matters related to the proposed conference and the forthcoming Kennedy Round were discussed at ministerial level.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Governor of Victoria has opened a public appeal to raise funds to send ex-members of the Australian forces known as the “ Old Contemptibles “ to London for their jubilee celebrations in June? Will he consider making a Commonwealth grant to ensure adequate Australian participation?
– I was not aware that an appeal had been opened but I do recall some correspondence on this matter. If the honorable member will give me an opportunity to have it investigated I shall advise him of the position.
– I. direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National
Service. Has the threatened series of stoppages in the port of Sydney over the storing and loading of wool bales, which could cause serious dislocation of wool sales and affect the price of wool, been avoided? Will he advise whether a similar port stoppage in Melbourne has been avoided or whether the Waterside Workers Federation intends to proceed with its original plans?
– A stoppage in the port of Sydney was threatened to take place yesterday over what is called the “ toppingup “ of wool bales in ships holds. Mr. Justice Gallagher called together the parties, including the Waterside Workers Federation, and the federation agreed to instruct its members to work the ships to-day provided the owners agreed that lighter bales would be loaded at the top of the holds. So work has continued in Sydney to-day and I understand that no stoppage will take place. It has been agreed also that the problem of the number of men to load wool bales in the port of Sydney will be referred to the National Industrial Committee which was formed some months ago and to which I have referred in the House. I hope that the committee will be able to deal with this dispute and to resolve it sensibly. As to Melbourne, the Trades Hall there proposed to declare six ships black because of a dispute involving seamen and waterside workers. One of the job delegates was deregistered and Mr. Justice Gallagher was asked to hear an appeal lodged by the Waterside Workers Federation. He then asked the Stevedoring Industry Authority to re-instate the man pending the hearing of an appeal. That has been done and all ships, including the six that were to have been declared black - they were stevedored by Strang and Company - are now being worked.
– I put a question without notice to the Minister for the Interior concerning the amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act which he has assured the House will be introduced within a year. The honorable gentleman will recall that his leader told the annual conference of the Victorian Country Party almost a ;year ago that the process of redistribution was too indefinite and “ hole in the corner “ and that the statute should be made more explicit by requiring the distribution commissioners to publish any instructions or guidance they might get and any request or evidence submitted to them. I therefore ask the honorable gentleman whether he is considering amendments which will require the commissioners to act in accordance with those views.
– The question is one of policy but I assure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that these things will be studied along with other proposed amendments to the Electoral Act when the appropriate time arrives.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the success of the Colombo Plan in promoting goodwill and mutual understanding between Australia and the countries of South Asia and South-East Asia, will the Minister examine the possibility of increasing the flow of students to Australia during the next financial year?
– I share with the honorable member great appreciation of the mutual benefit that comes from maintaining and, if possible, increasing the flow of students to Australia under the Colombo Plan. The House will know that there has been a steady increase each year in the number of students coming to Australia under Colombo Plan scholarships or fellowships. To illustrate this, some ten years ago we had had 400 students in all, but in February last the 5,000th student for this year arrived. I shall be meeting the young man to-morrow. He has come to Australia to study at the University of New South Wales. There are, however, distinct limitations on the numbers we can receive, chiefly because of the inability of the universities to receive further students, but there may be further capacity in government instrumentalities or in private industry for the training of students. Most certainly I will look into the question as the honorable member asks and endeavour to increase the number of students in the next financial year.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Navy. It is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Ballaarat. Did the discussions held prior to the decision to order submarines from overseas include discussions with the managements of any of the established Australian shipyards and dockyards? If so, will the Minister name the shipyards where the managements were brought into the discussions?
– Discussions were held with the managements of dockyards that were considered capable of carrying out the task and showed an interest in it. In each case the inquiries revealed that the dockyards were not really able to undertake the work. If they did the work, it would be a matter of assembling parts that had been brought in from overseas because they did not have the capacity to make them.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question relating to the desirability of a referendum on certain matters. Does the right honorable gentleman agree that the Australian people have, in the postwar years, looked increasingly to Canberra to preserve a genial economic climate, so far at least as government action can achieve a consummation so devoutly to be wished? Does he agree that certain powers, necessary or convenient to this end, are denied to the Parliament by the Constitution as it now stands - in particular the power to control the credit structure outside the conventional banking system? If so, will the right honorable gentleman give thought, if indeed he has not already done so, to the proposing of a referendum to the people, to be held contemporaneously with the next Senate election, in order to bring the Constitution more into line with modern requirements in regard to monetary powers and in regard to certain uncontroversial matters such as removing the apparent discrimination against aborigines, making provision for the appointment of parliamentary secretaries and similar uncontroversial matters of detail?
– I am afraid that the honorable member has invited me to engage in a lengthy .argument about the problem of constitutional reform and, with very great respect, I do not propose to do that. The honorable member suggested that there should be a Constitution referendum in conjunction with the next Senate election. Speaking for myself, I view that prospect with horror. I have had some experience of Constitution referendums, and the right way to confuse a general election issue is to have Constitution referendum muddled up with it. I do not care much for that, so in that respect at any rate, I must be somewhat discouraging.
– I address a short question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the plant generally known as skeleton weed recently appeared in Western Australia for the first time? Is it correct that in parts of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia the weed has spread to such an extent that it has now become a very serious threat to cereal production? If so, does that mean that the methods being used in those States to control the weed have been completely ineffective? If such is the case, are any additional precautions or methods of eradication or control being undertaken at Commonwealth level to ensure that the weed does not become the same problem in Western Australia that it has become in the other States?
– I know from reports I have received from various sources of the detrimental effect that this weed could have upon cereal crops. However, this matter does not come directly under my department, except that some research funds have been made available from the various research committees. I think this matter is more directly under the charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I will submit the honorable member’s question to the Minister concerned and ascertain whether any further information can be made available.
– Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a personal explanation. I wish to point out an error in my speech yesterday evening. On page 399 of “Hansard”, beginning at the bottom of column 1 are the words, “The people of Warringah . . .”. I intended to say, “ The people of Higinbotham . . .”. At the time the honorable member for Higinbotham was frequently interjecting during my speech.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 17th March, at 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick)- by leave - agreed to-
That in addition to Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of Committees, the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, ex officio members, the following members be members of the Standing Orders Committee, five to form a quorum, viz.: - The Prime Minister, Mr. Clark, Mr. Drury, Mr. Duthie, Mr. Fulton, Mr. E. James Harrison and Mr. McEwen.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick)- by leave - agreed to -
That in addition to Mr. Speaker, ex officio, Mr. Ian Allan, Mr. Bryant, Mr. L. R. Johnson, Mr. Peters, Mr. Turner and Mr. Wentworth be members of the Library Committee.
Debate resumed from 10th March (vide page 434), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the bills be now read a second time.
.- We have before us the Customs Tariff Bill and three complementary tariff preference bills. The Customs Tariff Bill provides the substance of tariff changes that have taken place since the House last met. The three complementary bills make the necessary adjustments in relation to preference for Canada, New Zealand, and Papua and New Guinea. The Customs Tariff Bill provides for temporary duties on safflower seed and soya bean oils, synthetic organic pigments, timber, pillow-cases, weedicides and insecticides, iron and1 steel tube and pipe fittings, electric lamps, knives with forged stainless steel blades, and syringes and needles.
The duties on safflower seed and soya bean oil are temporary. The duties on timber are overall increases. Those on pillowcases are fixed on a sliding scale. Those on weedicides and insecticides we are told are slight increases. Those on iron and steel tube and pipe fittings represent an ad valorem increase of about 10 per cent. Upon electric lamps used in automobiles the increase is 20 per cent. However, duties on other kinds of electric lamps have, in effect, been removed because the Tariff Board has found and reported that the manufacture of these lamps is now competitive in Australia and a duty is not required. That is a pretty rare event and I think it is worth noticing.
The duties on glass and metal syringes have been removed, but a new duty has been imposed on synthetic ones. Glass and metal syringes are no longer produced in Australia; those that are produced are now made of plastic. The Customs Tariff Bill provides the legislation necessary to give effect to these increases and changes. The other three bills, which are small, provide the complementary legislation to maintain the preference margins for Canada, New Zealand and Papua and New Guinea.
As in all cases, these matters have been the subject of inquiry by the Tariff Board, which has provided us with reports, some of which go into very great detail. The proposed legislation is consistent with the findings and reports of the board that have been submitted to this Parliament. In facing its responsibility in dealing with these bills the Parliament has before it material which would have to be weighed rather than read because it is so substantial, voluminous and detailed. We have the traditional obligation to test very carefully the tariff protection that is undertaken because every item of protection presupposes an increase in price and cost to the Australian consumer. Every proposed increase has to prove itself; every proposed increase prima facie should be subject to the test that it has to prove itself. It starts with no assumption - I would take it - in its favour.
I have read the Tariff Board reports given to us as fully as it was possible for me to read them. Honorable members may be surprised to hear that somebody has read the reports. I read them until a quarter to two this morning and then gave up. Although we on this side of the House have agreed with this procedure, if we are to pretend to take the matter seriously we need a little more time to study the reports. I have examined each report of the board and it seems to me that pretty thorough inquiries were carried out. In most cases parties for and against protection appeared before the board. Where this has happened the Parliament might feel justified in saying that because people who are vitally interested in the production and selling of the products have given evidence for and against tariff protection the matter would be watched at the source by the interested parties. I do not know that that is enough. Very often there is evidence of collusion between the parties who appear before the board. It is clear that in some cases the producer of a product and the distributor of it are the same person. I have used the word “ collusion “, but I have not intended to imply any special kind of moral fault. These things are no more than normal business procedure, but I think the situation is sufficiently complicated, sufficiently difficult and sufficiently capable of concurrence to justify the Parliament’s being much more critical of these matters than we have been.
We have a situation where tariff protection is a bi-partisan policy, and we come to these matters with the assumption that protection has right on its side. I believe it is better to put it the other way - that the imposition of a duty means an increased price and cost for the Australian consumer, although it means employment for Australian workers and capital as well. It is preferable to assume that the protection has to prove itself. This needs attention. What kind of attention can this Parliament give it?
I have some experience in these matters, and in reading Tariff Board reports, but I admit straight away that I cannot tackle them at a level sufficiently high to satisfy myself. The problems involved in tariff protection should be given a second expert examination, either by members of this Parliament or by members of the Tariff Board. Perhaps members on the back benches on the Government side of the House, and on every bench on this side of the House, should have some research assistance in Canberra so that work of this type may be undertaken in a manner that is likely to result in its being done properly. I do not think we are equipped to do it properly at present.
After having given the reports as much attention as I could afford over the last few days - and very often late into the night - I still feel that I am taking a great deal on trust. I want to say one or two things about each of the items upon which we are asked to agree to an increased tariff. First, the duties on safflower seed and soya bean oils are temporary. In both instances the temporary duties are additional to the normal duties which were imposed following reports by the Special Advisory Authority. The duties are not the same as requested by the applicants, but appear to have much the same effect.
In the case of the timber industry there are increased overall duties of a very detailed kind. On pillow cases and certain weedicides and insecticides the new duties are on a sliding scale. We are told that their incidence is not greatly different from that of the combined ordinary and temporary duties they have replaced.
The duty on cast iron pipe fittings has been increased by ls. 6d per lb. in place of the temporary duty of I2i per cent, which applied to some types of these fittings pending the board’s inquiries. The new protective duties of 20 per cent, ad valorem on electric filament lamps are imposed only on the larger types used in automobile lighting systems. The tariff has been removed from other types of lamps.
The first report I wish to refer to is that on safflower seed and soya bean oils. We are supplied with a list of persons who gave evidence or otherwise made submissions to the Tariff Board in the course of its inquiry. As in most cases before us this afternoon, the list is quite a long one. Evidence or submissions were taken from producers, manufacturers and sellers. From this report it does not seem that there was a presentation of arguments for and against the duties in the way that there was in some of the other matters included in the bills this afternoon, but we can see from the board’s report the reasons for the proposed increase. The report states that Australian seed growers and crushers claim that since the Tariff Board’s inquiry there has been a substantial reduction in the price of safflower seed oil. The prices submitted to the board show that in September, 1962, the c. and f. price of safflower seed oil in bulk was 17.64 cents per lb. - about 14s. 2d. a gallon - but by August, 1963, the price had fallen to 10.79 cents per lb. The price of soya bean oil also had fallen. The report publishes official statistics which show that the imports of safflower seed oil has increased quite considerably. For instance, in 1961-62, 724,000 gallons were imported. In 1962-63 the figure had increased to 730,000 gallons and by 1963-64 it had grown to 1,420,000 gallons. The volume of imports has doubled while the price has fallen considerably with the result that the producers have been very adversely affected.
It is true that the volume of imports of soya bean oil did not increase in 1963-64 although there was an increase in 1962-63 compared with what was imported in 1961-62, and presumably this was because of the shift of consumption away from soya bean oil to the probably relatively cheaper safflower seed oil. For the 1963-64 season, the Australian crushers contracted with the growers to purchase their crops at £45 a ton delivered in Sydney. In the early part of this year, the crushers will be negotiating with the growers with respect to the area to be planted, and they want to maintain that price. Hence this submission for a duty. The request was for a fixed rate of so much per gallon - not for a sliding scale. The board has recommended that a sliding scale be introduced and does not accept the request made by the parties concerned for a fixed duty. The report says -
On the information given to me, I am satisfied that the protection afforded to the Australian production of safflower seed oil as a result of the Tariff Board’s 1962 report, has been largely nullified. … I propose to recommend that safflower seed oil should be made subject to a temporary additional duty of Id. per gallon for every Id. or pari thereof by which the f.o.b. price of the imported oil is less than 12s. 6d. a gallon.
The result in the case of the application in connexion with soya bean oil was similar. Apparently only one of the parties appearing before the board raised any objection. That was the Marrickville Margarine Company Proprietary Limited, which argued that it was unable to get in Australia the type of oil it required for making margarine, and that it would be unable to get sufficient good-quality oil in this country for that purpose. The board does not think that this will adversely affect that organization because the price of the oil that it will be importing is in excess of the price at which the sliding scale of duties commences to operate.
To express any kind of independent opinion on this application, one would need to know a good deal more about the industry than I do. I would not profess to express any independent opinion based on the information available to me. I am not opposing the introduction of legislation in respect to this matter because we on this side of the House accept the report of the tariff authority as presented to Parliament.
The parties concerned with the next application, that relating to synthetic organic pigments, are mostly large manufacturers and bodies representing manufacturers such as the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, Smith Reichhold Colours (Australia) Proprietary Limited, the Australian British Trade Association and so on. In this case, the argument is based on the fact that imports have increased. The figures provided for us on the first page of the Tariff Board’s report indicate that the imports of some of the items have increased but the imports of other items have not. The Australian manufacturers estimated the total Australian demand for the goods under reference to be about 2,400,000 lb. per annum and, if this be correct, it appears that the Australian manufacturers are supplying less than 10 per cent, of the demand in the unprotected range and about 25 per cent, of the overall demand. It appears that their argument is that competition has become very keen because of the increase in the volume of imports.
There did not seem to be a very thorough examination in opposition to this submission. Perhaps there was not much of an examination at all. The producers who are asking for protection in Australia, in what seems to be an odd situation, perhaps are the same kind of producers as those who made representations in connexion with another matter - people who are developing this product elsewhere and exporting it to Australia. After having examined the Australian manufacturers’ costs of production including the proportion of total costs represented by imported intermediate chemicals, and after having taken into consideration the fact that, in most cases, the Australian manufacturers are selling locally produced pigments at little or no profit, the board says -
I am convinced that some increase in the protection now given to Australian manufacturers under Item 231 (a) (2) (a) is warranted. My assessment of the level of this increased protection is 121 per cent, ad valorem. I believe that an ad valorem duty will effectively protect the Australian industry and that there is no need for the specific rate of duty asked for by applicants.
It is interesting to find that some of the organizations are actually producing something at little or no profit, as apparently they are, but it would seem that in this case the applicants did not get as much as they asked for. I emphasize that, in this instance, it is not a case of protecting a small producer in the hope that if he is protected he will some day grow into a big producer and be able to compete effectively on world markets. This seems to be an occasion on which an already large producer is seeking to establish some kind of annexe or subsidiary department and is asking for protection.
Because, in this particular section of this industry where presumably the producer does keep separate accounts, he is able to show that he makes no profit, or very little profit, we are giving this subsidiary department of a very large industry a piece of protection. I should think that when this country has already helped a very large industry to become established and to control two, three or perhaps even four units it has a right to expect that large industry to carry the cost of the earliest stages of the development of a subsidiary department until such time as the department becomes profitable. However, we have chosen to accept the tariff authority’s report in this case, too, and we are not opposing the proposed increased tariffs.
I turn next to the application with respect to pillow-cases. Here it would seem that there was a bit of an argument before the Tariff Board for, in its report, the board lists quite a number of witnesses. It also states the case in favour of, and that in opposition to, increased duties. However, it is not surprising to find that the space taken to state the case in favour of the increase is considerably greater than that taken to state the case in opposition to the claim. One of the reasons advanced for the duty on pillow-cases is that pillowcase manufacture is an important and inseparable part of the Australian whitework industry which manufactures sheets, pillowcases, handkerchiefs, tea-towels, table-cloths and a wide variety of other similar products. Because the prices of imports from mainland China are governed not by costs of production but by the need for foreign exchange, comparisons with local prices do not indicate whether or not the local industry is economic. Apparently they do not indicate, either, whether or not the Chinese industry is economic. By normal criteria the Australian pillow-case industry is an economic and worth-while industry providing employment opportunities, including some in country areas, and using a substantial amount of locally produced piece-goods. For this reason, broadly speaking, the tariff is agreed to.
In opposition to increased duties it is stated that mainland China has been importing substantial quantities of Australian wheat, flour and wool, and that in 1961-62 her imports from Australia exceeded her exports to Australia by more than seventeen to one. It was said that any additional protection for the local production of pillow-cases might be very costly in terms of loss of demand for Australian exports. So it is pillow-cases versus wool and wheat. Which is likely to win? I would have my money on wool and wheat any day. I do not know that this is a completely illegitimate economic procedure. I suppose that if we trade with another country and the trade is sufficiently important we must be ready to trade both ways. I find it a little difficult to understand what
I might call the inflamed ideologues on the other side of the House who seem to think that this kind of thing is something that occurs in our trade with China but not with any other country. I think it is something that occurs in our trade with every country. Our whole historical relationship with Great Britain is built upon this principle. We export primary products to Great Britain and we have given preferences to that country in the export of manufactured goods to Australia. We trade with Japan and Japan therefore says, “You will have to take more of our goods “. That is a perfectly reasonable, common-sense situation to develop; but the inflamed gentlemen on the other side of the House seem to think it has special significance when it occurs in respect of China.
There may be quite a number of things, as well as pillow-cases, that it might be better for Australia to import from China than to produce here. I do not see this matter as any kind of fundamental attack on Australian industry, or as a significant interference with the protective system. Surely, the protective system is not to be taken to mean a method of preserving always the same kind of production in the same places. There must be changes in production and also changes in the places where men are employed. The important thing is to see that nobody loses significantly because of the system. I find fault with the Tariff Board system in that it is not sufficiently well equipped to look closely enough at these matters, to anticipate where changes are likely to occur, to bring into operation the other aspects of public policy and to make sure that losses do not fall only on the particular people that they touch first and that costs of change are spread more effectively.
I do not think that the Tariff Board is yet well enough equipped really to know whether an industry or section of an industry to which it extends protection is behaving in an efficient manner. At any rate, in this instance the case seems to be based very largely in terms of aggregates of production and importation of pillowcases. It is interesting to notice that the imports have not behaved in the same way from every country, rn 1959-60, there were 6,989 sets imported from Great Britain. In 1960- 61, there were 24,645 sets, but in 1961- 62 imports fell to 9,179 sets. In 1962- 63, 2,142 sets were imported. Imports from mainland China also fell. They rose from 226 sets in 1959-60 to 10,671 sets in 1960-61, and then to 96,231 sets in 1961- 62, but in 1962-63 they fell to 10,267 sets. The 1962-63 figure is significantly smaller than that for 1961-62. There has not been an increase right up to the present day in the number of sets of pillow-cases imported.
The imports listed further down in the table that is included in the Tariff Board report show an increase right through to 1962-63. I shall not separate the totals. I merely indicate that imports from mainland China were by far the most significant ones. A total of 72,525 sets from all sources were imported in 1959-60 and 151,119 sets in 1962-63. I have found it impossible to obtain from any of the sources available to me the aggregate production of pillowcases. I do not know what proportion of the total production is represented by the increase in imports, nor can I find what it represents as a competitive factor in relation to the Australian industry. Statistics are just not available, and apparently they were not satisfactorily available to the board either. Here again, we on this side of the House accept the report of the board and do not intend to oppose the tariff.
The next item to which I want to refer concerns weedicides and insecticides. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) may not be pleased to know that, if weedicides have any effect on skeleton weed, it will cost a little more in the future to treat skeleton weed. The witnesses who appeared before the board are listed in its report. They represented the largest chemical concerns in this country. Union Carbide Australia Limited and Monsanto Chemicals (Australia) Limited are international organizations to which the overworked term “ massive “ could be applied with accuracy. The representatives put the case for increased duties in this respect. The reasons are stated in the report. They are that the costs of raw materials and power are much higher in Australia than in overseas countries which produce the goods under reference and that Australian manufacturers suffer the disadvantage of lower volumes of production and higher costs of labour, services and transportation. It was stated that increased tariffs are necessary to enable the industry to attain a degree of profitability. The industry proposes to move at some time in the future towards such a degree of profitability. I hope that the Tariff Board will keep a watch on it. I am not clear whether this will be done or whether, having imposed this tariff and Monsanto Chemicals and Union Carbide being satisfied, the Tariff Board will not again be interested in this matter. I know it would be interested if those companies came back to it at some time and said, “We want a little more protection”, or if somebody said, “There ought to be less protection in this field”. But there is no automatic procedure for watching what will happen in the production of weedicides and insecticides as the result of the imposition of this duty. A case was presented against the application. The board summarized the case as follows: -
Increased duties could increase the already high costs of primary producers and further reduce their competitive position in world markets. Increased duties could be used by the manufacturers to the disadvantage of the formulators. The local industry is uneconomic if it requires the present level of protection to compete with imports.
Some of those reasons require a much closer analysis than that summary statement of them indicates. As with one or two of the other items, this is clearly an example of giving protection to single departments or sub-departments of very large industrial structures - among the largest in Australia. Apparently these concerns follow the very wise procedure of keeping quite separate their accounts for the little new places they open up, and are to show to the board, by this excellent method of account keeping, that in those sections of their great industry they are making very little or no profit at all. This excellent method of keeping separate accounts is something upon which they should be congratulated, but I think we have a right to say to these concerns, “ We will not consider in isolation every little department you have “.
Monsanto Chemicals is a great international organization, massive in capital structure and output. I think we have a right to say, “We will consider this organization as a whole”. It is almost as big, financially, as this country. Its accounts,
I suppose, would approximate those of the Commonwealth Government. I think we have a right to say, “ In view of what you have been able to establish so far, we will not go on considering each of your new departments, as you develop it, as though it were a new industry, because in fact it is not “. The board, however, has considered all this and has made a recommendation. I will not try to read it out because the first word contains 30-odd letters. I will leave that word for the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) to handle.
– It is not a dirty word!
– It is not dirty at all. It is very chemical and very clean, I would think. We are accepting the report of the board and are not opposing the recommended tariff.
I think the next item - timber - provides a much more substantial subject than any of those discussed so far. The board has taken evidence from an extraordinarily wide range of people. I will not read the names, as they take up four columns of the report. Apparently evidence has been obtained from all sections of the industry. The industry wanted something more than it has been given. It wanted a quantitative restriction system which would give some permanent stability. It did not want a duty to be imposed on timber. It wanted quantitative restrictions to be imposed over a period of time so that it would be able to say: “ Only a certain quantity of timber will be permitted to come into Australia. If we assess the Australian demand accurately we will know that the Australian industry will be called on to supply a certain quantity of timber each year in the future.”
Here, as in a number of other instances, the case for a tariff was put by one side and opposed by the other side. I think that in this case there was a pretty thorough examination and that the pros and cons were gone into fully. The case for a tariff was as follows: -
Employment in sawmills has been severely affected by the recession. The instability in the industry has hampered sawmillers in their efforts to retain highly skilled workers in isolated centres which provide no alternative employment in times of depressed trading.
The case against a tariff was -
Imported timbers are mainly used for purposes for which Australian timbers are not suitable.
The recent difficulties of the timber trade were basically due to credit restrictions and not to imports.
Much of the sawmilling industry in Australia is conducted on uneconomic lines. . . .
And so on. When we turn to the production and import figures we find, remarkably enough, that the two have moved in very close correlation. At page 24 of the Tariff Board’s report there is a graph which shows the curves of production, imports and availability. They run very closely together. This reflects the table on page 9. In fact there has not been any significant increase in the volume of sawn timber imported into Australia, nor has there been any significant increase in the production of timber in Australia. Indeed, in both cases there has been a fall. It is therefore suggested that any difficulties in which the industry finds itself are due, not to increased competition from imports but to something else. On page 23 of its report the board states -
It appears clear, from all available data, that the depressed condition of the timber industry in all States was due principally to the decline in building activity.
This is one of the effects of the credit squeeze. We find it not only in the timber industry but also in many other places. We have had a decline amounting in total, as Professor Lydall of Western Australia told us in March of 1963, to 11 per cent, of Australia’s manufacturing capacity, involving a loss of £360,000,000. It is interesting to find that that is reflected in the timber industry. Here again, we are not opposing the tariff. We take the board’s report at its face value.
In the case of electric lamps for motor cars, 1 have been unable to obtain production figures of a satisfactory kind. I am told by the Commonwealth Statistician that there is only one producer, although the Tariff Board’s report tells us that there are four separate and competing firms or group of firms. I understand that the Commonwealth Statistician does not keep the figures of the production of this item because that would be in conflict with the principle of not showing the production of a particular producer. The Commonwealth Statistician believes there is only one producer, but the report says there are four separate and competing firms.
Here, again, in recent times, imports have increased. But I do not think that they have been increasing at a greater rate than demand or production has been increasing. I believe that there has been no significant change in this respect. In some cases that we have discussed this afternoon, there has been an increase also in the percentage of imports. But I do not think that applies in this case. Within the limitations that I have already mentioned, we do not oppose the increase in the tariff on electric lamps used for motor cars.
Finally, I come to knives with forged stainless steel blades, and syringes and needles. Here, again, one producer is concerned - the Wiltshire Cutlery Company Proprietary Limited, which is the first Australian manufacturer of these articles. That company, on the last occasion, missed out in its application for a duty on imports of knives with forged stainless steel blades, but has been able on this occasion to establish a case for the duty. The knives referred to are of the Waterloo bolster type. The Wiltshire company now has its tariff, and, I hope, will make good use of it. I know from my own experience that there has been considerable development in the making of plastic syringes in Australia. Producers in Melbourne - and now, I understand, in Sydney - are able to manufacture syringes of a standard that offers every prospect of their being able very soon to compete on the markets of the world. The Australian manufacturers are already exporting to parts of South-East Asia. This, also, is a small industry. The Australian Labour Party does not oppose the tariff proposed in respect both of knives with forged stainless steel blades, and syringes and needles.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, first, I protest strongly about the way in which these tariff measures have been brought before the House. In the dying hours of the last Parliament, several proposals, based on sixteen Tariff Board reports, were ratified until 30th June of this year. I cannot understand why legislation dealing with those proposals was not debated before the measures that we are now discussing. This situation, I think, is the result of either administrative incompetence or a cynical disregard of the rights of the Parliament. It is ridiculous to introduce legislative proposals based on the ten Tariff Board reports presented since the new Parliament met, and, for some reason, to suggest that it is impossible to legislate in respect of proposals that were the subject of reports that lay on the table during the last Parliament. This kind of treatment of the House is completetly wrong. I have often protested about having to deal with tariff proposals in large lumps. When the lumps are both large and stale, indigestion is the inevitable result. I think that these methods are completely wrong.
As this represents the first tariff debate in the new Parliament, I think it is right that, in a second-reading speech, I should lay down a few principles and make my position clear. On this question of protection, I regard myself as the opposition. I deeply regret that members of the Australian Labour Party do not take these tariff debates earnestly.
– We do take them earnestly.
– The honorable member gives no indication of it. Neither has the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cainrs) given any indication of it in the speech that he has just made.
– In every tariff debate, we take the proposals point by point.
– Opposition members take part in tariff debates, but no one can say that they do so to great depth. I regret that members of the Labour Party fail to do their homework in these matters. We have heard from them nothing about what they believe in, except that they believe in protection. But so do we all. The question is: How much protection should be given and what form should it take? I find that in these matters as in so many others, Sir, members of the Labour Party just mouth their old parrot cries instead of doing the homework that should be done.
What is wrong with this Government’s protection policy? As I have said, I regard myself as the opposition in these matters.
I must admit immediately that I find myself in some difficulty, because I do not know for certain what the Government’s policy is. When I came into politics in 1958, this Government’s policy was based on the protection of economic and efficient industries, on the advice of an independent Tariff Board. We have since seen the impact of the emergency protection procedures and the two policy statements of 1962, one made by the present Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who was then Minister for Trade, and the other made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Even those two statements have not cleared my mind, and I doubt whether the Government really understands what its policy is.
Let us look at these two statements of policy in more detail. The present Minister for Trade and Industry, in his secondreading speech on the Tariff Board Bill (No. 2) 1962, made some observations that I have quoted before and shall quote again. He said -
The Tariff Board, for ils part, has a vital and important role in advising the Government in this direction. Obviously the board in effectively carrying out its advisory duties must keep within its sights the objectives of Government policy - the objectives I have outlined in my remarks today and as given in Government statements from time to time.
In the debate that followed on that occasion, Sir, I expressed alarm at the fact that the old measuring stick of economy and efficiency was to be discarded, and at the fact that the board was to be expected to keep within its sights statements of policy made from time to time. I said that this must mean that the board was expected, and must be prepared, to depart from its previous policy of protecting only economic and efficient industries. If the Minister’s statement did not mean that, I do not know what it did mean. On 1st December, 1962, the Prime Minister, in his John Storey Memorial Lecture, dealt with the subject again. He discussed what he called national economic policy, the need for continuing migration, the development of old and new resources, the encouragement of capital investment from sources inside and outside Australia and the need for stability of costs so that export industries could compete on the world’s markets. Then he went on to say that surely the Tariff Board should properly keep these matters in mind when making its recommendations.
Apart from these two important policy statements, whatever they may mean, there has been also the impact of the emergency protective procedures. I admit that some such procedures were needed. What I find objectionable in the procedures adopted - I have often voiced this objection here - is the way in which they are frequently used to override the recommendations made in Tariff Board reports. The honorable member for Yarra, when discussing some of these things to-day, probably did not realize that the reports to which he was referring followed closely on reports made by special advisory authorities. There are many examples of this. I have given the House many of them before. Probably the worst of the lot is the way in which recommendations concerning the man-made fibre piece goods industry have been shuttled backwards and forwards. All this shuttling necessarily weakens the morale and the status of the Tariff Board when it sees that its recommendations, though only recently made, are altered by the Special Advisory Authority, even though the imports situation has not changed.
So it is clear that there has been a change in the old policy that protection should be granted only to economic and efficient industries on the advice of a truly independent Tariff Board. The board’s independence is now imperilled by the impact of the emergency protection procedures and by the knowledge that it is expected to keep within its sights policy statements made from time to time. This can mean only that the old policy of protection for economic and efficient industries has been changed. What is the new policy? That is far from clear. I challenge the Government to give us a clear statement of its policy. The policy used to be protection for economic and efficient industries, but this kind of protection is not thought to be suitable for modern times. What kind of protection are we to have now? Should we have protection for industries that create employment or protection for industries that lead to development? Is the tariff to be used to pro.mote decentralization, to encourage profitable investment or to strengthen industries that offer the hope of future exports? If the old measuring stick of economy and efficiency is to be abandoned, the purpose must be one of these that I have just mentioned.
Let us examine these possibilities in more detail. Let us look at the employment factor first. We are always told that we must generously protect secondary industry because only secondary industry can employ our people. But this is not so. Primary industry, because of mechanization and the need to cut costs to the bone, does not loom very large as an employer of labour, but indirectly it creates considerable employment further along the production line. But leaving primary industry aside, it is just not true to say that it is only secondary industry that can employ our increasing population. The most recent figures - I have cited them before, but I shall do so again - show that about 12 per cent, of our work force is employed in primary industry, 27 per cent, in secondary industry and 61 per cent, in the service industries. The proportion employed in the service industries, as indeed is the case in other countries with a rising standard of living, is increasing.
We recognize that the Government has the right to expect that any agency - the Tariff Board included - should not hinder a national policy such as full employment. But it is essential that the Tariff Board has full freedom in deciding how this objective is to be achieved. It is dangerously easy to point to increased employment in any particular industry, following high and, perhaps, prohibitive protection, but what about employment provided by dependent industry - the industries that use the goods produced by the heavily protected industries, and ultimately by the export industries that have to sell on the world market? If the position of these industries is jeopardized the employment position may very well become worse.
We all want full employment, but what we must guard against is the attempt to secure this by allowing costs to rise in any particular industry to the general detriment of our whole economy. This is where the independence and the competence of the Tariff Board are so essential. Let us grant that secondary industry is important to employment, even if not so important as some of the rabid protectionists would have us believe; yet, only about 60 per cent, of secondary industry depends in any way on the tariff; the rest of it can exist without tariff protection at all. These are industries like brickmaking and others that have a natural protection. In the final analysis the employment of only 15 per cent, of our work force depends on the tariff. It can be claimed that the tariff may decrease employment in a particular industry more than it increases it. For instance, in 1962 about 200,000 persons were employed in the motor car industry. Of these, 60,000 were employed in making cars and 140,000 in servicing cars. If cars were cheaper I guess there would be more people engaged in servicing them.
It is clear, therefore, that employment does not depend on higher tariffs. If it did, what a hopeless mess we would get into. It would mean that we would deliberately encourage industries which used a lot of labour - and this in a country where there is a great shortage of skilled people. Many of our secondary industries are economic and efficient just because they have learned to economize on labour. The steel industry is a shining example of this. What a strange philosophy it would be if, with this shining example before us, we were deliberately to encourage industries which use a lot of Jabour? ls the new policy, whatever it is, to be aimed at inducing growth and development? We are inclined to roll these words “ growth and development “ around our tongues these days. They are something in which we all believe. We say “ Let us have a new policy to fit our new aspiration “. But is it a new aspiration? What about our past performances? Are they so shoddy? Was it not the determination to grow and develop that sent the Duracks shuttling across the continent? Was it not that determination that sent forth our forefathers to clear country with a stout heart and a sharp axe? Was it not this determination that pushed the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited along the path of sound development? One would think that development was a new idea that had just occurred to us, but in this field of protection for industry have we not grown and developed under the old policy? After all, is not a greater proportion of our work force employed in secondary industry than is the case in the United States of America.
What a hopeless philosophy it would be to discard the measuring stick of economy and efficiency in order to promote growth? What kind of growth do we want? Do we want uneconomic, inefficient, or hot-house growth? Is this the kind of development that we have in mind? Let us be clear on this: This is not the kind of development that has made this country what it is. This is the kind of growth that will surely inhibit sound development in the future. To load costs onto the back of the efficient sector of the economy - primary or secondary - in order to protect inefficient primary or secondary industry is just plain economic foolishness.
This is not just my idea. I suppose that politicians, as such, are suspicious of economists, as such, because economists are inclined to state their opinions in rather bald terms. There is some suspicion between us, I suppose, but on an economic question such as the height of the tariff wall in relation to development surely we should pay some heed to the economists. Have honorable members heard one reputable economist say that I am wrong in my insistence that to depart from the old standard of economy and efficiency would be disastrous? Indeed, in my whole campaign for a more realistic approach to protection I have not heard one word of criticism from an economist, but I have had a lot of quiet encouragement. If I am wrong all the economists are wrong, and if we are wrong some one ought to tell us why.
Just recently there was published by the Stanford Research Institute of the United States of America a report on the development of Australia. It was commissioned by the Australian Development Research Foundation. I have found the report a stimulating document, and certainly no one can say that it is dull or conservative. Its whole theme is how to develop Australia. I think honorable members will agree that I am engaged in a rather lonely exercise, and that therefore it is proper that I should draw on authorities from outside. I quote from the report -
If the social objectives of economic policy outlined above are accepted, as they must be, the case for re-examining the costs of indiscriminative tariff protection becomes very strong indeed. It is particularly strong on employment and’1 wage grounds. In Australia, as elsewhere, the trend of employment is towards the tertiary industries and services. As technology improves, a smaller proportion of the work force is required to produce food and raw materials. The proportion of employment in the secondary manufacturing industries also tends to shrink. More and more employment must be sought in the provision of services, which in recent years have expanded at three times the rate of factory employment. To pay for such services, production in the basic primary and secondary industries must be efficient, and this cannot be achieved by spreading employment among a large number of small-scale, relatively less-efficient industries whose costs hamper the expansion of the large-scale, high-wage, capital-intensive enterprises.
I am in good company when I question the wisdom of discarding economy and efficiency as a stepping stone towards sound development.
Is the new policy expected to take particular account of decentralization of industry? For instance, are duties to be higher to protect those industries that are centred in a country town? This suggestion, of course, is attractive on the surface, but we should remember that, under the Constitution, a duty has to be the same all over Australia. Duties that are high enough to protect an industry in a country town may very well be too high for, and may over-protect, an industry in the city. There would be a natural pull for the industry to go to the city so that even greater profits could be made.
Or is the new policy, whatever it is, to encourage the export of products of secondary industry? There is much to be said for this because obviously primary industry cannot continue to shoulder the loads it has so manfully shouldered in the past. It seems a queer way to do it, if it is to be done by increasing protection and so sheltering industry from the chill wind of the competitive world which it is shortly to invade. One would have thought that a gradual process of acclimatization would have been better suited.
I have examined the various alternatives to the old “ economic and efficient “ policy of protection, and feel that, if adopted, they will do more harm than good. But maybe I have done the Government an injustice in this respect. It may have other policies in mind. My plea is that I be told what they are. I have a suspicion that the Government’s real policy is a determination to be loved by all; like
Caesar’s wife, to be all things to all men. It is this desire to be loved that has led us into a shuttle system, with references and re-references fluttering to and from the Tariff Board and the Special Advisory Authority. It is probably this hunger for love and affection that has led to the change in the grounds for granting emergency protection. When this provision was introduced into the Parliament, we were told that the idea was to prevent imports flooding in and destroying local industry. But if one looks at the recent reference for emergency protection for woollen piece goods, one finds a difference. It was not the fact that imports were coming in that was of concern; it was the fear that they might come in and so force prices down to what, to some mills, seemed to be unprofitable levels. Evidently we are not only to guarantee the local mills a market; we must also guarantee them a profitable market. I want to know what manufacturers of woollen goods have that wool-growers have not.
Let us look at the broader canvas. This is important at this stage. Let us look at our own international trade negotiations. No one denies that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) is a most competent negotiator. But sometimes there does not seem to be much logic in the procedure. It is very fitting to castigate European countries for putting barriers in the way of our exports to them, but it must be confusing to them to be told in ringing tones that because Australia is a developing country we must reserve the right to put barriers in the way of their exports to us. The next week we are told that some other spokesman has implored European countries to cease regarding us as a land of sheep and kangaroos and to remember that we have a greater proportion of our work force engaged in secondary industry than has the United States of America.
In a speech last week in the House, the Minister for Trade and Industry dealt with this kind of question and pointed out the difficulties that the developing countries have with this matter of a fluctuating demand for exports. He went on to say that it was most important that developing countries should not have barriers put in the way of their trade. Perhaps he had in mind the barriers that we have put in the way of imports of cotton piece goods from India. In any case, can we properly be bracketed with India as an undeveloped country? As I said, we have a greater percentage of our work force engaged in secondary industry than has the United States. It takes a bit of nerve also to describe the capital cities of Australia as undeveloped. They always seem to me to be a bit over-developed.
I am aware that there is much development yet to be done in Australia, but it is this very policy of protection that has aided lopsided development, helped to make the cities bigger and increased the problems of developing the undeveloped areas. It seems a queer kind of philosophy to increase the dosages of the very ingredient that has led to the trouble. Is it really proper for Australia to bracket herself with India in the class of undeveloped countries? Have we the same problems? Have we people sleeping in our streets? Is democracy here being tried in the fires of ignorance, prejudice and poverty? We all know that we have one of the highest standards of living in the world. To try to attract world sympathy for ourselves because of our poverty is, I think, hardly fitting for a country that is so eloquent in claiming credit for its achievements.
The dilemma of how we are to regard ourselves in the future will be more important with the Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations coming up. We have been welcoming this prospect for years. If we can only get access to markets in Europe and America for goods for which we have natural advantages, then the really economic sectors of our industry will take a big step forward. We all know this, and no one knows it better than does the Minister for Trade and Industry, who has battled with great energy to this end for years. But surely the chances of success in this will be jeopardized if, at the same time, we say that we are not prepared to allow competition to threaten some of our uneconomic industries. If the Government tries to court the love and affection of all groups in Australia in relation to these negotiations, then we might as well stop home and turn our backs on all our hopes and aspirations for a really sound economy.
I shall not look any further for examples of the determination of the Government to be loved by all, if that is indeed its policy. But if this is its policy, I want to add a grim word of warning. We have all heard of the awful fate - worse than death, I understand - of the girl who could not say “ No “. The same thing can happen to our economy if we do not draw the line somewhere, if we do not say, “ No “ to some one. There must be some principles to work to, some guide lines to be laid down. The Government has discarded1 the old guide line that industry must be economic and efficient. That was the policy which operated when I came into the Parliament. It is the policy that is written into the platforms of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. That is the policy in which I believe. But this policy has been changed, and the Tariff Board is now expected to keep its ear to the ground and, at the same time, keep within its sights other policies as announced from time to time. This rather cramped posture does not make for clear thinking. Perhaps I have done the Government an injustice on this. All I want to know is: What is the Government’s policy?
I have one thought in conclusion. In the committee stage of the consideration of the bills, I shall debate some of the items - not many, you will be glad to know, Mr. Speaker - in some detail. I could speak on more, but I do not think that if I were to do so, it would be fair to the House or to myself. Because I speak only on the most glaring instances, the idea has got around that I am a free trader. I have denied this often and I shall do so again. 1 believe in a soundly-based protective system with the assistance of a truly independent tariff board. It is the fear that this independence is being lost and our successful previous policy is being changed that alarms me. Above all, I am sick of being accused of being a little Australian, one who does not believe in the development of our great country. Just because I am a fanatical believer in development, I want to make sure that development is soundly based.
I am well aware that development in the primary or secondary field is not an easy exercise; it is easier to talk about than to achieve. I know that difficult and expensive decisions have to be made by private industries and governments. Those decisions have to be made by some one. I know that as well as do other honorable members. But difficulties are made to be overcome by governments as well as by individuals. The difficulties do not become less by being ignored or by the Government’s acting in the expectation, or the hope, of being loved by all.
.- I always listen with interest to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). I know that the matter of tariffs is very close to his heart, but I did not quite follow his argument that goods produced cheaply in eastern countries, the people of which have lower living standards than ours, should be allowed into Australia to the detriment of our own established industries and the workers in them. The primary industry in which I am particularly interested is the Australian timber industry. It suffered a severe setback in April, 1960, when import restrictions were lifted and the country was flooded with imported timbers. In addition, it was caught in a twofold grip. Restrictions on finance adversely affected the building industry, particularly that section building homes, and there was a general lag in the construction of homes. This led to stocks of timber being increased and a consequent falling off of timber production and a closing down of mills in small townships. In these townships, there may be only one small mill employing about twenty people, with other people engaged in cutting and hauling timber. In the small towns and throughout the electorate of Wide Bay, a number of mills were closed during the credit squeeze and they have never recommenced operations.
Automation has meant a decrease in the number of men employed in the saw-mills. It may be thought that, with fewer men employed in the industry and with the output of timber increasing, the price of timber should be reduced. This is not so. It is worth recalling that it was the Scullin Government that first imposed a duty of 8s. a hundred super feet on timber, particularly the timber that we call Douglas fir or Oregon pine. This was imposed in 1928. Although the price of this timber has increased threefold, the rate of duty was not. increased .until recently, when the saw milling interests right throughout Australia came together and made representations to the Government. They protested about the country being flooded with imported timber. A temporary tariff was imposed in 1962, based on the quantity of timber imported in the last six months of 1961. However, this is the period during which the largest quantity of timber was imported. I recall the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) saying that, in being given this type of protection, the saw-millers had been sold a gold brick, because the quantity was based on the period during which there was the largest importation of timber.
The timber industry is very susceptible to fluctuations in the building industry and in the economy. The report of the Tariff Board shows that at the time of the board’s inquiry 2,500 saw-mills were operating in Australia. Between September, 1960, and September, 1962, the number of saw-mills operating decreased by 212. Of this number, 76 were in Queensland and 103 in New South Wales. Western Australia was the only other State to show a decrease in the number of saw-mills operating.
We have a further interest in the protection of our timber industry, particularly the softwoods industry. I refer to the reafforestation programmes being undertaken by the various State governments. Perhaps the best example of this is in South Australia. Normally this State is devoid of millable timber. It established State forests and now a considerable part of the State’s requirements is being met by the production of softwoods from these forests. The same position obtains in Queensland. Under the Labour Government, considerable areas of waste lands were converted into forests. Even American-type softwoods, mainly exotic types such as elliott], were planted and these are growing in the wallum country which is normally useless and in which our Centurion tanks were bogged a few weeks ago. Not many miles away from Tin Can Bay is the Toolara forestry area, where many thousands of acres of pine have been planted over the past twenty years. In the next five years, merchantable thinnings will be extracted from the forests. The change of government in Queensland has led to a reduction in the acreage being planted in this area.
Nevertheless, in the next fifteen years considerable forest areas will be providing merchantable thinnings and forestry timber to help meet the softwood requirements of Australia.
It is interesting to note that, in the case put to the Tariff Board, the saw-milling industries in the main suggested that quantitative restrictions rather than a duty be imposed. The board in its wisdom or otherwise gave its decision. Some questions have been raised by my colleague the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). I compliment him on his handling of what are generally regarded as the most difficult bills to come before the House - the tariff bills. He mentioned that very little information generally is available to members who take part in debates on tariffs unless they are closely associated with an industry or unless they obtain transcripts of the cases heard by the Tariff Board. Since I have been in this Parliament, it has always fallen to the lot of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) to handle these matters. Without detracting in any way from the efforts of the honorable member for Lalor, I think that we all appreciate another honorable member handling these matters and taking a fresh interest in them.
The Tariff Board has recommended that timber which previously came in free under the New Zealand preference arrangements should now carry duty ranging from 3s. a hundred super, feet on a graduated scale to 21s. a hundred super, feet. Timber for veneer usually comes in as logs imported from Borneo and other places. The Tariff Board has apparently decided at this stage not to apply the restrictions requested by those associated with the veneer industry. In the stores of hardware distributors and timber merchants are to be found large quantities of plywood which has come from Japan, Singapore and Malaysia and which is able to compete very favorably with the Australian product. So keen has the competition been that in north Queensland, particularly in the electorate of Leichhardt, plywood mills have closed down, with a consequent falling off of employment. In some cases men have left the industry and have had to find employment elsewhere, even in the south. This has not been in the interests of northern development and has not assisted to stabilize industries which were playing a part in such development by using softwoods not normally regarded as being suitable for home-building or for other uses in the building industry.
Queensland has imported less softwood than most of the other States. On the other hand, Queensland’s traditional markets for her hardwoods have been flooded with imported timber, including American Oregon and pine. These markets also provided an outlet for the hardwood sawmills in northern New South Wales. Those sawmillers in New South Wales who paid less royalty to the New South Wales Government than was paid to the Queensland Government by timber-getters in Queensland, have been able to take advantage of section 92 of the Constitution and to transport hardwood into Queensland. They have lost the market they had in the south and have been able, as I have said, to transport hardwood to the Brisbane market and other markets just over the Queensland border. Those markets were served by Queensland sawmilling interests, particularly in my own town of Maryborough in which are situated two of the largest sawmills in Queensland. The Queensland sawmillers found themselves being displaced because, with the help of motor transport, the New South Wales millers were able to supply the market with a cheaper product, even though wages in Queensland were less than those paid in New South Wales. The Queensland suppliers were so concerned about the matter that they made representations to the Minister in charge of the Queensland Housing Commission to ensure that a certain percentage of Queensland timber would be used in commission homes. Queensland not only lost its markets in the south but also was affected by the importation of hardwoods which normally would have found a place on southern markets.
I applaud the action of the Government in assisting an industry which is doing much to bring about decentralization, which is providing a considerable amount of employment, and which itself provides a market for other industries, including the motor industry and the oil industry. Even though modern timber-getting methods have been introduced, timber is not cheaper than it was some years ago, when- more men were employed in the industry. I join with members of the Opposition in accepting the recommendations of the Tariff Board. I believe that at least some protection will have been afforded to the industry. I am a little disappointed that the industry’s request for quantitative restrictions was not granted, but I hope that in the near future some such action will be taken to afford additional protection to an industry that is vital to Australia.
.- The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) must be given credit for a great change having been made in the procedures of the House in dealing with tariff matters. I should very much like to congratulate him in that respect. He has shown a remarkable interest in tariff proposals that have come before the House. He has displayed a keener interest than anybody else I know. Having had a long experience of dealing with tariff matters in industry, I, too, have had some interest in tariff proposals. However, I do not think the honorable member was very fair when he accused members of the Opposition of not doing their homework on tariff matters. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has given us some very penetrating and keen analyses of various proposals when he has discussed them on behalf of the Opposition. I thought that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) upheld that tradition very well to-day. One thing the honorable member for Wakefield has done has been to arouse an interest in tariff matters in the minds of honorable members, who look for some fireworks from him and perhaps some rebuttal of his remarks by some of us who may be affected by them. Much more time is now being devoted to debates on tariff matters.
Honorable members probably have overlooked the fact that it does not now seem to be necessary for long second-reading speeches to be made when tariff bills come before the House. The position is entirely different from that which obtains when a health bill or a social service bill is introduced or when, as will have occurred this week, proposals for flood mitigation and the like come before honorable members. When bills of the kind I have mentioned are introduced specific second-reading speeches must be delivered to explain them so that honorable members may be able to formulate their ideas about the legislation. But in the case of tariff bills the secondreading speeches are always the same. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) set the pattern in his second-reading speech on the bills now before us. That speech did not fill even one column in the “ Hansard “ report. The enunciation of principles on every occasion on which tariff bills are introduced would become repetitious.
I submit that to debate every proposal as it is introduced would be intolerable. Australian secondary industry has grown to such a degree that a continuous stream of Tariff Board reports is tabled. I sympathize very much with the honorable member for Yarra who referred to piles of tariff reports that come before the House and the effort that is required to read them. I support his suggestion that some research assistance should be provided to enable us to get a better idea of what is meant by those reports. They are terribly skimpy. There is a long list of people who present them. Presumably we could contact those people and ask them what their views are. But that is time consuming, and we would not be able to do that before the relevant bills were debated in the House, so the time and labour spent in doing that would be wasted.
I sympathize with the honorable member for Wakefield when he says that some tariff proposals are introduced in groups, which is unfair to us, and some are stale when they are debated. For example, some proposals that were implemented last August have not yet been debated. That does not give us an opportunity to study them properly and to advance arguments that we may want to advance against them. I do not believe that the right place to advance such arguments is in secondreading debates. That should be done in the committee stage, when each item is considered individually. I believe that we ought to congratulate the honorable member for Wakefield on making these tariff debates a more important part of the Parliament’s functions. It is wrong that all these reports should be tabled and accepted by the Parliament, without any opportunity being given to debate them individually, tedious as that might be.
To-day we have heard some discussion on the principles set out by the honorable member for Wakefield. He is quite entitled to put his viewpoint, but others on this side of the House do not agree with him. In my opinion, it is nonsense to say that secondary industry is not the main supplier of employment opportunities. I know that his figures show that tertiary industries employ a greater percentage of people than do other industries. Australia is mainly a primary producing nation. Primary industry is our basic industry, but unfortunately it is not a great employer of labour. It is a very great producer of goods. It has a very proud record of production. A tremendous increase in primary production has been achieved without any increase in the labour force. But all of that increase is dependent on goods which enable the farmer to increase his production, and secondary industry has been responsible for providing those goods. Tertiary industry has grown amazingly only because secondary industry has provided the necessity for it.
It is said that the protection of secondary industries only adds to the costs of our primary industries, because when a tariff is imposed on an item it makes that item more expensive and so imposes a cost on the community. That goes far beyond a consideration of what is required in our community. If that argument is taken to its logical conclusion, it means that we should import these goods instead of manufacturing them in Australia. Am I to understand that the honorable member for Wakefield, when he mentions the number of people employed in the motor car industry, is implying that, instead of having that motor car industry in Australia employing people and building up communities and whole areas of population, we should import motor cars because they would be cheaper? That does not seem to me to tie in with what he said a little later in his speech, namely, that he is a fanatical believer in development. I know his interest in development. I have been associated with him in relation to quite a lot of developmental work, particularly in northern Australia. But when we talk about development, we must talk about the whole of Australia. Unless we have our developing secondary industries to use the products of our primary industries and to employ our immigrants, we will not have our tertiary industries. If all manufactured goods were imported, it would not be necessary to have service industries.
The honorable member for Yarra said that in his approach to Tariff Board reports he found it necessary to take a good deal on trust. That is the position in which I find myself. Unfortunately, it is impossible to obtain all the information that we want. But we must remember that although the Tariff Board reports unfortunately do not give us all the facts that lie behind the recommendations, the board or the Special Advisory Authority requires the fullest possible information to be placed before it before it will make a decision.
It was suggested that the information placed before the board is mostly in favour of the users and that there is a tendency for the arguments advanced in favour of the users to be over-emphasized. I was very impressed by the fact that the report of the Special Advisory Authority on synthetic organic pigments indicates that special arrangements were made with the local users, in addition to the authority hearing the reasons why duties should not be imposed. It is obvious from the report that those reasons were placed before the authority. The Australian manufacturers supplied information on the range of goods which they manufactured and on which they were seeking protection. Then - I take it at the instigation of the Special Advisory Authority - conferences were arranged between the users and the manufacturers. The users stated that wherever possible they would buy the Australian-made pigments if they considered those pigments able to meet their requirements, but they decided to make an application under the appropriate by-law in an effort to avoid loading their products with the cost of an unnecessary duty. I commend their actions in this regard. They set up a manufacturers’ panel to put their plan into effect. By co-operation and agreement among themselves they have arrived at a system which gives adequate assistance to the manufacturer without loading the user with unnecessary costs arising from a tariff imposed on goods of a kind not actually manufactured in Australia. Owing to the difficulty associated with phrasing it is often necessary to use a general term to describe goods, and goods which come to this country and which are included under that general heading naturally attract the duty appropriate to that heading.
The debate on these matters should be brief. It would be preferable for speeches at the second-reading stage to be cut to a minimum. Anybody who wished to refer to various items that are introduced under the tariff headings could do so at the committee stage, dealing with each item separately. If anybody wished to raise queries about timber, for example, he could do so when that specific item was being dealt with. While on the subject of timber, I do not think any anomalies have arisen owing to the removal of restrictions. The only effect of the lifting of restrictions has been an increase in the amount of Oregon coming into this country and an increase in price of 36s. per 100 super, feet.
.- Before getting on to the subject of the debate now before the House I should like, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to congratulate Mr. Speaker on being reelected unanimously to his high office. He had the support of honorable members on this side of the House because we could not find anybody who was as capable and as fair as he is, but looking at you, Sir, and knowing how impartial and unbiased you are, I am sure that if you had been a member of one of the Government parties you could have filled the position of Speaker with dignity, and probably more capably than the present incumbent.
The honorable member who led the debate on behalf of the Opposition did a very good job. After all, there are four bills before the House, and the honorable member had only limited time in which to consider the report of the Tariff Board. In the circumstances he presented a very fair case. This afternoon the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) entertained us with another of his famous speeches. I have never yet heard him congratulate the Tariff Board or the Government in relation to a tariff matter. I am not sure whether he wants to get rid of the board, but if he does I do not know what he would substitute for it He did not touch on that subject; perhaps he will do so at the committers stage. He dealt generally with the Tariff Board and the tariff structure as it exists under this Government. He is not too happy with the present set-up. He has expressed that sentiment on other occasions. If the honorable member cannot persuade the Government to alter the present tariff structure I do not suppose my talking for half an hour will have any effect.
I believe in the use of tariff protection and the imposition of quantitative restrictions as an aid to developing Australia and relieving unemployment in this country. Tariff protection and quantitative restrictions are very important if they can assist in that aim. I support the view of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) that some businesses were ruined * by the lifting of import restrictions. I know that many businesses were adversely affected by the introduction of the credit squeeze some years ago but I know, too, that the lifting of import restrictions had a most adverse effect on the timber industry. Sawmills in the area which I represent suffered a serious setback when, following the imposition of the credit squeeze, import restrictions were lifted, allowing imports to increase from 4,000,000 super feet to 21,000,000 super feet in a matter of four months. That increase in imports may not have had a serious effect on the economy as a whole, but the effect on employment in the timber industry was most serious. In northern Queensland nineteen mills were forced to close. The effect was felt by the Government at the 1961 general election. Many erstwhile Government supporters in the area voted against the Government because it had lifted import restrictions and imposed a credit squeeze.
In the Opposition’s view tariff protection and quantitative restrictions are necessary for the development of Australia, the protection of industry and the avoidance of unemployment. I know that other considerations come into the picture. We must bear in mind the effect of tariff protection and quantitative restrictions not only on Australia but also on other countries that may be affected. But first things first; our own nation must receive first consideration. Other nations may be considered in their turn and having regard to the state of their trading balance with us. To do away completely with quantitative restrictions and tariff protection would have a very detrimental effect on Australia.
Tariff protection and quantitative restrictions are limited in their application. They may be applied to an industry for a certain number of years, but that industry has a responsibility to the nation. Industry must improve its management and manufacturing techniques. Many sawmills in Australia have not kept pace with technical advancement. There is no reason why they should not be able to do so, but in order to keep them fully ocupied it would be necessary to impose tariff protection and quantitative restrictions until such time as the mills showed that they were capable of operating as efficiently as any elsewhere in the world.
I believe that Australia has the technologists and the know-how to operate industry as efficiently as any other country. We have the initiative. There is no reason why we cannot learn from other countries. I refer particularly at this stage to timber. I know nothing about textiles and I do not intend to go into that field. I do have a particular interest in edible oils. I think some protection should be given to the edible oils industry in Australia. Some time ago I had the pleasure of visiting part of north-western Australia where I saw safflower and other oil plants growing. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the State government concerned have given great encouragement to this industry. There is no reason why the safflower industry should not expand, to the ultimate benefit of Australia generally and particularly of the northern part of the continent. It is no good talking about northern development unless we do something about it. The Government must give concrete evidence that it is sincere in wanting to develop the north. It must back its words with actions. The only way in which the products of this area of Australia can compete with those of other countries is by affording them tariff protection. Until the industries reach the necessary standard by mechanization, by the use of technological advice which is available to them, and also by the help of this Government, it will not be possible for them to develop.
I should like the Government to protect the peanut industry in Australia. Peanuts of good quality can be grown here but the industry does not receive sufficient assistance to enable it to develop to any great extent. Peanuts can be grown very well on the Atherton Tableland, for instance.
– What about margarine?
– I am not interested in margarine at present. I am concerned mainly about timber. Neither safflower nor oils come from my area, but speaking from a national point of view I consider it is necessary for them to be protected so that the northern part of Australia, particularly the Northern Territory and the north-western part of our country, can be developed. It has been shown that safflower can be grown and that oils can be produced for use in mixing paints and varnishes. There is no reason why a protective tariff should not be imposed until the industries, by using their own resources, mechanization and improved methods of management, have reached the stage at which they can compete with overseas industries.
The removal of restrictions on the importation of timber played havoc with Australian mills. Government departments were responsible for a lot of the difficulties. I had occasion to take up this matter with the former Postmaster-General, Mr. Davidson, who, when calling tenders for the supply of timber for his own offices, stipulated that the timber required was island maple from, I think, the Philippines and another variety that comes from Borneo. Australian timbers in general and Queensland timbers in particular were not given a chance. When this aspect was brought to the Minister’s notice some time later he decided not to specify the types of timber required. This suited many mills which commenced operations again when they received government contracts. There was no reason why the Government should have stipulated that it required foreign timber when timber of a similar nature was growing in Queensland and could be used. For a government department to do such a thing is not in the best interests of any industry.
Limited tariff protection and quantitative restrictions are necessary having regard to our own economy and the situation in other trading nations. There is no reason why such measures should not be adopted for a limited period until the Australian industries, which are aware of their responsibilities, have reached the stage at which they can compete with overseas products. There is no reason why any Australian industry cannot compete with an overseas industry. We are capable of doing a day’s work alongside any other people and produce as much as, if not more than, they can. If there were tariff protection and quantitive restrictions we could possibly bring into being another Australian industry. That is another reason why I claim that these measures should be utilized to develop our country and to relieve unemployment whenever it appears. Our country needs that protection and assistance for the two main reasons that I have advanced.
I do not know much about textiles and pillow-slips. As far as I am concerned, if you are short of a pillow-slip in northern Australia a sugar sack is always handy that you can fill with feathers from a fowl. Pillow-slips are not produced in my area and I do not know anything about them. My main concern is with oils and timbers. The timber industry suffered greatly because of legislation which this Goverment introduced prior to the last election and because of the credit squeeze and the removal of import restrictions. I was pleased when the Government got back onto the right road and introduced tariffs to protect industries as much as possible. The industries concerned need that protection but they should be made to realize that they are responsible for raising their standards to the level at which they can compete with overseas products.
There is no reason why I should use all of the time that is available to me in this debate because the Opposition is not opposing the bill. If any aspect of the legislation requires further discussion no doubt honorable members will have the opportunity to analyse it during the committee stage. To reply to the honorable member for Wakefield, I claim that tariff protection and quantitative restrictions are necessary for our development and for the relief of unemployment whenever it appears.
.- I agree with the honorable member for
Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) that tariffs should be used for the development of Australia. They present to a large extent the means of achieving that purpose. It has been said that the Australian Country Party has changed its attitude towards tariffs, but of course that is not correct. The Country Party has never believed that secondary industries should be swamped with goods from overseas and put out of operation completely. Nor has the Country Party believed that by tariff protection certain secondary industries, perhaps I should say any secondary industries, should be permitted to increase their prices under protection to such an extent that our primary producers are unable to progress and to operate economically. Therefore, my real purpose in participating in this debate is to restate the view of the Country Party.
First of all, it must be remembered by all honorable members that if it were not for the primary industries many secondary industries could not operate because they could not purchase from overseas the raw materials that are so necessary for their operations. At the risk of repeating what every honorable member should know - I believe it is necessary to do so - I point out that over 80 per cent, of our exports come from our primary industries. The funds so acquired, which are called overseas balances, are used to buy goods that we need. The Australian Labour Party does not think for one moment about the necessity to import raw materials. One honorable member opposite said to me: “ We do not need much raw material. We are just about self-contained.” To hear the remarks of Opposition members, one would think that Australia was self-contained. You have to think of only two commodities - crude oil and rubber - to realize that we could not function in Australia without them. Therefore, we must keep our primary industries stable so that they can continue to produce to the utmost and so that, as they have been doing recently, they can export an increasing amount of goods, thus making increased funds available to our secondary industries to give them the chance to obtain as much raw material as they need. This, in turn, will build up a good home market for the primary products. But you must follow the cycle.
You must not stop it along the way. I have heard honorable members opposite, particularly the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), claim that anything which comes to Australia and cuts down employment in any secondary industry here should be immediately declared a prohibited import. But those honorable members have forgotten that no nation can always sell and never buy. We must buy from nations to which we sell. In many cases - I instance Japan and the Japanese Trade Agreement - the balance of trade is greatly in our favour.
The Country Party has been able to adjust its views on those subjects as conditions have changed so that its policies will operate in the best interests of the primary industries, having in mind always that secondary industries must be built up to give us a good home market and provide employment for our increasing population.
If secondary industries were protected as the Australian Labour Party would like to see them protected, costs would be so high that primary producers could not operate. When something like that happens, such measures as the credit squeeze become necessary so that the prices of manufactured goods, rising under the effects of inflation, can be held in control. Had the inflationary trend preceding the last credit squeeze continued, primary production would have ceased to exist as an economic asset to Australia. Sometimes tariff protection must be provided to assist primary industry. Such a case occurred only recently when the former honorable member for Mitchell, Mr. Armitage, supported honorable members on this side of the chamber in a debate. I refer to the importation of orange juice which was viewed with some dismay by the Australian Country Party. Thanks to the provisions for hearings by a special advisory authority which had been introduced through the efforts of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who is also the Leader of the Country Party, the tariff machinery was put into operation within a fortnight for the protection of Australian orange growers. This interim provision was made until the Tariff Board could examine the case. After the Tariff Board had made an inquiry, some permanent acknowledgment was made of the need for protection for the citrus juice industry.
So it is not only secondary industries that need protection. Sometimes branches of primary industry need protection. This does not always happen, of course, because primary industries are generally concerned with exports. Undoubtedly, secondary industry in Australia has priced itself out of world markets. Can any one tell me why no more than 15 per cent, of our exports are manufactured goods? How is it that primary producers can sell 80 to 85 per cent, of their products overseas and secondary industries cannot match that figure? The reason is that Labour is constantly agitating for bigger margins, higher wages and all manner of things which force prices up while the primary producer is prepared to work long hours and produce goods that are necessary, not only for our existence but also for the stability, prosperity and progress of this great Commonwealth of Australia.
.- We have just heard from the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) the latest addition to the Hans Andersen fairy tales. According to the honorable member, everything that has been attained through this Parliament for primary industry has been gained solely at the instigation of the Australian Country Party whereas, in point of fact, the history of the party, from my observations during the relatively short time I have been in this House, is that it simply trails along. The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) and the previous honorable member for Mitchell, Mr. Armitage, have been in the forefront in many of the discussions on tariff matters. But the interesting feature of the speech of the honorable member for Mallee was his apparent allegiance to the system of credit restrictions. The honorable member made rather a lame statement in that connexion which could be interpreted to mean only that he was in accord with the dislocation of industry and large-scale unemployment and indeed the problems of many primary producers which emanated from the credit restrictions initiated by the Government a short time ago.
Another belief of the honorable member was patently obvious from his speech. Surely the honorable member realizes that primary industry, as well as secondary industry, derives benefit, profit and development from import controls, restrictions and tariffs. The honorable member appears to be imbued with the belief that all secondary industries should be exposed to the rigors and travail of overseas competition just as long as sections of primary industry can be satisfied. If he believes that, he also believes that the time is over-ripe for the elimination of restrictions on butter imports and imports of primary products such as onions and potatoes. The sections of primary industry producing those goods have been set back by imports in the past. Other sections have complained and they were quite justified in lodging their complaints. I wholeheartedly endorse that attitude towards the imposition of these controls and similar measures.
I wholeheartedly support the protection of our dairying industry but I suppose the honorable member for Mallee has been speaking to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and, as I have said before, the Minister is in rather a bemused state when he discusses the industry. As Minister for Primary Industry, he has a responsibility to protect the dairying industry. At the same time, he is a peanut producer and he sells his peanuts to the margarine manufacturers. So we see the hypocrisy of the Minister’s argument when he and other members of the Australian Country Party rise in this House and say that something has to be done about the manufacture of margarine. They have as big an interest in the production of margarine as has any other section.
I want to restrict my comments on the measures before the House to the timber industry. The production of timber is extensive within the electorate I have the honour to represent. The timber industry in my electorate and, indeed, throughout Australia has been and still is suffering a rather severe setback for two reasons. One of these was the Government’s economic measures which were introduced in the early 1960’s. First there was the credit squeeze and resulting from it there was a decline in the demand for timber for new houses. Then there came on the market large quantities of timber imported from overseas which presented the Australian industry with a very serious problem. This compounded the seriousness of the plight of the timber industry.
Large numbers of small timber mills operate close to country towns in Queensland and throughout Australia. The depression in the timber industry therefore had an effect on many small country towns which in Queensland and in other States also are almost totally dependent on the prosperity created by the timber mills on the outskirts of those towns. As a result of the developments to which I have referred, a large number of employees were put out of work and small sawmill operators found their capital investment in peril. Some timber mills were closed down permanently and the population of small hamlets disappeared. In other areas, it is hoped that some of the small timber mills will be re-opened and that the activities of timber companies will be resumed. Certainly the Government has a responsibility to do something to permit a resurgence of activity and production from these small timber mills.
I notice in the report of the Tariff Board on the timber industry some comprehensive statistics relating to timber production. The number of persons employed in the industry fell by 1,200 between 1959-60 and 1960-61. Employment in sawmills fell by nearly 2,000 in 1961-62. I know there has been a very great deterioration in production of sawn timber from Australian sawmills. A provisional report for 1962 shows that production of 1,165,000,000 super, feet is the lowest since and including 1951. In Queensland, the State from which I come, the production of sawn timber is certainly the lowest since 1939. The number of timber mills in Queensland, according to the Tariff Board report, fell by 76 between September of 1960 and 1962. The statistical return from the Queensland Bureau of Census and Statistics for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1963, from which I should like to quote concerning log timber, states -
Log timber processed by Queensland mills in 1962-63, 397,066,000 super, feet, was slightly more than in the low production year 1961-62, but was substantially less than in any other year since 1947-48. Production in each quarter of 1962-63 was greater than in the corresponding quarter of 1961-62, but each recorded substantially lower figures than in the corresponding quarters before June, 1961, up to which time the industry had been working at a high level.
Referring to mills, the same report states -
The number of mills operating in the June quarter, 1963, (S99) was 8 less than in the corresponding quarter of 1962. . . .
In 1962, if I remember correctly, the figure was lower than for the previous year. The timber mills in many of these areas are making a worthy contribution to the development of the areas. We often hear the catchery of decentralization. Surely these small units of production add to the prosperity of a State and make a contribution to decentralization. Apparently, from the statistics, there is some hope for a pickup by these timber mills in the near future. I hope that the Government will do everything it can to encourage and develop that pick-up.
The small timber mills face another problem, which I feel can be raised here. I trust, Mr. Speaker, that you will indulge me on this point. They face the very pressing problem of competition from larger mills in the bigger centres of the States. It is necessary to get timber from a place handy to where a small mill is located if the small mill is to operate at the most efficient rate. I understand that negotiations^ - they may have been finalized by now - were proceeding for the lease of timber lands in Papua and New Guinea. It is strongly suspected that Japanese interests will obtain rights to operate in the Territory. I feel that, if the negotiations have not already been concluded, the Federal Government should take the responsibility of encouraging, by financial assistance if this is necessary, Australian interests to go into these lands. When I refer to Australian interests I am thinking of the bigger and more efficient operators, who could go into these areas and obtain timber economically. Then they would not be drawing so much upon the timber reserves in Australia, and that would give an opportunity to the smaller operators in this country.
I should like to conclude the few comments that I have to make by stating that the timber industry is disappointed that the Tariff Board has not provided the quantitative restrictions sought but has imposed, instead, a protective tariff. I sincerely hope that the Government will accept the responsibility of watching the timber industry very closely, particularly in Queensland. Because of higher royalty payments and because of higher transport charges arising from State taxes, the timber industry operators in Queensland are placed at a disadvantage compared with interstate operators, who take advantage of section 92 of the Constitution to bring their timber into Queensland, avoiding road tax charges. In their own States they also pay smaller royalty charges. I hope that the Government and the Tariff Board will keep a very close eye on the timber industry in Australia, and in Queensland in particular, to see that the tariff which is imposed is adequate for the requirements of the industry. I hope also that they will take prompt corrective action if it is discovered that the tariff is not as effective as is required toy the timber industry. I hope that they will be prepared to reappraise the situation of the industry at very short notice upon a request from the industry.
– in reply- We have had a particularly interesting and useful debate this afternoon. It seems that, having amended the cumbersome procedure which characterized and, I think, confused the debates of earlier days, we have encountered another problem, to which the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) has referred. The presentation of a tariff bill means that before we discuss the tariff proposals which form the substance of the bill, we open up an opportunity for a general debate on tariff policy. This opportunity has been availed of quite usefully this afternoon, but perhaps not more usefully than by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), who dealt rather trenchantly with the Government and with certain aspects of tariff administration. However, I hope that in future, when these debates come on, we will, as the honorable member for McMillan has said, save our choicest offerings for the committee stage, when we deal with the new tariff proposals.
This afternoon the honorable member for Wakefield volunteered to be the opposition to the Government in the debate. His primary complaint was that we had passed over the series of tariff proposals which came before the House in the closing stages of the last Parliament. Those proposals were validated until June of this year and normally would have come into the House for debate in the early stages of this Parliament. In other words, they could have been dealt with now, instead of the six proposals which are now before the House. The Government had agreed to have additional tariff debates, largely at the instigation of the honorable member for Wakefield. In order to provide for these, and appreciating that last year’s tariff proposals had been validated for some period ahead, it was decided that we would first introduce these present proposals. The only consolation I can offer the honorable member for Wakefield is that he will have more time to do his homework on the previous tariff proposals, which will come before us a little later.
The honorable member has said that he believes in protection. I am sure that that is perfectly right, but the question is: How much protection? This is a point over which we could argue for a lengthy period. It is always debatable in the matter of a tariff whether the duty is set at the right height to achieve the intended objective, or whether it is unconscionably high and will encourage Australian manufacturers to hide behind the tariff wall. This is a matter in which, it seems to me, the Tariff Board holds the scales. Knowing the Tariff Board’s long experience, knowing something of the kind of people on the board and knowing the detail in which they study matters that come before them and search for evidence pro and con before a tariff is recommended to the Government, for my part I am prepared to accept the recommendations that come before me in general terms. There have been few occasions on which the Government has found it necessary to reject or return a tariff recommendation.
The honorable member wanted to know what we had done about the policy of the Tariff Board. He asked whether there had been a change of the old formula of economic and efficient industry. The words economic and efficient do not cover the whole story of tariff making. There must inevitably be overtones beyond the connotation of those two words. The real fact is that the Tariff Board deals with industries which, for a variety of reasons, have become uneconomic or inefficient. The Tariff Board is called in to give protection in order to make Australian industries economic. Increasingly as we move into an age where mechanization is giving way to automation, in most cases unless very expensive plant is acquired - perhaps nowhere is this quite so true as it is in the chemical industry - and unless that plant operates at near capacity, its output is entirely uneconomic. In cases of this kind the function of the Tariff Board must surely be to assist the industry with a tariff protection which will ensure for the Australian manufacturer a share of the home market sufficient to lift his production into an economic bracket.
It is too easily supposed that the award of tariff protection increases the cost of Australian goods. There may be occasions on which it either maintains the cost or leads to an increase if an increase is necessary to make production profitable. But nine cases out of ten, particularly under the circumstances I have described as applying to the chemical industry, there is evidence that increased access to the home market by producers results ultimately - and in most cases fairly soon - in a reduction of the price of the item to the consumers.
Even then there are many other considerations which are detailed in some of the Tariff Board reports, particularly in relation to weedicides and insecticides, where the products are drop-out products in a long series of chemical operations which begin with a rough raw material. At stages along the line of refinement to the ultimate product, useful drop-out products are obtained. Some of these products have never before been manufactured in Australia. Not to go into the production of such items on a commercial scale would be wasteful and surely it would be against the spirit of commercial adventure in Australia if we failed to do so. It would be foolish for the Government not to provide through the machinery of the Tariff Board, and with the approval of this Parliament, conditions which will allow entry into new fields of industry.
As our population increases and an increasingly large home market is provided for Australian manufacturers, so we are coming to the point where one after the other, with reasonable assistance, new forms of manufacture are possible. If we are to push Australia ahead in terms of the kind of development to which everybody here subscribes, we have to take risks in assisting new industries. If there is to be tariff protection and even if it is to result in slightly higher prices to the consumer, this is the price which all Australians must pay to have new Australian industries for the benefit of our national economy.
The honorable member for Wakefield in discussing tariff protection complained about the shuttlecock service between the Special Advisory Authority and the Tariff Board. I have interpreted the reports in an entirely different fashion. I have discerned a reluctance on the part of the Tariff Board to over-protect an Australian industry. All through the reports there is evidence that the Tariff Board sets a standard of tariff protection which is immediately telegraphed over seas. The overseas manufacturers who have had a very good market here for their surplus production are apt to lower their prices. Where this happens the machinery of the Tariff Board in awarding tariff protection goes for nought and the Australian manufacturer is once again exposed to a degree of competition too fierce for him to sustain his position. Therefore the Government provided the quick machinery of the Special Advisory Authority to rescue industries affected in this way until the Tariff Board may once again institute a thorough investigation.
The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) referred to the paucity of information in some of the reports, which he called Tariff Board reports. I am sure that the honorable gentleman was a little tired at 2 o’clock in the morning when he read them, and he will note now that they are Special Advisory Authority reports. The Special Advisory Authority does not investigate cases to the same depth as does the Tariff Board. The honorable member for Yarra urged the setting up of review machinery in this House. I do not quite know how we could develop this machinery. In mentioning it now, I hope I am not infringing the copyright of the author of the idea of a statutory committee of some kind to analyse the reports. The idea may be worth looking at. I merely throw it in. It is the idea of my honorable friend, the Government Whip (Mr. Howson) and to him belongs the credit if it proves to be successful.
We are seeking ways and means of providing the House with adequate information on matters of paramount importance. The honorable member is seeking nothing short of a full-scale duplication of the machinery and functions of the Tariff Board. I think this would be a little cumbersome. At least the Tariff Board finds it is kept pretty busy.
– I will be satisfied if you will go half-way.
– We will look into it. I am happy to know that the honorable member finds the Tariff Board’s reports a mine of information and instruction. I am delighted to note his surprise to discover that Australian industry carries on some production for little or no reward. It is a great shame that members of the Opposition too easily fall for the misconception that all you have to do is go into business and you automatically make a profit. If the honorable member consults statistics he will find a long list of bankrupts who have gone into business-
– I have never seen the name of the Monsanto company listed among them.
– I will deal with that in a moment. I was referring to firms which have been unable to sustain themselves in the hard commercial world and who have gone out of business. The honorable gentleman will be amazed at the numbers of products that are produced at little or no profit.
The honorable member attacks massive industry. He is quick to quote names such as Imperial Chemical Industries and Monsanto, both giants in the chemical field. He talks about us protecting these companies, but we are protecting individual aspects of their manufacturing operations. These companies would not have achieved their present size if they had allowed all their departments to operate uneconomically and unprofitably. Who is to say that in serving their interests we are not serving the interests of Australia? We would be foolish to claim that people set up industries here solely to serve the country. Rightly they have a profit motive, but it is our philosophy that in pursuing that aim they are giving a service to the public. We must have big industries, and any industry, regardless of its size, is entitled to ask for tariff protection. The honorable member for Yarra complains that no longer are there small industries, but only large companies which dominate the world markets. Let us face it, in to-day’s conditions there is very little room for the small manufacturer when one has regard to the kind of capital that is required.
I come now to two points which are quite germane to this argument. The honorable member referred to protection for manufacturers of pillow cases and to reciprocal trade with red China. It is not simply a matter of protecting the pillow case industry. It is a matter of protecting the entire textile industry. Who in this House cannot remember a year or two years ago when there were bitter complaints from the Opposition about unemployment in the textile industry? The 200 people involved in the manufacture of pillow cases are entitled to have their employment protected. It is interesting to note that the capital invested in this industry is £500,000 and employment is created for 200 people. The inference is obvious: A capital investment of £2,500 is necessary to provide employment for one Australian worker. People who put capital into Australian industry are as entitled to protection as is the man for whom they provide an employment opportunity.
In the weedicide manufacturing industry £1,000,000 capital is invested and employment is created for 174 people. In other words, there is a capital investment per job opportunity of £5,700. To-day, in the more advanced and more technological industries, the investment per employment opportunity may well run up to £10,000 or £15,000. This is the kind of industrial investment that we have got to have in this country. These are the kinds of industries which we have got to have so as to underpin this country’s great move, forward into the world of manufacturing.
I thought the honorable member was trying to be sarcastic, but he wound up by really paying a compliment to the big industries of this country which manage to segregate their costs department by department. I do not know whether he meant to pay them a compliment - I should doubt it - but I must tell him that if he goes into industry he will be amazed at the extent to which big industries are able, quite honestly and quite efficiently, to segregate their costs against particular items of manufacture. In the hard commercial world with which we are dealing to-day the manufacturer who does not do this and who does not know what it costs him to produce his product is slated for a very rapid decline, and a very quick exit from the whole world of business.
As I pointed out, Australia is a newcomer to many lines of manufacturing, and industry is entitled to the type of protection which the Tariff Board is here providing. I believe that we have got to continue to read these Tariff Board reports with considerably more care than we have been giving them. For this reason, I refer honorable members to the fact that these reports, and indeed the evidence behind them, are available to honorable members if they care to make a study of them. There is in them a mine of information for all honorable members, particularly for members of the Opposition, in some aspects, and if they are read carefully, analytically and consistently there will appear the whole picture of new emerging industrialization in Australia.
I am no apologist for the Tariff Board and I hope I will never be an apologist for big business in this country. The thing that I am anxious to see and the thing that I am anxious to support is the growing industrialization of this country. We have got to be adventurous; somebody has got to be adventurous with hard cash, and if we are going to ask people to make that kind of investment for the sake of this country’s future, they are entitled to have in turn our best endeavours in terms of reasonable tariff protection for young developing industries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - It is now some months since I had the opportunity to speak to the House on foreign affairs. Now, at the outset of the new Parliament I would like to give some broad review of the international scene, of some of the most important of recent events, and of the Government’s attitude.
First, some observations on East-West relations, for the state of these constitutes a climate within which the events of general international life take place. There has been a distinct moderation in East-West tensions - that is, between the Western world and the Soviet Union with its Eastern European associates, though not with Communist China. This moderation is a cause for some encouragement. The immensely powerful combination of the Soviet Union and Communist China, which for a decade posed a united threat to world peace, has shown distinct signs of disunity and divergence. At the same time, the leaders of the Soviet Union, the more mature of the two great Communist states, have shown a clear realization of the dreadful meaning of nuclear war and a preoccupation with the problems of their own internal development - not least, with agriculture, that perpetual and apparently incurable area of weakness in the Communist system.
The Soviet leaders, turning their attention to such internal problems, remembering the terrible losses suffered in the last war, under some pressure from their own people for a better life, and faced with difficulties in the international Communist movement, have appeared in recent times to be more concerned with these matters than in undertaking foreign adventures. This does not mean that they are any the less ready to exploit national and international situations for the furtherance of their own ideologies and the weakening of the Western world. This, unfortunately, they do unremittingly.
Changes that are taking place, however, within the Eastern European countries themselves - the shattering of the monolith, the stirrings of independent thought and even action, the opening of windows on the West, the sense of disenchantment with doctrinaire socialism - open up prospects that pressures within the Communist world itself may act in favour of a saner relationship between East and West. We should at all times be aware that we are not dealing with a rigid and inflexible phenomenon, but with one that is in a state of constant change. This being so, we should be both sensitive and alert, ready to explore on the one hand possibilities of genuine accommodation, and on the other cautious and hardheaded to guard against deceit. It is in our interest to encourage diversity and the seeds of independence among Communist countries, and to see the penetration of Western ideas among their peoples. In this respect there can be value in the natural growth of non-political contacts of all kinds - in the arts and sciences, in sport, in travel - between the Communist and nonCommunist worlds.
The situation in respect of Communist China is less encouraging. Recent weeks have seen two important developments -
The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Government of France and the Chinese Communist Government; and
The termination of relations between the Government of France and the Government of the Republic of China.
These developments should be mentioned together, since they are closely related - one is the consequence of the other.
Honorable members will recall that on 27th January there was an official announcement from Paris and Peking that the “ Government of the French Republic and the Government of the People’s Republic of China have decided by common agreement to establish diplomatic relations. For this purpose they have agreed to name Ambassadors within a period of three months “.
The French Government had been good enough to give us advance notice of its decision to establish diplomatic relations with Communist China. We were told that in making this decision France had made no prior commitments with regard to her relations with the Chinese Nationalist Government in Formosa, her attitude to Chinese representation in the United Nations, or anything else. In various official statements, French spokesmen indicated a desire and intention to continue relations with the Nationalist Government.
On 28th January, the day following the joint communique from Peking and Paris,
I issued a statement that Australia would examine with interest the conditions under which recognition had been agreed between France and the Chinese Communist Government. I added that Peking’s attitude on a number of crucial issues had been a principal impediment to her wider acceptance into the international community and it remained to be seen whether there had been any change in her position. I said that in the meantime no change in Australian policy in respect of recognition was called for or desirable.
A number of people assumed that France had broken new ground by succeeding in establishing diplomatic relations with Peking and still being able to maintain relations with the Nationalist Government in Formosa. However, on the very day after the French had taken the step of committing themselves to establishing diplomatic relations with Peking, the Chinese Communist Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Peking, issued a formal statement making it perfectly clear that there had been no softening in their attitude in respect of Formosa. Peking left no doubt that a condition for the exchange of Ambassadors between Paris and Peking would be that representatives of the Nationalist Government should not stay on in France.
And that is exactly the way things worked out. Faced with the prospect of being told to withdraw its representation, the Nationalist Government felt obliged to act first by announcing, on 10th February, the severance of relations with France.
So much for the succession of events. The incident has at least served to demonstrate, if this was needed, that recognition of Peking and the establishment of diplomatic relations are not the simple and straightforward processes that many people represent them to be. The incident shows that Peking has in no way moderated or modified its attitude towards Formosa and the twelve million people who inhabit that island. Peking does not confine itself to requiring that a recognizing country shall cease to have diplomatic relations with the Nationalist Government. Peking continues to assert its authority over all the people of China and affirms, as it did in its statement of 27th January, “that Taiwan is part of China’s territory”. Peking’s “People’s Daily” in an editorial on 28th January stated: -
The Chinese people are determined to liberate Taiwan. We have the full right to make Taiwan return to the fold of the motherland in whatever form we consider appropriate. The Chinese people will resolutely smash any attempt to create “twoChinas” and any plot to detach Taiwan from China.
This is not new - indeed it would have been novel to find Peking adopting any different attitude. It is nonetheless a matter of great regret and concern. So far as Australia is concerned, it remains our position that the fate and future of the people of Formosa should not be bargained for and disposed of in negotiations and diplomatic manoeuvres in which they play no part. Recognition, on Peking’s present terms, would involve just such an action.
That is not to say that we wish to turn an unresponsive face towards the people and authorities of mainland China. Nothing would bring us more satisfaction than for a situation to develop where there could be wider contacts on a basis of friendliness and mutual respect. Unfortunately the behaviour of the Communist authorities in Peking has left little opportunity for progress towards this end.
In addition, Peking’s hostility is directed not only against the Nationalist Government, but against that Government’s alliance with the United States. Peking leaves no secret that its objective is to remove United States - and other Western - influences not only from Formosa but from the whole of the Western Pacific. There is no reasonable basis for doubt that Peking’s purpose in so doing is to facilitate the extension of its own influence.
In a nuclear world which increasingly abhors the use of force in the pursuit of national aims China does not conceal its readiness to employ physical force for policy purposes. I am not merely referring to China’s advocacy of violence and revolution within the Communist ideological argument. I am referring to China’s anachronistic approach, by modern standards, to international behaviour among States.
In this connexion we cannot and should not forget the significance of the Chinese physical assault on India which occurred despite India having taken the path of seeking China’s friendship, of following a non-aligned policy and of committing resources to economic development rather than military preparedness.
In the light of my comments on China, I turn to the statement by General de Gaulle on 31st January about the neutralization of South-East Asia and the treaty of neutrality. These were subjects of such importance that in diplomatic exchanges we have sought clarification about the French ideas. I am informed it was not General de Gaulle’s intention to make practical proposals for immediate application. He has, as we have been informed, a lengthy timescale in mind. There is as yet no French neutralization plan and, indeed, before one could bc developed there would need to be intensive discussions and consultation among the countries vitally concerned, including the South-East Asia Treaty Organization members. President Macapagal, in commenting on President de Gaulle’s statement, has rightly drawn attention to the determination of countries in the region to have the deciding voice in shaping their own future.
It is far from my wish to be negative or unresponsive about proposals having a bearing on peace and stability in SouthEast Asia. Nor is the Australian Government critical of the pursuit of a policy of neutrality and non-alignment by individual countries. I believe, however, that any broad discussion of neutralizing this or that area through concerted international action must quickly address itself to precise situations. One would need, at the outset, to know which countries are envisaged as falling within the neutralized zone, what form the guarantees would take, which States should do the guaranteeing, what would happen about foreign forces and bases, and so forth. A major effort has been made in recent years to bring about and maintain an international status of neutrality for Laos. This is a small, landlocked country of few resources and at a low level of development and yet the task of making the Geneva agreement work continues to be taxing and difficult despite the untiring devotion of the Prime Minister, Prince Souvanna Phouma.
I would invite the attention of honorable members to another aspect of this idea of neutralization. The constant goal of Australian policy in Asia is to see the development of strong well-organized countries standing on their own feet and confident of their national independence. We do not under-estimate the difficulties in attaining a stable region steadily rising in political and economic strength. Some countries are bedevilled by population pressure; some lack homogeneity and sense of national community; in some the Government writ does not run in the outer provinces; in some there are deep-rooted ethnic and cultural group differences. Many have tremendous problems of food and health. The general requirement is for a strong and stable central government with established institutions for administration and security and law and order providing increasing standards of life for their whole population. It is the elements of internal weakness which make subversion the preferred method of Communist penetration. The process of subversion, which exploits ethnic divisions, remoteness, human needs and ills and all the other factors I have mentioned, goes on unrelentingly until it can gradually take on the added character of de facto control over parts of a country. Neutralization does not stop the process of subversion nor provide a remedy for it. I ask myself the question, if I may, therefore, how is this problem of subversion directed from outside to be handled under any neutralization scheme? Can the issues be defined and made susceptible to agreement among the guaranteeing countries? Can the neutralized country be helped to acquire the means of maintaining its internal security? Can it evoke outside aid if its government considers it necessary?
These considerations are very relevant to South Viet Nam. There is talk from time to time of the neutralization of South Viet Nam, usually may I say, only in terms of the neutralization of the south and not the whole of Viet Nam. All too often, I believe, the solution of neutralization is offered as a course of despair. Proposals affecting Viet Nam have to be seen in the perspective of a country fighting for its survival against a ruthless, terrorist campaign of internal Communist subversion which receives great external aid, and they must be seen in relation to the importance of South-East Asia as a whole to the free world.
Under such circumstances, the withdrawal of external defence support from the South Viet Nam Government - and this is what would be involved in neutralization - would be a very grave matter. Another question to which any discussion of neutralization should give rise is the place of so-called foreign troops and bases. China has massive armies - two and a half million men, and sufficient logistical capacity to use very large numbers. North Viet Nam - with an army estimated at 240,000 - has much more powerful forces than her neighbours. Elements of these forces have in recent years been sent back and forth across the frontiers of Laos. This means that, in parallel with any plan of neutralization, there should continue in being the deterrent of countervailing power. But what concerns me is that if bases and conventional forces are withdrawn from countries in South-East Asia the possibility of controlled and graduated resistance to Communist China and North Viet Nam disappears. Then, if the guarantee of neutrality, supposing it to exist, were to rupture, we should have the grave choices associated with recourse to nuclear weapons.
Let me expand a little on this point. For resistance by conventional means to be possible there must be a sufficient body of forces equipped and mobile in the region, and the means of transporting, supplying and reinforcing them. This means, of course, barracks, air strips, transport aircraft, fighter cover, supply dumps, maintenance and repair facilities and the like. Through a combination of forces in being, adequate logistics, and the pre-positioning of stocks, limited or brush-fire aggression is capable of resistance by conventional means. Even in the event of larger-scale aggression, immediate defence by conventional means provides that vital breathingspace of time for risks and consequences of nuclear conflict to be brought into account. The West does not want to find itself manoeuvred into a position where the alternatives would appear to be using nuclear weapons or not resisting aggression. To have no conventional capacity in this region would foreclose any option as to the use of nuclear power.
At the same time, there is the desire amongst some of the countries of the region, as an aspect of their newly-won sovereignty, to consider defence and security as primarily, and in the minds of some as exclusively, a matter for a co-ordinating approach on a regional basis by the countries of this region. Australia supports and encourages regional associations and links among South-East Asian countries, and is ready to consider participation in such arrangements to the appropriate degree. But it is apparent that a self-supporting security system, confined to members of the region, is not at present practicable. “ Foreign “ troops and bases certainly entail political and diplomatic problems, but it must remain an Australian objective to urge upon our Asian neighbours that they should neither weaken the security of the region, nor seek to distort the balance between themselves, by working towards an early removal of these bases. I may say that no controversy surrounds Australian forces in the countries where they are stationed.
Political issues concerning the future of bases in the Asian region will require continuing attention. I do refer not to the well-worn criticisms employed in Communist propaganda, but to problems and uncertainties which stem from strongly conceived ideas of national independence. This can lead to the allegation of so-called “ neo-colonialism “, that is to say, the accusation that a new sovereign country is not fully independent because it has retained treaty connexions with the former colonial power which have the effect of impairing its sovereignty. We should not avoid discussion and debate on this thesis with our Asian neighbours.
Some of the major bilateral security treaties which are in force to-day are in the Asian region, namely, the Treaty of Mutual Co-operation and Security between Japan and the United States, the Mutual Defence Agreement between the Philippines and the United States and the AngloMalaysian Defence Agreement. All of these treaties represent the outcome of careful negotiation and they embody a whole range of conditions and stipulations meeting requirements of sovereignty and of a basic national interest of the partner countries. Furthermore, these treaties are public documents, registered with the United Nations, which have been ratified as a result of the constitutional and legislative processes of the countries concerned, each of whom I might add - Japan, the Philippines,
Malaysia - has a democratic, popularly elected government. In respect of the Anglo-Malaysian Treaty, which is the object of Indonesian criticism, the Malaysian -Government is perfectly free in the matter and if it so wishes, could say at any time that the treaty was no longer in effect. In other words, it cannot be assumed by even the most doctrinaire anti-colonialists that such treaties are necessarily imposed or are an intolerable diminution of sovereignty.
The British response to the request from the Sultan of Brunei, where there was not a single British soldier stationed until the rebellion, inevitably led to an Indonesian charge of colonialist interference in the internal affairs of Brunei. It is important to recapitulate the facts. It was puzzling at the time that Azahari should resort to engineering a revolt in Brunei shortly after his party had won the Brunei elections and was strongly placed to press its claims for constitutional advance and a greater share in the Government of the country. It has, however, become increasingly apparent that the ambitions of Azahari ran well beyond the internal politics of Brunei. It will be recalled that the revolt itself at the time was not confined to Brunei but touched fringe areas in Sarawak and Sabah. The movement at the time was called the “National Army of Kalimantan Utara”, the significance of this being that Kalimantan Utara denotes the whole of the geographical area, Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak, that is, the whole of the nonIndonesian half of the island of Borneo. Azahari, who is to-day in Indonesia, does not claim to be the leader of the Brunei party or of a Brunei Government in exile. His claim is that he represents the national government of Kalimantan Utara. He claims - correctly - to have infiltrated members of the “ National Army of Kalimantan Utara “ not into Brunei but into Sarawak and Sabah. His clandestine radio is directed not so much at the Sultan of Brunei but against the Tunku and the whole Malaysian concept. While the Government of Indonesia has so far held back from recognizing him officially as Head of the Revolutionary Government of Kalimantan Utara, no obstacles are placed in the way of his so representing himself, and there is constant pressure from the Communist Party of Indonesia that he should be given official recognition.
I have gone into this detail because I think that the facts are important for Australia and because the facts illustrate the problems with which we have to deal, namely, the problems deriving from externally encouraged insurrection. Let us suppose for a moment that Britain had not met its treaty commitments to the Sultan of Brunei. We would have had in Brunei the proclamation of a Government claiming authority over the whole of the northern part of the island of Borneo, and one which would have sought and gained Indonesian support. Instead of witnessing as we have an orderly democratic transition of Sarawak and Sabah from colonial status to independence as federal units within Malaysia, the prospect would have been for a turbulent and destructive power struggle throughout the three territories which would have been destructive of orderly development and the degree of racial tolerance which has been achieved. These are realities which we must be prepared to see. lt was the presence of British power, made possible under the necessary time scale by the existing bases which prevented what would have been a disaster for this area.
It seems to me entirely proper - and often prudent - for countries which may be comparatively deficient in trained and adequate security forces of their own, to seek guarantees of survival and stability through security arrangements with third countries. Members will have noted, in this connexion, the recent actions within the informal framework of Commonwealth co-operation, by the President of Tanganyika and the Prime Ministers of Kenya and Uganda in asking for British military assistance to restore internal order, and the evident beneficial effect of the prompt British response will, I am sure, be appreciated by honorable members.
I turn now to the serious problems of Indonesian hostility towards Malaysia, in particular to the question of the cease-fire and the latest consultations among the Governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
It will be recalled that as a result of Mr. Kennedy’s efforts, President Sukarno announced on 23rd January that he had ordered a cease-fire to be put into effect and on the same day Tunku Abdul Rahman said Malaysia would extend its fullest cooperation to facilitate arrangements for the cease-fire.
The Foreign Ministers of Indonesia and the Philippines and the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia met in Bangkok from 5th to 10th February. They agreed to approach the Secretary-General for his designation of Thailand to supervise the cease-fire. They were not able to agree, however, on the essential elements of a cease-fire arrangement. Malaysia said that as part of the cease-fire Indonesian forces, regulars and irregulars, must be withdrawn from Malaysian territory. The Indonesians said that these forces would be withdrawn only when some general political settlement was reached. Malaysia formally entered a reservation to the communique issued at the end of the meeting, which reservation said that the cease-fire would not be fully effective as long as these forces remained.
However, far from agreeing to withdraw their forces, the Indonesian Government, a week after the Ministers’ meeting was over, said publicly that it wished to arrange supply missions to the guerrilla groups in Sabah and Sarawak, and that the cease-fire was a “standfast” without a change in positions or a withdrawal. The Malaysian Government replied that it had the right to take all necessary action to maintain public security within its own territory.
Indonesian leaders continued to assert their intention to supply their forces within Malaysia, by air or land, with the result that the Malaysian Government took appropriate action to warn the Indonesians of the consequences of unauthorized overflight of its territory. Dr. Subandrio subsequently stated that Indonesia had “ no plans “ for air-drops on the Malaysian side of the border.
In a further attempt to obtain agreement on a proper cease-fire arrangement the Malaysians requested that a further ministerial meeting be held in Bangkok. Members will know that the meeting which took place last week was unable to resolve the issues involved in the cease-fire.
The facts are not in dispute. There are in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak several hundreds of infiltrators from Indonesia. The Malaysian Government has stated that within its knowledge the num ber has increased from two hundred to at: least four hundred over the period of theceasefire; that is, new infiltrations have occurred. This total of infiltrators comprises remnants of Azahari’s so-called: national army of Kalimantan Utara; a number of Chinese members of Communist organizations in Sarawak who crossed intoIndonesia; and a stiffening of Indonesian regulars and irregulars. These elementshave been brought together, grouped, trained and supplied by Indonesia. Noneof this has been denied by the Indonesian Government, and indeed, most is asserted’ by that Government. The IndonesianGovernment has acknowledged that it exercises control over and has a responsibility for these groups. Small groups of dissidents and saboteurs have also been infiltrated’ into mainland Malaysia and Singapore.
Indonesian policy follows a discernible - course. For their own reasons, unconnected with any provocative conduct on the part of any of the constituent groups inMalaysia, the Indonesian leaders decided’ that they wished to prevent the creation and success of the new federation. Toachieve this Indonesia decided on a policy of “ confrontation “, which involved at theoutset the use of economic and psychological methods together with military assistance in the way of training and supply to* Bornean dissidents, who for one reason or another desired to oppose by physical means, the formation of Malaysia. It was hoped that this “ confrontation “, combined with the subversive influence of the dissidents who were being supported by Indonesia, would cause such a climate of tension that internal unrest and uprisings within Sabah and Sarawak and possibly within other parts of Malaysia would result. In thisrespect the Indonesians, victims of their own philosophy of revolution, appear to have misjudged the political will of the people and the efficacy of the security forces. The infiltrators have not succeeded in their political aim of establishing themselves on the ground in any substantial force within Malaysia and up till now have in the main only been able to carry out hit and run raids followed by retreat. More recently, the Indonesians are talking of the existenceof “ pockets of resistance “, but this expression again relates simply to the presence of their infiltrated groups, and is an attempt to invest these groups with a contrived political significance.
Indonesia has thus resorted to the use of force to achieve its aim of preventing the successful creation of Malaysia, which neither in point of numbers nor in point of military power, threatens Indonesia.
The Charter of the United Nations requires all its members, of whom Indonesia is one, to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. In accepting the report of its Credentials Committee the United Nations General Assembly in substance endorsed the Secretary-General’s report in which he certified that the principles of the Charter as to self-determination had been adhered to in the formation of Malaysia. The vote of the Assembly was 91 in favour with eleven abstaining and some of those abstentions related to features of the report not connected with Malaysia. Malaysia is seated in the United Nations as a member, that is to say, as a sovereign state entitled to equality with all other members in the organization. No question of recognition or non-recognition has any relevance to Malaysia’s position in the international community as a nation or to the obligations of its fellow members of the United Nations. To place and maintain Indonesian forces in Malaysia is thus in breach of the Charter.
And the Bandung declaration of the AfroAsian nations, which included a clear statement of the principle of non-intervention that no nation should intervene or interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, has its own relevance.
Having failed to cause the disintegration of Malaysia through infiltration and subversion, Indonesian policy now seeks to use the continued presence of the guerrillas as a tactical weapon to secure advantage and concessions in any discussions which Indonesia and Malaysia may have. This is the position expressly adopted by Indonesia, as I said at the. outset, in the course of the meetings of Foreign Ministers.
This is a situation which Malaysia, as 1 think rightly, believes it cannot accept. Any discussion among the three nations on political issues should take place on terms of equality without tactical advantage to any one of the participants. These conditions are not met while Indonesian troops are maintained in, and indeed continue to be intruded into, Malaysia. Without firm and acceptable arrangements for their withdrawal, it is difficult to see how such a discussion can take place. And it is also difficult to see how the question of their withdrawal, or the terms upon which they should be withdrawn, can form part of any political question which three equal sovereign nations may need to discuss.
The Malaysians therefore refuse to defer to the Indonesian doctrine that Indonesia may introduce troops into another territory and then demand that the terms on which they shall withdraw these troops is a political question for discussion. Neither Malaysia, Indonesia’s other neighbours - including Australia - nor the rest of the international community could accept this doctrine or its implications. Nor has Indonesia any claim to the support of other countries in its endeavour to coerce Malaysia into its acceptance. It is greatly to the credit of the Malaysians that they have been willing to take part in ministerial talks to arrange a proper or effective ceasefire. Their patience and demonstrated anxiety for peace merit our full commendation. The course which Indonesia is following merits international disapprobation. None the less, the Malaysians no doubt will continue with restraint to explore ways and means consistent with the maintenance of their sovereignty to achieve a peaceful solution of their relations with Indonesia.
I am sorry thus to speak of Indonesia. I have constantly sought to promote the friendship of the two peoples and have been astute to seek and to study Indonesia’s points of view. But Indonesia cannot expect that Australia can do other than condemn breaches of accepted international obligations and of accepted norms of international conduct. Australian policy towards Indonesia will continue to be one of seeking to promote sound, friendly relations without sacrifice of Australian vital interests - in which I include performance of its commitments to other nations and the maintenance of its own territorial integrity. The time has surely arrived for Indonesia to pause in its present course and to review the position in which it has placed itself.
The Government is following these matters with the closest attention and Cabinet has reviewed the position on several occasions. We have publicly stated our support for Malaysia and our disapproval of Indonesia’s policies and courses of action towards Malaysia. We have made Australia’s position quite clear through diplomatic channels and by direct communication on the part either of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) or myself - with Ministers in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Britain, America and indeed other countries. At this time we await Indonesia’s decision whether or not to withdraw the infiltrated troops, forbear to intrude any more troops and to meet around the conference table to discuss, in accordance with proposals which I understand are afoot, and I would hope, resolve Indonesia’s relationship with Malaysia.
I may add here, Mr. Speaker, that the Malaysians have already notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations of Indonesian breaches of the recently announced cease-fire. This is a wise course, firstly as the Secretary-General was actively involved in the creation of Malaysia and needs current information if he is to exert his influence in supporting the political and territorial integrity of Malaysia; and secondly as a prelude to the consideration by the United Nations of any matter arising out of the Malaysian ‘Indonesian situation, should Malaysia decide to bring such a matter before the United Nations. The timing and the nature of an approach to the United Nations is clearly a matter for Malaysian decision after consideration of a number of relevant factors and the results of bilateral and regional discussions.
Mr. Speaker, may I turn to Africa, where, during the last few months, events focus attention on the post-independence troubles of that continent. Where there were only eight independent countries at the end of 1959 there are now 34; at least two more will gain independence this year. This tremendous transformation has not been accomplished without conflict and difficulty - one has only to recall prolonged blood- shed in Algeria - but on the whole the transition to independence has been harmonious, and forms a creditable record to the responsible attitude adopted by both the former colonial powers and African leaders. Independence, however, is in itself no panacea for all the ills that confront a new country. There are difficult social and economic problems; there is the fundamental problem of development and raising living standards; and there is also, in certain African countries, the problem of race relations.
The first necessities for the new countries in tackling their problems constructively are law and order and stability of frontiers. Recent events underline this point. Fighting broke out last year between Algeria and Morocco over a border dispute. In Zanzibar, which attained its independence only a few months ago, the Sultan’s government was overthrown; during the disturbances several thousand people were killed. There have been troubles among elements of the armed forces of other East African countries, leading to the sending in of some British troops at the invitation of the governments concerned. Ethiopia and Somalia are engaged in fighting over a question concerning their border. In West Africa the army of the former French colony Gabon attempted unsuccessfully to overthrow the government. There are still disturbances in the Congo; and tribal massacres between the Watutsi and Babutu peoples in Rwanda and Burundi.
It is for the leaders of the African countries themselves to find ways of effectively solving their own difficulties. They are fully aware of the need to do so. In May, 1963, the heads of 30 African states met in Addis Ababa to discuss the question of African unity and how to achieve it through economic, social and cultural co-operation. As a result of this meeting the Organization of African Unity was formed. Already this organization has at least one practical achievement; its mediation brought peace between Algeria and Morocco.
The aim is clear. As indicated by African spokesmen themselves, it is to achieve independent, prosperous, firmly based and harmonious societies in which no group shall have exclusive privileges, but in which there shall be genuine equality among citizens, without racial barriers or racial conflict. But in the Portuguese territories and in Southern Rhodesia - and even more acutely in South Africa, where matters are made worse by the doctrine of apartheid - the problem presents itself of a minority, now enjoying effective power and a traditional position of privilege, which sees in the rise of independent states, and in the emancipation of Africans elsewhere on the continent, a threat to the continued stability of the country and to their own position. The future of these areas must be a matter of great anxiety and concern to countries outside Africa, because of the implications of their special difficulties for the wider questions of which I shall speak in a moment.
Southern Rhodesia is a territory with which Australia and many Australians have long had connexions. Until the end of last year, it formed a part - with Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia - of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, now dissolved. Nyasaland will become independent, under the name of Malawi, in July, and Northern Rhodesia is also expected to become independent before long. Southern Rhodesia has had responsible government since 1923; but there is pressure on the part of both communities in Rhodesia for independence now. The non-European nationalists are insisting on a new constitution which would enable the early election of an African majority; they are opposed to independence being granted while the Government is not based on such a majority, but they appear prepared to envisage the possibility of some short interim period. The European community, which forms about 8 per cent, of the country’s population, has made the major contribution to the economic strength of the country and to a modern social system. It maintains that the Africans are not yet ready to govern and that the present constitution would in any case lead to a non-European majority. The issue is how the opposing views can be reconciled. It must be solved by the people of Southern Rhodesia themselves; and the decision on the terms and timing of Southern Rhodesia’s independence is primarily a matter for settlement between the Rhodesian Government and that of Britain.
We in Australia are concerned because of the possible effects on the Commonwealth and internationally if things go wrong; our interest is that the circumstances of Southern Rhodesia’s independence should not lead to the non-recognition of the Government in Salisbury by most other governments, to its non-admission to the Commonwealth, or to the establishment in exile of a rival authority, claiming to be a government which might be supported by the African and many other states. If this were to happen, an Algerian type of situation may develop and a cleavage between the black and white communities emerge which might well prove deep and lasting. This would be a disaster not merely for Rhodesia but for racial harmony in Africa and even beyond. Patience is needed to avoid such an outcome and flexibility in exploring mutual concessions which can lead to the peaceful transition which is the only alternative to conflict. Any hasty decisions now on the part of any of those responsible in either community can only make that conflict more certain.
Mr. Speaker, I have spoken of these African matters at some length because of their particular bearing upon an issue of sinister and apparently of growing importance; one which we in Australia cannot afford or hope to ignore. It is that of race relations. Sir Alec Douglas-Home has pointed in a recent speech to the broad coincidence of rich and poor among the peoples of the world with differences in skin pigmentation, and to the possibilities of trouble which this implies. The Chinese Communists are trying to exploit racial illfeeling: they are, it seems, doing their best to fan the fires of racial hatred in Africa.
I was glad to note that U Thant, the distinguished Secretary-General of the United Nations, in the course of an important speech at Algiers last month, uttered a specific warning about the danger of racial hatred. He said -
There is the clear prospect that racial conflict, if we cannot curb and finally eliminate it, will grow into a destructive monster compared to which the religious or ideological conflicts of the past and present will seem to be small family quarrels. Such a conflct will rot away the possibilities for good and all that mankind has hitherto achieved and reduce men to the lowest and most bestial level of intolerence and hatred.
These are wise words. We in Australia, who hope to build so much on the goodwill of the Asian countries which are our neighbours, will do well to ponder them. And people should reflect that the Commonwealth, however diverse it may become and however insubstantial the ties which may appear to bind its various members, is of unique value as an association transcending racial differences, and for that reason alone deserves the respect and support of all men of goodwill, both within the countries of the Commonwealth and outside them.
Mention of the Commonwealth leads me to say something of our relationship with India and Pakistan.
In the sub-continent two countries, with both of whom Australia maintains the friendliest relations, have failed to achieve the harmony and sense of common purpose without which the security and well-being of the whole area are in jeopardy. On my visit to Pakistan and India in late 1962, just after the Chinese Communist attacks across India’s borders, I was impressed by the tremendous upsurge of national feeling and national unity that I witnessed in India as a result of the emergency. At the same time I came up in Pakistan against the reality of very widespread and strong antiIndian feeling arising from the unresolved Kashmir dispute and the belief that India had not finally accepted the fact of the partition of the sub-continent.
Nevertheless, the crisis at the time offered the chance for Pakistan and India to settle their differences. Unfortunately, the bilateral ministerial talks then arranged, and held between December, 1962, and May, 1963, came to an end without agreement being possible.
I have dealt elsewhere with the way India has knuckled down to strengthening her defences and coping with the China threat. The scale of Western defence support for India is often misunderstood or misrepresented. In essence, India is standing on her own feet but, arising out of the Nassau agreement between the late President Kennedy and Mr. Macmillan, the United States and Commonwealth countries able to take part have provided, subject to Indian request, defence aid in the order of 120,000,000 dollars. The emphasis has been on building up mountain divisions in the areas directly threatened by China and :n improving air transport and ground support capability. At Birchgrove last year the two Western leaders agreed that there was a continuing need to assist India.
Australia for its part has contributed a grant of around £2,000,000. Our aid has taken the form of military clothing, wool, rifles, ammunition and tools from our defence production resources. We have, in addition, actively gone into the question of assisting India’s defence production facilities, not in the sense of setting up new industries but in modernizing and improving the techniques of existing ones.
In view of the Indian-Pakistani differences and Pakistan’s concern lest any accretion of Indian strength is turned against Pakistan’s interests, it is necessary to stress - as we have done direct to the Pakistanis - that the defence aid to India, which we regard as essential and not incommensurate to the threat involved, is directed solely against that threat from Communist China. This is illustrated by the types of assistance given. Moreover, we have guarantees in written form from the Indians regarding the stipulated end use of the military equipment provided. It is to be borne in mind too that levels of Western defence aid over the years to Pakistan - we ourselves have programmes under Seato aid - are in no way affected by what we have lately felt bound to do for India.
The abiding disharmony in IndianPakistani relations has had most disturbing manifestations recently in communal troubles in both East Pakistan and West Bengal. The Pakistan Government felt impelled in all the circumstances to refer the Kashmir dispute back to the Security Council of the United Nations and another inconclusive debate was held recently.
I felt myself when in India and Pakistan - and still feel - that Australia’s part was not to intervene in their dispute, nor to offer solutions, nor for that matter to attempt the role of mediator. We have confined ourselves to keeping in front of the leaders of both nations the great significance for the sub-continent which the resolution of their differences would have and also the grievous consequences of failure to resolve them.
We all know, and none better than the leaders of India and Pakistan, of the very serious dangers to which communal unrest can give rise, but the view of the Australian Government is that only the two governments directly involved can take effective steps to cope with such unrest. It is our hope that they will take, firmly and promptly, whatever action is required to control the situations that arise, consulting and agreeing on joint action as necessary.
The Kashmir problem is proving most intractable and continued patience and some flexibility on both sides are clearly needed. It is the sincere hope of the friends of both countries that they will continue to pursue only peaceful means in seeking a settlement and, of course, the United Nations machinery exists for this purpose. There have recently been renewed suggestions of mediation in the dispute and in the light of the existing tension these merit most careful consideration.
It is relevant to mention that Pakistan has been pursuing of late an active policy of “normalizing” its relations with Communist China, which it recognized in 1950. It has, of course, a legitimate right to do this. Our concern is that, especially having regard to the unresolved Sino-Indian conflict and the bad state of Indian/ Pakistani relations, the moves they do take or contemplate do not exacerbate the tensions and difficulties in the area. Just recently the Chinese Communist Premier, Chou En-lai, paid a visit to Pakistan and it is worthy of note that the Pakistani leaders during this visit did not hide the vitality and meaning of their continuing and fundamental Western attachments.
The realities of our geographical situation require that we should devote much attention to our interests in Asia and to the destinies which link us with our Asian neighbours. As I have said on other occasions, this does not mean that we can or should neglect our relations with the countries of Europe - and I am here considering Britain as a European country, though I have in mind no less the countries of continental Europe - with which our direct ties have been increasing and will, I believe, continue to increase.
For we have a special community of interest with the countries of Europe and very particular ties with them. Though out country is physically remote, we are ourselves a European people; the society we have established here is European in its values and traditions, its civilization and language, its whole nature. Remoteness has not meant isolation: not only do we continue to draw upon Britain and Europe in a vast variety of ways - whether as a source of population, capital, and technology, or of inspiration in the arts - but also we ourselves have actively shared in shaping Europe’s own destinies.
This fact alone is sufficient to show the impossibility of Australia treating European affairs as in any way secondary. But we must also recognize that Europe is assuming a new and wider importance for us. There is the post-war economic revolution; there is the movement towards European unity, both economic and political. The European Economic Community has exerted a notable influence in both respects. There is re-emergence of European states - and I am thinking in particular of France, but not only of her - as world powers pursuing active world-wide policies and seeking to influence events in areas remote from them. The new role of France in Asia, for example, could have direct and important consequences for Australia. Finally, there is the increasing role of European countries in the provision of aid and development capital, to Asian as well as to other less developed countries, both direct and through such bodies as the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Moreover, we are now in direct contact with European countries in a way which we were not before 1945. A whole network of direct relationships has grown up linking Australia with other countries as well as with Britain: Relationships in trade, where Europe is very important to us; in civil aviation and communications; in migration; in investment and industry; in science and education; and these relationships are growing. We maintain - and we may on occasion need to strengthen - our own governmental representation in European capitals.
An important task for Australia, I believe, is to make ourselves effectively known to European governments and peoples; to make them understand, if they do not understand already, that Australia’s prosperity and economic growth are not a matter of marginal importance; that they have a real interest - self-interest, if you will - in our existence as a centre of European civilization, an advanced, stable and already highly industrialized country in a region where such countries are few. They need to be aware - if they are not already aware - of the extent to which the future of our whole part of the world concerns them; that they cannot limit their vision to Africa and to the European side of Suez, or believe that a prosperous Europe can afford to neglect a poverty-stricken Asia. And so far as Australia itself is concerned, we offer to the new Europe a market, a field of opportunity for investment and for migration of a kind which is rare if not unique in the world.
It is against this background that we have recently taken certain decisions about increasing our representation in Europe. We have established an embassy in Athens and are about to do likewise in Vienna. We have recently accredited the first Australian ambassador to Stockholm and a consulate-general has been established in Madrid. We plan to invite certain prominent European statesmen to visit Australia. I have in mind a visit, to begin some time after the Seato meeting in April, to London and several of the major European capitals. There are new personalities in government and influences on the European scene. My aim will be to make or renew contact with British and European leaders; in order to establish and develop points of common concern, but also to impress upon them the considerations of the community of interest between Australia and the countries of Europe which I have just been mentioning.
In September of last year I led the Australian delegation during the opening phases of the eighteenth session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. I shall not attempt to review all aspects of the session, which will be covered in the report of the delegation to be presented to Parliament at a later date. However, 1 should like to mention several items of particular immediate interest.
The eighteenth session met in the somewhat more hopeful atmosphere which followed the conclusion of the treaty providing for the partial suspension of nuclear tests to which the United States, the Soviet Union and the great bulk of the members of the United Nations had given their agreement. It was hoped, and this hope remains, that agreement on this partial step towards universal disarmament would open the way for agreement on other basic issues of contention between the east and west.
The principal significance of the United Nations lies in its role as an instrument for the preservation of international peace and security. Some doubts have been thrown on its capacity to play that role effectively owing to the failure of certain member states to contribute to the cost of United Nations peacekeeping operations. The main point of disagreement is that Communist bloc members have refused to give financial support to operations of the United Nations forces which are based on decisions of the General Assembly, and France also has an objection in principle which has resulted in her failure to pay in full her assessed contribution to the United Nations. Put briefly, the Communist bloc argument is that United Nations operations to keep the peace should be authorized and controlled by the Security Council alone; whereas experience has shown that the use made of the veto in the Security Council has made it necessary for the General Assembly itself to take a greater responsibility for security matters.
The Australian Government has always been a supporter of the principle of collective peace-keeping actions. We are anxious to see progress in settling the financial questions which threaten to vitiate the already limited powers of the United Nations in this regard. We hope that we shall soon see some concrete evidence of a Soviet disposition to seek a practical solution to this problem so that the United Nations can play its part in helping to prevent breaches of the peace, or in organizing armed forces to restore peace where its aid is sought.
As I have remarked, one limited step towards the United Nations goal of a treaty covering general and complete disarmament may be seen in the nuclear test ban treaty. Discussions on wider aspects of disarmament continue in the United Nations Committee on Disarmament in Geneva. The Soviet Foreign Minister recently compared the flow of words coming from this conference to the ceaseless bubble of the waters of the famous fountain in the Lake of Geneva. It is true that negotiations both in the United Nations forum and elsewhere have bogged down, and, in our view, largely on the crucial question of Soviet unwillingness to agree to negotiate methods for inspection and verification of disarmament which we in the Western world regard as adequate and which in our view must form an essential part of any real agreement.
The eighteen-nation Disarmament Committee now meeting in Geneva has before it five areas for discussion outlined by President Johnson. These include -
In our view this type of “ area “ approach has many merits. It may be hoped that agreement can be reached on such collateral measures which, while not themselves constituting disarmament in the strict sense, may help to build up confidence for more comprehensive agreements. We would like to see serious negotiations proceed on such issues. For example the proposed “ freeze “ on the production of nuclear delivery vehicles and the closing down of at least some plants for the production of fissionable material would certainly require some inspection arrangements, but this would be relatively less complicated and less onerous than the verification provisions required in a scheme for total disarmament. They could be used as measures to test procedures and thereby to gain confidence in more far-reaching arrangements.
The Soviet representative at the Geneva Disarmament Committee has also put forward a nine-point plan which for the most part re-affirms previous Soviet positions. Some slight indication of the possibility of a new Soviet attitude in one direction, however, was contained in the proposal of the Soviet Foreign Minister at the last session of the United Nations General Assembly that an agreed and strictly limited number of nuclear delivery vehicles and their warheads should be retained until the end of the third and final stage of an agreement for universal disarmament. In the past, the Soviet Government had required, broadly speaking, that all nuclear weapons and vehicles should be destroyed prior to the elimination of conventional weapons. This new Soviet suggestion acknowledges, although it falls far short of Western requirements, that in any acceptable programme for universal disarmament, balance between nuclear and conventional weapons should be preserved at all stages of the disarmament processes.
It is too early to judge how fruitful the current Geneva talks on disarmament will prove to be.In the few weeks that have passed since their re-opening, it cannot be claimed that the conference has come to real grips with any of the particular proposals before it. In this connexion, I can only endorse the proposal made by the British Foreign Secretary in Geneva last month that there should be agreement on an improved conference procedure with less time being spent on general discussions and more on details in expert working groups.
There was some discussion at the last
General Assembly about the possibility of establishing zones which would be free of nuclear weapons. A proposal relating to Latin America was referred back to the states concerned for further discussion. Australia, in common with its Western allies, is prepared to consider the feasibility of establishing such zones where they accord with the wishes of the states principally concerned, and in areas where the military balance of power would not be materially altered. However, the Government has made it clear that these conditions could not be satisfied in the geographical area in which we live and that, in common with our American allies, we are opposed to the establishment of a nuclear free zone in the Asian-Pacific region.
The question of carrying out nuclear test explosions, such as those proposed by the French in the South Pacific, is quite another matter. The Government has continued to express its hope that the nuclear test ban treaty, to which it gave its prompt support, should be given as nearly a universal application as possible. It is obviously to the interests of Australia and of all the countries of South and East Asia that the Chinese Communist regime should not carry out nuclear test explosions when it has the capacity to do so. Indeed it is vital to any effective scheme of universal disarmament to prevent such a further proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. We have expressed our opposition to the French proposal to test in the Pacific and will continue to call France’s attention to the desirability of her accession to the treaty and to the undesirability of any spread of nuclear capacity.
One other aspect of the United Nations to which I should advert because of its particular significance to Australia, is the discharge of our international obligations towards our dependent territories. By virtue of Australia’s trusteeship agreement with the United Nations, Australia continues to be a member of the Trusteeship Council and we are also a member of the Committee of Twenty-four of the General Assembly which concerns itself with problems relating to the dwindling group of territories which are described as nonselfgoverning. Australia has scrupulously fulfilled its United Nations obligations in regard to both trust and nonselfgoverning territories. We have sometimes had to face poorly informed and even hostile, opinion in reporting on our administration of our territories. I am pleased to say that the Australian report to the Trusteeship Council last year on the trust territories under our administration was well received both in the Trusteeship Council and in the General Assembly. Favorable attention was particularly given to those parts of our reports which dealt with the development of self-government within Papua and New Guinea and which described the elections which are now taking place there with a common roll of voters for a new House of Assembly in which two-thirds of the seats are open to the indigenous people.
The Australian Government will continue to emphasize in the United Nations our goal that the people of our nonselfgoverning territories should be permitted to develop without interference and in an orderly manner so that in due course they can determine their own future in the world.
Australia is a middle power in more senses than one. It is clearly one in the general sense in which the expression is used. But also it has common interests with both the advanced and the underdeveloped countries; it stands in point of realized wealth between the haves and the have-nots. It is at the one time a granary and a highly industrialized country. It has a European background and is set in intimate geographical propinquity to Asia.
This ambivalence brings some strength and offers promise of a future of which Australia can be confident, a future of increasing influence. But it poses continuing problems in identifying peculiarly Australian objectives and in finding balance in the policies devised to attain them. As well, it emphasizes the need to seek and to accept collective security, with all the compromises which such a course so often entails. It involves support of the United Nations and participation in its activities, conscious that indispensable and useful as that organization is, it cannot provide the assured means of deterring or suppressing aggressive activity.
In what I have said to-night I have sought to identify some of these Australian objectives and to indicate how the Government has, I believe, found a balanced policy response to some of the problems which have emerged.
I present the following paper: -
Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 11th March, 1964- and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Debate resumed from Sth March (vide page 291), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill provides that the Commonwealth will pay subsidies, £1 for £1 with the New South Wales Government, to various local government authorities to carry out flood mitigation work on coastal rivers. It provides that these subsidies will be made over the next six years. A ceiling of £2,750,000 is set on the Commonwealth’s contribution over the period. The sum total of expense which will be incurred in carrying out these flood mitigation works by these local government authorities in the New South Wales coastal rivers will be almost £13,000,000. The authorities concerned are five county councils, those on the Macleay, Clarence, Richmond, Tweed and Shoalhaven rivers, to each of which the Commonwealth and the State will each contribute £2 for every £1 levied and spent by those county councils from thenown resources, and the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust, to which the Commonwealth and the State will each contribute £3 for every £1 levied by the trust.
The bill carries out an announcement made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on 17th October last, in answer to a question by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), now the Minister for the Interior. The bill is supported by the Opposition. It carries out proposals which the Opposition had been propounding ever since the 1955 policy speech of the Australian Labour Party and which had been particularly pressed in the last Parliament by the then member for Cowper, Mr. Frank McGuren.
The bill was introduced here by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who was at pains to point out that it was exceptional. In answering questions by the honorable members for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) and Evans (Dr. Mackay) on the 10th of this month, he referred to the unique character of the bill and the unprecedented situation which it created. The Treasurer seemed to protest too much. It can surely no longer be asserted that the Commonwealth is taking up an unprecedented or unique position when it makes grants to the States under section 96 of the Constitution in respect of navigation or conservation or irrigation or power generation or flood mitigation. The Commonwealth has been doing these things for decades. It has done so by collaboration with the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in respect of river Murray waters ever since 1915. It has done so in respect of hydro-electric power from the Snowy Mountains since 1949 and in later years it has done so in collaboration with the New South Wales, Victorian and South Australian Governments also. Since 1958 the Commonwealth has made grants to Western Australia for northern development, in particular to use the waters of the Ord River. Last year the Commonwealth made grants to the various States under the Blowering Water Storage Works Agreement, the Chowilla Reservoir Agreement and the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement.
Section 96 of the Constitution permits the Commonwealth to make grants to the States for any purpose that the Commonwealth sees fit on any terms that the Commonwealth sees fit. If it were not for section 96, it is possible that under paragraph (i) of section 51 of the Constitution the Commonwealth could expend money on rivers. The corresponding section of the Constitution of the United States of America empowering the Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States has for decades and decades been construed to enable Congress to spend money on navigation works. Section 98 of our Constitution was inserted to make it certain beyond doubt that the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United
States applying the commerce power to navigation should similarly apply in the federal system of this country. Since then there have been decisions in the United States which have not limited the power of Congress over commerce to navigation. There are express decisions of the Supreme Court which say that Congress can appropriate money for flood protection among other purposes concerned with rivers. 1 go into some detail on this matter because the late Right Honorable Sir Earle Page always asserted that the Commonwealth Government’s trade and commerce power and its navigation power did permit the Commonwealth to make appropriations and laws to regulate rivers for navigation, flood mitigation and the like. I do so because the Treasurer, to whose lot it has fallen to introduce the bill, has been at such pains to emphasize that it is unique and unprecedented. It is nothing of the sort. It should never have been so regarded.
The Treasurer has to make these assertions because on the only occason on which he has spoken on flood mitigation he took a directly opposite view to that which he has now had to take. He was speaking on 4th October, 1962 on an amendment to the estimates for his department. The amendment was moved by Mr. Frank McGuren, who was at that time the member for Cowper. Mr. McGuren moved -
That the amount of the vote - “Department of the Treasury, £66,442,000 “-be reduced by £1-
As an instruction to the Government -
To make an immediate grant on a £1 for £1 basis with the New South Wales Government for the urgent and imperative work being carried out by the county councils to mitigate and control the frequent and disastrous floods in the northern livers of New South Wales, in order to preserve the valuable production of the great north coast farming areas and prevent the heavy economic losses which follow these floods.
It will be noted that Mr. McGuren’s amendment has been precisely reproduced in this bill. It was precisely adopted in October of last year - a year later - by the Prime Minister in answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Richmond. However, in October, 1962, the Treasurer spoke in these terms -
No one can deny that in our federation the division of responsibilities has placed the matter of flood mitigation within the jurisdiction of the State governments. That is clearly understood. By proceeding as they have done to-day honor able gentlemen opposite say in effect that they do not believe in a federal system.
He also said - . . the Labour Party is proposing what is, in effect, a censure motion on the Treasury estimates on a matter not within those estimates and not even within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government.
It is because he took this attitude only a year and a half ago that he has to assert now that this is a unique and unprecedented proposition, lt is not.
I have quoted what the Treasurer said on flood mitigation on the only occasion when he has previously spoken on the subject. I mentioned that he was speaking on an amendment moved by Mr. Frank McGuren, who was then the member for Cowper. Until Mr. McGuren was elected to the Parliament no member of the Australian Country Party other than Sir Earle Page had ever spoken on the subject of flood mitigation. I ask honorable members to note the attitude that was taken by the honorable members for Richmond and Lyne (Mr. Lucock), who represent areas similar to the electorate of Cowper. Their electorates will benefit by this legislation, as they would by the adoption of the proposals made by the Australian Labour Party on this subject ever since the policy speech of 1955. I repeat that the honorable members for Richmond and Lyne had never mentioned this subject before Mr. McGuren was elected as the member for Cowper. The former right honorable member for Cowper, Sir Earle Page, had spoken on it from time to time, but Mr. McGuren always brought this subject before the House in questions, as a matter to be debated as one of urgent public importance, during adjournment debates and in general debates. So successful was his campaign that members of the Country Party in neighbouring electorates and finally even the Prime Minister were forced to take notice. Seldom has the advocacy of one member produced such quick and dramatic results. He will always be remembered in the coastal districts of New South Wales by this legislation, which everybody in the House is now supporting and applauding.
I shall recite the attitudes expressed by members of the Country Party on this subject during the last Parliament. The first one to speak about it was the honorable member for Lyne. On 22nd August, referring to a speech that had just been made by the honorable member for Cowper, Mr. McGuren, about flood mitigation, he said -
One of the most tragic aspects of speeches made by honorable members opposite has been the constant pressure on the Commonwealth Government to do everything while the State governments evade their responsibilities.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Lyne. He continued along the same lines, asserting that the New South Wales Government could not be trusted to spend this money in a proper or intelligent fashion. The Government now concedes that the New South Wales Government could do so. It is relying, as the Treasurer expressly said in his second-reading speech, on the expert advice of the officers of the State Government and on the advice tendered by them to the county councils which will receive under this bill subsidies from the State Government as well as from the Commonwealth Government. So the attitude of the honorable member for Lyne as to what were Commonwealth and State responsibilities has been belied by events and has been disowned by his colleagues, and his assessment of the responsibility and the intelligence of the State Government has similarly been belied by events and disowned by his colleagues.
I have already quoted the comments made by the Treasurer on the only occasion on which he spoke on flood mitigation, and that was on 4th October, 1962. The first speaker against the proposition of Mr. McGuren was the honorable member for Richmond, who said -
When the honorable member for Cowper rises in this chamber and says that the Commonwealth should enter this field, he is only trying to create a diversion. He is trying to pass the buck on to the Commonwealth Government, although -this is a State responsibility. What is the difference between the State undertaking flood control and building dams such as the Glenbawn dam and the Keepit dam?
Or, one might now add, the Blowering dam. He went on to say -
I think the State Government should find the whole of the money.
He also said - lt is all very well to say that the Commonwealth Government should give assistance to the States for this purpose; but where would it end? The need for flood mitigation work is widespread. Flood mitigation is the drainage cf water and the control of water.
He argued that these matters are completely the responsibility of the States. The proposition that the Commonwealth should assist with State water works was described by him as being ridiculous. He repeated that the whole responsibility should rest on the New South Wales Government. It is interesting to note how far-sighted, how patriotic, the new Ministers were in 1962. The honorable member for Lyne spoke again on this subject on the same date. He said -
Does the honorable member for Macquarie mean . . the Commonwealth Government should increase taxes in order to finance a project that should be financed by that State government?
He said further -
Then speeches were delivered by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), the honorable member for Barker (Dr. Forbes) who has become the Minister for the Army, the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) who has become the Minister for Territories and the Treasurer. Then the honorable member for Richmond spoke a second time. Let me remind the House of what he said. If I repeat myself it is because he repeated himself. The honorable member said -
It is hypocrisy to lead people along a line when you know there is no hope at the end of it. It is all very well to say that the Commonwealth should come into the matter. That can be followed to the nth degree -
That is a phrase which he now uses at question time - and all you would have would be unification in Australia. There would be no State government at all then.
Well, the proposition has been successfully concluded. Hope has been justified, there is still a State government and it is cooperating in the implementation of this proposal.
Mr. McGuren persisted with the subject. On 16th May, 1963, he proposed that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion. He phrased it in this way -
The need for work, subsidized by the Commonwealth Government on a £1 for £1 basis with the States, which will mitigate and control the frequent and disastrous floods in Australia, preserve valuable production and prevent the heavy economic losses which follow these floods.
The honorable member for Richmond, who is now the Minister for the Interior, again spoke on the subject. He opposed the proposition as a matter of urgency. He added -
I have never considered that the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) has done a service to the country by trying to create a situation in which people believe that they may come to the Commonwealth Government and ask for aid on a £1 for £1 basis. The responsibility for flood mitigation rests squarely on the Slate Government.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Richmond.
– The present Minister for the Interior?
– Yes. On this occasion the honorable member for Lyne, the new Minister for the Interior and the new Minister for Territories lined up and voted against this proposition, just as they opposed it on 4th October, 1962. Honorable members and the public in general may observe that on both occasions every member of the Australian Country Party and of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives voted against the proposal which the Government has now submitted to the House. One must be fair to the honorable member for Richmond, who, as I have said, is now the Minister for the Interior. He can change his tune. He does not stick to his constitutional interpretations or his political principles when he sees that in relation to this matter the winds of change are blowing. Therefore, we may take satisfaction from the fact that in October last year he asked the Prime Minister a question on a Commonwealth grant for flood mitigation and that the Prime Minister then announced that the Commonwealth Government would pay a £1 for £1 subsidy to the New South Wales Government to provide assistance to county councils for flood mitigation works on New South Wales coastal rivers. That was the proposition which the Australian Labour Party had put to a vote in October, 1962, and in May, 1963, and which every Liberal Party and Australian Country Party member opposed. Again I point out that the Labour Party had been advocating such a scheme ever since the delivery of the policy speech for the election that was held in December, 1955.
I have already pointed out that before Mr. McGuren became a member of the Parliament no Liberal Party or Country Party member, except the Right Honorable Sir Earle Page, who did so triennially, had ever spoken on the subject. I am glad to be able to say that on 22nd May, 1956, I supported the remarks of the right honorable gentleman. For my pains I was heckled by the present Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). When speaking on this subject in May last year, the Minister said that the proposal was quite premature and that more research was needed before money should be spent on these enterprises. Indeed, he said that these districts owed their wealth to the occurrence of floods, because if there were no floods there would be no silt. There will be no division on the proposal now before us. The Minister himself is supporting it. It is refreshing to note that all these honorable members I have mentioned have now realized that this proposal can be put into effect.
I have noted that outside the House credit for this proposal has been taken by the new honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson). I believe that he is to follow me in this debate. I have been told by the Library staff here that it can find only two references made by him as a member of the Legislative Assembly in New South Wales. It would not take long to read them, because each occupies less than one column of State “Hansard”. Perhaps the honorable member will say why he never pushed this proposal in the Assembly.
– You should not play politics in these matters. That is the first thing you should think about.
– I bow to the honorable member’s wisdom and experience in these matters. He has become far-sighted since he became a member of this Parliament. I repeat that the Library staff has told me that he never advanced such a proposal in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. His colleagues, who are not as far-sighted or as wise as he. play politics with these proposals. I remind honorable members that, when it comes to playing politics in relation to the northern rivers of New South Wales, the Prime Minister made very great play on the fact that the Labour Party, when announcing its policy before the last general election, said it would place a battle group in this area. He said that was playing politics.
– Of course it was.
– I acknowledge the Minister’s knowledge of military strategy. I acknowledge, too, that Mr. Townley, the late Minister for Defence, fully and freely made available to members of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s defence committee his defence chiefs and departmental heads to brief them and to discuss with them matters relating to defence. We learned - I cannot indicate from whom - that this area was ideal for jungle, mountain and amphibious training. In times of emergency the Army has carried out rescue operations in this area. The personnel, the ducks and various other items of equipment have been transferred from my electorate - the Army capital of Australia -to the northern rivers area whenever floods have occurred there. To establish a brigade group in this area would serve a valuable military function as well as a civil function and would be in accord with military advice.
– You are thinking in terms of the Brisbane line now.
– No. Grafton is south of Brisbane.
– It is closer to Brisbane than to Sydney.
– And better for training than either Brisbane or Sydney. I do not want to play politics on this subject with Ministers. The only occasion on which an Australian Country Party Minister has spoken about river control was in March, 1961, when the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) did so. I followed him in the debate and differed with him. His reaction was so unseemly that he was suspended from the service of the House. On no other occasion has a Country Party Minister spoken on river control. However, he spoke in terms which now have been belied and disowned by his colleagues.
We support this bill. It is a bill of a nature that we have advocated at the polls for more than eight years. We advocated such a bill by our votes on two occasions in the last Parliament. It is in keeping with our general concept of what the National Parliament should do in national matters such as this. It is ironical that Australia is the driest continent but has an eastern seaboard which is perpetually racked by devastating floods. This is a matter in which the Commonwealth can take, and is now taking, a share of responsibility. Ever since the Financial Agreement of 1927 and particularly since the uniform income tax arrangements which were continued after the Second World War, not even the wealthiest State government - Victoria and New South Wales, subject to flood, are the wealthiest States - can embark on governmental activities of a new nature.
– What about the opera house?
– The money for that does not come from any government funds. It is not possible now for State governments to embark on activities of a new, or a largely increased nature, without Commonwealth participation. There is now Commonwealth participation in this field. The Commonwealth, which for long has shared in the work on the river Murray waters and the Snowy Mountains scheme, has the skills, the enterprise and the finances to take a share in such national work. The Government will have the support of the Opposition on this matter, since the Government has adopted the Opposition’s policy. To pass to another aspect of flood mitigation, I am told that an end has been put to the spate of muddied waters which the “ Daily Telegraph “ has poured over the Australian Labour Party. We can be glad that the pure and unsullied waters of Australian justice have prevailed. To-day the largest libel verdict ever awarded in the southern hemisphere has been awarded to a member of this Parliament. He was defamed by the head of the “ Daily Telegraph “ bureau here in Canberra-
– . . . whom a jury refused to believe on his oath-
– … and who the jury, by its verdict, found had grossly-
– Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to order.
– … and maliciously defamed one of our colleagues.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– Order! The House will come to order.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I ask that this House now adjourn out of respect to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) who, in the cause of justice, has upheld the rights of every member of this Parliament.
– Order! The House will come to order. I call the honorable member for Evans.
.- For the last 23 or 24 minutes we have been listening to an address which allegedly has been on the topic of one of the very great national problems, namely, floods. Undoubtedly, that problem has caused tragedy in many lives. But to-night we have seen it made into a farce by the sheer politics which have been bandied around the chamber. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) saw fit to direct our attention to a number of issues which surely are only incidental to this unprecedented action. For the first time in our history the Federal Government is assuming responsibility for this very large natural problem. In the judgment of people who are competent to judge - I exclude myself from that category - this is an unprecedented action.
We have been told that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) became interested in this matter only in October, 1963, The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) mentioned that date several times. Let me quote something to him from the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I was not present to hear the comments of the Opposition on the occasion to which this quotation refers. The 26th June, 1963, issue of the “Sydney Morning Herald “ - a journal which may reasonably be taken as giving the ground floor of the
Opposition’s thinking at that time - contained three articles on this subject. The last paragraph of the first article contained these words -
The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, has shown himself sympathetic to their case. After flying over the flood-stricken northern rivers last month he said it was “intolerable” that such disasters should occur year after year.
It is about the disasters that recur year after year that we on this side of the House wish to speak. We do not wish to speak in terms of sheer politics, of why the New South Wales Government only recently has interested itself in this situation. The last eight years would cover all the interesting or valuable action that has been taken. We on this side of the House are prepared to enter, on whatever ground - of course section 96 of the Constitution provides a ground - into a situation which requires the National Parliament to think nationally.
Although Australia is a dry continent - I think the only sentence that the honorable member for Werriwa adressed to this subject was on this point - flooding is a very large problem in the relatively small areas of highly fertile and well-watered land. From Launceston to Queensland, and west to the Darling River, floods cause major problems. While we are talking about State responsibility in this matter, perhaps it would not be out of place to direct attention to Tasmania. Although there is a Labour government in that State and it has been in office for a long time, that Government saw fit to enter into this problem systematically and scientifically. It has done a great deal of worthwhile flood mitigation work around Launceston.
Let us think first of the magnitude of this problem that confronts Australia. Apart from the lives that are lost - events during the last week remind us of the lives that are lost in floods - the cost of floods may be measured in three ways. First, there is the damage to and loss of property, which speaks for itself. Secondly, there are losses in production, commerce, transportation and even education. Thirdly, there are losses of soil because of erosion, as millions of tons of our best soil are carried to the sea or dissipated in areas in which the soil will be of little use.
In a nutshell, the five river basins that are covered by this legislation involve an area of 5,500,000 acres with an average annual production of £9,000,000. Losses in these areas can be enormous. For example, on the north coast of New South Wales alone in 1963 flood damage exceeded £2,000,000. That figure is not very far from the average yearly losses in those areas due to flooding. The loss in the Hunter valley in the 1955 flood exceeded £8,000,000. Conservative estimates have placed losses in the 1949 and 1950 floods on the Macleay River at £2,500,000. So we are talking of figures that are of national interest and national concern. Surely this is a matter above petty party politics.
One of the first reactions of those who have never lived in a flood area - I lived in one for some years - is to ask: Why do people live in those areas? These areas are essential to Australia’s economy. It is unthinkable that they should be regarded as undesirable for farming and for closer settlement, or indeed for settlement in terms of some of our country towns. This is some of the most promising land in Australia.
Flooding is not a problem that is peculiar to Australia. If honorable members will allow their minds to range abroad for a moment they may think of the enormously encouraging reports that have come from Holland concerning what has been done with land that was for many years under the sea. We know how the economy of Egypt depends on flood plains. This is true in China also. I recently read the statement by an American authority that 500,000,000 people in the Far East depend on flood plains for their existence, despite the continual threat of drowning. It is interesting to note that in the United States more than 10,000,000 people reside or work on 70,000,000 acres of land that is subject to flooding. The estimates of flood damage in the United States vary from 250,000,000 dollars to 1,000,000,000 dollars a year. There, flood mitigation has assumed very large proportions in government expenditure. It is estimated that to date more than 5,000,000,000 dollars has been spent in flood mitigation, and estimates by the various authorities of expenditure needed in this field amount to 50 American billion dollars. I cite those enormous figures to show that although we have a large problem in this country it is by no means insuperable, nor is it out of proportion to the problems faced by other prosperous advancing and developing nations.
The next subject I would like to discuss is the matter of authority. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has deplored the view that has been taken in time past by Government supporters that the States should be asked to accept responsibility of tackling the problem of flooding. I have referred to the fact that the Tasmanian Government did not balk at this responsibility and did an effective job in Launceston. It is easy for a party which has as its platform the abolition of State governments to take that attitude, but it is another matter to get high responsibility accepted and distributed throughout the nation, particularly among those people who live where the problem is most acute. For instance, in the United States, which has had federation for a great number of years longer than we have had it, the Federal Government has assumed exclusive responsibility only since 1936.
I would ask honorable members opposite to note that in the United States, where this responsibility has been, as I have said, a federal matter since 1936, it was the United States Corps of Engineers - the counterpart of the Royal Engineers - which began systematically gathering the needed data on storm rainfall in that same year. That force to-day does virtually all the work of flood mitigation in the United States. It employs civilians, both professional workers and non-skilled workers, to act under military direction. Its young men - its budding engineers - go out under a nation-wide network of control and direction to obtain an overall view of the problem. They are infused and fired with the challenge of the situation and so we see some enormous and far-sighted schemes coming into operation in that country. Contrast that situation with the situation that has pertained everywhere in Austrafia until comparatively recently and in most places until now.
There is an astonishing variety of authorities in this field. For example, the situation in the Hunter valley has been described to me by a leading authority as a complete schemozzle. He has told me that there are at least ten different authorities with a finger in that pie. On the other hand, as far as the Hawkesbury River is concerned, it is remarkable that nobody seems to care at all. As I pointed out in a question yesterday, in 150 years of settlement the Hawkesbury has suffered more than 50 damaging floods. Despite that, nobody has bothered to record even the levels reached by the floods, let alone other vital details such as stream velocities and flood wave characteristics. But no doubt there are reasons for this in the political field which I will not canvass.
What happens in New South Wales? After serious floods the State Government bestirs itself and begins sporadic activity through one of its many departments and through its commissions and councils, except, of course, in relation to the Hawkesbury. Only in the last eight years has anything of note been tackled. In that time £4,500,000 has been spent, mainly on the north coast of New South Wales but instead of tackling each valley as an integral unit and joining all efforts in meeting the challenge, for the most part a river and its environment are parcelled out among departments in a way that to me as a layman in this field seems almost ludicrous. For instance, up to tidal limits responsibility is the province of the Department of Public Works. Above that part of the river that is influenced by the tides it is the province of the irrigation commission. On the banks of the river the Forestry Commission and the Soil Conservation Service have their interest, and the Department of Agriculture is interested in the flats. I could refer also, among other things, to the meteorological interest. According to the experts, the major need is for robust authoritative unified direction of work in each valley under skilled professional hydrological engineers.
This brings me to the first hurdle. It is easy to speak of things being done in Australia these days but everything comes back to the problem of finding the necessary skilled staff. Where do we get these engineers? Only one university in Australia trains them to-day. That is the University of New South Wales. Professor Munro of that university said to me recently that the supply of trained men in this field is absolutely ridiculous. Only three fullytrained hydrological engineers are at present working on the task of flood mitigation.
Other professional interests of course have great appeal. I have in mind the enticing glamour of nuclear physics, radio astronomy and space travel for instance. When we realize that more and more of our budding engineers are being led away from what is after all one of the most rewarding and important professional fields we should take time off to think about the matter. We must get more trained men in this as in so many other areas of national development, and this means attracting young graduates.
The kind of constructive proposition I would like to place before the House to-night is that an immediate first step on this level of manpower should be the provision of a number of Commonwealth scholarships reserved for post-graduate training of engineers in hydrology, just as the New South Wales Department of Main Roads makes money available for postgraduate training of engineers in its field. That is only one of dozens of instances that could be mentioned. In recent years the federal Government has shown tremendous wisdom in establishing a hydrometeorology service. This action on the part of the Government contrasts with the claim made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that we are something of a Johnnycomelately in this field. But the hydrometeorology service cannot get staff. The Macleay District Council is advertising and writing to universities in an attempt to get men, but without success. I understand that this is a typical situation.
What is to be done about flood mitigation? The expenditure foreshadowed in the bill before us relates only, at the most, to those floods which can be expected to occur once in ten years. It may be worth taking a few moments to explain some of the terms used in this field so that we may understand them. Hydrological engineers describe floods in categories of their likely frequency. They refer to a flood in terms of the number of years that are likely to elapse before a similar flood recurs. Thus they speak about a l-in-3 years flood, a l-in-4 years flood, a l-in-10 years flood and the very extreme type of l-in-100 years flood. Only the very smallest amount of mitigation of these major l-in-100 years floods is contemplated in any of the areas of activity covered by this bill. As ever in the expenditure of public moneys, the question is: Will the economic result of this operation justify the expenditure? In other words, will the benefits exceed the cost?
The first and most important field - I think perhaps most neglected field - in approaching the problem of our floods is flood forecasting. This afternoon we heard the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) cite some most interesting figures of a recent successful flood forecast on the Macleay River. Flood forecasting gives by far the highest benefit to cost ratio. With 48 hours’ warning of a flood and of the actual characteristics of a flood it is possible to reduce damage by as much as 25 per cent., but it is emphasized that there must be good and reliable information as well as an early warning. It is easy to cry wolf. Once this has been done it is hard to establish confidence, and the next time when the warning may be accurate people may not take the necessary precautions.
A start has been made on flood forecasting on the Macleay River, but it is only a start. At our present rate of progress it will take us 150 years to reach American standards. One could add an aside at this point. Considering the way in which the United States has progressed since 1936, surely in a vital national service like this our own Army engineers could be put to practical use in building roads to otherwise inaccessible points for the purpose of stream gauging and flow measurement, and building bridges in useful places instead of on the field, from which they must be removed next day so that the field can be restored to normal. If we get back to a form of national training, young embryo engineers could learn to face this challenge at first hand, as they do in the United States, in this useful setting, and go back to equip themselves in our universities as professional hydrological engineers.
It should not pass unnoticed that only two or three weeks ago the Australian Water Resources Council, another farsighted creation of the Commonwealth Government which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would have us imagine has been doing nothing in this field until now, decided to spend £4,000,000 on a national hydrological network of data collection stations. This has been described by those who are in a position to assess its value as an epoch-making decision. But it must be remembered that the aim of this body is directed as much to conservation as to flood mitigation. One could not help but feel that the honorable member for Werriwa spoke a great deal about conservation when envisaging what could be done in this field and that he did not direct himself entirely to mitigation.
The actual task of mitigating a flood consists of many parts or sectors. For instance, part of the activity could be in building dams or levees, in improving the flow characteristics in the streams, in building channels to drain swamps or areas of blockage or to short-cut unnecessary lengths of channel, in decreasing the run-off in catchment areas and so on. But from the Government’s point of view the governing principle in tackling this problem is the relation of cost to benefits received. In their submission to the State and Federal Governments for assistance the councils whose combined flood areas exceed 5,500,000 acres have cited some figures which we should bear in mind. For instance, they have told us that for an expenditure of £5,500,000 there would be a possible increase in their average annual production of more than £9,000,000. That is a return of 180 per cent, per annum and sounds like good business.
Why, then, is this not being tackled locally? Why is it necessary to go through the various channels and to make all the appeals that have been made and which have made such inroads on the generosity and good-will of the people of the local areas - appeals that long have been made to State governments and finally to the Federal Government for its blessing? A great deal has been done in a small local way in some areas sufficient to deplete the resources of local councils and farmers’ organizations to such a degree as to produce a state of near despondency. Indeed, much of the work could do more harm than good in the short run, because small works in one area could well increase the problem at another point.
The task needs an overall single concerted effort, valley by valley. To integrate this activity there should be an overall authority for each valley somewhat along the lines of the United States Tennessee Valley Authority. If a dam is to be built, for instance, it would almost certainly be planned by such an authority as a multipurpose dam bringing together such functions as water conservation, flood control, hydro-electricity generation, the use to which it could be put for irrigation and so on. In Australia our dam building has been notably defective in this regard. A good example is to be found in New South Wales where the Warragamba dam was rushed ahead by the Sydney Water Board as a single purpose dam with no thought whatever being given to the welfare of the valley as a whole. The principal aim was to avoid criticism arising out of water restrictions in Sydney where, if you wanted to water your roses, you had to hold the hose in your hand. Mr. J. R. Burton has cited the fact that of twenty major dams built in Australia over the past 35 years only two have revealed any form of prior economic analysis of their justification and design. In any case, in both of these cases the height of the dam was determined on other grounds.
Turning to the bill which is before us, the Commonwealth Government is making a total of £2,750,000 available to augment local and State funds for flood mitigation in six prescribed valleys in New South Wales. The funds are to be available over a period of six years from 1st July, 1963. This is, of course, only a small amount in relation to the task but despite all that has been said it is an historic departure on the part of the Commonwealth which will give new hope and vigour to many people and repay the nation many times in salvage from damage and in increased production.
The intention is to provide some measure of mitigation in all but the major l-in-100 years floods. No one can foresee the behaviour of rivers and floods. There are many examples of erratic behaviour. I could mention, for instance, the Burrinjuck dam in Australia which was designed originally for a peak spillway discharge of 80,000 cusecs - cubic feet per second - based on the best available data, but immediately the dam was completed a discharge of 387,000 cusecs was recorded.
Let me refer now to the method by which this grant will be made available. As it is expected that in progressive years after the proposed work is under way there will be a steady increase in local productivity and so in financial returns, it could be argued that the Commonwealth should make larger sums available -at the beginning of the period and taper off towards the end rather than provide for a steady rate of contribution. Many considerations point to this as possibly a more useful and efficient method of procedure. I trust that it will receive some further consideration from the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt).
I would not like to suggest that the entire work of flood mitigation be taken over by the Commonwealth Government. Undoubtedly there are certain responsibilities in the federal sphere, particularly in this great task of gathering factual data about our hydrological situation. The value, of course, is not only in relation to floods but also in relation to water conservation. A national enterprise is needed to gain more information and, happily, the Commonwealth has embarked on just this enterprise. The first priority, from world experience, is the gathering of adequate data. Australia has a very serious lack here and, as I have said before, is about 150 years behind the United States of America in this respect.
May I now direct attention to the actual situation in the Macleay valley. This area U the most developed so far. It is the best investigated and its proposals envisage protection, not for everything up to the one in 100 floods, or even, to the one in ten, but only for the one in four. This is for an area of 100,000 acres only, plus Kempsey of 8,000 people. Much of the real damage comes from larger floods than that.
What has been investigated in the Macleay valley so far? In 1951-52, the New South Wales Government obtained what is known as the Jacka report. This was an inspection rather than an investigation. The Macleay River County Council has since gathered more data but only in pockets and only for the lower valley. Very little data has been gathered concerning the upper valley and the catchment area.
I shall make just a comment on this lack of data. No precise economic estimates have so far been made as to flood damage. For example, it is not possible for the experts to prepare in relation to the Macleay or any of these other rivers what is known as a stage-to-damage curve; that is, the stage of flood to the expected damage, which was one of the things done early in the
Launceston development. In terms of rainfall data which, of course, is one of the very important factors, this again is very scanty, yet it is a basis for flood forecasting. In the Macleay area, it is based on records of only five years taken from 26 rain gauges which are read only once a day - at 9 a.m. There are only three recording-type gauges and only intermittent records are available from them. The total area covered by them in gauging the rainfall is only 70 per cent, of the catchment. So the best we can say is that there is sketchy information available regarding rainfall data.
But when it comes to stream flow data, which is the other side of the picture when you come forecasting floods, the story is even sadder. There are fewer than ten measuring stations on streams in 4,300 square miles. Most of them are in a very small area at the upper end of the valley. There are only two instruments in the lower valley that can measure real floods and these records have been kept for only five years. There is a system of stream flow at Kempsey which is rated to 140,000 cusecs and then is extrapolated by guesswork up to 500,000. The other is at Bellbrook and is rated to only 5,500 cusecs. This again is extrapolated to 500,000. So, in view of this very sketchy information at the beginning of a curve which can be relied upon, it is a very great compliment to the skill and ingenuity of the engineers that they have been able to carry on these experiments of forecasting floods as accurately as undoubtedly they have done.
However, in this age and generation we require the very latest information and methods possible if we are to engage in this experiment with anything like confidence. Nobody knows even the basal facts. For example, nobody knows what is the mean annual flow of the Macleay River, let alone its flood characteristics and behaviour. The Weather Bureau thinks that the maximum possible flooding in the Macleay would give a height of possibly 30 feet at the Kempsey gauge, and the mitigation measures we are tackling are certainly for less than 18 feet.
In conclusion, I applaud the decision of the Government to get into this great and important battle. Let the Commonwealth now take steps to ensure that we have the facts and then lead every one in the nation above party politics to think of bringing this vital part of our nation into full production and our people into a state of confidence, security and prosperity.
.- I rise to support this bill. Its title is the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Bill 1964, but I think it should really be known as the Frank McGuren Memorial Bill because Mr. Frank McGuren, who was formerly the honorable member for Cowper, can accept the full credit for the presentation of this legislation to the Parliament. Although, as I have indicated, Mr. McGuren is no longer a member of this House, he can claim with complete justification that he was the one person in this Parliament who was responsible for moving the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to give some support to flood mitigation in New South Wales. I hope this will be the forerunner of measures for flood mitigation in other States.
The recently elected honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) is smirking at my mention of Mr. McGuren. Let us consider what the honorable member did to obtain Commonwealth assistance for flood mitigation in his electorate when he was a member of the New South Wales Parliament. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said earlier in this debate, the honorable member did very little in that regard. All he tried to do was to embarrass the New South Wales Government in this matter without calling upon the Commonwealth Government to give its assistance.
The House has just heard the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) give a sermon-cum-lecture on what the Commonwealth Government should be doing towards flood mitigation. The honorable member also told the House what another federal government - the Government of the United States of America - had done f ards solving this problem. The honorable member said that the United States Corps of Engineers had done a great deal of work in America for flood mitigation. This is only in conformity with the claims that have been made by the Opposition - and in particular by Mr. McGuren - that flood mitigation is the responsibility of the federal body. We say it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth to assist the States in this matter. After all, is the United States Corps of Engineers a State body? Of course it is not. Are its functions financed by the State governments of the United States? Of course not. The corps is financed by the United States Government itself by grants from Congress in the normal way that the whole defence expenditure of the United States is financed. We believe, as the honorable member for Evans has said, that it is the responsibility of federal governments to go to the aid of States and to co-ordinate, if necessary, their activities in flood mitigation.
That was done with the Murray River. The Commonwealth went to the assistance of Western Australia with funds for the Ord River project. Consider the confusion that existed before the Chifley Government succeeded in establishing the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. There was no uniformity of action as between the States. The Commonwealth Government had to step in to establish the Snowy Mountains Authority, which has done a great job, not for flood mitigation in this case but in the conservation of water. What is the difference between the two kinds of project, anyway? Australia is the driest continent in the world, yet we do less about water conservation than does any other country. This Government must accept the responsibility for this inaction. It cannot throw the responsibility on the State Governments.
The whole problem of floods, droughts and water conservation must be tackled on a national basis. It must be accepted as the full responsibility of this Parliament and must not be thrust upon the States. Supporters of the Government have said that the Commonwealth has given so much to the New South Wales Government by way of tax reimbursements and loan allocations. They have said “ Let New South Wales do the work with some of that money “. It has been clearly shown on numerous occasions by the States that they have not the money because sufficient is not being allocated to them.
A press statement which appeared to-day said that this Government may be very generous at the meeting if State Premiers which sits here to-morrow ,.j increase their allocation by £5,000,00u. That is very good. It is excellent. But how far does £5,000,000 go to-day? I invite the Government to look at its own estimates for its own Budget. The position is that this matter is the responsibility of this Government which should give assistance to the States to enable them to co-ordinate their activities, works and planning, and, where necessary, to give technical assistance of the type referred to by the honorable member for Evans. The States should be given technical assistance whenever and wherever possible, even if it involves bringing in engineers from the Army or other services. I have no objection to that being done; in fact, I think the time for it is long overdue.
The honorable member stated that it was only in the last eight years that any work of this nature had been carried out on the New South Wales rivers. All I say to him is that it has been a Labour Government that has been responsible for carrying out that work. If the honorable member examines the New South Wales records for the years prior to that period he will see that the anti-Labour governments of New South Wales did nothing about the problem, other than to arrange for drainage unions. These unions were created by the people in the areas affected. They made a contribution of an agreed amount, which was based on the unimproved capital value of their land. In many cases, they made that contribution of £40, £50 or £60 each year. That was the Australian Country Party’s solution to the problem of flooding of the coastal rivers.
We of the Australian Labour Party have nothing to be ashamed of in respect of the work that has been done by the New South Wales Labour Government towards flood mitigation in the coastal areas of New South Wales. That government has given assistance and is continuing to give assistance. I suggest that the Federal Government has taken too long to make up its mind about the type of assistance it will give and in replying to the representations for assistance that have been made by the New South Wales Government representatives for a number of years. It was only the fact that this Government had a majority of only two and that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had made up his mind to go to the country to ask the people for a vote of confidence that influenced the Government to give some assistance. The Prime Minister was then throwing and splashing about as much money as he could. Honorable members will recall that bill after bill was presented to this Parliament and that in introducing those bills the Government was conducting an election campaign at the cost of the taxpayers. The bills that were brought into this Parliament were shoved through night after night. One could not keep pace with the legislation coming before us to be disposed of. Flood mitigation was the subject of only one of the measures.
I want to deal with some of the statements made in this chamber in opposition to Commonwealth aid for flood mitigation. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) who has just walked into the chamber, on one occasion, in reply to an interjection, said that people who had received flood relief had’ used the money to purchase motor cars and to buy new homes. If honorable members care to cheek his statement in “ Hansard “ they will find that that is what he said.
– Will you say who made the interjection?
– Do you think I am Methuselah and know all the answers? Do you deny that you made the statement that persons in receipt of flood relief used the money to buy motor cars?
– Order! The honorable member will address the Chair.
– Yes, Sir. I address that remark to the honorable member for Macarthur through >ou, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should like to refer to the debate on 4th October, 1962, on the Treasury estimates when the then honorable member for Cowper, Mr. Frank McGuren, moved -
That the amount of the vote - “Department of the Treasury, £66,442,000 “-be reduced by £1-
As an instruction to the Government -
To make an immediate grant on a £1 for £1 basis with the New South Wales Government for the urgent and imperative work being carried out by the county councils to mitigate and control the frequent and disastrous floods in the northern rivers of New South Wales, in order to preserve the valuable production of the great north coast (arming areas and prevent the heavy economic losses which follow these floods.
A full-scale debate took place on that amendment. The honorable members for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) all came in and had quite a deal to say about it. I am pleased to see that the honorable member for Richmond has now walked into the chamber. Let us look at one little part of the speech made by the honorable member for Richmond in the course of that debate. I think it is very good to recite these facts and to remind honorable members opposite of what they said in opposition to Commonwealth assistance for flood mitigation. On 4th October, 1962, the honorable member for Richmond, speaking in opposition to the amendment that I have just read, said -
Let me follow on. It is all right to make these suggestions. It is all right to encourage people along a certain line of .thinking; but it is a pretty poor show to do so when you know there is no chance of them getting the money they want from the sources you say they should get it. . . .
The honorable member criticized the proposal and said that it was a waste of money. He continued -
He is saying, in effect, that it is the State Government’s responsibility and that it is not a federal responsibility. He continued -
After having been answered by honorable members on this side of the chamber the honorable member for Cowper, who was trying to win political kudos, realized that the biter had been bitten. When he rose to make his speech in reply to the debate on the amendment we immediately saw a changed man; we saw a desperate man who realized that he was going to lose very valuable support which he had been able to gain in his area by hoodwinking the people in that part of the world.
I ask: Who was right and who was wrong? Who was hoodwinking the people? Was it the honorable member for Richmond who, as I said, has just come into the chamber? His statements indicated the attitude of the Government in 1962. At that stage the Prime Minister had not decided to hold a general election and was not out vote chasing as he was late.- on. It is remarkable how these people can change in a matter of twelve months and how a person who was completely opposed to Federal assistance for flood mitigation can come into this chamber and direct a Dorothy Dix-er to the Prime Minister. When speaking on this subject on 11th October, 1963, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said, among other things -
The next Labour Government will match the expenditure of the New South Wales State Government on flood mitigation on the coastal rivers of the State.
The report continues -
Mr. Calwell said that the New South Wales Government was paying £2 for every £1 expended by local authorities on the work. “ It is imperative that the Federal Government should now play its part. At present it is failing to measure up to its responsibilities.
That is part of a statement issued to the press on 11th October, but on the 17th October, 1963, a Dorothy Dix-er came from the honorable member for Richmond addressed to the Prime Minister, who then changed his attitude, notwithstanding the fact that only one year and thirteen days earlier all honorable members on the other side of the chamber had voted against the amendment submitted by Frank McGuren. The honorable member for Richmond was against it, as was the honorable member for Macarthur and the honorable member for Lyne, just to mention a few who shortly will be rising in this chamber to tell the people of Australia what a great Government this is, how much they support the legislation and how much work this Government will do. I repeat that the bill should not be called the New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Bill. It should be known as the Frank McGuren Memorial Bill because of the work he did to force the Government to do something about flood mitigation on the north coast of New South Wales.
– He will be back again.
– That is true. When the people realize the worth of the man they elected recently and see that he will do only as much for them as was done by one of their previous representatives, Sir Earle Page, Frank McGuren will be back again. A wealth of evidence is available to show the great need for Commonwealth assistance in flood mitigation work on the north coast of New South Wales, and also in areas of Queensland. Statistics in relation to disastrous floods in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and, for that matter, in every State in the Commonwealth are available. There is not a great deal that mankind can do to prevent flooding completely, but we can construct dams of various types, erect levee banks and the like so that floods may be controlled. If those measures are not possible, at least something can be done to see that flood waters are got rid of much more quickly.
The case prepared by the county councils of the north coast of New South Wales is very clear. The honorable member for Evans quoted some figures supplied by various county councils. I have prepared a table which summarizes the case prepared by the county councils and shows the estimated cost of the various schemes and the annual production of each area. With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate it in “ Hansard “ -
– What is the State putting forward?
– The honorable member for Cowper has asked what contribution is to be made by the New South Wales Government towards the estimated total cost of the scheme, which is £5,397,000. The New South Wales Government made up its mind where it stood on this matter long before this Government made up its mind. It has decided to subsidize local contributions on the basis of £2 for £1 - that is, £2 for every £1 raised by the local county councils. The honorable member for Cowper knows that to be a fact.
– He should know it, at any rate.
Mr. JONES__ He should know it, but
I doubt now that he does. Approximately half the holdings on the New South Wales north coast have been affected by flooding, so about half the people who earn their living from the land in that area will receive assistance from the scheme. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has agreed that the scheme is satisfactory, but it took him a considerable time to do so. It took an election to make the Prime Minister realize that something had to be done to win votes in the electorate of Cowper and in other electorates.
I believe that the case prepared by the county councils and presented to the Parliament is an excellent one. The councils should be congratulated on their work. One important point must be borne in mind. The case prepared clearly discloses that upon receipt of the assistance requested production in the area will increase, in round figures, from £9,000,000 to £18,000,000 annually. This means that the Treasury, which is to allocate an amount of £2,750,000 over the next six years, will receive in income tax from the increased production - calculated on the assumption that the taxpayers will pay tax at the rate of 5s. in the £1 - extra revenue of £2,250,000. Had it not been for the election, the Government would not have been prepared to give any assistance, but it would still have been prepared to accept increased revenue from income tax as a result of increased production through a scheme to which it did not wish to contribute. The New South Wales Government had nothing to gain in increased revenue by the introduction of the scheme, yet it was prepared to contribute on the basis of £2 for £1 towards it.
The Hunter River flows through my electorate. Whilst occasionally we suffer from flooding, we do not suffer damage anywhere near the extent of that caused at Maitland, Raymond Terrace and other Hunter valley towns. Obviously there is a great need for something to be done about flood mitigation. Between 1908 and 1960 there were 32 major floods which rose above 27 feet at the Belmore bridge at Maitland, where most of the measurements for the Hunter River are taken. It is difficult to assess the damage which has been done by floods in the Hunter Valley. It is difficult to assess the number of lives lost through flooding. The most disastrous flood occurred in February, 1955, when the damage was estimated to be between £10,000,000 and £15,000,000. I have some cuttings from newspapers of that time which set out the cost to the governments of flood relief. On 5th March, 1955, in a report of a statement by the then Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, there was a reference to a Commonwealth grant of more than £10,000,000 for flood relief. It was not only a grant. That figure included the cost involved in making available the services of the Army, the Air Force and various organizations to assist the people affected. The Federal Government made a grant of £1 for every £1 granted by the New South Wales Government, which, added to the cost of the services made available, made a total cost to the Federal Government of £10,000,000. Figures are not available of the cost to the State Government. I have a cutting of 8th March, 1955, which stated that the Commonwealth and State Governments were to make £1,750,000 available for flood relief, and that this amount was in addition to money to be provided for special loans to primary producers through the Rural Bank. Those loans had to be repaid by the primary producers, and the governments were not involved.
At Maitland the Hunter River flooded eight times in a little over twelve months. Many of the farmers in that area did not harvest a crop for eighteen months because of the floods. In six weeks their farms were flooded three times. If honorable members care to study the newspaper headlines of those times they will find that flood damage has been brought to the attention of the Federal Government and the State Government on many occasions. They have been made aware of the great need to do something about flood mitigation in the affected areas. The New South Wales Labour Government has attempted to do something in the Hunter valley by establishing the Hunter Valley Conservation Trust comprised of representatives from all government departments which could be interested, such as the Department of Public Works, the Department of Agriculture, the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission, the Forestry Commission, and the Soil Conservation Service. On it also are three members elected by the aldermen of the sixteen councils which contribute to the cost, and five representatives of rural organizations within the valley.
This Hunter Valley Conservation Trust can do the job if it has the finance. It is the co-ordinating authority to which the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) referred. It co-ordinates the activities of the various State departments and I agree with the honorable member when he says that it was ludicrous to have three different organizations controlling work in the Hunter River valley as was the position formerly. There is need to give assistance in soil conservation, re-aforestation and so on, and by co-ordinating all these activities the problems resulting from flooding can be overcome or alleviated. The run-off can be either prevented or held back and in this way the effects of flooding reduced.
Some thing is being done in the Hunter valley, but much more would be done if the Federal Government would come to the assistance of the State Government instead of just playing politics as it has been doing for a considerable time in its endeavour to embarrass the Labour Government of the State by withholding funds from it. There is need for an authority similar to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which could be charged with the responsibility of examining each river basin. It cannot be said that we do not have flood problems, storage problems and conservation problems in all the major river valleys of this nation.
Examinations by an authority comprised of people interested in the various activities would disclose what conservation and irrigation benefits could be expected from the carrying out of certain flood mitigation works. Therefore, I believe that it is not unreasonable to suggest that the Federal Government should become a party to some new scheme, to the establishment of some new authority to examine river basin after river basin and to work out how best the problems associated with flooding can be overcome. Under such a scheme, too, the Commonwealth’s contribution would be forthcoming automatically. Whether it should be on a £1 for £1 basis with the States or on some different ratio is not important; the important thing is that under such a scheme the Federal Government and the State governments of the nation could get together to work out solutions to these problems.
Something is being done by this bil] to help overcome the problems associated with flooding, and I hope that what is proposed in this legislation is only the forerunner of many more similar schemes. I hope that this legislation will be the foundation for the establishment by this Government, in conjunction with the State governments and their instrumentalities, of an authority which will bring to a consideration of this problem the best advice that is available not only in Australia but from overseas, because knowledge of what has been done in other countries to deal with flooding would be invaluable. I therefore support this legislation although I believe that it is really too little, too late.
Something should have been done years ago. In any case, the proposed . grant should be much greater than £2,750,000. It should be sufficient to relieve the burden on the ratepayers who are expected to contribute 20 per cent, of the cost on the northern rivers and about 16 per cent, of the cost in the Hunter valley. The Federal and State Governments should make the contributions because they will get the greatest amount of revenue from the work, as was disclosed in the figures prepared by the county councils on the north coast. The State and the nation will derive the greatest benefit through the increased productivity that will result. We hear much talk about productivity and export earnings. This is one way of encouraging increased productivity and, in turn, increased export earnings because, in the main, the products of the areas affected are exported. On the ;oast dairy produce, sheep, wool and other exports are produced. Therefore we will derive increased benefits by way of increased tax revenue and increased export earnings from increased productivity in the area. I repeat that we fully support the move even though it is not quite enough and it comes a little late.
– I rise to speak on what is regarded in my electorate and by myself as one the most important measures that could ever come before this National Parliament. First, I want to say that to-night we are dealing with the future well-being of more than 200,000 good citizens of Australia who live along the river valleys of the eastern coast of this continent. I think that it is a dreadful reflection on this Parliament that there should have been an intrusion of party politics into this debate. Some of the references made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) contributed nothing to a solution of the grave problem that we are considering. First let me refer to his very detailed analysis of what he believes occurred in this matter during the past two years. He very conveniently forgot to recount what has happened in New South Wales in the past 25 years or so, and that is the crux of any consideration of this matter.
Let me tell the House that, as is very well known in New South Wales, floods on the northern rivers of that State have been a constant source of difficulty, disadvantage and encumbrance for a quarter of a century. Indeed, they hampered the early development and settlement of this very important region of the Commonwealth of Australia. The tenacity of the local settlers in coping with this problem justified worth-while assistance at government level, and 25 years ago, the then State governments did a very good job in laying the foundations of the work that was needed to maintain settlement along the river valleys of the east coast of this continent. I believe that a great deal of credit must go to those governments, which came from the political parties which now comprise this side of this National Parliament. But what they did was not followed up in the period from the immediate post-war era until now. Immediately following the war, one of the first proposals put forward related to flood mitigation on the northern rivers of New South Wales. This proposal met with absolute rejection by an apathetic State Labour Government. I believe that this aspect must come under scrutiny now in view of what has been said here to-night.
My interest in this matter goes back to a very early age. To me it has been a matter of personal as well as political interest. My own family lived on a flood plain. I myself was born on a property which has been constantly ravaged by floods. At this very moment there is flood water over this property and over many hundreds of other properties on the northern rivers of New South Wales. This very night there are farmers along the river valleys of the east coast of New South Wales who are suffering tragic losses. This matter is no political football to be kicked around in any parliament, State or Federal, in an attempt to evade the real responsibilities which should be faced.
Let me recount briefly what flood mitigation work has been done since the war. First of all, in 1943 we experienced some flooding on the northern rivers. In 1944 a serious flood occurred there. Then in 1945, a very serious flood occurred and it was at that point of time that the New South Wales Government undertook a survey of requirements following what had been done in the pre-war period when some hundreds of thousands of pounds had been spent on each of the rivers of the north coast of New South Wales as a start on the task of flood mitigation. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) vaguely passed that off as nothing more than the formation of a few drainage unions. I want to tell him that had it not been for this work, perhaps half the settled area of the river valleys of northern New South Wales would not have been settled. It would not have been possible for farms to be established had it not been for the work done at that early stage. It was a very commendable effort indeed and one that certainly should not be criticised in the way in which the honorable member criticised it. In many instances the Government contributed 100 per cent, of the funds required, and it did so in a way that was different from the system we see operating to-day under which the ratepayers are being flogged in order to meet a portion of responsibility for this vital work.
Let me refer briefly to the progress of events in this matter from 1948. At that time Mr. McGirr, the Premier of New South Wales, appointed a committee to investigate each of the rivers of northern New South Wales. The work of the committee continued spasmodically until 1953. During that time there were some minor floods. On one or two of the rivers the floods that occurred could perhaps be classified as serious ones. In 1954 a very disastrous flood occurred and this occasioned the Government of New South Wales to speed up the investigations which had been going on for eight or nine years to that point of time. I well remember that period because I had just entered the Parliament of New South Wales. I was unable to attend the declaration of the poll in my electorate for thirteen or fourteen days because of flood conditions. Impassable roads prevented me from reaching the office of the returning officer for the declaration of the poll. I began my political life in New South Wales during a flood.
It was a cheap comment on the part of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) to say that according to his inquiries “ Hansard “ shows only two references to my personal concern in the matter of floods. My approach to this matter during ten years in the New South Wales Parliament was not of a destructive kind at all. I did not choose to get up and move in the Parliament of New South Wales motions of a nature which would contribute nothing to the progress of this important work. I spoke constructively when the appropriate opportunity arose, during debates on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, Budget debates and the like. I did not choose a course of action which would amount to nothing more than playing politics with this issue. Nevertheless, I was able to do no small amount of work in connexion with this important matter. My intention was to adopt a course which would produce worthwhile results in the field of flood mitigation.
There was need for an authority to carry out flood mitigation work. Up to that point of time there was no relevant authority in New South Wales other than the Hunter valley authority. I advocated that the matter should come within the province of local government. I also advocated the establishment of county councils to carry out flood mitigation work. I believe that that early proposal in the Parliament of New South Wales for the setting up of county councils made it possible for us to reach the stage that we have reached to-day. I think that that was a constructive approach to this problem. When I raised what might be termed this historic aspect of the matter I was supported by my colleagues from the north coast of New South Wales - all members of the Australian Country Party. This was a matter which was forced through, so far as New South Wales was concerned, by the Country Party, despite the reluctance of the government of the day to support this necessary work.
The question of finance arose, of course, and proposals were advanced regarding the kind of financial assistance that would be reasonable to meet the need for flood mitigation. Again, a mere pittance was offered for the early work of the county councils. Concurrently with that situation, there were many who said that the Commonwealth Government should make a contribution in this field, and that in turn raised the question of ways and means. After many conferences and discussions it was proposed that a special approach should be made to the Commonwealth under section 96 of the Constitution. At the very time that that course of action was being proposed the Government of New South Wales, through the Premier, was sending to the Prime Minister a letter stating that it would like a £1 for £1 contribution for flood mitigation in New South Wales, with a .limit to its contribution at the level of £300,000. The proposition did not state for bow long the scheme was to continue, the particular works on which the money was to be expended, the nature of the scheme, or anything else. It was a typical attempt to side-track this important project.
The motion to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred earlier to-night and which was rejected in this chamber last year was a continuation of the kind of approach I have just mentioned. Those who made it did not present a positive case. They did not indicate the total amount of funds required, nor did they set out a positive plan for the work. Accordingly, the proposal was eliminated from serious consideration under section 96 of the Constitution. Those are the facts of the matter. I believe that the credit for the work that is being done in this field must go in the first place to the representatives of local government bodies who formed the flood mitigation county councils on the northern rivers of New South Wales. Their persistence and tenacity resulted in the Government of New South Wales agreeing last year, for the first time, to submit to th: Commonwealth a proper case, couched in terms that indicated the nature of the scheme proposed, the cost, the economics and the engineering requirements, together with information on which the Government could take some proper action. That was the first occasion on which such a case had been presented and I believe it is a reflection on honorable members opposite who have spoken in such glowing terms of my predecessor in this place, that they have overlooked this particular aspect of the bill before the House.
The bill we are discussing clearly sets out the action that is required to comply with section 96 of the Constitution. The legislation will regularize proposals of the Government to make funds available to the State of New South Wales under a special purposes grant. Similar legislation will be required in New South Wales. There are precedents for legislation of this kind and those precedents were well-known in this House at the time when the motion that was referred to earlier was moved. In my opinion, that motion was a deliberate attempt to embarrass the government of the day and to engage in politics people who were prepared to work in the interests of flood mitigation in New South Wales, particularly along the northern rivers. Criticism of my colleagues the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), is, of course, nothing more than a joke to the people of the northern rivers district, because they know full well what those honorable members did in an endeavour to have this matter looked at in a positive and proper fashion. References to the Country Party, which were made earlier by the Opposition, are just a continuation of what, so far as I am concerned, is sheer humbug in this matter.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition chose to end his contribution to the debate on this bill in an extraordinary manner. He mentioned an Army camp at Grafton and the location of Army equipment used in flood time, and then, to make a complete joke of what he said, he alluded to another matter which occurred elsewhere to-day. I thought it was pretty poor that a reference of that kind should have been made at a time when this important measure was being discussed. Flood mitigation concerns the welfare of very good Australian families who live in our river valleys, and it is wrong for us to deal with this matter in any fashion other than one which takes into account the practical requirements and considerations and, above all else, is an honest endeavour to find a means of solving this great national problem.
Let me now speak briefly about the bill. This measure is a means of tackling the first stage of one of the greatest problems which we, in this country, face. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) indicated, in his second-reading speech, that the Government recognized that the work proposed in this measure will not eliminate floods, but merely mitigate the effect of flooding on the rivers where the work of flood mitigation is to be assisted financially under the provisions of this measure. This is a common practice, as honorable members know if they have studied the problems of floods, their effect and the methods of mitigation used in the older lands of the world such as Europe, the United States of America and, for that matter, other parts of Australia. In Europe, nations have grown through their fight to cope with the seas and floods. In the northern rivers district of New South Wales something of that nature is occurring to-day. It would be sheer folly to suppose that in this first work we would solve the great problems of flooding, flood waters and the destruction caused thereby. So to-night, in supporting this measure on behalf of my constituency and commending what has been done to bring about its introduction, I say that we regard it as a first step - the first stage - because much more will have to be done than is provided in this scheme.
This proposal, submitted by the councils through the Government of New South Wales, and agreed to by that Government, is recognized as being merely a mitigation work. It does not provide for dam construction, river diversion, the construction of major channels or anything of that nature. It provides for a system of drainage, the speeding up of the discharge of flood waters from the flood plain, and the reduction of the period of inundation. To some extent, it will eliminate minor floods; save hundreds of thousands of acres from loss in minor floods; moderate the loss of crops and pastures in major floods; and enable people to remain in their homes, which might otherwise have to be evacuated. This proposal will make it possible for communications to remain open when otherwise they would be closed. It will bring about a great change in the economy of the area to which it is to be applied.
The reference by the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who is no longer with us and whose interest in this subject is apparently limited to politics, to the taxation return which will come from this work is evidence of his complete lack of knowledge of the nature of the work and the results which will come from it. This first-stage work will not be the means of producing great prosperity for the area concerned. It will do no more than restore, to some extent, the prosperity which has been lost in recent years. It will not cause any great revolution - I do not want any one to be under any misapprehension in this regard - for the very good reason that, at the end of six years or probably even sooner we will require vastly more money for future expenditure on flood mitigation in the northern rivers district of New South Wales, than is provided in this programme. The reason is explained to some extent in the comments made by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay), who referred to the engineering problems and the great difficulties which have to be overcome in order successfully to mitigate or eliminate flooding.
We have in Australia to-day the engineering capacity and from the point of view of construction and the use of equipment, all the means necessary for us to carry out major works. But it would be ludicrous to suggest that we could do all the work in a short term- or in a fashion which would quickly completely overcome the problem. The work on the Snowy Mountains scheme in the last ten or fifteen years has taught us much. From all the knowledge we have gained in the execution of that vital work, we can learn some of the major requirements of river work, water conservation, river control and flood prevention - if I may use that term as distinct from flood mitigation.
In the course of time, we can reach that stage and my task, as the member for Cowper, will be to endeavour to ensure that, in the proper way and within the scope of the responsibility of both the State and the Commonwealth, there will be no slackening of effort and to see that we get on with this vital job. I hope that the political humbug which is spoken about who did something or who did not do something will be discontinued. For too long talk of that kind has been the reason for our failure to cope with this great problem. That has been the position for too long in New South Wales and - I am quite honest about this - for too long in the Commonwealth sphere. Because of the failure to have a proper case put before this Parliament this matter has drifted on. Reference was made to a former member for Cowper, the late right honorable Sir Earle Page. I suppose many honorable members in this chamber to-night can recall that he described the Gorge scheme on the Clarence River as the means of eliminating flooding on that river.
The Gorge scheme is one of many proposals of a similar kind, although not of the same magnitude, which can.be put forward in relation to the river systems of New South Wales, and particularly the coastal rivers. I hear an honorable member opposite say, “ Yes, it was put forward 40 years ago “. I want to say to him, and to remind this House, that in this matter it is futile for us to go on throwing pro1posals into the ring unless we have a positive approach and a scheme. Sir Earle
Page put forward a scheme. He often placed his proposals before this House, from an engineering point of view. I well remember the then Minister for Conservation in the New South Wales Parliament saying: “ This is nothing but a dream. Dr. Page is anxious to see a nice lake in front of his residence on the Clarence.” The Minister passed the thing off by saying, “I would not make engineers available to go into the details of this proposal, because it would be a waste of time to do so “. I hope the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will take the trouble to check that statement in “Hansard”.
A moment or two ago he made some play of the fact that he could not find, in “ Hansard “, things I had said. I hope that he will check what was said, in 1956 or about 1957, concerning proposals for flood mitigation on the Clarence River by the New South Wales Minister for Conservation, a member of his own party, and that he will look very closely at that background in this vital matter.
– Sir Earle Page went up by plane and-
– Our friends opposite talk about what happened in 1954 or at some other time. I should like to remind them of what was said in this chamber by a former Prime Minister who was an illustrious leader of the Australian Labour Party. When floods were ravaging the north coast of New South Wales between 1945 and 1948, Mr. Chifley said that flood mitigation was not a matter for the Commonwealth. He told the New South Wales Government that he could not help it to undertake flood mitigation works and he told the people of the northern rivers area that he could not help them. He was only making excuses. A little earlier, he had said that he could not use for this purpose the special powers that had been made available to him under certain legislation providing for post-war reconstruction. Those powers would have provided the means for flood mitigation, but Mr. Chifley said that the time was too late - that something might have been done if a scheme had been put forward earlier.
I hope that, if there is to be any detailed analysis of the history of this matter,
Opposition members will not fail to do a little soul-searching - that they will not fail to recall the sins of omission and commission of the New South Wales Government. In saying that, I do not criticize what has now been done. I want to be very clearly understood on that point. I am extremely grateful to those very worthy members of the New South Wales Public Service who have applied themselves to flood mitigation now that a positive scheme is available - now that positive proposals have been made and now that finance is available to enable the work to be carried out. I say also that, at present, the New South Wales Government is co-operating in the implementation of the work concerned. Its action is worthy of credit, and I give credit to the State Government, which, for so long, had been reluctant to act, and had failed to act, in this matter.
I hope that, from to-night on, anyway, the Opposition in this Parliament will be prepared to deal with flood mitigation as a matter worthy of practical appraisement and of debate not designed merely for political purposes. This evening, I could have said much that would have amounted to an attempt to intrude political considerations into this very vexed question. That sort of approach would not have helped. It would not have produced any more money for flood mitigation in New South Wales, and it would not have helped the farmers whose properties have been ravaged by floods or the other local residents who have suffered in various ways. Therefore, I am not interested in a political approach to the problem. My only interest is in a practical approach that will produce results.
I support this very worthy measure, Mr. Speaker. I commend the Government for the proposals embodied in the bill. I say to this House and to the nation that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) deserves praise for the manner in which he accepted the proposals that finally came from New South Wales within the terms of section 96 of the Constitution. The Commonwealth Government has speedily dealt with those proposals. It may be said that an election was in the offing. That is very true. It may be said, also, that on many other occasions the Government parties in this Parliament could have helped themselves politically by doing something more about this problem of flood mitigation. However, at those times the means were not available, because there was no positive and practical scheme. I conclude by saying that this measure, the first of its kind, relates to flood mitigation works in New South Wales because the New South Wales Government submitted the first proposals of this nature.
Debate (on motion by Mr. E. James Harrison) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Oppennan) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to detain the House very long. I rise to seek a reprieve for a hospital in New South Wales which is now under sentence of death, as it were. This hospital has existed for a long time, and now appears to be about to have its Commonwealth approval as a hospital taken from it as a result of an unreasonable attitude and unreasonable actions on the part of the Commonwealth Department of Health. This matter is of great concern to the Hughes electorate, since the hospital concerned is the only private one serving some 120,000 people in the area. In eight days, the Jacaranda Private Hospital at Cronulla, New South Wales, will close, unless-
– My daughter was born there.
– Yes, and many other notables have been born there. There is in my electorate a very strong sentimental attachment to this hospital on the part of relatives of the 3,000 children who have been born there and on the part of those whose loved ones have been treated there. On 23rd January, 1964, Dr. Louis J. Weinholt, Commonwealth Director of Health for New South Wales, wrote to the proprietress of the hospital stating that the department intended to close it. The House will be surprised to know the reasons for the Commonwealth’s action. It was taken because the hospital has been inclined to accommodate chronically-ill and long-term patients, particularly invalids and people who, unfortunately, are very ill for a long time. Because of this hospital’s regard for humanity, the Commonwealth Director of Health in New South Wales has decided to close the institution as a hospital. He wrote -
Following an inspection of the above premises on 16th May, 1963, you were advised in a letter of 29th May, 1963, that “the number of beds occupied by long term patients is such as to give serious doubt as to whether continuation of approval as an approved hospital should continue “.
A further inspection was made on 19th November, 1963, during which it was revealed that the position was virtually unchanged in that a high proportion of beds were occupied by chronic or long term patients of the type normally admitted to a nursing home.
Therefore, the approval of Jacaranda Private Hospital, Cronulla, N.S.W., as a hospital is revoked from the 20th March, 1964.
Jacaranda Private Hospital, Cronulla, N.S.W., is approved as a nursing home for the purposes of the National Health Act as from the 20th March, 1964. The approved bed capacity is 16 beds.
This matter should cause honorable members a great deal of concern, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether many other private hospitals are being closed by the Commonwealth for reasons similar to those that I have just disclosed. The Commonwealth’s action is very unfortunate. The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) should be well aware of the unfortunate consequences for many aged people and many chronically-ill persons who are long-term patients. A long-term patient is one who is accommodated in a hospital for six months or more. Patients in these categories find hospital accommodation in public institutions difficult to get. Insufficient funds are available to the States to provide all the hospital accommodation needed. It can fairly be said that many private hospitals do not come up to the standards of public hospitals, but, nevertheless, private hospitals generally fill a very important need in our community to-day.
The unfortunate thing for the patients who seem likely to be thrown out of the Jacaranda Private Hospital if it closes in eight days’ time is that they will have nowhere to go. The constituency that I happen to represent is very close to the Garrawarra Hospital at Waterfall, which has been established by the New South Wales Government for the express purpose of caring for aged persons and chronicallyill people. The Garrawarra hospital does a very fine job, and some hundreds of people are accommodated there but the hospital is full to capacity. The people now being hospitalized in the Jacaranda hospital - which is under threat of closure - have nowhere else to go, so far as the various doctors who have written to me on this subject are aware.
One thing that should .be taken into account is that the people affected will lose the possibility of gaining any benefit from the hospital benefits organizations to which many of them have contributed over a number of years. What are they to do? Those who can be accommodated in nursing homes or rest homes will only attract assistance amounting to £1 a day. This is nowhere near the cost of maintaining them in these establishments. Many of the people concerned just could not be accommodated in nursing homes or rest homes. They need medical care and special nursing care, although they may may not be in need of the diagnostic treatment for which facilities are available in public hospitals. There is a type of hospital which is in between the rest home and the public hospital, and this is the type of hospital which the Jacaranda private hospital represents.
I ask the Minister for Health to have a quick look at the situation. I can show the bona fides of this establishment by referring to statistics which have been provided to me by the matron of the hospital. There are sixteen beds in the hospital, ten of which are occupied by people in the long-term category. The Commonwealth Director of Health for New South Wales has indicated that the proportion of longterm patients is too high, yet he is not prepared to say what proportion of beds could be used to accommodate long-term patients. In any case, what kind of arbitrary decision is this? Has the Commonwealth decided to abandon the care of the aged, the chronically ill and the crippled people in our community? It is difficult enough to get accommodation in public hospitals. Is the Government now going to prevent people from getting accommodation in private hospitals? Having thrown them out of public hospitals to a large extent, through failure to provide adequate funds, is the Government now going to make it more difficult for people to be accommodated in private hospitals? Some people will become ineligible to receive the benefits of hospital fund membership because they will be driven into nursing homes and rest homes of a type incapable of giving them the assistance and care that they need.
About 3,000 babies have been born in the Jacaranda hospital, as I mentioned previously. Last year, 281 patients were accommodated in the hospital. Many of them were suffering from serious complaints, which are listed in a letter which the matron has forwarded to me. The complaints included pneumonia, nervous disorders and nephritis. Time will not permit me to go into all the details, but I wish to mention the regard in which this hospital is held by the medical fraternity in the area. I shall make a few quotations from letters which no fewer than ten doctors have sent to me on the subject. One extract reads -
The loss of such a facility would, without doubt, be of great importance to most of the local doctors in this area, for this hospital provides a service that cannot always be readily obtained at the local District Hospital and without it, many problems would be created.
The letter goes on to say that large numbers of people go to this hospital for confinements and illnesses. Another doctor wrote -
I have been disturbed by the above changes taking place and in particular the proposed change at Jacaranda Hospital, Cronulla. I have made use of this hospital on a number of occasions for confinements and medical or non-operative surgical emergencies, and would submit that there is a place for this hospital in the area.
Another doctor wrote -
I can assure you from my own observations that we in this area badly need private hospital facilities and that it would be a source of great stress and inconvenience if this splendid little hospital were to close down.
Doctor after doctor has written to me in similar strain, and many hundreds of constituents have indicated their concern at the unjustifiable closure of this important establishment.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to refer to an article which appeared in the Sydney “Sunday Mirror” of 8th March. It referred to politicians, and the writer did not make any exceptions in the charges that he made. The article was headed, “M.P.’s Board the Gravy Train.
Free Cars for all.” It was written by Brian Hogben and began as follows -
Cars, cars, cars, cars, cars . . . they were everywhere.
No one could be more sneering, even if he tried. Under the sub-heading “Drawback “, the writer of the article continued -
Airlines provide comfortable buses which could take the politicians to equally central points for a mere5s. a ride.
There would, of course, be one drawback about that. Politicians might be forced to share seats with the common herd … the same people who pay for the great weekend gravy train.
This individual should know that I am not entitled to the use of a Commonwealth motor car. Many other honorable members are in the same position. To get to my home, I take a taxi to Sydenham railway station at a cost of 6s., and then pay 2s. to ride in a train. I am pleased to ride with the people whom this individual refers to as “ the common herd “.
Let me inform the newspaper concerned of the members of this Parliament who are entitled to use Commonwealth motor cars. In New South Wales, seven Ministers have the use of cars to take them from the Sydney airport into the city. One exMinister, the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), has the use of a car, and so has one member from New South Wales, who is suffering from a disability. The two leaders in this House are entitled to cars to take them from the airport to their offices or to their homes. Altogether there are 46 New South Wales members of the House of Representatives and ten New South Wales senators - a total of 56. Only eleven of those 56 members are entitled to the use of a Commonwealth motor car for this purpose.
This article is a deliberate insult to 56 members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It is indeed an insult to every one in the Parliament. The article is a tissue of half-truths and untruths. It is a complete misrepresentation that would make the unwary believe that we are just a pack of bludgers who are bludging on the taxpayers. The article is designed clearly to damage, defame and poison politicians in the mind of the public. It is scurrilous and nasty. It attempts to brand all members of this House and of the Senate as a pack of snobbish irresponsibles.
I believe in freedom of the press, but I believe also that this freedom should not be abused, as was done in this article of 8th March. I believe in freedom to tell the truth, but freedom to tell lies should never be permitted.
Members of this Parliament are very good to the press. We provide two galleries in this chamber, free of charge, and we provide office accommodation. The accommodation may not be the best, but it is better than that enjoyed by members, who are packed four into a room. I am not blaming all pressmen, but I think it is a matter for serious concern when attempts are made to belittle in this fashion democratically elected representatives in this place. The article stabs at the very basis of our democratic institutions. What gain and reward a pressman hopes to achieve by knocking members of Parliament at every opportunity is beyond my comprehension, particularly when the allegations are, as in this case, for the most part invented. I repeat that all pressmen are not like the individual responsible for this article. In my opinion, many pressmen are builders and not knockers. I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will read the article to which I have referred. You may decide that it represents a breach of the privileges of this House. If this individual occupies a place in the press gallery of this free institution - I do not know whether he does - he should be debarred therefrom, I believe, until such time as he apologizes to all the members whom he has insulted and damaged.
I should like to refer to the constitution and rules of the Australian Journalists Association. I believe that this is the best set of such rules in the world. I should like to see them observed in Australia and, indeed, all over the world, in which case we would get the sort of press that we need. I refer particularly to the code of ethics. I have not time to read it all but I shall read the first few lines to show how these rules have been violated by the individual to whom I have just referred. The code begins -
Each member of the Association shall observe the following Code of Ethics in his employment: -
He shall report and interpret the news with a scrupulous honesty.
What a violation there has been of that clause in the association’s code of ethics! The code continues -
Could anything be worse than the report in the “Sunday Mirror” of 8th March, to which I have referred? It is an insult to every honorable member. I wish that we could, as a body, take similar action to that which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) took, and put the press in its proper place for publishing scurrilous, hasty allegations of this sort against democratically elected members of this House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.2 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
I am Unaware of any approach to the Commonwealth by the Government of Western Australia for a special grant of money for the specific purpose of deepening Geraldton Harbour, or of any discussion between the State and the Commonwealth of a special grant for that purpose.
rns asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Inspector of Air Safety Mr. O’Reilly is expected at all times to take note of any potentially unsafe situation arid to take investigatory or notification action appropriate to that situation.
The Air Navigation Regulations provide that where the Director-General has reason to suspect -
– On 26th February, the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) asked me whether I would consider conferring with the Commonwealth Minister for Health and the Postmaster-General on the possibility of conducting a nation-wide campaign on the dangers of cigarette smoking. In reply I mentioned that the Minister for Health had been looking at this matter and that I was looking forward to his advising me of the result of his investigation. The Minister for Health has now informed me that at a meeting in February, the Ministers of Health of the Commonwealth and the States were unanimous that the best results would be obtained by pursuing a policy of educating young people and it was decided to launch a campaign to publicize the health hazards of smoking. It was agreed that unilateral action would not be as effective as concerted action by the Commonwealth and the States. A health education conference will be held this month to discuss the ways and means by which a uniform campaign can be developed and conducted.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 March 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640311_reps_25_hor41/>.