25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is my intention to issue writs on Friday, 8th May, for the election of members to serve for the electoral divisions of Angas in the State of South Australia and Parramatta in the State of New South Wales, to fill the vacancies caused by the resignations of the Hon. Alexander Russell Downer and the Hon. Sir Garfield Edward John Barwick, Q.C., respectively. The dates in connexion with both elections will be as follows: - Date of nomination, Thursday, 28th May, 1964; date of polling, Saturday, 20th June, 1964; date of return of writs, on or before Saturday, 25th July, 1964.
Mr. ERWIN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Petition received and read.
– I wish to inform the House that, following the resignation of Sir Garfield Barwick, two new ministerial appointments have been made. Mr. Hasluck, formerly Minister for Defence, has been appointed Minister for External “Affairs. He will be replaced as Minister for Defence by Senator Paltridge, who will for the time being - I emphasize “ for the time being “, because I anticipate that it will not be for very long - continue to hold the Civil Aviation portfolio. Senator Paltridge will be represented in this House on defence matters by Mr. Fairhall, Minister for Supply.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. I understand that the right honorable gentleman will be visiting the United Kingdom to attend the Prime Ministers’ Conference and, of course, to watch the test cricket. Now that the Government is about to do the decent thing by appointing an ambassador to Ireland, in the terms required by the Government of that country, after having kept the member for West Sydney and the people of Ireland in suspense for the last fourteen years, will the Prime Minister visit the great Irish leader and patriot, President de Valera, and so help remove the last remaining barrier to Anglo-Irish peace by abolishing the unnatural partition of this ancient and historic country?
– I am a little confused about this question. I do not know whether the honorable member wants us to appoint an ambassador to Ireland in time for that gentleman to see the cricket. Perhaps the honorable member will tell me if I was wrong in thinking that. He seemed to have an idea that I was going over for the cricket. Well, I do not mind coming quite clean and saying that I hope to see one day of it. That will be the limit of my satisfaction. As for asking me to intervene in order to terminate the partition of Ireland, the honorable member is beating on a hopeless door.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. On 20th August last year I asked you, Mr. Speaker, whether you had noted the statement by Sir William Holford, the Government’s architectural consultant in the planning of a new Parliament House, to the effect that steps should be taken immediately - I point out that this was nine months ago and that a very proper time for gestation has now elapsed - to consider the kind of accommodation required. The Prime Minister will recall that he intervened when I asked my question and said that he expected within the next week or two - I again emphasize that this was last September - to be able to put forward a proposal which, in his own words, “ would meet with the approval of all honorable members “. He was understood at the time to be referring to the planning of the new Parliament House and not to the impending general election. Is the right honorable gentleman now in a position to make a further statement on this matter?
– I hope that my honorable friend will not blame me unduly for this matter not having been dealt with before the end of the last Parliament but, as he knows, other events intervened. So far as the present Parliament is concerned, I have papers on my table at this moment in relation to this subject and 1 hope to be able to say something about it at least before the House goes into recess.
– The Minister for External Affairs will have noticed that the Prime Minister, when replying to the question asked of him by the honorable member for West Sydney, referred to an “ambassador to Ireland “. I ask the Minister whether the letters of credence of our ambassador will refer in this case to Ireland or to the Republic of Ireland.
– It has been agreed that in the credentials which will be issued to the Australian ambassador to Ireland and the Irish ambassador to Australia the Irish Republic will use the styles used in its legislation, and the Australian Commonwealth will use the styles used in its Royal Style and Titles Act. As a result of discussions between us, it is understood that neither party will attach the significance to the titles that is accepted as being attached to them by the other party.
– Has the Attorney-General’s attention been directed to the somewhat critical comments that have been made about the sending of an Australian police force to Cyprus? Is this criticism based upon a misunderstanding? What duties will be allocated to this police force?
– I do not know whether the criticisms have been based upon a misunderstanding. However, I can tell the House that the secretariat of the United Nations requested Australia to provide policemen to form part of a contingent of policemen. The Commonwealth has been in consultation with the States, which have police forces, to see whether the request can be met. On Thursday of last week there was a conference in Melbourne at which, without commitment, State police commissioners discussed various matters relating to the request. At present I am waiting to hear from the States what their attitude is.
As to the duties that this contingent will perform, they most certainly will be police duties in the true sense of the term “ police duties “. The Secretary-General of the United Nations made this perfectly clear in his request, and this has since been confirmed by Australian diplomats at the United Nations. In addition, there have been some discussions with General Gyani the United Nations Commander in Cyprus. The work to be done by the police, if they should go, will be purely police duties. What is contemplated is that they will work in association with Cypriot police who are either Greek or Turkish. The purpose is that they should be there as observers to see fair play. Some of them will be at check points and control posts. I repeat that they will be engaged entirely on police work.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he has received a protest from the Indonesian Embassy about a report in a Sydney newspaper of 24th April alleging that Indonesia did not favour his appointment as Minister for External Affairs. Did the report claim that the information originated in official Indonesian sources? Does the protest from the Indonesian Embassy state that the report was unfounded and misleading? What action has the Minister taken on the protest?
– It is true that the distinguished representative of Indonesia made a call on the Department of External Affairs in order to say that certain statements made in a newspaper in Sydney did not represent the view of the Indonesian Government
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry who will be aware that the Kennedy Round of tariff negotiations commenced in Geneva yesterday and that as part of these negotiations countries are committing themselves to reduce their tariffs by 50 per cent., across the board. Can the Minister say whether this reduction will apply to Australia?
– The meeting which commenced at Geneva yesterday is the resumption of a meeting which I attended a year ago. It arose from a proposal by the late President Kennedy that in the interests of freer world trade there should be, amongst other things, an agreement between all the nations which are parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to cut their tariffs by 50 per cent. It was suggested that there might be some odd items of trade which would be excepted from that. The reduction was not designed to be applied to what were then called the less-developed countries, which are now spoken of as developing countries.
On that occasion, I indicated the Australian Government’s policies by taking a very strong stand against the application to Australia of this so-called 50 per cent. linear cut in tariffs. I took objection principally on two grounds. The first was that our export trade is comprised mostly of bulk commodities which attract either no tariffs or comparatively low tariffs. I said that a proposal that Australia should enjoy the minimal benefit of a tariff reduction of 50 per cent on her exports of those items, and pay for that minimal benefit by making a 50 per cent cut in all tariffs on imports of industrial goods, many of which were competitive with our own products, would obviously be completely unacceptable. I took that stand for Australia and a few other countries which are similarly situated.
The second point I took was that Australia, in fact, is herself a developing country. I pointed out that we have industries which, having regard to our small home market, would not be in a position to stand up to the competition of the entrenched exporters of industrial goods. On that occasion, I had the unenviable task of holding up the entire conference for about five hours fighting our case. We had reached the point at which it was accepted that Australia and countries similarly situated should not be parties to the proposal. The conference which was resumed in Geneva yesterday was resumed with a clear acceptance by all nations attending that a linear cut in tariffs would not be applicable to Australia or countries similarly circumstanced.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. I ask: Did I understand the Minister correctly when, in answer to a question from the honorable member for Werriwa, he referred to the Royal Style and Titles Act? If so, in what way does that act preclude the Australian Government from accrediting an ambassador to Ireland or to any other country in the manner desired and decided upon by the Australian Government? Does the accreditation of an Australian ambassador to Ireland differ in any way from the form decided upon some years ago by the Government of Canada? Has any alteration been made, because of the new accreditation to Ireland, to the status of Irish citizens resident in Australia? The honorable gentleman will remember from his experience in the Department of External Affairs that at a Prime Ministers’ conference, after the repeal of the External Affairs Act in Ireland, there arose the question: When is a British citizen not a British citizen? The late Field Marshal Smuts and Dr. Evatt came up with an answer. If I may suggest an answer to the question of when a British citizen is not a British citizen, it is: When he is an Irish citizen.
– Mr. Speaker, I would not trust my memory on the question of the correspondence between the Australian letters of credential and the Canadian letters of credential. I think that the other question, relating to citizenship, is one that requires some precision in answering. I will see that, after consultation, the honorable gentleman gets a precise answer. I should make it quite clear that what has happened is this: As a result of negotiations between the two governments concerned - negotiations which ended in an amicable way satisfactory to both parties - it has been agreed that the Republic of Ireland in giving its letters of credential will use the style that seems acceptable to it. We in Australia in giving our letters of credential will use the style that seems acceptable to us. Each of the countries will accept letters of credential as presented, it being clearly understood-
– Even though they are different?
– Yes, it being clearly understood that neither party accepts the significance which the other party attaches to the form being used.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has investigated the extension of the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia. If so, has a recommendation been made by the bureau? If the bureau has investigated the scheme but has not yet made a recommendation, when is a recommendation likely to be made?
– The Bureau of Agricultural Economics has completed its investigation of the scheme and is now compiling its report. The report has not yet been finalized.
– I preface my question to the Postmaster-General by referring to rumours in the St. George electoral division that the Postmaster-General’s Department intends to make available a considerable number of telephones in the new supercentre being constructed in the air space over the railway station at Hurstville. Can the honorable gentleman inform the House whether this suggestion is correct?
– It was suggested a little time ago that about 2,500 telephone lines were to be supplied in the building referred to by the honorable member. Unfortunately, I cannot be quite so optimistic as that. Nevertheless, the department is preparing for the provision of telephones in the new building and also in other business premises in the area. It is necessary for the department, of course, to install ducts and conduits and also to provide for a cable head within the building. I understand that the work will be processed so that it will be completed at about the end of this year, when it is expected that the building will be available for occupation.
– I address my question to the Minister for Supply. Has the Minister banned all right to officials of the
Melbourne trade unions to speak to their union members at the ordnance factory at Bendigo during working hours?
– I think I should advise the honorable gentleman that in respect of all its industrial undertakings the Department of Supply adheres to the provisions of clause 25 of Determination No. 39 of 1951. There is a good reason for remembering the provisions of this clause, for it prescribes that union representatives may have access to an industrial plant at approved non-working times provided that they are accredited representatives of a union and are engaged in legitimate union business.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the newspaper report that the propellers of all Ansett-A.N.A. aircraft have been Xrayed following the loss of an engine of one aircraft over Port Phillip Bay, will the Minister institute inquiries into the case of the Ansett-A.N.A. DC-3 aircraft which departed from Adelaide airport at 3.30 P.m. on Thursday, 23rd April last, for Port Lincoln and which completed the last half of its flight over Spencer Gulf on one engine?
– I will refer the question to the Minister whom I represent and I will have a reply prepared for the honorable member.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Gippsland. What broad charter of instruction is being followed by the Australian delegation to the Kennedy Round talks? Who is presently in charge of the Australian delegation? Can the right honorable gentleman say how long the talks will last?
– At present, the Australian delegation is led by an official, as most, but not all, of the delegations are. Mr. Fleming, a First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, is leading the delegation to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and
Mr. Campbell, also a First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, is leading the Kennedy Round delegation. The broad instruction to the delegation is consistent with the explanations of our policy that I gave in speeches to the House before my departure on the mission last year and on my return from the mission. In short, consistent with the need to safeguard the interests of the Australian economy and having regard to the peculiar circumstances of the Australian economy - I mentioned some of these circumstances when I answered another question to-day - our attitude is to co-operate in the Kennedy Round, to try to get freer trade and particularly to strive to get results from that part of President Kennedy’s proposals which, balancing his tariff proposals, was designed to get freer world trade, better access and better prices for bulk commodities. This is a prime point of Australian policy.
On the tariff side, the United Kingdom Government has said that it is willing to accept in full the 50 per cent, tariff cut. One result of this would be to halve the tariff preferences which Australia enjoys for its exports to the United Kingdom. In the main, our products have free entry to the United Kingdom and tariffs apply to the products of other countries. If these tariffs were halved our preferences would be halved. For Australia to agree to such a change in its trade treaty with the United Kingdom would itself be a very substantial concession by Australia to freer international trade.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is the Department of Labour and National Service planning immediate action to train unskilled adult workers for the building and engineering trades? Is the department finding it difficult to induce the average employer, particularly in the metal trades, to employ a proper ratio of apprentices? Would the Minister agree that the employers’ federation is planning reintroduction of the dilutee system that was introduced in industry during World War II.? What are the Minister’s views on the re-introduction of the dilutee system?
– Already, a great deal has been done to encourage apprentices to go into the building industry. I think it will be found, when I publish the figures, that the number of apprentices indentured has increased considerably. Only yesterday, the Minister of Labour and Industry in Victoria pointed out that the number of apprentices in first and second year technical school courses had increased from 8,000 to 9,650. That represents a big improvement. The honorable member went on to mention dilution of labour. The proposals that the Government has put to the trade union movement have nothing to do with dilution. The problem that we face is twofold. There is a severe shortage of technical and skilled workers, and our progress will be limited unless we can get the required numbers of skilled people. So I am afraid that there is no alternative to proposals such as we have made. However, the proposed scheme is supplementary to the apprenticeship scheme and is in no sense intended to replace it. I believe that if the honorable gentleman knew more of the scheme he would not be prepared to use the word “ dilutee “.
As to the reference to employers, the proposed scheme was initiated by the Government and was first put to the trade union movement, which assured me and the Department of Labour and National Service that it would look at the proposals in a bona fide way. As yet, the trade union movement has not had an opportunity to complete a bona fide study of the scheme and report back to me. I believe in the bona fides of the movement and I am certain that, knowing the difficulties as it does, it will examine the proposed scheme fairly and submit suggestions to us.
If the honorable member for KingsfordSmith and others on the Opposition side have the interests of this country at heart, they will do their best to see that the proposal is sold to the trade union movement. When I say that I refer particularly to those who come here and preach about the International Labour Organization, Everything that we are doing is consistent with that organization’s principles and with most of the ideals that the Australian Labour Party so ardently preaches about.
(Mr. Costa having commenced to address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry) -
– Order! The honorable member’s question is out of order. The Minister for Trade and Industry is not responsible for what some other member of the Australian Country Party did in Tasmania.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. With the approach, next year, of the fiftieth anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, has the Government recently received a considerable number of requests that the Gallipoli Star be struck and issued, even at this late date, to commemorate one of the greatest and most formative events in Australia’s history? Has the Government made any final decision on the matter?
– 1 think I was asked a question about this subject last week. I said then that I would bring myself up to date, because I know that there is a long history in this matter, going back over very many years. I am sorry to say that I am not yet ready with the answer. I just have not got around to it. But I hope to do so before the week is out.
(Dr. J. F. Cairns having addressed a question to the Prime Minister) -
– Order! The question is out of order. The Prime Minister is not responsible to this House for anything that may occur in South Africa.
– If you will listen to the question-
– Order! The question is out of order.
– I raise a point of order.
– Order! No point of order can be raised in these circumstances. The honorable member will resume his seat.
– Mr. Speaker, why cannot you listen to a point of order?
– Order! A point of order cannot be taken. I Lave given an interpretation of the Standing Orders.
- Mr. Speaker-
Mr. SPEAKER__ Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– I ask the Treasurer: Why has the Commonwealth Bank imposed restrictions on housing loans for Australian citizens whilst at the same time it has made unlimited finance available to migrants? Does the Treasurer approve of the policy of making loans available to migrants as soon as they arrive in Australia when, at the same time, an Australian citizen or resident who is prepared to meet conditions as to deposit on a home is refused a loan by the bank? Is the bank acting in accordance with its charter by discriminating against Australian citizens?
– I am not fully seised of the facts to which the honorable gentleman has referred if he is alleging that the Commonwealth Bank is imposing restrictions on Australian borrowers. I assume that the honorable member is referring to the Commonwealth Trading Bank-
– I am referring to the Commonwealth Savings Bank and the provision of housing loans.
– Well, over recent months the Commonwealth Savings Bank has been lending at, I think, the highest rate in its history. That situation is true of the savings banks generally and is being reflected in a record rate of domestic housing construction. If the honorable gentleman is referring in particular to the housing scheme for migrants arranged with the Dutch and Italian Governments-
– No, I am referring to general policy.
– I do not think such a policy is generally followed. 1 would be glad to hear the honorable member’s statement of the facts in more detail. I will then be better equipped to answer his question.
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra was directing a question to the Prime Minister about a matter for which the right honorable gentleman is not responsible to the House. Therefore, the honorable member for Yarra was out of order.
– You rule, Sir, on the point that I have raised-
– I gave no ruling. It was an interpretation of the Standing Orders.
– Therefore, I submit that it was a ruling. I am concerned only with your ruling. In what way could an honorable member address a question to the Prime Minister about an event which is of tremendous importance to the rest of the world and which may have an effect on its future well-being?
– An honorable member is not entitled to use question time for a purpose of that kind.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Was lack of sufficient finance the major reason why Kalgoorlie and Geraldton were not included in the recent extension of television services? If so, does the Minister expect that this particular problem will be overcome in time to allow those towns to be included in the next phase of television extension? If not, does this mean that neither of those towns is likely to have a national television station within the next eight to ten years?
– I was not PostmasterGeneral when the determination was made of the areas to be included up to the end of stage 4. I do not know whether or not finance was a consideration. I assure the honorable member that by the end of stage 4 we will have provided 33 national stations outside metropolitan areas. It is not intended at this moment to state what further areas will be catered for subsequent to that. In answer to a question on notice in the House a few weeks ago I indicated that it would cost in excess of £1,000,000 to establish a station in both the Geraldton and Kalgoorlie areas. I cannot recall exactly the figures in relation to costs of operation and likely revenue, but I believe that the estimated costs were in the vicinity of £50,000 to £60,000 per annum and that the likely revenue would be something less than £20,000 per annum. On that basis I am afraid that at the moment I have no intention of recommending to the Government the expenditure of such large sums of money to provide television in either the Geraldton or the Kalgoorlie area.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I say by way of explanation that recently the victim of a shooting accident had to pay £140 for a life-saving aerial ambulance flight from Mildura to Melbourne. Doctors have said that this action saved the man’s life. I ask: Is this man entitled to a taxation deduction of the amount so expended? If not, will the Treasurer make investigations with a view to accepting such cases as eligible for the concession?
– The House will be aware that the Government has liberalized considerably the provisions governing deduction of medical expenses of taxpayers, but the particular aspect of policy to which the honorable gentleman has referred, namely, deduction for travelling expenses in connexion with medical attention, has not so far been adopted. This matter is being considered among a mass of other requests for taxation concessions and I shall see that it is included in the review made in relation to the forthcoming Budget.
– I address a question to you, Mr. Speaker, in regard to interpretation. Is it not a fact that over a period of many years in this Parliament honorable members have from time to time asked Ministers, including the Prime Minister, for information in respect of Nazi and Communist persecution of citizens of other countries? In those circumstances, perhaps you will allow a question to be asked concerning an alleged persecution in a country that has been mentioned here to-day.
-I point out to the honorable member that I still agree with what I said before.
– Are you unanimous?
– Yes, I am unanimous. A question can be directed to a Minister only if it is not hypothetical and if it relates to a matter for which the Minister is responsible to the House. 1 do not think the Prime Minister is responsible to the House for any conduct in South Africa.
-I rise to order. On what you have said, Mr. Speaker, would it be in order to ask the. Prime Minister, as head of the Government, whether he would make a protest to another government concerning some conduct by that government which affects international relations?
– That was not the question involved.
– Would such a question be in order?
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Did the Minister negotiate with Japanese shipping interests or the Japanese Government for the supply of ships to trade between Australia and South America? If he did, was he successful? How many ships will be used and at what cost per annum? Does the Minister not think that it is now time that Australia either built or acquired its own ships for this trade?
– In regard to the particular shipping service to which the honorable member referred, the House knows - because I have informed it of this before - that a service was conducted by a Swedish shipping company and subsidized by the Government up to a point. That company ceased its service. In the couple of years for which it operated we developed our trade from less than £2,000,000 a year to about £4,500,000 a year. My memory on those figures may not be accurate, but I will con firm them. There was a substantial increase in trade. When the shipping service was to cease, the Department of Trade inquired on the widest possible base as to what other shipping companies might be prepared to conduct a service.
An Australian company offered to conduct a service. I informed the House of that and we were on the point of signing a contract. In fact, I think we had signed a contract contingent upon certain circumstances. But that company had to advise us that it was not in a position to take over the service. We then resumed our inquiries. A Japanese company came forward and offered, contingent on certain arrangements, to conduct the service. The arrangements were negotiated; but at the moment I cannot recall them. I will supply the information to the honorable member and the House. That service has commenced now. I make the point that the Japanese company was the only company which at that time offered to conduct the service. The second part of the honorable member’s question raises a matter of policy, namely, whether the Government should build or acquire shipping services. It is not for me to reply to such a question at question time.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs had an opportunity to study the recent speech by President Sukarno with regard to Indonesian volunteers and, especially, to the proposed dissolution of Malaysia? Does the Minister interpret that speech as a development which will increase the gravity of the situation confronting Australia or Australian forces overseas?
– Up to the present time I have seen only the newspaper reports of the speech. In due course I will receive a fuller text from Djakarta. My first impression is that although the speech contained certain threats those threats were uttered in a rather vague form and not in a form which greatly alters the basic nature of the situation that we are facing.
– Did the Minister for Repatriation set up a special committee to investigate special cases submitted by the national executive of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of
Australia of the non-observance of section 47 of the Repatriation Act? Was a report of the Minister’s reply to the R.S.L. on the findings of that committee included in the January, 1964, issue of “ Reveille “? If it was, will the Minister make the report of the special committee available to the Parliament?
– On Wednesday, 22nd April, the honorable member asked me a question about the setting up of a select committee to investigate certain repatriation matters. I told him at that time that no such select committee had been set up. A proposal for a select committee of Parliament was put forward by the Opposition during last year’s debate on the estimates of the Repatriation Department, but that proposal was not approved by the Parliament. However, it is a fact that the national executive of the H.S.L. approached me a short time ago - and later wrote to me - on some special individual cases which had been submitted to it by the State branches of the league. The contention of the State branches was that section 47 of the Repatriation Act had not been applied correctly in a number of individual cases. As that was a fairly serious allegation, I arranged for some senior members of the Repatriation Department - in fact, two members of the Repatriation Commission, including the representative of the ex-servicemen’s organizations on the commission who was appointed from a list submitted by them, and the principal medical officer - to go through the individual cases and to report their opinion to me. After receiving their report I wrote to the head-quarters of the R.S.L., informing that body that in all cases it was the Opinion of this group of people, whom I had asked to express their opinions, that section 47 had been correctly applied. That is simply information which has been provided to the national head-quarters of the R.S.L. It is not in any way a public report. If any information is required perhaps it could be obtained from the R.S.L.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
New South Wales Grant (Flood Mitigation) Bill 1964.
Tasmania Grant (Gordon River Road) Bill 1964. Weights and Measures (National Standards) Bill 1964.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely: -
The preferential treatment given by the Government to the Ansett group of companies.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– I have taken this action in order to secure a discussion of the preferential treatment given by this Government to the Ansett group of companies. That preferential treatment has been given by the Government to the Ansett group of companies is no longer a matter for debate; it is selfevident. Not only has Ansett received preferential treatment in the field of civil aviation and television; the Ansett group has also received preferential treatment in the field of taxation and in the granting of Government contracts. However, it is in the field of television that the Government’s preferential treatment of Ansett interests has been most recent, most blatant and most damaging to public interests.
Not satisfied with giving a wholly Ansettowned company the third commercial television licence in Melbourne, the Government then gave the new television licences in Perth and Adelaide to Ansett-sponsored applicants, to companies which bad large shareholdings allocated to the Ansett group and to companies which had made programming arrangements with the Ansett group in Melbourne for the servicing of their stations. In order, it seemed, to demonstrate conclusively its subservience to Ansett interests, the Government then granted the third Brisbane licence to what has become an Ansett company.
In respect of the Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth licences the Government will, of course, seek to hide behind the recommendations of the hand-picked board which considered the various applications, although the board’s finding a few years ago that only one television licence was justified in
Adelaide did not deter the Government from rejecting the board’s recommendation in order to give a licence to its influential Liberal backers who control the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. However, in the case of Brisbane the board actually rejected the Ansett application and urged the Minister not to grant the licence until he was satisfied as to the directors and the shareholders of the successful applicant company. The Government, in effect, has rejected that recommendation also because, although the purchase by Ansett of 48.9 per cent, of shares in the successful company did not constitute a technical breach of the act, it did violate - and I emphasize this - the policy inherent in the act, which is designed to limit monopoly in television. And it certainly violated completely the conditions and considerations taken into account by the board itself when it decided to recommend that the third Brisbane licence be given to Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited. Let me quote briefly from the recommendations of the board in this connexion -
It would, however, seem to us that there are strong reasons in principle why licences for two capital city commercial television stations should not be granted by the Minister to what is, in effect, the same company, and for a discussion of this principle we adopt here, without repeating, the reasoning in our first Report on Brisbane and Adelaide Licences.
Later in the same report the board said -
No licensee of a commercial television station holds any interests in Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited, which claimed in the course of the inquiry that it would establish a station that would be “ run by Queenslanders for Queensland “, and that this was the basis of the application.
These, then, were the qualifications which secured the licence for Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited, and when that company lost those qualifications, as it did when the Ansett group bought 48.9 per cent, of shares and in so doing bought more than three times the proportion of 15 per cent, fixed by the act as representing a controlling interest, it should not have been granted the licence. Had the Minister acted properly he would have called fresh applications. Here I want to refer, if I may. to another portion of the board’s recommendations, in which the board said -
In reaching this conclusion we have not overlooked the fact that, since the licences were granted for the capital city stations now in operation, changes in the shareholdings of certain of the licensee companies have produced the result that, in more than one case, two stations in different cities are controlled by one company. This is a development which, under the provisions of the Act as it now stands, has been beyond the control of the Minister.
What the board was pointing out was that once a licence is granted and the shares of the successful company are put on the stock exchange, the Minister has no control over what subsequently happens to those shares. But here we have a case in which the licence was issued when the Minister knew that the shareholding of the company had changed and that as a result of that change the principles laid down by the board had been violated.
On 29th April, 1964, the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) said that the articles of association of the company restricted Ansett’s voting rights to 15 per cent, of the votes, but he also said that he could not guarantee that the stock exchange would have granted the company a listing with: such a restriction. He then went on to say that there was nothing to stop Mr. Ansett buying 100 per cent, of the shares, if he could get the 1,000-odd shareholders to agree. As it is, Ansett enjoys monopoly benefits that far exceed those of any other television operator in Australia. He controls, or owns outright, two capital city television stations and has programme tieups with the Adelaide and Perth stations as well. Therefore, with his programmes being shown on these four stations, viewers will be forced either to watch programmes selected by Channel 0 in Melbourne or else turn to another station. If this is what they elect to do, then those cities might just as well have been left with only two commercial television stations.
What must now intrigue every discerning person in this country is the reason for the Minister’s original decision to withhold the Brisbane licence until he had investigated the heavy buying of the company’s shares. One thing, however, is quite clear: The Minister’s action was not directed against Ansett; or, if it was, the Government itself intervened to prevent action that would have been prejudicial to Ansett. Even this is a distinct possibility, if not a probability.
Ansett does, in fact, appear to have some special influence with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). This was evidenced by the excitable and almost hysterical outburst by the right honorable gentleman when I asked, in the interests of public safety, that Ansett aircraft be grounded for inspection following the nearaccident over Melbourne recently. The Prime Minister also showed this strange reaction of excitability when the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked a question about Ansett. The Prime Minister described it as villainous for the Leader of the Opposition to ask a question that concerned Mr. Ansett. Why this special care for Ansett? Why does the Prime Minister show this strange excitability and almost hysterical behaviour whenever Mr. Ansett’s name is mentioned? Was the PostmasterGeneral’s action, therefore, directed against other television interests? If so, who were they? Why were they to be denied the rights that were to be granted to Ansett? Since certain television interests would have been excluded in any case from owning a controlling interest in a third station, the field almost at once was narrowed down to Mr. Rupert Murdoch of the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ and the Adelaide “ News “. If this is so, it is a state of affairs that to my mind is nothing short of a public scandal. 1 do not for one moment blame Mr. Ansett for stealing unfair advantages over his opponents. I do not blame Ansett for his ruthless and unscrupulous use of monopoly power to crush competitors as he crushed his competitors in the airline business. I do not blame him for obtaining taxation benefits that have become the envy of every person in the business and commercial life of this country. I do not blame Ansett for becoming the business bandit that he is. After all, that is private enterprise, even if it does not qualify for the term “ healthy competition “. I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Menzies Government for permitting and even encouraging Ansett to do what he is doing. It is the Government’s responsibility to curb the extension of monopoly, especially in the fields of public expression and publicity. Instead of doing this, the Government has aided and abetted the growth of monopoly. And it has done so in the very fields in which it has the sole say and complete power to prevent monopoly. No television station can operate without a government licence. No airline can exist without government approval.
At the beginning of my remarks I said that the Ansett group was receiving preferential treatment in the field of taxation. Now I shall prove the truth of my statement. The “ Bulletin “ of 25th April, 1964, had this to say about this very important matter -
Most outside observers are puzzled by the longcontinued immunity of Ansett Transport Industries from the payment of full standard rates of income tax, despite the charging of amounts of depreciation which appear to be very large.
ATI provided an aggregate of £124,843 -far income tax in the five years 1959 to 1963 inclusive, with aggregate stated net profits during the period of £4,610,502.
Rough calculations point to income tax of the order of £2,972,000 if standard company rates had been charged on these earnings.
Then the “Bulletin” makes this significant statement -
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that (he Commissioner of Taxation is showing some consideration to Ansett under direction from the Federal Government.
I say without any qualification that that statement is defamatory. If it is not true, it is libellous. Unless the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) takes action to prove its truth or otherwise then I believe everyone will be entitled to come to the same conclusion as that reached by the writer of the article in the “Bulletin”.
The Sydney “Daily Telegraph” of 11th April, 1961, indicated that Ansett knew that the present arrangement would come into being, because it reported Ansett as boasting to a meeting of shareholders that -
The organization will continue to benefit by avoiding substantial income tax payments for several years to come.
At a meeting of shareholders in Melbourne on 27th November, 1962, Ansett reported that an Ansett Transport Industries subsidiary, National Instrument Company Proprietary Limited, had been saved from making further losses by being able to secure from the Menzies Government - I quote his own words - “ large contracts from the R.A.A.F. in connexion with its re-equipment programme “. At the same meeting he said that there was no arrangement anywhere else in the world which was as valuable as the franchise that his company enjoyed from the Menzies Government under the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1962.
– Who said that?
– Ansett said this to his shareholders. He concluded by saying that the benefit of this particular arrangement made with the Menzies Government under this act could not possibly be calculated.
Every one will agree, therefore, that Mr. Ansett seems to have some hypnotic influence over the Government. He has obtained preferential treatment from this Government that no one else can obtain. We should all like to know the answer to the question: “ How does Ansett obtain this preferential treatment?” Most people have their own ideas. Not only I, but the vast majority of the general public, believe that Mr. R. M. Ansett has some hypnotic influence over the Government. Evidently this view is shared by the directors of Ansett Transport Industries. On 31st October, 1957, the company publicly announced that it had decided to insure Mr. Ansett’s life for £1,000,000. It was not his business acumen that made him worth this amount to Ansett Transport Industries, because in 1937 and 1938, when Ansett issued his prospectus for his first airline business he said that the business would make a profit of £20,000 a year. Instead, the business lost £42,000 in those two years. It is obvious, therefore, that Ansett’s chief value to A.T.I. resides in his ability to apply political pressure to secure preferential treatment from this Government.
If Ansett’s life is worth £1,000,000 to A.T.I. then the Prime Minister’s political life ought to be worth at least as much to A.T.I. Whether the company has yet evaluated the Prime Minister’s political life is not known. If it has been evaluated, few apart from Ansett and the directors of the company will ever know what has been paid into the Liberal Party’s campaign funds to preserve it. But one thing we all do know is that the Ansett group of companies is receiving preferential treatment and that this preferential treatment is detrimental to the public interest.
– In the first place I think I should state the law contained in the Broadcasting and Television Act as it applies to television stations. If I do this
I think honorable members will appreciate that many of the remarks which have been made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) have little or no substance. Section 92 of the act states that a person shall not have control of more than two television stations within Australia and may control not more than one within 30 miles of a general post office of a capital city. Under the act which this Parliament approved a person can have control of a metropolitan station in, say, Sydney and Melbourne or of a metropolitan station and a country station. The proviso is that the two stations are not both to be within 30 miles of the general post office in the capital city.
As to control, section 92a states -
For the purposes … of this Act, a person shall be deemed to be in a position to exercise control of a licence if -
that person is in a positionto exercise control of the company that holds the licence; or
that person is in a position to exercise control of the . . . management of the station … or the selection or provision of the programmes to be televised by that station.
Section 92b provides -
For the purposes of this Division, a person who is . . . deemed to be in a position to exercise control of more than 15 per centum of the total votes that could be cast at a general meeting of a company is deemed to be in a position to exercise control . .
Turning to section 92f(1.) we find -
A licence is subject to a condition that substantial changes in the beneficial ownership of the shares in the company holding the licence, or in the memorandum or articles of association of that company, will not take place without the approval of the Minister.
Now I direct the attention of the House to section 92f (3.), which is in these terms -
The Minister shall not refuse his approval under this section except for the purpose of ensuring observance of, or compliance with, this Division or witha condition of the licence (including a condition applicable under a provision of this Division other than this section).
– You are not compelled to act on the recommendation, are you?
– What recommendation?
– The recommendation of the board.
– There is no compulsion.
– But you-
– Order ! The honorable member for Hindmarsh has already spoken.
– Section 92g requires that the articles of association shall contain certain provisions, including a provision that certain specific requirements of the act shall be adhered to. What I want to indicate to the House quite clearly is that nothing done by Ansett was in contravention of the Broadcasting and Television Act as it was approved by this Parliament.
– But you had contravened the board’s recommendation.
– I did not contravene the board’s recommendation at all. In point of fact, when I asked the board to make a recommendation, the board recommended that I continue to issue the licence notwithstanding the changes which had taken place in the shareholding. I hope the honorable member for Hindmarsh will allow me to speak in reasonable silence, just as he was allowed to speak a few moments ago.
To have prohibited Ansett’s purchase of the shares would, I believe, have required legislation with retrospective effect. I do not believe and the Government does not believe in that type of legislation. The successful company had been told that it would be issued with a licence, subject to certain conditions. When certain transactions took place on the Brisbane Stock Exchange, I wrote to the Stock Exchange and said that an inquiry would be made into these share transactions. The report on this inquiry having been received, it was decided that, as what had taken place was not in contravention of the act, the licence should be issued.
What does the issue of a licence mean so far as the Ansett interests are concerned? The Ansett organization was granted a licence in Melbourne for Station ATV, Channel 0. At that time the Ansett organization had 5 per cent, of the shareholding in the new Adelaide company and 4.5 per cent, of the shareholding in the new Perth company. At that point of time, it had control of one station only. As I have indicated, the act authorizes control of two stations. Therefore, the Ansett interests were free to obtain control of a second station, just as other interests in the community have obtained control of a second station over the years. But when we examined the articles of association of Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited we discovered that the voting right is limited to 15 per cent, irrespective of the level of shares which are held. Therefore, by purchasing 49 per cent, of the shares, the Ansett interests did not in fact obtain control of a second station within the meaning of the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act.
– They obtained more than 1 5 per cent.
– They obtained 49 per cent, of the shares, but had voting rights with respect to only 15 per cent.
– That gives Ansett control under the act.
– lt does not give him control.
– Under the act, it does.
– It does not. If the honorable member will look at the definition which I have read from the act he will see that to establish control, voting strength in excess of 15 per cent, is required. The point I emphasize in this matter is that even if we disregard the articles of association Ansett will only be controlling a second station and therefore will be only in the same position as many other people who are controlling television stations at the present time.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh has suggested that Mr. Ansett has a programme arrangement with the new Adelaide and Perth stations. I do not know where the honorable member gets his information from, but I would point out to him that existing stations right round Australia have network arrangements. I suggest that it would be almost impossible for a person profitably to conduct a television station in a metropolitan area unless he had some prospective outlet for the films which he obtains from overseas. In fact, a network arrangement is the only arrangement by which a television station can succeed. Different companies and different people buy the Australian rights to overseas programmes and unless they can have an outlet for those programmes beyond the one station which they may control, I believe they cannot compete successfully with those who have network arrangements.
I wish now to draw the attention of the House to the section 92f which was included in the act in 1960. When the amending legislation passed through the House of Representatives in 1960, sub-section (3.) was not included. When the bill went to the Senate, it was discovered that the Minister had power to approve or disallow share transactions. The Senate then agreed to an amendment by which this power was taken from the Minister. That amendment was approved of by members of the Labour Party. Therefore, if I have no authority to act with relation to the transactions complained of in this instance, it is only because the members of the Labour Party agreed that the Minister should not have such authority.
– Would you have acted on it if you had had it?
– That is not the question. I carry out the provisions of the act. The question now is not what I would do under different circumstances. The point I make is that what has been the position up to now has been so substantially because the Labour Party took no objection in 1960 to the Minister being deprived of that power. I believe that there was no alternative to what has been done in this instance in connexion with Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited. I submit that we have not put Ansett in any different position from that in which some other companies find themselves at the present time.
I remind the House that only last year my predecessor, Mr. Davidson, indicated some of the difficulties which had arisen in relation to television in this country. We must realize that in 1955 we had no experience of television at all, and that by 1960, when the act was amended, our experience was only limited. When we amended the act in 1960, it was believed that we had kept the definition of “ control “ so narrow as to ensure a good spread of holdings of shares in the various companies. But, the shrewd members of the business community and the shrewd lawyers discovered that the act permitted them to alter the articles of association of companies in such a way as to limit voting rights to 15 per cent., irrespective of whether a person holds more than 15 per cent. - even 95 per cent, of the shares.
– What would you say if, as Ansett was reported as having said in Brisbane a week ago would happen, the Ansett companies were to buy all the shares in this company?
– Under the articles of association of the company, Ansett has voting rights only with respect to 15 per cent, of the shares. In my view, the question is not so much his shareholding as his voting power in comparison with the voting power of the rest of the shareholders. If he bought 95 per cent, of the shares he would still have voting rights only in respect of 15 per cent. If, however, the remaining shareholders held voting rights in respect of only 5 per cent, of the shares, he would in reality have control, although it would not be control as defined by the act. At the moment, he has 49 per cent, of the shares but has voting rights with respect to only 15 per cent. Other share-holders have voting rights with respect to the other 51 per cent, of the shares. Therefore, he does not have control within the meaning of the act and, even if the limiting provision of the articles of association did not exist, he still would not have control if those who held the 51 per cent, of the shares were to act in concert against him.
It may be argued that Ansett could have the articles of association altered. I point out that he can do that only if he obtains the consent of 75 per cent, of those voting at an extraordinary meeting of shareholders of the company.
– Would he then lose his licence?
– I have only a moment or two left and I want to point out that my predecessor in this office, Mr. Davidson, indicated that because this difficulty had arisen the Government was giving consideration to amending the act. I have occupied the office of Postmaster-General for only a few months and it is a portfolio which has many implications. I am giving consideration to this matter, and I hope that before very long we shall have before us an amendment which will help to clarify situations such as this. I want to say clearly and emphatically that in my view, having regard to provisions of the act as it stands, no Minister occupying the position of Postmaster-General could at this point of time, restrain any person, whether it be Ansett or anybody else, who, already having contol of one station, had agreed to take 4 per cent, or 5 per cent, of shares in two other stations. This could be done only by introducing legislation which had retrospective effect, lt is complete fantasy for the honorable member for Hindmarsh to suggest that we have given preferential treatment to Mr. Ansett. If the honorable member knew the shareholdings of other television companies throughout Australia he would realize that Mr. Ansett, even at this stage, has a very minor interest in television when compared with some other people in the community.
– Don’t be ridiculous.
– It is not a question of whether it is ridiculous. The parties concerned have acted within the legislation approved by this Parliament. Surely any person is entitled to act within the legislation. The parties to the share transactions are not guilty of any offence nor are they guilty of any contravention of an act passed by Parliament. Therefore, I do not believe that a charge can be substantiated against Mr. Ansett in respect of his television activities.
– The board wanted the company to be owned and operated-
– The board issued its report. The company concerned bad a memorandum and articles of association which fixed the voting limit at IS per cent. No provision was included in the articles of association in an attempt to prevent anybody such as Mr. Ansett from purchasing a large number of shares in the company. 1 believe that the comments made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh will not stand examination having regard to the act passed by the Parliament and particularly to the amendment of the act in 1960, which was approved unanimously by the Australian Labour Party in both Houses of the Parliament.
.- The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has endeavoured not very skilfully to extricate the Government from the position in which it finds itself as a result of the treatment of Ansett Transport Industries Limited. The Australian people should he grateful to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) for bringing to public attention the very favorable treatment that the fortunate Mr. Ansett has received at the hands of Government supporters. I do not propose to concern myself to-day with the treatment that the Ansett organization has received because the audacity, arrogance and monopolistic practices it has indulged in under the direction of Mr. R. M. Ansett are quite in accordance with the outlook of Government members and with the trend that has developed, particularly in recent years, of industrial takeovers in the Commonwealth. However, I am concerned at the behaviour of Govern,ment supporters in relation to the issue of a television licence for Channel 0 in Queensland to Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited.
The company’s shareholdings are listed in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board when dealing with applications for television licences in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. The board stated in its report that one of its reasons for not recommending the grant of a licence to Panorama Television Proprietary Limited, the control of which rested with Mr. Ansett, was because it believed that to do so would tend to create monopolistic control of television. The board felt that Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited was purely a Queensland company which would be developed by Queenslanders. I am stating my objection to the fact that by means well known and practised in the business world and with the full approval of Government supporters the recommendations of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board have been thrown overboard. Some time ago applications were invited from persons interested in establishing a television station in Queensland. Three organizations submitted claims. They were Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited, Panorama Television Proprietary Limited and a company to be formed b a man called Lindsay. It displayed a united front as its shareholdings were to be divided between members of the Returned Servicemen’s League, the Australian Labour Party, the Australian Liberal Party, Electronic Industries Proprietary Limited and a number of other individuals. However, this united front did not meet with the favour of the board, which also brushed aside the application of Panorama Television Proprietary Limited, a company completely controlled by Ansett Transport Industries Limited.
The Australian Broadcasting Control Board recommended that a licence be granted to Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited, all the shares in which were held by Queenslanders. Its directorate included very respectable men of probity and honour, according to the board. Sir Alexander Murphy, Sir Arthur Fadden and Mr. K. D. Morris were well known directors of the company and I am sure that nobody would criticize the standing of these men in the Queensland community. The company issued 2,000,000 shares each paid to 6d. and it was announced in this House not ver’y long ago by the Postmaster-General that he would grant it the Queensland licence. I am sure that there could be no criticism of the Minister’s decision. As the board stated in its report, under the Broadcasting and Television Act the PostmasterGeneral is the licensing authority and, according to the board, the issue of licences rests entirely in the hands of the Minister.
Shortly after the announcement that the licence was to be granted to Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited a frenzied selling of the company’s shares occurred on the Brisbane Stock Exchange. A real bonanza was created for the fortunate people who held the 2,000,000 shares paid to 6d. each. The shares became a better investment than Mount Isa Mines Limited shares, and they jumped from 6d, to a peak of 6s. 3d. although the company had not commenced operations. Buying continued for several days and there was much consternation in the Queensland business community and in this Parliament. Questions were asked in this House about the company’s share transactions. The Postmaster-General informed us that he would hold an inquiry and that he would withhold the issue of the licence. The Minister’s statement seemed to placate members of the Parliament and of the Queensland community and an inquiry was commenced.
When it was completed the Minister announced that he proposed to approve the issue of a licence to Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited, notwithstanding the knowledge that Ansett Transport Industries Limited had acquired up to 49 per cent, of the total shareholding of Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited. Mr. Ansett, brushing aside public opinion in pursuit of his own interests, was reported in the press as saying that he was not responsible for the buying on the Brisbane Stock Exchange of shares in Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited. His statement was completely blown out a few days later as a result of the inquiry, and it is now public knowledge that Ansett Transport Industries Limited owns 49 per cent, of the shares in the new Queensland television company, which has not yet commenced operation in Brisbane. The above transactions have been described by the press as a buying spree on the Brisbane Stock Exchange. When the Postmaster-General announced that he was withholding the issue of the licence, we thought that when it was known that Ansett Transport Industries Limited had acquired 49 per cent, of the shares, which in effect is control of the station, the licence would not be issued. I am sure that every self-respecting citizen believed that the licence should not be issued in the circumstances. However, I am very pleased that the Postmaster-General did not on his own initiative issue the licence. The press reports that after consultation with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), following the inquiry, he decided to issue the licence to Ansett Transport Industries Limited.
I am sure that honorable members will agree that the very strong words used by the honorable member for Hindmarsh are well justified. We criticize the Government for its favoured treatment of Ansett Transport Industries Limited, which is the favorite son of this Government. In my opinion, the Government stands condemned in the eyes of the people of Australia for the blatant favoritism it has shown in allowing this company to gain control of a second metropolitan television station in Australia when the Australian Broadcasting
Control Board has expressed its horror of such a practice.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) mentioned three fields in which he said that Ansett Transport Industries Limited was receiving favoured treatment from the Government. The first field was television, and this part of the honorable member’s attack has been very well and adequately dealt with by my colleague, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). The honorable member also alleged that the Government had given the company tax benefits and preferential treatment in the field of civil aviation. As I represent the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who is in another place, I will speak mainly about civil aviation.
I cannot understand why the honorable member for Hindmarsh takes the attitude that he has taken towards Mr. Ansett over a long period of years in this House. He has made insinuations and has taken every opportunity to try to harm the Ansett organization. We all recall the question he asked in the House only two or three weeks ago when the propeller of an aircraft broke because of metal fatigue. This has never been known to happen before with this type of propeller or this type of engine anywhere in the world. It was caused entirely by metal fatigue, but the honorable member for Hindmarsh, in an effort to denigrate this very great organization, immediately insinuated that the servicing of the aircraft of Ansett-A.N.A. was not up to standard. Would he have said anything if this misfortune had befallen an aircraft of TransAustralia Airlines? Of course he would not.
Why is it that the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the great bulk of Opposition members have such a bitter resentment against Ansett Transport Industries Limited? Surely Ansett is a person of whom they should be proud. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He is a good Australian, just as they are. He started off with very little capital, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh told us. He first had a bus service running from Hamilton, I think it was, but he has built this up to an organization of which Australia can be proud. The organization employs 7,600 persons and I suppose most of them are members of trade unions. They ought to be supporters of the Australian Labour Party, but I should think that very few of them are. The organization pays £9,500,000 annually in wages and 42,000 shareholders and noteholders have an interest in it. Could the honorable member for Hindmarsh and other Opposition members think of any more certain way of losing the support of these people, whom they should be trying to woo, than to attack this great organization?
Ansett has done more to develop transport and tourist activities in Australia than any one else has. Goodness knows, we need tourists. We have an adverse trade balance on tourism. Many more people go abroad and spend money than come to Australia, and Ansett is one of the few people to develop tourist interests in Australia.
Let us look at the history of the airlines. We know that in the early post-war years the Australian Labour Party, which was then in office, tried to abolish the private airlines by the simple system of nationalizing them. It said that the national airline could run and no others could.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for Lalor was a member of that Government. The action it took was declared invalid by the High Court. As a result, a policy of having two major airlines was adopted. I say without any fear of contradiction or any shadow of doubt that this is the best possible policy. One has only to undertake a journey, whether by rail, air or any other means, over a route which does not benefit from competition, to learn how the service deteriorates. On the interstate air routes, breakfast and other services are provided, because there is competition, but on the intra-state routes, where competition does not exist, all the passenger gets is a tired sandwich or a soggy biscuit. Competition ensures that services improve. This applies also to railways, and the service on the railways gives no cause for pride.
Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited lost heavily, due more than anything else to the fact that it did not buy
Viscount aircraft when Trans-Australia Airlines did. lt bought DC6B’s. As a result of its losses, the airline was up for sale, and Ansett bought it. This seemed remarkable, because at the time Ansett did not have very much capital. But he was prepared to take the risk. He had ability and drive and he took over an airline that was in the doldrums. He has built it up until to-day it is one of the two great airlines in Australia.
– He built it up through favoritism.
– For many years the airlines have shared the business fairly evenly. T.A.A. has a little more than half. It has 51 per cent, of the business and Ansett-A.N.A. has 49 per cent. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said that1 this organization has been built up through favoritism. Let us go through the legislation and see whether any favoritism has been given. Let us look first at the airline routes. Some are allotted to one airline and some to the other. Of course, there must be rationalization and a rationalization committee, not the Government, decides which airline will get a route. Any honorable member who cares to read the reports of the Minister of Civil Aviation will see that this is so. The rationalization committee may hear a good many applications for routes and will decide to give one to Ansett-A.N.A. and another to T.A.A. For instance, both airlines applied for the Albury route and it was given to T.A.A. The intermediate stops on the Adelaide to Alice Springs run were given to T.A.A. When Ansett-A.N.A. wanted to expand its operations on the Brisbane to Longreach run it was told that it could not. T.A.A. was given preference in the Lae area. Activities have been balanced; one airline has been allowed to operate in one area and the other in another area. Ansett asked to be allowed to expand bis activities but his request was not granted. The rationalization committee divides the routes between the airlines.
Let us look at the way the Government’s business is handled. Only very recently, Mr. Ansett wrote to some members of the Government and the Cabinet and complained that he was not getting his fair share of government business. Last finan cial year, he received £1,328,197 worth and Trans-Australia Airlines received £2,155,108 worth. T.A.A. receives a large and increasing share of government business instead of that business being divided evenly, as the Ansett airline says it should be. In the financial year before last, the Ansett group obtained £1,535,371 worth of government business and T.A.A. £2,041,312 worth. So, over the last couple of years, and particularly during last financial year, there has been a discrepancy in favour of T.A.A. 1 turn now to the fleet position. Here, too, the discrepancy is in favour of T.A.A. The airlines are pretty evenly matched, but when you look through the list of aircraft, you find that T.A.A. has one more Viscount than Ansett-A.NA. and four more Fokker Friendships. So it goes on. Therefore, honorable members opposite cannot1 say that there has been any preference for or any discrimination in favour of Ansett. In fact, there has been discrimination in favour of T.A.A.
There is also the question of loans. It has been said that Ansett’s enterprise has been built up by government loans. He was merely given a government guarantee to enable him to raise a loan. He had to go out and get the loan himself and repay it. Let us not forget that. Ansett has repaid every one of his loans. On the last occasion, when he could have obtained a guarantee to enable him to purchase three aircraft worth £5,000,000 he managed to finance the transaction without even taking up the guarantee.
For the reasons that I have given, I believe that it is absolutely absurd to say that there has been discrimination of any sort in favour of Ansett-A.N.A.
.- The remarks just made by the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) indicate pretty clearly that the Government’s attitude towards Ansett Transport Industries Limited is totally different from its attitude towards any other private enterprise or section of private industry. How can Government supporters defend in this chamber a guarantee for the raising of a loan when that sort of assistance is extended to no other private organization? It has been said that the Commonwealth is always ready to finance the purchase of new aircraft for this organization. What other section of private enterprise can say that the Government is always ready to assist in the purchase of new equipment? Would any Minister in this Government take pride in saying in this place that the Government would guarantee the raising of capital for the development of any other industry, and, thereby, the accumulation of capital in that industry? Is not the Government’s attitude clearly shown by these things?
– Trans-Australia Airlines received a guarantee.
– But that is a government enterprise. It is run by the Government. Should not the Government be proud to say that it will develop that organization to the maximum extent possible? But how can the Government, representing the rest of the community in these matters, justify its actions, in guaranteeing funds for Ansett Transport Industries Limited? The Government does not do that sort of thing for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, for the sugar refining and chemical interests or for any section of small business. Yet its supporters declare in this place that they are proud that the Government has guaranteed capital for the development of this private monopoly of Ansett Transport Industries, which is developing enormously. The statements just made by the Minister for Air show clearly that that company is in a special position that has not been attained by any other private organization.
Let us have a look at the position in respect of aircraft. The Minister did not discuss this adequately, although he is knowledgeable about aircraft. Let me illustrate the discrimination that has been practised in seven respects in favour of Ansett Transport Industries. First, T.A.A. at one time decided to purchase Viscount aircraft, which proved to be very efficient under Australian conditions. Ansett, however, had refused to buy Viscounts, which operated on kerosene. It was not very long before the Government decided to impose a tax on aviation kerosene, thereby increasing the operating costs of T.A.A. at that time, I understand, by £300,000 a year. Why was this done? The purpose was to handicap T.A.A. and to give greater advantage to the Ansett organization, which was operating DC-6B aircraft. However, that was not enough.
Not long afterwards, Ansett, having decided that this was not sufficient, began to put further pressure on the Government, which responded by making an arrangement under which some of the Viscount aircraft of T.A.A. were transferred to the Ansett organization in exchange for DC-6 aircraft, which had been proved to be relatively inefficient. That is the second illustration of the way in which the Government has been prepared to assist Ansett.
Thirdly, it was reported that the Ansett organization was seeking Electra aircraft. Apparently, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) had received technical advice that the importing of Electra aircraft would be wrong. The “ Sydney Morning Herald”, on 21st March, 1959, reported that the Minister had refused Ansett a permit to import these aircraft. But it was not very long before behindthescenes manoeuvres took place. We then found that, within six months of the refusal of a permit to import the aircraft, the Government had changed its mind and permitted Ansett to import the machines that he wanted - at the cost of very scarce dollar funds. This was another example of the way in which special discrimination was extended in favour of Ansett.
The Minister for Air told us a few minutes ago that Mr. Ansett had not been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Perhaps he had not, but it would almost seem that he was bom with a telephone in his hand - a telephone ar the other end of which was the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) or the Minister for Civil Aviation. All that Mr. Ansett needs to get along in this world is a telephone - not a silver spoon. Nobody on this side of the House has any objection to a man using energy, drive and initiative We say that these qualities are needed more than any others in Australia at present. The attitude of complacency and conformity that starts with this Government and runs down through the Australian community is deadening our initiative. We praise initiative where we find it. But we say that Mr. Ansett has not achieved what he has by initiative, drive and ability. He has used the advantage of a special position of influence over Ministers in this Government to make the progress that he has managed to make.
Let us now consider some other points concerning the developments in the airline industry. This brings me to my fourth illustration. A few minutes ago, the Minister for Air told us that TransAustralia Airlines had been given preference on certain intra-state air routes. He cited the services to Albury, Alice Springs and New Guinea. However, 1 submit that a careful examination of the situation shows that T.A.A. has been given access only to intra-state routes that are uneconomic and would not be operated at all unless they were operated by the government airline at a loss. T.A.A. has not been given preference on any intra-state services. It can manage to conduct services on some of these routes by setting off the losses against profits on other routes. But Ansett is not prepared to do that. He wants to make a profit on any operation in which he engages.
At the same time as Ansett has been given all these advantages, there has been a continual and general refusal to allow T.A.A. to engage in intra-state services. Why will not the Government allow this airline to engage in intra-state services in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, where the profits are? Why not allow T.A.A. to do this and let Ansett go to the High Court of Australia to stop it if he will? That is not competition in the eyes of the Government. In its eyes, competition is represented by this rather naive sort of two-airline system. Since when have two operators in an industry been the hall-mark of competition? 1 ask the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) to give us the answer to that question. What has been regarded as competition elsewhere?
The fifth point that I want to mention in respect of Ansett’s operations is the way in which he has been permitted to take over almost every other private airline in Australia. In 1957, he took over Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and, in 1958, Butler Air Transport Limited, in New South Wales, which now operates as Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited. What about the pioneer, Butler, whose airline was taken over? The Government had nothing to say when Ansett steamrollered Butler, a pioneer airline operator in New South Wales. The Government refused to have anything to do with that. Also in 1958, Ansett took over Queensland Airlines Proprietary Limited. In 1959, he took over Guinea Airways Limited. In 1960, he attempted to take over East- West Airlines Limited. In 1961, he took over Mandated Airlines Limited, in New Guinea, and, in 1963, MacRobertson Miller Airlines Limited, in Western Australia. If the Government is concerned to do something about competition in the airlines business why is it not prepared to do something to prevent Ansett gobbling up every other private airline in Australia? That practice is facilitated. As in the case of television licences, the Government is not prepared to take a realistic attitude, lt is supposed to have been working for three or four years to produce legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices, but it will do nothing in practice to discourage the absorption and take-over by the Ansett organization of firms in the transport industry and the television industry.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) referred to a number of other matters which no Government supporter has chosen so far to deal with. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) made a completely inadequate answer in respect of television licences. He showed that the Government does not intend to do anything to stop the take-over through the stock exchange of television companies in this country. The provisions of the act are totally unreal. The Minister said something about an amendment to the act in the far distant future. By the time that amendment is introduced it will be useless to prevent the take-over of firms. Anybody who knows anything about business will know that any amendment introduced by this Government will do nothing to stand in the way of large concerns taking over small ones. The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to the fact that Ansett himself has indicated that his company was able to obtain great advantages from tax concessions. The honorable member for Hindmarsh quoted from “ The Bulletin “ to show that the Commissioner for Taxation appeared to be acting under Commonwealth authority in this respect. No honorable member opposite has chosen to deny that. It is clear that in many respects Ansett enjoys special tax concessions.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Failes)__
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We seem to have got away from the subject-matter of the debate, which deals, among other things, with the purchase by Mr. Ansett of shares in Universal Telecasters Limited. I submit that the Queenslanders who placed on the stock market their shares in that company had a perfect right to do so. As a shareholder in some undertakings I venture to suggest that Reg Ansett has not made a very good buy. It will be many years before he will get a return on his outlay. I do not make any apologies for Mr. Ansett, because he has proved his ability to look after himself. One thing he has is plenty of courage. If there were a few more like him in Australia this country would be a better place in which to live.
I think I am qualified to speak about the operations of airline companies. I recently travelled overseas and in every country in which there was only one airline operating the public was pushed around, just as it is pushed around on government railways. In those parts of Europe, Africa and America where only one airline company operates, without any competition, you certainly get pushed around. I remember the days before Trans-Australia Airlines existed. At that time we had only Australian National Airways and the Labour Government decided to bring T.A.A. into being. It is the Labour Opposition that now keeps T.A.A. going. Labour supporters are the ones who use T.A.A. most. You very rarely see Opposition members on an Ansett aircraft.
– They are not game to chance it with Ansett.
– I have been flying with Ansett since he had only Dakotas. He has never lost an aircraft. The only aircraft Ansett ever lost was a T.A.A. plane.
– He is better at owning aeroplanes than flying them.
– He can fly them too. I do not want to defend Mr. Ansett but I do want to defend the attitude of the Government. This Government stands for private enterprise. That is where it differs from the Opposition. We on this side of the chamber represent private enterprise. We represent the people who want a chance in this country. We stand against regimentation and unnecessary controls. But for this Government Australia would never have reached its present state of prosperity. I am proud to be a member of a party that stands for private enterprise and nonregimentation.
– Ansett is a monopoly.
– If the Ansett organization is a monopoly, it is only because the Labour Party allowed it to become a monopoly. When Labour was in power it did not try to close down Ansett.
The people in Queensland who sold their shares to Universal Telecasters Limited did only what they had a right to do. They did what any member of this House can do with any shares that he may own; and I think most honorable members, including members of the Opposition, own some shares. They have a right to go to any stockbroker at any time and sell their shares. That is all the Queensland people did - nothing more. It will be a sorry day for Australia if the people are ever denied the right to sell their shares. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has said that he will look at the relevant legislation. That may be a good idea, but at the same time I must point out that anybody, if he wishes and is prepared to pay the price, may buy Reg Ansett’s shares. After all, that is all Reg Ansett did. If we do not allow private enterprise to operate as it operated in Queensland in connexion with this matter we will never have progress in this country. Queensland, particularly northern Queensland, will progress only through private enterprise.
– What do you think of Ned Kelly?
– He was a member of the Labour Party. I have been reminded that the matter of preferential treatment has been raised in this debate. No preferential treatment whatever has been given to Mr. Ansett. The relevant act which this Parliament passed had the approval of the Labour Party. But for the protection afforded by the legislation there could be preferential treatment. For goodness sake let us never have preferential treatment from this House.
– That is what you are seeking in the re-distribution proposals.
– 1 am not talking about my seat. I can win it at any time without any re-distribution.
– Even from Brisbane?
– Yes, even from Brisbane.
– Tell us about the Country Party broadcasts in Tasmania.
– You helped to stop them. I repeat that there has been no preferential treatment of Universal Telecasters Limited. This Government stands hard and fast for private enterprise. Let us always be that way.
.- The subject matter before the House is the preferential treatment given by the Government to the Ansett group of companies. It does not concern, as the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) seemed to believe, the legal difficulties in controlling monopolies in Australia. It does not concern the struggle which the battlers, such as Mr. Ansett with his coach service, had before the war, as the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) seemed to believe. It does not concern private enterprise in general, as the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw) seemed to believe, lt concerns the preferential treatment given by the Government to the Ansett group of companies. They are a State-sponsored and State-subsidized organization in which private persons reap all the benefits.
Preferential treatment has been given to the Ansett group of companies in the two activities - airlines and television - where the Commonwealth’s interest is always the determining factor. Nobody can run an airline in Australia without the Commonwealth’s benevolent interest, first, because aircraft cannot be imported unless the Commonwealth permits them to be imported and, secondly, because nobody can run an airline unless the Commonwealth grants space to service the aircraft on a Commonwealth aerodrome. By the judicious use of those two powers this Government has seen that the Ansett group of companies has obtained the aircraft that it wants and the services and facilities that it wants, and that no other company has had the aircraft or the facilities that it wanted. If one wants to talk about battlers in the aircraft industry one might sympathize with Butler Air Transport Limited, which was not able to import the Caravelles it wanted, because the Government vetoed the application. The Butler company was not able to use the facilities at Mascot to service any aircraft it might get because the Government rejected the application. Again, what about East-West Airlines Limited? That company wanted to import some Friendship aircraft, but the Government rejected the application. Not content with seeing that East-West Airlines was restricted to its then pre-war facilities with DC3 aircraft, pressure was brought to bear on the management of the company to sell out to or amalgamate with the Ansett companies. My authority for that statement is the former member for New England, who asserted that that is what took place at an interview between the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) and representatives of East-West Airlines.
– Butler was not given the right to start up again with Caravelles.
– I mentioned that. I notice that in the honorable gentleman’s own electorate this week local government authorities have been protesting at the deterioration in the service between Broken Hill and Wilcannia and outlying towns since Butler was taken over by Ansett, and the consequent waste in expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth on some of those aerodromes. The preference which was shown to the airline activities of the Ansett companies is quite clear if one looks at the treatment meted out not only to TransAustralia Airlines but also to Butler and to East- West Airlines, and to anybody else who was then in the field.
The other great activity that the Commonwealth determines is television. The constitutional position of this Parliament in respect of television is quite dubious. Nevertheless, nobody is prepared to set up a television station, to enter into contracts to erect a station, to acquire films or to obtain staff for the station, unless the Commonwealth has granted a licence. That means that those who get the licences get the services. Nobody else can compete with them. One might have thought no particular preference was indicated in granting licences because there arc only a few licences in any case. But the Government has not been content with giving the licence for the third commercial television channel in Melbourne to the Ansett group of companies or with permitting those companies to purchase a significant interest - the biggest single interest - in the latest commercial television stations in Adelaide and Perth; it has now acquiesced in the take-over by the Ansett companies of the latest commercial television station in Brisbane. lt will be remembered that last February the Postmaster-General tabled the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and that, on the basis of that report, he then said that the Government was granting a licence to Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited. The board had rejected the application by Panorama Television Proprietary Limited, the Ansett subsidiary, because it was not a local company. Then the Ansett companies took over 49 per cent, of the shares in Universal Telecasters and the Minister has said that he is powerless to do anything about the situation. But it is not only that. The Ansett companies acted in this matter quite surreptitiously and then, when they were discovered, they defied and ridiculed the Government over it.
– That is not right. How is that right?
– You are pretty thickskinned if you take what Mr. Ansett said about it with equanimity. He was not frank with you.
– He was frank.
– He was frank after a couple of weeks or so, but when this great number of share transfers took place and when the Minister said that he would inquire into the matter, Mr. Ansett gave no information at all. It was a couple of weeks later that Mr. Ansett came clean and said, in effect, “ What can you do about it? “. Perhaps, as the Minister has said, he can do nothing about it. The act was last amended in this respect four years ago, and this is not the first time that the Government’s wishes in carrying out its television policy have gone astray. The former Attorney-General, now the Chief
Justice, drafted conditions which were to apply to the use of programmes by the provincial stations, but the High Court held those conditions invalid. The Government has had a great deal of defiance from the companies and has had a lack of success in the courts over the present act, which has not been amended for four years.
The Government should not just sit idly by in this matter. In television there is a growing monopolization of facilities, which can operate only if the Commonwealth gives its blessing. We find now that there is a narrower control and a narrower ownership of television facilities in Australia than there is of radio or even of newspapers. The latest and the most pervasive and pursuasive of mass media is in the hands of a very small group of companies indeed. The Government can do something about this. This is not private enterprise or competition in the sense in which those terms are ordinarily used, because people cannot go into the activities of civil aviation or television without government blessing. The Government’s blessing has been given to an extraordinary extent in television now, just as it has been for the last six years or so in civil aviation, to the one set of companies. There may be historical reasons for the Government’s benevolence to the Ansett companies in respect of civil aviation, because Mr. Ansett took over the old Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited which was an inefficient and failing company. The Government must feel grateful to Mr. Ansett for making its two airline civil aviation policy - it calls it, its competitive system1; it is really its duplicating system - viable and credible. Nevertheless, this is no excuse for the Government now giving its blessing to the further extension of the Ansett interests and the preference to the Ansett interests in television. The Government’s guarantee of a 10 per cent, profit to the Ansett companies in respect of civil aviation in fact applies to every activity that they undertake. That means that the television interests and every other subsidiary interest - tourism, hotels and so on - that the Ansett companies take on are subject to a government guarantee for the remainder of a 15-year period, of 10 per cent, profit per annum. This is not free enterprise. This is not private competition. This is Government preference. The public should be alerted to the way in which a few of its outside controllers are benefiting from this Government’s actions.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have never met Reginald Myles Ansett personally, and it is my utter misfortune that I do not possess one share in any of his companies. Therefore, to that extent, I can speak with objectivity on this question. I ask myself, as I. always do when replying to an Opposition charge - I hope with no cynicism: Why is this matter brought before the House at this time? Why have members of the Labour Party, who earlier this afternoon to a man stood and demanded that this matter of “ public importance “ be debated, brought it on at this stage? Throughout the debate, an average of only about a dozen of them have been in the chamber. I ask myself: Was this discussion sought because on a certain matter that will come before the House before it rises for the winter recess, the Labour Party is hopelessly and utterly split? Is this a device to waste the time of the House in the hope that next week the business of the House will be pushed through and little time will be left for the debate on the education measure?
– Get back to the subject.
– The honorable member for Barton is squeaking again. Next week, when the education measure is brought before the House, he will have a chance to squeak again and to stand up in this House for the first time and be counted on a vital issue that affects the whole nation.
On the other hand, I wonder whether the proposal to discuss this matter is not just another compulsive or impulsive effort by members of the Labour Party to show how much they despise private enterprise in general and the Ansett group of companies in particular. We know that the Labour Party is hell bent on a path of destroying private enterprise in Australia. That is in its platform, to which members of the party adhere at every opportunity.
– This is rubbish.
– The honorable member for Scullin says, “ This is rubbish “. 1 remind him that this is not the first time that he has found himself out of step with the constitution of the Labour Party. Perhaps I should refer him to that constitution, and particularly to the reference to the nationalization of production, distribution and exchange.
The Labour Party has this fear of private enterprise. It has established as its two main targets the banking industry, which it tried abortively to nationalize some years ago, and the airline industry In 1946 the Labour Party tried, by legislative means, to destroy private enterprise in the Australian airline industry, but it failed. Now it is trying another method - the smear method. It is concentrating on one man and smearing his name across the breadth of this nation.
The raising of this matter was foreshadowed on 16th April by a question asked in this House. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who asked the question, had the gall to refer proudly to his authorship of that question in the course of this debate. I would have thought that any decent member of the House, after being admonished as the honorable member was by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), would have crawled back into his hole and would not have stood up in the House and been proud of his question. He did not repeat the question to-day, but I will repeat it so that it can become part of the record of this debate. The honorable member asked this question of the Prime Minister: -
In order to safeguard passengers using AnsettA.N.A. aircraft against unnecessary risk of life, will the Prime Minister request the Minister for Civil Aviation to order the grounding of all Ansett aircraft until the maintenance and general serviceability of such aircraft have been checked by engineers and mechanics who are free from the obligations and consequences associated wilh the greed for greater profits?
– Hear, hear! That was right, too.
– Now the honorable member says, “ Hear, hear! “ That question was asked a day or so after one of the finest pieces of airmanship ever displayed in this country by an Australian pilot. But all that the honorable member for Hindmarsh could do was come into the House and smear the airline for which the pilot who performed that piece of airmanship works. Then to-day the honorable member stands up and says that he is proud of having asked that question and wonders why the Prime Minister spoke to him as he did.
This matter of so-called public importance includes the word “ preferential “. In the Oxford dictionary “ preferential “ is defined as the liking of one person better than another. There is a comparative element in the meaning of the word. The honorable member for Hindmarsh nods in agreement. If there is a liking of one person rather than the other by this Government, whom does the Government hate in the airline field? It likes Ansett; that is the implication. It must be against somebody. Who is it?
– Is it against TransAustralia Airlines? Is that the Opposition’s proposition? We should stop talking about Butler and the other people and think about Ansett-A.N.A.’s main competitor, namely T.A.A. I remind honorable members opposite that when this Government took over from the Labour Government in 1949 T.A.A. had accumulated losses amounting to several hundreds of thousands of pounds. But its dividend rate rose from 31 per cent., when the present Government came into office, to 5 per cent, in 1957-58, to 5i per cent, in 1960-61, and to 7 per cent, in 1962-63. I put it to any reasonable man: Is this evidence that this Government gives preferential treatment to Ansett airlines, compared with T.A.A.?
– Of course it does.
– This is a curious kind of reasoning that the honorable member for Hindmarsh exhibits. It is the kind of reasoning which could only come out of the kind of mind that the honorable member has.
On the question of preference in television, on 18th April, 1963, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made a speech in which he quoted a statement that he made on 8th April, 1962. Presumably this is the Labour Party’s policy. He said -
The Broadcasting Control Board has been reduced to impotence.
That is not a very kind word; that is not a very flattering word. It is not kind or flattering to describe the five distinguished members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board as being impotent. But the Leader of the Opposition, undaunted, went on to say -
It is being used as a rubber stamp for decisions already reached by the Cabinet in private, at the urging of its friends. The idea that the Control Board’s recommendations have any authority is a myth and a farce. The people will be shocked when, after the series of expensive hearings the farce ends with the announcement which the Government has already decided to make.
That was a shocking statement for the Leader of the Opposition to make, because if it is true it means that Messrs. Osborne, Donovan, Mair, White and Yeo have no integrity at all. That, is what that statement means. The honorable member for Hindmarsh agrees that is what the Leader of the Labour Party said. The men I have named are members of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. They are men of integrity. They have the responsibility of recommending who should receive licences, as they see the matter on the evidence presented to them. This matter of “public importance “ has wasted more than two hours of the time of the House. “ In my opinion, the proposal to discuss it was utter humbug and has done no credit to this chamber.
– Order! This discussion is now concluded.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill and of the associated Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for certain expenditure for which provision was not made in the Appropriation Bill 1 963 -64. The various items contained in this bill can be considered in committee, and I propose at this stage to refer only to the major provisions.
Further appropriations totalling £7,800,000 are required for ordinary departmental services but, because of savings under other appropriations, it is estimated that the actual expenditure will not exceed the Budget provision of £59,000,000 by more than about £2,800,000. The additional appropriations include £1,907,000 for assisted migration, of which £1,587,000 is for British migration; £360,000 for contributions to various United Nations activities; and £300,000 for salaries in the Taxation Branch.
Additional appropriations totalling £15,500,000 are sought by the service departments, including appropriations of £10,800,000 for- the Department of Air, mainly for the purchase of TFX aircraft from the United States of America. However, because of savings under other appropriations, it is expected that the Budget provision of £251,700,000 will only be exceeded by £8,600,000, making an estimated total expenditure for the year on defence services of £260,300,000.
The additional appropriations sought for war and repatriation services amount to £658,000, which in the main covers increases in salaries and administrative expenses in the Repatriation Department.
Under business undertakings an amount of £3,700,000 is sought. However, because of savings under other items it is expected that the Budget estimate of £135,200,000 will only be exceeded by approximately £2,000,000. Under this heading, Commonwealth Railways seek an appropriation of £285,000 to provide for additional working expenditures, whilst the Postmaster-General’s Department has sought additional appropriations totalling £”3,048,000, mainly to cover approved increases in salary and penalty rates. However, because of savings under other items of that department it is estimated that the Budget estimate of £113,800,000 will not be exceeded by more than about £1,500,000. An additional amount of £337,000 is sought for broadcasting and television services, £200,000 of which will be paid to the Australian Broadcasting Commission for increased operational expenses, including cost of salary margins and other allowances which were not included in the original appropriation.
An amount of £679,000 is sought for the Territories, including £335,000 for the Northern Territory and £336,000 for the
Australian Capital Territory. The additional appropriations for the Territories are mainly to cover increases in salaries and administrative expenses, lt is estimated that the Budget provision of £42,044,000 will be exceeded only by about £257,000 because of savings under other items.
When the Budget was prepared, it was estimated that £62,500,000 of expenditure on defence services would have to be charged to the Loan Fund in order to bring the Consolidated Revenue Fund into balance for the year. Provision was therefore made accordingly. Receipts of the Consolidated Revenue Fund are now expected to be greater than was estimated at the time of the Budget. Expenditure also will increase, but the balance is expected to favour revenue. It will probably not be necessary, therefore, to charge as much as £62,500,000 of expenditure on defence services to the Loan Fund. But the final outcome cannot be estimated precisely at this stage. I am therefore seeking authority to charge, as necessary, up to £22,500,000 more of expenditure on defence services, which it had been otherwise proposed to charge to the Loan Fund, to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
At the end of a financial year the receipts and the expenditures of the Consolidated Revenue Fund are rarely precisely in balance. It is possible that there might be a surplus in the Consolidated Revenue Fund even after meeting from that fund more expenditure on defence services than was originally intended. It is therefore proposed that provision should be made for an appropriation of £20,000,000 for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. Any payment that is made under this authority will be used for the redemption of debt. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary authority for additional expenditure in 1963-64 on certain items of capital works and services. Although additional appropriations of £1,777,000 are sought it is expected that after allowing for savings in other appropriations, the total expenditure will not exceed the budget estimate of £182,691,000.
An amount of £294,000 is included in the bill for the acquisition of a building in Paris for a chancery for the Department of External Affairs. Another major item in the bill is £350,000 for additional advances to co-operative building societies in the Australian Capital Territory following a marked increase in applications for home building assistance. Other additional appropriations include £223,000 for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £7.18,000 for the Commonwealth Railways and £126,000 for the Australian National University. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In presenting to the Parliament the Supply Bill 1964-65, I should like to explain to honorable members a further change that the Government has decided to make in the form of the annual appropration measures, including the Supply Bill Briefly, the Government has decided that, from 1964-65, the contents of the Appropriation Bill and the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill will be amalgamated, subject to the separation out and inclusion in separate measures of any particular items which, as a matter of interpretation, do not fall within the description of appropriations for the “ ordinary annual services of the Government”. A similar amalgamation has been made of the two Supply Bills formerly presented to the Parliament.
I believe that this change is of sufficient importance for me to explain to the House some of the background to the Government’s decision. In 1961, the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, as part of its examination of the financial documents presented to the Parliament, held an inquiry into the separate estimates for additions, new works and other services involving capital expenditure. The fiftyfourth report of that committee set out the results of the inquiry. In it one will find details of earlier considerations of this question of ordinary annua] services going back as far as the opinions of AttorneyGeneral Deakin in 1901 and of more recent, although in essence no different, statements by the Solicitor-General, Sir Kenneth Bailey.
The investigation stimulated an examination of the origin of, and the necessity for, the division of proposed annual services of the Government into separate appropriation measures, and it was found that the matter hinged upon an interpretation of sections 53 and 54 of the Constitution. These provisions are vital to the bi-cameral structure of the Commonwealth Parliament as they preserve the financial initiative of the House of Representatives and limit the power of the Senate to amend money bills. On the other hand, however, section 54 does provide the Senate with a most necessary safeguard against the practice of “ tacking “, or, to use Quick and Garran ‘s phraseology, “An attempt on the part of the House of Representatives to embody in the annua] Appropriation Bill provisions irrelevant and foreign thereto - a course which would prejudice the right of the Senate to amend or reject such provisions “.
It was found that, in the early days of the Commonwealth, some discussion had centred on the question whether there should be a division between capita] and current expenditure. However, it had been pointed out then that this was not the relevant distinction. For instance, on the introduction of the first Supply Bill into the Senate in June 1901, a debate took place on the question whether certain expenses in connexion with the royal visit and reception were “ ordinary annual services of the Government” within the meaning of the Constitution. This debate and the subsequent preparation of the first estimates for new works and buildings prompted the Treasurer to obtain legal advice on sections 53 and 54. Attorney-General Deakin advised that appropriations for buildings required in the ordinary course of departmental business were appropriations for the ordinary annual services within the meaning of the Constitution and that whether they should be included in a separate bill was a matter of policy merely.
In 1951 the question was raised again when the Auditor-General annexed to his annual report an opinion of the SolicitorGeneral on the content of the Appropriation Bills. The situation which concerned the Auditor-General, and which still exists in the current bills, was that their contents were not mutually exclusive in the nature of their proposed expenditures, mainly because of the inclusion in the main Appropriation Bill of “ capital “ expenditure relating to the defence services. The Solicitor-General expressed the view that the ordinary annual services of the Government may be described as those services provided or maintained within any year which the Government may, in the light of its powers and authority, reasonably be expected to provide or maintain as the occasion requires. The fact that the expenditure is incurred on an item of a capital nature is not the determinant in deciding whether expenditure is “ordinary annual”. This opinion was followed by a debate in the Senate, in which it was moved that the opinion be acted upon and the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill be regarded as a bill which the Senate may not amend. The motion was resolved in the negative following an equal division.
In the inquiry which led to the fiftyfourth report, the Public Accounts Committee obtained opinions and evidence from the Solicitor-General who, after further careful thought, confirmed that - and here I quote from paragraph 20(1) of his memorandum of 6th March, 1961, printed as appendix A to the report - strictly on the ordinary principles of constitutional interpretation, there are no legal objections to the inclusion in an ordinary annual appropriation bill of all the provisions that are now customarily included in an annual appropriation (Works and Services) Bill, with the possible exception of certain types of grants.
I should add that, in all his opinions, the Solicitor-General emphasized that the question whether a particular Appropriation Bill dealt exclusively with appropriations for the ordinary annual services of the Government was one to be resolved between the two Houses of Parliament and not by the courts.
The report of the Public Accounts Committee also recorded the administrative advantages and the more effective parliamentary procedures which would flow from an amalgamation of the main Appropriation Bill and the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill.
The Public Accounts Committee refrained from making a positive recommendation, although the clear implication to be drawn from its report is that there ought to be a change in the present practice, which is open to much misunderstanding and confusion. Clearly enough, the description in the title of the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill, “ for the purposes of additions, new works and other services involving capital expenditure “, carries an implication that the bill includes all items of a capital nature. On the other hand, there is no benefit to be gained, and a good deal of labour involved, in attempting to separate all expenditure that could be comprehended within the term “ works and services “. And, as I have said earlier, this is not the relevant distinction in this context. What is relevant is not the distinction between “capital” and “current” but the distinction between those services which are, and those which are not, ordinary annual services of the Government. This is the distinction which we have decided shall obtain henceforth.
One of the matters which falls to be considered in relation to this distinction is the treatment for this purpose of grants to the States. We have received legal advice that, at least in some cases, such grants should not be regarded as being for the ordinary annual services of the Government. On the other hand, there will be a significant number of cases in which an appropriation for a section 96 grant will be an appropriation for the ordinary annual service of the Government. Parliament might, for example, pass a law approving certain grants to the States on the occurrence of specified future events, and include in that law the statement of the terms and conditions of the grants. In such a case, both Houses might properly regard the provision of the funds to service the grants as being for the ordinary annual services of the Government, especially if the law approving the grants contained express provision that the grants were to be made out of moneys to be appropriated by the Parliament. It follows that a grant to the States will not be regarded as being for the ordinary annual services, unless it is clear from the circumstances that the grant should be so regarded.
The unsatisfactory nature of the division between the existing appropriation measures is apparent. Both bills contain a mixture of items of proposed expenditure, some ordinary annual services of the government, some not, and yet custom dictates that one bill the Senate may not amend at all and that the other within limits, it may. It is basic to the Government’s decision that in future the distinction should at least be rational. One bill will contain proposals for ordinary annual services. Proposals that are not will form the subject of a separate measure. The first-mentioned bill will be one that the Senate cannot amend, although it may request amendments. The other will be capable of amendment, subject to the restrictions imposed by section 53 of the Constitution; and insofar as the Senate cannot amend such a bill, it may make requests.
Following the amendment last year of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives and the review, in association with the Public Accounts Committee, of the Budget document, a clearer presentation of financial information to the Parliament at Budget time has been achieved. The amalgamation of the two bills for the ordinary annual services of the Government will be a further step towards greater simplicity of documentation and procedures. Honorable members will also note another change in the form of this bill. In future the Repatriation Department will appear within the departmental group, which will appear, generally, in alphabetical order. The remaining expenditures of the war and repatriation group will be included under the relative controlling department. For instance the War Service Homes Division will be shown under the Department of Housing and the Australian War Memorial under the Department of the Interior. The Public Accounts Committee has agreed to this change. I consider that it will further assist honorable members in their consideration of appropriation measures.
The purpose of this bill is to seek appropriations of £423,704,000 to carry on the normal services of Government during the first five months of 1964-65. The total sought comprises -
In general, these amounts represent approximately five-twelfths of the 1963-64 appropriations, with the exception of those items covered by programmes to ensure the orderly continuation of works services, including the day-to-day purchases of plant and equipment. However, the amount of £126,382,000 for Defence Services makes provision for any necessary new services and also for large contractual payments due in the first five months of the financial year.
An amount of £16,000,000 is sought for an advance to the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on ordinary annual services to the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In my second-reading speech on the Supply Bill 1964-65, I outlined the reasons why it had been decided to include in that bill provision only for the ordinary annual services of the Government. The purpose of this bill is to provide an advance of £1,000,000 for the Treasurer to meet expenditure during the first five months of the financial year for other than the ordinary annual services of the Government. This would include expenditure for such purpose as a grant to a State for, say, flood relief, and extension service grants to the States for the dairy industry, which are continued from year to year. When the appropriation measures are presented in the Budget session the funds required will be itemised.
The Advance to the Treasurer in the main Supply Bill cannot, and will not, be used for payments for other than the ordinary annual services of the Government. I commend the bill to the honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23rd April (vide page 1463), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This legislation is designed to replace the present Commonwealth Atd Roads Act which expires on 30th June, 1964. It proposes to provide grants to the States for roads during the years 1964-65 to 1968-69. I was rather struck by the words of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) who indicated when introducing the measure that in preparing this legislation the Government had enjoyed the benefit of many viewpoints expressed by representatives of organizations and by individuals. I would have hoped that in the year 1964 we would have got a little beyond the point where, in introducing legislation on great national problems such as roads, which occupy such an important place in the pattern of Aus tralia’s transport, the Treasurer would consider himself to be fully armed merely after discussing the matter with, and obtaining the view-points of, representatives of organizations and of individuals.
For many years now the tasks of road construction in Australia and the development of road and other forms of transport have had a great impact upon the national economy and, in my view, at any rate, these matters call for a great deal more consideration than mere discussions on the level indicated by the Treasurer. I could not help but feel that the Treasurer’s words were merely political and were not meant to lend any colour to the legislation we are now asked to discuss. I propose to refer to two or three other passages of his speech in order to emphasize the point I am now making. The Treasurer went on to say -
Roads, of course, are only one branch of Australian economic development. Governments must also provide rail, port and air facilities, housing, education, health, water and sewerage services, and power supplies, to mention only some of the more important. In considering what resources can be made available for roads it is necessary to keep in view these other competing demands as well as the still larger and more varied needs of the private sector of the economy for resources to encompass the growth of industry.
I wonder for how many more years we in this national Parliament, and particularly those on the Government side, are to allow our thoughts to be clouded on the need to do something realistic about transport throughout Australia and about our roads in particular. It is true that the Government must provide for all these things, but is there anybody in this House or out of it who feels that the problem of housing has any impact on the need for a highly efficient road transport system, or that education, health, water and sewerage services impinge upon our capacity to develop a transport system in keeping with the nation’s needs? If that is our belief, then for so long as we hold it will we wander from point to point without getting down to the basis of what is necessary to develop an economic transport system.
I put it to the House that the mention of roads throws up the question of transport in all its forms. In a country such as Australia transport is the key to sound economics and its importance is related not only to secondary industries. Transport touches upon our standard of life as it affects the cost of- everything we use. The rapid development of Sydney and Melbourne is the point around which the future economy of Australia is being constructed. Everlastingly and ever more importantly grows the need for an examination of our transport requirements in all their forms. Later in his second-reading speech the Treasurer made this point -
Necessarily, however, we have had to make our own assessment of what resources should be allocated to roads; this is in the context of fastdeveloping needs in other sectors.
I believe it is true that the authority which does the spending is the authority which should pay some attention to the amount to be allocated, but one does not get the necessary information to make an examination merely as the Treasurer indicated - by talking the matter over with representatives of organizations and with individuals. The time has long gone when this Parliament should have had its own authority dealing with transport, an authority to report fully to the Parliament on the proper needs of transport. Until we establish such an authority we shall go on from year to year watching our heart being eaten out.
Members of the Australian Country Party revel to some extent in the fact that there is provision in the legislation that 40 per cent, of the allocation must be spent on rural roads. But what have we heard from the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales, each with a different political philosophy? As yet rural roads have not been satisfactorily defined and the time is coming when Victoria and New South Wales, because of the enforced expenditure on rural roads, will have better rural roads than main roads in the same areas. I was born and reared in the country and I wish to say that the development of country roads is tremendously important, but it has to be organized for the greatest possible benefit on a national level for every £1 spent. In the Treasurer’s own words, all he is doing is discussing the problem with individuals or representatives of organizations and it is at that point I join issue with him. I say to members of the Australian Country Party that the question has gone quite beyond the realm of politics. Transport has become national in character and its problems will not be resolved if the Treasurer puts aside the question of transport for the next five years on the mere passing of- the legislation before us. That is what the passing of this legislation means. Australia’s transport requirements will be put into a locker for five years and that is where the Government’s responsibility will finish. The attitude of Government supporters is, “ We find the money and the States can do the rest”. But has not the time arrived for an over-riding examination of every aspect of transport, including a study of the manner of spending every £1 that is spent on roads?
At the last Premiers’ Conference, the present Deputy Premier of New South Wales appealed for a review of the method of expenditure of road funds, but the Treasurer says simply that’ he. talked to representatives of organizations and to individuals and that is his only concern. We are making a slap-dash approach to our transport problems, an approach underlined in legislation of the kind before us. It is so easy for a government which has the collecting authority and the spending power to dispose of its responsibility for roads by saying to the States, “ There is the money, take it or leave it”. The time has gone when a government, irrespective of its political colour, can say in a developing nation like Australia, “ Take it or leave it “. The time has arrived for a co-ordinating committee with State and Federal representatives to reach a real understanding of our transport needs. On the passing of this legislation we will stand back and wait for another five years. The Treasurer said in his second-reading speech -
Primarily, of course, the Commonwealth role remains a financing role, the main responsibility for the contruction and upkeep of roads resting with the State governments. . . .
How easy it is to shirk the responsibility of national transport development by saying that virtually the Federal Government’s only role is a financing role. How silly it is! How long would we exist in any kind of industry if we provided the money to be spent but showed no interest in how it was spent or for what purpose? For how long would we succeed in business if we adopted that approach? The business of this Parliament in relation to the Budget proposals is merely that of housekeeping on a large scale, on a national level. In considering what is best for our transport system this kind of legislation raises the question: If we continue in this way, can a federal system for modern transport needs survive? If we continue our present approach it will not survive. The reasons are patent and I shall outline them.
It is true that the Federal Government is the financing authority. Why should it not be? When this Parliament assumed full power as a single taxing authority it accepted at that level the responsibility to finance transport to a major degree. But it has never carried out that function, nor has it met the requirements of the nation. That is why the little people in municipal areas are staggering under the weight of rates. While they are paying uniform taxation not one penny is coming back to the municipal authorities for roads. The lord mayors from every capital city came to Canberra pleading for something to be done. They did not submit a proposal because they knew that as soon as they submitted a proposal with a fundamental feature attached to it their scheme would be opposed by every State Premier. The lord mayors came as representatives of municipal authorities and with the knowledge that on a municipal level the taxing rates on home owners have reached the stage where they are interfering with the standards of living of the ordinary Australian citizens.
The lord mayors were among those to whom the Treasurer talked, but their pleas were brushed aside. The Treasurer has said that the State Premiers opposed the approach of the lord mayors. Of course they did. The Premiers, including the Victorian Premier, were hamstrung and embarrassed because of the situation reflected in their financial reports, which is to be allowed to continue for another five years. Honorable members from Victoria should read the report of the Victorian roads authority, particularly as it relates to the system of financing roads. If they do, they will not be happy with the situation. The Victorian board is concerned because the amount provided in this legislation is insufficient and it is also concerned about the method of distribution.
The question of transport in Australia cannot be put aside merely by passing a bill in this legislative chamber to grant a certain amount of money over five years. Transport is a national problem. I am sure that every one would agree that in time of war transport is the very kernel of efficient military management, and no one can say with certainty what will happen in the next five years. We should be doing some constructive planning, as other countries are. We are the only country in the world, with more than 500,000 miles of road, that believes it can dismiss the question of internal development of transport by merely passing a bill that grants an amount of money for five successive years and by leaving the responsibility to some one else. This Parliament will be called on to make decisions if we are involved in a conflict. Would we be happy with our transport situation if we were involved in a war? The Government may be happy with the present state of affairs, but I am not.
When I speak about a co-ordinating authority, I am not referring only to roads. The Treasurer may try to meet my suggestions by saying that the Government intends to set up a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. The Treasurer let the cat out of the bag at the Premiers’ Conference. He said -
What we have in view, therefore, Is a Commonwealth body whose primary purpose will be that of making a full and continuous study of the roads problem in all its main aspects and be in a position to advise the Commonwealth Government upon that problem.
This is not the problem that worries me, but I ask the Treasurer to say whether that is the extent to which, in his view, the committee should function. Does he propose to super-impose this body upon the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities? Is the Commonwealth body to be a counter to Naasra? I believe that the Government intends to set up a counter to this authority, which links every State road authority. In its last report it said -
To define the problem factually, and to ascertain what was necessary in terms of work and money to correct the position, the National Association of Austraiian State Road Authorities in 19S8 initiated a comprehensive Australian Road Needs Survey
This is the sort of survey that the Government needs. In Australia we have more than 500,000 miles of roads, but only 14 per cent, of our roads are sealed. When we look at expenditure on roads we find that in 1962 the Commonwealth found £57,388,000 to meet road needs, yet it is the single taxcollecting authority of this great country of ours. Local government authorities provided £65,753,000. This sort of situation should not be tolerated and is not tolerated in any other country governed democratically as we think we are governed. The State governments face much hostility because of the amount they collect from motor vehicle registration fees and the like, but they are forced to collect these fees so that they can provide additional finance for roads. In 1962, they provided £51,168,000 to meet the dire needs of our roads. So, out of a total of £174,309,000 in 1962 this Government, the single taxing authority, provided £57,388,000. When we look at these figures, we must keep in mind that only 14 per cent, of our roads are sealed. With the kind of programme we have at present, in another five years perhaps 16 per cent, will be sealed.
The State governments and the municipal authorities are taxing to the hilt the very people who pay taxes to this Government. Some people are being taxed three times. They are paying local rates and vehicle registration fees as well as the general taxes that are paid to the Commonwealth.
Let us look at the way money is allocated. Of the total, 40 per cent, goes to rural roads and 40 per cent, for main roads and highways in country districts. Less than 20 per cent, of the total is left for metropolitan roads and the like. Yet it is in the metropolitan area that most of the £65,000,000 provided by local government authorities is raised through rates. Main roads do not run through many of the municipalities. We are getting an imbalance in the provision of roads, merely because we have no body to co-ordinate activities on the State and Federal levels. A weakness in the whole system is that there has been a large increase in the last ten years in the volume of heavy traffic on the roads. To-day, roads provide for 3 1 per cent, of the total ton-miles carried by all forms of transport, and this should be compared with 26 per cent, carried by roads ten years ago. This shows that the volume of heavy traffic on the roads, particularly between the capital cities, has increased enormously, and highlights the need to consider the roads problem on a national basis.
Eight years ago, in 1956, two reports were presented to this Parliament. One came from Government members and one from Opposition members. Both dealt with the problems of transport. The report from the Opposition members contained information on costs and showed that in our national economics a proportion of 30 per cent, of our charges was related to transport. The corresponding figure in New Zealand and Canada was 9 per cent. Those countries were not worried about State boundaries; they had a co-ordinated system. This country has now turned to dieselization. If back-bench members on the other side of the House do not know the value of dieselization, the Cabinet does. The Cabinet knows that, in the construction of the standard gauge from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana, there is an undertaking to haul iron ore for l.L5d. per ton mile. At present, goods are being hauled on the standard gauge line between Sydney and Melbourne for 2d. a ton mile.
In considering transport problems, we should keep in mind the need to co-ordinate the State and Federal systems. We should set up an authority such as that established in America in 1938. In the United States of America, there is a federal system. As far back as 1938, as I have said, the Americans set about doing something realistic. Many years ago, they established an authority that dealt with the main features of transport. We could do that in Australia to-day, as was indicated in the report on standardization of railgauges that Opposition members presented to this Parliament. In that report, we stated -
Section 101 of the Constitution, however, declares “ there shall be an Interstate Commission with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance within the Commonwealth of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce and of all laws made thereunder “.
So we have the power. Under our Constitution, we have the same power as the Federal Government in the United States has and we could establish an interstate commission as an authority to co-ordinate State and Federal functions.
Let me read one paragraph from a United States report to illustrate the thinking in America in 1938. It is as follows: -
The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1938 directed the Chief of the Bureau of Public Roads to investigate -
. the feasibility of building, and cost of, superhighways not exceeding three in number, running in a general direction from the eastern to the western portion of the United States, and not exceeding three in number, running in a general direction from the northern to the southern portion of the United States, including the feasibility of a toll system of such roads.
That is just a short extract from a statement of the responsibilities of the Bureau of Public Roads. The Americans have proceeded to develop a road system on the basis of that foundation. The latest report of the House Public Works Committee in the United States on highway authorizations shows that in the fiscal year 1 964 authorized appropriations for federal and federal-aid roads from the Highway Trust Fund for expenditure on primary, secondary and urban roads totalled 950,000,000 dollars. This shows that the Americans are taking responsibility completely away from the local authority level. The whole field of road works in the United States has now been brought under a highway authorization plan administered by a co-ordinating authority.
I wonder whether we, as a Federal Parliament, would be asking too much if we said to the States: “ We are finding the money for the future and we want some say in the co-ordination of efforts. We want to know where the roads will be built. We want to know their purposes. We want to know how much money will be required “. In the United States of America, the States find the money and build the roads and then serve notice on the federal authority for a refund of the expenditure involved. The Australian States would do that if they could get a clear understanding about where they are going in relation to transport. It is not sufficient merely to decide that we shall standardize the rail gauges between Brisbane and Perth. It is not sufficient merely to look at the position in Victoria or New South Wales. About a fortnight ago, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced the proposed appointment of a committee to investigate transport costs in northern Australia. When I heard of the proposal, I thought that we might at last get some leadership from this Government in respect of transport in Australia.
– The honorable member is an optimist.
– Obviously, I am an optimist, because no thought has been given by this Government to the proper co-ordination of all the forms of transport available. Air transport and shipping will serve their purposes and both road and rail transport have a place in the development of this nation. It is not sufficient, in my view, merely to introduce a measure such as the one that we are now discussing for the purpose of providing £X over the next five years for road works and then to say that from there on the job lies with the States. If we are content to do that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this does not deserve to be regarded as a national parliament. Under the uniform tax system that exists in Australia, the Commonwealth collects tax funds, and we at this level are responsible for every penny that is wasted in transport costs. The Government is well aware of the waste that is going on. Details of it are given by many varied and reliable sources. The waste that is occurring as a result of high transport costs cannot be ended or set aside merely by the introduction of legislation such as this. Nor can it be set aside by the appointment of a committee like that recently announced by the Prime Minister merely to investigate transport costs in northern Australia. The charter of that committee provides that it is to investigate the cost structure of the north with respect to transport. That gives no indication of a call for what is necessary - a unified system of transport throughout Australia, administered by coordinating authorities such as are found in other countries that have federal systems of government.
I warn this Government that a continuing lack of co-ordination in transport could bring the federal system in this country into disrepute and cause much disputation between the Commonwealth and the State Governments. It could also leave the States in such a mess within a decade that transport problems in the cities and in country areas, due to lack of co-ordination, will cause chaos. This could be prevented by an organized approach to the real national problems of transport. Unless this Government is prepared to adopt a proper national approach, it will do a great injustice to our federal system and will write that system down to a very great degree. I warn the Government that the sands of time are running out for it. It can no longer say to the States time after time, “ We are providing £X, and that is the end of the matter for us “.
This Parliament has a national responsibility for transport. For heaven’s sake, at this stage, let us take up as quickly as we can our national responsibility for the establishment of an authority that will not only advise but also demonstrate the economies of a co-ordinated transport system embracing transport by rail, road, sea and air. Let us at long last, as the United States did in the early part of this century, set about developing federal coordination of a system of transport that will meet the needs of the Australian nation.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is always good to follow the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in debate. Whatever may be the subject that he discusses, he brings to it a certain amount of enthusiasm and tells us what he seeks and what members of the Australian Labour Party generally think about the subject. This afternoon, he has declared that our present federal system is not good for the assessing of the magnitude of Australia’s transport problems. We have had our federal system for more than 60 years and I hope that we shall continue to have it for all time. The six sovereign States that established this Federal Parliament retain many of the rights that they had prior to federation. One small point that I should like to mention is dealt with in the Victorian “ Year Book “ for 1964 in a reference to local government. It states that local government, which is the control exercised by municipal councils within their respective districts, is a matter of State law and wholly within the legislative control of the Victorian Parliament So I do not see how we can heed the lord mayors of the State capital cities and other repre.sentitives of local government authorities and grant them money at the drop of a hat. It is very easy to say that more money should be provided and to neglect to look at the complications that would ensue if this Government adopted the course proposed by the honorable member for Blaxland.
Opposition members, beginning with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), in discussing this bill, have covered the whole range of transport. As I see it, Sir, this is a simple bill. Its short title is “ Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1964”. It has nothing to do with trains, ships, wharfs, air transport or the many other matters mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Blaxland. I feel sure that in this Parliament honorable members on both the Opposition side and this side of the chamber will have ample opportunity, as they have had ample opportunities in previous Parliaments, to initiate debates relating to the whole range of transport if they wish. This measure is a simple one, and it was more or less approved by the States Premiers at a Premiers’ Conference held in Canberra in March last. The honorable member for Blaxland said that the Premiers were very dissatisfied with the roads finance they are to get, but the Premier of Victoria, the Honorable H. R. Bolte, recently said that Victoria has the best roads in Australia. It is good for Mr. Bolte to come to Canberra requesting more and more money for roads. He claims that he was out-manoeuvred and out-voted. But this is the Federal system at work; this is democracy at work. If the States with heavy concentrations of population, such as Victoria has, have to pay for the development of other States, that is a good thing for Australia.
It is difficult to compare conditions in Australia, with six States, with conditions in America, where there are 50 States and where the total area - about 3,000,000 square miles - is approximately the same as the area of Australia. It is difficult also to understand why the honorable member for Blaxland said that the federal authority in America looks after all of the roads in that country. That is not so. The federal authority in America arranges through the many States in America to finance special projects in those States. Some of the information that I am now giving may be verified from the material referred to by the honorable member for Blaxland.
The bill provides that in the next five years the Commonwealth will make available to the States in various proportions the sum of 375,000,000 for roads construction. A simple calculation tells me that that is £75,000,000 a year. In addition the Commonwealth will spend £45,000,000 on road making in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and for special purposes. The States have the right to come to the Commonwealth at any time with a roads project of national importance, put their cards on the table, and seek further aid from the Commonwealth. This is a right the States have and it is a course that they have followed in the past. So, with the £375,000,000 provided for the States and the £45,000,000 spent directly by the Commonwealth, the total expenditure on roads in the next five years will be £420,000,000. In a country of 11,000,000 people, of whom only 4,000,000 or 5,000,000 are taxpayers, that is a reasonably good effort. The proposed expenditure in the next five years is all the more meritorious when we have regard to what has been done in road construction since 1923 or 1924 when this type of legislation was first introduced. In the past 40 years the Commonwealth has made available £543,000,000 to the States for roads. Almost 50 per cent, of that amount - £250,000,000 - has been contributed by the Commonwealth in the past five years. In the next five years a further £420,000,000 will be spent on roads in Australia. In the course of a decade - the last five years and the next five years - the Commonwealth will have contributed to a national roads programme the grand total of £670,000,000. That is not a bad effort for a country of 1 1 ,000,000 people, particularly when we recall that less than £300,000,000 was contributed by the Commonwealth in the first 35 years of the scheme.
The honorable member for Blaxland and other honorable members opposite have made a point of the fact that the Commonwealth does not supply all of the money spent on roads. As I have said, constitutionally it is the right of the States to look after local government authorities and their requirements in this respect. In the past twelve months the Commonwealth contributed 33.3 per cent, of the total amount required for roads. The various States between them contributed 28.7 per cent, and local government contributed 38 per cent. But in 1955-56, the Commonwealth contributed only 29.9 per cent.-
– Shame on it.
– Well, last year the percentage increased to 33.3 per cent. In 1955-56, the States contributed 37.6 per cent, of the total amount spent on roads, compared with 28.7 per cent, last year. Shame on the States. In 1955-56, local governments contributed 32.5 per cent, of the money spent on roads. That percentage increased last year to 38 per cent. Obviously the States are diverting money that they used to spend on roads in this affluent society to some other purpose. Although the Commonwealth has neither the right nor the time to go into the why’s and wherefor’s of this situation, it is clear that the States are diverting to other purposes money formerly spent on roads. If the three sections responsible for roadmaking in Australia do the job that should be done and if local government and the States maintain their rate of increase in expenditure on roads, as the Commonwealth will do after this legislation is passed, by 1969 our roads will be in 100 per cent, condition. Certainly city people should not quibble at the requirement that 40 per cent, of the funds allocated by the Government must be spent on rural roads. The only way to open up the country areas of Australia is by building more and better roads.
As has been pointed out, in March last the lord mayors of the capital cities came to Canberra to see the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). They presented to those right honorable gentlemen a well-documented case; but for the Commonwealth to accede to the request of the lord mayors would not be constitutional. The Commonwealth in doing so would be usurping some of the rights of the States. In his secondreading speech the Treasurer indicated that it was not the Commonwealth’s wish to invade the rights of the States in this connexion. Nowhere in the case presented by the lord mayors was I able to find a desire for self-help. A professor of the Australian National University suggested that perhaps in the City of Sydney motorists could be charged a congestion fee for parking. The people who own the properties have to pay high rates, and accordingly there is some merit in the suggestion that people who take cars, trucks and vans into the city should pay commensurate rates. The money must come from somewhere. Perhaps the lord mayors might look at that suggestion and see what they think of it. When I was in New York in 1947 I was surprised and pleased to find that goods of any description could not be delivered into the City of New York between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. That embargo enabled passenger vehicles - cars and buses - to have free movement in the city in the daylight hours. It may be argued that the delivery of goods only at night would be costly, having in mind that time and a half, or double time, would have to be paid to drivers and that additional staff would have to be employed to receive the goods. But the lord mayors claimed that between £200,000,000 and £400,000,000 a year is lost because of congestion in capital cities. I submit that to make an attempt to save this £200,000,000 to £400,000,000 would be an act of statesmanship on the part of Lord Mayors, who could consider what was done in New York seventeen years ago and assess whether our capital cities could follow the pattern.
As recently as last week - I believe it was last Friday - I read in the Melbourne “ Herald “ that the city of Rome also has changed its tactics with regard to city congestion. The city authorities have isolated three areas of one square mile each in the city and have prohibited the parking of trucks or panel vans within those areas. They have isolated 57 main streets in Rome and prohibited car parking in them. This has meant that commuters to the city are leaving their cars outside the city limits and are travelling the rest of the way by public conveyances operated by the Rome city authorities. I have no doubt that the Opposition will agree that a transport system run by a public utility is a good thing. In the first week of the ban on parking the revenue from the buses increased by £4,000. Some commuters who drove to the precincts of the city preferred to walk rather than use the bus. That would make them less susceptible to heart disease, which is one of our troubles in Australia.
The amount of £420,000,000 is the biggest single item of annual expenditure for public works in our national economy. I believe that both sides of the House will agree that this Government has done a magnificent job in lifting the allocation by 50 per cent. I believe that the States will use the funds to advantage, and I believe that Mr. Bolte, who claims that Victoria has the best roads in Australia, will say after the first year that his roads are becoming better and better.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
.- This bill provides for the allocation of money by the Commonwealth to the States for roads and for the proposed Commonwealth expenditure on roads. The basic grant to the States is £330,000,000 over the next five years. In addition, a grant of £45,000,000 is to be made to the States on the basis of £1 for every £1 spent by them. Those two grants amount to £375,000,000 out of the estimated revenue from the petrol tax and the diesel tax of about £420,000,000 over the next five years. That leaves the Commonwealth in the position of spending £45,000,000 on works to be determined by it. The Government proposes to dispose of the whole of the revenue from the petrol tax over the next five years in that way. Although the Labour Opposition is not opposing the motion for the second reading of this legislation - we cannot oppose the amount of money that is being allocated - I believe that the Government has much to answer for because of the manner in which it has allocated finance to the State Governments and local governing bodies for the construction of roads.
I feel that I must take this opportunity to discuss transport as a whole. We realize that in Australia to-day - in any economy, for that matter - the transport system is one of the most important systems that must be organized. The transport system is a determining factor in and has an influence on every facet of life. Transport plays a major role in the general economic structure of the nation. When we remember that primary products must be transported from the point of production to the point of export or the point of consumption and that the raw materials required by secondary industries must be transported to manufacturing centres, it is obvious that transport plays an important role it. the economy. Yet in this large country, which has a very small population in comparison with its size and with the populations of other countries, there is no co-ordination of transport. This Government has made no attempt to get the States together in order to plan transport, whether it be road, rail or sea transport. In this sparsely populated country, sooner or later we must get down to organizing transport.
At present, unfortunately, in the six States transport is organized in such a way that everything leads to the capital cities. This is true whether the mode of transport is road, rail or sea, whether it is good, bad or indifferent, and whether it is economic or uneconomic. That is very undesirable. A better system must be introduced. Uneconomic transport must be eliminated and road, rail and sea transport - possibly the cheapest way to handle bulk cargoes - planned and co-ordinated. If the Commonwealth will accept its responsibility, we will be able to get somewhere.
I believe in reducing costs in Australia. From time to time we hear Ministers complain that wages have an undue influence on prices and that strikes have an undue influence on production. We know these things. We also know that profits have a very marked influence on prices, and that an uneconomic transport system has a serious effect on prices. That is why I say that the Government has to develop a more practical rail transport system. Moves have been made in Western Australia. Under the pick-a-back system, trailers can be loaded on to rail wagons and transported long distances. In that way the cost of constructing roads can be saved.
In my opinion, sea transport must be used more than it is at present. Australia, with its 12,000 miles of coastline, should have a system under which rail and road transport systems are co-ordinated and sea transport is used to the maximum extent. We need a greater number of ships of the roll-on roll-off type and a greater number of sea-trainers, so that we can transport around the coast the goods that are produced in Australia, whether they are primary or secondary products. They have to be taken from one place to another as quickly as possible and as cheaply as possible. That is why I ask the Government to establish a co-ordinating authority with the object of bringing about a substantia] reduction in prices and so enabling us to compete on overseas markets in goods that we want to produce and sell overseas. If we do that, we will not hear the honorable member for
Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) continually opposing increases in tariffs, as he does every time the Tariff Board recommends increased protection for an Australian industry.
On this occasion the Government has allocated the whole of the revenue from the petrol tax for roads. But I strongly object to the Commonwealth retaining £45,000,000 to be used over the next five years on road works to be determined by the Commonwealth. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his second-reading speech, said that in the next five years the Commonwealth will spend £45,000.000 on roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and on roads in the Slates, including projects such as the beef roads in Queensland and Western Australia and the Gordon River road in Tasmania. Why cannot the Government use money raised by means other than the petrol tax for those roads? Why can it not allocate the whole of the revenue from the petrol tax to the States? Is this another example of the miserly approach of the Treasurer, the Prime Ministter (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Government, which has been displayed for years in the Commonwealth retaining as much of the revenue from the petro] tax as it possibly can?
I have in my hand a table which I have prepared from an answer given to a question that I asked some time ago. I can vouch for its authenticity. It shows, among other things, the amount of revenue from the petrol tax that has been retained by the Commonwealth. With the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate it in “ Hansard “.
The retention of this huge amount of money by the Commonwealth Government from petrol tax over these years has resulted in the Australian road system being in the deplorable condition in which we find it to-day - completely run down and requiring astronomical sums of money to be spent on it. All honorable members received a copy of a report made as a result of a survey conducted by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities. It was prepared in 1963 and disclosed the fact that a huge amount of money would have to be spent on our roads to bring them up to a reasonable standard in the foreseeable future. The association found that in the five-year period 1964- to 1969 it would be necessary to spend £1,005,000,000 on Toad construction and improvement, £239,000,000 on road maintenance, and on bridge construction and maintenance £168,000,000, giving a grand total of £1,412,000,000. What is this Government’s contribution to that huge amount that it will be necessary to spend on road construction and maintenance and on bridge construction? It is a miserly £420,000,000 plus another £45,000,000 which will be spent on roads to be decided upon by the Government itself, including roads in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory and beef roads in northern areas, for the construction of which this Government has taken full credit.
I believe that roads should be considered in several contexts. First, roads can be made defence projects, Why should none of the defence allocation be spent on roads? How is our Army, or any other part of our defence machine, to move around the country in time of war if we do not provide an adequate road system? If the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) were here he would interject to remind me that we have no roads on which Centurion tanks can travel. The Australian defence machine must have a road system on which to travel. Far from retaining any of the money received at present from the petrol tax, the Government should be considering allocating further amounts out of other moneys that it receives from motorists by way of taxation. I refer, for instance, to sales tax on motor vehicles. In this regard I have a few figures to which I should like to refer. In 1962-63 customs duty on imports of motor vehicles and parts realized £11,800,000. Sales tax on private motor vehicles amounted to £49,300,000. Sales tax on commercial vehicles, motor cycles and spare parts for all types of vehicles provided another £18,100,000. In all, in the last four years and including an estimate of the amounts that will be collected from these sources in 1963-64, the Government will have obtained about £390,000,000. None of this money, obtained from motorists by way of sales tax and customs duty on motor vehicles, will be available for the construction of roads.
It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that sufficient money is available for the construction of roads. The Government should not only return all of the money that it receives from petrol tax for use on road construction and maintenance, it should also give for this purpose some of the money received by way of sales tax on private and commercial motor vehicles. From time to time we have heard the lord mayors of the various capital cities, the State Governments and the various motorists associations begging the Government to do something about improving the general road system. They have pointed to the number of lives lost through bad roads, the amount of time lost in travelling because of traffic congestion and the damage done to vehicles because of the road system being in its present deplorable condition.
One point I want to make at this stage is that the requirement that local government authorities shall provide sums from their own resources in order to attract matching grants from the Commonwealth throws increased burdens on rate-payers. In the last 14 years, local government rates have increased by more than 400 per cent., representing a greater increase than in any other form of taxation. Yet local government authorities will have to increase rates still further in many places such as my own city of Newcastle. This year the Newcastle City Council found it necessary to increase the local rate because more money was being spent on highways, and the council has to provide extra money to attract matching grants so that road work could be done by the New South Wales Department of Main Roads.
The existing system should be looked at more practically and realistically. It is all very well for the Commonwealth to say that this is a State responsibility. We throw too much responsibility on the States without providing them with the finance necessary to solve these problems. Local government authorities should not have to provide 50 per cent, or more of the money spent on highways running through their municipalities. Their contribution should be considerably reduced, lt should be as little as 10 per cent, of the total expenditure. For that matter, the councils should be relieved of the responsibility of providing finance for the construction of main highways through municipalities and shires. That should be the responsibility of the State Governments, which in turn should bc provided with finance by the Commonwealth Government from the money received by way of petrol tax. This is one way of relieving the heavy burden that has been imposed on local government bodies. Today the Commonwealth Government contributes 33 per cent, of the cost of road construction, local government authorities have to provide 38 per cent, and the remainder is found by the State Governments from such sources as motor registration charges and other avenues of taxraising that are available to the State Governments, and from which as much as £60,000,000 a year may be obtained.
There are many ways in which this Government can provide finance to assist in the development of the road system. I come back to my point about defence, which is the responsibility of this Government. Some of the money normally allocated for defence expenditure by the various branches of the services should be made available to the States for the construction of roads which could by considered as defence roads. I do not insist that the money must be made available to the States. The Commonwealth Government should be in a position to determine what defence roads should be constructed. If necessary it should become a constructing authority, or at least it should work in coordination with the States to use the money for defence roads, so that in time of crisis the Australian defence machine will be mobile and will not become bogged down through inadequate transport facilities. An adequate road system will reduce production and distribution costs both for primary and secondary industry and so allow our primary and secondary products to be priced more competitively in expo t markets. We must continually try to build up our exports and to this extent we must try to make our prices competitive.
Let me turn now to the matter of road safety. All the road safety authorities tell us that speed is the principal killer. Possibly this is so, but only because of our unsatisfactory roads. We all know that it is possible to travel safely over the better highways, with divided carriageways, at high speeds, while it is not possible to do so on our antiquated roads. Most accidents occur as a result of excessive speed on roads of that kind.
I should like to cite some figures relating to the incidence of road deaths in various countries. In the United States of America there are 4.17 motor vehicles for every 10 people and there are 5 road deaths for every 10,000 vehicle owners. That represents a death rate of about .12 per cent. In other words, about .12 per cent, of people who drive motor vehicles in the United States of America die as a result of road accidents. In Australia the percentage is about three times higher than that. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the road safety authorities, an increased allocation for roads will bring about a considerable reduction in the number of road deaths. Every one should conscientiously work to reduce the number of road accidents which result in loss of life, loss of limb and a great loss of production.
My main concern at this time is to find a way to reduce the number of taxing authorities connected with roads and road usage. The States levy a tax in the form of a vehicle registration fee. I exclude completely at this stage the cost of third-party and comprehensive insurance which is something apart from a contribution towards road construction. Those insurance charges are part and parcel of the pleasures of motoring. You insure yourself and the unfortunate person with whom you may collide. The taxes that concern me most are the petrol tax, the road maintenance tax of id. per ton-mile and the registration fees that are levied by the States. The Australian motorist is being taxed excessively and we should try to find ways and means of eliminating some of these taxes.
I went to the trouble of obtaining statistics relating to car and truck registration fees in the various States. For cars, the registration fee in New South Wales is £ 1 1 a year, in Victoria £14 0s. 6d., in Queensland £14 19s., in South Australia £11 10s., in Western Australia £11 7s. and in Tasmania £11 3s. 6d. For the average three-ton truck the registration fee in New South Wales is £43 16s. 6d., but if the vehicle attracts the road maintenance tax the fee is reduced to £22 13s. 3d. The fee in Victoria is £30 7s. 6d., in Queensland £24 12s., in South Australia £32 - road maintenance tax must be paid in those four States - in Western Australia £30 15s.. and in Tasmania £24 19s. It will be seen that there is a great disparity between the registration fees charged in the States for motor cars and motor trucks of three-ton capacity.
A great anomaly exists in relation to registration fees on motor vehicles. The fellow who drives his car only at the weekend pays the same fee as does the fellow who travels 12,000, 15,000, 20,000 or even 30,000 miles a year. The car registration fee should be eliminated and only a nominal tax imposed. If necessary, the petrol tax should be increased so that more revenue will be forthcoming for expenditure on roads. I shall now inform honorable members of the amount of tax that is paid on standard petrol in various European cities. In Vienna petrol costs 4s. Hid. a gallon, which includes 3s. 0£d. tax; in Paris petrol costs 8s. 0)d. a gallon which includes 6s. Hd. tax; in Rome the 6s. HA. charged for a gallon of petrol includes 4s. 7d. tax; in London petrol costs 5s. 5d. a gallon which includes 3s. 5id. tax, and in New York the 3s. 7d. charged for a gallon of petrol includes ls. Id. tax. In Australia we pay probably the lowest petrol tax paid in any large country. Our excise and customs duties on petrol total Hid. a gallon.
If we remove the great disparity that exists in the burden that is borne by the week-end driver who owns a motor car simply for the little pleasure that he can get out of it at the week-end and that borne by the fellow who travels 30,000 miles a year, we will be taking a big step forward. I believe that the week-end driver is burdened unnecessarily with registration fee, comprehensive and third-party insurance and the sales tax that he has to pay when he buys his car. My friend, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), has reminded me that local government rates also have increased by over 400 per cent, in the last twelve years.
The small man is being slugged from all directions. That is why I suggest that the Government consider the suggestion that a conference of representatives of the State governments be convened with a view to eliminating registration fees and imposing only a nominal fee when a car is registered.
We know that it is not the little man, the week-end driver, who imposes a great burden on our road system. In discussion recently with the city engineer of Newcastle 1 learned that the cost of road construction as it applies to the ordinary motor car is about 10s. a square yard. That is the cost to construct a road of 8 inches of gravel with a sealing coat of tar or bitumen. A road of that kind would be sufficient for use by the average motor vehicle but it is a different proposition with large commercial vehicles. To construct a road for those heavy vehicles costs anything from £2 to £2 10s. a square yard. All these facts must be taken into consideration so that we can place the burden where it really belongs.
The cost of constructing roads to carry heavy vehicles is the responsibility of the owners of those vehicles. In my humble opinion they are not required to pay sufficient towards the cost of construction of highways throughout the Commonwealth. A scheme should be worked out by which they will be required to pay either increased petrol tax or higher registration fees. They should bear the responsibility of meeting the exorbitant cost of highway construction. If we could implement a system of that kind we would solve the serious roads problem that exists in Australia to-day. That brines me to the point that the Commonwealth Government must be prepared to return to the States ali of the petrol tax that it collects. It should not withhold the £45,000,000 that it proposes to withhold. If the whole of the petrol tax were returned to the States for the construction and maintenance of roads a reduction in local government rates would follow, because the States would be able to make a greater contribution to local authorities.
From the defence point of view a ^greater proportion of national income must be used on the construction of roads. A portion of the large amount which is collected by way of sales tax on vehicles must be diverted to this avenue. If this were done our roads system would be greatly improved, our costs of production would be reduced, employment would be provided for our people and - this is another important point - the great death toll on Australian roads would be considerably reduced if not completely eliminated.
.- 1 have listened with interest to Opposition members who have participated in this debate to-day, and I have studied in “ Hansard “ the reports of the speeches which were made by others on the last occasion when this matter was before us. Any one listening to the broadcast of the proceedings would be excused for believing that we were dealing with some federal transport co-ordination bill or even a bill designed to amend the Constitution. I propose to confine my remarks to the bill under discussion - the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill 1964. I do so not only because of its importance to the people I represent but because of its importance to the people of Australia in general. This legislation follows a familiar pattern, one which we should all be getting to know. The Government has had th * benefit of the views expressed from a wide range of sources, including individuals and organizations. It has considered those views and as a result we now have this measure before us.
At the outset, I should like to refer to some road expenditure figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician. Those figures disclose that for the year 1950-51 expenditure on roads totalled £41,000,000. It has now grown to £160,000,000. For the benefit of those who would draw attention to the change in the value of money, I think that a better comparison would be the percentages of gross national product expended on roads. In 1950.-51, the total amount expended on roads represented l.l per cent of our gross national product; the total amount expended to-day represents over 2 per cent, of our gross national product, or almost double the earlier figure.
As we know, the measure provides first for a basic grant of £330,000,000 for the five-year period. This money will be provided irrespective of what the States elect to spend on roads. Then there will be a further grant of £45,000,000 provided the States make contributions on a £1 for £1 basis. Here again we see the familiar incentive provided by the Commonwealth Government. In the first year, the amount to be provided by way of additional grant will be limited to £3,000,000. In the second year it will be £6,000,000; in the third it will be £9,000.000, in the fourth £12,000,000 and in the fifth £15,000,000.
I know that the rural electorates will note with pleasure that the provision contained in the old measure for the expenditure of 40 per cent, of the Commonwealth’s grants on rural roads is to be retained in the new act. Some authorities argue that the amount should be more, but I remind them that the remaining 60 per cent, may be spent anywhere in the State. Where that 60 per cent, is to be spent is left to the discretion of the respective State Governments. Therefore, the 40 per cent, laid down by the Government is the minimum, not the maximum, to be spent on rural roads. The State Governments may spend the other 60 per cent, wherever they think fit. There is no special provision for the allocation of moneys for roads in metropolitan areas and it is interesting to note from the second-reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) that one of the reasons for this is that the Premiers did not want any such specific provision. The Treasurer said -
However, there are considerable practical difficulties in the proposition and we also found, at the Premiers’ Conference, ‘.hat the Premiers were all opposed to any provision of this type and they made it clear that their Governments were well aware of the importance of these roads and the special problems associated with them but said they did not desire any express provision for those roads in the new legislation.
I should like to draw attention now to one or two other provisions in the bill. The first relates to the authority which is granted to the States to spend £1,000,000 annually on works, other than road works, connected with road or water transport. Most of the Premiers asked for the retention of this provision, with minor modifications. I mention it now to emphasize that its inclusion in this measure is the result of a majority decision of the Premiers.
Another provision being re-enacted is that the State Governments may - there is no obligation on them to do so - spend certain of these funds, not necessarily on construction, but on research into construction and into maintenance and repair of roads.
As the result of representations made by the Premiers this provision is being extended to include expenditure on resarch into planning and design, and I think that is important. Some authorities argue that the amount to be spent on research is far too small despite the excellent performances of some of the State road authorities in carrying out experiments and conducting research.
Australia is a country of extreme conditions. For instance, we have areas of intense heat - dry heat and tropical heat. We also have areas of intense cold with the associated problems of snow and ice such as those with which we have to contend on the Australian Alps. We also have great variations in rainfall, ranging from over 100 inches in some areas to below ten inches in others. All these extremes call for special road construction. Again, Australia is a very old country geologically, with extremes in types of soils and material available for road building. Then we have the problem of extremes in traffic density, for this is a country in which half of our population lives in two or three capital cities while the other half is scattered over a very wide area indeed. We also have the the problem of great distances. I remind honorable members that the purpose of research is to achieve some form of economic advantage for the Commonwealth. 1 agree also with those speakers who have referred to road safety. It is essential that we do our utmost to cut down our present great toll of the road. As our traffic increases, at the very worst we should keep the accident figure where it is.
Let me deal now with the provision relating to rural roads. It is pleasing to see that the need for improving rural roads is being recognized in all quarters. In the two previous acts it was provided that not less than 40 per cent, of the money allocated should be spent on rural roads. That provision is being retained, and I think everybody is quite clear on what is meant by “rural roads”. 1 think all agree that it means roads other than main roads, trunk roads or highways in rural areas. I emphasize here, too, that it is left to the States themselves to decide which roads shall be classified as either main roads, trunk roads or highways. This provision is included to encourage and assist the States to improve secondary roads in rural areas. I think it may be said with truth also that it is included to assist primary industries and all those who are engaged in those industries.
Some people ask whether this provision is necessary. For instance, we know that submissions have been made to the Commonwealth Government to the effect that 80 per cent, of the money allocated to the Department of Main Roads in New South Wales is already spent in the country. That is true, but I submit that this statement should be related to the volume of country highway traffic. I think we should bear in mind the fact that a substantial portion of this 80 per cent, is spent on the construction of major bridges and major traffic ways, particularly on routes between capital cities. The benefit of this expenditure is therefore enjoyed in the main by traffic moving between cities. The advantage accruing to country people is relatively small. I think we should relate the argument also to the fact that the 40 per cent, allocated to rural roads represents only a very small fraction of the total amount of finance available for roads. For instance, it has been calculated that this 40 per cent, of the funds provided under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act represents only 15 per cent, of the total amount of money available from all sources for roads. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) reminds me that in Victoria it represents only 9 per cent, of the finance available from all sources.
At this stage, I should like to quote from a pamphlet called “ Financing Roads in Australia “, of which I am sure all honorable members have a copy. As the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has pointed out, this pamphlet contains certain figures on pages 4 and 5. Those figures disclose that there are over 500,000 miles of roads in Australia. Roads surfaced with bitumen or concrete constitute 14 per cent.; roads of gravel or crushed stone 23 per cent. Exactly onequarter of our roads are formed only and 38 per cent, are unformed. The article points out that if Commonwealth figures are used in respect of local government roads only it is estimated that 8 per cent, of such roads have concrete or bituminous surfaces. I queried the figure. I wondered where it came from and I decided to do some research in my electorate. I thought my inquiries would show a higher result. In my electorate are the head-quarters of nine shire councils. They have been good enough to furnish me with figures which I shall not quote in detail, so that I may not weary the House. In the nine shires concerned there are 5,966 miles of secondary roads. Of those roads 407.4 miles are dustless; that is of concrete or bitumen surface. My electorate does not cover a remote area, but a closely populated area. The figures supplied to me show that less than 7 per cent, of the roads in my electorate are tar-sealed or concrete.
It is interesting to compare the variations in the shires. In the shire furthest from the sea-board is the lowest percentage of sealed roads - 2.9 per cent. The shire furthest to the east, or closest to the seaboard, has 15.3 per cent, of its roads sealed. It is a small shire with a greatly reduced mileage of roads. I emphasize that the average of sealed roads in the nine shires is less than 7 per cent. I have quoted that figure in an endeavour to emphasize the need constantly to ensure that adequate funds are available for roads in rural areas.
Rural areas suffer not only in respect of the length of roads sealed but also because of lower standards of road-building brought about by lack of funds. This is evidenced by narrower roadways. In rural areas we see mile after mile of paving 12 feet wide instead of 18 feet or 24 feet wide as laid in metropolitan areas. The narrow paved roadway is a great improvement. At least it saves paint. It is not necessary to paint a line down the middle of a 12 feet wide roadway because it is not possible to get two vehicles on the roadway together. In many cases where a bridge is called for a culvert is made to suffice. Where a culvert is needed probably a causeway is provided. Thus the purpose of making our roads weatherproof for everybody’s use is defeated.
While the work of sealing the more frequently used roads proceeds in the country shires, the less important roads are neglected. Another problem encountered in country road construction is a shortage of gravel. On the wide plains, particularly in black soil country, the main component in road construction - gravel - is missing or hard to get. When obtainable its quality is inferior and the cost per mile of roadbuilding is increased. In many areas gravel is taken from the surface and hundreds of acres of land have been ruined because of soil erosion. This may not seem to be of great importance to some honorable members, but I assure the House that these factors constitute a very real problem for local government bodies whose members work for the love of it and through a sense of service to their fellow human beings.
I maintain that the 40 per cent, provision is a necessary minimum. As time passes and more roads are sealed, the proportion of expenditure on sealing from the funds available to the shires will decrease. As the length of sealed roads increases the greater becomes the necessity for resheeting and maintenance. Commonwealth aid roads funds will be used more and more to re-sheet and maintain sealed roads and a smaller proportion will be available for the construction of new roads. I pose another question: Is the total amount to be made available under this legislation sufficient? This point could be argued until the cows came home. I shall quote to honorable members three sets of figures. First, the bill provides for the expenditure of £375,000,000 over a period of five years. This amount represents a 50 per cent, increase over the last five-year period; an increase of £125,000,000. Despite what has been said in this House by honorable members opposite, these are figures of which Government supporters can be proud. Secondly, in the next five years the Commonwealth, in addition to its contribution of £375,000,000, will spend £45,000,000- not referred to in the bill before us - on roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and in grants to the States for projects such as beef roads in Queensland and north-western Australia and the Gordon River road in Tasmania. Thirdly, it is estimated that the total expenditure on roads by all authorities - Commonwealth, State and local government - in the next five years will be about £750,000,000. This figure could be raised to £1,100,000,000. Although we may not accomplish all that is necessary in a country the size of Australia, these are very reasonable figures.
I wish now to quote from a federal newsletter of the Australian Automobile Association. It is interesting to get the views of an automobile association on this subject. The newsletter states that obviously the Federal Government did not accept the estimates of the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities as a basis for a forward programme of Commonwealth assistance for roads. That is fair criticism. The newsletter states -
Viewed against these estimates the financial provisions are seriously inadequate. No doubt they are inadequate but the same might also be said about moneys available for education, hospitals, housing, defence and other important needs.
I could add water conservation, telephone services, development capital and similar needs. The newsletter states -
That is of the order of things and is inevitable in this and every other country.
I congratulate the Australian Automobile Association for its reasoned statement. It has kept its feet on the ground, or perhaps I should say, its wheels on the road. Taking into consideration the resources of labour, machinery and materials and other demands on public funds, I believe that the bill provides a reasonable amount for roads at the moment. As I understood the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), he stated in his speech that if we continue to spend 40 per cent. of the funds on rural roads - I think he referred to Victoria and South Australia - the time will come when country roads will be better than city roads.
– I did not say that.
– That is what I understood the honorable member for Blaxland to say. If I am incorrect, I am sorry. I have heard this suggestion made previously and I point out to those who make it that 40 per cent. of Commonwealth aid roads money amounts to only 15 per cent. of the total amount available. It will be a long time before this suggestion is apt.
I repeat that, as time goes on, the proportion of sealing work completed for any given amount of funds provided decreases as the need for maintenance programmes increases. I point out also that it is the prerogative of the States to designate what constitutes a main road, a trunk road or a highway. The Opposition in general, as far as I can see. has advocated one thing and that is unification. I support the federal system and I believe that the majority of the people I represent would require me to support it. I believe that any changes in the Constitution, whether relating to roads or any other subject, should be made by a referendum. Under the present Constitution roads are a State responsibility and I think that the Commonwealth Government has done well to do as much as it has.
The raising of country roads to an allweather standard for all country residents, for the conveying of perishable products to market or to railhead, or to provide access for people to schools, hospitals, shops and other services is a critical requirement if our economy is to be as efficient as it should be. It is also a critical requirement if transport costs are to be reduced. It is an indispensable necessity if a policy of decentralization of population and industry is to be effective. To those who ask what governments can do, I say that here is one way in which governments, both State and Commonwealth, can assist to bring about the decentralization of population and industry about which we speak so much. I think that the construction of roads of all-weather standard for all country people, irrespective of where they live, should have priority over improvements in metropolitan areas which are based solely on poulation and traffic counts. The provision of allweather roads will allow us to meet the very reasonable principle that the standards of services available to all citizens, regardless of where they live, shall be as nearly equal as possible.
This measure, which increases by 50 per cent. the amount of money available for roads in the Commonwealth and maintains the provision of 40 per cent. for rural roads, has my full support.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Devine) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Bury, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to help young married couples obtain a home of their own by authorizing payment to them by the
Housing is vital to the welfare and happiness of individuals and thus to our future development as a nation. Without proper housing, the process of marriage and family formation which are the very essence of Australia’s future must be seriously impaired. The Government seeks, moreover, to foster a healthy property-owning democracy of sturdy independent individuals and regards home ownership as a basic ingredient. It is a linchpin of family life. Our constant quest to expand and develop Australia demands large-scale immigration, and more people need more houses. In the absence of special measures, housing could become a limiting factor to our population growth. Most of us are conscious too that we shall shortly be moving into a period in which the marriage rate in our existing population is likely to rise substantially. We must be ready to meet this position as it arises.
In housing we shall always fall short of the ideal. We can be proud, however, that despite all the difficulties we have been through since World War II., and the present shortcomings evident to all of us, we probably have more accommodation available per head than any other country. It behoves us to maintain and improve this record. However good, it is small consolation to those without a home.
Australia, under the present Government, is a rapidly developing country of increasing wealth. By and large, Australians are able to afford a relatively high standard of housing, and it is the wish of almost every married couple to own a home of their own. However, in the early years of marriage there are numerous calls upon savings, and many couples are compelled to postpone home ownership. We believe that these young people should be assisted to attain this most desirable objective. However, to merit this assistance, young people, both before and after marriage, should make some effort themselves by saving a portion of their incomes.
The Government has become particularly concerned with the difficulties facing many
There is little the Commonwealth Government can do about the price of land. It has become increasingly scarce relative to demand and nowadays building blocks often have to bear the cost of development work such as water and sewerage, roadmaking and other charges in their initial price. These are State matters. The availability of funds is also highly critical and is subject to Commonwealth influence. Basically, in a fully employed economy, additional resources can only be devoted to housing if less are applied elsewhere. One cannot eat one’s cake and have it. Overcoming any housing shortage, therefore, entails some diversion of funds from other uses to housing finance.
The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in his policy speech made on 12th November last, promised a two-pronged attack on this problem - first, a scheme for home savings grants for young married persons up to the age of 35, and secondly, the establishment of a mortgage-insurance corporation to insure mortgages up to a high proportion of the value of a house and land. This bill represents the first instalment of the new housing policy. It provides both for assistance to young married people seeking a home and for a means whereby additional savings can be made available for housing purposes. Its provisions cover broadly the nature of the grant, the definition of persons who will qualify, the homes eligible for the grant, acceptable savings, the period and amount of saving, information to be submitted, the manner and time of payment and the necessary administrative arrangements.
In the introduction of a new scheme such as this, certain interim difficulties are inevitable until its details are widely understood and people affected have had time to adjust their affairs to meet its requirements. The need for interim provisions to cover savings until they can be put into one of the permanent forms which will ultimately be required is particularly apparent. I have allowed as far as practicable for the temporary problems which can already be foreseen, but feel obliged to ask the House for a wide measure of administrative discretion until the scheme has settled down to a routine basis in its permanent framework. It will be readily recalled by honorable members that the procedures under our social services legislation - those most closely akin to these - have been refined by practical experience over 50 years. ft
This bill, when it becomes law, will authorize the payment of a Commonwealth grant of £1 for every £3 of acceptable savings for a home by persons aged less than 36 years. The acceptable savings of each partner to a marriage will be eligible for the grant, but the total grant payable in respect of a home will be £250. The grant will be an addition to savings made over a number of years and will be payable in respect of a home anywhere in Australia.
The bill provides that a person eligible for the grant must be under 36 years of age, not only at the date of marriage, but also at the time when one or both of a married couple sign a contract to buy or build the home, or commence its construction. Although a grant will not be paid to an unmarried person, young people contemplating marriage may take steps to acquire a home and become eligible for the grant when they are married. But if they do this, they must marry and submit a claim for the grant within twelve months of taking steps to acquire the home.
To be eligible, a person must have lived in Australia and have accumulated acceptable savings in Australia for at least three years. There is, of course, no maximum savings period. The sooner saving commences, the easier it will be to accumulate maximum acceptable savings of £750. A person need not have been born in Australia nor have become naturalized. Newcomers to Australia who have lived here for al least three years, are married and intend to continue to live here, are eligible. The legislation also provides that a temporary absence from Australia, such as an overseas holiday or business trip, may bc counted as residence in Australia. Moreover, a number of young Australian citizens work or study overseas. These young people, if they deposit savings in a bank in Australia for at least three years and live in
Australia during the. three months before taking steps to acquire a home, will be eligible for the grant. Austraiian citizens in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and our other external Territories may save with a branch of an Australian bank and become eligible for a grant in respect of a home in Australia.
Once a person has received a home savings grant, he or she will be ineligible for a further grant. The marriage partner of a person who receives a grant, and subsequently remarries, also will be ineligible. However, the person with whom remarriage takes place will be eligible, provided he or she has not received a grant.
– The second spouse will be eligible?
– Yes, whatever may be the status of the person remarrying. A widow for example, may marry again.
Before a person may become eligible he or his marriage partner must have taken steps to acquire a home. Home ownership is the objective of the scheme. To be eligible a person, or that person’s husband, or both of them jointly, on or after 2nd December, 1963, the commencement date of the scheme must - I wish to emphasize the word “ must “ - have entered into a contract in writing to buy an existing house and land or the right to occupy a flat or home unit; or have entered into a contract in writing with a building contractor for the erection of a home on land held by one or both of them in an approved form; or if an owner-builder, have commenced the construction of a home on land held by one or both of them in an approved form.
The husband or the wife or both may be eligible persons provided each has saved for at least three years. Although the savings of the husband and the wife will be treated as separate individual savings, the maximum acceptable savings in respect of one home will be £750, and the maximum grant to husband or wife or both will be £250. If the husband and wife have deposited their savings in a joint account in both their names, half of these savings will be deemed to be those of the husband and the other half those of the wife. If only one of them is eligible, half of the joint savings will be deemed to be those of the eligible person.
I now propose to refer to homes eligible for the grant. Broadly speaking, to be eligible a home must be the first home owned by either or both of the married couple upon or after marriage. It may be either a house or a home unit. By and large, ownership of a home by either partner at the time of marriage will exclude both of them from eligibility for the grant, for the good reasons that they may either occupy it as their matrimonial home or sell it and use the proceeds to buy another home. It is not, however, our intention to deny payment of the grant to eligible young people who buy or build, before they are married, the home they intend to live in after marriage. If one or both of a married couple signed a contract to buy or build the home, or commenced the construction of the home prior to marriage, and this home is occupied as the matrimonial home, it will be eligible provided one or both of the couple did not own another home in Australia upon or after marriage.
For obvious reasons, a building condemned as unfit for human habitation or listed for demolition will not be eligible. If the home is being newly constructed, the plans must have been approved by the local authority. The home must also be built on land of which one or both of the married couple are, or are entitled to be, registered as the proprietor, or on land which one or both of the married couple holds on lease or as a life interest, and my department is satisfied that the terms of the lease or the life interest offer a reasonable prospect of security of tenure for a sufficient period of years. In the case of a home unit, we must, of course, be satisfied that the purchaser will receive a title to a particular flat or apartment, or an assurance of the right to occupy it.
– I reckon about ten people will qualify for these benefits.
– If that is the honorable member’s view I invite him to meet the cost of this legislation. There are, however, certain classes of dwellings which, when purchased, will not be eligible for the grant. As honorable members know, the Commonwealth is already providing significant assistance to people seeking a home. We are currently subsidizing the interest payable for more than fifty years on some £50,000,000 per annum of loan money available to the States for home building under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The Commonwealth is also building a large number of homes in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. These are usually offered to tenants at less than an economic rental, or for sale on a deposit as low as 5 per cent, of the total purchase price with the assistance of a long-term loan from the Commonwealth at a relatively favorable rate of interest. If purchasers of these homes were to receive the grant, we would, in effect, be paying them a double subsidy. We do not believe that most Australians would wish us to do this.
A home built by a State housing authority and paid for with money made available under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement will not be eligible for the grant, where it is sold by a State housing authority, or is being purchased with the assistance of a loan by a State or State authority out of moneys made available under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. We consider that subsidized homes built by the States with funds provided under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement ought to be reserved for those with very small means and on low incomes. This housing is made available at below its true economic cost for social reasons. In some States there are long waiting lists for these housing commission houses largely because they are relatively so cheap. It would be wrong to inflate these lists and disadvantage the most needy elements of the community by adding those who can better afford to look after themselves. The homes savings grant scheme is designed to help those who help themselves by saving appreciable sums. Likewise, a home built by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority in one of the Territories will be ineligible when it is first sold or when its purchase is being financed by a loan by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority. However, the many homes being built by young people in Canberra with the assistance of a loan of Commonwealth moneys from the Commissioner for Housing will be eligible for the grant.
Houses built through co-operative societies which receive moneys under Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement in the States or direct from the Commonwealth in Canberra or the Northern Territory will be eligible. It will be realized that these homes bear the cost of administrative charges imposed by the States and borne by the societies and involve a substantial deposit which the owner has to find. Homes acquired with the assistance of War Service Homes loans will be eligible even though these loans are offered on exceptionally favorable terms and conditions. The reason for this decision - I am sure it is one with which all honorable members will agree - is that Commonwealth financial assistance to ex-servicemen in home ownership is a repatriation benefit in the nature of a post hoc payment for services rendered to the nation.
– How many ex-servicemen are under 36 years of age? About two, I would think.
– The honorable member would be surprised. Apparently honorable members opposite think that Australian servicemen have not been in action since 1945. A war service home loan is not a social welfare payment and should not debar its recipient from social welfare benefits available to young persons throughout the community.
The home savings grant is aimed at assisting those who need and merit financial aid in acquiring a home. Those acquiring expensive homes stand in less need of assistance from the taxpayer whose interests must also be weighed. For this reason a home which, together with the land, costs more than £7,000, will be ineligible for the grant. It is intended that the scheme should apply equally to homes in rural and urban areas. If the £7,000 limit were to apply to the cost of the whole of the land and all improvements, many people living on rural holdings would be ineligible for the grant, because the value of their land - their main business asset - would usually exceed £7,000. We will therefore take into account for purposes of the £7,000 limit only the cost of the home and of the land immediately appropriate to the home. For purposes of the scheme, the cost of that portion of the farm on which the dwelling has been, or is being, built will be the value of half an acre of the land at the average value per acre of the farm.
There are also other cases where, if we were to take as the cost of the land and the house the value of the land and all improvements on it, such as a shop or a surgery, the couple owning the land would be ineligible for the grant. Where the overall cost of the land and all the building improvements will exceed £7,000, it is proposed that my department be given a discretionary power to identify “ the home “ and to have regard only to its assessed value in applying the £7,000 limit.
As honorable members would expect, a great deal of thought has been given to determining the acceptable forms of savings, bearing in mind the purposes of the scheme. The forms chosen are in aggregate those in which the great bulk of personal savings for a home is accumulated. Moreover, the institutions chosen are those which provide a very large proportion of the finance for private home building. The reasons for this will be clear from my opening remarks.
The acceptable forms of savings for the purposes of the scheme are -
Moneys deposited in a home savings account with a savings bank. These will include moneys placed on fixed deposit and moneys invested in deposit - stock issued by some savings banks, provided the account is designated a home savings account. An eligible person may have home savings accounts with more than one bank; moneys placed on fixed deposit with a trading bank, provided such deposits are designated a home savings account.
– Will that have to operate for three years?
– If you will be patient you will see the picture as it emerges.
– It is a bit difficult.
– I know it is, for you. Other acceptable forms of savings for the purposes of the scheme are - Moneys deposited with a building or cooperative housing society registered under a law of a State or Territory.
Moneys paid to a building or co-operative housing society as subscriptions towards the purchase of shares in such a society, provided the shares are not quoted on any stock exchange.
Moneys paid for the purchase or lease of land on which the eligible home is being, or is to be, built.
I wish to stress that on and after 1st January, 1965, these will be the only acceptable forms of new - let me repeat, new - savings for purposes of the grant scheme. However, in view of the fact that most existing savings were made without fore-knowledge of the new scheme, special provisions will apply to savings made up till the end of this year, and also for savings made in certain institutions not eligible in the long run to be kept in their present form up till the end of 1967. Because many young people have been, and are, depositing savings for a home in a variety of other forms, my department, if satisfied that these people have been saving to acquire a home, will for a period regard these savings as acceptable. Accordingly the bill proposes that, up to the 31st December, 1967, moneys deposited in the following ways on or before 31st December, 1964, will also be treated as acceptable savings. They are - Moneys deposited in any savings bank account, not being a home savings account.
Moneys deposited in a current account or on fixed deposit with a trading bank.
Moneys deposited with a friendly society or credit union registered or incorporated under a law of a State or a Territory.
However, savings in these forms up to 31st December next, to remain acceptable after that date, must either be maintained in the form in which they are held at the end of this year or be transferred to one or more of the forms in which acceptable new savings must be made from 1st January next.
– That will be easy to explain to my constituents.
– Yes, it will. It is surprising how bright some of them are. After all, the people to benefit will not be more than 36 years of age.
– What about savings in Commonwealth bonds?
– This will include savings in any form, as I mentioned. It will include savings in Commonwealth bonds. This means that any moneys saved and deposited in any bank account up to the end of this year will be acceptable up to 31st December, 1967, if they are maintained in their present form and after 31st December, 1967, if before that date they are transferred into one of the acceptable forms of new saving. The same conditions will apply to savings deposited with a friendly society or credit union. They may be left with the society or union and be acceptable up to 31st December, 1967.
I have had a number of discussions with representatives of friendly societies and credit unions, some of whom have expressed their interest in registering associated building or housing societies in conjunction with their other activities. Many of them have funds now applied for a variety of purposes not connected with housing. There is no time limit on the acceptability of savings placed with any registered building society. The above provision will give friendly societies and credit unions ample time to adjust their affairs to fit in with the new scheme without disturbing their existing resources. Credit unions are growing fast and play a very constructive part in collecting and channelling savings to fruitful purposes for the benefit of their members and in fostering a sense of financial responsibility. The further harnessing of their activities to the housing field would be a most welcome development.
It is desirable at this stage to make it quite clear that the bill now before the House, which defines savings deposited with building and co-operative housing societies, friendly societies and credit unions as acceptable savings, is in no way intended to imply that the Commonwealth is, or will be, responsible for the financial soundness and solvency of any of these institutions.
Because until now there has been no definitive statement of acceptable forms of saving, we are also proposing that money saved and accumulated in any form for home purchase up to the end of this year will be acceptable, provided the savings are deposited or invested before then in any of the approved forms of saving. Home savings accounts will not be blocked accounts in the sense that the owner of the account may not withdraw money for any purpose. However, a withdrawal will in most cases reduce the amount of acceptable savings. Obviously, any moneys borrowed - not saved - will not be treated as acceptable savings.
We have considered at length when the period of acceptable savings of an eligible person should cease. The scheme is aimed at encouraging personal saving by young people before they enter into a commitment to acquire their own home. The bill therefore proposes that the period of saving will conclude on the day one or both of the married couple, or a person intending to marry, signs a contract to buy the home, or signs a contract to build the home, provided this is not later than the day construction commences, or, in the case of an owner-builder, the day on which construction commences. As soon as the contract has been entered into or construction of the home commenced, the period of acceptable savings concludes for both the husband and wife, and for both partners of an intended marriage. This significant date is described in the bill as the “prescribed date “.
As the grant is intended to be a reward for continuous saving over a period of years, not for the deposit of a single lump sum and no further saving, there should obviously be a limit on the amount of acceptable saving in a year. To give effect to this, it is necessary to define years of saving. The years of saving of an eligible person will be the twelve months periods dating back from the day on which the period of acceptable savings concluded. May I make this clear by quoting a hypothetical example. Suppose Mr. Smith signed a contract to buy or build, or commenced the construction of his home on 20th February, 1964. The years of saving of Mr. and Mrs. Smith would be 21st February, 1963, to 20th February, 1964; 21 st February, 1962, to 20th February, 1963; 21st February, 1961, to 20th February, 1962; and so on into the past; but information will not be sought beyond seven years. In respect of savings periods that conclude after 31st December next, the savings of each eligible person in any year of saving will be acceptable up to £250.
I now wish to explain briefly the manner in which we propose to calculate acceptable savings, as it is set out in the bill. The amount of acceptable savings of an eligible person during any year of saving will be the amount by which his or her total savings at the end of the year exceeded savings at the beginning of the year. Total savings will include, in addition to balances held in an acceptable form with a bank, building society, friendly society and credit union, the amount of any payment or payments made to purchase the land on which the home is being, or is to be built. If, however, the total of an eligible person’s acceptable savings at the end of the year is less than the total at the beginning of the year, the acceptable savings at the beginning of the year will be reduced by the amount of the decrease during the year.
If a person, whose savings period concludes after 31st December next, saves more than £250 in a year, the excess will not be acceptable, except that, if a person reduces his savings in any year following a year in which he had excess savings, the amount of the reduction will be treated first as a withdrawal of excess savings and only if the reduction in savings exceeds the amount of excess savings will the total acceptable savings in earlier years be reduced.
As the grant is a reward for saving to acquire a home, we must be reasonably sure that the young people will obtain the home and will live in it. It is proposed to pay the grant as soon as my department is satisfied that the home will be bought or built and lived in by the married couple. We appreciate that there will be many young people who will wish to know in advance of entering into a commitment to acquire a home whether they are eligible for the grant and, if so, the approximate amount of the grant they may expect to receive. It is my intention to arrange Australia-wide distributiion of a pamphlet that will answer most questions on who is eligible, what homes are eligible, what are acceptable savings and flow the grant will be calculated, and give advice on how to complete the application form. Officers of my department will also be instructed to supply the maximum feasible amount of information in response to enquiries. However, as honorable members will understand, it will be impracticable to determine the amount of acceptable savings and of the grant payable to an eligible person in advance of entry into a contract to buy or build the home or the commencement of its construction. Offices are being established in each capital city under the charge of regional directors.
I wish to add that it is my intention that the scheme be administered as sympathetically as the bill permits. I do not pretend that, in the time we have bad to examine the ramifications of the scheme, we may not have overlooked some minor aspects. Partly to cover the unforeseen, but also to permit the sympathetic treatment of unusual cases, the bill, as already mentioned, has been drafted to give substantial discretionary powers to the secretary of my department and his delegates in administering the scheme. I am quite satisfied that these discretionary powers, similar in most respects to those of the director-general and his delegates under the Social Services Act, are necessary to permit the smooth and effective introduction of the scheme. I believe this bill will encourage young people to save and so make a useful contribution to assisting young married persons to acquire a home of their own. Accordingly, I commend it to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to implement a scheme for the stabilization of returns to dried vine fruit growers for a period of five years commencing with the 1964 crop. In the course of negotiations which the Government conducted with dried vine fruit industry organizations for a mutually acceptable stabilization plan, we made it clear that any proposals involving grower financial contributions must first be submitted to, and approved by, a poll of growers.
The scheme, to which this bill and the associated Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges Bill 1964 and the Dried Vine
Fruits Contributory Charges (Collection) Bill 1964 now seek to give legislative expression, has been overwhelmingly supported by a referendum of growers recently conducted by the Commonwealth. The degree of rank and file grower support is evidenced by the voting figures. Of the growers enrolled, 88 per cent, cast their votes; and of these, 91 per cent, voted in favour of the scheme offered by the Government, lt is, therefore, with great pleasure that I bring down on behalf of the Government legislation so obviously desired by the industry.
The legislative proposals to which 1 shall shortly refer in greater detail do not provide for straight-out Government subsidization of the industry. Rather they provide for growers to make contributions in seasons of reasonable prices to stabilization funds which would be drawn upon in seasons when returns were low. The Commonwealth will guarantee certain minimum prices to the industry and will make payments to growers when industry credits in stabilization funds are inadequate to raise returns to those prices. In essence, therefore, under reasonably normal conditions, the industry would stabilize itself from its own resources, but at the same time the Government stands ready to supplement payments from stabilization funds should this be necessary to raise average returns to the guaranteed price levels.
Since a very large proportion of Australian dried vine fruit is sold on overseas markets, overall returns are subject to wide fluctuations. These stem from the large changes in world supply, to which Australia is only one of four major contributors. Because of climatic conditions and varying yields in Australia, the United States, Greece and Turkey, and a tendency towards a normal position of over-supply prices realized on overseas markets are highly sensitive to changes in production. Because of the heavy dependence of the Australian industry upon exports, this has resulted in a good deal of uncertainty in growers’ incomes. As honorable members will fully appreciate, such a situation in any industry is most unsatisfactory not only in an economic sense but socially as well.
The Australian dried vine fruits industry is far too important an industry for this situation to be allowed to continue. Furthermore, many growers are soldier settlers from the First and Second World Wars who have made a valuable contribution towards the settlement of our semiarid areas which form a nucleus around which further decentralized development has occurred. In fact, some areas, notably the Sunraysia area around Mildura, owe their very existence to this industry. With these thoughts well in mind, the Government has devoted a great deal of time to discussion and exchange of views with industry organizations culminating in the proposals which I now put before the House.
The principal features of the scheme, being embodied in the legislation, may be summarized as follows: -
The cost of production levels for the 1964 season are currants £113 10s.. sultanas £109 5s. and raisins £101 per ton.
The ceilings which have been placed on the quantities covered by the guaranteed price limit the Commonwealth’s liability in a situation where average returns per ton are likely to be lower than normal, but where gross incomes are not necessarily depressed, because of greater sales. They provide very adequate protection for growers since they are well above average production levels. The quantities received for packing below which growers will not be called upon to contribute, irrespective of average returns per ton, are designed to protect growers in a season of exceptionally poor crops when gross incomes could be low even though returns per ton are above the point calling for contributions to a stabilization fund. It is considered unreasonable to expect growers to contribute to a stabilization fund when incomes are already low and at a time when many cash commitments have to be met. This particular aspect was very strongly put forward by industry representatives and I am confident that honorable members will see the wisdom of this provision.
This bill and the associated Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges Bill, and the Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges (Collection) Bill, seek to provide the machinery under which the proposed stabilization scheme will operate. The starting point - average cost of production - will be determined each year in the light of cost movements. Average returns for each season will be calculated from total realizations of quantities sold in Australia and overseas. If, during a season, calculations indicate that a charge is likely to be payable at the end of the season, a provisional charge may be imposed and later adjusted when sales for the season have been completed. Moneys collected from these charges will be paid to the appropriate stabilization fund and payments from the funds will be made to growers when necessary.
To facilitate the operation of this scheme it is proposed that in practice the Minister will arrange for certain approved industry organizations to accept, on behalf of growers, the liability for payment of charges and responsibility for distributing bounty. I anticipate that the major industry organization, the Australian Dried Fruits Association, will incorporate a company for this purpose, the services of which, I hope, will be available to any grower of dried vine fruit whether he is a member of the A.D.F.A. or not. However, such an arrangement will not be restricted to one organization. Should other interests in the industry wish to make similar arrangements they will be quite free to seek approval. Sections of the industry participating in any such arrangement would not be required to pay the provisional charge but only the final charge which will be announced when disposals for the season have been completed.
As I have already mentioned, this scheme is built around the concept of the industry helping itself. The incorporation of an industry company, or companies, to carry out the detailed work involved in effecting stabilization is tangible proof of this, and has the Government’s full support.
I now revert to the question of the Government’s underwriting of the scheme. 1 reiterate this is not a straight-out subsidy arrangement. Within the range of £5 per ton above and below the cost of production the scheme will not operate. Inside this range, growers will absorb both losses and gains relative to costs of production. It is only outside this range that charges will be imposed or bounty payments made. Therefore, both the non-operative range and accumulated moneys in the stabilization funds act as buffers to a direct subsidy arrangement.
Should the Commonwealth, by reason of the fact that there is insufficient money in a stabilization fund, be called upon to make a payment to raise industry returns to £5 per ton below average cost of production, then, in any subsequent season, if that stabilization fund exceeds the upper limit which has been set, the Commonwealth will have first call on the excess amount. Only when the Commonwealth had been fully repaid from this excess would refunds be made to growers on a first-in first-out basis. A similar situation will also apply at the end of the five-year period in respect of moneys remaining in a fund within the upper limit provided for, except that any moneys due to be refunded to growers - after the Commonwealth has been recouped - could be withheld. The object of this provision, in effect, is to allow the Government of the day to decide, after consultation with industry representatives, whether it might retain any industry moneys remaining in a stabilization fund as a nucleus for a new plan offered and accepted at a further ballot of growers. If a new scheme did not eventuate, the moneys would automatically be refunded to growers.
A concession agreed to by this Government is that in the event of a further stabilization plan being adopted for the industry after 1968, the Commonwealth will not require recoupment in the period of that plan of any residue of moneys which it has contributed during the first five-year period and which have not been repaid. Although this decision has not been written into the legislation, I incorporate it in the record so that it will not be lost sight of in the course of any negotiations for a renewed scheme. Honorable members will appreciate that unless Commonwealth advances, not ordinarily recouped at the end of the first five-year period, were not then written off, true stabilization would not occur. For this reason, it is considered reasonable and essential to make this concession.
The operation of this plan has been devised to fit in with existing industry marketing and equalization arrangements to the fullest extent possible. Because of this, no changes of any consequence to present marketing arrangements will be necessary. In fact, the company which I expect the A.D.F.A. will incorporate for this purpose, although independent of the A.D.F.A., will be in close contact with it with a consequent saving in administrative expenses.
No doubt honorable members are concerned with the effect this stabilization plan could have on prices to the consumer. I am pleased to report that the plan will in no way affect domestic pricing or marketing arrangements. On export markets, the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board will continue to exercise control over minimum prices and terms and conditions of sale but subject to direction by the Minister where necessary. These bills seek to ensure that returns to growers do not fall below the average cost of production and thereby guarantee a reasonable degree of stability to the dried vine fruits industry. I regard the plan as a very workable and satisfactory one and, as I have indicated, from the recent referendum result this view is shared by the vast majority of growers. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to impose charges, under certain conditions, on dried vine fruits received for packing for the purposes of the stabilization scheme referred to in my second-reading speech on the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilization Bill 1964. This bill is complementary to the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilization Bill 1964 and the Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges (Collection) Bill 1964.
The bill provides in clause 5 that, subject to the tonnage received for packing of each variety - currants, sultanas and raisins - exceeding stated levels, a charge shall be imposed on such tonnage when the average return from seasonal sales of the variety exceeds the cost of production by more than £5 per ton. If varietal tonnage does not exceed 8,000 tons in the case of currants, 50,000 tons in the case of sultanas or 6,000 tons in the case of raisins, no charge will be imposed irrespective of the level of the average return.
Under clause 6, the charge is payable by the packer of the dried fruit in certain circumstances with provision, under clause 8 of the Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges (Collection) Bill, for the packer to recover the charge from growers. In other circumstances, namely when the grower receives the proceeds of sales of fruit other than through the agency of the packer, the grower is made liable for payment of the charge.
Clause 8 prescribes a formula for calculating the rates of the charge, if any, and sub-clause (3.) of clause 8 confines the rate for each variety to an amount of not more than £10 per ton. I give an example of how the charge would be calculated on, say, currants. If the average cost of production in a season is £110 a ton and the average return £130 a ton, an “ average “ grower would retain the first £5 a ton of the excess over cost of production; pay a charge at the maximum rate of £10 a ton, and retain the remaining £5 a ton. It is appreciated that there will be above - and” below - average growers, but obviously a plan of this nature must operate on the basis of average returns and costs.
Clause 9 of the bill imposes a provisional charge in accordance with provisions of the Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges (Collection) Bill 1964. I shall refer to the operation of that charge in my secondreading speech on that bill. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is complementary to the Dried Vine Fruits Contributory Charges Bill 1964 and provides the machinery arrangements for the payment and collection of charges to be imposed by that measure. Under clause 4 of the bill the Minister is authorized to declare provisional or interim rates of charge which shall be payable within a prescribed time limit pending the establishment of final rates of charge. Sub-clause (7.) of clause 4, however, provides that the Minister may exempt persons from the payment of provisional charge in respect of a season where he is satisfied that satisfactory arrangements have been made to ensure the payment of the final charge, if any, at the end of the season in question.
In practice, as explained in my secondreading speech on the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilization Bill 1964, it is proposed that the major dried vine fruits industry organization - the Australian Dried Fruits Association - will incorporate a company for the purpose, amongst other things, of facilitating the payments and collection of charge. To the extent to which packing houses and selling agents in the industry may make arrangements with the proposed company on behalf of the growers, for such payments and collections, it is envisaged that provisional charge will be waived. It is thought that practically all, if not all, sections of the industry will operate through the company for stabilization purposes and thus secure exemption from payment of provisional charge.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill - byleave - presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make certain amendments to the Dairy Produce Research and Sales Promotion Act 1958-1963 which are consequential upon the Dairy Produce Levy Bill 1964.
The bill is purely a machinery measure to enable the proceeds of the levy imposed on the new products by the Dairy Produce Levy
Bill to be paid into the Dairy Produce Research Trust Account and the Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Fund respectively.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill - byleave - presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Since 1962, when Parliament passed the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act, the Government has provided an export bounty on processed milk products which consist of sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk, full cream milk powder, infants’ and invalids’ foods, malted milk, &c. The main purpose of the bounty is to assist Australian processors to compete with subsidized exports from other countries and to encourage diversion of butterfat from the manufacture of butter and cheese which have been in surplus supply in recent years. The maximum amount of bounty was fixed at £350,000 for 1962-63 but, by an amendment of the act last year, the amount was increased to £500,000 for the current year, 1963-64.
The benefits derived from the assistance provided on exports of processed milk products since its inception in 1962 have been well in excess of expectations. For example, exports of these products in1962-63 containing 5,643 tons of butterfat exceeded those of 1961-62 by 46 per cent. and exports in the current year are slightly higher at this stage than they were in the same period of last year. The increase in exports in1962-63 represented a diversion of nearly 1,800 tons of butterfat, equivalent to approximately 2,200 tons of butter, from the surplus butter market at that time. Export income from processed milk products in 1962-63 amounted to over £8,250,000 which was £1,250,000 higher than in 1961-62.
The intention is also expressed in the act that the final rate of bounty, on a butterfat basis, on exports of processed milk products should be no greater than the final bounty rate on butter production. Because the increase in exports in 1962-63 was greater than anticipated, the maximum bounty allocation of £350,000 was not sufficient to enable payment of an export bounty rate equivalent to that payable to butter producers. In fact the final bounty rate for processed milk products was approximately 6.64d. per lb. of butterfat compared with the final butter bounty rate of 8d. per lb. of butterfat. To remedy this disparity, and also having in mind the possibility that exports of processed milk products would continue to increase in volume under the influence of the bounty, the Government decided to make available a maximum amount of £500,000 for the ] 963-64 export season.
In the first eight months of the season the volume of exports has been maintained at a satisfactory level although the high rate of increase experienced in 1962-63 was not sustained. It is now apparent that exports in 1 963-64 will be only slightly higher than those of 1962-63 and, consequently, it is not expected that the maximum bounty allocation for the current season will be wholly expended. The extent of the saving to the Government will not, however, be known precisely until some time after the end of June but it could be upwards of £100,000.
The intention of this bill is to extend the bounty assistance on exports of processed milk products for a further twelve months from 1st July next and to provide a maximum amount of £400,000 for this purpose. The Australian Dairy Industry Council and the Processed Milk Manufacturers Association of Australia have expressed their appreciation for the assistance and their satisfaction with the results of the scheme since its inception in 1962. They agreed that a continuation of the bounty assistance on exports of processed milk products is of vital importance to both sections of the industry and pressed the Government to make a commitment for the next three years. The Government, however, is not prepared to make a commitment beyond the next twelve months but will consider the matter again early in 1965 to determine whether further assistance is warranted in the light of conditions then prevailing in the industry. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Dairy Produce Levy Act 1958 imposes a levy on butter and cheese manufactured in Australia, the proceeds of which are used to finance dairy produce research and sales promotion programmes administered by the Australian Dairy Produce Board. Until recently all butteroil and ghee have been manufactured from butter on which the levy has already been paid. However, a new process has been established which will produce these products direct from milk or cream more efficiently, and at a lower cost. The new process is already being operated by several dairy manufacturers.
Under the present act, the products manufactured by the new process are not leviable while the same products made by the old method attract the levy. The purpose of this bill is to correct the anomaly by amending the principal act to provide that the levy is imposed on butteroil and ghee irrespective of the method of manufacture. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has requested that this anomaly be corrected and also has recommended that the levy be imposed on butter powder, a new product developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without requests: -
Customs Tariff Bill 1964.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill 1964.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 1) 1964.
Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) Bill 1964.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Debate resumed (vide page 1527).
.- I must support those members of the Australian Labour Party who have spoken before me in their condemnation of this Government’s dismal failure to face up to the great road problems that are confronting Australia to-day. The Government has once more failed to make a realistic approach towards ensuring that Australia has a decent highway system, indeed one of world standard. It is a sorry story of the Government’s dismal failure to spend on roads the money it has received from fuel taxes over the past five years. If this revenue had been spent on our roads they would not be in the poor condition they are in to-day. Australia is the fourth most highly motorized nation in the world. We have approximately 3,500,000 vehicles using the highways. We have one vehicle for every three persons, and it is estimated that by 1974 we will have a vehicle for every 2.4 persons. The roads we build to-day must be the roads of the future. They must be properly planned to keep pace with our expanding economy.
The bill before the House is to authorize grants to the States totalling £330,000,000 over a period of five years, plus £45,000,000 to be allocated on a £1 for £1 basis for expenditure by the States. The National Association of Australian State Road Authorities has estimated that in ten years Australia must’ spend £3,615,000,000 to raise our road systems to a reasonable standard. The Commonwealth should be the principal contributor to finances for the nation’s main road systems The Commonwealth collects the fuel taxes and it should employ those moneys on road construction. Instead they are placed into Consolidated Revenue together with customs and excise duties and sales tax proceeds An examination of financial records shows that in the period from 1959-60 to 1962-63 the Commonwealth Government collected approximately £256,000,000 in fuel taxes. Of this amount it returned only £192.000,000 to the States in road grants under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. Budget figures just released show that while £68,000,000 was collected in fuel taxes in 1962-63, only £54,000,000 was paid to the States. Last year the Commonwealth Government collected approximately £150,000,000 in fuel taxes, excise duties and sales taxes on motor vehicles. The States received £54,000,000 and £95,600,000 was spent other than on roads. The Government has continued to treat the States as beggars.
The construction of a national road system is a major task. Highways, expressways, freeways and arterial roads are essential if transport is to cope with the development of this country. A typical highway scene at peak hour shows that vehicles designed for speed and comfort are forced to travel at crawling pace. Driving a motor vehicle in urban areas has become one of the frustrations of urban living. We need a highway system which will meet the growing needs of our expanding economy. Tremendous demands are being made on our transport systems, and our highways will have to accommodate increasingly large numbers of motor vehicles as our population expands. Roads built to-day must be planned to meet the requirements of 30 years hence. We cannot afford to have a highway system that is a weak link in the transport chain. Road transport at present carries about 75 per cent, of our goods. An efficient road system promotes new wealth in industry and increases land values. Inadequate roads restrict the development of the Australian economy. Surveys have shown that when the traffic speed in urban areas is reduced by congestion to ten miles an hour, petrol consumption is increased by about 50 per cent. In addition, inadequate roads waste tyres, mechanical parts and man-power. It is estimated that because of inferior roads the national loss to vehicle users is about £200,000,000 a year.
I wish to quote a report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of a statement by Professor Blunden, Professor of Traffic Engineering at the University of New South Wales, after the State Premiers’ Conference on the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act. The report states -
The Professor of Traffic Engineering at the University of New South Wales, Professor W. R. Blunden, said both Sydney and Melbourne must have 20 miles of expressways within five years to escape becoming “ static at the centre “.
The cost of building 20 miles of expressways would be between £50,000.000 and £100,000,000. He said these expressways must be built in Sydney: The eastern distributor, extending from the Harbour Bridge to beyond Taylor Square; the western distributor, from near the Bridge as far as Leichhardt; the southern expressway as far as Cook’s River and a link between the southern and western expressways continuing across a new Harbour Bridge between Balmain and Greenwich. “ All this would allow the main city central area to function free of choking through traffic “, Professor Blunden said.
The Manly-Warringah expressway is under construction and when completed it will allow the volume of motor cars travelling over the Harbour Bridge to be increased by approximately 1,200 cars an hour. It will link up with the Cahill expressway which has been built by the New South Wales Labour Government and the Sydney City Council. Traffic congestion in the Harbour Bridge area has been relieved at peak hours by the construction of the Cahill expressway.
It is estimated that in approximately five years £360,000,000 must be spent in New South Wales to build essential expressways for the relief of traffic congestion. The lord mayors of all capital cities recently approached the Federal Government for a special allocation of funds to meet their urgent road problems. Only two of the lord mayors of our capital cities are members of the Australian Labour Parly; the others are Liberal lord mayors. Their requests were rejected by the Federal Government. I shall quote a report of a speech by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman H. F. Jensen, which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The report states -
The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman H. F. Jensen said, “ the Commonwealth formula for distribution of road funds is a monster which threatens the vital life of Australian cities “. He said the formula denied the funds which would alleviate traffic problems which caused avoidable economic loss. The Lord Mayors of all Australian capitals had presented “ unanswerable evidence “ to the Government for a change in the formula to give metropolitan areas a fixed percentage of the funds.
The Federal Government’s rejection of the lord mayors’ approach has meant that the state of the traffic in the capital cities has become chaotic because insufficient funds are available to meet the road problems. Where else can the municipal authorities obtain funds to overcome their road prob lems? The Commonwealth Government has the taxing powers. Local government bodies can obtain revenue only from rates, essential services and loans. Does the Government expect local government bodies to raise their rates in order to obtain funds for road construction? Local government bodies are tackling the road problems in their areas, but their funds must be spent on other essential facilities in the municipalities. The State Governments are concerned about the road problems of local government bodies but because of the finances made available by the Federal Government they are unable to grant further assistance.
In 1959, 45 per cent, of all new motor vehicles were registered in capital cities. In 1964, this had increased to more than 60 per cent. The major part of all revenue comes from those people who use the roads around the capital cities, but 40 per cent, of all Commonwealth money allocated must be spent on rural roads. We know that road communications are important in rural areas, but rural roads do not carry anywhere near the volume of traffic that is carried by roads in densely populated city areas. We know of secondary roads in New South Wales that have been sealed because of the requirement that 40 per cent, of the grant must be spent on such roads. These sealed roads may run from a farm to a main highway which has a dirt surface and which cannot be sealed because funds are not available. Although 40 per cent, of the allocation must be spent on rural roads, I think it is most essential to seal our highways and expressways so that Australia will have better communications. The rapidly developing secondary industries arc located within our cities and these industries play an important part in maintaining Australia’s economic health. Good and efficient road systems in and around our capital cities are a necessity for the efficient operation of manufacturing industries and the distribution of the products. - Recently, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) invited Premiers to come to Canberra to discuss the terms of the new Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill, but this discussion was a farce. Instead of taking part in a conference, the Premiers were faced with an edict. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer merely presented a two-page foolscap statement to the assembled
Premiers and did not budge from it. I will tell the House of some of the statements made by the Premiers. The most critical were the Premiers from States with Liberal governments. New South Wales has a Labour government. The Premier at that time, Mr. Heffron, criticized the Commonwealth Government and said -
Unless the Commonwealth is prepared to approach this national problem of road needs in a more reasonable and just manner, the task of the States, particularly the most populous States, is hopeless.
He was a Labour Premier. Victoria, which has a Liberal government, was treated worst of all the States. For every £1 collected in fuel taxes in Victoria, the State receives back 13s. 5d. Although the Commonwealth Government is a Liberal government, it does not seem to be very liberal with the Liberal States. Honorable members opposite always say that there is dissension within the Australian Labour Party, but there must be a lot of dissension between the State Liberal governments and the Commonwealth Liberal Government. Mr. Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, said that he was very disappointed with the result of the conference. Sir Thomas Playford, the Premier of South Australia - another State with a Liberal Government - said the money provided for roads in South Australia over the next five years was inadequate. Some of the States were happy with the amount given to them, but the States with the largest populations were very critical of the Government’s hand-out. Despite strenuous and sound arguments by the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, the Commonwealth Government was adamant and would not increase the amount it had decided to hand out to the States.
The New South Wales Government had prepared a detailed and documented case based on conservative estimates and had made this available in advance to the Prime Minister. I understand that other States also did this. But none of these submissions was discussed. The New South Wales case would have made it almost impossible for the Prime Minister to maintain his stand. This case was based on scientific, conservative estimates embodied in a nation-wide survey of road needs. This survey was carried out by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities. It covered the years 1964 to 1974 and took as an intermediate period the years 1964 to 1969, which is the period covered by this bill. Naasra estimated that the total Australian road needs for 1964 to 1974 would require £3,179,423,000. This gives a clear picture of the magnitude of the task facing the country if it really wants a firstclass road system.
For ‘ the period from 1964 to 1969, Naasra estimated that £1,412,388,000 would be required to meet Australia’s road needs. But the Commonwealth proposes in this bill to grant to the States only a paltry £375,000,000. Of course, the States will not necessarily receive this amount. Basically, they will receive only £330,000,000; the other £45,000,000 will be made available on a £1 for £1 basis. Unless a State exceeds a certain base amount on its roads programme, it will not participate in the additional grants. Some of the smaller States intimated at the Premiers’ Conference that they would experience difficulty in reaching these base requirements.
The Prime Minister, in his policy speech at the last election and at the Premiers’ Conference, made great play of the fact that the Commonwealth is increasing the grants to the States and emphasized that the amount to be given under this legislation is £375,000,000. But he was very careful not to mention that it is conservatively estimated that in the period from 1964 to 1969 the Commonwealth will collect at least £421,000,000 or even £450,000,000 in fuel taxes, if the present trend of vehicle registration is maintained. The case submitted to the Prime Minister by the New South Wales Government showed that Naasra estimated that £475,000,000 was required to meet the needs of New South Wales for the period from 1964 to 1969. Under the distribution embodied in this bill, New South Wales will receive only £104,888,000 in this period. This will leave £370,612,000 to be found by the State and local government authorities in New South Wales - an impossible task.
The Treasurer in his second-reading speech said -
At the Premiers’ Conference in March each of the Premiers put his State’s point of view on this issue. The Commonwealth Government took the view that this matter is primarily an issue between States. However, it became evident that the States could not agree on any change in the formula, and the Commonwealth could not see any compelling reason, particularly under these circumstances, why a change should be made. The existing basis of distribution is therefore to be continued and provision to that effect is made in this bill.
I would like now to refer to a meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council held in Adelaide in June of last year. This body is composed of the State Ministers in charge of transport and representatives of the Commonwealth Government. At the Adelaide meeting, it was proposed that a conference be held in Canberra between representatives of the Commonwealth and State Ministers in charge of highways to see whether a formula suitable to all the States could be agreed on for inclusion in this bill. The proposed conference was never called, but the Treasurer made no mention of that fact. I believe that he has let al] the States down. He should at least have had the decency to call together the State Ministers in charge of highways at a conference as proposed and allow them to present to this Government cases for the individual States. If this had been done, a suitable formula could probably have been worked out. As I have said, the Commonwealth Government did not call the proposed conference; yet we now find the Treasurer saying that the States could not agree on a formula. I do not think that this Government wanted the States to agree. If it had wanted them to agree, it would have called the proposed conference so that a suitable formula could have been worked out.
As we know, New South Wales will receive only £18,400,000 in the first year. In the current financial year, the State Government will spend approximately £20,000,000 on roads. This shows that that Government is doing something to help overcome road problems in that State.
– The New South Wales Government would spend that much on an opera house.
– It will do a good job on that, too. We may even get the honorable member to sing there.
Roads and expressways must be built and transport facilities generally must be expanded to cope with the demands of the increasing population. The eastern suburbs railway in Sydney must be built and adequate transport services must be provided so that people may travel readily to and from their work. Projects such as the eastern suburbs railway are important and must be undertaken. That project is estimated to cost the New South Wales Government approximately £30,000,000. Furthermore, it is estimated that that Government will lose £1,000,000 a year on the operation of the line when it is completed. At present, the State Government has not the finance to build that railway. Such projects are essential and the Commonwealth Government should step in and help the State by granting it money on interest-free terms so that such important projects can be undertaken. I admit that the eastern suburbs railway will pass through my electorate. However, it will pass through electorates represented by Government supporters also. They are not present in the chamber at the moment, but they must be aware that the proposed railway would greatly help their electors. Those honorable members should make representations to the Government in an effort to see that something is done to help provide proper transport for the people who live in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
– Get out in the country a bit. Get away from the city.
– I think that country areas get enough.
The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have intimated the Government’s willingness to spend an additional £45,000,000 in the period from 1st July, 1964, to 30th June, 1969, on roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and on special road projects such as those for which special grants have already been made to Queensland and Western Australia, and such as the Gordon River road in Tasmania. I am sure that some of this money could be spent in New South Wales. We in that State would welcome the extending of any of this bounty to projects there. An expressway linking the northern suburbs of Sydney with Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport to provide for the flow of traffic to and from the airport has been proposed. As this airport represents the front door through which each year thousands of visitors enter Australia, the Commonwealth Government may consider making a special grant to assist in the construction of this vital traffic artery. Many such vital works are included in the programmes of the various States. If this Government were sincere in its approach to our national road problems, it would immediately investigate these projects and subsidize them by means of special grants. In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I say that unless this Government gives some such concrete and genuine evidence of its bona fides, it cannot escape the charge that it is trifling with a matter of national significance.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, a discussion such as this on the road systems of the Commonwealth, in the existing pattern of things, occurs once every five years and these debates are of considerable importance. I think it can be fairly said that honorable members have expressed their views of the ideal requirements in terms of road works and that the bill has had a generally favorable reception. I do not intend to be contentious this evening. However, during the debate, there have been raised several matters that should be examined in some detail. This bill relates to widespread problems. It concerns not only the total quantum of Commonwealth grants for road works but also matching expenditure by the States and, therefore, the total of both State and Commonwealth expenditure on roads. Indeed, in general, this has been the central theme of the debate. Not unexpectedly, honorable members opposite have tended to suggest that the Commonwealth is not providing enough money. This is not unusual in financial matters. Again, there is the question of the formula on which each State’s share of the total sum is determined. Finally, there are the conditions governing the way in which the funds are to be spent in the respective States.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), who led for the Opposition in this debate, suggested that the Government had changed its policy on the petrol tax and aid road funds. He said that the Government apparently accepted the view that the total proceeds of the petrol tax should be spent on roads, and he commented -
This is a significant change of policy.
I want to set the record straight immediately. The Government has not changed its policy on this matter. We have not related the total proceeds of the petrol tax to the aid that we give to the States for road works. We have not done that any more than a State government applies the total proceeds of motor registration and licence fees to road works, or any more than local government authorities devote to roads the total proceeds of rates or any other revenue that they receive. The assumption made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is based purely on a calculation, either made by himself or supplied to him by some one else, that the total yield of the petrol tax over the next five years will be about £420,000,000, this being approximately the sum that the Commonwealth will allocate for road works, taking into account the £375,000,000 to be made available to the States and the Commonwealth’s expenditure on roads in its own Territories.
The first clear evidence that the Commonwealth has not adopted the policy of basing its allocation of funds on the yield of the petrol tax is to be found in the fact that the bill provides for a total over five years - amounts have been worked out for allocation year by year - of at least £330,000,000, rising to £375,000,000 if expenditure is made by the States to match the additional £45,000,000 offered by the Commonwealth. This figure, which has been arrived at independently of the yield from petrol tax, suits the States. They know where they stand from year to year and they are able to budget accordingly. The amount is not subject to annual adjustment.
I said earlier that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had apparently come to his erroneous conclusion because, according to his calculations, the proceeds from petrol tax projected over the next five years might approximate the amount which in fact is being granted to the States. But of course, this is a matter for complete conjecture.
– That is all he meant.
– That may or may not be so, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition claimed that this is a significant change of policy. There has been no change of policy whatsoever. The usage of petrol will fluctuate during that period for many reasons. Usage of petrol can be to some extent in the control of the Government and it may to some extent fluctuate because of forces beyond the control of the Government.
– Have you estimated what the likely takings will be?
– I do not think that is necessary for purposes of my argument. My figures would differ from the honorable member’s if I did produce them. But the point is that usage of petrol, either in the past or projected over a short term ahead - twelve months ahead or even five years ahead, if you can make a projection of that kind - is quite unrelated to road needs, which must necessarily be projected over a far longer period. That is one of the many weaknesses associated with linking expenditure on road construction with petrol tax proceeds. I think those matters should be emphasized once again.
The Government may impose or lift taxes which have consequences affecting road usage, but the Government’s actions may be totally unrelated to road requirements. Its actions may even contradict the demands or requirements of road construction. For example, petrol prices will be the principal factor in changing the amount of petrol used. Movements in the price of petrol will lead to a significant increase or decrease in petrol usage from time to time. Matters that could affect petrol prices are a change in world prices and changing world conditions, over which the Government has no control. The amount of petro] used may be related to Government fiscal action in relation to income tax, vehicle tax, such as sales tax, or petrol tax itself. The amount of petrol used may be related to the state of the economy. It may depend on whether the economy is in a state of boom or recession. In those circumstances the amount of petrol used is probably directly opposite to the requirements of governments for funds to spend on roads. If the economy is in a stage df boom more petrol is used but probably at such a time it is desirable for governments to reduce public expenditure in order to preserve stability. If the economy is in a state of recession, as was the case recently, it is probably desirable for governments to expand public spending so that they may in turn lift the economy and give it a shot in the arm. That is established procedure. But if you relate petrol tax proceeds directly to the amount of money spent on roads as an agreement of this kind over five years you tie the Government down to preserving an economically unhealthy state of affairs. Therefore, again, the Government has rejected the proposition that the proceeds of petrol tax should be tied to road construction funds in Australia.
– A Labour government will see that it is.
– You may do so. If you do you will produce a result which will be economically unsound and which will not really be wanted by the Premiers. It is true that the Premiers want more money for roads, but they would far rather have the certainty of amounts over five years guaranteed to them by this bill than have annual adjustments made related to petrol usage. The Premiers have gladly accepted the proposition that they should have a certain sum which they can budget for definitely and which will enable them to plan a roads programme over a number of years.
I think I have made it clear that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was acting on a wrong assumption when he suggested that the Government had changed its porky in some way. He suggested also that the assumption that in total over the next five years more than £1,100,000,000 would be spent on road construction was incorrect. That was an estimate made by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in his second- reading speech. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggested that governments which raised money should spend it and 1 that virtually all road funds should come from Commonwealth petrol tax sources. That idea is in keeping with Labours general policy of centralizing government in Canberra and persistently reducing the power and authority of the sovereign States. Indeed, I heard the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) to-night embark on a rather interesting excursion into logic when he said that at present we had six systems which headed all the traffic flow and all the population into the various State capitals and that instead we should have one system. I do not know whether he implied that all the traffic flow should head into one capital, but that seemed to be the kind of argument he was producing.
We do not subscribe to the proposition that the Commonwealth Government should decide the types of roads that are needed in country areas in the different States. We do not think that the Commonwealth is any better equipped to decide the type of road construction that should take place in capital cities in the interests of the people living in those areas than are the people at present charged with that responsibility, namely the States and local government bodies. The figures supplied by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities are interesting. Based on the assumption that the rate of taxes in the States remains the same but the total increases progressively as the number of vehicles registered increases and as the normal rates increase over the years, it is estimated that the States will have something like £727,000,000 to spend on road construction compared with the Treasurer’s estimate of £680,000,000. If we add the sum of £420,000,000 which the Commonwealth will contribute in the next five years, the total is in excess of the £1,100,000,000 as calculated by the Treasurer. But when we embark into estimates of amounts needed for road construction in Australia we get into the realms of conjecture. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that we could save £1,000,000 a day if the Commonwealth built the proper kinds of roads. He got that information from a statement made by somebody in New South Wales who said that if the Common wealth built roads to the standard that he thought desirable or ideal the cost would be £2,200,000,000. He said that this could save wear and tear on vehicles, and costs in general of the order of £365,000,000 a year. If honorable members examine that proposition alone they will see that to save £1,000,000 a day it would be necessary to spend £1,000,000 a day on road construction for well over six years. In the light of the other commitments of the Commonwealth and the limited resources that we have for meeting very many needs, I think this figure must be set down as an idealistic proposition which is quite impracticable of attainment at the present time. I do not blame honorable members opposite for putting up this idealistic proposition, which is something that we look forward to achieving at some time in the future, but to suggest that we should now embark on a programme of expenditure of £2,200,000,000 because it will introduce savings of the order I have mentioned is, I think, quite absurd.
The Deputy leader of the Opposition suggested that we should increase petrol tax substantially so as to relieve the burdens on the States. He said, in effect, that because we, as a Commonwealth, were raising money in this way we should spend it and thereby deprive the State and local governments of their sovereign powers in relation to road construction. Road and traffic problems, and transport problems generally, are being examined by the Commonwealth and the States, but not in the watertight compartments of each State’s interests; they are being looked at increasingly in a far better way than merely taking over the responsibilities of the States.
Each year the Australian Transport Advisory Council meets and compares the problems arising in each State and the common problems throughout the Commonwealth. These problems are considered on a national basis, and each State makes its contribution to, and gains something from, the conferences. So far the conferences have achieved a considerable amount towards the co-ordination of transport requirements. They have achieved a uniform traffic code, and many other concessions have been made towards this idea of working together on a national basis to achieve the ideal in road and transport arrangements. This, I submit to the House, is a far more satisfactory proposition than merely having the Commonwealth step in and take over from State Governments.
It has been suggested that it is unfair to relate the ratepayer to the requirements of roads. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, for instance, suggested that rates on property bear no relation whatever to the use that the ratepayer makes of the road in front of his property. I think that that is quite an amazing proposition to come from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Every one knows that it is of vital importance to ratepayers, wherever they are, to have the best possible quality roads running near their properties or their premises. The quality of roads, road layout and the town planning aspect of roads affect tremendously the value of land in the vicinity. They affect tremendously the value of the ratepayer’s business, whether he be a farmer or shopkeeper, and the usage of roads by ratepayers, their customers or their visitors, or the transporters of their goods is of vital concern to ratepayers.
It is extremely important, in the Commonwealth’s view, that ratepayers in their own little communities, whether they are in the city, municipalities or country shires, should have some say in the kinds of roads that go in front of their properties, and they should have some say in getting sound planning for their own community purposes. I ask the House whether this is likely to be achieved under the kind of socialist propositions that we have heard from honorable members opposite, all of which tend to place a concentration of power and authority in the Commonwealth and not in the States and local authorities. Town planning is an immensely important ingredient in road construction throughout Australia, and not only ratepayers but also States Governments have a large responsibility in this. I think the Commonwealth should hesitate very much before taking over that responsibility.
While speaking on the matters which were raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, let me pass now from the question of the total quantum of money which should be found by the Commonwealth to the question of the formula. I wish to refer to this only briefly, because there has not been very much argument about the formula, except in a minor way. The
Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned that Queensland does not come out very well under the formula. He said that the two very extensive States of Western Australia and South Australia are sparsely settled and have a substantial network of roads only in the south-western and southeastern corners respectively. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) interjected that quite a lot of the land in Western Australia is unusable. I will excuse the honorable member for Watson, because 1 do not think he travels to Western Australia very much, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition makes man’y excursions to that State and it is inexcusable that he does not know that the State Government in Western Australia is throwing open for new settlement each year no less than 1,000,000 acres of Crown land, that this has been going on for some years now and that it will be going on for some years in the future. This is land that was once regarded as unusable, as the honorable member for Watson interjected, but the fact is that 1,000,000 acres of new Crown land are coming into use each year. There are large requirements for new roads in a situation like this. 1 am rather surprised that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who is such a fount of knowledge on most matters related to the development of the Commonwealth - particularly at election time - does not realize that this kind of development is going on steadily all the time in Western Australia.
The honorable member suggested that Queensland had 25 per cent, of the highways and yet received only 18 per cent, of aid roads funds. These figures are probably correct, but the definition of “highways “ has a bearing on this matter. Queensland has a system of proclaiming highways which is different from that used in other States. Again, in Western Australia there is a road which is known as the “ Eyre Highway “, which, in the legal sense, under Western Australian classification, is only a “ minor road “. This method of defining roads is a device adopted by some States in larger measure than in others purely to take advantage of the requirement to spend 40 per cent, of Commonwealth aid road funds on rural roads other than main highways and trunk roads. So this kind of analysis which enabled the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to build up a case for altering the formula for the disposition of the funds rather falls to the ground when that kind of difference between the States is considered.
The honorable member suggested that Queensland was being treated harshly because its per capita road taxes were rather higher than those in the rest of Australia. But no State pays out for road construction the whole of its collections of vehicle taxes. If honorable members look at the per capita expenditure of the various States on roads they will have a better idea of the picture and will find that, per head of poulation, Queensland has the second lowest expenditure, Western Australia having the lowest. So again one cao hardly say that in comparison with the other States Queensland is treated ungenerously by the Commonwealth.
I indicated a few moments ago that no State allocates to expenditure on roads all the taxes which it levies on motor vehicles and the like. In New South Wales £2,000,000 of the road taxes received is allocated to the Police Department and £1,000,000 to the Department of Railways. In Victoria a considerable sum of money goes to the country fire authority. In Queensland all the revenue received for drivers’ licences and transport regulation charges goes to Consolidated Revenue. Over the whole of the Commonwealth approximately 85 per cent, of the sum raised by way of State motor taxes is applied to roads purposes. In other words, there is not a significant difference between the percentage of State motor taxes which is devoted to roads purposes and the percentage of the petrol tax collected by the Commonwealth which is used for roads purposes.
Whatever honorable members may regard as being the ideal in road construction, the Commonwealth should, as a basic principle, live with the idea that local government bodies must have a voice in road construction in their own area and that State Governments are sovereign bodies and are entitled to a say in the construction of roads within the States. Moreover, the Commonwealth has an obligation to promote increasing co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth in regard to road standards, road usage, traffic regulations and the like. Such objectives should be achieved by mutual co-operation rather than by some kind of Commonwealth takeover. If we are to apply the principles which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself enunciated, that is that whoever raises the money should have a say in the spending of it, each of these sovereign bodies should have some say in spending the money and should contribute some share. Although the justice of it may seem to be rather rough, the proportion of approximately one-third which is now contributed by the Commonwealth achieves considerable equity and is in fact resulting in a considerable improvement of road standards throughout the Commonwealth. That, of course, is what we must aim at.
I concede that the great cities have a tremendous problem, but it is one which largely they can solve. When all is said and done, 60 per cent, of what the Commonwealth gives to the States for road construction is unattached. Only 40 per cent, has to be used for rural roads. In Victoria only 22 per cent of the total expenditure on roads comes from the Commonwealth, approximately 78 per cent, coming from the State’s own funds. The percentages for the other States indicate that in no State does the Commonwealth provide more than one-half of the total expenditure on roads within those States. I repeat that the States have the solution of this problem in their own hands. That is as it should be.
This bill gives promise of a considerable advance in the standard of road construction over the next five years. It provides for an increase of 50 per cent, in the next five years on the sum that has been spent in the last five years. Our approach to this problem must be governed by the relation of the total resources of the Commonwealth to claims for other forms of expenditure. It is basically unsound to try to attach to our . approach to this problem a formula based, for example, on the petrol tax. I believe that the approach we have adopted in consultation with, and with the cooperation of, the States will achieve far more than would the socialist approach of the Opposition.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Luchetti) adjourned.
House adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Persons of other than European origin are notionally precluded from permanent residence. For example, non-Europeans (regardless of their country of citizenship) who are the spouses, minor unmarried children and aged parents of Australian citizens, or of British subjects permanently resident here, may be admitted for permanent residence. Apart from these categories, the numbers of nonEuropeans who would not normally be eligible for entry for permanent residence but who have been admitted during the past five years for: - visits which do not exceed twelve months; and visits (including admission for a specific purpose on the basis of temporary residence) which exceed twelve months, are, on the basis of figures compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician with respect to short-term and long-term movements and according to the major nationality groupings, as follows: -
These figures do not include a small number of Asians and other non-European visitors of nationalities not otherwise specifically listed.
The figures, which are based on nationality rather than on data as to race, consequently do not include either an appreciable number of nonEuropeans having British nationality (i.e. visitors of Chinese race from Hong Kong, or citizens of Malaysia). Conversely, they could include a very small number of persons of European race.
y asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
3 and 4. Separate statistics for metropolitan and country areas are not maintained.
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Will he confer with State Ministers for Labour on the question of implementing International Labour Organization Convention No. 100 and Recommendation No. 90 dealing with equal pay for the sexes for work of equal value?
– The answer to the honorable members question is as follows: -
The question of equal pay was fully debated in the House recently and I have nothing further to add to what I said on that occasion.
b asked the Minister for Labour end National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The following statement sets out the permanent force strength, by commissioned officers and other ranks, in each of the years concerned.
Royal Australian Navy. (Question No. 191.)
y asked the Minister for the
Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Daly’s question if I mention that all R.A.N. training establishments include swimming instruction in the training curricula and that all officers and the large majority of ratings are able to swim on passing out of the various training establishments. In support of this a recent survey in the three rating training establishments showed that in 1963, on leaving these establiishments, all apprentices could swim while 1.1 per cent. of adult recruits and 3 per cent. of junior recruits could not. Follow-up swimming instruction is given to those ratings who failed the swimming test at the training establishments.
Recruits are entered into the Navy at four establishments- H.M.A.S. “ Leeuwin “, H.M.A.S. “ Cerberus “, H.M.A.S. “ Nirimba “, and H.M.A.S. “ Cresswell “. At all of these stablishments provision is made for swimming instruction in the training curricula. There are two tests of ability to swim for ratings, namely -
For each test (he man is to be clothed, and is to swim 50 yards, after which he is to be able to keep himself afloat for three minutes. Subject to any special instructions, ability to swim is a necessary qualification for advancement to leading ratings in all branches. Life-saving is taught to the more proficient swimmers, advanced classes being formed for this purpose as opportunity offers.
rns asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
They consist of -
Army Establishments. (Question No. 202.)
n asked the Minister for the
Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
If insured for hospital benefits - Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day plus fund benefits of up to £4 16s. a day.
If uninsured - Commonwealth benefit of 8s. a day.
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he give further consideration to providing finance for the extension of the comprehensive water scheme in Western Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
By arrangement with the Premier of Western Australia his renewed proposal for further financial assistance from the Commonwealth in the comprehensive water supply scheme has been investigated by professional Commonwealth officers. Their report will be available shortly and will require consideration before a decision is made.
b asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is our interest liability each year in sterling, United States dollars, Canadian dollars, Swiss francs. Netherlands guilders and German marks on borrowing overseas?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The annual interest liability of the Commonwealth and the States at 30th June, 1963, together with other information which may be of interest to the honorable member, is set out in Tables 1 and 3 of the white paper “Government Securities on Issue “ which was presented to Parliament on the occasion of the Budget for 1963-64. The Australian currency equivalent of the annual interest liability of the Commonwealth and the Slates al 30lh June, 1963, was as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
What kind or ope of voting was carried out in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea during the recent election?
s. - The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
on asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I and 2. The Superannuation Act 1.959 provided that all future male contributors should contribute for a widow’s pension equal to fiveeighths of the male rale of pension and new rales of contribution were prescribed. Those who were already contributors when the aci came into force had the option of continuing their existing contributions, in which event their widows would qualify for a pension equal to one-half of the male rate, or of increasing their contributions to provide a widow’s pension equal to five-eighths of the male rale.
Such a provision would be contrary to the fundamental principles of the scheme. All male contributors pay contributions at the same rates, which are actuarially determined to provide pensions for contributors upon invalidity during service or on the attainment of the maximum age for retirement, or to his dependants upon death. The object is to provide benefits against a range of contingencies and rates of contribution are actuarially calculated on this basis, lt U 0/,i. run counter to this basis if individual contributors were permitted to contribute for some benefits but not for others or to obtain a refund of contributions on the ground that a particular contingency had not arisen or was not likely to arise. There is no reason why an exception should be made in the case of the additional contributions paids for a five-eighths widow’s pension by a contributor who elected to make those contributions.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
For how many prescriptions have claims been made in each year since the commencement of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act, and what is the total number to date?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The following are the numbers of pharmaceutical benefits prescriptions for each year since (he commencement of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and the total to date.
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
Earnings of Overseas Visitors.
. -On 14th April, the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. McIvor) asked me a question without notice concerning earnings in Australia of overseas visitors. Under existing exchange control policy no restrictions are imposed on the remittance abroad of net income (after taxation) earned in Australia by overseas residents working temporarily in Australia. This policy has applied throughout the post-war period except in the case of visiting entertainers from North America. Because of the dollar position, there were restrictions prior to 1959 on the remittance of Australian earnings of North American entertainers, but these were removed as part of the revision of exchange control policy that followed the United Kingdom move to convertibility of sterling on nonresident account late in1958. To introduce any restriction on the remittance of earnings of overseas visitors would be contrary to the Government’s established policy of allowing current earnings of overseas residents to be freely remitted. However, standing instructions to visa issuing officers overseas require that (apart from visiting artists and entertainers), an applicant for a tourist or business visa must satisfy the officer to whom the application for a visa is made that a visit only is intended, and that the applicant will not engage in remunerative employment (although in the case of the business visitor, it is accepted that he will engage in such negotiations and transactions as are the purpose of his visit).
.- On 7th April the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) asked me a question about the details of the arrangements for the purchase of Moonie oil. I understand from my colleague the Minister for . National Development that the arrangements which were concluded recently for the disposal of crude oil from the Moonie field will operate for a period of fifteen months and provide for five Australian refineries to share in the purchase of Moonie production during that period at a price of $2.83 (25s. 4d.) per barrel f.o.b. Brisbane, less a freight allowance of 30 cents (2s. 8d.) per barrel for crude oil refined outside the Brisbane area. The price will not rise or fall in sympathy with world parity prices. As the Minister for National Development has stated on several occasions, these arrangements cover the period before the two refineries which are being constructed in Brisbane are expected to be ready to take the Moonie crude oil. The capacity of both of the refineries in Brisbane exceeds the planned production of the Moonie field so that when they are completed there will be no difficulty in the whole of the Moonie production being refined in Brisbane. New agreements - presumably long term - will need to be negotiated at that time.
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Royal Australian Navy. f (Question No. 246.)
n asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
The dock completed building in Britain in 1942 but did not arrive in Australia until 1945, after service with the Royal Navy in Iceland. It sustained damage while being towed to Australia, and was repaired both at Mort’s Dock and Cockatoo Dock for the Royal Navy, completing towards the end of 1946. The dock, which had been located at Cockatoo Dockyard since 1946, became the property of the Commonwealth in May, 1948, and remained at Cockatoo, on the basis of the company assuming responsibility for normal maintenance. Under this arrangement, Cockatoo Island Dockyard has carried out maintenance on the dock at regular intervals. The Company has advised that its detailed records do not go back beyond the period 1957-58, but that available information indicates that the maintenance work undertaken during this period (at an average annual cost of £2,000 to £3,000) was similar to that carried out from 1957-58, as described in 2 below. Departmental records show that the following work was undertaken in addition to the annual general maintenance by the Company -
As slated in 1. above, routine maintenance has been carried out by Cockatoo Island Dockyard at an average annual expenditure of £2,000 to £3,000. Records held by Cockatoo Dockyard are available only from 1957-58 and from that date details are -
Tank top -1,000 sq. ft. of tank lop replaced.
Inner sides - Chipping and painting of inner sides completed.
Airlines - Port starboard and cross connexion air lines replaced.
Capstans - Four capstan motors overhauled.
Flap valves - No. 4 main inlet and main discharge valves overhauled.
Compressors - No. 1 new rings fitted.
Generators - General running maintenance.
Fans - 10-in. fan starboard switchroom motor completely overhauled.
Tank top - 305 sq. ft. of tank top replaced.
Altar - Lower port - 580 sq. ft. floorplaies replaced.
Ladders - Two replaced, four repaired.
Stanchions and chains - Overhauled and repaired.
Side walls -1,462 sq. yards chipped and painted.
Valves - Five inlet and discharge flap valves overhauled. All tank valves overhauled.
Depth gauges - Depth gauge pipes in two tanks renewed.
Tank top- 72 sq ft. replaced.
Ladders - Two replaced.
Stanchions and chains - Overhauled and repaired.
Side walls - 3,500 sq. yards chipped and painted.
Valves - Four main inlet valves overhauled.
Depth gauges - Pipes renewed in four tanks.
Tank top - 143 sq. ft. repaired.
Stanchions and chains - Overhauled and repaired.
Side walls - 207 sq. yards chipped and painted.
Valves - No. 4 flap valve overhauled.
Depth gauges - Pipes renewed in two tanks.
Deck houses - Starboard 2 overhauled and painted internally.
1 961-62 -
Tank top- 610 sq. ft. replaced.
Tanks - Nos. 14 and 15 cleaned and painted.
Side walls - Wind and water all around, cleaned and painted.
Depth gauges - Pipes renewed in tanks Nos. 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18 and 19.
Airlines - Four lengths renewed Starboard side.
Diesel generator - No. 1 diesel engine overhauled.
Auxiliary compressor - Diesel engine overhauled.
Valves - Two flat valves and one cross connexion overhauled.
No. 2 main pump - Opened up and checked.
Fire and W.D. pump - Discharge and suction valves overhauled. - Glands repacked.
Starting air compressor - Diesel engine overhauled.
Flap valves - Two overhauled.
Generator - Cleaned out and depth gauges checked. Compartments cleaned out.
Fuel tanks - All bottom tanks cleaned out for survey.
General electrical maintenance.
General mechanical maintenance.
s asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640505_reps_25_hor42/>.