25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. By way of explanation 1 refer to the bottle of Resochin tablets I hold in my hand, issued under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme to people suffering from arthritis. 1 ask: ls the Minister aware that Resochin, whilst relieving the pain of arthritis, also seriously affects the eyesight and may cause blindness if taken in large quantities and if not carefully prescribed? Will he state what inquiries as to the effect of the drug were made before it was placed on the list of drugs covered by the scheme and what instructions are given to doctors regarding its use? In view of the fact that the eyesight of some sufferers from arthritis may already have been affected by the drug, will the Minister order an immediate investigation into its use and effects and take the necessary action to prevent its distribution pending the result of the inquiry?
– I will see that the honorable member’s question is referred to my colleague, the Minister for Health, in another place and that an appropriate answer is provided.
– In view of the great importance that the Mirage aircraft will share as an integral part of our fighting services, I ask the Minister for Air whether it will be possible to arrange in the near future for one of these aircraft to visit Canberra in order that honorable members will bc given an opportunity to see it and its performances at close range.
– J am happy to be able to inform the House that 1 have arranged for a visit to Canberra by a Mirage aircraft next week. Next Tuesday morning, a Mirage will fly to Canberra from Williamtown base and will be available for inspection by honorable members and the public during the morning, lt will take off at about J. 30 o’clock in the afternoon, show its paces and then return to Williamtown. I hope that honorable members will take the opportunity of coming to Canberra a little earlier on Tuesday morning to watch the Mirage perform.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether reports are correct that Radio Indonesia is broadcasting in pidgin English from Kota Baru to the border and highland areas of New Guinea. Could these broadcasts be the forerunner of border incidents, and has the Government plans for countering this propaganda?
– I have heard reports of the broadcasts referred to, but not official reports. As to countering the propaganda, so far I have not bad occasion to consider such a move. 1 would say that we are extending our broadcasting system in Papua and New Guinea for general information purposes and I think that will provide the answer.
– I desire to direct my question to the Attorney-General. Has the Minister given consideration to my representation that the Commonwealth financial assistance provided for Captain Robertson R.A.N. during the H.M.A.S. “Voyager” royal commission should be extended to meet the costs of senior counsel?
– I have reconsidered this matter in the light of representations made by the honorable member. At the time when my earlier decision was made I thought it was a proper one. That decision was that financial assistance by the Commonwealth should be sufficient to enable Captain Robertson to engage adequate, competent and suitable junior counsel, in this sense, the term “ junior “ does not mean junior in terms of years. It merely means counsel not having letters patent as Queen’s Counsel. To dispose of any possible suggestion that Captain Robertson was at a disadvantage, and also because I am anxious that he be represented by counsel of his own choosing, J have reconsidered the matter. I have now sent to the solicitors for Captain Robertson, who made a request for reconsideration, a letter informing them that i have agreed that financial assistance provided by the Commonwealth . shall be sufficient to enable him to be represented at the level of senior counsel by counsel of his own choosing. This financial assistance will be the same as that given to the relatives of Captain Stevens and Lieutenant Price.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I ask: Does he recall a question that I asked him in 1962 in an effort to have finance for the purchase of existing homes by ex-servicemen made available from the National Welfare Fund, thereby alleviating the need for applicants to seek special loans at prohibitive rates of interest? Does the right honorable gentleman recollect that he told me, in a written reply, that the £205,000,000 in the fund was invested in treasury-bills, that before any expenditure could be made from the fund the securities held would have to be realized, and that if the purpose of my question was to seek expenditure additional to that proposed in the Budget, the cash required to redeem these investments would have to be found by way of either additional taxation or borrowing? Will the Treasurer now tell the Parliament of the manner in which he has been able to manipulate the National Welfare Fund to provide the finance needed for home-savings grants? Will he now further consider the provision of money from the fund to enable exservicemen to purchase homes, or did he deliberately mislead me when he answered my earlier question?
– The honorable gentleman, by introducing language ill becoming a member of this place, spoiled a very interesting recital of what I told him a couple of years ago. Treasurers do not manipulate the National Welfare Fund. They could not do so without risk of indictment in this place, for the fund operates under legislation enacted by this Parliament. I remind the honorable member and the House that this Government has a remarkable record of assistance to ex-servicemen in the field of housing. During the life of this Administration, more homes have been provided on liberal financial terms than had been provided by previous governments throughout the history of this Commonwealth. So I am sure that we can be conceded the fact that we have sympatheti cally considered the requirements of ex-servicemen. Having said that, I shall study the details of the honorable member’s question and see whether there is any supplementary information of an authoritative kind that I should give him.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Minister will know that the dispute between wool-growers and brokers and the Australian Council of Trade Unions on the weight limits of wool bales has been settled. Can he say whether the dispute has been settled to the satisfaction of all parties?
– For some months there have been negotiations between the parties to this dispute. I well remember that it was first referred to me on Christmas morning, one of the mornings of the year when I was least responsive to a suggestion that I should attempt to settle a strike.
– We had already struck a devastating blow at your party. Discussions have been going on for some time between- the parties to the dispute under the supervision of an independent arbitrator, Mr. Commissioner Austin. A few weeks ago he issued a decision, and subsequently there were discussions between the parties which resulted in an agreement that there should be three different classifications of bales - one of 400 lb. for fleeces and other similar types, one of 450 lb. for skirtings and similar types, and a tolerance of 10 per cent, for other bales. I am glad to say that the parties have agreed - they included the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Federated Storemen and Packers Union of Australia on the one hand and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Primary Producers Union on the other hand. So I would answer the honorable gentleman’s question in this way. While I cannot say that there will be universal satisfaction, because there are some areas in which it was felt that a different decision should have been made, I think I can say that, apart from the question of these different areas, the growers can comply with the decisions of the award and to that extent it will be satisfactory to them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it correct, as reported in the Adelaide “News” of 30th April last, that clause 6a of the constitution of the Liberal Party lays down that migrants who join the party must pay the prescribed dues but cannot vote or hold office for periods up to five years? Would the Minister agree that such a harsh and tyrannical rule would be unacceptable to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission if sought by a trade union?
– I do know that the Liberal Party of Australia is the most democratic of all political parties. Any one can join it and any one can make a contribution to our discussions. Even the Leader of the Opposition, much as we might pity him, could become a member if he cared to jettison the Australian Labour Party and pay his dues. Our policy decisions on a long-term basis are made by the party itself - by the organization, and not by 36 faceless men such as those who determine the policies of the Australian Labour Party and who decide how Opposition members will act in this House. The honorable gentleman also asked whether any restriction is placed on migrants holding office until they have been here for five years. I am not certain of the provisions of the Liberal Party platform on this point, but I will obtain an extract from it and I will let every honorable gentleman who wants a copy of the extract have it.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Has he yet had an opportunity to examine the statement attributed to the deputy chairman of the Australian Wool Board that the marketing committee is examining the position of country centres and in which he warns against any extension of those centres until the committee’s investigations have been completed? If not, will the Minister ask the deputy chairman of the board for a full copy of his statement? In view of the information conveyed to me by the Minister during question-time a couple of weeks ago that there is no federal power in this matter, will he seek the basis for the warning given by the deputy chairman?
– I have seen a reference to the statement attributed to the chairman of the Australian Wool Board. On other occasions I have indicated quite plainly what is the position and where the responsibility lies in this matter, lt does not rest with the board. If the chairman of the board decides to give his opinion as to what should or should not be done I must point out that he does not have authority to act upon his own initiative. The final responsibility for recommendations on marketing rests with the Wool Industry Conference.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation seen a report in which it is claimed that the British Thalidomide Trust Fund has bought the rights to develop and manufacture a Soviet electronic artificial limb? The limb has been described as a realbreakthrough for thalidomide babies and other limbless persons. If the Minister has seen the report, will he inform the House whether his department has any plans to acquire the rights to manufacture the limb in Australia?
– I did see in the press this morning a report about this matter. As 1 have stated before in the House, the central development unit of my department, which is associated with the manufacture of artificial limbs and other appliances, keeps abreast of developments throughout the world. At present one of the department’s officers is studying this work overseas. My department made inquiries some time ago about the electronic artificial limb referred to by the honorable member. Arrangements have been made by the central development unit for a sample limb to be sent to Australia, where it will be fully evaluated to see what use it can be put to under Australian conditions.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether it is a fact that conventional explosives become ineffective if their temperature is raised above about 240 degrees centigrade. Would the temperature attained by any conventional bomb released by the
F-ll 1 A or the TFX bomber at the height at which the aircraft must operate at supersonic speeds be so high as to render the bomb ineffective?
– It is a fact that the present type of conventional bomb cannot be used in supersonic flight because of the heat generated, which renders the bomb liable to explode. Naturally, bombs used in supersonic aircraft must be specially designed and they are at present in an advanced stage of development. The metals used in their manufacture must be able to withstand great heat. There is no difficulty foreseen in producing a high-explosive bomb that can be carried externally in an aircraft flying at supersonic speeds.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the National Welfare Fund was fully invested in government treasury bills, namely government I O U’s by the former Labour Government. Is it not a fact that apart from additions of interest on it, the National Welfare Fund is substantially as it was left by the late Mr. Chifley?
– My recollection is that substantially there has not been any change in policy as to the manner in which the National Welfare Fund has been dealt with since the Labour Party went out of office.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. He will be aware that following his announcement that he would withhold a licence from Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited the price of that company’s shares on the Brisbane stock exchange fell substantially. As he has said that there was nothing lawful that he could do to withhold the licence from Mr. Ansett, was the decision to suspend the issue of the licence taken in order to depress the share prices and so enable Mr. Ansett to complete his takeover at a much lower cost?
– My answer to the question asked by the honorable member for Oxley is that the action taken by me was taken with the object of understanding what had happened in relation to sales that were made on the stock exchange at that time. I believe that I acted within the terms of the Broadcasting and Television Act.
– Can the Minister for Air tell the House whether a decision has been made on the ordering of jet trainers for the Royal Australian Air Force? As Australian designers and production experts produced the Jindivik as well as the Winjeel trainer, will the Minister give an assurance that, before finality is reached regarding future jet trainer orders, complete consideration will be given to Australian design and production potential?
– At present the R.A.A.F. is equipped for training purposes with the Winjeel propeller-driven aircraft and the Vampire advanced jet trainer. Both of those aircraft are capable of continued use to train all the pilots that the R.A.A.F. will require for a number of years to come - until about the end of this decade. However, at the present moment the future replacement of those aircraft is being considered. I understand that fairly shortly the Air Board will produce an air staff requirement. That will give an opportunity for both local and overseas manufacturers to produce designs. Those designs will be considered in due course. But I stress that we have no immediate, foreseeable demand for the replacement of the present trainer aircraft.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Now that the Transport Workers Union has abandoned its plan to hold a 24-hour stoppage as a protest against the penal clauses in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, does this mean that the Government will review its attitude to these provocative penalties? Will the Minister impress upon employers that the Government desires greater conciliation in industrial disputes rather than the use of the penal clauses to settle genuine disputes?
– Mr. Commissioner Gough called both of the parties to this dispute together on Monday. As a result of the discussion that took place, the Transport Workers Union agreed that no strike would occur to-day. The hearing is to be resumed on Friday. As I understand the position, a proposal will then be made that the bans clause be taken out of the Transport Workers Award. If that proposal is made, the employers said they will be influenced by what has happened. The removal of the bans clause is not directly connected with the penalty provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If another strike took place under similar circumstances, it would be up to the employers - not the Government - to make an application for a bans clause to be re-inserted in the award and for subsequent action to be taken under the act. Recently the Australian Council of Trade Unions has stated that it wants the Government to receive a deputation on the penalty provisions of the act. I think the A.C.T.U. knows this Government well enough to realize that, as soon as a request is received, arrangements will be made for a deputation to place its proposals before the Government.
– Is the Treasurer aware of the serious allegations which have been levelled by the honorable member for Hindmarsh to the effect that the Ansett group of companies had received and was still receiving preferential treatment from the Government? Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether there is the usual amount of truth in the allegations that we are accustomed to hearing from the honorable member, or whether there is some substance in the statement?
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. The question is out of order, I contend, because it contains comment.
– Order! I was about to direct the honorable member’s attention to the fact that he was introducing comment, but he resumed his seat.
- Mr. Speaker-
-Order! I suggest that the honorable member resume his seat and allow the Treasurer to reply to the question, or I shall rule the honorable member out of order.
– I saw a reported account of what the honorable member for
Hindmarsh said and I checked that against the “ Hansard “ version. The honorable member’s statement was a very serious one going not merely to the companies concerned but also of course to the administration of the Commissioner of Taxation. No information had reached me to that stage which would have warranted such a conclusion as was reached by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Consequently I got in touch directly .with the Commissioner of Taxation. A written report is coming to me, but the substance of the report has already been conveyed to me orally. It is to the effect that Mr. Ansett and the companies with which he is associated have been dealt with at all times in accordance with the terms of the law and in the same manner as any other taxpayer in comparable circumstances would have been dealt with.
– I also should like to engage the Treasurer’s attention on a matter relating to taxation. Is it a fact that members of the Citizen Military Forces are being prosecuted - indeed, some have already been prosecuted - for not including in their income tax returns the amount of pay and allowances that they have received for service in the C.M.F.? If this is so, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to prevent continuance of these prosecutions? Will he amend the act during this session of the Parliament so that members of the C.M.F. will not be required to pay tax on the small amount that they earn - up to £200 - for service in the C.M.F., particularly at this time when the Government cannot obtain enough recruits for any of the services?
– It is a fact that the pay and allowances of members of the C.M.F., like income earned by other members of the community, are subject to taxation. I think I am correct in saying that that position applied during the term of office of honorable gentlemen opposite, although that was so long ago that this aspect may have escaped their recollection. As to the procedure taken in cases where income has not been included in tax returns, I shall make an inquiry to see whether there are instances such at those alleged by the honorable gentleman. If he has any particular case in mind I should be glad if he would bring it to my notice.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware that great inconvenience is being caused to farmers in Victoria because the various superphosphate companies are not able to cope with the increased demand for the fertilizer following the Government’s announcement last year that a bounty would be paid on superphosphate? Is this position common to other States? Will the Minister discuss with the various companies means of preventing delays in future supplies?
– When the Government agreed to pay a bounty of £3 a ton on superphosphate we estimated that consumption would increase by about 15 per cent. An analysis has shown that consumption has increased by about 17 per cent. In New South Wales and Victoria - the position in the other States is, I understand, reasonably satisfactory - there is a tightness in delivery. There is ample phosphate rock in Australia - in fact, there is more than sufficient - to meet manufacturers’ requirements. The difficulty has arisen because manufacturers have not been able to meet the present position. They are extending their factories and I am quite sure that the position will be really satisfactory next year. Action has already been taken to ensure that ample supplies of prosphate rock will be available for conversion into superphosphate next year.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen a report that 46.1 per cent, of the 154 tons of tobacco leaf offered at auction in Mareeba did not sell, 28i tons being passed in and 42J tons failing to attract a bid? A representative of the Tobacco Leaf Marketing Board said that the board would not sell leaf under the reserve price set by the board’s appraisers. The growers held a meeting and decided that the manufacturers were depressing the price of leaf, taking advantage of the low proportion of Australian leaf required in Australian-made cigarettes and tobacco. In the light of this information, is the Minister satisfied that the interests of Australian tobacco-growers have been sufficiently safeguarded against the tactics of manufacturers? If not, has he considered increasing the Australian content in cigarettes and tobacco in order to keep faith with the growers who, in the opinion of the board’s appraisers, have grown excellent leaf this season?
- Mr. Speaker, I receive daily reports of these sales. During this week there has been quite a considerable upset, as the honorable member has mentioned. But I have been advised - and I am awaiting a further report on the matter - that the growers themselves have altered the selling conditions - or the Tobacco Leaf Marketing Board on its own initiative has done so - and that this has not been readily accepted by the manufacturers. I am waiting for a full report on the matter and until I receive it I will not be prepared to make any further comment.
– Has the Minister for the Interior seen reports that planners in the United Kingdom, being worried about the migration of population from the north of that country to London, and the consequent centralization of population, have recommended establishing a decentralized city similar to Canberra? When the Minister is asked for advice on the new United Kingdom “ Canberra “, will he arrange to export many of our political problems to the new centre, including some associated with the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council? Is he likely to recommend that United Kingdom politicians should, like their Australian colleagues, meditate in a healthy rural atmosphere?
– I think that if any country were to build a city similar to Canberra it would be more than satisfied. I have heard it said that in England Sir Alec Douglas-Home has adopted a policy under which three new cities will be built in the south-east of England. The idea is to try to lessen the growth of London itself. Apart from these three new centres, I think, six smaller centres are to be enlarged. The whole scheme is the result of the overcrowding problem in London. The other remark that the honorable member made represented a reflection on the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council. Let me say that I did not like this because I believe the council does a worth while job very conscientiously.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. I ask it because of the honorable gentleman’s control over wool production and the Australian Wool Board. Is he aware that the Commonwealth Government is about to issue new uniforms to Commonwealth car drivers, and that the wool content of the material from which these uniforms are to be made is substantially less than that of the material in the last uniforms that were issued? Is this in line with the policy of the Australian Wool Board and its promotion campaign? Will the honorable gentleman secure the services of competent technicians to ascertain exactly the proportion of wool and of terylene or other synthetics in the material that is being purchased and will he then give the House this information?
– I would remind the honorable member for Lalor that the Australian Wool Board, which has been set up by statute, is responsible for wool promotion. As to supplies of suitings for car drivers, I shall have to confer with the Minister for Supply to see whether the facts are as stated or otherwise.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: In view of the widespread misunderstanding and misrepresentation concerning events in South-East Asia, will he give consideration to the preparation of a White Paper documenting subversive activity in South-East Asia? As a very brief illustration of this misrepresentation,’ I draw the Minister’s attention to an article called “ The Shame of South Viet Nam “, which purports to indict American forces for imperialism in opposing Viet Cong forces in South Viet Nam. The article is to be found in a Brisbane paper called “ The New Age “.
– I will give consideration to the suggestion made by the honorable member. I think all members of the House will appreciate that every inter national event is surrounded by many attempts to influence bystanders with propaganda of various kinds. Probably the most active propagandists in this line are those who belong to the Communist bloc. I think it is a matter for regret that often, through gullibility, not sympathy, newspapers which have no particular leaning towards the Communist bloc publish this propaganda material without identifying it as being propaganda material.
Mr. COUTTS__ I ask the Minister for
Trade and Industry: Has he seen a statement, attributed to the leader of the trade delegation to South-East Asia on the trade ship “Centaur”, to the effect that high freight charges on Australian products exported to Asia are placing Australian exporters at a great disadvantage as compared with exporters from other countries who are serving the same markets? As investigations show that foreign-owned shipping lines carry cargoes from London to Hong Kong, a distance twice as great as that from Brisbane to Hong Kong, at rates which are lower than those applying to carriage from Brisbane to Hong Kong, will the Minister investigate the possibility of encouraging either the Australian National Line or some other shipping line to cater for the export of Australian products to this expanding market at a reasonable freight charge which is not based, as present charges are, on what the traffic will bear?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member refers, but I shall make it my business to obtain a copy and study . it. It is a fact that from time to time freight charges on our outward cargoes, and indeed on our inward cargoes, are levied at rates that impair opportunities for trade. The Department of Trade and Industry makes representations to shipping lines from time to time, sometimes with success and sometimes without success. We watch and try to ascertain whether there is any justification for a freight disparity on similar items carried over comparatively the same distances from two different sources, such as from the United Kingdom and from
Australia. Disparities do occur. Sometimes it is established that the freight rate charged is related to the cargoes carried by a particular ship on the outward and inward voyages. For instance, if a ship had a good back-loading there would be some justification for a lower freight charge to be imposed than would be the case if the ship were to have a light or empty return voyage. This is not a simple problem to solve. Some people believe that it would be a good thing to encourage an Australian shipping service, but I hope the honorable member will agree that the objective for all of us ought to be to secure the best results for Australian trade. That is the objective which this Government has in mind at all times.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I preface my question by stating that recently the wine producers of South Australia, I believe on behalf of the wine producers of the whole, of Australia, made the statement that the only hope that Australian wine producers would have of selling their products on the United Kingdom market would be to follow the example of the South African Government, which buys up the wine production of South Africa, blends it so as to establish a permanent and static taste, blend and bouquet, labels it under one name and then engages in an intense national advertising campaign in Britain in order to sell it. The South African Government adopts that system rather than ours, under which each individual wine maker attempts to carry out his own advertising campaign in Britain, using his own label, thus dissipating his financial reserves and achieving no great overall result. Has the Minister seen that statement? If so, does he feel that there is a case for the Government, through the Australian Wine Board or some special agency, to do as the South African Government does, that is, buy surplus wine for export, label it, blend it and market it?
– Again I have to say that I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member referred, but I am very familiar with the issue that is covered in it. My colleague, the Minister for
Primary Industry, might more properly answer this question, because the Australian Wine Board operates under his departmental jurisdiction. It is true that, historically, Australian wine exporters have chosen to export under their own brands and broadly to manage their own merchandising. They have felt that this is best. On the other hand, it is broadly the case that South African wine is blended and standardized, and that a particular brand is available in much greater quantities. This lends itself much more easily to mass promotion than does a multiplicity of individual brands. From that point the argument proceeds as to whether it would not bc better for Australia to do the same thing. The Australian Wine Board is an organization established by statute within which I believe this discussion could best be conducted. I know from my own knowledge that for about twenty years this matter has been the subject of discussion from time to time among Australian vignerons, exporters and the Australian Wine Board. The judgment reached as a result of those discussions has been that the practice now followed in Australia is best. I do not feel that I can tell the wine people how to run their own businesses better than they run them now.
– I address a question to the Minister for Housing. I refer to the difficulties experienced by the building industry in the late months of each financial year due to the drying up of housing loans. I ask: Has this situation been drawn to his attention during recent weeks? Will he investigate the possibility of releasing Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement moneys over four quarters of the year rather than releasing the flood in July or August?
– The rate at which this expenditure takes place is largely controlled by the States themselves. This is not a matter which comes under my control and, therefore, there is little that I can do about it directly. I might say about the flow of finance for housing generally that money has never been advanced at a faster rale than it has in the last few weeks. In fact we have reached record levels or new approvals and constructions and of moneys granted for that purpose.
– I ask the Minister for Supply a question. The honorable gentleman will have seen reports from London concerning the excessive profits made by the Ferranti company on the production of Bloodhound missiles supplied to the British Air Ministry. What were the terms on which Bloodhound missiles were supplied to the Royal Australian Air Force? If these terms were similar to the terms on which the Ferranti company supplied missiles to the British Air Ministry, what action is the Government taking to recover the excess money spent on their purchase?
– This is a matter which was dealt with by the R.A.A.F. and I should think that the question should properly be directed to the Minister for Air. However, I shall secure an answer for the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is Commonwealth Hostels Limited a government company which to an extent operates under the control and administration of his department? Is it true that in the many hostels that operate in Canberra, Commonwealth Hostels Limited does not employ apprentice cooks although apprentice cooks are trained in Parliament House and in private establishments? Is this failure to employ apprentice cooks in direct contrast with the Government’s declared policy to encourage apprentices and foster the apprenticeship system?
– As the House well knows, the hostels organization is an independent company and I do not interfere with its management. It is our policy to encourage apprenticeships to the maximum of our capacity. I shall find out from the chairman of the board the details associated with the honorable gentleman’s question as to whether apprentice cooks are employed by Commonwealth Hostels Limited. As soon as I can, I shall let the honorable gentleman know the result of my inquiries. At the same time, I shall urge the chairman, if the facts contained in the honorable gentleman’s question are correct, to see whether he can employ apprentice cooks as suggested.
– by leave - I wish to inform the House that I have to-day notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations that Australia will accede to his request for the provision of a contingent of 40 police to form part of the United Nations police force in Cyprus. This response by the Australian Government to the request of the United Nations has been made possible by the active co-operation of the State Governments. Following negotiations conducted with them by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), all States have agreed to assist in selecting from police officers who have volunteered a total force of 40. Ten will come from New South Wales, ten from Victoria, five each from Queensland, South Australia and the Commonwealth police force, three from Western Australia and two from Tasmania. Arrangements are now reaching an advanced stage and the force should be able to commence duties in Cyprus within three weeks. This contingent of Australian volunteers will be used for police duties for which military units under the United Nations command in Cyprus have not the appropriate training.
The duties of the United Nations police force will include liaison between the United Nations command in Cyprus and the Cyprus police and local authorities. The United Nations police will undertake joint patrols with Cyprus police and establish joint checking posts and police posts to control and protect civilians. They will assist in the investigation of incidents and special investigations as necessary. They will be under the authority of the Commander of the United Nations force in Cyprus, Lieutenant-General Gyani. The total requirements of this United Nations police force in Cyprus are estimated at 200 police. An Austrian police unit has already arrived in Cyprus and other United Nations members are likely to send detachments in the near future.
The House will recall that, in response to an earlier appeal from the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, the Australian Government on 13th March announced a contribution of £50,000 towards the cost of the United Nations peace-keeping force in Cyprus. This was ti assist in meeting the general expenses of the United Nations peace-keeping operations in Cyprus. The Australian Government in deciding to contribute did so in the belief that it had an obligation to assist in the maintenance of international peace and security when called upon to do so. The further decisions to contribute to the United Nations police unit in Cyprus was also made as a token of our recognition of Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Charter.
– by leave - When answering a question a few minutes ago, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made the statement that yesterday I had said that the Commissioner of Taxation, under the direction of the Government, was giving special concessions to the Ansett group of companies. I want it to be placed on record that what I referred to was a very serious and defamatory statement. I quote from my speech in which I said -
At the beginning of my remarks I said that the Ansett group was receiving preferential treatment in the field of taxation.
This is, of course, undenied and cannot be denied. The group is receiving preferential treatment.
– You are repeating your statement.
– The Ansett group of companies is receiving preferential treatment because the act gives them special preferential treatment. It gives preferential treatment to everybody in a similar position to them.
– I have not finished. I am talking about the preferential treatment. I am coming now to the charge that the Government has issued instructions to the Commissioner of Taxation to do something outside of the act. I shall quote from the “ Bulletin “ of 25th April, 1964, the publication from which I quoted in my speech yesterday. The report states -
Most outside observers are puzzled by the longcontinued immunity of Ansett Transport Industries from the payment of full standard rales of income tax, despite the charging of amounts of depreciation which appear to be very large.
ATI provided an aggregate of £124,843 for 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 rales had been charged on these earnings.
That amount is what they should have paid if the ordinary, standard company charges had been paid on their earnings, instead of £124,843 which they did in fact pay. The “ Bulletin “ article went on to make this significant statement, which I asked the Treasurer to inquire into. I hope that he will inquire into it, and table his reply for the House to see. The article states -
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Commissioner of Taxation is showing some consideration to Ansett under direction from the Federal Government.
I say that is a serious charge. I say without qualification that the statement is defamatory and that if it is not true, it is libellous. I say, moreover, that it is up to the Treasurer to inquire into the statement and report to this House whether it is true, as the “ Bulletin “ states, that there is the possibility that the Commissioner of Taxation is showing consideration to Ansett under direction from the Federal Government.
– by leave - I do not need to delay the deliberations of the House for a written report on at least one aspect of the matter raised by the honorable gentleman. If in any way he is trying to imply or to suggest that in my official capacity as Federal Treasurer I have ever issued a direction to the Commissioner of Taxation, not only in respect of Ansett but in respect of any taxpayer in this country, I deny that suggestion entirely and emphatically. Anybody who has any knowledge of the relationship which exists between a government and the Commissioner of Taxation - and every member of this Parliament should have that knowledge - knows that not only would no government issue such a direction, but no Commissioner of Taxation would receive it. By virtue of legislation passed by this Parliament, the commissioner is virtually in a position of independent status. It is a reflection not merely on the Government but also on the commissioner and his administration to publish information in the form adopted in this instance.
– Then why do you not take out a writ?
– The honorable gentleman asks why I do not take out a writ against the “ Bulletin “. I do not know whether we on this side of the House are as sensitive on these matters as honorable gentlemen opposite are proving themselves to be. Certainly, we have never found it quite so profitable to take out writs as one of the honorable gentleman’s colleagues has found it. The honorable member for Hindmarsh may be interested to know that I once and only once in my long membership of this Parliament - took out a writ for libel. It was taken out against the official spokesman of the Australian Labour Party in Queensland. The gentleman concerned evaded what would undoubtedly have been a successful action for damages on my part by publishing in the Queensland newspaper concerned a complete retraction and apology. If the honorable member for Hindmarsh cares to make outside this House statements of the sort that he has made here to-day, I shall give him every opportunity to test the matter in court. The “ Bulletin “ has referred to the Government. If any member of the Government is identified sufficiently for legal action to be taken, no doubt such action can be considered. As I have said, if the honorable member for Hindmarsh cares to make outside this House statements such as he has made inside it to-day, I shall give him every opportunity to test the matter in court.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely: -
The need for the Government to use its influence with the Government of South Africa, to urge it in the name of humanity, to refrain from carrying out the death penalty upon persons who have, for many years, led a non-violent campaign against racial intolerance and suppression known as apartheid.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- Mr. Speaker, I believe that there is need for the Australian Government to use its influence with the Government of South Africa to urge it in the name of humanity to refrain from carrying out the death penalty on persons who have, for many years, led a non-violent campaign against racial intolerance and suppression known as apartheid. I point out to the House at the outset that the matter proposed for discussion is limited in content and effect. This is not a protest against the whole of the South African Government’s policy. This is not an attack on the Government of South Africa. It is not even a criticism, in its very terms, of that Government. It does not even require us to specify whether the men concerned are guilty of the charges levelled against them. What we ask this Government to do is to use its influence with the Government of South Africa and to ask that Government, in the name of humanity, to refrain from carrying out the death penalty imposed on these persons.
This proposal relates to twelve men. Three of them are Wilson Khayinga, Vayisile Mihi and Zinakile Kaba, who were convicted in March of this year. The other nine are now being tried in what is known as the Rivonia trial, which has almost reached its concluding stages and in which the Government of South Africa has demanded the death penalty. The first three men mentioned have already been convicted and sentenced to death on seventeen charges of sabotage, of propagating the aims of the African National Congress and of conspiracy to commit murder. The substance of these charges is the charge of sabotage, which was brought into existence in South Africa b’y the General Law Amendment Act of 1962, and which is punishable by a minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a maximum sentence of death. According to the International Commission of Jurists, the definition of sabotage was so wide as to include any wrongful or wilful act whereby the accused damages or tampers with any property, whether movable or immovable, of any person or the state. For this, a person is liable to the death penalty, even if he is a juvenile. The onus of proof in these matters is thrown on the accused, Mr. Speaker. It is pretty clear - and it has been so agreed by international jurists - that this charge of sabotage is designed to be wide enough to bring within its scope any kind of political activity and any kind of agitational activity that, in a more normal society, would be regarded as normal.
The persons concerned in this instance were leaders of the African National Congress. That body is an African people’s parliament. The African people, being excluded altogether from the election of their own representatives in the South African Parliament, have over a period established this African National Congress, which is in effect, as I have said, their own parliament. The three men whom I have named, as well as the other nine who are accused in the Rivonia trial, are leaders of the African National Congress. Mini is also a leader of the South African Congress of Trade Unions. All of these men have been committed for many years to the doctrines and practices of nonviolence. At their trials, they have denied the assertion that they have been guilty of any acts of violence, but they have admitted that they have disseminated the propaganda and worked for the aims of the African National Congress. Each of the three men that I have named was arrested in July, 1963, and held for months without trial. They were finally convicted in March, 1964. The critical evidence at their trial was given by former accused men who had agreed to give evidence for the prosecution. The charges against those men were withdrawn and, in respect of those charges, they were pardoned. There is stronglysupported evidence that the three men named by me were threatened, assaulted and tortured by the authorities as well as kept in solitary confinement without food for long periods.
I shall now outline events that occurred after the arrest of these three men. I direct the attention of the House particularly to three events that occurred very soon after these men were arrested and during their trial. First, the United Nations Security Council, on 7th August, 1963, adopted a resolution calling on South Africa to liberate all persons imprisoned, interned or subjected to other restrictions for having opposed the policy of apartheid. This resolution went to the council from the special committee that had been appointed to investigate apartheid, and was carried by nine votes to nil, with two abstentions - France and Great Britain. The second event was that the General Assembly of the United Nations, on 12th October, 1963, condemned the South African Government for its repression of persons opposing apartheid and requested it to “ abandon forthwith the arbitrary trial now in progress and forthwith to grant unconditional release to all political prisoners and all persons imprisoned, interned, or subjected to other restrictions for having opposed the policy of apartheid “. That resolution was carried by 106 votes to one. The only government throughout the world that voted against it was the Government of South Africa. Presumably, the Australian Government voted for it.
– So we have it on record that at the United Nations the Australian Government voted for a resolution that called on the South African Government to liberate all those persons who were being tried on these charges. Therefore, we are not asking the Australian Government to do very much more than it has done already when we request it to use its influence with the Government of South Africa and to ask that Government to refrain from carrying out the death penalties that have been imposed on the men whom I have mentioned. We are merely asking the Australian Government to behave in this Parliament in a manner consistent with action that it has already taken in the United Nations. It may be thought that that is asking too much, but I still ask the Government to do as we request. I ask the Government to stand up in this House to the position it has taken iri the United Nations and to say that it is willing to follow the course I have proposed.
I have directed the attention of the House to a decision of the Security Council and to a decision of the United Nations General Assembly, and I now want to direct attention to a third event. After the death penalties had been imposed upon the three men to whom I am referring, 43 member nations of the United Nations urged the Secretary-General, U Thant, to use his “ influence and moral authority in the extremely grave situation “. What did U Thant do?- He did not ignore this appeal, but acted upon it. I have here a press release No. S.G. over S.M.48 of 30th March, 1964, in which the SecretaryGeneral said -
My attention has been drawn to the death sentences recently passed on three leaders-
The men to whom I am referring - of the African National Congress in Port Elizabeth and to several trials in the country under legislation which provides for death sentences. A number of leaders of the African National Congress and other political organizations are accused in these places. I may recall that on the 11th October, 1963, the General Assembly adopted- 1 say parenthetically that this is the matter to which I have already referred - by 106 votes to 1 resolution No. 1881(18) requesting the Government of the Republic of South Africa to abandon the arbitrary trial now in progress and forthwith to grant unconditional releases to all political prisoners and to all persons imprisoned, interned or subjected to other restrictions for having opposed the policy of apartheid.
The Secretary-General went on -
On the 4th December, 1963, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution S. over 547 1 taking note of the General Assembly resolution and again calling upon the South African Government to liberate all persons imprisoned, interned or subjected to other restrictions for having opposed the policy of apartheid. On the 23rd March, the special committee on the policies of apartheid of the Government of the Republic of South Africa submitted an urgent report to the General Assembly and the Security Council drawing their attention to the grave new developments in the Republic of South Africa, namely that some political prisoners opposed to apartheid have just received death sentences, others are threatened with the same penalty and all of them risk being hanged. In the light of the resolutions of the General Assembly and the Security Council and the recommendations of the special committee, I wish to request you to convey my urgent and earnest appeal to your Government to spare the lives of those facing execution or death sentences for acts arising out of their opposition to the Government’s racial policies so as to prevent an aggravation of the situation and to facilitate peaceful efforts to resolve the situation.
That was the decision of the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations. If the Secretary-General of the United Nations, after a prolonged investigation, is able to adopt that resolution and send it to the
Government of South Africa, I see no reason why the Australian Government should not adopt the suggestion 1 have made this afternoon. M> remarks also apply to nine men who are undergoing trial in what is known as the Rivonia trial, in which the charges are sabotage and propagating the aims of the African National Congress. The Government of South Africa has demanded the death penalty in this case and within the next few days the trial will come to an end. Other Opposition members will give further details relating to these nine men.
I submit that my suggestion should bc followed for the following reasons: First, the trials are not ordinary criminal trials. In the words of a declaration of 143 international personalities - I cannot possibly give the names of them all, but among them are three Prime Ministers and many Cabinet Ministers -
These people would not face trial in any rational society; they are leaders of a popular struggle for the defeat of racial rale, for the recognition of rights regarded as natural wherever a common humanity is acknowledged.
The men tried have remained committed to the principle of non-violence and have themselves not carried out any activity which would not in any normal society be considered any more than political or agitational. My second reason is that the normal rules of justice have been flagrantly broken, but not by the courts. The courts in South Africa, in an atmosphere of extraordinary pressure, have maintained a great degree of impartiality and attachment to well-established legal principles. 1 emphasize that I am not speaking about the courts. The mcn have been held for months without trial, have been assaulted, tortured and held in solitary confinement without food. Critical evidence submitted in their cases has been based upon information obtained from former accused persons who have now given evidence in exchange for a pardon. This is a very doubtful basis for a conviction at any time.
My third reason is that the United Nations Security Council, by nine votes to nil, the General Assembly, by 106 votes to 1, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations have all taken action consistent with the proposal I have put to the Government here. Indeed, the action taken by the
Security Council, by the General Assembly and by the Secretary-General goes further than I am asking the Government to go. In its vote at the United Nations General Assembly on 12th October, 1963, the Australian Government identified itself with this proposal.
My final reason is that the Australian Government and its Prime Minister occupy a position of special influence with the Government of South Africa. Some people have’ chosen to criticize this position of special influence. The Prime Minister has associated himself with an attempt to keep South Africa in the British Commonwealth and has been very slow to criticize the policy of apartheid. It is only in the last three years that Australian representatives at the United Nations have voted against the policy. Australia is in a position of special influence with regard to South Africa. It would be unreal to expect that any protest made by the Australian Government about the action of the Chinese Government in Tibet or the Russian Government in Hungary - protests that should be made and are backed by any one interested in freedom and justice - would have the slightest influence on the Governments of China and the Soviet Union. But it is not unreal to expect that the Australian Government would have a significant influence on the South African Government because of the particular kind of relationship that has been occupied by our own Prime Minister in respect of the Prime Minister of South Africa and the Government of that country. I suggest, therefore, that it is realistic to ask the Australian Government to add its voice to the voices that are being raised in various parts of the world, not concerned to destroy the prospects of progress in South Africa but to appeal to the Government of South Africa and to say to it that if it proceeds further on this path of violence it will produce nothing else but violence.
I ask the Australian Government to state in this House its position in relation to these trials and convictions and to the imposition of the death penalty in these circumstances. I ask the Australian Government to stand up to the position it has taken in the United Nations and to say clearly here where it stands.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- At the outset I would like to make a point which I think the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) conceded in the early part of his address. I would state the point in this way, that in this debate, and in the terms of the proposal, we are not discussing a question of racial discrimination nor are we basically discussing the policy of apartheid. I join with the honorable member for Yarra in re-emphasizing that point.
Before I pass on, I want to say, because some of the remarks made by the honorable member towards the close of his address did not do full justice to the Government’s position, that in matters relating to the removal of legal discrimination on the ground of race, in providing opportunities for people of all races to live on equal terms in Australia or in the Territories administered by Australia and in matters related to the creating of conditions of social equality for all races under Australian jurisdiction, there is no government in the history of the Commonwealth that has done more, or acted more purposefully, than the present Government has done. We want to proclaim quite clearly that in matters within our own jurisdiction we steadfastly pursue and will continue to pursue a policy that is against racial discrimination basically and that, more positively, we will try to create those conditions of social equality and social opportunity which will make race meaningless within our own jurisdiction.
Having said that, I direct my attention to the precise matter which is the subject of the debate. As the honorable member for Yarra proceeded, I gathered that the matter he has raised referred quite narrowly to those prosecutions and, in some cases, convictions under the sabotage act, socalled, of the Republic of South Africa. That amendment made in 1962 to the general law creates a crime of sabotage for which the minimum punishment is five years’ imprisonment and the maximum punishment is death. The information placed before me is that in March of this year three African members - by African 1 mean coloured African - of the African National Congress were sentenced to death, having been found guilty of seventeen instances of sabotage as defined in the act. Other charges not under the sabotage act included housebreaking and propagating the aims of the African National Congress, which is a banned organization. One of the accused was charged also with murder.
Pending before the courts or proceeding before the courts is the trial under the same act of ten persons on charges of sabotage as defined in the act. The honorable member said that nine persons had been charged, but my information is that ten have been charged. So far as 1 am aware the trial has been adjourned several times. No conviction has yet been recorded.
There is no mystery about where the Australian Government stands on the policy of apartheid. On many occasions the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), my predecessor in the office of Minister for External Affairs and other spokesmen for the Government in the United Nations have made it quite clear that we as Australians do not approve of the policy of apartheid and more specifically that we think, judging the matter from the standpoint of the South Africans, that it is a rather stupid policy which will not achieve the purposes which the South Africans hope to achieve by it. So do not let us have any argument about where we stand on the policy of apartheid.
On the particular matters relating to the Sabotage Act and events arising from it, J would recall the point that the honorable member for Yarra has already recounted, namely, that Australia did vote in the United Nations for the resolution that was unanimously adopted by the last General Assembly, requesting the South African Government to abandon the current trial and to release political prisoners who had been interned or were subject to restrictions for having opposed the policy of apartheid. I would like to complete the record by reciting the substantive clause of the resolution. After the preamble the General Assembly -
Requests the Government of the Republic of South Africa to abandon the arbitrary trial now in progress and forthwith to grant unconditional release to all political prisoners and to all persons imprisoned, internet; or subjected to other restrictions for having opposed the policy of apartheid.
In the substantive clause of the second resolution the General Assembly -
Appeals to alt Slates to take appropriate measures and intensify their efforts, separately and collectively, with a view to dissuading the Government of the Republic of South Africa from pursuing its policies of apartheid, and requests them, in particular, to implement fully the Security Council resolution of 4 December 1963.
Through the mouth of our delegation to the General Assembly we did have some reservations to the wording of parts of the resolution, but we had no reservation regarding the general intention of the resolution. In these matters the Government feels and has always felt that the objective we have in mind - I think it is the same objective as the Opposition has in mind - is more likely to be achieved by some calmness, moderation and wisdom in the way we try to exert our influence than by making inflammatory or provocative state* ments which can result only in hardening the South African Government in the attitude it has adopted.
Since the sentences of death were passed in March, a great number of international protests have been made and the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations has attempted to exert his influence on the South African Government. We believe that in this matter the Secretary-General of the United Nations is acting for us no less than he is acting for other members of the United Nations. We cannot disregard the fact that the Secretary-General is acting. Although one would not say that is the total influence that Australia might be able to exert, one must accept that as part of the expression of Australian opinion through the principal officer of an international organization. We believe that the South African Government would be well advised to take note of the international protests that have been made.
Having said that, I earnestly ask the House to consider not merely the purpose that it wants to serve but the course of action that is most likely to achieve that purpose. I suppose one of the simplest rules of life is what used to be termed the golden rule - do unto others as you would have others do to you. That golden rule is something that I think applies to international dealings and relations between natrons no less than it applies to dealings between individuals within the same society.
I ask honorable members to try to see the position in reverse. For the sake of argument let us assume - it is an assumption
I make for no other purpose and I do not suggest it is a statement of fact - that in Australia we had a law that deserved the condemnation of other peoples of the world. Let us also assume that under such a law - I repeat that I make the assumption solely for the purpose of argument and not as a matter of reality - our institutions in Australia had committed an act or carried out a responsibility which imposed real suffering on some section of the Australian people. How would we respond to attempts by other countries - non-Australian countries, countries which we regard as foreign - to tell us what to do? Our hackles would rise, our resistance would harden and we would be more strongly committed than ever to the course of action on which we had entered. If we are hoping to influence South Africa to act in her own interests and in response to what I will call international opinion or the arguments of humanity, will we achieve that hope by the perpetual condemnation and ostracism of South Africa?
– The Government is not asked to condemn anybody.
– The honorable member has asked the Government to use its influence. The point I am trying to make and which I hope the honorable member will comprehend is that our influence will have no effect if we resort to perpetual condemnation and ostracism. Our influence will come more happily and probably more successfully if we proceed with greater moderation and care. I wish to assure the House that the Australian Government’s view on these matters is clear. We do not support apartheid. It is not a policy that meets with our approval. We have joined with other members of the United Nations in expressing our condemnation of certain proceedings. We are glad to see that the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in pursuance of the authority given to him by resolutions of the General Assembly, is exerting his influence. But, as at the present moment, we do not see that we would help to improve the situation or that we would bring about the result that we all desire by abandoning the golden rule and adopting a condemnatory tone towards South Africa in public or taking part in our own Parliament in resolutions which, as it were, place South Africa in the condemned box. 1 assure the House that the Govern ment will continue, in the ways that seem best to it and by taking advantage of such opportunities as are open to it, to express-
– What about making representations?
– Whether we make representations and the form in which we will make representations will be matters of judgment. We will act according to our judgment and do what will be most likely to achieve the desirable result.
.- I think that was the first speech that the Minister has made in his new role of Minister for External Affairs. It augurs ill for Australia’s dynamism in international affairs. It is a long while since I heard such an odd inversion of logic. I did not think anybody could present to this House an argument in which he used the golden rule to justify doing nothing. That is sheer nonsense. What we want the Government to do is to realize that Australia is a part of the Commonwealth of Nations with a responsibility to every nation of the world. Humanity is asking for our assistance and our intervention. After all, governments are human, and the people about whom we are speaking - the people of South Africa - are human beings, whether they are members of the Government or the people under sentence of death. There are people under sentence of death, and a large percentage of the population of South Africa is in great trouble because it does not belong to the ruling race.
However, we are not here to discuss whether racial policies are right or wrong; we are here to discuss whether the Australian Government has any influence that it can bring to bear on the South African Government, and whether the Australian Government would be acting properly in bringing such influence to bear. I believe, first of all. that the Australian Government has an influence that it can bring to bear. I believe, secondly, that not only is it proper but it is also almost a moral demand that the Australian Government should bring that influence to bear.
Only a few minutes before the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) commenced his speech - at the conclusion of question time - he made his announcement that Australian police were going to Cyprus. Australia has accepted the responsibility to try to bring peace to that troubled island. We are prepared to send policemen there to try to do that. The Minister has given his sanction to that. He has taken a part in it. He has given his sponsorship to it. The Australian Government accepts that kind of responsibility, which will involve 40 Australian policemen in Cyprus. Yet the Minister believes that the golden rule prevents us from being involved in the trouble and turmoil in South Africa.
This afternoon we are not asking the Parliament to carry a motion condemning South Africa and its policies. We do not want to enter that field at all. We want to see whether the Australian Government, representing the Australian people, can exercise such an influence as will bring about the reprieve of the people under sentence of death and will reduce tensions and violence in South Africa. As the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) pointed out, the continued use of violence, which has almost a permanent and inevitable chain reaction in human affairs, will beget violence. Out of the great violence that will brew up in South Africa - violence has brewed up there on occasions already - the whole world may find itself split in twain. I do not see any reason why, in the long term or even in the short term, the racial problems of the world should not be solved. Over the last three or four centuries troubles have continually beset and divided humanity. Three or four centuries ago they were religious troubles. In the last two or three centuries they were dynastic troubles. On each occasion the problems have been solved, the troubles have died down and the tensions have been relaxed. Now people of different religions, and people who not so many years ago fought vigorously to extend their empires, sit side by side at conferences. That is what we must achieve in respect of South Africa.
There is a special role which Australia, and probably only Australia, can play. We have a special relationship with South Africa. For 60 years Australia and South Africa were close partners in the Commonwealth of Nations. In two world wars our peoples have served side by side. They served very closely together in the Second
World War in particular. In the political institutions of the South African republic and in the language which a large proportion of its peoples speak, it has a relationship with Australia which is almost unique. In the last few years we have continually associated ourselves with South Africa in a way which surely gives us a special role to play. Although we on this side of the House have vigorously condemned South Africa on many occasions, the Government - particularly the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) - continually has been friendly, sympathetic and understanding to the South African Government. Has any other government adopted such an attitude? The Prime Minister attached special importance to trying to keep South Africa in the Commonwealth of Nations. This is what one South African newspaper said about him -
Thus, while the opposite view is being pleaded by the Opposition party in his own country-
That is the Australian Labour Party - it means for the Union that she has, in the Australian Prime Minister, a friend who is prepared to remain calm in the midst of world opinion which borders on hysteria.
Australia, as a bearer of Western civilization in the southern hemisphere, was bound to South Africa, which fulfilled the same role.
It is generally accepted in South Africa that Australia has a particular interest in and a special relationship with it. On a number of occasions the Australian Prime Minister has indicated his high regard for Dr. Verwoerd. The Prime Minister has said that he is a man with obvious honesty and with great courtesy and a man who speaks with great lucidity and with great dignity, expressing his own case very powerfully. On another occasion the Australian Prime Minister said -
The South African Prime Minister says with great sincerity - he is a man of singular integrity, a most impressive man . . .
No person in the world of the status and standing of the Australian Prime Minister has such a close and personal relationship with the South African Prime Minister. No government other than the Australian Government could place a plea before the South African Government and expect to have it heard in the same way as a plea from the Australian Government would be heard. In votes at the United Nations Australia consistently has supported South Africa - until the last few years.
So I say that anything that the Minister for External Affairs has said to-day is negated by the special relationship that Australia has with South Africa. The Minister, in his new role, is avoiding his responsibility to humanity. This is not a question of sovereignty; this is a question of humanity. This is one world. All of us move around the world. We take part in conferences, where we sit side by side with people who only twenty years ago were our vigorous foes. We sit around a table with them and discuss openly questions which twenty years ago brought the world to flames. The Minister has to see the world as one world, and he has to see Australia’s part in it as particularly important, Australia being one of the European nations which have not been associated with the conquests of the past. We have to bring more common sense, more independence and a more open mind to the councils of the nations. In this instance all we are asking is that the Australian Government bring before the South African Government its duty to avoid further conflict and ten-‘ sion and to avoid the barbarity of carrying out the punishment imposed on these people. What is our duty? Does it stop at the shores of Australia? Of course it does not. The Minister for External Affairs admitted that by his sanction of the sending of Australian police to Cyprus.
But we have a legal involvement in this matter, too. When we signed the United Nations Charter, when we agreed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and when we agreed to the genicide convention ‘ and passed through this House a bill ratifying it, back in 1949, we. implied that we had a duty to the rest of the world which did not stop at Australia’s shores. So in this instance we have a legal duty. Even if the Minister for External Affairs is doubtful about interfering in the private affairs of nations, we ask him to accept the legal’ responsibility laid upon him by this House. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes these provisions -
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Every one is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Every one charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
Because we are signatories to the United Nations Charter, and because of our continual commitment in operations by the United Nations organization, we are involved in attempting to have the principles of the charter carried out wherever this may be necessary upon the face of this planet. In this instance we have this relationship with South Africa, which is peculiar to ourselves. We ought not to avoid applying the principles of the charter. We have a moral responsibility. This is one world; the world is continually coming closer together; the conflicts and tensions of Cyprus, South Africa, Korea and Viet Nam are common every-day worries, trials and tribulations facing everyone in the world, and we cannot opt out.
The Minister’s speech this afternoon boded ill for Australia’s participation in world affairs. I only hope that we will face our responsibilities as one of the independent nations of this earth. The Minister for External Affairs is a responsible Minister who expresses the views of this country. I, like all Australians, hope that he will stand up and speak up for justice, humanity and the rights of man.
.- It is ironical that the Opposition is now stating publicly the advantages of the special relationship that we have with South Africa. Here, if anywhere, is justification for what the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) said a short time ago, namely, that as a result of our policy towards South Africa we are able to bring a certain influence to bear. The Opposition itself has said that we have such an influence. Is it not better for us to be in that position than in the position we would be in if we had implemented the policy of perpetual condemnation that has been advocated time and again by the Opposition? If we had implemented the Opposition’s policy would we now have any special influence? Would we be able to apply any of the principles that the Opposition is now asking us to apply?
To me the Opposition - the Australian Labour Party - is a party of hypocrites. Look at them! Think of what they have said so frequently on the subject of race, and then remember that their own platform contains a plank which provides for the implementation of a white Australia policy. No government in Australia has ever implemented such a policy with more vigour than has the Labour Party. We remember too often the case of Sergeant Gamboa and Labour’s reluctance to have people of any race other than European races come into our country. The Labour Party’s policy is to ensure that there shall be no racial differences in Australia, but it preaches to every other nation of the world exactly how they should handle the difficult problem of race. lt seems to me that no greater hypocrisy can be imagined than that exhibited by these so-called idealists of the Australian Labour Party. How different are the facts, when they are up against them, from their idealistic statements! Let us take the case of the Australian Workers Union. When aborigines in northern Australia endeavoured to join that union they were kept out because the union thought that unemployment might be caused to its European members if aborigines were permitted to join. For the quarter of a century that the Labour Party was in office in Queensland it adopted a policy of apartheid towards the Torres Strait islanders. The State Government refused to allow any Europeans to go to the Torres Strait islands and to allow any Torres Strait islanders to set foot on the mainland for fear that they would cause unemployment among Europeans on the canefields. Members of the Labour Party like to have their cake and eat it too.
The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) talked about breeding violence. Who has done more recently to breed violence than he has by the statements he made to a visiting South African? When asked what his policy would be if he were in South Africa he said, “ My policy would be to incite all the Africans to rise up and exterminate every European in South Africa “.
– Who said this?
– That was your policy, which you stated recently.
– I am going to intervene here and now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to say-
– Order! Is the honorable member for Yarra raising a point of order?
– I am. I have been misrepresented.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– The honorable member will have his opportunity later. He will resume his seat.
– I have no intention of resuming my seat. I have been misrepresented enough in this House.
– Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. Any honorable member who claims to have been misrepresented has the right to speak at the conclusion of the speech in which he alleges he was misrepresented.
– As to the point of order, only the other day I took the course you are now suggesting I should take, and Mr. Speaker held that I was out of order because I had not raised the matter at the relevant time.
– I am in the chair at the present time.
– As long as you state where you stand-
– Order! I call the honorable member for Fawkner.
– Let us remember also why the pass laws were introduced in South Africa. They were introduced at the behest of the trade unions to prevent unemployment among their members. The position of trade unionists in South Africa was so good that Africans in other parts of Africa were trying to cross the border into the Union so that they too could enjoy the standard of living there, which is so much higher than that in any other part of the continent.
I wonder what would happen if the honorable member for Yarra happened to be the member for, say, East Johannesburg. The Minister quite rightly said, “ Let us consider what our attitude would be if the
South African Government criticized us “; so let us put ourselves in the place of the South Africans. What would Opposition members do if they were members of the Parliament in Pretoria and the trade unions said to them, “ These pass laws are necessary to safeguard our organizations “? Would they continue to adopt the same idealistic attitude that they adopt in this Australian Parliament? What has been the result of the Labour Party’s policy to date and the over-provocative statements that its members have made? They have driven all the Europeans in South Africa to unite in the Broederband and to adopt one policy to protect themselves from extermination.
I have hoped, as I have said so often in this House, that a multi-racial government would be possible in South Africa. If the Australian Labour Party were the government in Pretoria and it was asked to extend the franchise in the same way as the Australian Labour Party is now asking the South African Government to do, I wonder what the 36 faceless men would say if they knew that to abide by that policy would mean that they would be tossed out of office? What is the policy of Labour Party members? Do they advocate the imposition of sanctions on South Africa? If they do, who will be hurt most? Surely the Africans, whom they claim they are trying to help, would suffer most. Would not that policy tend to exacerbate racial feeling in the Union, as we have seen it do in the months since we last’ discussed this matter in this House, to such an extent that eventually the only answer to the problem would be to draw a line over which neither Europeans nor Africans might step?
I believe that everything that is being done by the Australian Labour Party in regard to this matter is tending towards bloodshed, towards an increase in racial feeling and towards everything that it is now asking us, as the Government, to try to avoid. By their own statements, Opposition members have shown that the policy that we have adopted towards South Africa over the last few years has resulted in Australia being one of the few nations which can bring some influence to bear on those who are governing South Africa at this time. I believe that what we have tried to do over the last few years here in Australia with regard to South Africa has been wise.
I believe that everything that has been advocated by the Opposition has tended merely to intensify violence and hatred and everything else that mankind should wish to avoid.
I claim to have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), and I would like an opportunity of saying how and why.
– Very well, providing you leave it at that.
– The honorable member said that some unnamed person from South Africa had said that I had said to this person that I advised the African people to rise up and throw the whites out. The honorable member for Fawkner did not have the decency to mention the name of this unnamed person on whose alleged statement his slander is based. What he said is completely false. The man who told him this - if he did tell him - is a liar and the honorable member is nothing but a slander-monger for repeating the statement here.
– Having heard that excellent explanation, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would like to say something about this matter. I feel a little more generous towards the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) than did my friend, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), because I was agreeably surprised to note in the Minister’s attitude an indication of great concern at what is going on in South Africa. The Minister said he felt great concern. He repeated what the honorable member for Yarra had said to the effect that this Government had voted in the United Nations General Assembly against this kind of thing and had called on the South African Government to desist from this policy of apartheid. This is good. He did not reject outright, moreover - and this is important to me - the request inherent in the proposal of the honorable member for Yarra that this Government ought to use its undoubtedly good offices with the South African Government to try to obtain from that Government an agreement to spare the lives of these unfortunate people.
The Minister was also correct when he said that this debate was not an attack upon apartheid. It is not, indeed, an attack on the laws of South Africa. It is necessary, however, to refer to them in order to make sense of the whole gist of the proposition but, beyond that, this is primarily an attempt to persuade the Government to use its influence with the South African Government to save the lives of these men condemned to die. There is no doubt that it has tremendous influence with that Government because the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is a great admirer of the Prime Minister of South Africa. He has said so publicly. The Prime Minister of South Africa probably reciprocates with a similar degree of admiration for the Prime Minister of Australia.
– You can admire people without approving of their policies.
– I am not saying that the Prime Minister approves of the policy adopted by the Prime Minister of South Africa. I will be generous enough to concede that the Prime Minister does not agree with the policies of South Africa. I do not think he does and I am not saying that he does. All I want to establish - and I think that the Minister for External Affairs will agree with me on this proposition - is that our Prime Minister does have a special place in the heart of the Prime Minister of South Africa. I know of no man in the world - not even U Thant - who would have as much influence with Dr. Verwoerd as does the Prime Minister of Australia. This is to be expected because Dr. Verwoerd should remember with great gratification the tremendous support he got from our Prime Minister when the South African Republic, as it now is, was expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations. Having in mind these considerations, the Prime Minister is the one man above all who should be giving his support to this appeal.
We are considering to-day the lives of three men who are under immediate threat of execution and we are considering the lives of another nine men who are facing trial for offences which carry the death penalty. The important point in their case is that the Verwoerd Government has asked the prosecution to request the supreme penalty of death for these nine people. There are, therefore, twelve lives involved.
It is all very well for the Minister for External Affairs to talk about applying the golden rule to the Government of South Africa. That is all right by way of argument; but let me invite him to apply the golden rule to these poor devils who are in gaol awaiting execution. I am a human being and I am very concerned about what some other human being may be thinking and doing and the anxious moments he may be spending while awaiting the death sentence. That is what I am principally concerned with as a human being. The Minister is not without human feelings. Whatever we may say about him on the political level, the Minister has tender feelings and a human understanding of the feelings of other people and I believe that, left to himself, he would act in the way we are recommending. Of all the Ministers in the Cabinet, apart from three whom I could mention, possibly none other would have more influence on our Prime Minister than has the Minister for External Affairs. I appeal to the Minister to forget about anything said in the heat of political debate in this House. I ask him to ignore anything that I might say that might be considered offensive in the few minutes that are available to me. I will try not to be offensive but if I do happen to say something to which objection might be taken I ask the Minister, for the sake of the lives of these people who are involved, to overlook it. What we are principally aiming at is to save the lives of these unfortunate people.
The International Commission of Jurists has condemned this Government’s own Crimes Act. This is not the first example of an outside body or another government outside Australia expressing opposition to what we do. I put this to the Minister and I ask him to reply to it honestly: Suppose the Government of the United Kingdom or the Government of the United States were to make an appeal to this Government in a courteous way - a way that did not suggest any overt attempt to interfere with our sovereign right to govern and make laws - concerning some law of ours to which objection was taken and perhaps involving the life of some human being. Is there one member of the Cabinet who would take umbrage at a properly worded approach from either of those governments? I do not believe for one moment that there is. 1 venture to say that we enjoy excellent relationships with the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States, just as our Prime Minister enjoys excellent relationships with the Prime Minister of South Africa. 1 am pleased to see that U Thant is using his influence in this matter. The Government is pleased to see it. U Thant was asked to do so by no fewer than 43 nations associated with the United Nations. It is true that Australia was not one of them. I think we should have been. I say now that it is not too late for us to associate ourselves with the appeal made by those nations and, irrespective of what U Thant might succeed in doing, I think the Prime Minister himself ought to make an appeal direct to Dr. Verwoerd.
Turning now to the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) I say it is quite wrong for him to talk about the white Australia policy. It is no longer accurate to cite the case of Gamboa and say that this gives an illustration of the policy of the Australian Labour Party on white Australia. The Labour Party’s conference in Perth changed the party’s policy in respect of children and spouses of naturalized Australian citizens. The Labour Party believes that if the wife of a coloured person living overseas is an Australian citizen then her husband should be allowed to come here. Even if we held to the view that we had in the days of Gamboa, which involved a strict interpretation of Labour policy as it then was, then all I say is that two wrongs do not make a right, and it is no use saying, “ If you were wrong then it is quite all right for us to be wrong now “. A black man’s life is just as valuable to him as a white man’s life is to a white man. Life is valuable, indeed precious, to everybody who owns it. We are talking about the lives of human beings. The Australian Labour Party has always been opposed to the death penalty, no matter what the offence. No true Labour man could possibly support the imposition of the death penalty on anybody. No true Labour man could sit idly by and do nothing to protest against the application of the death penalty to these unfortunate men awaiting sentence.
– What about Christian principles?
– The Minister asks about Christian principles, and I agree with him. Christian principles demand that the death penalty shall not be applied. “ Thou shalt not kill “ is one of the ten Commandments. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you “ is another golden rule which our Lord tells us to obey in all things. No person who will sit idly by and not raise his hand against a decision to commit to death poor unfortunate people who have done no more than protest against the iniquitous laws of their country can claim to be a Christian.
Let me quote what the Melbourne “Age” of 24th June, 1963, has to say about the things against which these poor unfortunate people are protesting. Amongst other things, it says this -
Trials of Africans accused of belonging to a banned political organization - usually the banned Pan-African Congress - are held practically every day in South Africa.
A total of 67,637 people were behind bars at the most recent count two months ago. . . . More than 10,000 people are awaiting trial. More than 5,000 people, mainly Africans, are being arrested for security crimes.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– When this House enters into a debate concerning racial matters, it should do so with a great deal of discretion. Australia is surrounded by many countries inhabited by coloured people. I often feel that a debate such as this produces a good deal of emotionalism and has reactions in countries to our near north which are not beneficial to Australia. I wonder whether honorable members opposite take those things into consideration when they initiate a debate like this in the House? What are they trying to prove by the proposal that they have put before the House? Are they trying to prove that the Australian Government is not sympathetic towards these people in South Africa? Are they trying to prove that we are in favour of apartheid? I do not know what they are trying to prove.
We have voted at the United Nations on this very question - on a request that the South African Government release the men who have been imprisoned for activities opposed to apartheid. What are the members of the Opposition trying to do? Are they trying to give the impression that they are the only people who are concerned with human rights? Are they trying to sell the idea that they have a monopoly on that issue? We on this side are just as much concerned as they are about these problems, but, as I said at the outset, they are problems that have to be handled with a great deal of discretion, discrimination, wisdom and common sense. In dealing with them, you do not come out into public places and make wild statements that cannot possibly win you any marks from either side. There are problems in every country of the world. There are tremendous problems and tremendous hardships in every country in Africa. There is crime right and left there, but it seems that the objective of the Labour Party is to single out what is happening in South Africa. I have no hesitation in saying that I believe that even if the South African Government had no apartheid policy and South Africa had no racial problems, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) would still hate the South African Government because South Africa is more ardently opposed to communism than any other country in the world. Look at the problems in Ghana, for instance. We learn from newspaper reports that the President of Ghana sacked the Chief Justice there because he would not adjudge as guilty some members of the Ghanian Opposition who were charged with conspiring against the President. What do honorable members opposite say about that? They say nothing. Of course, we do not know the real facts of that matter. It is a domestic matter, just as the problems in South Africa are domestic matters. We do not know all the issues at stake.
I was certainly taken aback when the honorable member for Yarra sought to condone his action in attacking South Africa and in not attacking countries such as China and Russia for their actions in Tibet and Hungary, where mass atrocities have occurred, by saying that as we are closely related to South Africa we could have some influence on the government of that country, whereas Russia and China would take no notice of us and that whatever we did would have no influence in those two countries. I have not noticed that South Africa has paid much heed to our condemnation of its policy of apartheid. When a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers was held three or four years ago, our Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) did his utmost to get the South African Government to change its policy of apartheid so that South Africa might remain a member of the British Commonwealth. But did that make any difference? It certainly did not. South Africa preferred to remove herself from the British Commonwealth rather than to abandon her policy of apartheid. The honorable member for Yarra says that it is useless to attack China for the atrocities committed in Tibet because we cannot do anything about them.
– I did not say anything of the kind. That is a completely false interpretation of what I said.
– It is a fairly accurate interpretation of what I and other honorable members on this side of the House heard you say. Of course, we on this side view the policy of apartheid with repugnance. We also view with repugnance the imprisonment of these people if they are genuinely fighting to prevent the development of apartheid. Bui we do not know what criminal acts it is alleged these men have committed and for which they are on trial. At any rate, I certainly do not know, and I doubt whether the honorable member for Yarra does.
We in Australia are no lily-whites so far as racial problems are concerned. Who are we to criticize? As the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) pointed out to the House a few minutes ago, we have a selective immigration policy. That policy is being attacked constantly by other countries, yet the Opposition would have us believe that we are in a position to tell other countries directly what they should do about their racial problems. We do have a responsibility to express our point of view before the United Nations, and we have done that. It is now up to the United Nations to do the best it can. The SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations has approached the South African Government on a number of occasions and asked that it release the men who have been imprisoned, but his efforts have been of little use. At the last meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Sir Garfield Barwick expressed Australia’s view of apartheid by saying that it was a hateful doctrine. Our Prime Minister has described it as being completely unworkable and has urged the South African Government to change its policy. We do not favour apartheid, and we certainly have as much sympathy as any member of the Opposition has towards these people.
If we make this request in public, as the Opposition suggests we should, if we make a great cry about it and the South African Government does nothing, what does the Opposition want us to do then? Do honorable members opposite want us to bring down economic sanctions against South Africa? Is that to be the next step? AH I can say is that the imposition of economic sanctions would not do much good for the Bantu people of South Africa; on the contrary, it would hurt them more than anybody else, and they are the very people we are trying to help. I remind the Opposition that it is certainly not the policy of the British Labour Party to use economic sanctions against South Africa. As I have stated, we have already expressed our view on this matter to the United Nations, and we will continue to do so. The attitude which the honorable member for Yarra seems to adopt is that if there is no hope of getting any change, as is the case with the Communist countries, we should not say anything. I say that this Government believes that South Africa would be well advised to take cognizance of the strong international protests that are being made against the current trials and to give consideration to releasing the men. involved if they are being tried for genuinely protesting against the South African Government’s policy of apartheid. We in Australia do not condone the apartheid policy for one minute. We strongly oppose it and believe that it is against all human rights. We do not believe in discrimination between any people. Therefore, our policy is one of sympathy for the South African people.
– Order! This discussion is now concluded.
Motion (by Mr. Anthony) - by leave - proposed -
That a joint committee be appointed to -
– I welcome the Government’s decision to re-establish this committee. From the text of the motion that has been circulated it would seem that the committee is to be re-established on the same basis as the former committee. I think that is a pity. I believe that over the years the committee has done very valuable work. It has provided the Government with reports on matters which have been referred to it by the Minister for the Interior and also on proposed variations of the plan. Those are the only two avenues in which this committee may function. The committee is appointed to -
One criticism of the committee which has been voiced in this place before is that it Ls denied any right to initiate discussion or any right to initiate investigations of matters relevant to the development of the National Capital. I believe that that is a weakness in the structure of the committee.
This committee has provided valuable reports on matters that have been referred to it by previous Ministers for the Interior. However, the committee, consisting as it has in the past of men who have an interest in the development of the National Capital, believes that it should have the power to initiate investigations on some subjects. I think that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) should look at this problem and consult with his colleagues on the wisdom of widening the charter under which the committee operates. In discussing proposed variations of the plan the committee is able to discuss only the plan of the layout of the city. Many people misunderstand that provision. They feel that in discussing variations of the plan the committee has some power to examine the siting of public buildings within the city, but those matters, of course, are completely outside the power of the committee.
It might be an idea if on some occasions the Minister referred specific projects of that kind to the committee. Perhaps then we would not see some of the mistakes that have been made and that have been admitted as mistakes. I refer in particular to the siting of the new structure for the Bureau of Mineral Resources which, being in such close proximity to Anzac Way, is believed by many to mar that aspect of our development. That is a matter of opinion, but that project could well have been a matter on which the opinions of the committee would have been of value. The committee could have heard evidence from various people concerned with development, and perhaps also from people resident in that section of Campbell whose view of the lake and of the rest of Canberra is now shut off by the vast concrete and glass wall of the Mineral Resources building. But those matters do not at present come within the purview of the committee because it is limited to consideration of variations of the plan of layout.
There is very much talk at present of the establishment of a new Parliament House. It will not be any function of the committee to report to the Parliament on the siting of the new Parliament House unless the matter is specifically referred to it by the Minister because, as I have said, the committee is limited to considering modifications or variations of the plan of layout. I suggest to the Minister that he secure and examine submissions that have already been made about the committee’s functions. Perhaps he has already examined certain submissions made to his predecessor in the office of Minister for the Interior by Senator Vincent, who was chairman of the Joint Committee of the Australian Capital Territory, in which it was suggested that not only should the committee be given some wider power but that specific matters should be referred to it. I refer to only one of those matters - the width of Canberra streets. I believe that that was one proposal that was put forward as a matter which the committee could investigate with advantage to the city and benefit to the people who at present use the streets and who will in future use them.
Although Canberra is a beautifully laid out city, and many of its avenues are wide, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the width of the streets provided in the original plan, and as constructed, is not sufficient for motor traffic to-day. That is only one matter suggested by Senator Vincent that would repay further consideration. If these matters were referred to the committee it would have g-eater interest in the work it is undertaking. I trust that the Minister will consider these matters and will consider giving to the committee an opportunity to initiate investigation in some aspects of development.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance wilh the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, it is expedient that the following proposed work should be carried out without having been referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: - Administrative Office, Block 5, Darwin, Northern Territory.
In 1955 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works reported favorably on a proposal for the erection of four three-storied re-inforced concrete-framed administrative office blocks in Darwin. Blocks 1 and 2 were completed in 1963, and block 3 will be completed in June, 1964. Urgent office accommodation needs for Government departments in Darwin require the erection of new office space. It is proposed to meet this requirement by the erection of block 4, plus a similar block 5. The two buildings will be joined by a connecting link. The total estimated cost of the two blocks and the connecting link is £575,000. Existing working drawings with amendments can be used for the two blocks and, if programmed, tenders could be called for the work early next financial year. In view of the urgent need for additional office accommodation in Darwin, and as block 5 will be similar to the four blocks previously approved by the committee, it is recommended that this proposal be carried out without reference to the committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 5th May (vide page 1548), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Under this bill the Commonwealth has agreed to make a contribution of £375,000,000 for the period 1964-69 for roads. Of that amount £45,000,000 will be paid as a matching grant on a £1 for £1 basis. This compares with an all-inclusive amount of £250,000,000 which was paid to the States under the five-year agreement expiring on 30th June of this year. That amount has proved to be inadequate for Australia’s road needs. The amount provided under this legislation will also prove to be inadequate as time passes. At last we have from the Government an admission that Australia must have a national roads plan. It must be agreed that the necessary finance should be made available to implement the plan. The problem has been recognized by the Government. I draw attention to the second-reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in which he said -
Without doubt, however, the roads problem is one of the largest confronting the Australian Governments to-day and the Commonwealth is fully alive to its implications, both for the efficient running of the economy and for community life.
Whilst the problem is recognized, adequate finance is not being made available to remedy it. In 1963 the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities estimated that the cost of a ten-year road programme ending 30th June, 1974 would be £3,615,000,000. This seems to be a reliable estimate of the finance required to be raised by State and Commonwealth authorities for road purposes. The estimate is the result of the work of State road authorities which have been admitted by this Government to be the authorities responsible for roads. Their inquiries have extended over a number of years. Agreement was reached on the required road standards and over-generous estimates were avoided. However, the estimated revenues available for the ten-year period from 1964 to 1974, based on the then scale of disbursements, amounted to £2,450,000,000, leaving an estimated deficiency of £1,165,000,000 for the period.
The measure before us provides for increased expenditure of £125,000,000 for the five-year period ending 1969. Of that amount £45,000,000 is to be allocated as matching grants. In order to establish entitlement to portion of the additional £45,000,000 it is necessary for the States to provide a similar amount to that claimed. The matching grants for the five-year period ending 30th June, 1964, totalled £30,000,000, which means that in the next five years expenditure for road purposes will be increased by £140,000,000. If the terms of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States remain the same in the five-year period commencing in 1 969, the amount of increase will be doubled, making an additional total of £280,000,000 available for road purposes for the ten-year period. If the estimates of the State road authorities are correct, even that increase would leave a deficit of £885,000,000. If during the second five-year term - from 1969 to 1974 - expenditure increases by £125,000,000 as is provided for in the next five-year period, the deficit will be £760,000,000.
It can be shown easily that the amount to be provided for roads under this measure is not sufficient for Australia’s road needs. In 1944 fewer than 1,000,000 vehicles travelled on Australia’s roads. To-day there are more, than 3,000,000 vehicles and it is estimated that by 1974 over 6,000,000 vehicles - or almost one vehicle for every two persons - will be using our roads. Expenditure on roads, unfortunately, has not kept pace with their increased use. Since 1949 petrol consumption has risen by 170 per cent, but expenditure on roads has risen by only 110 per cent, in that period. Experts say that because of the increasing rate at which motor vehicles are coming on to the roads a point could be reached in the next decade when those countries which have built roads to accommodate increased traffic will use them to accelerate their economic growth through faster transportation at reduced costs. Those countries which have not kept pace will lose out in the economic race. This aspect is very important to Australia as our transport costs are much higher than in any other comparable country.
The Australian Road Research Board has estimated that road transport costs in 1960-61 constituted 22 per cent, of our gross national product. If I remember correctly, the comparable figure for Canada is 10 per cent, and for the United States of America 7 per cent. Other authorities have estimated that the costs of transport in Australia reach as high as 33J- per cent, of our gross national product. The Australian Road Research Board’s estimate of 22 per cent, seems to be a reliable figure.
Road transport carries approximately three-quarters of our total transport tonnage. A survey conducted by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities showed that only 14 per cent, of Australia’s roads have a bitumen or concrete surface, 23 per cent, are gravelled, 25 per cent, are formed and 38 per cent, are unformed. These figures show that a formidable task is ahead of us to bring the roads up to a reasonable standard for transport purposes.
Another authority has pointed out that Australia spends only £320 a mile on roads compared with expenditure by the New Zealand Government of £A.700 a mile. In the United States of America £A. 1,450 a mile is spent on roads. The Federal Government of the United States is giving to the States enormous financial aid for roads. The importance of roads is recognized there and if we are to have an adequate and modern transport system we must also recognize their importance. We have one motor vehicle for every 3.84 persons. It is expected that by 1974 we will have a motor vehicle for every two persons.
Road construction and maintenance must do more than keep pace with the increasing number of motor vehicles. It is necessary to overtake the leeway. Unfortunately, over the years a tremendous leeway has occurred in our road construction needs.
Congestion of traffic reduces speed and increases petrol consumption. A United
Kingdom survey has produced an estimate that when the speed of traffic is reduced by congestion to ten miles an hour petrol consumption is increased by about 50 per cent. One has only to travel in a motor vehicle through any of our capital cities to see at first hand appalling road congestion. The increase in petrol consumption caused by traffic congestion must be tremendous. In addition, there is created a wastage of tyres, mechanical parts and man-power which also have a very important bearing on our transport costs. Running losses caused by inferior Australian roads have been estimated to total £1,000,000 a day.
I draw the attention of honorable members to a report headed “ Roads Waste £lm. a Day” which appeared in the press on 28th May, 1962. It states -
An inadequate roads system was costing Australia £1,000,000 a day, the professor of traffic engineering at the University of N.S.W., Professor V. R. Blunden, said today.
He said the university’s school of traffic engineering had made this estimate after two years of detailed surveys and research.
The cost was in time lost by motorists, wasted petrol and the wear and tear on vehicles because of traffic congestion
The survey showed that the loss to motorists and the community because of the present poor road system was £365,000,000 a year.
This figure included waste of petrol, wear and maintenance on vehicle’s and the loss of time to commercial and private motorists on business trips.
That is a very important statement, and I believe that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) should take notice of it. Other authorities do not necessarily agree with the figure stated in that report, but they give it some substance because they estimate the cost at between £200,000,000 and £400,000,000 per annum.
The condition of our roads is revealed also by the accident rate. Australia is the fourth greatest user of motor vehicles in proportion to population, but we have the worst safety record among the four countries that are the major users of motor vehicles. The death rate per 10,000 vehicles is 4.93 in New Zealand, 5 in the United States of America, 6.95 in Canada and 8.78 in Australia. Surely the greater proportion of deaths on our roads is indicative of the state of our road system. The number of persons to each motor vehicle is 2.53 in the United States of America, 3.18 in New Zealand, 3.53 in Canada and 3.84 in Australia. The United Stales, Canada and New Zealand each have a greater density of vehicles in proportion lo population, but have lower death rates than Australia. This, too, bears out the claim that the condition of our roads has a relationship to the number of fatalities in road accidents. There is a tragic waste of human life on our roads. Some casualties will always occur, of course, but the waste of human lives and the cost in suffering and in material damage should be reduced to the minimum. This can be done only if we are prepared to spend on our roads much more than we are spending now. The Senate Select Committee on Road safety in I960 assessed the cost to the Australian community of road accidents in the financial year 1957-58 at almost £70,000,000. The number of accidents has since increased by 6 per cent. So the annual cost must be much greater now. We cannot divorce our road problems from the question of road safety, which is directly related to the condition of our roads.
I turn now to another aspect of this subject. Before 1959, Commonwealth aid road funds were allocated to the States on the basis of two-fifths according to area and three-fifths according to population. Under the new formula introduced in 1959. when the last five-year Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement was implemented, the distribution is one-third according to area, onethird according to population and one-third according to the number of vehicles registered. Under the new formul.!, Western Australia receives a smaller proportion of the total. The provision of an adequate road system in that State is a formidable task because of the vast distances. Western Australia has an area of 976,000 square miles, or about one-third of (he total area of the Commonwealth, and its road system extends from Eucla in the South-Eastern Division to Wyndham, which is 3,000 miles away in the far north. Those great distances give some idea of the problems that confront Western Australia in providing an adequate road system throughout the State, which is now passing through a phase of considerable development in which new lands are being opened up.
In the five-year period from 1952 to 1956, inclusive, 3,451,000 acres of new land were alienated, or about half the acreage alienated throughout Australia in that period. Between 1955 and 1958, 9,500 miles of new roads were opened to traffic in Western Australia. About 800 miles of railways have been closed in recent years. Consequently, more traffic has been directed to roads serving agricultural, forest and some pastoral areas. The additional traffic on those roads has meant greater expenditure on road construction and on maintenance year by year. In the northern parts of Western Australia, an area of nearly 500,000 square miles is without rail communications of any sort, and roads are therefore of major importance to the widely scattered mining and pastoral settlements in that part of the State.
In Western Australia, there are more than 103,000 miles of roads, 3,436 miles of which are gazetted main roads and 7,538 miles of which are important secondary roads, making a total of 10,974 miles of principal roads. The road mileage for every 100 square miles is lower in Western Australia than in any other State. Table 2, which is headed “ Ratio of Mileage of Roads to Area at 30th June, 1959”, at page 39 of the publication “ Australian Roads “ issued by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities in 1961, shows that the mileage for every 100 square miles was at that time 41 in New South Wales, 119 in Victoria, 18 in Queensland, 9 in Western Australia and 45 in Tasmania. Considering the size of Western Australia, that State is well down in terms of road mileage. The number of persons per mile of road is lower in Western Australia than in the other States. Table 3, which is headed “ Number of Persons per Mile of Road at 30th June, 1959 “, at page 40 of the same publication, indicates that in 1959 the number of persons per mile of road was 30 in New South Wales. 27 in Victoria, 12 in Queensland, 15 in South Australia, 8 in Western Australia and 29 in Tasmania. The figures that I have just given from those two tables emphasize the tremendous task that faces Western Australia in the provision of an adequate road system and demonstrate the need for more funds in that State as well as throughout Australia.
Western Australia has made good use of the finance that it has been given. Mr.
Digby Leach, who recently retired from the position of Commissioner of Main Roads in that State, did a magnificent job with the funds available. Roads were located properly, easy grades were followed in country areas and use was made of road material available close to the roads being constructed and maintained. Mr. Digby Leach developed techniques of road construction that have given Western Australia cheap, long-wearing roads, and his methods have attracted attention overseas.
At the recent Premiers’ Conference, which discussed the proposed new Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement, the Premiers of Victoria and New South Wales tried to have the existing formula for the distribution of Commonwealth funds altered. I was pleased to note that the other Slates turned them down - rightly so in my opinion. Mr. Bolte, Premier of Victoria, went back to his State with a sad tale and was taken to task by a Victorian newspaper. In an editorial on 17th March last the Melbourne “Age” reported -
Mr. Bolte cannot blame it all on Canberra. The State Government has divided the responsibility for roads between the Country Roads Board, which gets all the Federal and State roads money and spends 82 per cent, of it in the country, and the Metropolitan Board, which has the authority but not the necessary finance to build freeways and ring-roads in the city.
There is a case to be made for setting Victoria’s house in order so that what money is available for roads is better spent.
The influence of our friends of the Country Party has been great in Victoria. As a result, 82 per cent, of the funds provided by the Commonwealth to Victoria for roads has been spent in the country. Of course, the legislation now before the House provides that 40 per cent, of the amounts allocated to the States must be spent in country areas. Because of the way it has spent money on roads, Victoria’s secondary roads system is virtually the best in Australia, as are its country highways, but the roads in and around Melbourne are in a pretty poor state. There is nobody to blame for that but the Victorian Government. According to the information available to me, it has allocated too much for country areas.
Western Australia faces problems bigger than those which face most other States.
For instance, most centres in Victoria are close to a railway. Few centres are more than 30 miles from a railway. But there are no rail services in the north-west of Western Australia and in the Kimberleys area, where a good deal of development is taking place. In those areas of Western Australia we must rely on roads, and roads cost money. For each 1,000 square miles of country in Western Australia, we have only five miles of railways, compared with 46 miles in Victoria. Western Australia’s area is eleven times that of Victoria and three times that of New South Wales. Nevertheless, 40 per cent, of the Commonwealth’s grant will be spent on rural roads. In addition, Western Australia is spending 26 per cent, of the Commonwealth’s grant on roads north of the 26th parallel. This is apart from the money being made available for beef roads. So nobody can say that Western Australia is neglecting the country areas - the north and the Kimberleys region. Western Australia is doing what it can with the finance available. It is spending more in country areas than it is obliged to under this legislation.
As far as I can see, the States spend on roads all of the revenue that they collect from motor vehicle users, but the same cannot be said of the Commonwealth. The original Federal Aid Roads Act was passed in 1926 and similar acts have been passed regularly since that time. From 1926 to 30th June, 1963, the Commonwealth collected in petrol tax and recently in automotive diesel fuel tax £800,731,000. Over the same period the sums disbursed to the States amounted to £495,878,000. So the Commonwealth has retained in Consolidated Revenue over the same period £304,853,000. The Treasurer said that in the current year Commonwealth grants for roads will amount to £58,000,000 and that, in addition, the Commonwealth is currently spending £10,000,000 on roads in the Territories and on special State road projects, making a total expenditure by the Commonwealth this year of £68,000,000. The Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for 1963-64 show that taxes on motor fuel and diesel fuel are expected to yield £69,600,000. So £1.600.000 is still going into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. During 1964-65, the total amount allocated to the States under this legislation will be £65.000.000. In addition, approximately £9,000,000 will be spent on roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and on special roads in the States, making a total expenditure of £74,000,000. But from the way petrol consumption is soaring as more vehicles come onto the roads, it is clear that expenditure will be less than receipts from petrol taxes. Under the bill, expenditure on roads is to increase by £5,000,000 each year until 30th June, 1969, but I venture to suggest - I think the remarks last night of the Minister for Shipping and Transport bear me out - that the additional amount spent year by year will not be as great as the additional amounts received by way of petrol tax. If the £304,853,000 from the petrol tax which has gone into Consolidated Revenue over the years had been spent on roads, we would not now be in the fix we are in.
In my opinion, this Government should earmark all of the receipts of petrol tax for roads. That is not a novel suggestion. To listen to the Minister for Shipping and Transport last night one would imagine that it was an extraordinary suggestion, but this is exactly what the Governments of Japan, Sweden, New Zealand and the United States of America do. In 1956, the United States Congress passed legislation to create the Federal Highways Trust Fund, into which were to be deposited receipts from certain federal taxes, including petrol tax, levied on highway users. As a result the United States has the best roads of any country. I stress that there is nothing unusual about the suggestion that all of the petrol tax should be earmarked for roads.
The Commonwealth obtains huge sums from road users in other ways than petrol tax. Those amounts are not returned to the road users in the way of decent roads. In the year ended 30th June, 1963, the net customs duty on motor spirit was £8,800,000. The net excise duty on motor spirit was £60,000,000. The net customs and excise duty on diesel fuel was £2,600,000. The net customs duty on imports of motor vehicles and parts was £11,800,000. The net sales tax on private motor vehicles was £49,300,000. The net sales tax on commercial vehicles was £18,100,000. The total derived by the Commonwealth in the year ended 30th June, 1963, from those taxes and duties that I have referred to was £150.600,000, but payments to the States in the same year amounted to only £71,400,000. It will be seen readily that although huge sums are extracted from road users, not only by the Commonwealth but also by the States, which collected from road useds £59,200,000 in the year ended 30th June, 1963, nowhere near as much is returned to road users in the form of decent roads. The amount of money needed for roads in Australia is increasing year by year but the problem of our roads is no nearer solution than it was ten years ago. As more vehicles come onto the roads so the problem is intensified. More money is obtained from petrol taxes and the clamour for more to be spent on roads increases. The situation is like that of a dog chasing its tail.
The Government is not doing anything to solve the great transport problem. What is needed is co-ordination of all forms of transport so that each form may do the job for which it is best suited. Transport coordination is the only feasible way to reduce our excessive transport costs. Water is the cheapest form of transport and its use should be encouraged for long hauls and large tonnages. The next cheapest form is the railways, but they are not being used to their full extent. Rail deficits continue to increase while more money is spent on road transport which is taking traffic away from the railways. It is true that something is being done about rail standardization. It needs to be implemented to the greatest possible extent. In addition, our railways need to be modernized. We need modern and efficient means of transport throughout Australia. I suggest to the Government that the way to achieve that is to have a system of co-ordination of all forms of transport.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Ever since I have been a member of this House - for more than eighteen years - I have taken part in debates on the subject of roads. I believe that this is a vital subject for Australia, because roads can make for decentralization. They also can make for centralization if all or most of the money is spent in the cities. I have always advocated the spending of more and more money on roads. Of course, the amount that will be made available under this legislation, compared with the amount that was made available when I entered this Parliament, is unbelievable. There has been a great increase.
I have heard statements by newspaper men, engineers and all manner of people quoted in an attempt to sustain the arguments that have been advanced by the Opposition and by members of the Government parties. I do not regard this subject as one for party politics. If 1 find fault with some of the things that have been said by honorable members on the Government side, I will demonstrate that very clearly. I believe that all honorable members desire Australian roads to be as good as possible. We do not want to impose higher taxation on the people, if that can be avoided. In a practical way, we want Australian roads to be as good as we can make them. With that object in view, I say that country roads should have our first attention, because 80 per cent, of Australia’s exports are primary products. The secondary industries in the metropolitan areas supply only 20 per cent, of Australia’s exports. Therefore, we must foster the main factors in our national wealth - wool-growing, wheat-growing, dried fruits-production, dairying, fruitgrowing and so on. In saying that I am not taking a parochial view, because every member of the Opposition and of the Government parties knows that unless the exports of primary industries built up our overseas balances our secondary industries could not get the raw materials that they need to keep them in operation. I have said that on many occasions. Members of the Australian Labour Party have told me that Australia is just about self-contained. But one has to mention only two commodities - rubber and crude oil - to realize how inadequate Australia is in respect of the supply of some goods which are necessary not only for our progress and prosperity but also for our very survival.
This afternoon I intend to make some quotations. I will probably make more than I have made at any other time since I have been a member of this House. I have information from men who really know what is happening in the country. They are not journalists or engineers or professors but other people who are engaged in the business of building roads. They are shire councillors and other accredited rural representatives. As soon as I heard that the lord mayors of the Australian capital cities were asking for more money for metropolitan roads, as honorable members will remember I started asking questions on this subject. I will not read the questions. On 26th March, 1963, the day after the lord mayors met the then Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), I asked the Minister to disregard their request. I said that if he did not do that and if he acceded to it, it would be the greatest setback to oftadvocated decentralization. As more and more deputations met the Minister, after each one I asked a question in the House with the object of getting the Government to disregard the desire of the lord mayors to have a specific allocation made for metropolitan roads. As honorable members know, 40 per cent, of the funds granted is set aside for rural roads. If the State Governments want to spend the remaining 60 per cent, in the cities, we have no argument against that. But we say that at least 40 per cent, must be spent in rural areas. This bill continues that arrangement and, therefore, it is very acceptable to the Australian Country Party.
The last question that I asked on this matter was addressed to the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). I asked him whether he would meet a deputation of shire councillors and other accredited rural representatives and afford them the same opportunity to present their case for Commonwealth aid roads money as had been afforded by the lord mayors. The Minister said, “ Yes, I will meet them “. He did meet them. I want to quote one or two statements that these men made when they came to Canberra. The deputation was an Australiawide one, so every honorable member should be interested in these quotations. The first statement from which I will quote is by Councillor Behan, vice-president of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations and president of the Queensland Local Government Association. He said -
One of the greatest’ things that ever happened with the Commonwealth Aid Roads money and various grants thai Parliament has made to us is the fact that we are helping to develop Australia by getting 40 per cent, allocated. I think it is a great feather in the cap of the Government that it has seen fit to have this legislation and sincerely trust they will see fit to continue it.
This deputation met the Minister two days before the Premiers’ Conference at which the decision on this legislation was made. The next statement from which I will quote is by Mr. A. Mainerd, secretary of the Australian Council of Local Government Associations. These men are all great authorities in the States. Mr. Mainerd said -
At the moment the Australian Council and all Local Government bodies throughout the Commonwealth, speaking through the Australian Council, have expressed their judgment that this 40 per cent, which was allocated for rural roads should be continued.
He also said -
I am sure that 70 per cent, of all the roads in Australia are the direct responsibility of Local Governments and that means, of course, that of the total of 530,000 miles in the Commonwealth, 376,000 or 70 per cent, are the direct financial responsibility of Local Governments. It is the responsibility of Local Governments to finance that. Of course, the contribution under the C.A.R. Legsilation which provided 40 per cent, of the grants to the States is chiefly for this purpose.
The Honorable J. Heitman, M.L.C., the president of the Country Shires Association of Western Australia, said-
– We have never heard of him.
– Perhaps he has never heard of you. Mr. Heitman said -
As far as Western Australia is concerned, we had a meeting of the executive yesterday and they have given me full support in coming over here to advocate the retention of the provision in the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act that 40 per cent, of the funds made available to the States should be used for rural road building and maintenance. In Western Australia we have possibly more anomalies than in most other States. We are battling with the throwing open of one million acres of land a year and require adequate finance for roads in connection with this project.
Surely they are words of wisdom. I am pleased to notice that the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) is showing his assent to that proposition, because what Mr. Heitman says is perfectly correct. I quote next from a statement by Councillor Vercoe Whyte, president of the Murray Valley Development League. He represents rural areas in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. He said -
The present move by the cities to take a large percentage of the C.A.R. grants we must oppose with all the strength of our organization.
Improved communications are essential to rural development, and nothing has done more for this than the Federal Road Grants. Local Government bodies, in many instances, built up their road building plant on the basis of their C.A.R. grant, and any reduction of the grant could mean a serious shutting down of plant with consequent local unemployment.
Councillor Whyte thought that if he could not catch the ear of the press and of the people with straight-out talk like that he would recite a poem. I shall recite his poem too, not only for the benefit of honorable members but also for the benefit of all Australians. The poem goes -
The man from Cocklebiddy bumps along the dusty track,
It’s grand the way that hardy driver steers, The ruts and corrugations that plague the man outback
Have kept him in good practice through the years.
But how it wears his vehicle! “ It’s costly “, he complains, “ And thenI need a four-wheel-drive to travel when it rains.”
He says it seems a pity, in the busy bustling city,
Roads are scaled and smooth and straight and true,
But traffic’s so congested that progress is arrested,
People are frustrated and they don’t know what to do. “ Just spread those roads outback,” he says - this is his point of view - “There’s room for all those cars out here, and all their owners too!”.
That poem has some humour in it, but underlying the humour is the truth of the whole situation. Councillor Vercoe Whyte, president of the Murray Valley Development League, which has as its motto “ One million residents in the Murray Valley “, knows the value of increasing the population in that fertile area.
Let me turn now to the statement made by Councillor J. Smith, president of the Shires Association of New South Wales, which is in these terms - 1 represent the Shire Association in New South Wales. We have 133 shires. Apart from that we have the local government association, which represents the municipalities and the country cities more or less. We have discussed the fact that this agreement would expire in June and felt very confident that the great value of the allocation in the past for rural roads has been recognized and we did not see any great necessity to come to Canberra until such time as the mayors of the large cities fluttered in with the great response to support them by the city capital press who seem to find arguments to convince the people that more of this money should be spent in the cities.
Pausing there, let me point out that all the questions that I have asked and all the speeches that 1 have made on this subject have not received one line in the city press, simply because my questions and statements did not favour city interests. Unless an honorable member puts forward something novel, he gets no mention in the city press if he advocates decentralization which may lead people and industries away from the cities. Councillor Smith went on to make this interesting observation -
The vast increase in production that has taken place in wheat, in wool and in meat over the last10 or15 years has not by any means been accidental. In a very, very large measure the wealth and prosperity that has been added to this country was due to several factors, I know, but largely to the improvement in rural roads. It is the greatest thing that has happened since the advent of railways into country areas. 1 know it is hard to prove that. I have a specific case of my own.I put out 1,000 tons of superphosphate on my property last year. The cost would have been an extra £1 per ton had not the road position been remedied. We had a 35-mile trip, as against an 8-mile trip now, to bring the super to the properly. My neighbours also benefited, and the increased production in the wheat, in the mutton and in the fat lambs and the beef is not accidental. It can be attributed to this 40 per cent. that has been spent on rural roads, more than any other factor.
That is a statement by a man who occupies a responsible position. Surely honorable members must take note of his remarks. Councillor W. Armstrong, president of the North-Western Municipalities Association of Victoria had this to say -
In Victoria, outside the metropolitan area 30 per cent. of the traffic roads are unsealed, whereas in the metropolitan area only 28 per cent. are in this condition. I know we have a considerable amount more length of roads in the country and we have not the density of population, but at the same time nearly all the roads that the shire councils are surfacing are carrying some very vital produce that is adding to the stability of the economy of Australia, and that is a definite point why we are in favour of the retention of 40 per cent. of the extra money that is being granted. Another point is that metropolitan councils have obtained this comparatively better position even though they are spending only 23 per cent. of their revenue on roads, whereas rural municipalities arc spending 45 per cent. of their total revenue for this purpose. These are Victorian figures.
Councillor Flower, president of the Southwest Local Government Association of Queensland, had this to say -
In Queensland I feel that any reduction in our percentage of Federal aid would be a grievous loss to all local authorities. We do rely on it, it means a better standard. It is vital that our road system be pushed ahead as fast as possible to keep up with the complete development picture of the State.
Last but not least, let me repeat the statement made by Mr. G. V. Lawrence who was appointed a member of the deputation by the Victoria-wide representative conference at Traralgon to represent the Victorian League for Balanced Development. He said -
We are making a determined drive to bring about a better distribution of population and industry in Victoria. One of the basic requirements is that the many facilities, and particularly the roads, should be used as an instrument in the rural and provincial areas, and all I can do is to come in behind the other speakers to beg of you that there be no change in the 40 per cent.
What we have advocated all the time is that not less than 40 per cent, of the allocation be spent on rural roads. The States can spend more in this direction out of the 60 per cent, that remains. After hearing those statements by leading Australian authorities on decentralization I think that many honorable members and. I know, the general public will agree with my proposition. I do not know whether I would get much support in the cities of Sydney and Melbourne hut I would get support in many other centres. I state my position quite clearly. I am delighted with the bill. It is easily the best bill on this subject that we have had since I have been in this Parliament. Whichever way you look at it, either from the aspect of the original grant or of the matching grant, for the five years commencing on 1st July next the States will receive £375.000,000 whereas for the previous five years they received only £250,000,000. The matching grant, which is included in those amounts, has been increased from £30,000,000 to £45,000,000. In other words, the previous allocation has been increased by one-half. This is a magnificent piece of legislation which should receive the whole-hearted support of every honorable member.
I want to refer now to statements that have been made in this debate. .The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) said - rt is evident, therefore, that relief for both present and future traffic needs can be obtained only by the provision of additional capacity.
That is quite true. He went on -
In the big cities, and also in the smaller cities, that means widening the main arterial roads, other roads and, to satisfy the Country Party, rural by-passes.
Rural by-passes to satisfy the Country Party! Rural by-passes are constructed to save life, not to satisfy any whim of the Country Party. We have advocated bypasses, but only as a means of saving life. I can take honorable members to railway crossings where people have been killed during the last three or four years. These deaths would not have occurred if by-passes had been constructed there. The honorable member for Gellibrand is a fairly moderate man in this House, but surely to goodness he does not think that by-passes are constructed to satisfy some whim of the Country Party. By-passes are constructed to save life. He continued -
I repeat that all cities should be able to develop, and to keep current, long-range master plans to achieve orderly and economic growth by zoning land for use by industry and commerce and for shopping, recreational, residential and high density housing purposes.
Who is interested in high-density housing purposes? This is a big country. Let us spread out a bit. We hear members representing city electorates advocating dense city housing. Why not give Australia a chance? What about decentralization? Somebody once asked, “ What do you think of Christianity? “ A man replied, “ It has never been tried yet “. Well, let me say that decentralization has never been tried.
The next speech I want to refer to is the one delivered by the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth). I told the House that I would quote honorable members on both sides. The honorable member for Isaacs said - it always appeared to me to be unwise for the Commonwealth to endeavour to influence State policy on a matter so important as the building up of a road system in Australia by making it a must that the States will spend 40 per cent, of the roads grant on rural roads which arc not main roads.
Has any one thought for a moment why it has been necessary to provide in the legislation that 40 per cent, of the grant - it was once 35 per cent. - should be spent on rural roads? The honorable member represents a Victorian electorate and he thinks that the State Government should have the right to spend the money where it likes. Let me point out to him that in the Victorian Legislative Assembly there are 44 members representing electorates in and adjacent to the metropolitan area of Melbourne, while for the whole of the rest of Victoria there are only 22 members. What chance would the country have in that situation? Realizing the situation, the Commonwealth Government has stipulated that 40 per cent, of the grant must be spent on rural roads. That is why we of the Australian Country Party have always been solidly behind this scheme.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) made a comment in his speech that I found rather amusing. He said -
The Labour Party advocated in the past that all of the money received from the petrol tax bc devoted to road construction.
The Labour Party advocated it in the past and it is advocating it to-day; but should we not look at what the Labour Government did when it was in power, instead of listening to what the members of the Labour Party say when they are in opposition? I have some figures here which are rather interesting. In 1948-49 the amount collected in petrol tax was £17,516,000. The Labour Government of the day returned to the States £6,908,000. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) referred last night to the allocation proposed at present as a miserly approach. If this is a miserly approach, what kind of an approach was it in 1949 when less than £7,000,000 was returned out of collections of more than £17,500,000, leaving £10,608,000 in Consolidated Revenue Fund?
In 1949, I took action on this matter. O’n 7th July, 1949, 1 moved the adjournment of the House so that it might discuss a definite matter of public importance, namely -
The necessity for a substantial increase in the allocation by the Commonwealth to the States of moneys from petrol tax for the construction and maintenance of roads . . .
– That sounds funny.
– You were here at the time. What happened at that time? The man who followed me in the debate was the late respected leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Chifley. He was followed by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was then Leader of the Opposition, so I was in good company that day. The then Leader of the Opposition said, towards the end of his speech, after Mr. Scully had made an interjection -
I am glad that the “ lord high executioner “ has made that remark before performing the duties of his sacred office.
He was not far out in his implication, because as soon as he had finished, after only three speakers had spoken, the gag was applied. Where were all the present members of the Opposition who were on the Government side at that time? Where were they when we suggested that more money should be allocated from the petrol tax? Where was the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell)? Why did he not support me? Where were the honorable members for Darling (Mr. Clark), Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), Grayndler (Mr. Daly), Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), Dalley (Mr. O’Connor), Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and Kennedy (Mr. Riordan)? They are all in the Parliament now. They sat completely silent and I got no support from them whatever. Now the Labour Party is saying that wc should provide more money from the petrol tax collections. This allocation is not tied to the petrol tax at all. It is a direct grant for five years. It is granted in this way so that shire councils and other authorities will know what finance they will have available for five years ahead.
New members of this Parliament do not always realize what has occurred in the past. That is why I tell them that these honorable members opposite remained silent when I was trying to have the allocation increased from the miserly amount of less than £7,000,000 out of £17,500,000 collected in petrol tax. The allocations will now amount to £75,000,000 per annum. In those days the amount distributed in one year was £6,908,000. This shows a magnificent increase. The Government is making a magnificent contribution and if anybody looks at the figures he must realize that this is one of the best things that has happened in this regard.
I asked a question recently in which I protested against the request of the Premier of Victoria for the imposition of an extra 3d. a gallon petrol tax for road purposes. I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport to disregard this request completely and’ he did so. As far as I am concerned, I have got everything I asked for in this legislation so I am particularly delighted. That is why I have devoted so much time to quoting other speakers. After all, if you get what you ask for there is not much use in coming into this House and kicking up a noise one way or the other.
– Do you always get what you want?
– Not always. But on this occasion I find myself in the happy position of having got what I advocated. Let me now refer to the congestion on the roads. I listened attentively the other night to the honorable member for Lalor speaking on the Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Bill. He made a suggestion which I do not think is practical and which he probably does not think is practical either. He suggested there should be no credit and that everybody should have enough money to spend so that we would all be happy. It was a nice thought, but I think we would all be in trouble if he had to live without borrowing at any time. The honorable member said: -
We cannot wipe out this system of borrow, boom and bust overnight, but we can, at least, make a start. In every part of our community, from the home right through to this Government, we should try to pay our way by using our own revenue.
That would mean no loans at all - no loans to buy motor’ cars or to buy homes. I want to tell honorable members a little amusing story, although I realize, of course, that the suggestion in it is not capable of practical application. It concerns the late Mr. Tom Hogan of Scone - a big cattle man. He was a partner with Mr. Fell in ownership of the race horse Marabou which won a Melbourne Cup. He told me of a visit he made many years ago to the United States when he saw a certain stage show on Broadway. The comedian in the show was none other than Will Rogers who was later killed in an aeroplane crash, I think with Wiley Post. Just as in Australia to-day, there was great congestion on the roads in America then. There were few places to park cars. Motor cars were causing great concern and the city fathers of New York were in a quandary. This was a situation well suited to Will Rogers who was a homespun comedian. He had a stooge with him on the stage to whom he said, “If the city fathers will just put my plan into operation there will be no need to worry about congestion on the roads or about parking troubles.” The stooge said, “ What is your plan, Will?” He answered, “ Only allow on the roads those cars that are paid for.” I link this up with what has been said by the honorable member for Lalor, who advocated that from the home to our activities we should live on our own resources. I know that is not practicable, but the story I have told illustrates that as far back as the days when Will Rogers was on the stage this was a vital problem in the United States of America.
.- The bill now before the House stipulates that we must provide the sum of £330,000,000 for the six sovereign States over the five-year period from 1st July, 1964, to 30th June, 1969. In addition, the Commonwealth will be prepared to make available to the States a further sum of £45,000,000 on the basis of £1 for every £1 allocated by the State Governments from their own resources for actual expenditure on roads over and above the base grants. In addition to these grants, the Commonwealth will spend £45,000,000 during the next five years on roads in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory and on such projects as beef roads and so on. Every penny of the money granted by the Commonwealth to the States is derived from the fuel tax collected by the Commonwealth from the motor vehicle users. In addition to paying this tax, the motor vehicle user has been a god-send to the Commonwealth Treasury by contributing sales tax on motor vehicles, spare parts and so on. Last year, the Commonwealth Government collected £79,000,000 from this source.
Now let us examine the road requirements of Australia for the next ten years. An assessment of the road requirements, made in 1963 by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities, estimated the revenue available, based on the current scale of disbursements, at £2,450,000,000, as against total estimated road needs of £3,615,000,000, and set out estimated revenue as being 68 per cent, of the needs for the whole of Australia.
The formula to be used in determining the amount of money to be allocated to each of the States is the same as that contained in the legislation which has operated for the past five years. It provides that, of the amount payable to the States in any one year, 5 per cent, shall be paid to Tasmania, and of the remainder, one-third shall be divided amongst the other States according to population, one-third according to motor vehicle registrations and one-third according to respective areas. It is also provided that each State shall spend not less than 40 per cent, of its grant on rural roads which are not highways, trunk roads or main roads. That part of the formula which states that one-third shall be divided amongst the States, other than Tasmania, according to their respective areas is, in my opinion, unfair to the road needs of the other States, particularly New South Wales and Victoria. The effect of this provision can be seen from an analysis of the survey of road needs for the period 1964 to 1974 which was carried out by the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities. As I mentioned earlier, this survey shows the total road needs for the Commonwealth to be £3,615,000,000. Included in this total is an amount of £256,000,000, being the estimated road needs of Western Australia, and an amount of £3,330,000,000, being the road needs of the other five States. The balance of £59,000,000 represents the estimated needs of the Commonwealth Territories.
The estimated total grants from the Commonwealth Treasury to the States for the period from 1964-65 to 1973-74 inclusive amount to £800,000,000. The sum total of grants to Western Australia for that ten-year period would be £140,000,000 and the total of the grants to the other five States would be £660,000,000. The £140,000,000 for Western Australia would represent 55 per cent, of that State’s road needs for the next ten years and the £660,000,000 for the other five States would represent 20 per cent, of their total needs.
The inclusion of an area factor in the formula assists the more sparsely populated States, but area of under-development is not a satisfactory measure unless the whole area is capable of development. This is not so in Western Australia. The “ Atlas of Australian Resources “ prepared in 1 957 by the Department of National Development shows that there is no significant land use in 53 per cent, of the area and that 26 per cent, of the area is sandhill, desert or stony desert. It is interesting to note that the total area of the five States subject to the formula is 2,420,307 square miles. Of this total, Western Australia has 975,920 square miles, or 40.3 per cent.; Queensland has 667,000 square miles, or 27.5 per cent.; South Australia has 380,070 square miles, or 15.7 per cent.; New South Wales has 309,403 square miles or 12.7 per cent.; and Victoria has 87,844 square miles, or 3.6 per cent.
Now let me return to the formula to ascertain the amounts to be allocated to the States. The total grant is to be £330,000,000. Of this, Tasmania is to receive 5 per cent., or £16,500,000, leaving a balance of £313,500,000. This balance is then to be divided into three equal parts of £104,500,000. Let me analyse the break up of the £104,500,000 to each State according to its area. Western Australia, with 40.3 per cent, of the total area, will receive £42,113,000; Queensland, with 27.5 per cent, of the total area, will receive £28,737,000; South Australia, with 15.7 per cent, of the total area, will receive £16,406,000; New South Wales, with 12.7 per cent, of the total area, will receive £13,271,000; and Victoria, with only 3.6 per cent, of the total area, will receive only £3,762,000. Out of a total amount of £58,377,000, which Western Australia will receive as its part of the £330,000,000 over the next five years, £42,113,000 is allocated according to its area. As I indicated earlier, the “ Atlas of Australian Resources “, which was prepared in 1957, revealed that there was no significant land use in 53 per cent, of the Western Australian area and that 26 per cent, of the total area of this State is sandhill, desert or stony desert. If we accept this atlas as being factual, then 26 per cent., or 253,740 square miles, of Western Australia is practically useless and will always be so because it is just sandhill, desert or stony desert.
Now let us have a look at Victoria, which has 87,844 square miles, of which only a fraction near the South Australian border has no significant land use. If this State had attached to it a completely worthless desert for which there was no use at all, no roads, no agriculture and no industries, then, under this formula, the State would receive a further £5,000,000 by way of road grants. In my opinion, that proves this formula to be absolutely stupid.
– Is this how it operates now?
– Yes. The use of gross area as a factor in the formula for the distribution of funds between the States produces a result which greatly favours Western Australia to the disadvantage of the other States. The United States of America found it necessary to adjust the State areas to be used in the American formula for the distribution of federal aid for the 50 States. For example, only onethird of the gross area of Alaska is taken into account, and in Michigan 29,268 square miles of Lakes Michigan and Superior, which are within the State boundaries, and represent 33 per cent, of the total area of the State, are excluded. Those areas had formerly been included, but suddenly the United States of America woke up to the fact that you cannot build roads on lakes, so those areas were excluded and the formula for the distribution of funds was changed.
I shall illustrate the ratio of the return received by each State to the State’s contribution to the funds that are distributed by the Commonwealth. New South Wales received back 16s. 6d. for every £1 that it paid in fuel tax. Victoria received back 13s. 9d. for every £1 that it paid in fuel tax. Queensland received back £1 5s. 4d. for every £1, and South Australia received back £1 ls. Id. The next one is very interesting. Western Australia received back £2 0s. 6d. for every £1 that it paid in fuel tax. Tasmania received back £1 10s. 4d. In the next five years the Commonwealth, under this legislation, will spend £420,000,000. This money, as I mentioned earlier, is collected from fuel tax. Of the amount collected, the motor vehicle users in New South Wales and Victoria will contribute no less than £264,700,000 and receive back £178,700,000, which means, in effect, that the motor car user in New South Wales and Victoria will be subsidizing the other States to the extent of about £86,000,000 over the next five years.
– They are getting some of their own back.
– Yes- I don’t think! As I said before about the area factor, if the usable land only were taken into account, according to the map which I hold in my hand, and which was prepared by the Department of National Development, Queensland would receive a better deal than Western Australia receives at the present time, because practically all of Queensland is usable land. All of the shaded area on the map is land which has no significant use, yet it is included in the formula when deciding how much the States are to receive. In my opinion that Ls utterly absurd.
Another factor which has not been taken into account is the cost of maintaining highways and main roads in New South Wales and Victoria as compared with the cost in the other States. The volume of traffic, particularly heavy trailer vehicles, is several times greater in New South Wales and Victoria than elsewhere. The traffic position in the capital cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, is now a major problem for road authorities and, with the rapidly increasing number of vehicles coming on to the roads, finance must be made available immediately to provide additional outlets for traffic. Unless this is done there will be complete traffic chaos in five years’ time. The recent conference of lord mayors stressed this important point. The urgency of this problem of city traffic has been recognized in the United States of America. This is evidenced by the Ninth Pan-American Highway Congress held at Washington, D.C., from 6th to 18th May, 1963. I shall quote an extract from the proceedings of this conference as compiled by a gentleman named Mr. E. M. Cope. Coming from a gentleman of that name it must be authentic.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
- Mr. Speaker, I have about 13,000 points to raise, the first of which I referred to before the suspension of the sitting; that is the urgent need to do something about the traffic problems prevalent in all Australian capital cities. The report compiled by Mr. Cope states -
Since the need of the cities for highway development and modernization was not until recently as obvious as the need for road improvement in rural areas, the rural areas in the past have been given preferred attention. The accumulating highway needs of the cities have now become urgent. They are receiving more attention and a greater share of State and federal highway tax revenue.
This statement highlights the fact that Australia’s traffic problems are rapidly approaching those experienced in the United States. I repeat that unless special finance is made available by the Federal Government we will have complete traffic chaos on our roads within the next five years.
I wish now to refer to the part played by local government in construction of the nation’s road system. My colleague, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa), spoke extensively and impressively on the subject in this debate. Local government bodies are responsible for the construction and the maintenance of 70.2 per cent, of the road mileage in Australia but towards their total expenditure of £74,300,000 on roads in 1960 they received only 20.4 per cent, in grants. This meant that in 1960 they provided £59,142,800 for expenditure on roads, an amount greater than that made available by the Commonwealth to the States for roads in 1963-64. Consequently, there is a perennial drain on the financial resources of councils and shires in finding sufficient money to carry out important road construction. It must be emphasized that local government authorities have only three sources of finance - rates, loan money and government grants.
I shall categorize the three sources of finance. First, rates have increased by approximately 500 per cent, over the past seventeen years until to-day they have reached saturation point. This is demonstrated by the fact that many councils and shires are faced with difficulties in collecting due rates, simply because many people cannot afford to pay them. The second source of finance is loan money. Local government bodies are now indebted to the extent of £250,000,000, upon which an annual interest of £12,000,000 is paid. The shouldering of this interest burden has been a major contributing factor in forcing municipal councils to charge high rates which in many areas are deemed excessive. Thirdly, government grants in 1960 amounted to only 14 per cent, of local government expenditure on roads, compared with 27 per cent, in the United States and 31 per cent, in Canada.
More substantial grants should be given to local government bodies for road con struction and maintenance to bring Australia into line with the United States, where government grants for local road construction amount to 35 per cent of expenditure on roads, compared with 20 per cent, in Australia. The major portion of such grants should come from the Commonwealth Treasury. If the Government is sincerely interested in assisting local government authorities to discharge their responsibilities, it should first exempt them from payment of pay-roll tax. This would be a step in the right direction, and I am sure that such a move would be welcomed by the councils and shires.
It has been said frequently that Australian roads compare unfavorably with those of other countries. Is it any wonder? I shall quote petrol prices paid by motor vehicle users in various countries, supplied to me by the Petroleum Information Bureau in Sydney -
Is it any wonder that other countries have better roads than Australia has when they pay much higher taxes on their petrol?
I want to make it perfectly clear that I am not opposed to Western Australia, Tasmania or any other State receiving more than it contributes in fuel tax. I realize that the States need assistance in the interests of national development. However, I do not support the Government’s system of using an antiquated formula to calculate road grants at the expense of New South Wales and Victoria, which between them contribute about two-thirds of the fuel tax revenue. If the Government wishes to assist the other States with and for roads it should do so by making special allocations.
I shall now quote from a newspaper report of recent occurrences in Victoria in relation to the building of roads. The report states -
A proposed ring road which disappeared mysteriously from the Geelong town plan has become the centre of charges of corruption and abuse of Parliamentary processes against the Liberal Party Government of Victoria. . . .
It was alleged in Parliament that the member for Geelong West, Mr. Gillett, had initiated deletion of the road due to interest which he had in land which would have been bisected and reduced in value by the project. This was the subject of angry denials by Mr. Porter, who said that Mr. Gillett has not influenced him in any way. Mr. Stoneham-
He is the Victorian Leader of the Opposition -
Sir Thomas Maltby, a former Ministerof Public Works in Victoria, said-
Perhaps we can be dazzled by a technical reply, or a story about a mislaid file, but I have a good memory. The mystery about this affair deepens.
I suggest that if such things are allowed to happen in the various States, it is high time the Commonwealth had some say in the way in which the Commonwealth money allocated to the States for the construction and maintenance of roads is spent.
.- Mr. Speaker.-
Motion (by Mr. Howson) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . .10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Freeth) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 23rd April (vide page 1406), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The bill before the House is designed to control the marketing of apples and pears. It makes substantial amendments to the existing act. The Labour Party will not offer any substantial or material opposition to the bill.
I think I should make it perfectly clear to the Parliament that this bill differs considerably from the legislation which governs the marketing of, say, wheat. In the case of wheat the product is delivered to a board for marketing by the board. The legislation now under discussion provides for apples and pears to be marketed under the direction of the Australian Apple and Pear Board. The present act empowers the board to determine the total quantity of apples and pears that may be exported from Australia and also a quota of apples and pears that may be exported from each State. The board controls permission to export apples and arranges the charges to be applied to the quantities that are exported. The board is empowered to issue licences to agents or shippers who are interested in purchasing quantities of apples and pears and exporting them overseas. The board also controls the activities of agents who export on consignment. In the case of an agent who exports on consignment, the grower entrusts his crop to the agent, who arranges for its shipment and sale overseas, remitting to the grower the net proceeds of the sale so arranged.
Although the board has no power to buy or sell in its own right, the powers that I have outlined are important and, if administered wisely, are without question in the interests of the apple and pear industry and indirectly in the interests of the nation as a whole. To indicate the value of this industry from the point of view of the export and the home markets, I mention that the total crop in Australia this season amounted to about 17,812,000 cases of apples and 5,023,000 cases of pears. The export trade accounted for 7,250,000 cases of apples and 1,062,000 cases of pears. At a rough guess, I should say, those exports would earn us between £12,000,000 and £15,000,000 a year in export income. That is a substantial benefit to Australia. The industry provides employment for many Australians in every State of this great Commonwealth.
To grow apples and pears requires great knowledge, great patience, great agricultural capacity and, above all else, a constant and never-ending attention to orchards and the plant and equipment used in the industry. In my travels in this vast continent, I have never failed to be impressed by the fact that almost without exception in those areas where the population is almost exclusively dependent upon and engaged in the production of apples and pears there are well cared for homes and surroundings. Well cared for homes and surroundings are usually indicative of good husbandry on the farm, a reasonable income and, to some extent, attention to detail. Of all the agricultural, horticultural and viticultural occupations in Australia few require more attention to detail than does the growing of apples and pears. Few primary industries experience more heartbreaks and face more risks than the fruit-growing industry. In those circumstances, this Parliament should endeavour to ensure that those engaged in the industry receive the maximum return for the products of their labours.
From time to time the Commonwealth has, under the powers vested in it by the Constitution, set up organizations, such as the Apple and Pear Board, to control the export of our primary products. Anybody with any knowledge of the subject will know how difficult and haphazard the export situation would be were it not for the control exercised by the board, which is designed specifically to protect the interests of the growers. The board’s running expenses are provided from the levy of 3d. a case on fruit exported. I note that the Apple and Pear Board has a total annual revenue of about £106,000 and that its annual expenditure is a little less than that figure. That expenditure is relatively light, bearing in mind the benefits that accrue to the growers from the existence of the board and bearing in mind also the fact that the thirteen members of the board meet about four times a year. The executive of the board meets even more often than the full board. The organization has the responsibility of seeing that ships are available at the various Australian ports when they are required. The board has to see that shipping space is allocated fairly to the various growers so as to avoid the unholy scramble that would take place if there were no organized marketing.
The board is, I think, empowered to fix a minimum price below which the apples and pears may not be sold overseas. The board ensures that the overseas merchants who purchase these products do not put them on the market at give-away prices which would damage or even wreck the industry. I admit that I am somewhat out of touch with this industry. I had something to do with it in 1947 when, as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, I introduced a bill which amended the Apple and Pear Organization Act somewhat extensively. In my opinion - I think the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) will agree with me - up to the present the board has operated in a reasonably efficient and even a highly efficient manner. We hear very few complaints about its operations.
But difficult situations are now looming up in regard to the export trade. The United Kingdon, West Germany and other countries of the European Common Market, or Sweden might decide to limit their intake of apples and pears in any year. Anybody with intelligence can visualize what a race there would be if there were no control over the allocation of quotas to the available markets. In the circumstances, as the Minister explained so well, it is essential that the legislation which enables the board to determine the total quantity of apples and pears that may be exported from Australia in any one year shall be effective and operative without any legal doubt whatsoever. It appears from the Minister’s secondreading speech that some doubts have been expressed about whether. under the terms of the present act, the powers are contitutionally sound. So the Minister has introduced an amendment which provides for an alteration of the verbiage of the present act. It will lead to operation by regulation, to some extent, and will put the power of the board to control the total quantity of apples and pears that shall be exported from Australia beyond any constitutional challenge.
In addition it is essential to allocate quotas of apples and pears fairly and without discrimination among the respective apple and pear exporting States. The power of the board in that regard has been in doubt. I understand that an amendment included in this measure will remove any such doubt that now exists.
I notice that in this bill the Minister has taken power unto himself in some cases. I do not disagree with that. In this measure, perhaps more than in any other export control measure that has been before this Parliament, there is a change which vests greater authority in the Minister than has been vested in him hitherto. I remind the Minister that, when he sat on this side of the House and I sat where he is now sitting, from time to time he roundly condemned me for ensuring that in export control legislation there was adequate ministerial control. Long years of experience in the office that he now occupies has converted him into an ardent advocate of ministerial control in the final analysis.
Let me point out some instances of that. Under the old act - bad as I was supposed to be - before any member of the Apple and Pear Board could be sacked the GovernorGeneralinCouncil had to deliberate. In other words, there had to be a meeting of the Executive Council - a couple of Cabinet Ministers and His Excellency, the GovernorGeneral. This measure provides that the Minister himself may sack a member of the board without consulting the GovernorGeneralinCouncil. So the GovernorGeneral is out and the Minister is in.
– It amounts to the same thing, anyhow.
– Yes, but when I was the Minister you did not think it amounted to the same thing at all. You used to say that that provision was dastardly wicked, or words to that effect.
– You have a look at my speeches.
– They were trimmers. Let me give another illustration. Under this measure, in the event of disputation arising in the board in regard to the allocation of quotas among the States and the members of the board being unable to make a unanimous decision, what happens? The final arbiter is the Minister. I am all for that. I congratulate the Minister on making that change. I have always said - and I say now - that if a Minister does anything wrong he is available to challenge by this Parliament, he is available to the public and he is available to the board with which he is dealing. There is no obscure or remote authority to which somebody has to go in order to see that justice is done. I give full marks to the Minister for making this change. It shortens the circuitous route that existed previously. Under it people have a reasonable method of appeal.
I notice that the provisions of the present act, under which the so-called exporters, shippers or agents, before they can ship any fruit from any State of Australia, are required to obtain a licence, are being retained. The issuing authority is the Apple and Pear Board. In the debate on the Meat Industry Bill which was before this Parliament a few weeks ago, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) - who apparently is not interested in the apple and pear business because he is absent from the chamber at the moment - moved an amendment which would have given a right of appeal in the event of somebody applying to the Australian Meat Board for a licence and his application being refused. There is no provision in this act - which I amended in 1947 and which the Minister now proposes to amend - giving a right of appeal to anybody who is refused a licence to export fruit from Australia. I am convinced that there ought to be such a provision
The Opposition has not had an opportunity to prepare an amendment, but I can tell the Minister that, if he will provide a suitable amendment to give a right of appeal to anybody who is refused an export licence, we will support that amendment. If the Minister does not move such an amendment, we will see that in the Senate an amendment is moved with the object of giving such a right of appeal.
– I know of an instance in which you rejected that proposition.
– That has nothing to do with this matter. When was that? Years ago?
– I am a reformed character. I admit my evil ways of long ago. I now believe that a right of appeal is absolutely essential, particularly under the Administration that the honorable member for Franklin supports.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member for Lalor deal with the bill.
– That is a good idea. I believe that such a right of appeal is essential. Let me say why I believe that. We are not dealing with a board that buys or sells apples and pears. We are dealing with a board that lays down the conditions under which apples and pears shall be exported. The board has the right to license people who may export apples and pears. We must always remember that, almost invariably, at the point of export the apples and pears are the property of the person who has bought them - the agent, the shipper or the exporter. He is not the grower, he is the man who has bought them from the grower and wants to export them. That happens in most cases except when there is a sale on consignment. The fruit does not belong to the grower at that stage. Unless the agent can get a licence to export the apples, he is ruined. He is not in the game. He cannot make a profitable deal on the sale of the apples on overseas markets. But if he does get a licence he will probably be able to make a profit, as most exporters and agents do. In fact, their profit is much higher than that obtained by the people who produce the fruit.
If any one wants to buy apples and pears from the board for export and cannot get a licence to export them, obviously he is operating at a very severe disadvantage. In my opinion he has the right to know why he cannot get a licence. I see that the honorable member for Franklin has been converted. He is in accord with my view.
– I have always believed that.
– But you are right now and I was wrong years ago. Forgive me for what happened then. As I have said, the potential exporter has the right to know why he cannot get a licence. It is perfectly obvious that if a limited number of people hold an exclusive right to export they are in a position to form a tight ring not only in their own interests but also against the interests of those whose properly they buy. There is no longer any real active competition in the apple and pear market. I am glad that my friend opposite agrees with mc.
– I do.
– For that reason, Mr. Minister, I hope that you will indicate at a later stage in the debate your acquiescence in my request and your willingness to include a right of appeal to you in any case where a man is refused a licence. Many cases have occurred in Australia of people forming themselves into groups, trusts, rings, cartels, and operating in their own interests. We have it in the wool game. The cartels have caused a reduction of lOd. a lb. in the price of wool in the last six weeks. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), who seems to be interjecting, knows that. The price of wool has dropped, not because the world is using or requires less wool than it did previously, but because the buyers have reduced the limit to which they are prepared to go and, as the laws of our country operate to-day, there is nothing to stop them doing just that.
This kind of operation occurs in trading in other products. I have stated the Opposition’s desire. We hope that the Minister will indicate his willingness to make provision for that aspect, voluntarily, when the measure goes to the Senate. In any case, if necessary the Labour Party in the Senate will move along those lines. I know that some of my colleagues, particularly those who come from Tasmania, are vitally interested in this matter. After all, the apple and pear business is of tremendous importance to Tasmania.
– Well, where are they?
– At least there are more Tasmanian members of my party behind me than there are Tasmanian members of your party behind you. There are three on my side and only one on your side. My colleagues on this side of the House represent apple and pear producing communities. They have a more intimate knowledge of the trade than I have and I am sure that they will tell the House just how valuable the apple and pear business is to Tasmania, the greatest apple-growing State in Australia. Let us look at Tasmania’s relative importance in Australia’s total output of apples and pears. It is estimated that this year Tasmania will produce not fewer than 6,150,000 bushel cases of apples and 406,000 bushel cases of pears. That is a colossal output and represents an important factor in the State’s economy. Victoria will produce 4,000,000 cases of apples and 3,600,000 cases of pears.
– But all of that is not for export.
– I took my figures from the report of the apple and pear marketing organization and I do not think any more authentic figures are available. Victoria will produce 4,000,000 cases of apples, Western Australia will produce 2,120,000 cases and other States will produce lesser quantities. Apples and pears are of great importance to Tasmania’s economy. For that reason the statesmen of my day, and even of this day, provided Tasmania with a preponderance of representation on the board. Tasmania has a much heavier representation on the authority than does Victoria or any other State.
– And why not?
– I am in complete agreement with that. In fact, I was the first to see that Tasmania was given that preponderance of representation, so you and I have very much in common although we are on opposite sides of the Parliament. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) knows a lot about this matter too. I used to know a lot about it. When I hear the magic words “ apples and pears “ my mind often goes back to what was one of the most difficult periods in Australia’s history so far as this industry is concerned. I refer to our disastrous war-time experience. When Australia was suddenly confronted with war in 1939 we had a total overall yield of apples and pears of about 12,000,000 bushels. With the outbreak of war the whole of our export market, which constituted 50 per cent, of our output, representing 6,000,000 cases of apples and pears, vanished overnight. To get rid of the 6,000.000 cases that we formerly exported we had to double the quantity of apples and pears that was consumed by Australians.
– I got apple pie every night.
– And you look like it too. The situation was almost impossible. The Liberal administration of the day was confronted with the problem of what to do with 6,000,000 cases of apples and pears that formerly were exported. To make a brief story shorter, the Administration of the day - I think it was the Menzies Government - brought down what was called the Apple and Pear (Appropriation) Act 1940. The Government sent officers to all the orchards. They said to the growers: “ You have 2,000 cases of fruit on the trees in your orchard. We can find only enough mouths to consume 1.000 cases. We will pay you for the 2,000 cases but you must leave 1,000 in the orchard “. Many people who did not understand what was going on kicked up a row about fruit rotting on the ground and about people who wanted to cat fruit not being able to get it. Ali hell broke loose. There was arcal agitation an. eventually, as 1 have said, the government of the day introduced the Apple and Pear (Appropriation) Act. The Government which introduced that measure saved the industry, and the Administration which followed it into office carried on where it had left off. The new Government improved conditions and, despite active opposition, appointed a select committee which 1 had proposed should be appointed. The late Mr. Perkins was chairman of that select committee, which vindicated what had been done by both the Liberal and Labour governments to save the industry. The industry was saved. If the action that I have mentioned had not been taken the industry would have faced bankruptcy and despair. It was kept alive and to-day it is one of our most valuable industries. It is not often that I can say this to you. Mr. Minister, but 1 am proud to be associated with a measure which will substantially assist the industry. 1 would have hoped that the apple and pear growers would have been strong enough in outlook and organizational capacity to have said: “ We will do what the wheatgrowers have done. We will market our product in our own way. We want authority to do that “. Apparently the growers do not feel strong enough to do that at present.
I leave it at that. We support the measure. 1 hope that the Minister will take the action I have suggested. If he do:s not, we shall take certain action during the committee stage of the bill and also when the measure is before the Senate.
.- We have heard a remarkable speech to-night and a remarkable confession. I have been associated with my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), in this Parliament since 1946. I remember his battles during the postwar years to save the apple and pear crop of this country, particularly in Tasmania where he had so many difficult meetings in those very difficult years. All the way through he has shown fire and enthusiasm in respect of matters connected with primary production. To-night he has shown that he has lost none of that fire and none of his ability to handle a case in the capable manner in which he has handled our case at the table to-night. I am also very pleased to see that his memory is by no means impaired.
However, I believe a reformation has taken place in this Parliament to-night in respect of two of its members. The honorable member for Lalor has reformed. He admitted to-night that he has reformed. He has come to see that an appeal to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), when something has been rejected by the Australian Apple and Pear Board, is a darn good thing. Let me say, too. that the Minister has also undergone a great transformation. In fact I hardly recognize him as the same man I knew twelve years ago - and that has nothing to do with his physical appearance. He was a conservative of conservatives in matters of this kind about fourteen years ago. The kind of bill he has brought down on this occasion would have been almost anathema to him in those earlier years. He has shown to-night he has reformed. I congratulate both the Minister and thi honorable member for Lalor, old rivals in the field of agricultural politics, on their having reformed - one admitting it but the other not. I am waiting for the Minister to admit, before the debate is finished, that he has changed his attitude or this matter.
As the honorable member for Lalor said, the apple and pear industry is one of
Tasmania’s greatest industries. This year a quantity of more than 6,000,000 cases will be produced, bringing an income of between ?4,500,000 and ?5,000,000 to our isle. It can be seen, therefore, that this industry is a very important feature of our economy. We have increased our production over the years. There has been tremendous activity for the purpose of improving the quality of our apples and of overcoming some of our wretched problems of shipping and prices which have bedevilled the industry in past years.
I want to congratulate the Australian Apple and Pear Board. As the honorable member for Lalor said, it has a wonderful record. I have before me its report for the year ended 30th June, 1963, which is the latest report available to the House. The composition of the board is shown as follows: -
Members Nominated by the Government:
Mr. C. E. Critchley, O.B.E.; Chairman.
– Exporters of apples and pears in Tasmania.
Mr. R. M. Carter ; Exporters of apples and pears in Western Australia.
Mr. A. G. Perry ; Exporters of apples and pears in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
Mr. W. H. Nicol, M.B.E.; Employees engaged in the apple and pear industry.
Members Elected by Growers or Nominated by the State Fruit Board, Tasmania:
Mr. B. R. Williams ; Growers in New
Mr. R. J. Tully ; Growers in Victoria.
Mr. R. W. Anderson ; Growers in Queensland.
Mr. H. K. Caldicott ; Growers in South Australia.
Mr. G. C. Parke; Growers in Western Australia.
Mr. D. F. Calvert ; Growers in Southern Tasmania.
Mr. W. A. Smith ; Growers in Southern Tasmania.
Mr. T. D. Wivell ; Growers in Northern Tasmania.
Secretary- W. J.Oldman.
Overseas Representative - S. A. de Beaux (London).
– What is his blood group?
– That is not in the report. You will have to go to his doctor to get that. The report shows a total membership of thirteen. The statistics that are given are quite interesting. A comparison is made of the 1962 and 1963 seasons. In 1962 we exported from Australia 6,465,976 cases of apples. Last year we exported 6,738,050 cases, showing an increase of nearly 300,000 cases. In 1962 we exported 1,550,972 cases of pears, and last year, because of a bad season, we exported only 974,128 cases.
This report is a thorough-going affair and gives a detailed analysis of the problems that confronted the board in the last twelve months. It gives an account of its attempt to implement the recommendations of a delegation that visited England and continental Europe in June and July of 1962. I have the report of that delegation. The Minister kindly gave it to me last year. It is a most comprehensive document indeed, comprising about 70 pages. I have read it through very carefully. It is a fullblooded report covering the apple and pear industry in very many countries that were visited. Many problems were analysed, particularly those connected with shipping as affecting our export markets. Many suggestions were made to the board for improving methods of exporting our apples and pears to overseas countries. The delegation tried to find out what kinds of apples people in the overseas countries liked best and the way they liked them packed. They investigated the programme of arrivals of ships in those countries from Australia and particularly from Tasmania. I might mention that Tasmania grows about 67 per cent. of Australia’s total production of apples.
– It grows 66.2 per cent.
– Well, I was not far out. Thanks very much. Some of the problems that have been worrying the industry in the field of shipping are connected with the spacing of arrivals of ships in our ports and the subsequent arrival of those ships in Hamburg, Rotterdam, Hull or Swedish or Norwegian ports. It is desirable to have a regular spacing of arrivals in those overseas ports so that there will not be any great build-up of apples in any one port. This is, of course, a most important consideration in the export of any commodity - particularly perishables such as apples and pears - as it could affect prices by glutting the market.
The quality of the fruit when it arrives at the port of destination depends on the type of ship, the effectiveness of the refrigeration, the length of the voyage and the weather encountered on the voyage. Some of these things are imponderables, and such problems, 1 suppose, can never be completely solved to everybody’s satisfaction. However, I congratulate the board on sending that delegation overseas so that it could have the benefit of the valuable report that was brought back, and also for the way in which the board has tried to implement most of the delegation’s recommendations. After all, we have to send people overseas to find out what the problems are. We cannot do it effectively from this end. The money spent on sending this delegation to the other side of the world was money well spent, in my opinion. As I said, the delegation mentioned the matter of the programming of ships. It also raised the subject of unsuitable vessels and carriage conditions. On page six of its report the delegation has this to say about that subject -
Importers strongly recommended thai the Board take this matter up with the Shipping companies wilh a view to obtaining a research programme initiated lo discover just what did go on in ships, and to determine the most suitable carriage conditions for Australian fruit. lt was suggested that thermographs be utilized in the stow so that a permanent record of temperatures during the voyage could be obtained.
I mention that as one example of the suggestions submitted by the delegation as to means of improving the carriage of our apples and pears to overseas markets. Another matter to which the delegation refers is the stowage of cartons and bulk bins, in connexion with which it has this to say -
It was suggested that the various types of containers should be stowed separately to facilitate delivery, and that bulk bins should be placed in the wings of ‘tween deck or in the holds so that they could be reached by mechanical means.
There the delegation is pointing out that the speed of unloading at the point of destination depends largely on the manner in which the apples and pears are loaded into the ship at this end. The delegation also refers to the many different types of markings on cases and points out that serious delays in unloading can be caused at the point of destination because of the fact that cases have been loaded in a higgledypiggledy fashion at this end, thus making it extremely difficult for the waterside workers overseas to sort out the cases and stack them according to their markings.
Other matters referred to by the delegation are freight payable at destination, terms of trade, terms of payment, minimum prices, maximum quantities and the condition and quality of the fruit. In this connexion, the delegation mentions that colour plays an important part in the sale of our apples overseas It has this to say in its report -
Colour in red apples was reported to be often marginal, and below the 25 per cent, laid down in export regulations for varieties such as the Jonathan.
Essentials are strict maintenance of colour standards; strict elimination of blemish, mis-shapen and skin-punctured fruit; accurate grading at all times: care to ensure that with Granny Smiths in cartons “ even “ colour of fruit is maintained in each carton.
The delegation also refers to bruising and packaging. It makes an analysis of the different types of cartons and recommends what it considers to be the most suitable for use in this trade. It refers also to palletization. Then it points out that the number of supermarkets and chain stores in overseas countries is increasing at a tremendous rate. It states that 20 per cent, of our fresh fruit is being retailed through the supermarkets and chain stores of the United Kingdom and goes on to say -
All registered supermarkets were handling some types of fresh fruit and vegetables, for unless they did they could not be classified under this name. There are now between 700 and 800 supermarkets operating in the United Kingdom.
The delegation then deals with counts, with shipping marks and with the handling of fruit on the docks. It has this to say in its report -
There is no doubt that the problem of sorting Australian fruit is the outstanding one on thi docks as the many shipping numbers used create innumerable problems in laying out the sheds and in arranging deliveries.
This further extract from the delegation’s report is interesting -
As it is not possible to stow the fruit to mark in the ship each pallet discharged can be found to carry anything between three and twelve shipping numbers and the boxes had to be wheeled round and round the shed until each one of the appropriate stacks had been located. If one cannot be found, the box is dropped in a vacant space and another stack for that number is started. In many instances lines of under ten boxes, and down to one, were sent with a different shipping number, and the wastage in time and space as a result was tremendous. The more difficult it is for a man to find the right place for the box he is carrying the more likely he is to drop it or throw it when he ultimately does locate the stack.
In other words, damage is caused to the fruit because of this difficulty. The report continues -
It is possible that each hold contains some boxes from every shipping number used in the shipment, and that a separate stack is created for each number out of each hold.
These are some of the problems with which the industry is faced. The report goes on -
An example reported in London was one ship discharged 44,500 boxes with 174 different marks, 35 of which were each less than 50 boxes, and 25 between 50 and 100 boxes.
The delegation also refers to the ports of Hull and London where big wharf improvements have taken place and to the publicity which is given in all countries to our products. The way in which publicity is given to Australian apples and pears is something of which we can justly feel proud. The delegation refers to the conditions obtaining in all the countries it visited. It analyses the problems and recommends ways of overcoming them.
The board stated in its annual report that it had agreed to adopt most of the delegation’s recommendations. Firstly, it said -
Broadly, the Board agreed to the Delegation’s recommendations in relation to improved shipping arrangements; to a new approach to the system of minimum prices; to a further narrowing of permissible count ranges; and to an investigation of a compensation scheme for importers. There was also a number of other decisions all designed to overcome long-held objections to Australia’s marketing methods.
One difficulty that the industry has not been able to overcome is that relating to the zoning, or proper spacing of arrivals of ships. Dealing with this matter, the board stated -
One of the main criticisms of importers has been the erratic shipping services from Australia. Buyers, particularly in Europe, emphasized to the Delegation they were reluctant to purchase from Australia because of the uncertainty of shipping arrivals. It was felt that if they could be provided with a scheduled service, such as that available from the Argentine, planned buying could be done and more business would flow to Australia.
Out of this came a plan for the zoning of vessels according to various routes, and providing flexibility as far as quantities were concerned between ports within a zone.
The board decided to adopt certain measures last year with a view to improv ing the position, and this is what it has to say in its report -
Whilst ship-owners co-operated to the fullest in substituting vessels for those delayed, the planned programme had to be abandoned to a large extent. Complaints of bunched arrivals, and delays have been received from importers, particularly in Scandinavian countries. It is clear that importers have the alternative of other suppliers, such as the Argentine and South Africa, if they are dissatisfied with the Australian arrangements and there is evidence of increasing trade with these suppliers.
We could lose valuable markets because of this one almost insoluble problem.
The board also states that it is intended to reduce the number of count ranges and that it will make an attempt to introduce some scheme for compensating importers for the loss of fruit en route. Up to date, the importers have had to bear the loss of all fruit damaged in transit. It has now been decided to make some arrangement which will help the importers with this problem.
Another great difficulty confronting the industry is rivalry by South Africa. The competition from that country is beginning to alarm Australian apple and pear growers. According to figures issued by the Deciduous Fruit Board, South Africa’s apple export potential is expected to increase from the present 3,600,000 boxes to 6,000,000 by 1969, and to 9,400,000 boxes by 1975. The Argentine is also quite a serious rival to Australia. Argentinian shipments reached 7,600,000 boxes in 1963, compared with only 3,000,000 boxes in 1962. In other words, the Argentine more than doubled its export of apples to the European and English markets in one year. That would be to our disadvantage.
The fruit market in -Europe is a selective market to-day. Overseas people buying apples are very particular and, after all, the customer is always right. The grower in Tasmania or on the mainland, the buyers of fruit in Tasmania and on the mainland, the shippers and the shipping companies, are all involved in the struggle to maintain the markets we have and, if possible, increase them, and to see that our fruit reaches the consumer overseas in perfect condition. If the fruit does not arrive in that condition the consumer can obtain his fruit from either the Argentine or South Africa. Freight charges are less from those countries, so there would be a saving on freight because of the distance that we have to send goods across the oceans to the European market. In effect, the outlook for the future is not bright because of the great competition that wc will face from the increased production in South Africa and the Argentine.
Freight rates are perhaps the key to prices and profits. The Australian Apple and-Pear Board report, under a heading “ Freight Rates “, says that the rates to Britain and Europe were increased last year by 5 per cent, over 1962. Referring to the agreement on freights the report continues -
This agreement runs for the 1963 and 1964 fruit seasons and represents an increase of 7d. (stg.) per box (total 12s. 9d. stg.).
That is the freight cost to transport one box from Australia to Great Britain. The report continues - . . the industry is concerned over the possibility of further increases in rates, particularly in the light of the advantages enjoyed by its major competitors in this regard.
The report mentions that one development of some importance is - . . the increasing unbalance in the yearly requirements of refrigerated cargo for the Austraiian trade. The fruit industry is now the largest user of refrigerated space following the diversion of the meat trade to America, and its tonnage requirements are concentrated in a short seasonal period of around fourteen weeks.
The short seasonal period is a great problem. It is necessary to have the ships here on time and arriving at and leaving our ports at a regular rate over that short period of fourteen weeks. To enable this to be done a really fantastic effort is required on the part of waterside workers, truck owners, truck drivers and growers in Tasmania and on the mainland to keep the fruit moving evenly and freely into the ships in such a concentrated period. Almost 6,000,000 cases are lifted from Tasmania in about fourteen weeks. That is a magnificent performance. It is a pity that there is a problem of spacing of arrivals at the market overseas when the ships are loaded in such a short period.
The report contains a further very helpful piece of information. It states that the freight rate to Singapore and Malaya from the eastern States was reduced by 3s. and from Western Australia by 2s. following negotiations between the Singapore importers panel and shipowners. Tt is a remarkable thing in these days of increasing costs to have freight rates to some of the Asian ports reduced. As a consequence of that reduction more fruit is going to Singapore and Hong Kong. It is interesting to see in the report an analysis of the quantity of fruit being exported to Asia. This export has been going on for ten years. There is nothing spectacular in the improvement in exports to that area, but at least there is some improvement. The more apples and pears that we can sell on the Asian market the better, because of the shorter distance involved, the lower freight costs and the quicker deliveries. I hope that our publicity agents and trade commissioners will continue to concentrate on the Philippine, Indonesian, Singapore, Malayan, Hong Kong and Borneo markets which are so near to us. The condition of Australian fruit on arrival at those markets last year was, for the most part, up to standard. The report states -
However, there were a number of instances of apple shipments arriving in advanced condition, particularly from mainland States, and, as reported elsewhere, severe pit incidence was found in Cleopatras, Granny Smiths and Cox’s Orange Pippin.
On the whole, the fruit was up to standard on arrival at the Asian markets apart from in an occasional instance.
In respect to the issue of licences to export, 1 hope that the Minister will agree to our suggestion that a right of appeal should be provided for in the bill, if not in this chamber then when the bill is in another place. Persons whose applications for licences to export apples and pears are rejected should have a right of appeal. It is interesting to know that in Western Australia sixteen export licences have been issued to firms; in Victoria, ten have been issued; in Tasmania, eighteen; in Queensland, seven; in South Australia, nine; and in New South Wales, eleven. The bill, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said, makes a very important improvement in that it tightens the power of the board to determine the total quantity of apples and pears which may be exported from Australia in any given year and the basis on which the total will be distributed among the States - in other words, the quantity to be exported from each State. So far the board has had a very flimsy power under the licences and permits regulations. The Minister is to be commended indeed for bringing some strength into this section of the original act so that there will be no doubt in future about the board’s power to determine the total quantities of apples which may be exported and the distribution among the States.
Interestingly enough, the board has never imposed restrictions on exports, so the question of distribution between States of the total exported has never arisen. The board believes that in the overall interests of the industry and to prevent a spoiling of the United Kingdom market there must be a determination of the maximum quantity which may be shipped to any specific market. In other words, this provision is an attempt to bring order, system and commonsense into the marketing of our apples overseas. At present the board relies on section 14 of the act for its flimsy power in this respect. The bill will strengthen the power, and there is no doubt whatever that from now on the board will have the power to determine the maximum quantity for specific export markets.
Another matter dealt with in the bill is the allocation of quotas. The Minister said in his second-reading speech -
If the board were forced to rely on its powers under the regulations - which, as I said previously would be administratively clumsy - it would be obliged to allocate quotas for, say, the United Kingdom to seventy-odd licensed exporters. Apart from the not inconsiderable administrative difficulties involved, one particularly undesirable situation which could arise if the board adopted this practice is that growers might be forced, by decisions of the board, into the hands of quota holders with whom they might not normally wish to deal and this could inhibit competition by exporters for available fruit.
This situation will be prevented by the matter now before the House. It is interesting to note that the Australian Apple and Pear Shippers Association, which represents 80 per cent, of apple and pear exporters, has agreed to these proposals.
Finally, the provision regarding unanimous decisions of the board is a peculiar inclusion in the bill. I cannot recall any other commodity marketing bill in Australia, since I have been in this Parliament, that contained a clause such as this.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to say very briefly that the Aus tralian Country Party fully supports this legislation. It is fitting that honorable members from Tasmania should take part in this debate because all over the world Tasmania is known as the Apple Isle. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) speak on the subject matter of the legislation. He did not find anything wrong with the bill and, therefore, it must be all right.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has congratulated the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on bringing down the legislation before us. The honorable member represents a Tasmanian electorate where pastoral interests predominate. Nevertheless, he knows what is happening in the Apple Isle. I am to be followed in this debate by another honorable member from Tasmania.
Apples are grown in Victoria at Harcourt. It is a great apple centre. I remember that many years ago, when I used to go to Portland for the summer holidays, excellent apples were grown near Portland at Gorae. I believe the measure is in the best interests of the industry. It creates opportunities for the board to sell on export markets and to have control over the quantities of fruit which may be shipped to a particular country or countries. The Australian Country Party is right behind any legislation that will give a better opportunity to primary producers satisfactorily to market their products.
.- I wish to thank the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) for his gift to me of a very fine apple. Unfortunately it is not a Tasmanian apple, but I very much appreciate the thought behind the gift.
The bill before the House is designed to amend the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-53 in order to give to the Australian Apple and Pear Board power to control the quantities of fruit that may be shipped overseas. The only amendment to the original act was made in 1960 to give representation on the board to growers of apples and pears in northern Tasmania. Fruit-growers in southern Tasmania were represented by two members of the board, so that the amendment increased Tasmania’s representation from two to three members.
The present measure calls for a further amendment to the 1938-1953 legislation. Sub-sections (1.) and (2.) of section 14 of the act are to be replaced. Section 14 outlines the powers of the Australian Apple and Pear Board to control exports of apples and pears. It has provided that the board should take into consideration the average yearly export for the past three years and other factors such as a good season in one State and a bad season in another State when calculating the export quotas. First, the total quota of apples and pears to be exported is calculated. A quota for each State of apples and pears to be exported to the United Kingdom is then set. As the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) stated in his second-reading speech, the board has never imposed restrictions on the total quantity of apple and pear exports from this country, but restrictions have been imposed on the quantities exported to the United Kingdom. For example, three seasons ago a maximum limit of 3,550,000 boxes was set. It is interesting to note that of this quantity Tasmania, to which the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) rightly referred as the Apple Isle, exported 2,442,071 bushels. This figure represented 68 per cent, of Australia’s exports of apples and pears to the United Kingdom.
In 1962, the Australian Apple and Pear Board did not impose any restrictions. Unrestricted shipments were made to the United Kingdom market on vessels sailing from Australia before the middle of March. The board set a quota of 3,600,000 boxes for later shipment during that season. In the 1962 season 4,092,964 boxes of apples and pears were shipped, of which Tasmania shipped in the free period 271,824 boxes and 2,830,973 boxes in the quota period, making a total of 3,102,797 boxes from Tasmania out of Australia’s total exports to the United Kingdom. Tasmania’s share of the export market thus rose to 77 per cent.
Last year, the board again restricted shipments for the whole of the season. A quota of 4,400,000 boxes was set for the United Kingdom market. The shipments were less than expected and of the 4,000,000 boxes exported, Tasmania sent almost 2,750,000 boxes, oi 70 per cent. In its wisdom, the board has imposed quota restrictions on the quantity of apples and pears exported from the States to the United Kingdom but has never restricted total exports from one State.
From a Tasmanian point of view, it is interesting to study the method of calculation of the quotas. It is important because in the measure before us it is desired to tighten the board’s control over export quotas. I do not know what system is employed in any other State, but in Tasmania in December each year growers are requested to provide a base figure for their anticipated stocks for export. The board collates the returns and in past years has usually reduced each grower’s figure by 30 per cent, to 35 per cent. The result is that about 60 per cent, to 70 per cent, of Tasmania’s crop of apples and pears is available for export to the traditional United Kingdom and Continental markets. The remaining 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, is available for the expanding eastern market referred to by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), and for home consumption.
I wish to stress the increasing value of the home market because of the immigration programmes carried out by the present Government and its predecessor in office. Our population now exceeds 11,000,000 and the home markets must have a considerable bearing on the growing of apples and pears. As with butter and meat, the home market needs to be explored to the fullest extent.
Perhaps the Minister will agree with me when I say that the quota arrangement has not caused any trouble in the past. In 1961, 61 per cent, of Tasmania’s apple and pear exports was sent to the United Kingdom. In 1962, the figure was 54± per cent, and last year 56 per cent. Any grower who is dissatisfied with his base figure allocation has two avenues open to him should he wish to secure more space for his crop. First, he can submit a case to the board, and I know from my experience that it will be listened to with a great deal of sympathetic attention. Secondly, if further shipping space is required he can buy it from another grower who has an allocation in excess of his needs. I point out that this is a quite open business transaction. It is not frowned on by the Australian Apple and
Pear Board or by authority in any other form. The year before last, as much as £10 was paid for a voucher. In Tasmania, a voucher entitles a grower to one pallet of 44 cases. So it can be seen that some growers were prepared to pay up to about 4s. 6d. a case to other growers to- whom space had been allocated and who could not fill that space. These payments were made by some growers so that they could get their own crops away. As I have said, this procedure is entirely open and is recognized.
When space has been allocated by the board to the various growers, those growers who have not been allocated all the space that they require have the option either of applying for more or of buying space from other growers, the price being nominated, of course, by the person who sells. If a grower does not fill the quota of space allocated to him by the board, he is liable to the board for what is known as dead freight. But I have never known of any action being taken against a grower for failure to fill his allotted space. I think that the present system has worked reasonably well, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The board has had power to regulate exports. It arrives at an agreed quantity and the States then nominate their requirements of space, especially for exports to the United Kingdom.
It is true, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said, that some exporters or agents - call them whatever you like - believe that more fruit should be sent to the United Kingdom. I think that this is the crux of the matter and that it is what prompted the Apple and Pear Board to seek the additional power that it is to be given. The board’s hand is to be strengthened. Some exporters believe that too many inroads into the United Kingdom market are being made by other countries, especially South Africa and the Argentine. They say - this is their opinion, not mine - that if we are to hold against competition, particularly by South Africa and the Argentine, this market- that has been very valauble to us in years gone by, we should increase our exports to the Old Country. The board, in its last annual report, mentioned the competition by South Africa and the Argentine, from which at present our greatest competition comes. The reference at page 8 of the board’s annual report for the year ended 30th June, 1963, was high lighted by the honorable member for Wilmot. The board pointed out that South Africa’s export potential is expected to increase from the present figure of 3,600,000 boxes to 6,000,000 boxes by 1969 and to 9,400,000 boxes by 1975. In 1963, apple shipments to Europe by the Argentine totalled 7,600,000 boxes- an increase of nearly 3,000,000 boxes over the previous year.
I have some other very interesting figures relating to the increasing competition with Australian fruit on the United Kingdom market. In 1962, as is shown by official figures, the Argentine sent 33,000 boxes of apples to the United Kingdom market. Last year, the figure increased more than tenfold to 360,000 boxes. The figures relating to South Africa also are very revealing. Exports of apples from South Africa to the United Kingdom rose from 431,000 cwt. in 1959 to 835,000 cwt. last year. The pattern has been one of steady increase year after year. Exports from the Argentine to Germany alone increased from less than 1,000,000 boxes in 1962 to almost 1,750,000 boxes in 1963. The exporters who hold licences issued by the Australian Apple and Pear Board fear that unless we can continue to expand our exports to the traditional market that we have had for many years in the United Kingdom we shall lose that market to which we have become so accustomed. That is the great fear in the minds of the Australian exporters. They consider that we should counter the competition by other countries with increased sales on the United Kingdom market.
The Minister for Primary Industry has said that some of the exporters have been irritated by the present form of control. I know that throughout the industry there is a feeling that any State or exporter or group of exporters could challenge the existing arrangement, under which agreed quantities are set in respect of the United Kingdom market, and could probably succeed against the wishes of the board. The feeling in the industry is that any State that had a surplus, and wished to send that surplus to the United Kingdom market in any year, could disregard the quantities fixed under a kind of gentlemen’s agreement that has worked so well in the past. Some exporters are anxious to try this out. I believe that if any exporters did get past the controls exercised by the board and carried out such a plan, the flooding of our markets would lead to the ruination of the industry. Increased com.petiton from other countries can best be countered by improving the packaging and presentation of our products.
For the reasons that I have stated, I strongly support this measure, which is designed to amend the principal act to give more power to the Australian Apple and Pear Board and to enable it better to determine the maximum quantities that shall be available for export. The board must have this power if it is to continue to do its job of arranging the orderly marketing overseas of Australia’s fruit crop. Apples and pears are great earners of export income, not only for Tasmania but for every State. Everything possible must be done to continue the orderly marketing procedures that have been carried on so well up to the present time under a kind of gentlemen’s agreement. We must never allow this system to break down simply on a challenge by some people who want to get a greater share of a particular market for their own personal benefit. In the interests of the industry,, we must do everything possible to strengthen the hand of the Apple and Pear Board so that it may keep the industry stabilized and prosperous.
This bill will amend section 14 of the principal act, which prescribes the basis on which export quotas are allocated. At present, the allocation is based on an average of the exports by a State over the past three years. The present proposal is that in the allocation of State quotas preference shall not be given to one State or to any part of one State over another State or any part of another State. The decision on quotas must be unanimous. If the board cannot reach a unanimous decision, the allocation of quotas will be left to the Minister for Primary Industry. On this point, I agree with my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor. I believe that this kind of ministerial control is fine. After all, the Minister has been elected by the people and chosen to serve in the Cabinet. He accepts with the privilege of representing his electors and of serving in the Cabinet the accompanying responsibilities. I shall be very happy to see inserted in the principal act provision that if the board cannot reach a unanimous decision on the allocation of quotas the Minister shall allocate them.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, implied mat, if the board were not given the power that the bill is designed to give it, all the space would have to be allocated to individual exporters and undesirable trade practices could result from agents competing with one another for the available fruit. At this stage, through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I want to direct to the Minister a comment about the part played in the industry by exporters and agents, not only in Tasmania, but throughout Australia. We must have these people. The man who grows the apples and pears has enough to do in the production of the fruit and the preparation of it for market. We must have agents with trade connexions throughout the world where fruit is sold so that we can market the products. The agents in Tasmania are well-known to me and I know that they have done a very good job for the industry. I do not know whether the conditions for agents and exporters are the same in other States but possibly some honorable member may be able to tell the House whether that is so or not.
In Tasmania, as the honorable member for Lalor has said, we either consign fruit or sell it f.o.b. to an agent. If we consign the fruit, we run a risk on the market in England. I want to point out here that freight is a killer. At present it costs 15s. 3d. to send a box of apples to London. If the producer sells on an f.o.b. basis, he is protected to a certain extent by the board because it lays down at the start of the season the minimum prices. Of course, an agent can offer more than the minimum price as he goes around the orchards. This year, the prices for the various varieties of apples are: Democrats, 23s. 6d. a case; Cox’s Orange Pippins, 30s. 6d.; Granny Smiths, 30s. 6d.; Cleopatras, 20s. 6d.; Jonathans, 20s.; Sturmers, 21s. 3d.
I commend the board for laying down minimum prices and I also commend the agents who stick to these prices once they are offered to the growers. But once a grower accepts a price, he has to deduct 9s. 6d. a case for packing-shed charges. This 9s. 6d. covers labour, the case, grading, wrapping, straw boards and wiring up of the cases. Then the grower must add approximately 2s. a case for freight from the shed door to the port, and port charges to put the case in the ship’s hold because the fruit has been sold free on board.
Honorable members will realize, therefore, that there is not a great deal of profit for the apple-grower. In the case of Jonathans, the grower is left with 8s. 6d. a case to pay for his labour in growing the apples and the cost of manures, sprays and picking the fruit from the trees. The margin for Cox’s Orange Pippins is a little higher because this variety is more popular and more sought after. If a grower in my area in Tasmania sells Cox’s Orange Pippins f.o.b., his return is 19s. a case. So it can be seen that anything that can be done to strengthen the powers of the board and to stabilize the industry must be supported because the margin of profit for the grower is not very great.
I pay a tribute to the agents. I know of one group - Tasmanian Orchardists and Producers Limited - who pool all returns from fruit sold on an f.o.b. basis and share the profits with the growers. It is a pity that the growers could not go into one of these pools as exporters because they would then be able to pool their profits in the same way. But I think that in this industry it is impossible. By the time the primary producer grows the apples and gets them ready for market he has had enough. We must have agents and exporters.
I come now to the position of the holders of export licences. As the honorable member for Lalor has said, the Opposition believes that any person who applies for an export licence and is rejected should have the right of appeal to the Minister. It is interesting to note how these licences are granted in the first place. I am not aware of the procedure in other States but, to get an export licence in Tasmania, a man must first serve what might be called an apprenticeship period. In other words, he has to put up a performance before he is granted a licence. There is nothing to stop anybody entering this field and trying to get a licence but, as I have said, he must fulfil certain requirements. If he is able to get an allocation from certain growers, he can arrange to export and market say 10.000 or 15,000 cases in a year through a recognized licensed exporter. That shows that he has some ability and the wherewithal to do the job and that would be looked upon as a fair performance. Then the man can apply to the board for a licence. This procedure is designed to stop any shady operator who might try to cash in at the expense of the grower for a season or two. However, we feel that the decent character who can make a contribution to the industry can also be supported under the present setup. For that reason, we give notice of an amendment in another place designed to give an applicant who is rejected after the probationary period as it may be called, the right of appeal to the Minister. Here again, the Opposition points out that it is only right and just that the Minister accept ministerial control and responsibility in such a case.
The bill generally has received widespread support. Here again, I can only speak for Tasmania. We are very pleased indeed to be able to tell the Minister for Primary Industry that the bill is well supported in Tasmania because that State is a great producer of apples and pears - particularly apples. However, in Tasmania we feel that, with the increasing competition from the Argentine and South Africa, every attempt must be made to stabilize the industry in the interests of the Tasmanian economy. One must not be parochial. We realize that the industry is important to all Statesand to the economy of Australia generally. The apple and pear industry is a great exportearner and an employer of labour and for those reasons it is important to Australia. We cannot afford any flooding of our markets or any disruption of them.
I have pointed out that a grower who sells his fruit f.o.b. gets little enough return. It ranges from 10s. to £1 a case and out of that margin, in addition to getting a return for his own labour, he has to pay for sprays, manures and the picking of the apples before they go to the packing shed. There is not much profit. If anything is done to disrupt the industry it will be a sorry day for us. For that reason we are delighted that the Apple and Pear Board will now have the power definitely to lay down quotas for the export of apples to any country or countries. Under this legislation, the powers of the board and the quotas it sets can never be challenged by any exporter or any one State which wishes to go against the wishes of the board.
I pay tribute to the members of the board. In the past, the board has worked very well under a gentlemen’s agreement. Quotas have been set and handed to the States and the States have played their part. We know of certain ambitious people who want to break this arrangement and we are delighted to know that the whole system will be strengthened and the powers of the board will be such that nobody will be able to interfere with the quotas of the States once they are set by the board. For that reason, the Opposition supports the bill but I remind the Minister that an amendment will be moved to give a right of appeal to a person who has been refused an exporter’s licence.
– in reply - Repeating what I said in my secondreading speech, I point out that the purpose of the bill is to give effect to two requests made by the apple and pear industry. One amendment is designed to protect the interests of any official who is employed by the Apple and Pear Board in London and is subject to the Public Service Act. The amendment ensures that such a person will enjoy the same rights as he would enjoy if he was working in Australia. That is a minor matter, but it is important to the person concerned. At present one public servant is engaged overseas by the Australian Apple and Pear Board. The other amendment is designed to ensure that the board’s powers are effective. All honorable members seem to support those amendments. I have confined the amendments to the requests made by the industry.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), when his time expired, was referring to the fact that if the board cannot reach a unanimous decision on quotas under section 14(1.) the Minister must intervene. That is a necessary power, because it is vital that quotas as between the States shall be correctly determined and comply with the requirements of the Constitution. I do not know whether the honorable member for Wilmot will support the bill - he did not have time to say - but the provision to which I have just referred was inserted in the legislation in 1947 when the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was the responsible Minister. I presume the honorable member for Lalor will support what he instituted. That is a vital power. Wherever there is a danger that some States may out-vote others or that there may not be a unanimous decision as to quotas, it is important that the Minister should have the power to intervene.
The names of agents who have been granted licences to sell overseas are listed in the board’s annual report. I think everybody will agree that the list represents a fairly wide cross-section of agents. I agree with the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) that the present system of appointing agents has worked very satisfactorily.
– Have there been any recent additions to the list?
– I cannot say offhand, but we have not had any complaints from persons whose applications have been rejected. In the last five years the position seems to have been very satisfactory. If anybody seeks from me reasons why he has been refused a licence I will answer him. I will do that for anybody. I accept the position that a Minister is answerable to the Parliament. I believe that should always be the case. One honorable member opposite said that the industry does not want fly-by-night licensees whose actions may damage the credit of the growers for whom they sell. The credit of the person who sells must be satisfactory and he must have facilities adequate to enable him to give a good service to the community.
– Are the licensees bonded at present?
– They are required to be of substantial standing and to have the facilities to give service. That is the wording of the provision and so far there have not been any problems in that regard. I am glad all honorable members see the need to strengthen this legislation, as has been requested by the industry. We all are pleased to see improved export marketing conditions. We hope that the industry will go on to further success. All sections of the industry, including Tasmanian representatives on the board and shippers, were unanimous in requesting these amendments to the legislation. On any future occasion when there is such unanimity in seeking further amendments of the legislation I will be pleased to consider any representations that may be made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title and citation).
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to a matter in relation to which I interjected during his second-reading speech. It concerns the title of the act. Sub-clause (I.) of clause 1 refers to the act as the Apple and Pear Organization Act. Subclause (3.) states -
The PrincipalAct, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1964.
In the course of the Minister’s secondreading speech I asked, “ How do you organize apples and pears? “ The bill in its long title, is expressed to relate to the marketing of apples and pears. It would seem to me that a more rational and elegant way of describing the principal act or this bill would be as the Apple and Pear Marketing Act or Bill. In fact, I cannot see the necessity for referring to the legislation other than as the Apple and Pear Act or Bill. I do not propose to move an amendment to the clause at this stage butI suggest that the Minister consider my remarks before the bill reaches the other place.
– We have simply retained the long-standing title.
– I know. In no other act under the Parliament’s trade and commerce powers is the word “ organization “ used. Perhaps I may recall the various styles by which such acts have been described. We used to have acts which were described purely by the name of the product with which they were concerned without referring to what was being done with the product. For instance, we used to have the Dairy Produce Act, the Dried Fruits Act and the Wheat and Wheat Products Act. Later the Parliament used the word “ marketing “ in the names of some of those acts. We used to have the Fresh Fruits Overseas Marketing Act, the Pearl-shell Overseas Marketing Act and the Wheat Marketing Act. We still have a Wine Overseas Marketing Act. That act was first passed in 1929 and was last amended last year. So the term “ marketing” is still in good standing and has historical foundation. The most prevalent current term is “ export control act “. For instance, until last year we had the Canned Fruits Export Control Act, and we still have the Dairy Produce Export Control Act, the Dried Fruits Export Control Act, the Egg Export Control Act and the Meat Export Control Act. Last year we decided to alter the title of the first of those acts to the Canned Fruits Export Marketing Act. I suggest that in logic the Minister should delete the word “ organization “, and substitute for it the word “ marketing “. However, the intention of the act and the powers of this Parliament would still be adequately represented if this act were called the Apple and Pear Act.
– I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) for his remarks on this matter. As I said by way of interjection, the title of this bill is simply a continuation of the title of the existing act. I think the people who originated this term would have had a purpose in using it. There is a distinction between a full marketing board and a regulatory board. The Apple and Pear Board organizes the export of those commodities, but it does not actually market them. I think that would be why the act was called the Apple and Pear Organization Act in the first instance.
– You can organize applegrowers and pear-growers, but can you organize apples and pears?
– I do not suppose it is the most apt term. This board is a regulatory board, as distinct from a marketing board which actually markets the particular commodity. However, I thank the honorable member for his suggestion. I will study it further and see whether it is advisable to amend the title of the bill when it goes to the Senate.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– The Government proposes to delete this clause. The most effective way to delete it would be to vote it out and then to have the definition of “year” incorporated in clause 7, to which it is more applicable.
Clause 3. (1.) Section four of the Principal Act is amended - (a)……
– I move -
In proposed section 4 (8.) omit “ shall “, insert “ may “.
The effect of the provision, as it stands at present, is that if the State Fruit Board of Tasmania recommends that a member of the Australian Apple and Pear Board be suspended from office the Minister shall suspend him from office. I believe that there should be a discretionary power in the Minister. That is the way the Government wishes the provision to be.
.- I approve of the amendment. As we are now dealing with the rights and security of members of the Apple and Pear Board, I point out that this clause gives the Minister power, on the recommendation of the board, to terminate the appointment of certain of its members, including the employees’ representative. I do not think the Minister is likely to exercise that power unless the board is convinced that there has been some misbehaviour. In fact, that is mentioned in one of the sub-clauses of this clause.
The point on which I am querulous and would like some information is that, in the recent amendments to the Meat Industry Act, the provision for the appointment of employees’ representatives was omitted; yet under this act, which is just as much a regulatory act as the Meat Industry Act is, the employee representation will be left undisturbed. What influences were at work in respect of the Meat Industry Act, which no longer provides that the employees shall be represented on the Austraiian Meat
Board? One would think that if the Government has a policy at all it has a policy of throwing employees’ representatives off all export control boards. Why is there discrimination?
The Australian Labour Party initiated the policy of appointing employees’ representatives to these boards. The present Government parties initiated the move which already has taken away employee representation on two or three of these boards. But on this occasion the provision for employee representation is left intact. I am very pleased about that, But why is there this inconsistency? Did the members of the Australian Meat Board overrun Government policy and say: “ We do not like this employees’ representative. We do not like this provision. We do not like the presence of an employees’ representative on the board”? Did the Minister or the Government weakly say, “All right, if you do not like him and you do not want an employees’ representative on the board, we will help you to throw him off “?
Apparently the Apple and Pear Board is quite satisfied and does not want to disturb the employee representation, so the Minister does nothing about it. It appears to me that the question of whether or not there shall be employee representation on these boards is in the hands of the boards instead of being in the hands of the Government. I direct the attention of the Minister to that point. I hope that he will continue to adopt the practice that he adopts to-night, and that ministerial authority will prevail. I hope that in future the Minister will not be influenced by a board which says, “ We do not think that employees should be represented on this board “, and will not proceed to wipe out employee representation. There must be something sinister about this matter. The two boards are equally concerned with regulatory activities. In one case employee representation has been thrown out, and in the other case it has been retained. There is no consistency in the Government’s policy. It appears that the Government has become the creature of one of the authorities that this Parliament has set up. I will say no more except that we will be vigilant on this matter. We will be watching the position.
Mr. ADERMANN (Fisher- Minister for upon to answer any charges made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in relation to the Australian Meat Board, because the whole matter was thoroughly discussed when the Meat Industry Bill was before the committee recently. This amendment is a matter of principle. The question is whether, if the State Fruit Board of Tasmania recommends the removal from office of a member of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, the Minister shall dismiss him, or whether the Minister has a discretion in the matter and may dismiss him. That is the issue before the Chair. I believe that it is far better that the Minister should have a discretionary power. I leave it at that.
– You will not deal with the other matter?
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 4 to 6 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Section fourteen of the Principal Act is amended -
– I move -
After proposed sub-section (7.) add the following sub-section: - “ ‘ (8.) In this section, “ year “ means a period commencing on the first day of January and ending on the following thirty-first day of December.’.”.
This proposed amendment merely provides a definition of “ year “.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Adermann) - by leave - read a third time.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 2) 1963-64. Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 5th May (vide page 1508), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection that course will be followed.
– At this late hour of the night ii is rather grim to be contemplating these measures, two being supply bills which appropriate some £420,000,000 for supply for the first five months of the financial year to commence on 1st July, 1964, and two being what are called appropriation bills, dealing with sums of the magnitude of about £70,000,000. On this occasion, too, a new form of procedure is being followed with the presentation of these measures consequent upon discussions which took place in that very important joint parliamentary committee, the Public Accounts Committee, which suggested in its 54th report, which was ordered to be printed on 6th September, 1961, that certain procedures which had been followed historically in this Parliament since 1901 were in many respects redundant. This suggestion related to the separation that had been made, as long as appropriations have been made by this Parliament, between what purported to be ordinary annual items, on the one hand, and what were rather broadly described as capital works and services, on the other hand. On page 12 of its report the committee commented -
Historically there appears to be ground for believing that the separate Works and Services section of the Estimates arose from the interest of the States in having a separate Appropriation Bill which could be amended by the Senate in the expectation tha; expenditure by the Commonwealth
Government might be controlled and thereby achieve a surplus of Commonwealth revenue which would be returned to the States in accordance with the terms of the Constitution. This is now-
The committee notes rather nostalgically - patently an archaic concept. From the viewpoint of governmental accounting, argument as to what does or does not represent expenditure of a capital nature is of limited value because all the items of expenditures in the Estimates which constitute the schedules to the two Appropriation Bills are made from revenue.
If one had time to philosophize upon that, it shows how, in the 63 or so years that the Commonwealth has been in existence, the pendulum has swung from the point at which the States might have thought that they were to some extent preponderant financially to the admitted point at which what the States can do is determined largely by the grants that are made to them by this Parliament. Nevertheless, a change was suggested, and a change is now to be made. At least we on this side of the House offer no objection to the change. It simplifies the documentation which is presented to the House and also affirms something which I, for one, have always stressed, namely, that the financial initiative of the Parliament should lie in the House of Representatives. That is a fundamental principle of British constitutional government, as I see it, and I hope that some day our Constitution will be amended so that the Senate will have only the same powers with respect to money bills as are possessed by the House of Lords in the Parliament of Great Britain - that is, it may look at them, if it wishes for a month or so and then the bills become law irrespective of whether or not the Upper House wants them to become law. Perhaps it will be a considerable time before that will be achieved in Australia.
Meanwhile, I think that this House should assert at all times its role of financial supremacy, because in a modern community finance is government. Responsibility for policy lies in this House and policy cannot be implemented without the sinews of finance. I think in some respects there has been a certain laxity on the part of the House of Representatives in the assertion of its proper right of financial supremacy. For instance, there is no such thing in this Parliament as a true definition of a money bill such as there is in the House of Commons, where Mr. Speaker indicates by certificate that a bill is a money bill, and that is the end of it as far as the House of Lords is concerned. I hope that some day we will assert a little more definitely that certain measures are money bills, and I hope that the Senate will realize that it no longer has even the reserve power to request amendment of such bills. However, that is just by way of digression.
I commend the Public Accounts Committee for the work it has done for this Parliament over a considerable number of years under its first chairman, the former honorable member for Warringah, Professor Bland, and under the chairmen who have followed him.
I now turn to the financial measures with which we are dealing. The Supply Bill, of course, is designed simply to allow the country to carry on until after the next Budget is brought down. This House will go into recess some time towards the end of May. Supply will run out at 30th June. The House will not re-assemble until August. The Budget will not be finalized until about October. Therefore it is necessary to secure supply until about the end of November. All that the fivemonths Supply Bill does, apart from one or two minor additional provisions, is to provide, on a basis worked out by a pro rata method, taking into account expenditure over the previous twelve months, for the amount of £420,000,000 to carry on the affairs of the country between July and November, 1964.
I would like to say something about the other items of legislation we have before us. First, there is the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1963-64, dealing with what are traditionally called supplementary estimates. It will be remembered that when the Budget was brought down in August of last year the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) did not seem too certain about the overall outcome in the financial year. He was a bit hazy in his own mind at that stage as to what success might be achieved on the loan market. In the previous year he had been able to raise about £301,000,000 on the loan market. For one reason or another he expected that in this financial year the deficit between his total receipts and expenditure, both of an annual and a capital kind, would be about £358,000,000, and he hoped to raise approximately £300,000,000 on the loan market in the financial year, as he had done previously. He therefore expected to have a deficit of between £58,000,000 and £60,000,000. For the part of the financial year that has followed the presentation of that Budget, that is from August until the present time, the revenue received by the Government has been about £40,000,000 more than it was expected to be.
The Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1963-64 covers an amount of over £70,000,000, of which £20,000,000 is to be transferred to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve Trust Account. This really is simply a way of concealing what is, in effect, a surplus. In addition to this, as part of our Budget legislation in AugustSeptember of last year, we gave approval to raise some £62,500,000 by way of loans for purposes of defence. Now the Treasurer proposes to reduce that to £40,000,000 because he has another £22,500,000 of revenue more than he expected. Adding this latter amount to the £20.000,000 to which 1 have already referred, we get a total amount of £42,500,000, out of this £70,000,000 of supplementary estimates, which is the subject of whet might be called a manipulative device for concealing the surplus position of the revenues at the moment. Perhaps by the end of June this surplus may be even greater still and perhaps we will be doing this sort of thing again when dealing with the carry-over in the next financial year to tidy the accounts up.
What all this points to is. of course, the difficulty in practice of any government estimating what the course of the revenues is likely to be in a twelve-months period. It simply highlights how deceitful political parties can be at election time. On this occasion the deceit has been on the side of the Government in suggesting that precision could be achieved in this very hazardous field. It will be remembered that during the general election campaign the Labour Party made certain proposals to the people which would have involved additional expenditures of revenue.
– An extra £500,000.000 or so.
– No. It was not £500,000,000. You are building castles in the air but you are not prepared to put any foundations under them. This is just the kind of misleading analysis that is made. If anybody is prepared to study critically and intelligently the proposals made by the Labour Party and the Liberal Party during the election campaign, he will find that in the terms of the financial year that was being contemplated, the expenditure involved in implementing the Labour Party’s proposals would have been no more than £100,000,000 greater than that involved in the Liberal Party’s proposals. I defy anybody in this Parliament to say that the Australian nation would be bankrupt if it spent that extra £100.000,000. Yet this was almost what was implied by Government spokesmen. Since we have come back here this vear we have already had one or two examples to show just how awry the Government can be in forecasting.
I sometimes think that the community as a whole and this Parliament in particular is not fully aware of the astronomical growth in public expenditure during the period of office of this Government. In order to put the matter in perspective I shall try to place on record the financial history of the Australian Government during the life of the Menzies-Fadden and Menzies-McEwen Administrations. When the Menzies Government came to office in the financial year 1950-51 the total expenditure by the Commonwealth was £921.000.000. For the year 1963-64 - the financial vear we are contemplating - the total expenditure by the Commonwealth Government has been estimated at £2.191.000,000. In other words, in the period of thirteen years the expenditure of the Commonwealth Government of Australia, for which this Parliament is directly responsible, h*s incensed from £941,000,000 to £2.191.000,000. This covers expenditure both of an ordinary annual kind and of a capital kind. Expenditure has increased in the thirteen years by £1.270.000,000, or almost £100.000,000 a year. During the life of this Government we have seen that £300.000,000 a year more was being spent at the end of a parliament than at the beginning of it. I do not remember that on any occasion the Prime Minister, who was then known as Mr. Menzies, or Mr. Fadden - as he was when he first came to power - or the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) suggested that one of the consequences of electing the Government for another three years would be that the total expenditure of the Commonwealth would be increased by £300,000,000 in the period of the Parliament but that, in essence, has been the outcome.
Of course this shows how people become deceitful in election campaigns by saying that if it is suggested that an extra £50,000,000 or” £60,000,000 or £100,000,000 is to be spent, this will, somehow or other, provide the straw that will break the camel’s back, the camel being, apparently, the over-burdened taxpayer - the Australian community as a whole. That sort of analysis is patently absurd. It is unfortunate that the use of such an analysis can be got away with in a democratic community such as this, but it is got away with because the majority of the people do not understand the perspective in which we work. As 1 have said, it is contemplated that this financial year the total expenditure for which this Parliament is responsible will be near enough to £2,200,000,000. So £100,000,000 represents only a little more than 5 per cent, of the total expenditure already being indulged in. During the recent election campaign, all parties talked in terms of economic growth at the rate of something like 5 per cent, or 51 per cent, per annum, which means that additional expenditure of £100,000,000 a year is quite within the capacity of the nation to bear. At the present time, what we call the gross national product - the total of the incomes of all the people in the Australian communityis £8,000,000,000 in round figures, so that £100,000,000 represents only a one-eightieth part of the total annual resources of the community. Therefore, to talk of the expenditure of £100,000,000 more or less as representing the difference between financial prudence and insolvency is just to attempt to perpetrate a confidence trick on the people of Australia. I hope that, in the interests of this democratic community, the Government will endeavour to provide a little more documentation of a kind different altogether from what has been produced up to date. This evening, the Government is presenting its accounts in a somewhat different form; nevertheless, they are not still not as intelligible to this Parliament as they should be. Above all, they are almost unintellible to anybody outside this Parliament. If we are to survive as a democratic community, it is time that we began to present this sort of information in a much more palatable and intelligible form. 1 draw the attention of the Government to a document recently published by the tory Government of Great Britain. It is Command Paper No. 2235, published in December of 1963 and entitled, “ Public Expenditure in 1963-64 and in 1967-68”. It contains a forecast by the British Government of total government expenditure, not now but in four years’ time. The presentation of this document arose out of the recommendations made by a committee known as the Plowden Committee on the Control of Public Expenditure. That committee published its report in July of 1961 as Command Paper No. 1432. In paragraph 2 of the report, the committee made the following recommendation: -
Regular surveys should be made of public expenditure as a whole over a period of years ahead, and in relation to prospective resources; decisions involving substantial future expenditure should be taken in the light of these surveys.
I suggest it is time that this Government began to do something along those lines. We will not achieve in the 1970’s what some people are talking about in what are now almost the mid 1960’s unless we engage in what is called forward planning. We must begin to determine now what the likely total expenditure on education will be in 1970. We must also begin to forecast now what the needs of the Australian community in terms of health, housing, transport, irrigation and electricity services will be in 1970. 1 suggest that those are the sort of reforms that this Government ought to be contemplating now, and that when it presents its Budget in three or four months’ time that Budget should not only contain details of estimated requirements for 1964-65 but also should give an estimate of what the expenditure will be in 1966-67 and 1967-68. If that kind of action were taken, then at least a start would be made towards making it more difficult to confuse the public every time there is an election by referring to sums of the magnitude of £100,000,000.
After all, the ordinary person in the community is used to thinking in terms of £20 or £25 a week. He rarely thinks even in terms of his annual income. The only time he thinks in terms of annual income is when he has the unpleasant job of sending in his income tax return. Apart from that, he thinks in terms of weekly sums of £20 or £25 a week - the wage which something like three-quarters of the Australian community receives. To try to convey to such a person what the nation as a whole can or cannot afford is a fairly big job, but it is a job which must be done if this democratic community of ours is to remain healthy. I suggest that the Government has an obligation to do this kind of political arithmetic in order to make the subject intelligible to the man in the street. A sum of £1,000,000 sounds a lot of money but in fact it is only onetwentytwohundredth part of what the Commonwealth Government spends in a year. If we like to get down to what might appear to be a spectacular figure, we can say that the Commonwealth Government spends £6,000,000 a day. But even that does not convey very much. The only intelligible picture in the long run is one based on the annual expenditure of the Government, especially when we realize that what this Government provides largely sets the tempo for the States and the local governing bodies. We have to bring these apparently astronomical figures down to a level that can be understood by the man in the street.
This is a challenge that this Government could well take up in the next few years. Meanwhile, it could do worse than set up a body similar to the Plowden committee in Great Britain and ask it to try to assess what expenditure will be required of the Government in the next three or four years. I note that on page 8 of the Supplementary Estimates the Government has included an amount of £22,000 to help on its way the Committee of Economic Inquiry that was set up nearly two years ago. At this stage, when we are being asked to furnish £22,000 for that committee, it might be appropriate to ask when the committee is going to produce some of the fruits of its labours. What we have before us is only a supplementary estimate. There must have been other amounts included in prior estimates. What has the committee to show for the expenditure of this £22,000 and the other sums which have been provided for it? I made the criticism when that committee was set up that, in many ways, the matters that it was being asked to investigate were subjects that the Government should investigate foi itself.
The Government should begin to build up its resources, if it does not have them already - I believe that to a great extent it does have them - and should be exploring many of the problems for itself. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), for instance, has raised in this chamber - I was almost about to say ad nauseam - the question of tariffs. This is also a subject on which obviously everybody does not agree with him. However, I think the honorable member would agree with me that it would be better if that subject were looked at in a different way from the present way. There are other problems of a similar kind. We cannot expect to have unanimity in these matters. After all, if we had unanimity we would not have party politics and I, for one, still think that there is a big need in our community for party politics. There are fundamental differences among people in the community in their attitudes to how people derive their weekly income and matters of that type. We all benefit by being better informed in these matters.
The Government of Great Britain, which I hope will be changed shortly, has indicated during the course of debate that it supports the kind of document from which I have already quoted, and does try to make a forecast of Government expenditure several years in advance. Perhaps some honorable members do not realize that the Commonwealth Government spends directly one-quarter of all the money expended in the Australian community. If they take into account the activities of State and local governments they may understand that by far the most significant economic enterprise in the community to-day is government. Government is pretty big in terms of economic destiny. It is perhaps rather ironical that in 1964 we are changing the financial machinery that was instituted in 1901. I should think that there is a considerable difference between the financial scrutiny required in 1964, when the Government is spending about one-quarter of Australia’s total resources, and that which was required, 10, 20 or 30 years ago, when
Government expenditure was much less relatively than it is now. I do not believe that Government expenditure is as great in the aggregate as it will eventually be.
Again I direct the attention of honorable members to a table which appears on the back of the House of Commons document. This table indicates that in Great Britain public expenditure, that is, expenditure by the central government and local bodies, aggregates some 40 per cent, of the gross national product of Great Britain. In Australia we have not yet reached that magnitude. If we include in our total the expenditure by the States and local government authorities our government expenditure would be probably more than 30 per cent, of our gross national product. Perhaps people do not quite realize that Britain, under a lory government, is 40 per cent, socialized already, and that in Australia we are 30 per cent, socialized. A realization of that fact sometimes makes meaningless some of the terms that are used freely in this House about free enterprise and socialization.
I often ask: Where is the free enterprise for the individual worker in a firm that employs 10,000 or 15,000 people? Who has the free enterprise in that situation? The free enterprise tends to be pretty heavily concentrated at the top. That kind of position, in a government context, is sneered at as bureaucracy. I suggest that, relatively, there is far more bureaucracy in private enterprise than there is in government.
It is time we got away from the mouthing of slogans such as “ faceless men “ and the like. That is sometimes an excuse for not looking at the truth that underlies various issues. I suggest that it is incumbent upon this Parliament to give more consideration to measures by which it is proposed to spend about £500,000,000. The bills were introduced yesterday, and the Parliament is asked to sanction that expenditure after a debate lasting less than an hour. Perhaps my remarks will provoke some honorable members opposite to speak in the debate. I know that I have a colleague or two on my side of the House who will wish to say something about these measures.
I think a pretty poor attitude on the part of the Government is revealed when it will bring on the debate on measures of this magnitude so late at night. Whatever might be said about the importance of apples and pears or roads or anything else, I still think that an expenditure of £500,000,000 warrants more than one hour of debate by this House. I do not know how anybody can be expected to be at his best at this time of the night and how audiences can be expected to be as tolerant as one might hope. That is straining human kindness a little too much. The House should take a more responsible attitude to matters like this. Merely because the Government has the bludgeon of numbers is no reason why it should try to treat the Parliament with contempt.
.- It is rather a pity that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) should finish a somewhat moderate speech on a cantankerous note. I was very pleased to agree with him when he spoke about the simplification of the presentation of accounts and of money bills. I agreed with him also in his praise of the Public Accounts Committee and the work that that committee has done. But right through his speech there was apparent a sour note of lamentation over the last general election. His reference to the 36 faceless men had nothing whatever to do with this Government. That term when used by us was a statement of fact, but apparently honorable members opposite took umbrage at it because it brought home truthfully to the Australian people that this number of men, who form the federal conference of the Labour Party, are in truth faceless men. They were not elected by the people of this Commonwealth and have no responsibility whatever to this Parliament. lt was not the intention of the Government to resume this debate on the supply and appropriation measures at this hour of the night. The programme set out by the Government was interrupted this afternoon by a debate which was launched by the Opposition. That debate ate into time which would have been available for the Opposition to debate this bill. To say that these bills, which will provide for an expenditure of £500,000,000 of public money, will go through this House in an hour is absolutely absurd. No honorable member knows better thar. the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, with his long experience, that this debate will continue tomorrow. The honorable member said that one or two members of the Opposition will be supporting him in this regard. To say that the bill would be pushed through the Parliament in an hour or so completely distorts the facts.
I did not rise to speak at this hour of the night in order to detain the House for a long time, but I wish to refer to a civil aviation matter. The record of the Government in this field is one of which we should all be- proud. We know what a grand safety record our airlines, including Ansett-A.N.A., have established. The Department of Civil Aviation has effected great improvements at metropolitan and country airports. Navigational aids have been installed and over a period of a relatively few years great improvements have been made which have contributed to the maintenance of public confidence in our airlines. The most modern transport planes available in the world1 to-day have provided for our interstate and overseas passengers comfort and convenience which have made our airlines the subject of the envy of many other countries.
In 1959, during the debate on the Estimates, I first raised in this chamber the question of the establishment of KingsfordSmith airport in Sydney as our No. 1 airport. I requested the Government to investigate the possibility of lengthening the north-west runway over the waters of Botany Bay so that aircraft with great all-up weights would have a greater margin of safety on take-off. In addition, the noise nuisance to local residents would be abated and, therefore, fewer complaints would be made to their elected representatives. I was pleased to see that in August, 1961, the Government, through the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), announced that it would proceed with this plan. I realize that it takes a great deal of time to negotiate with local councils and with the New South Wales Government. A lot of preliminary work has to be done in this regard. However, I feel that it is time for an announcement to be made of when the completion of the work might be expected, or whether tenders have been called for to proceed with the work.
– Never mind when it is to be finished. When is it going to be started?
– That is the point I am making. I agree with the honorable member and it is not often that I do so. I feel that it is time honorable members were told where the matter stands. The New South Wales Government has played its part. It was suggested in the debate on the Estimates in 1959 that the New South Wales Government should be approached to waive royalties on the sand - about 4,000,000 tons - which will have to be removed from Botany Bay. The State Government agreed to do so in order to expedite the lengthening of the runway to provide a great boost not only to Sydney but to Australia.
The Kingsford-Smith airport is named after a most illustrious Australian. In relation to the city, it is most centrally situated in a geographically advantageous position for passengers arriving from overseas. It should be made into Australia’s No. 1 airport. Honorable members on both sides of the House realize that Melbourne airports are not fog-free. Sydney has the privilege of an airport which is relatively fog-free. Tourists from overseas arrive at Kingsford-Smith airport on their way to see some of the greatest tourist attractions in Australia, which are in my electorate. I refer to the beaches at Bondi and Coogee. The Federal Government and the Australian National Travel Association are endeavouring to attract a greater number of tourists to Australia and to assist in this direction we should first provide adequate safety requirements at Sydney airport. We should look ahead and cater for larger planes by extending the runway. At the same time we should be able to provide overseas visitors with first-class amenities.
The Sydney airport handles over 50 per cent, of the international air traffic of Australia. I want to inform the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), who is interjecting, that over the last year or two the airport has handled about 1,750,000 passengers and approximately 55,000 air movements. This makes it Australia’s busiest airport. It is the front door to Australia for migrants, businessmen and tourists. When these people land in aircraft of our own great airline - Qantas - and walk across the tarmac, they enter an antiquated building which we call an international terminal. The terminal is dingy. unplanned and ill befits a capital city such as Sydney. My main reason for speaking to-night is to direct attention to this state of affairs.
It has been said that over a period of years the Government has spent a great deal of money on Australia’s airports. Modernization work has been carried out at Adelaide, and Perth in particular, and buildings have been erected at Tullamarine and Brisbane - indeed, in almost every capital city. In 1959, I asked the Government to show Sydney preference over Tullamarine. I ask again that the lengthening of the runway at Kingsford-Smith airport be carried out as expeditiously as possible for the reasons I have just stated.
It is not often that I agree wilh the Lord Mayor of Sydney, but I do agree wilh him regarding the facilities of our international terminal. I believe that it should be abolished and re-sited. I have taken pains to inspect the airport. I have examined the area surrounding the runways, the servicing sheds of Qantas and the sections which are unused. It is my firm belief that in the north-west sector of the airport which abuts Cooks River and Alexandra Canal there is ample room to build a modern and adequate international terminal for Sydney. This, of course, is the kind of matter on which we strike trouble wilh local councils, the Department of Main Roads and planning authorities. I believe that we should build as quickly as possible a new terminal that would be a credit to Sydney and a monument to this Government and also would gain for Australia a great deal of prestige. We need an international airport of world standard. We have not at present anywhere in Australia an airport of international standard.
A few moments ago, an honorable member interjected to the effect that passengers have to cross the tarmac in the rain. This would not be necessary if we built a terminal of international standard. We could provide covered ways to which the aircraft could be brought for the loading of passengers. Ample room is available for the construction of aprons that would make possible the provision of covered ways that would enable passengers to get to and from aircraft without exposure to the weather. Access to the area that I have mentioned could be provided from Prince’s Highway along Bellevue-street and through St. Peters Park. This would enable people being conveyed to and from the airport to avoid many of the nauseating odours that at present assail passengers as they travel between Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport and the city.
– The honorable member is talking about my electorate now.
– The honorable member may be willing to put up with those nauseating odours lo which we all have been subjected from time to time when travelling to and from the airport, but I am sure that international travellers would not be used to odours of that kind.
I believe that the present terminal has grown like Topsy. It has been built piecemeal and is completely unplanned. When one really studies for five or ten minutes the facilities available, one can see how completely inadequate they are. I should like the Government to expedite whatever plans it may have, first, to extend the runway as quickly as possible - tenders should be called without delay - and secondly, to demolish completely the existing international terminal. In my opinion, it is fit only for demolition. We should build in its place a terminal worthy both of New South Wales and of Australia as a whole. The site on which the present terminal is situated could be used for new terminal extensions required to cope with the increase in air traffic that will inevitably come, or it could be used to provide adequate facilities for the servicing and maintenance of the aircraft of Qantas Empire Airways Limited, our international airline, and of other international airlines.
I had intended to discuss this matter tomorrow during a Grievance debate. I just want to add now the comment that the need for a new terminal is urgent. I see at the table at the moment the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), who represents in this House the Minister for Civil Aviation. I should like him to know that the people of Sydney, I believe, demand a modern and efficient airport worthy of a great nation and a city such as Sydney, which is a great tourist centre and attraction.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calvin) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
House adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Government approval was given in 1957 to a scheme whereby a number of telephone equipment supply companies were approved as contractors to install certain private automatic branch exchange units and Post Office owned telephone instruments. Companies presently participating in the scheme are -
Recently three other companies, namely, Victa Limited, Horrocks Roxburgh Proprietary Limited and Elliott-Automation (Proprietary) Limited were given approval to lease coin operated telephones to subscribers.
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What amount of revenue was received in each State of the Commonwealth from (a) local telephone calls and (b) trunk calls during each month of the years 1961, 1962 and 1963?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The values of trunk line and local telephone calls included in accounts issued to telephone subscribers during each month of the years 1961, 1962 and 1963 for all States are shown separately in the attached statements. Actual receipts may vary slightly as all accounts issued during a particular month may not necessarily be paid by subscribers in that month. Collections from multicoin public telephones cannot be shown separately for local and trunk line telephone calls. However, information is available showing total cash collections from public telephones and particulars for the years 1961, 1962 and 1963 are given in separate statements.
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I During daytime and outside the urea served by both 6WF and 6WN Perth, only the third national programme, the programme designed for country listeners, is available. At night however a choice is available when 6WF and the country regional stations are transmitting different programmes.
High powered medium frequency stations in Western Australia are 6WF Perth (50,000 watts), 6WA Wagin (50,000 watts) 6WN Perth (10,000 watts) and 6DL Dalwallinu (10,000 watts). In addition two high powered high frequency stations operate in Perth- VLX with a power of 50,000 watts, the highest power used for high frequency internal broadcasting services in Australia, and VLW with a power of 10,000 watts.
Higher power for 6WN would result in country listeners in the service area of the station obtaining better reception of the second national programme at those times in the evening when the regional stations transmit the 6WF programmes. I should explain that the programmes of the national stations in country areas (the third network) comprise a selection of items from both the capital city stations.
There are technical difficulties in the way of increasing the power of 6WN. Similar difficulties likewise stand in the way of an increase in power of the second national stations for some of the other capital cities. However this matter is under continuing review by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which will keep the honorable member’s interest in the matter in mind.
y asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has suppled the following information: -
Apart from normal overdraft accommodation in the ordinary course of business with the Commonwealth Trading Bank, the following loans have been made available: -
It should be noted, however, that the loans to T.A.A. and Qantas were raised in the U.S.A. by the Commonwealth on behalf of those airlines.
Details of these arrangements are clearly set out in the relevant legislation (Loan (Australian National Airlines Commission) Acts of 1958,1960 and 1963, and Loan (Qantas Empire Airways Limited) Acts of 1958, 1960 and 1962). The other loans were made to Connellan Airways Limited.
T.A.A.- £1.6 million (including £560,000 drawn after 30th June).
Qantas - £12.04 million.
Up to 25,000 lb. - 5.445d. per 1,000 lb. or part thereof 25,001 to 50,000 lb.- 8.47d. per 1,000 lb. or part thereof 50,001 to 100,000 lb.- 10.89d. per 1,000 lb. or part thereof 100,000 and over- 12.705d. per 1,000 lb. or part thereof.
For each flight over a particular route, airline operators pay a specified number of unit charges according to the assessed rating of the route concerned. For each week of registration of their aircraft, private operators pay six times the unit charge, aerial work operators twelve times and charter operators eighteen times.
t asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Can he say what was the amount of the public debt in respect of- (a) the Commonwealth; (b) the States and (c) municipalities and shires as at 30lh June, 1953 and 1963, and what was the percentage increase or decrease in each case?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The public debt of the Commonwealth and State governments and local authorities on 30th June, 1953 and 1963, is set out in the following table, with oversea obligations converted to their Australian currency equivalent at the rates of exchange prevailing on the dates listed: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The States Grants (Mental Institutions) Act 1955 provides that the amounts granted under the act for the purpose of assisting mental institutions are payable to the States. The States are, of course, individually responsible for administering their mental health services and for allocating priorities in the development of new institutions or the expansion of established ones.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
Has Australia exported any steel to Com-
l. - The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
pilots. The average annual flight hours worked by pilots of a number of foreign international aircraft are known and they are -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640506_reps_25_hor42/>.